It is autumn and that means pomegranate time! I love pomegranates but I hate getting the arils (seeds) out of them. I pretty much have avoided them unless I was willing to shell out the cash to buy the arils in a package. Then to be honest they are often slimy and not so great. But lo and behold I discovered recently that cutting open a pomegranate doesn’t have to look like something was butchered in my kitchen! I can’t believe I didn’t know this until a couple of weeks ago–how did I miss this? This would have saved my children and myself a lot of anxiety every autumn when they wanted my to buy whole pomegranates and I would try my best to avoid it or get really crazy with bibs and aprons and tons of paper towels to contain the flying red juice. Sorry kids! Click here for detailed instructions on how to accomplish this feat and keep your hands their natural color.
I got this recipe idea from the wonderful chef my husband hired for my birthday recently. She made this incredible little appetizer of crostini, grilled Haloumi cheese and pomegranate seeds. The flavors were so incredible and so autumn-like! So today I was trying to come up with an interesting salad with pomegranate seeds and then I thought about the warmed Haloumi cheese and voilà, this is what I came up with. Hope you all like it as much as we did!
Vibrant pomegranate, fennel, tomato, baby lettuce and Haloumi salad is full of wonderful autumn flavors .
Credit: adapted from Haloumi, Pomegranate and Rocket Salad on Taste.com.au
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
180 grams Haloumi Cheese, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
12 ounces of mixed baby lettuces
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, reserve some fronds for garnish
1 pomegranate, seeded (see this page for excellent instructions)
Mix first four ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking to emulsify it. Set dressing aside.
Place the greens and fennel slices in a large serving bowl.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pine nuts to the dry pan and toast for a few minutes. Careful they burn fast! Remove pine nuts and set aside.
Add a little cooking spray to pan and heat up again. Add the Haloumi slices and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until slightly browned. Remove from pan and place on top of salad.
Heat up the tomato halves in the hot pan for just a couple of minutes, adding a little salt and pepper and spread them on top of the Haloumi on the salad. Add the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and serve with the dressing on the side (or toss if you prefer).
Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!
Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata
1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.
I originally made this in the fall after going to the Farmer’s Market where I saw this very fresh and beautiful Fennel bulb that I had to buy as well as some super fresh assorted baby lettuces. These are still available and looking pretty good at Whole Foods, so I thought I would make it tonight. My recipe is inspired by Food and Wine’s Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon . The F&W recipe uses A LOT of bacon and sugar, so I lightened the recipe by adding more vegetables, cutting out the “candied” part of the bacon and using 75% less bacon. I feel that just a little bacon adds a lot of punch, no need to go overboard. Yum! I really like the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the very savory bacon and feta. Try it out and let me know what you think.
1 medium sized fennel bulb. Halved, cored and sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for the dressing plus some extra for drizzling on the fennel)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (this is very different from regular balsamic vinegar — I like it in this dressing because it is slightly sweet to contrast with the savory bacon and feta –if you don’t have any use a white wine vinegar and add a little more honey)
½–1 teaspoon of honey
~8 oz. mixed baby lettuce
1 large heirloom tomato (or whatever is available), cubed
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Fresh feta cheese to sprinkle over the top
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Cook 2 pieces of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until desired doneness (I often cook more pieces and put some of it into my son’s lunch box that week). Lay cooked bacon on a plate with several paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible. Let the bacon cool and then chop into small pieces.
At the same time, lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add sliced fennel and lightly drizzle a little olive oil onto the fennel and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a small container whisk the Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a several grinds of fresh black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the tomato, radishes, lettuce, fennel, bacon, feta and pine nuts. Toss with the reserved dressing and serve.
Pairs nicely with an unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis
This is pretty much a straight-up Food and Wine/Andrew Zimmern recipe. Really easy and really flavorful! Original recipe included 2 scallions, thinly sliced and did not include the mushrooms or avocado (or sometimes tomatoes) that I added. I think some grilled shrimp or hardboiled egg would be really good in this as well. I served this with Quick Brined Roasted Salmon with Lemon Garlic Oil and some simple brown Jasmine rice. Very easy and delicious meal. My son could not get enough of the salmon and the salmon’s savory sauce.
