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Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

There’s nothing quite so wonderful in spring as a hearty salad, like this Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad.  I’m in a little bit of limbo right now about whether or not we are going to be moving.  Three scenarios are going on in our lives – one is that we stay where we are, one is that we move on the other side of the Portland Metro area, and the other is that we move to the Oregon coast.  None of these are bad options and all have some very definite pros when it comes to cooking, food, and resourcing ingredients.  But the problem is that it is spring – truly and officially spring, and what I really want to do is start planning and planting a garden.  However, I don’t want to drag pots of plants with me when and if we move, so I’m (reluctantly) holding off.

What does this have to do with this Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad?   Well, not much I suppose, except that I’m desperately craving fresh, spring veggies, and would prefer radishes directly from my garden, but will make do with the ones I found at Whole Foods.  That said, if you’ve never planted a radish, and you have a bit of gardening space, plant some radishes immediately.  The round orbs of radish will start peeking through the ground in about 45 or so days and there’s something supremely decadent about rinsing off a radish in the hose and eating it right there, whole, out of the garden.

Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

If you haven’t cooked with Israeli couscous before, I encourage you to try it. It’s a slightly larger version of regular couscous, but is also made with semolina flour.  It’s a bit toothier – has a bit more chew to it than regular couscous and is fabulous in salads.  You might see it labeled as pearl couscous or Israeli couscous.  In this recipe, I toasted it a bit first and then cooked it, which gives it a nuttier flavor.

I recommend either paneer cheese or haloumi cheese for this Israeli couscous, arugula pesto spring salad.  Both cheeses toast, so you’ll want to take the extra time to get a light brown crust on the cheese.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad

Ingredients

    Arugula Pesto
  • 1 tightly packed cup of arugula
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • Salad
  • 2 – 3 cups arugula
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous or pearl couscous
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package paneer or haloumi cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 bunch radishes

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the couscous and toast, stirring occasionally for five to seven minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for ten minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. Prepare the pesto by either hand chopping the arugula, garlic clove, and walnuts or processing in a food processor. Add the lemon, olive oil, and salt to combine.
  3. For the salad, chop the radishes into slices and set aside. Slice the cheese into cubes. Preheat a cast iron or non-stick pan and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese with a pinch of salt and then toast the cheese on at least two sides until light brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. To assemble the salad, start by layering the arugula on serving plates. Add the Israeli couscous on top, and then divide the cheese and radishes on each salad. Spoon the pesto over the salads and enjoy!
  5. (If you are making these for lunch, and have 1 pint mason jars on hand, layer the other direction. Add arugula to the bottom of the jar first. Add cheese and radishes next and then the Israeli couscous and finally the arugula.)
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Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

The February/March Cook the Books reading selection, Dinner with Edward, inspired my mini strawberry chocolate galettes.  Dinner with Edward, by Isabel Vincent, is a charmer.  It’s a quick read, filled to the brim with amazing food stories, menus, and inspiration.  But the heart of the book is the relationship between Edward, a retired gentleman whose wife recently died, and Isabel, a younger woman who goes through major life upheaval in the course of the book.  It’s a book about friendship and food, both of which cut across generations.  I really thought this one was, well, charming.

And so much food to choose from for inspiration (as you can see from my very sticky-noted copy)!  I initially couldn’t decide if I was going to try one of Edward’s potato recipes, or steak, or soup, or soufflé, or martinis, or chicken, or fish, or pork.  What I eventually landed on was being inspired by the apple galette that shows up around chapter three.  Strawberries are slowly making their way into season (as spring seems to finally be peaking around the corner here in the PNW).  I decided to aim for a version of the galette using butter instead of Edward’s recommended lard, and go for flavors that I love to share with friends.  Thus, I ended up with a dozen perfect mini strawberry chocolate galettes that my husband and I have been munching on all week long.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

These mini strawberry chocolate galettes would make a great Easter dessert.  They’d also be delightful as the final course for a picnic.  You can substitute other berries for sure – I’m definitely going to be making these again when raspberries are in season.  Galettes take all the loveliness of a pie and make it into a rustic, easy to make and bake treat.  They are completely free form, so all you have to do is make the pastry, roll it out, fill and bake.  I added a touch of dark chocolate and some sugar macerated strawberries and called it delightful.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Oh – and I’ll confess.  I did end up making a dry martini the way it was suggested in the book.  I think it may be the best martini I’ve ever had in my life.  If you are curious, check out either the book (which I highly recommend) or take a peek at my Instagram feed where there’s a photo of the martini and tips on how to make it.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Ingredients

