Tag Archives: salad

pantry picnic

If you live on the East Coast, you know Mother N. hit the fast-forward button straight from winter to summer. I’m rocking sundresses on a daily basis these (80-degree) days and ready to eat outside. Andrew and I have re-opened Cafe Lindrew for the season—that is, our little stone patio looking out to the woods. This week has been barbeque with cousins and Mickey Mouse birthdays, and Happy Hour on the patio with the hubs (yuengling for Andrew, textbook for me).

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Isn’t it clear it’s time to get outside for some Vitamin D? In keeping with our humble canned-food quest, here’s a two-minute slaw to take on your next picnic—even if it’s in your backyard. Yes, I realize the contradiction: canned food + a $150 food processor? A big ol’ food processor makes this salad lightening-fast. In case you don’t have a large food processor, you could make this in batches in a small $14 food processor, or just chop up all the ingredients and stir in a big bowl! I never have luck with these hand choppers, but this slaw is the perfect use for one if you’ve got it!

I was missing several ingredients (indicated below) and this was still delightful—like the chicken salad solution for vegetarians. A surprising hit in both the teacher’s lounge and my hubby’s sneak taste-test. “Wow, that smells awesome,” he said over my shoulder. “Am I allowed to have some?” Don’t mention it’s missing meat ūüėČ

Chunky Artichoke and Chickpea Salad

Vegetarian Times, serves 6

For a spring picnic or lunch, serve this dish as a dip with crackers or spread on pumpernickel and top with tomato.Or enjoy with your favorite sandwich (apple and cheddar). Don’t freak out at the number of ingredients until you see how many steps follow.
1  16-oz. can / jar artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1  12-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¬ľ cup chopped onion
¬ľ cup chopped cornichons (French baby pickles)—I used a bread & butter spear
¬ľ cup chopped green bell pepper
¬ľ cup chopped fresh celery
¬ľ cup vegan mayonnaise (I used regular Hellmans)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. capers (I omitted)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 tsp. seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay (I omitted)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard (I omitted)

Pulse all ingredients in food processor until chunky. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Chill at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

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Thank you Vegetarian Times for the nutrition facts! Per 1/2-cup serving (note the majority of the fat is not saturated):

Calories: 148, Protein: 5 g, Total Fat: 9 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 435 mg, Fiber: 6 mg, Sugar: 3 g

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a salad to weather the weather

It’s April, and I find myself discussing “Spring” with the kindergarteners each day. Spring, however, is a confusing concept on the east coast of the United States of America in the year Two-Thousand Thirteen.

Last week was Spring Break; I spent three days in the mountains with my in-laws and the remaining weeks shivering with my folks at the beach.

Spring break day one (at a magical mountain cottage) looked like this:

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our NEIGHbors

Spring break day two looked like this:

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Last week I wore short sleeves to work; the following night’s forecast was sleet and flurries. This weather certainly leaves one stumped about dinner. Something potato-laden, bubbling with cheese? Or shaved asparagus with lemon, crisp and chilled? Here’s a very special salad featuring some buttery comfort from the oven and simple fresh veggies.

$19 mandolinFIRST, SECRETS TO A SUPERB SALAD: I get lots of compliments from guests about my salads, and this is the real texture secret: a mandolin. I have a $10 mandolin from Home Goods and love using it to slice peppers, apples or pears to toss with salad greens, lemon juice and olive oil (those last ingredients are Secret Number Two). The salad is uniformly thin, fork-friendly and crisp. No more salads weighted down with thick cuts of carrots and radishes that require endless chomping. I used my mandolin (carefully, so carefully) to quickly slice the onions and bell pepper for this recipe. You can find a mandolin at Target, Wal-Mart, TJMaxx, Amazon, etc. (Other kitchen essentials here).

Andrew and I loved this restaurant-quality dressing, exciting enough to enjoy the salad for two dinners—and use up the leftover buttermilk for fruit-topped pancakes on night three.

Time-saver Note: I whipped up Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix in two minutes and baked this while prepping the remaining salad. I have still included a from-scratch cornbread recipe I’ll try on a weekend ūüėČ

Corn Bread Salad

Adapted by Deb from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 recipe Crispy Corn Bread (below) or 3 cups of 1-inch cornbread cubes
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (4 to 6 medium or halved cherry tomatoes)
6 cups roughly torn sturdy fresh lettuce, such as Bibb, butter or Boston
2 cups bitter greens, such as arugula (crucial!)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large Vidalia onion, trimmed, peeled, sliced crosswise as thinly as possible and separated into rings
1 recipe Buttermilk-Lime Dressing (below)

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Preheat oven to 250¬į. Scatter the corn bread in a single layer on a half-sheet pan and bake until the pieces are lightly toasted, about 7 minutes.