What to make for dinner tonight…? Well this popped into my inbox this morning from Food and Wine Magazine, and I thought that this looked like a good candidate. Here is the original recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/skirt-steak-stir-fry-quinoa-and-ginger-sesame-dressing. I added more vegetables and marinated the meat for a few hours, but I otherwise followed the recipe. The dish turned out to be a really nice mix of crunchy vegetables with very tasty, succulent beef. I have to admit that my son found it a bit “strong” so he just picked out and ate the beef chunks and left most of the rest but my husband and I really enjoyed it.
1 pound skirt steak, cut into small pieces and sliced against the grain (1/4” thick strips)
1 large Portabello mushroom cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 head of red leaf lettuce (or lettuce of choice), chopped
2 cups of shredded carrot
2 cups of bean sprouts
2 tablespoons of basil leaves, chiffonaded
In a medium bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of organic rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger and garlic. Add the sliced beef and marinate at least 30 minutes or several hours if possible.
Cook the quinoa without adding salt or oil. I like to use a rice maker. Set the cooked quinoa aside (Can cook this earlier in the day and refrigerate).
In a small bowl whisk the ¼ cup of soy sauce, 1 ½ tablespoons of fresh grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the steak, mushroom, half the shredded carrot and salt and pepper to your taste, and then stir-fry for a few minutes until the steak is cooked to your liking. Remove the steak mixture and add half the bean sprouts and cook for a couple of minutes.
Divide the lettuce between four plates. Top with cooked bean sprouts, meat mixture, uncooked carrots and bean sprouts, cooked quinoa and then the dressing. Garnish with basil.
A friend invited us for dinner and asked us to bring a salad. We were in the mountains and I thought an Autumn-feeling salad would be nice, but where to find a recipe? I searched online and found quite a few butternut squash salads, but that seems very heavy to me, then I found a salad on Cooking Light that inspired me, Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton. In the end, I ended making up my own salad recipe with ingredients I was able to procure in the one store in the mountains, but I did use the dressing from the Cooking Light recipe, and it was quite delicious (even though the dried apricot seemed weird-I think it added something so use it)! Feel free to try the salad as written or swap out the dried cranberries for fresh pomegranate, pears for the apples or pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for the pine nuts. It is pretty versatile. This serves 6-8 side salads, or 4 large entree-sized salads (maybe add cubed chicken for an entree).
Autumn Mixed Baby Lettuces and Apple Cranberry Salad
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used a whole small lemon)
1-2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 dried apricots, finely chopped
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
10 ounce package mixed baby lettuces
1 large crunchy sweet red apple such as Fuji, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp, skin on, sliced thinly and then cut in thirds.
1 pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 ounces goat cheese (I used a goat cheese with figs)
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 cup juice-sweetened dried cranberries
In a small bowl mix the first 6 ingredients (shallot – apricots) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Gradually pour in the olive oil with the blender running on low until all of it is mixed in. Add black pepper to taste and stir to blend. Set aside.
Slice the apple. After slicing, immerse the apple pieces in a bath of cold water and a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Let sit while assembling the rest of the salad.
Toast the pine nuts in the oven at a low heat (around 300 degrees F) for a few minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
On a very large platter (or bowl) lay out the lettuce. Layer on the apples and tomato halves, and then toss with half the dressing. Add little spoonfuls of the goat cheese (I left this on the side so the dairy-free people can leave this out), cranberries and finishing with the toasted pine nuts. Serve the remaining dressing on the side for anyone who wants more. Enjoy!