    For the Pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • For the Filling
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the pastry by combining the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour, using a fork, your hands, or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Add the water, a bit at a time and work into the flour/butter mix until it forms a ball. Refrigerate the pastry dough for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, combine the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside to macerate.
  4. Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate chips. Roll the chilled pastry dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter or similar to cut the dough into small circles.
  6. Spoon a bit of the melted dark chocolate into the middle of each pastry dough circle. Arrange several slices of strawberries on top of each and gently fold and pinch the pastry dough up over the strawberries.
  7. Place each mini galette onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you are using an egg to wash, combine the egg with a tablespoon of water and beat until frothy. Brush the egg wash over the pastry dough for each galette.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the galettes are light brown. Enjoy!
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This recipe is linked up to March’s Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi.  Treat Petite is hosted alternative months at Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, so be sure to check out both awesome blogs!

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And to the March 2017 Foodie Reads

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

This month’s Food ‘n Flix pick resulted in honeymoon nostalgia and these baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches.  French Kiss is a lighthearted comedy from 1995, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.  The basic plot of the movie is woman (Meg Ryan) loses boyfriend to another woman, goes to Paris to track him down, meets a jewel thief (Kevin Kline) along the way, and then falls in love with the jewel thief.  It’s a cute romantic comedy – the kind of thing that my husband plays video games through and mixes up with another cute romantic comedy (namely Runaway Bride) which we watched a few weeks after.

And maybe it’s because I’m equally a cynic, what I mostly thought about the movie after I finished watching it was – oh those simpler times in the 90s when a woman could safely run off with a man she barely knows after losing her passport and money to his family’s vineyard without fear of being murdered.  Just saying.  Still – what a vineyard!

My one challenge with watching movies for Food ‘n Flix is this – I watch them as a food blogger, which means I want them to slow down and focus on the food!  It’s Paris – it’s France – show me beautiful food!  There was beautiful food in this movie, just not enough of it that was up close and personal.  So my inspiration ended up being less of something in the actual movie and more of Paris itself.  What better way to celebrate Paris than with baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches?

A big part of my inspiration also came from all the memories that watching this movie brought up of Clay and my honeymoon nine years ago.  We did a two week Europe trip – starting in Paris, taking a train to Amsterdam, and then flying to Rome and then home.  My one regret, particularly from the Paris part of the trip, was that I was still a hard-core vegetarian, and even though I was drooling over every baguette with ham and cheese that Clay ate, I stuck to the baguettes with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  No – I wasn’t suffering that much.  But still, these baguettes and French Kiss sandwich are my attempt to recapture the days we spent in Paris and the glorious smells of the bakeries and the beautiful slow food that was everywhere around us.

The baguette recipe is adapted from a King Arthur recipe.  I reduced the rise time without any negative impact on the taste of the baguette.  I do use a starter, which I realize adds time and the need for advanced planning to make these, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  The actual hands on time with these is minimal – 15 minutes at the most.

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Ingredients

    Starter
  • ¼ teaspoon active yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 115 degrees)
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • All of the starter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • For the French Kiss Sandwiches (for two sandwiches)
  • 4 – 6 slices of Jamon Serrano (or prosciutto or thinly sliced ham)
  • 8 thin slices of brie cheese

Instructions

  1. Start the starter the night before. Combine all the ingredients for the starter in a medium bowl and stir. This should form a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight – about 14 hours will do it, though the starter is forgiving.
  2. To make the dough
  3. Combine the warm water, the yeast, and all of the starter. Mix until the starter is mostly incorporated. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Combine to make a shaggy dough and then knead the dough for 6 minutes on a floured surface. Add a bit of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to you. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
  4. First Rise
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
  6. Second Rise
  7. After 45 minutes, punch the dough down (deflate it). Cover it again and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Shaping the Dough and Preparing it for Baking
  9. After the second rise, deflate the dough again and cut it into four even sections. (You can also divide it into two sections or six sections – depending on how many baguettes you want to make). Roll the sections of dough into rectangles and fold them into baguette shapes, placing the seam-side down.
  10. Place the shaped baguettes on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  11. [The baguettes may spread a bit during the final rise– so if you want more classically shaped bread, you can place the baguettes on parchment paper or a clean dishtowel and pull up a bit of parchment paper or dishtowel between each baguette to help it keep its shape. If you do this, when it’s time to bake, you’ll need to gently roll the baguettes onto a greased baking sheet.]
  12. Cover the baguettes with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 20 minutes before the end of the final rise. To get a nice crispy baguette, it helps to have a very hot oven.
  13. Once the baguettes have completed the final rise, transfer them to the baking sheet (if you need to) and then place them in the oven. If you have a spray bottle with water handy, gently spray the baguettes, being careful not to spray your oven’s element. Bake for 20 minutes or until the baguettes are a golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and let the baguettes sit in the oven for 10 minutes after they are done. This helps get an even crispier texture on the outside.
  14. Let the baguettes cool for at least 30 minutes. When they are cool, to assemble a sandwich, slice the baguette in half and place the brie and jamon on the baguette. Enjoy!
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Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich

