Summer Vegetable and Burrata Salad

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I’m all about the summer ingredients, and this salad is a great way to get in on it. Use some greenmarket cherry tomatoes, corn and arugula, and alongside some rich, creamy burrata, you’ll be in heaven. I love what the fresh basil and mint do for this salad — the recipe (from Food & Wine) calls for a generous amount of both, and it adds such an awesome array of flavor to this — so much more than you’d get from just plain lettuce (even if it IS arugula). Unfortunately I couldn’t find fava beans for this, but I bet it would make it even more interesting.

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TW’s Tips

  • Buy quality fresh burrata — good grocery stores package it themselves and sell in the cheese section
  • If you’re not eating the salad in one sitting, don’t dress the whole thing so the greens stay fresh and crisp.
  • To keep your basil fresh, snip off the ends and put in a glass of water on the counter.

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable and Burrata Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn (preferably white), shucked and kernels cut off the cobs (3 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces arugula (6 cups lightly packed)
  • 8 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil (see tip for keeping fresh)
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese

Directions

Fill a medium bowl with ice water. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the fava beans for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice bath to cool completely. Slip off and discard the skins.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the corn and fava beans and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the arugula, tomatoes, mint, basil and the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spoon onto plates. Scoop the burrata into pieces and gently spoon it onto the plates. Season with pepper and serve.

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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.

Roasted Beets with Beet Green Salsa Verde

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This is a hearty, delicious salad (another Food and Wine favorite from Tyler Florence) that works well for the main course or as a starter/side. Beets are one of those veggies that I didn’t discover a love for until they became popular in restaurants over the past 15 years or so. Now you can find a beet salad on practically any menu, and for good reason — they’re meaty and earthy and go perfectly with cheese and a dash of acid from lemon or vinegar. This salad uses beet greens, which are for the most part overlooked and thrown out. They’re actually delicious both raw and cooked. I grew up eating them boiled and topped with butter and salt — these days I’d recommend sautéing like you would spinach. The beet green salsa verde that tops this salad is fantastic. It’s a combo of chopped beet green stems, red onion, oil, vinegar and dill, and it gives a great hit of brightness.

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TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t want to roast your own beets, you can buy them already roasted and peeled in the produce section of the grocery store — you’ll just need to buy the beet greens (or replace out with another leafy green).
  • Beets dye things really quickly, so make sure you wash your cutting board right away so it’s not stained pink.
  • FRESH ricotta is key here — if you buy it in a packaged container, this dish just isn’t worth it. My grocery store here sells their own in the cheese section.
  • Pomegranate seeds can be insanely expensive, so if you’re lucky enough to live in California, grab fresh pomegranates from the grocery or your friend’s yard and do it yourself (watch this video or you will have a miserable time).
  • You could also substitute a different fruit for the pomegranate seeds or leave them out entirely.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds small or medium beets, scrubbed
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups beet greens, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise into ribbons
  • 1/2 cup minced beet green stems
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. Wrap the beets in foil and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until tender when pierced. Unwrap and let cool.

Spread the ricotta on a platter. Cut the beets into chunks and arrange on the cheese. Season lightly with sea salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the oil with the vinegar. Add the beet greens and stems, the onion and chopped dill and mix well. Season the salsa verde with sea salt and pepper and spoon over the beets. Scatter the pomegranate seeds on top, garnish with dill sprigs and serve.

The roasted beets can be refrigerated for 2 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Crispy Sesame Asian Chicken Salad with Spinach, Cucumbers and Cilantro

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If you’re looking for a yummy yet simple salad, this is a great one for you. It’s a Tyler Florence recipe, so you know it’s got lots of great flavors going on — this time with an Asian twist with the soy sauce/ginger dressing. The chicken is breaded in panko breadcrumbs versus traditional — I’m a huge fan of these. They have more texture and crunch, and they somehow seem a bit fresher than boxed breadcrumbs. With  fresh cucumbers and cilantro, and some nutty sesame seeds for garnish, this doesn’t take long at all to throw together.

TW’s Tips

  • If you’ll have leftovers, don’t dress the greens — dress them on each plate — so they don’t get soggy on you. Keep the dressing in the fridge and take it out a little before you eat to let it come to room temp.
  • If you want to skip peeling the cucumber, get an English one and you can leave the skin on (it’s not waxy like a regular cucumber).

Enjoy!

Crispy Sesame Asian Chicken Salad with Spinach, Cucumbers and Cilantro

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Salad:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 lb), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide finger strips
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • A couple good handfuls of stemmed spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, and cut into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted in a dry skillet over low heat, plus extra for garnish
  • Cracked black pepper

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, ginger, and sugar. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Put it in another bowl large enough to hold it, pour over half of the vinaigrette and toss. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours if you have the time, or until you’ve got the rest of the dish ready to go. Set the rest of the vinaigrette aside.