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Chop the tomatoes with the skin on. Place lettuce, greens, 3 cups of toasted corn bread, onion and tomatoes to a large bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle with buttermilk dressing, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve immediately.

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Deb’s do ahead tip: If you‚Äôre making this for a picnic or pot-luck ‚ÄĒ and oh, you should ‚ÄĒ she suggests keeping the croutons in one container, the dressing in another and the salad mixture in a third; this is best freshly assembled, or in the 30 minutes after.

Buttermilk-Lime Dressing
Adapted by Deb from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

3/4 cup whole or lowfat buttermilk
5 tabespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (they say from 3 to 4 limes; I only needed 1 1/2)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (optional, this was my addition to give it more zing)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

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Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Can covered tightly and stored in the fridge up to two days.

Note from Lindsey: I kept this hand-chopped and chunky, but I think it would be creamier (and faster) in a blender. Since this is a repeat recipe, I plan to puree next time. This recipe is a fabulous twist on my favorite couldn’t-be-easier salad, Panzanella. Try it here.

if you’re not making the cornbread from a mix, read on…

Thin, Crispy Corn Bread
Adapted by Deb from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups whole or lowfat buttermilk (whole is preferred, here’s how you can make your own)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450¬įF. Grease a 12-inch skillet with one tablespoon of the lard or butter, leaving any excess in the pan, and place it in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until frothy and then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix thoroughly. Melt the remaining butter in a small skill (or your microwave) and whisk the butter into your batter.

While the fat in the large skillet is smoking, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the fat around to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Pour the batter into the skillet; it should ‚Äúsizzle alluringly‚ÄĚ, says the Lee Brothers. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden brown and the edge has pulled away from the side of the skillet. Remove from the oven and either serve hot, in six wedges, or let cool and reserve for Corn Bread Salad (above).

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origanum majorana

Marjoram sounds like the name of a homely, studious girl in your mother’s eighth grade biology class.¬† I don’t know about you, but the scientific classification for the herb Marjoram, origanum majorana, sounds like a naughty phrase from the boy’s locker room. Utter its cousin, origanum vulgare, and it’s study hall for you.

However you like to address fresh herbs, I have a spunky friend for your new pal Marjoram. Oregano is her sneak-out-the-window older sister, so the same flavor rules apply. If you’ve visited A Pear to Remember before, cue palm-to-forehead smack as I gush over eggplant and feta YES SERIOUSLY AGAIN. (I find affordable, abundant varieties of eggplant at Korean/Latino grocers, discussed here).

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Andrew is a newly inducted member of the eggplant fan club and still weary of initiation rituals. When it’s not breaded or covered in cheese, eggplant in-the-nude lingers suspiciously longer on his fork on the slow ascend to his mouth. He liked this salad. Really, genuinely liked this salad. I like to think the Andrew-Stamp resides in the same circle of Kid’s Approval since, let’s face it, men aren’t always so excited about new veggies.

If you thought eggplant was only for Italian food, well, obviously you’re new here. Even if you’ve cooked it twelve ways, here’s a strikingly simple Middle Eastern salad for your expanding culinary repertoire.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Eggplant and Feta

from Gourmet, June 2009

serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic (I’ve got a sexy Brit to show you how)

2 teaspoons chopped marjoram or oregano

1 (1 1/4-pounds) eggplant, trimmed and cut into 8 (1-inch-thick) rounds (here’s how)

10 ounces baby spinach

1 cup crumbled feta (1/4 pound)

1/4 cup pine nuts (1 ounce), lightly toasted

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (high heat for gas); we use this stovetop fellow year round. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

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Brush both sides of eggplant slices with some of dressing. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper—you know, pinch it, don’t fret over measures. Oil grill rack, then grill eggplant, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes total. Cut into pieces.

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Toss spinach with enough dressing to coat and season with salt and pepper. Add eggplant, feta, and pine nuts and toss again.

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Serve atop fluffy couscous and sprinkle with some baby tomatoes. I imagine this salad would gladly accept an invitation from¬†my juicy roast chicken to get together after school and “study”.