I was torn about whether or not to post this very basic ground beef (or turkey) taco recipe as it is quite mundane, but every night can’t be gourmet and this is a staple in our house, it comes together fairly quickly and is pretty healthy. Once upon a time I made ground beef or turkey tacos using the little McCormick package of seasoning. Then one day I read the ingredients and was horrified at the sodium content and decided getting the spices right on my own can’t be too difficult, so I have been making totally homemade tacos ever since (last 10 years or so). Today I used organic, grass fed, lean (10% fat) ground beef, but I use ground turkey breast just as often, just depends on what we have already eaten that week. We have had a lot of chicken this week (which my son currently doesn’t really care for), so I thought it was time for a little beef to mix things up. I served the tacos with fresh corn cooked in the microwave and sliced off the cob since there is still some decent looking corn at the market that has been grown locally here in Northern CA, I figured we should get it fresh while we still can. I don’t add anything to the corn since it is so fresh and sweet already. I also served some chopped tomatoes, homemade fresh guacamole and sliced bell peppers with the meal. I made mine into a taco salad and my son had his as a soft taco.
Basic and entirely homemade taco recipe that works perfectly with ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey.
Note: I am really guessing on the spice amounts on this as I don’t follow a recipe I just improvise when I make it, so hopefully it will be accurate. Feel free to add more of less to your liking.”
1/2 large sweet onion (or a yellow onion), chopped
2 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 pound of lean ground beef (I use grass-fed organic beef) or ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
black pepper to taste (I start with about 20 turns of my pepper grinder)
salt to taste (start with maybe 1/4 teaspoon)
1 jalapeño, diced
cheddar cheese, grated
tortillas of choice or lettuce for a salad base
3 ripe avocados
1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 or 2 tablespoons onion, minced
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
a few turns of the pepper mill
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the pan and swirl to cover pan. Add onion and sauté for about 4 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add ground meat to the onion mixture. Cook approximately 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked. Drain grease.
Add spices and 1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil and then turn heat down to medium low and simmer for at least 10 minutes or until the water is mostly gone. I usually make ahead of time and let it simmer longer, adding more water as needed to keep it from drying out and the additional time intensifies the flavor.
While the meat is simmering make the guacamole by smashing the avocados in a small bowl. Add chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onion, garlic, black pepper and lime juice, mix well.
Warm the tortillas. Serve the meat with shredded cheese, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, jalapeños and other toppings of your choice. Today I served fresh corn and sliced bell peppers. Sometimes I roast an assortment of peppers.
Basic, but I love caesar salad, especially this recipe that a family member taught me when I was a child. This is the 1970s type of caesar salad dressing but I don’t include the raw egg anymore as I am a little more afraid of Salmonella. Lately I have been making it with kale or a mixture of kale and romaine lettuce to boost the nutrients. Today I added cubed avocado, halved cherry tomatoes and put some baked chicken on the side for my husband who seems to be craving protein lately. I also didn’t have any croutons on hand so I spread a piece of whole wheat sourdough bread with olive oil, a little salt and pepper, dried oregano, and then rubbed a cut piece of garlic all over it and toasted it in the oven until it was crisp like a crouton. Actually much better than what you will find in a bag or box!
Dressing (the amounts are approximate):
1/2 cup high quality olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (or a couple of anchovies)
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
5-10 drops Tabasco sauce (depending on how much spice you like)
salt and pepper to taste
optional: sometimes I add a tablespoon of non-fat plain greek yogurt to make it more creamy like caesar salad dressings you find at restaurants today, lately I haven’t added this though. Or if you are ok with raw eggs, you can add one whole egg.
For variety I sometimes add hard boiled eggs, a piece or two of bacon chopped up, chicken, cherry tomatoes and/or avocado chunks.
Kale and/or Romaine lettuce
Caesar Salad Croutons
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – finely grated
Optional: if using Kale:
If using kale
de-stem the kale and cut into bite size pieces
put kale into a large bowl and put lemon juice, olive oil and a few shakes of salt on it to soften the kale. let sit for 15 – 30 minutes at room temperature. Rinse if you like before using to reduce sodium count.
Make dressing by combining all ingredients and stir with a whisk. Set aside so flavors can combine. Great to make ahead of time if possible and store in the refrigerator.
Cut mushrooms and romaine lettuce if using that type of lettuce (and other vegetables if using).
Mix lettuce, mushrooms, croutons, cheese and dressing in a bowl. Toss and serve with fresh ground pepper.