When you’re ready to cook, put the panko and sesame seeds in a shallow platter and season with a little salt and pepper. Mix with your fingers so that the seasoning is incorporated and then taste it – the panko should be well seasoned. Roll the chicken pieces in the seasoned crumbs, patting gently so that the crumbs adhere, until well coated.

Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Line a platter with paper towels and set that to the side of the stove. Add about half of the chicken pieces to the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Remove the chicken to the platter to drain. Do the same to cook the rest of the chicken.

Put the spinach in bowl with the cucumber strips. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and the toasted sesame seeds, season with salt and pepper, and give it a good toss. To serve, divide the chicken strips between four plates. Put a handful of dressed spinach on top, shower with more toasted sesame seeds and cracked black pepper.

Green Bean Salad

I’m not the biggest green salad fan (BO-ring) so I’m always on the lookout for interesting slash delicious ways to get my veg on. Don’t get me wrong — I like a great green salad now and then, but it’s just not my go-to, and if I DO go there, I need a lot of more interesting components (that means more than lettuce, tomato and cucumber, people. Yawn.), and dressing made from scratch (obviously). Anyway, this Green Bean Salad by Jamie Deen is pretty awesome — it’s got great acidity from the red wine vinegar, plus almonds for some crunch and some tangy feta…literally could make it a meal, it’s that good. I made this for a side with Couscous Stuffed Chicken Breast with Feta, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives, but it would be a perfect summer cookout recipe, or a great bring-something-to-a-friend’s-house dish since you don’t need it to be warm and it’s even better once everything marinates for a little while.

I used some awesome farmers market beans for this — both green, purple and yellow (though the purple ones lost their cool color in the cooking process…boo).

TW’s Tips

  • I’ve only got one tip: cut the green beans into one-inch pieces once you’ve cooked and cooled them — much easier to eat. And use the best, freshest beans you can find.

Green Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound slender green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a spider to remove to a bowl of ice water. Drain well, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl. Combine with the feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions.

Toast the almonds in a small skillet, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, garlic and some salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the green beans and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Pan-Roasted Sirloin with Salad of Arugula, Sweet Peppers, and Olives

I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere lately, and I’m sad to say it’s not because I’ve been cooking up a storm. A combination of friends/parents in town and lots and lots of work has had me sidelined for a bit. But I’m back with a really tasty, flavorful salad that I made for dinner with my friend Kim a couple of weeks ago for our weekly Bachelor-watching night. Yes, I realize The Bachelor is trash TV, but that doesn’t stop me from watching it, if just to berate both bachelors and bachelorettes for poor behavior from the comfort of my own couch. While eating yummy food. And drinking yummy wine.

This is a Tyler Florence salad, and I’ve found he’s a winner when it comes to combining really strong flavors into one dish that packs some punch. This is one of those. We’ve got medium rare steak. We’ve got sweet roasted red peppers. We’ve got salty olives. And some pungent blue cheese, all over a bed of spicy, peppery arugula. Top it with a vinaigrette made from the pan juices and some lemon juice for some tang, and this salad’s got it nailed. And it’s pretty healthy, too!

TW’s Tips

  • Don’t feel beholden to a New York strip — any steak will do.
  • Roasting the red peppers is a skill. My broiler works really well because it’s the drawer kind and the peppers are really close to the heat source. The key is to really char and blister them, so the skin peels off easily, but it’s easier said than done. Once they’re blistered and have steamed under the plastic wrap, rub the skin off using a paper towel instead of your fingers. Don’t obsess about getting every single bit off. Some parts won’t come off, and it’s not the end of the world.
  • Use good blue cheese, not the pre-crumbled kind, and you’ll be happy.
  • Serve with a nice baguette.
  • This makes awesome leftovers. Just don’t dress the whole salad so it won’t get soggy.

Pan-Roasted Sirloin with Salad of Arugula, Sweet Peppers, and Olives

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mixed whole black and green olives, such as kalamata and Picholine
  • 1 bunch baby arugula, trimmed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Steak Ingredients

  • 2 New York strip steaks, 8 to 10 ounces each, about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Start by preparing the peppers because they will take the longest. Preheat the broiler. Pull out their cores, then halve the peppers lengthwise, and remove the ribs and seeds. Toss the peppers with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them on a cookie sheet, skin side up, and broil for 10 minutes until really charred and blistered. Put the peppers into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins. In the meantime, move on to the steaks.

