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Entries in Sides & Salads (18)

Monday
Jun242013

Chickpea & Tomato Salad

Rob and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary last weekend by watching two dear friends tie the knot in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was a classic Colorado weekend - sunny with blue skies, the threat of afternoon thunderstorms, and then the perfect evening of chilly mountain air combined with more stars in the sky than you thought existed. It was fun to reminisce about our wedding while celebrating another one, particularly one where the bride and groom incorporated so many thoughtful touches. The most thoughtful? Each of us received a Mason jar for our beverages for the night and with our table number attached... and tied to each jar was a hand-written note about your relationship with the bride and/or groom. Mine brought me to tears...

On the whole, the weekend was a reminder that it is the simple things in life that usually bring us the most joy. The company of good friends and family, a hand-written note letting someone know they are in your thoughts, a bike ride on a summer's day...

This dish definitely falls into the category of simple. It uses four main ingredients and a few others you most likely have in your pantry. It makes a delicious side dish, perfect for backyard gatherings.

Chickpea & Tomato Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
Adapted from Green Lite Bites

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (my tomatoes were particularly tiny so I didn't halve them)
25 large basil leaves, chopped
6 ounces fresh mozzarella (I used the bite-size Ciliegine mozzarella)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together and chill for at least 20 minutes, allowing all the flavors to merge. This still tastes great the next day, but the basil will start to look wilted so I recommend serving this immediately after you make it or adding the basil immediately prior to serving.


Friday
Jan112013

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Dressing

If it is winter where you live, we can commiserate about the fact that in-season and tempting produce is non-existent this time of year.  Our tomatoes are flavorless and even the apples are looking sad at this point.  My go-to salad involves greens and whatever veggies I can chop and toss in the bowl, but I have to be creative this time of year when tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, beans, etc. aren't tempting me at the store.
Enter the Roasted Vegetable Salad.  It is the perfect time of year to take advantage of root and other vegetables that really shine when roasted.  You could make this salad with whatever you have around to roast (I'd consider adding Brussels sprouts and beets or substitute them for the potatoes), but the one ingredient I wouldn't leave out is the fennel-  I felt it really made the dish.  The tangy dressing and and some crumbles of Homemade Goat Cheese complete the salad.  An added bonus - the gorgeous colors!  
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Dressing
Ingredients
1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges $
 1/2 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (often labeled "yams"), peeled and cut into 1-in. chunks
1/2 pound small red thin-skinned potatoes, cut in half
1 medium fennel bulb, ends trimmed and cut into 8 wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-in. chunks $
 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tbsp. honey
2 qts. (about 6 oz.) loosely packed mixed salad greens
1 small log or crumbles of goat cheese (or make your own!)
Preparation
1.  Preheat oven to 425°. Toss onion, sweet and red potatoes, fennel, and bell pepper in a large bowl with 3 tbsp. oil and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet.
2.  Roast vegetables until tender and golden, about 40 minutes, turning over halfway through baking time.  About 10 minutes before they're done, sprinkle walnuts on baking sheet with vegetables and toast until golden.
3.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp. oil, the vinegar, honey, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper.
4.  Toss greens in a large bowl with one-quarter of dressing; divide among plates. Let vegetables cool about 5 minutes, then transfer to the large bowl and toss with about half of the remaining dressing; spoon the vegetables and walnuts over the greens.  Garnish each salad with crumbles of goat cheese.  Serve with remaining dressing on the side.
Thursday
Oct252012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Wild Mushrooms and Cream

Brussels sprouts were an adult discovery for me.  I can't remember the first time I tried them, but I fell immediately in love with the ease of roasting a pan of Brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt and the deliciousness that results.  I particularly love the rogue leaves that separate from the main sprout and get super crispy and salty.  In my opinion, Brussels sprouts are the closest you can get to bacon in vegetable form.

I do remember learning that Brussels sprouts grown on stalks at the Borough Market in London (I was so astonished by this that I took the picture below).  

I usually keep my cooking of Brussels sprouts healthy by roasting them as described above.  However, we hosted Thanksgiving last year and in an effort to mix things up, I tried this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Wild Mushrooms and Cream from Fine Cooking.  If you prep the mushrooms and Brussels sprouts ahead of time, this dish comes together quickly and I've found that you can reduce the amount of cream by half and still keep the creaminess and flavor that results.  Cooking the sprouts this way is a delicious treat for a special occasion.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Wild Mushrooms and Cream
Adapted from Fine Cooking 

Note - The original recipe notes that the Brussels sprouts can be roasted and the mushrooms seared up to 8 hours ahead of time (and then pick up with Step 4 below when you want to serve the dish).

Ingredients
1-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise (5 cups)
5 Tbs. olive oil 
Kosher salt 
3 Tbs. unsalted butter 
3/4 lb. mushrooms (I've used chanterelles and baby portabellas), halved if small or cut into 1-inch wedges (about 4-1/2 cups) 
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (1/2 cup) 
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken/vegetable stock (I've used both with good results)
1/2 cup heavy cream (and you might use even less - see Step 4 below for details)
Freshly ground black pepper

 

Preparation
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

2. Put the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with 3 Tbs. of the olive oil; toss to coat.  Spread the Brussels sprouts in an even layer and season generously with salt.  Roast until tender and browned, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. Heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat.  When the pan is hot, add 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and 2 Tbs. of the butter.  When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms in an even layer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden-brown and tender and the mushroom liquid (if any) has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and transfer to a plate.

4. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter.  When the butter has melted, add the shallot, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the wine or stock and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute.  Return the mushrooms to the pan and add the Brussels sprouts and 1/4 cup of cream.  If you think this amount sufficiently coats the sprouts and mushrooms, you might not need to add more - but judge for yourself based on how creamy you'd like the dish to be.  I wouldn't add more than 1/2 cup in total.  Stir in a few grinds of pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream thickens and coats the vegetables nicely, 3 to 4 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday
Sep182012

Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, Arugula and Ricotta Salata

How lovely it is to be home!  We just returned from a fantastic trip to Madison, Wisconsin and Bridgehampton, New York, but it was great to unpack, hug Forest, and sleep in our own bed.  The last six weeks were dominated by extremely long bike rides, slightly shorter runs, open water swimming, and a lot of nerves.  I feel like I've been a bit remiss where my friends, family, and husband are concerned - there has been a bit too much Ironman preparation and too little fun.  

I'm optimistic that the turn of the seasons and less time on my bike will mean a return to normalcy... and more cooking.  After we unpacked on Sunday, I went to the grocery store and whipped up a dish that K recommended from the August 2012 issue of Bon Appétit.  It still feels like summer here, so a light pasta salad seemed like the perfect "welcome home" meal.  And is it possible that this is the first thing I have made from Bon Appétit in three months?  Eek.


Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, Arugula and Ricotta Salata
Adapted from Bon Appétit 
Yield = 4-6 servings 

A few notes about this recipe.  I made this with cantaloupe.  K reported that it was delicious with honeydew, too.  The original recipe called for mint, which we didn't have - I am sure it is a nice addition, but it isn't necessary.  We did have arugula, so I added a few handfuls, which I really liked - it offsets the ricotta salata and the pancetta well.

Ingredients

  • ounces thinly sliced pancetta (bacon would work equally as well)
  • 8 ounces orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) (I couldn't find orecchiete, so I used lumaconi, which are snail shell-shaped and probably larger than ideal... but I love the shape)
  • Kosher salt 
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • cups 1x1x1/4" pieces peeled melon
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ounces ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta), shaved
  • 2 cups (approximately) arugula

Preparation

  • Heat oven to 350°. Arrange pancetta in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes.  Alternatively, place pancetta on folded layers of paper towels on a microwave-proof plate and microwave on high until brown and crisp.  Start with 3 minutes and add time accordingly being sure not to overcook.  Let pancetta stand until cool enough to handle, then break into bite-size pieces.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Drain pasta; run under cold water to cool.  Drain and set aside.
  • Whisk oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add half of pancetta, the scallions, and the red pepper flakes and stir to combine.  Add the cooked pasta, melon, and arugula and toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining pancetta.  Garnish with shaved ricotta salata.  

Forest seems concerned that we might leave him again at any time.

Tuesday
Aug142012

Grilled Peach & Ricotta Salad

I've finally settled into a bit of a routine where the new house is concerned.  I am now the proud owner of a commuter bike that I ride to the office, and I've started riding different routes home so I can check out new streets or pick up something for dinner at In Season Market.  When I pull up to the house, I immediately walk to the peach tree to check for ripeness.  A gentle squeeze typically reminds me that patience is a virtue and they will be ready soon... but last night a few were ripe!  

Confession - last night was the first time I have ever used a grill!  We have lived in so many apartments where we didn't have a yard (and thus no grill)... and truthfully grilling always seems to be delegated to men at barbeques.  After one use, I am converted.  And last night was also my first time grilling fruit.  It was delicious.  To me, it embodies what summer cooking is all about - simplicity, natural flavors, and easy preparation.  As we ate this salad, Rob and I discussed which fruit we'd grill next.  Pineapple, perhaps?  I have to admit that I did need to call Rob to figure out how to turn on the grill... I believe the pause before his response was when he questioned how smart his wife really is... 

In the meantime, I see more grilled peaches in my future.  I ate a few slices last night while I was cleaning up from dinner, I had one for breakfast this morning, and I was tempted to eat them served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or topped with whipped cream.  We ate ours last night in a simple salad.

Grilled Peach & Ricotta Salad

I'm a bit hesitant to even call this a "recipe" because there is a great deal of flexibility with this dish.  I have used homemade ricotta, but I think it would be equally as good with buratta.  I also garnished the salad with a 12-year Aged Balsamic Vinegar we received as a housewarming gift.  It takes just a drizzle of this vinegar to complement the peaches and the cheese.  You can, of course, substitute any balsamic vinegar you have.

Ingredients
Arugula (I prefer arugula because of its sharp flavor)
3-4 peaches (depending on salad size you may want to increase the number of peaches... you won't have any problem consuming any leftover grilled peaches, I promise)
Homemade Ricotta (or substitute buratta or fresh mozzarella)
Oil for grilling (canola, vegetale or olive oil)
Balsamic Vinegar (I recommend using the highest quality vinegar that you have)

Preparation
1.  Slice the peaches in half and remove the pit.  Brush the flesh side of the peaches with a neutral olive such as canola or grapeseed oil.  If you don't have either of those, use olive oil.  Peeling the peaches isn't necessary.

2.  Cook the peaches over a medium fire on all cut sides until grill marks show and the peaches are tender but not falling apart.

3.  Place the arugula on a serving dish and set the grilled peaches on top of the arugula.  Garnish with dollops of ricotta and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  If desired, sprinkle with sea salt.  Serve immediately.  You can also dice the peaches once they are grilled if you prefer more of a tossed salad.

These three peaches were our first "harvest."  I love that one of them came off in my hands with the leaves attached.