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plenty: color splash

The long¬†blank wall behind the couch has had me stumped for the 11 months¬†Andrew and¬†I have lived in our suburban condo. Of course we all¬†find things when we’re not looking (like yesterday¬†when I hunted 10 minutes for¬†my ipod¬†that was smack¬†in the middle of the empty kitchen table).¬†I spent last week catching up Mom and Pops in Delaware, and the hot weather had us¬†exploring air-conditioned¬†antique stores throughout the week—the¬†very place I found Mastisse’s “The Parakeet and the Mermaid”, framed decades ago¬†in Belvedere Square where the hubs and I spent much time¬†in Baltimore. The print¬†is my perfect mix of sophisticated and quirky.¬†Hello, wall funk.

Matisse, Parakeet and the Mermaid, Living Room

Pasta is another¬†blank canvas enriched by bright color, and plenty of it. It’s the perfect excuse to return to our Plenty¬†reader’s series, where I interpret select recipes from Yotam¬†Ottolenghi’s enchanting new cookbook.

The printed recipe calls for deep-frying zucchini and whipping up a homemade herb puree. Time limitations and nutrition concerns had me adapting this recipe to a faster, lower-fat version well worth sharing with friends this summer.

plenty, yotam ottolenghi, pasta and friend zucchini salad, crate and barrel bowl, sweedish

Please, if you can, pick up some beautiful buffalo mozzarella (in brine) for this one—it’s¬†where the magic resides. I accidentally grabbed Burrata mozzarella, which has a creamy center, and is easily the last¬†cheese I ever need eat on this¬†good earth.

Pasta and (Not) Fried Zucchini Salad

from Plenty, serves four

3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices (a mandolin makes this a breeze)

1  1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3/4 cup frozen edamame

1 cup basil, shredded coarsely

1/4 cup pesto (I used storebought)

9 oz. strozzapreti or penne (I used rotelli)

grated zest of 1 lemon

7 oz. buffalo mozzarella, torn by hands into chunks

1  1/2 tbsp. small capers (optional)

1 cup heirloom baby tomatoes (my addition)

squash, yellow squash, mandolin, crate and barrel cutting board

Bring a large pot of salted¬†water to a boil. Heat a grill¬†(or stovetop¬†grill pan)¬†to medium high—heat a cast iron/heavy skillet over high heat if you do not have a grill. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the zucchini slices with vegetable/canola oil. Grill the thin zucchini slices two minutes on each side, or until charred and slightly tender. Transfer the grilled¬†zucchini to your serving bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar, stir, and set aside.

staub, staub grill, french blue, grill pan, zucchini

Blanch the edamame for 3 minutes in boiling water; drain and toss into the zucchini and vinegar bowl. (I only had frozen shelled edamame, so I blanched, cooled, and then popped the beans out of the pods into the zucchini).

Cook the pasta until al dente; drain and rinse under cold water. Add the pasta to the zucchini, vinegar and edamame; add the pesto, lemon zest, capers, tomatoes (if using), and mozzarella. Stir gently together, then taste and season with  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Before serving, stir in the torn basil.

basil, plenty cookbook, mozzarella, zucchini, pasta saladStick around and check out another of¬†Yotam¬†Ottolenghi’s¬†exquisite recipes: Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce. You’ve never seen anything like it.

What is the best cookbook on your shelf?

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the food of our forefathers

Let’s close our eyes and imagine this monumental moment in American history: It’s July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress closes its session for the day and¬†John Adams takes a moment to write his dear Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, curried quinoa salad, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Yes, from our remarkable forefather, and determined by the democratic votes of dear Pear readers, this Fourth of July was one of cornhole, fireworks, and curried quinoa salad. You voted, I made it, neighbors loved it.

While a number of new foods and flavors crossed the Atlantic in the late eighteenth century, the combinations here were likely uncommon. If only¬†I could time travel to Mr. Adams’ day and gift him with a subscription to Bon Appetit

curried quinoa salad with mango, bok choy, fourth of july

Curried Quinoa Salad with Mango

from Bon Appetit, makes 2 servings

1 cup quinoa (about 6 ounces)

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon mango chutney, chopped if chunky

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cups chopped peeled mango (peaches are a perfect substitute)

1 cup chopped unpeeled English hothouse cucumber

5 tablespoons chopped green onions, divided

2 cups baby spinach, chopped

Note: I bought mango slices in the deli section, having not planned ahead for ripe mangos. I also recommend adding any or all of the following for extra sweet crunch: diced peaches, dried fruit (apricots or cranberries), red bell pepper.

