Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sweet and Savory Watermelon Salad

Recently I've come across recipes for watermelon salads that mix the sweet with the savory. I love this combination of flavors, and decided to give it try for lunch today.

Here are a few posts that inspired me:

So with that inspiration, and a container of juicy ripe watermelon,  I created my own version which includes salami. Yes, salami, tomatoes, watermelon, feta cheese, fresh basil, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastes great!

Sweet and Savory Watermelon Salad (serves 2)
2 cups of ripe seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Applegate Genoa Salami, 6 slices cut into strips
3 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Place your ingredients in  a bowl and drizzle with olive oil (about a tsp) and balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 tsp). Gently toss with a rubber spatula. Adjust taste with a little bit more olive oil and vinegar, if needed. Dive in and be prepared for a summer taste sensation.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Eating Well: Veggies over Quinoa

It's so easy to eat well in the summertime. Start with a simple salad of fresh garden tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, fresh basil, and a little bit of feta cheese—all lightly dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

SautĂ© up some garden fresh zucchini in olive oil and serve it over a bed of quinoa, add the tomato salad on top and it's heaven! The sweet tomatoes and basil, crunchy cucumbers combined with the saltiness of the feta cheese, a little bite from the red onion; which are all just slightly warmed by the quinoa and zucchini.  It's an explosion of summer flavors in your mouth.

Greek Tomato Salad (veggies from the garden, if possible)
1 large tomato, cut into 1" chunks
1 medium sized cucumber
3 leaves of basil (cut into thin strips)
1 oz of feta cheese (crumbled, or cut into small cubes)
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Add the chopped tomato, cucumber, basil and feta cheese to a bowl. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and about 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar. Mix well, and allow to sit at room temperature while you cook the quinoa and zucchini. Instructions for cooking quinoa are here. Slice one medium zucchini into 1/4 inch slices. Add a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to a saute pan and heat the oil. Add the zucchini and saute over medium high heat until it just starts to turn golden brown. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve place the quinoa on a plate, add the zucchini and then top with the tomato salad.

Think well, eat well, love's summertime!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Curried Chicken Salad

I love a good chicken salad. It's such a satisfying meal on a warm summer night, especially when I've just pick a head of red leaf lettuce from our neighborhood garden. Yes, I have a wonderful neighbor who plants a large garden and encourages us all to pick from it. Richard is a skilled gardener, and I'm one of his regular pickers.

With curry on my mind, I grabbed an apple and some almonds to get started. I was eying a nice ripe mango, but wasn't sure if it would work, so after I prepared the dressing I did a taste test. I took a piece of chicken, apple, almond and mango then dribbled a little bit of dressing on it, gave it a taste, and voilĂ  a recipe was born.

Summer Curried Chick Salad (serves 4)
3 Boneless breast of chicken (trimmed)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
1/2 apple (cut in small cubes)
1 ripe mango (cut into small cubes)
2 stalks of celery
1 carrot
Chopped fresh chives

Curried Mayo Yogurt Dressing
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp of yellow curry powder (or a little more to taste)
1.5 tbsp of Indian Rogan Josh sauce

Place the chicken breasts in a pan of water. Add one stalk of celery and the carrot. Bring it to a boil then turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for 20 minutes. (This cooking technique is from Sara Leah Chase's Nantucket Open House Cookbook and it's foolproof.) Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to cool, and then dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Add one stalk of diced celery, almonds, chopped chives, apple and mango. Blend in the dressing a tablespoon at a time to coat the chicken. You can save any extra dressing for several weeks. It makes a nice dip for veggies. Plate it up and you'll have a nice light summer meal.

Stella D'Oro Daylily

Note: The cooking technique works just as well with bone-in chicken breasts.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gluten-Free Pasta Primavera

There seem to be more and more people that are gluten intolerant and suffering from celiac disease. Thankfully there are a host of knowledgeable bloggers out there who provide a wealth of information about the disease, and have developed excellent recipes that cover everything from appetizers to dessert. Shauna Ahern creator of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef is one of the most well-known gluten-free bloggers, and has devoted her life to helping others understand and manage the disease. Her site offers a plethora of information about how to live well, gluten-free. Shauna certainly didn't take her diagnosis lying down. While some might complain about what they can't have, Shauna has worked diligently to develop recipes that would make anyone's mouth water. In fact, I'll jump out on a limb here and say anyone can benefit from eating the way Shauna cooks. Much of what she does reminds me of what I learned when studying macrobiotic cooking—a diet rich in whole grains, fresh vegetables, and healthful desserts.

While I don't suffer from celiac, I'm helping someone I love who is eliminating wheat from their diet so I made a gluten-free version of pasta primavera last night. The pasta is made by Tinkayada and can be purchased at most health food stores. When cooked al dente it is tasty. Yes, the first bite will be a bit different than what you're accustomed to if you eat a lot of wheat pasta, but after a few bites I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I found it to be more satisfying, and less filling.

Gluten-Free Pasta Primavera (serves 4)
1 lb gluten-free pasta (Tinkayada)
1/4 sweet white onion (slicd into crescents)
12 cherries tomatoes (sliced in half lengthwise)
1 cup snap peas (cut into thirds)
8-10 leaves of fresh basil
1/2 lemon
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Grated cheese

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. While the onions are cooking add the pasta to the water.

Saute the onions in olive oil until just golden brown. Add the cherry tomatoes and snap peas and saute until just tender. Add the basil leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat until the pasta is ready.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente (just a little resistance when you bite into it) use a slotted spoon to add the pasta to the sauteed vegetables. Add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and squeeze the juice from the lemon over the pasta. Sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese, I used Pecorino Romano, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fresh Lobster Salad...or a Roll

We're famous for our lobster salad rolls here on Cape Cod, and there are hundreds of places to buy them, but I also enjoy making my own. Sometimes you'll get one made with meat that's been previously frozen, and that's a big disappointment, especially when you pay a premium. So all you need to make your own scrumptious salad is a good fish market and a few simple ingredients.

Here's two of my favorite fish markets on the Upper Cape:

Cape Fish and Lobster, Hyannis
Falmouth Fish Market, Falmouth (They ship, too, if you can't make it to the Cape)

Lobster Salad (serves two)
1 lb fresh cooked lobster meat
1/2 stalk celery (diced)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sun-dried tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Fresh chives for garnish

If you're cooking your own lobsters, and need some guidance, then go here. If not, chop the meat into 1 inch cubes. Remove the cartilage before chopping the claws. Add the mayo, tomato paste, celery, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add a squirt of fresh lemon juice, and garnish with chopped chives. You can serve as a salad, or toast up your favorite roll. Traditionally they're served on a buttered and toasted hotdog bun, which is pretty tasty. They're also nice on toasted bioche from Pain D'Avignon Bakery in Hyannis. Perfect for the July 4th weekend!