Today was a nice warm Spring day here in the Bay Area, so I thought a watermelon salad would be nice for dinner. I love watermelon and feta, although I did consider using grilled Halloumi cheese instead, but went with feta since it is a lot more economical, but I may try it next time with the Halloumi. Next was some protein to make it a complete meal in my husband’s eyes, started with chicken, but switched to shrimp to make all family members happy as my son currently is not loving chicken. I also think the salad would be good with some cherry tomatoes, but alas, my market only had small tomatoes that were a very under-ripe light red color, so I left them out. But if you have access to good vine-ripened tomatoes, include them. Enjoy with a glass of cold Rosé from Provence!
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus a Tablespoon more for the shrimp)
2 Tablespoons raw pinenuts
1 garlic clove, minced
freshly ground black pepper
About 4 cups cubed watermelon (about 1/2 small seedless watermelon)
1 large head of red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into small pieces
About 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons fresh chiffonade mint (cut in fine shreds)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a medium bowl mix 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add the raw shrimp and let soak for 15 minutes to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
While the shrimp brines, whisk in a small bowl, the vinegar, miso, and honey. Gradually whisk in the oil. Set aside.
Roast the pine nuts for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside.
Remove Shrimp from brine and drain completely. Coat shrimp with a mixture of olive oil, garlic and pepper. Grill or Broil shrimp for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.
Place about a cup of torn lettuce on each plate. Add cut watermelon, grilled shrimp, a sprinkle of feta, a sprinkle of pine nuts and pour some dressing over the salad. Garnish with chopped mint. Enjoy!
Hello Spring! Here in the SF Bay Area it finally feels like spring. The weather has been wacky, felt more like fall than spring recently, but the last two days have been beautiful and warm (ok, less warm today…but I made this yesterday) so I decided to make a salad with fresh bing cherries, tomatoes, avocados and pistachios. It turned out to be a really nice and substantial salad for dinner.
I rarely buy Trader Joes bagged salad mixes, but for some reason the Cruciferous Crunch Collection with shredded kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green and red cabbage looked really good today. Then there was the problem of what on earth am I going to make out of this? I had an “ah ha moment” when I realized that the real reason I was going to Trader Joes was to pick up some chicken to make homemade chicken soup for my sick child. Then the perfect idea came to me, Asian chicken salad with the extra chicken from the soup, perfect! This only serves 2-3, so double the recipe if you are feeding 4 adults, or use it this way if it is just a side dish for 4-6 people. I hope you enjoy this very crunchy light meal!
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.
Note: This is actually an older post from my original Medium Blog site.
My daughter has gone back to boarding school and my husband has a work dinner, so tonight I am cooking for just my son and myself. I wandered up and down the aisles of Whole Foods for a while drawing a blank. I almost never go to the store without a list or at least a plan in my head for what I need. Today was different for some reason, I was just completely drawing a blank! After running into a friend who suggested I grab something in the meat department that is half-way prepared since there are only two of us (great idea!) I settled on a lemon-herb marinated piece of salmon (the hubby is not really a fish fan so this is a good thing to eat without him) and some really big and beautiful looking organic Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale). I decided I will also make some plain jasmine rice in my rice maker, to make things easy.
Below is the recipe for kale chips that I made out of the kale. They are a really yummy way to eat kale and my kids love them (but another thing my husband doesn’t care for). They are crunchy, a bit salty (depending on how salty you like them) and tangy from the vinegar. Yum, flavor explosion! Sometimes they are almost gone before the rest of dinner is made (but I have no idea where they go?).
Such an incredible crunchy way to eat kale. Delicious and healthy alternative to a potato chip when you are craving some crunch and savory flavors.
1 large bunch of Lacianto Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan Kale)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (Recently I have been leaving this out)
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash kale thoroughly and pat dry. Remove the center ribs so you just have the dark green leafy part. Slice the kale leaves in half.
Place sliced kale leaves in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice to coat the leaves. Add the salt and using your hands massage the ingredients into the leaves so they are all covered.
Spread the coated kale leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to start. I often use a silicon baking mat (Silpat) to bake these on.
After 7 minutes check to see if any leaves have become crispy (but still GREEN), if so remove them from the baking sheet and put in a serving bowl. Turn over the leaves that are still wet (most will still be wet) and return them to the oven and cook for a few more minutes.
Every 3 minutes (or so) re-check for crispy pieces, removing them from the baking sheet and putting the rest back into the oven. This may seem tedious, but the kale can burn quickly and then it is ruined (even slightly brown kale tastes burnt), it took me a few tries before I understood I needed to keep the heat LOW and check on the kale constantly so I don’t burn any of it. When it is all crispy you are finished!
May be served warm from the oven or at room temperature, but don’t make it too far ahead of time as it may lose its crispiness over time.
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!