This week, I aimed for simple for lunch and came up with this recipe for a vegetarian muffuletta sandwich.  You might ask, why the search for simplicity this week?  My answer – I worked for over twelve hours over two days trying to tame blackberry bushes, passion flower vines, trumpet vines, and bamboo, all of which were happily taking over our house in Southern Oregon that we are trying to sell.  I’m rapidly learning, however, that no one wants to buy a house that looks like Sleeping Beauty might be in residence underneath all the thorny bushes.

I actually started out the weekend with a full six days of vacation time (including the weekend and Labor Day).  I had lovely plans – outings in Portland most of which would have revolved around food: a full day hanging out at Fubon (one of the many Asian markets in Southeast Portland), eating my way through the Pearl District, food cart pods…  And then adulthood set in and we realized that this was a great weekend to spend chopping down bushes and pulling weeds.

After three days of fast food and restaurant food, I was ready to get home, make a salad for dinner, and create something relatively healthy to enjoy for lunch.  The vegetarian muffuletta sandwich was perfect for this, especially accompanied by a quick spinach salad with a few radishes sliced on top.  I was also even finally at a place today where I could lift my arms to eat my sandwich without everything hurting.  (Have I mentioned that blackberry bushes fight back?).

Meaty eggplant is the star in this sandwich and takes the place of the meats that would usually be in this sandwich.  A traditional muffuletta is served on a specific kind of bread, which I didn’t have access to, so ciabatta bread had to do.  I made my own olive salad and used capers to bring out some of the pickled tanginess.  I also made use of some canned red peppers from last year’s canning season to add a little more vinegar and some texture.  The ciabatta held its shape, even after the sandwich sat all night in the fridge, making this a great make-ahead lunch.

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich2

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich
Serves 4

Olive Salad
1 can pitted black olives
1 can pitted green olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil

Sandwiches
1 eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt
4 roasted red peppers
4 slices provolone cheese
1 loaf ciabatta bread or similar

Preparing the Olive Salad
Chop the olives into a fine dice.  Put them in a bowl and mix in the capers, parsley and olive oil.  Set aside.

Preparing the Eggplant
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle each with about ½ teaspoon olive oil.  Sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt (1/4 teaspoon at the most per slice).  Roast for 10 minutes and then flip the eggplant.  Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is very wrinkled and slightly brown.

Assemble the Sandwiches
Slice the ciabatta into four sections.  Slice each section in half.  Divide the olive salad over each slice of bread.  Layer the eggplant, provolone cheese, and roasted red pepper.  Enjoy

Fig and Prosciutto Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

Fig and Prosciutto Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

I decided to play with some sweet and salty this week in this fig and prosciutto salad with creamy parmesan dressing.  We had three outrageously hot days here in the PNW followed by two very cool days.  All of these ups and downs in the weather are screaming fall is coming – break out the pumpkin spice!  Even my recipes this week are starting to move into fall flavors (just a little).  Figs are a late summer fruit here in the PNW and I would buy them by the pounds if it were economically reasonable – I’m that much of a fig fan.  Fortunately, I found a reasonably priced tray of figs at Trader Joe’s, so bought them, of course.  The figs that weren’t immediately devoured as a late in the day snack went into this salad.

One of my fondest memories of living in Tularosa, New Mexico was the fig trees.  We had two on the property we were renting – one small fig tree that produced large purple figs and one larger tree that produced an abundance of small green figs.  I would delight in laying in the hammock under the four giant pecan trees in the backyard and occasionally picking a fig.  When we finally land again someplace where we have a yard that’s our own, fig trees will be one of the first things I plant.  There is something just luscious about the firm skin of the fig and the bright pink interior with its little crunchy seeds.

fig salad with figs 2

Fig and Prosciutto Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing
Serves 4

Creamy Parmesan Dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a jar and place a lid on tightly.  Shake vigorously until all the ingredients are combined.

Fig and Prosciutto Salad
One head of romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
16 – 20 figs, each split in half.
4 slices of prosciutto
Creamy Parmesan Dressing

Divide the lettuce, figs, and prosciutto amongst four bowls or plates.  Drizzle a tablespoon or two of dressing over each.