It is important to rinse quinoa well before cooking. (I used the steam method and found it makes the quinoa too gummy). Cook quinoa in medium pot of boiling salted water (I used chicken broth for flavor) over medium heat until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain well and cool.

curried quinoa salad with mango, quinoa, le cruset, purple

Transfer to medium bowl.

curry powder, mango dressing

whisk, whisking dressing, blue bowl

Whisk oil and next 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

chopped mango, spring onion, scallion

diced cucumbers

dried apricots, chopped

Add chopped mango, cucumber, green onions, any other fruits and veggies you are including, and 1/4 cup dressing to quinoa; toss to coat. Divide spinach between 2 plates. Spoon quinoa salad over spinach. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve. Or, toss it all together in a big bowl and serve the next day!

curried quinoa salad, mango, red pepper, scallion, dried apricot

I spent my Independence day crying to Mao’s Last Dancer, painting furniture for my music room, and serving this salad to new friends. (Even my father-in-law loved this salad!) How did you celebrate?

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as seen on tv

Television I adore: Frasier, Monk, I Love Lucy, Arrested Development—anyone sensing an off-air theme here?¬†I mention this little trivia because¬†Pear readers love to discuss reality cooking shows, and I’m saying it again: I simply don’t watch them. Remember when I judged Iron Chef? I’m not competitive in nature, whether we’re talking about my flute playing or putt-putt game. I don’t watch much food tv anyhow, with¬†our new condo kitchen¬†far from living room¬†viewing potential, and I prefer to spend my time in there. Listening to LPs.

Back in the day, when we lived in our¬†apartment (you know, two months ago), I would come home from work, throw on my apron, and saute simultaneously with¬†Ina. My routine has changed,¬†but one particular¬†television¬†recipe stuck in my mental taste buds all this time. So¬†I finally attempted Claire Robinson’s White Pizza.

“Attempted”¬†is a joke, because a first grader could create this 5-ingredient wonder¬†with equal success.

And Andrew had a cow it was so good—not one complaint over the lack of pepperoni.

This would be a smashing appetizer. Add it to the repertoire, folks. Fab.u.lous.

Easiest White Pizza

God Bless You, Claire Robinson, serves 4

garlic-flavored olive oil

1 lb. ball pizza dough, thawed

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves, more for garnish

Never a fan of fresh oregano, I insist you try it in this context. This is how oregano was meant to be enjoyed. If your mother-in-law’s wild oregano bush is not so close by, you’ll just have to grab one of those fresh herb packs in the salad section. Trust me. Do not skip the oregano.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.

Brush the pizza pan/pizza stone with oil. (Homemade garlic oil: heat several crushed cloves of garlic in oil over low heat  until fragrant). 

On a work surface, using your hands¬†(or, who are we kidding, a rolling pin), press the pizza dough into a large flat disk and transfer it to the greased pan. Using your fingers, press the dough out until it has stretched to the perimeter of the pan. Create a dough “lip” around the outer edges of the pan. Brush the entire surface of the dough lightly with garlic oil and pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, to prevent bubbling.

Evenly spread the mozzarella over the crust. Using 2 spoons, dollop teaspoon-sized mounds of ricotta evenly over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and evenly sprinkle the chopped oregano over the top.

Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before garnishing with additional oregano—serious¬†about this—and slicing into 8 pieces.

I served this with a very simple salad of romaine and dried figs. Drizzle lightly with equal parts balsamic vinegar and agave nectar whisked together. One of those unexpected Linventions that complemented this light meal. It might sound dainty (and risky for a pepperoni-loving spouse), but Andrew returned for thirds.

What’s your favorite pizza topping?

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I’m not in right now, but if you leave a message…

I’m a guest writer! You can find my latest recipes and post¬†over on Anilia’s health and home blog: A Little Inspiration. Today, I’m writing about pistachio pesto,¬†a 5-minute plum salad, and sharing¬†the yellow roma¬†tomatoes I submitted to the 2011¬†Virginia Grown farmer’s market photo contest! Click over to read, and see you back here soon ūüôā

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earning your [favorite dessert here]

A family friend recently asked¬†(regarding my veggie-loving, meat-free diet), “Lindsey, I just don’t understand what you order when you go out¬†for fast food” to which¬†I could only respond, “Well, I don’t eat fast food.” I realize this is a lifestyle choice, and¬†the next few thoughts explore why¬†it’s mine.

Now I think dinner in 20 minutes does¬†count as¬†(pretty-darn) fast food, but, yes, it requires planning ahead—precisely why I write this handy blog for you! The following grilled treat is healthy and¬†creamy-wonderful; I simply do not believe there has to be a trade-off between enjoying food and treating your body well. Lately I’ve been considering whether this perspective is an adoptee¬†thing?