Switch the oven from broil to bake and set the temperature to 350°F. Season both sides of the steaks with sea salt and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper, about 1 tablespoon of pepper per steak. Place a cast-iron (or regular ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with a 2-count drizzle of olive oil and get it smoking hot. Add the steaks and sear for 4 minutes on each side. Throw in the thyme, then transfer the skillet to the hot oven and roast the steaks for 5 minutes for a nice medium-rare (120 to 125°F. internal temperature).

While that’s going, pull the loosened skins off the peppers; cut the peppers into nice fat strips and toss them with the olives. Set aside because the steaks should be ready now. Remove the steaks to a cutting board and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing. (This keeps the juices in the meat, not running all over the counter.)

The last thing to make is a quick vinaigrette using the flavors left in the bottom of the skillet. Pour out some of the beef fat and return the pan to the stove. Add the red wine and boil over medium heat while scraping with a wooden spoon to pull the flavors up. Let the wine reduce to 1/4 cup; this will intensify the flavor. Add the sugar and a 1-count of olive oil to balance it out.

Putting it all together is a snap. Cut the steaks on an angle into slices. Gently toss the peppers and olives with the arugula. Drizzle the salad with a little more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss lightly again and then divide between 2 plates. Arrange the steak slices on top of the salad and garnish with the crumbled blue cheese; then drizzle the pan vinaigrette over the steak salads and serve.

Salade Nicoise: Cuisine Francaise Part Deux

Part deux of my French feast for book club (to accompany Lentils with White Wine, Herbs and Tomatoes) was a classic Nicoise Salad. Magnifique!

I searched around for recipes that caught my eye, and settled on one from Emeril Lagasse. I’m a big fan of a hearty salad, and a Nicoise salad definitely fits the bill. I love the unlikely combination of salad and potatoes, and the crunchy green beans, tuna and hard-boiled egg add a great diversity of flavor and texture. And the presentation…pretty impressive!

The dressing for the salad was a winner and adds another whole layer of flavor. You may know that a traditional Nicoise salad incorporates anchovies. Wellll, I’m not the biggest fan of anchovies (whole and looking all fishy laying on top of my food). BUT, anchovies have a great way of breaking down and melting into a sauce or dressing, adding salty, tangy flavor without the anchovy weirdness. The anchovy dressing takes advantage of that quality, combining the sharp anchovy flavor with shallots, lemon juice, capers and Dijon mustard…it’s pungent and creamy and acidic — the perfect accompaniment to the fresh flavors of the salad.

This salad can easily be a meal on its own, and would be great for a lunch with friends. Don’t forget the French wine!

TW’s Tips

  • Emeril called for cutting the potatoes into “sticks” — I like how they look better when they’re halved or quartered.
  • If I did this again, I’d skip the onion.
  • Use canned tuna in oil, not water. It makes a huge difference and tastes so much better.
  • You can also use fresh tuna and sear it, and serve it sliced on the salad.
  • The anchovy dressing uses a raw egg. Get over the weirdness and try it. So yummy.
  • I couldn’t whisk the egg well enough so I put the anchovy/garlic paste and egg in a food processor VERY briefly to break it down (don’t over-mix) and then whisked in the rest of the ingredients by hand.

Salade Nicoise 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
  • 1/4 pound haricots verts, or small, thin green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 can chunk tuna in oil
  • 1 large head romaine or Bibb lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • Anchovy Dressing, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pound Roma plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2/3 cup Nicoise olives
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced or halved
  • Chopped fresh herbs, for garnish (parsley, tarragon, chive, etc.)

Directions

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain in a colander, pat dry, and set aside. Add the green beans to already boiling water and blanch until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, pat dry, and set aside.

Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces and combine with chopped fresh parsley and tarragon. Toss with enough of the anchovy dressing just to coat. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed. Toss the potatoes and green beans in 1/4 cup of the anchovy dressing. Arrange the lettuce along the side of 4 large plates (or 1 serving platter). Spoon the vegetables along the other side of the plate. Arrange the tuna over the lettuce. Arrange the tomatoes, olives, sliced red onions, and eggs on the other sides of the plates (or serving platter). Garnish with additional herbs if desired and serve immediately.

Anchovy Dressing

  • 1 anchovy fillet, drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a medium bowl, mash the anchovy, salt, pepper, and garlic into a paste with the back of a fork. Add the egg and whisk well to blend. (I used a food processor for this first part.) Add the lemon juice and mustard, and whisk well. Add the oils in a steady stream, whisking constantly to form a thick emulsion. Add the shallots, capers and Worcestershire, whisk well, and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: 1 cup