Enjoy!

Veggie Spring Rolls

Veggie Spring Rolls

These veggie spring rolls are a great antidote to the lethargic days of late summer (even though summer can be very late in arriving in the PNW.)  Now that the days are creeping into the high eighties and nineties and the dog and I both decide it’s time to lay in the grass and become solar charged, I have little interest in spending too much time in the kitchen.  I’m also faced with the abundance of the season: the basil is on hyper-drive to produce, I have two bags of cucumbers in the fridge (read why here), and carrots and radishes are readily available in the farmer’s market.  Spring rolls are a quick and easy solution.

Some tips: you’ll often read that spring rolls really need to be eaten the day they are made.  I have had good experience, however, making up a few spring rolls the night before and taking them for my lunch.  One trick I learned in most recent spring roll making venture is that you can separate each roll with a little bit of parchment paper so they don’t stick together.  The rice wrapper does not adhere to the parchment paper, making it very easy to pull off each without tearing the wrapper.

The other tip is that while many spring roll recipes call for Thai Basil, if you don’t happen to have Thai Basil on hand, regular basil will do fine as a substitute.  I made one batch with purple basil, which tasted great, but made for a slightly peculiar looking spring roll.

Feel free to experiment with what you put into your rolls.  You could also add lettuce, jicama, asparagus, snap peas, and rice noodles.  These can definitely be a catch all for whatever produce you have laying around.

spring rollsspring roll purple basil

Veggie Spring Rolls
Serves 2 – 3

1 or 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
1 cucumber, peeled, and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
3 radishes, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
1 package of baked tofu, sliced into pieces the size of the vegetables
1 bunch cilantro or basil
8 – 10 rice skin wrappers
Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil and Siracha for dipping sauce

Fill a pie pan or similar shallow dish with hot water (hot tap water is fine).  Dip a rice skin wrapper in the water and let sit for thirty seconds or until the rice wrapper becomes pliable.

Place the wrapper on a plate and place several leaves of cilantro or basil in the middle.  Place three or four of each of the vegetable sticks on top of the cilantro and basil.  Place three or four of the baked tofu on top of the veggies.  Take the bottom of the rice wrapper and fold up.  Do the same with the top.  Roll the remainder of the wrapper from one side to the other, making sure all the filling is tucked in.

Complete the above steps for the remaining rice wrappers, veggies, and tofu.

Serve with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, siracha to dip.

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Pasta Salad

When life gives you half an hour to make your lunch for the week, along with the first of the summer tomatoes and an abundant crop of basil, make Roasted Tomato and Burrata Bow Tie Pasta Salad.  So if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a number of beach-focused posts this past weekend.  One of the greatest parts of living in this part of the PNW is that the beach is only two hours away, and I was fortunate to happen to have a meeting along the coast on Friday, which led to a night’s stay in Bandon, Oregon, a small tourist town along the southern Oregon coast.  I ate seafood, picked up rocks and shells, and wandered along the beach.  This meant, however, that Saturday was consumed with beach-time and driving, leaving just one day to run errands and cook on Sunday.  I also realized, belatedly, that the Vancouver Marathon was happening on Sunday, which meant virtually no parking for the farmer’s market in Vancouver.  This gave me a great excuse for going to a different market across the river in Portland – the Montavilla neighborhood market, where I found the first cherry tomatoes of the season.  After having also crammed in shopping, a father’s day phone call, and a haircut, I was left with little time to be super kitchen creative. 

Thus, bow tie pasta salad with roasted tomatoes, basil and Burrata cheese.  Burrata cheese looks like a large round chunk of mozzarella.  The difference is that the exterior is very mozzarella like, while the interior is filled with creamy curds that melt very nicely.  It’s divine. Burrata was a rarity when we lived in rural Oregon, but here in the Portland area, it’s much easier to find.  This recipe comes together very quickly and makes a great lunch dish.  It would hold up well for a picnic, too. 

pasta2

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Bow Tie Pasta Salad
Serves 4

8 ounces dried bow tie pasta
15-20 cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 balls of burrata
10-15 leaves of basil, torn into bite-size pieces
Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Olive oil to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put the whole cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet or pie pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped garlic.  Roast for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are wrinkly and soft.  Set aside and let cool.

Fill a saucepan about half way with water and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.  Drain the pasta.

Combine the drained pasta, the roasted tomatoes, and basil and toss.  Tear the burrata into chunks and add to the pasta/tomato/basil combination.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of ground pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. 