It feels like people around me are always yapping about their genes, “A strong heart runs in the family, I just eat what I want…” Or persistent co-worker:¬†“We’ve always had good cholesterol on Dad’s side, I don’t need to worry about sodium”. Maybe two decades of checking the not applicable box on those medical history forms has led me to the silly assumption I’ve got take things into my own hands¬†mouth and¬†eat foods that will best¬†provide my body with nutritious fuel.¬†Adoptees often don’t know of historical health on which¬†they can rely, not that this makes all of us vegetarians…

I love to eat, I live for cheese; I cook at home so my food can be delicious and controlled in salt and fat (motive: so I can live a long time¬†traveling the world with Andrew, who has enviable genes). Call me nuts for considering this concoction¬†a complete meal, but¬†it was divine and followed by a well-earned a¬†gelato date with the hubs. Andrew my Chicken-Loving Man loved¬†this, called it restaurant material. Gene-ius ūüėČ

Grilled Corn and Feta Bruschetta

based on a June 2011 recipe from Bon Appetit

2 ears corn, shucked

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 loaf fresh ciabatta bread

1/2 garlic clove

1/4 cup sour cream (or crema mexicana)

3 tbsp. crumbled feta

1 large tomato, chopped

1 lime

fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, or chives)

chili powder

kosher salt

fresh black pepper

Grill the corn

If you want to speed along the corn cooking (and avoid charred, raw kernels), consider partially cooking the cobs in the microwave. When ready to grill, rub the corn with vegetable oil and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill over medium heat until lightly charred and tender. Slice corn off the cob in wide strips.

Season the Bread

Cut the loaf into¬†one-inch slices; stack the slices and cut them in half (I found grilling smaller pieces the second night—not pictured—made for easier eating).¬†Lightly brush the¬†bread slices with olive oil and grill on each side¬†until slightly charred (just 3 or so minutes on each side, keep on eye on ’em). Immediately rub the top of each slice with the cut side of the garlic—a rustic Italian technique you will love.

Assemble the bruschetta

Mix the sour cream with feta (I used fat-free sour cream).

Smear the toasts with the cheese mixture and top with the grilled corn and chopped tomatoes. Squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over each and garnish with your favorite herb (a must). Top with chili powder (also essential; I use a completely mild chili powder and it adds lovely smokey flavor to the corn and lime).

Without a Grill?

If you find this recipe as alluring as I did on paper, you can replicate it without a grill by cooking the corn (either in the oven with this fabulous method, or cutting off the cob and then saut√©ing¬†in olive oil until tender). Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast on a baking sheet in a 400F oven until lightly brown, rubbing the garlic on the bread as soon as it’s out of the oven.

Pepita and Spinach Salad

inspired by an April 2011 taco recipe from Epicurious

1 large tomato, chopped

1/4 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/3 cup canned chickpeas

1/2 lime

3/4 cup packed spinach leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 avocado, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks

1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil

If the pumpkin seeds are raw, toast them until fragrant in a dry, medium-hot skillet. Toast the chickpeas in a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and stir until brown and crisp.

Combine the sliced spinach and tomatoes with a generous squeeze of fresh lime and small drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the feta, avocado, chickpeas, and seeds just before serving.

More about my most adored indoor grill here. And have you checked out the updated About Lindsey tab??

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the american way

I don’t know if there is a more unifying substance in our country’s history than mayonnaise. Pivotal¬†for shrimp salad, ‘tater (that’s potato –> tato –> tater) salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, shrimp salad,¬†macaroni salad. Shame on me to forget cole slaw!

You know how I feel about using mayo as a pasta sauce (even writing this post in rebuke), but sometimes one has to be patriotic. Sometimes cooks must compromise for nine guests not interested in said cook’s love for funky vegetables and fresh garlic.

But before we get to classic macaroni salad to start off your summer, a jaunt down Memorial Day memory lane.

There was the salad of¬†my life: mango and¬†avocado over butter¬†lettuce with queso¬†fresco and pine-nut lime dressing—hold¬†the bacon—at Agave in¬†Lewes. Then, boardwalk pizza with friends (a must), though I chose Gus’ fries soaked in vinegar.

