Marinated Feta with Nectarine and Tomato Fattoush

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Right at this very moment is when this salad will be at its best — with tomatoes and nectarines in their prime at the greenmarket. And it will be well worth it, friends, because this is one delicious concoction. It’s the best kind of simple — using super fresh, seasonal ingredients that don’t need anything fancy to make them taste good. For this salad (recipe from the latest Food & Wine) I got fresh feta (buy the kind that comes in a solid block for this) from Murray’s Cheese Shop (yum), which is then marinated in a combo of red wine vinegar, olive oil and crushed coriander seeds. Marry that with chopped fresh tomatoes and nectarines — an awesome combo of the super sweet from the nectarines and the more savory sweet of the tomatoes, top with fresh dill and some crushed up pita chips for crunch. The sweetness of the produce is offset perfectly by the tart, salty feta and punch of acid from the dressing. It’s an awesome combo — I ate this salad on its own for lunch and it was amazing.

Fattoush is technically the name for a Lebanese bread salad, which you technically get from the pita chips in this I suppose. I was a little skeptical of that ingredient and debated getting fresh pita and toasting it, but I ended up really liking the chips, because they’re so super crunchy and stand up to the dressing and produce better.

TW’s Tips

  • I tried this salad with both red and yellow heirloom tomato — yellow is pictured but red adds a little more variety visually
  • Use plain pita chips — I picked Stacy’s brand
  • Fresh dill=critical
  • I found the amount of feta to be a little bit much, so you could cut that back by 1/4 if you wanted to

Enjoy!

Marinated Feta with Nectarine and Tomato Fattoush

Ingredients

  • One 8-ounce block of feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 nectarines—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups broken pita chips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill, plus small sprigs for garnish

Directions

Place the feta in a small rimmed dish in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the 
vinegar with the olive oil, coriander seeds and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the feta and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning the cheese over after 15 minutes.

Transfer the feta to plates or a platter. In a large bowl, toss the nectarines with the tomatoes, pita chips and the feta marinade. Add the chopped dill and season with salt and pepper; toss again. Spoon the salad over the feta and garnish with dill sprigs. Serve right away.

MAKE AHEAD
The marinated feta can be refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Salmon En Croute

I’ve never cooked anything “en croute” so I loved the idea of this salmon en croute, courtesy of Rachael Ray. First of all, it was a lighter version of your traditionally heavy pastry-encrusted foods (think beef Wellington or creamy chicken pot pie). Throw in some salmon instead and you don’t feel quite as guilty! Second, mushrooms were involved, one of my top faves. And third, it was kind of fancy and fun — something that could be a hit for a future dinner party.

And it did turn out looking impressive, if I don’t say so myself! The verdict — it was quite good. The mixture inside with the salmon — made up of mushroom, onions, lemon juice, dill, parsley and the odd-ball hard boiled egg — was tasty and went really well with the salmon, though I’m still on the fence about the egg. It was a liiiittle weird, but worked in a strange way. I also wasn’t wild about my choice of broccoli to accompany — next time I’d do green beans or sauteed spinach with some lemon. But the combo of the dill and lemon with the mushrooms and salmon, plus the crunch and richness of the pastry…it was an awesome combination of tastes and textures.

These tasted great straight out of the oven, but reheating them was problematic. I didn’t dare nuke them — it would have killed the crispiness of the pastry — but the oven dried out the salmon a bit and it wasn’t nearly as tender. So, I’d aim to cook just enough for one night’s meal.

TW’s Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to heap the mushroom mixture on the pastry dough. The “couple spoonfuls” Rachael calls for isn’t enough.
  • Buy your salmon without the skin — removing the skin is not fun.
  • I didn’t follow directions and flip the salmon over once I packaged it up so the seam was on the bottom — that would make it look a little nicer, especially if you cut 2-3 slits across the top with a knife before baking.
  • If I did this again, I wouldn’t cook the salmon as much ahead of time — just a quick sear — so it was medium when you cut through the pastry packet. Two minutes per side was too much for the thickness of my salmon.
  • This could be yummy if you made them as little mini bites for a cocktail party.
Bon appetit!

Salmon En Croute

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for drizzling
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms and stems, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 sprigs dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (a small handful)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, optional
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 6-ounce salmon filets, skin removed
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, 11 x 17 inches, defrosted but still cold
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté 10 -15 minutes or until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Remove from heat and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add dill, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, hard-boiled egg, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Wipe out the pan you used for the mushrooms and return it to medium-high heat with a drizzle of EVOO. Season salmon with salt and pepper, and sear 1-2 minutes on each side in a drizzle of oil. Remove skillet from the heat.

Spread the puff pastry sheet onto a counter and roll to 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut in half.

On each rectangle of dough, place 2 spoonfuls of the mushroom mixture and top with salmon.

Starting with the corners, wrap dough over the salmon, creating a package.

Trim excess dough and seal with the egg water mixture using a pastry brush (leftover dough bits can be used to decorate the top of the packages).

Place sealed side down on a non-stick cookie sheet and make small slit in the top to let steam escape.

Brush with a light coating of the egg/water mixture to give it a nice sheen. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes, then serve.

From Rachael Ray “Just in Time”