This can be eaten as is, or left overnight in the fridge and reheated the next day – no more than a minute or two in the microwave.

Picnic Potato Salad

Picnic Potato Salad

By and large I am not a huge fan of potato salad.  I have a fairly significant aversion to mayonnaise, though I will use it for tuna or chicken salad.  I used to not like hard-boiled eggs, so this may have something to do with it as well.  In recent years, I’ve started to experiment more with this type of salad, using a minimal amount of mayonnaise and skipping the eggs all together.  I went one step further with this salad and just ditched the mayonnaise, opting instead for a dressing of red wine vinegar, oil and mustard.  Even better, I threw in some nicoise salad touches: Kalamata olives, blanched snap peas, and a whole hard boiled egg in each serving.

On a side note, I recently discovered a new red wine vinegar (because generic red wine vinegar just isn’t that thrilling.)  Meet the chianti red wine vinegar of my dreams:

chianti red wine vinegar

Ok – maybe it’s not that exciting and maybe it does taste mostly like red wine vinegar, but still.

This is a great time of year for little potatoes straight out of the garden or from the farm or farmer’s market.  The snap peas could certainly be replaced with beans.  The dressing made plenty of extra, so save it for a green salad later in the week or to go with roasted chicken and focaccia.

potato salad

Picnic Potato Salad
Serves 4

10 – 12 small (fingerling size) potatoes
10 – 12 snap peas
10 – 12 Kalamata olives
4 hardboiled eggs
Chianti red wine dressing (below)

Chianti Red Wine Dressing
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chianti red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
pinch salt
a few grinds fresh pepper

For the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar.  Cover with a tight lid, shake vigorously and set aside.

For the salad: Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the snap peas and boil for one minute.  Put the snap peas in a strainer and rinse with cool water.  Set aside. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and boil until tender.  Drain, cool and cut into quarters.  Combine the potatoes, blanched snap peas and Kalamata olives.  Dress with Chianti Red Wine Dressing – all ingredients should be well coated.  Chill for at least an hour for flavors to develop.  Add the hardboiled eggs on each plate when the dish is served.

Spicy Tuna Salad

Spicy Tuna Salad

I had a long and lazy Memorial Day weekend, punctuated only by a brief outing across the bridge from Vancouver to the Portland side of the Columbia River for lunch one day.  The days were fairly cool, but I did get some sunshine on Monday.  I want to keep the three-day weekend vibe going all week long, so decided a picnic at my desk was in order – thus, spicy tuna salad (a recipe for the potato salad that accompanies this will be on the blog later this week).

I’m a huge fan of spicy tuna rolls, but also much too lazy right now to roll my own sushi, much less make sushi rice.  I decided instead to go with canned tuna and spice it up with some siracha and sesame oil.  Otherwise, this is a fairly standard tuna salad – a little celery and a little mayo finishes it up.  I’m keeping all the other parts separate to serve at my desk on Tuesday: a piece of pita bread and a couple of lettuce leaves.

spicy tuna siracha and sesame oil

Spicy Tuna Salad
Serves 2

1 can tuna, drained
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Siracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Serve in either pita pockets or on romaine lettuce leaves.

Not a Niçoise Salad

Not a Niçoise Salad

This week, I had a serious craving for a robust salad for my lunch. I also wanted smoked salmon, but then became enticed by a smoked trout I found at our local grocery. I’m a fan of a mix of interesting vegetables in a salad and had created what I thought was a Niçoise salad last summer, complete with roasted potatoes, salty kalamata olives, and blanched baby green beans. After doing some research today, I learned that this isn’t strictly a Niçoise salad. So I’ll own up to it not being such a thing and let it stand on its own for just being a great lunch salad.

The smoked trout was a bit too teriyaki-tasting for me and clashed a bit with the pesto dressing. I think either canned tuna or baked salmon would have been a better choice, so have included those as options here

notnicoise2.notnicoise3

Pesto Lemon Dressing
Easily dresses 3 salads

3 tablespoons pesto
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from a small lemon
½ teaspoon salt
A few grinds of fresh pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar, cover with a tight lid, and shake vigorously.

Not a Niçoise Salad
Serves 3

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half
1 package smoked steelhead trout, smoked salmon, or one can canned tuna, or a small fillet of baked salmon
One head endive
One small head romaine lettuce
5 or 6 radishes, sliced
½ cup kalamata olives
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
6 or 7 baby potatoes, quartered and roasted (see below)
Drizzle the baby potatoes with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and roast in an oven at 400 degrees for thirty minutes, stirring half way through.

Divide ingredients among three plates or containers. Dress with the pesto lemon dressing.

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