¬†¬†Did¬†I mention the bountiful servings of pure Awesome at Touch of Italy in Lewes? Yes, we did eat our way through much of the weekend and came across some lovely beach finds like these luscious soaps from Little Egg Harbor Soap company, tucked away on the Rehoboth boardwalk…

and you might imagine my amusement at this greeting (which falls under my life principle of citing one’s sources):

Classic Macaroni Salad

tweaked from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, serves 8-10

coarse kosher salt

1 lb. elbow mac

1/2 small red onion, minced

1 celery rib, chopped fine

1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (I mixed fresh flat-leaf parsley and chives)

1¬†lemon, juiced plus ¬Ĺ tsp. lemon zest

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

¬Ĺ tbsp Dijon mustard

pinch of cayenne pepper

1  1/2 cups mayo

ground black pepper

Soak the chopped red onion in ice water while boiling the pasta (this reduces the raw bite of onion if you find it too strong).

Boil pasta in well salted water (a few tablespoons of salt) until nearly tender, just al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain briefly (but not all the way). Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and cayenne and let sit until flavors are absorbed about 2 minutes. Add mayo and let sit until the salad is no longer watery, about 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Can refrigerate up to 2 days. If making ahead, stir in a little warm water to loosen before serving.

Best enjoyed outdoors at sunset with good company.

If you think¬†your friends will Like this recipe, it’s also¬†on Facebook, just click here! And if you’re up to braving homemade mayo—incredibly worth it—here’s my own attempt.

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fit for family: part two (or getting your frico on)

As I was writing in the last post, it’s simple to make an elegant meal with few, fresh ingredients. When you’re lucky enough to access fresh veggies and cheeses from the farmer’s market, there is something extra special about your meal. Of course, the best part, whether a mother’s day meal or Friday night with friends, is your own presentation. I can’t say hard work and sweat¬†because this is really a basics kind of meal (though you will call me a phony when you see the Strawberry Chips below…)

To accompany my original Springtime Casareccia with Basil & Fresh Ricotta, a basic but thrilling little salad:

Leaf-Lettuce Salad with Parmesan Crisps

from Great Food Fast, serves 6

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

3/4 lb. red or green leaf lettuce

1 fresh lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 small garlic clove

1/4 cup fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives, or a mix)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

You will need parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat

Bake the Frico

Frico (freek-o)¬†is¬†a delicate parmesan wafer that adds a spectacular dash of Unexpected to a very simple salad. Even¬†if you overbake¬†the batch¬†by a minute or two—points¬†to self—they¬†remain impressively cheesey and elegant.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide the cheese into four mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least four-inches apart. With the back of a spoon, spread each mound into an even 4-inch round.

Frico stores well as room temperature for a few days. I stacked the wafers between parchment paper for safe travel.

Bake until melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. With a thin metal spatula, transfer the crisps to a wire rack and let cool.

Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces.

Mix the dressing

In a blender (or small food processor), combine 2 tbsp. lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic, and herbs (I used chives and basil). With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.

(This can also be whisked together by hand; chop the herbs and garlic fine). Salt and pepper the dressing, taste to balance the acid adding more oil if necessary.

Just before serving, add the dressing to the lettuce along with salt and pepper. Serve the salad with frico atop.

Speaking of the unexpected, strawberry chips are one of those Special Occasion accessories for a simple dessert. My sister-in-law (doing her part, and also saving my¬†can’t-bake-worth-squat¬†butt) provided homemade brownies and vanilla ice cream. This little garnish was so intriguing on paper, I was thrilled to have a holiday to try them out.

Strawberry Chips

scribbled down from my working days at Azafran

1/4 lb. strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

you will also need: pastry brush, parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 225F (or 200 for a convection oven).

Boil the sugar syrup

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Slice the strawberries

Slice the stems off the strawberries so that the berries have a flat end. Slice the strawberries on a mandolin or line up the berries and thinly slice with a sharp knife.

Bake the strawberry slices

help from the hubs!

Lay out the strawberry slices on the baking pans (lined with parchment baking or silicone mats). With a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of sugar syrup over each strawberry. Bake (convection: 30 to 45 minutes; regular oven: 40 to 50 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through baking.

To test if the chips are done, remove one from the oven and allow it to cool on the counter.¬† If it is crispy once it has cooled, then it’s done. If the slices are browning, take them out of the oven. Remove the slices from the pan while they are hot, and cool on a clean, dry countertop.

These chips are a crunchy note on any creamy dessert, or a remarkable sweet snack. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. of strawberries for 60 strawberry chips; they keep well in a sealed container for 2 weeks. Keep them in a cool place. Or impress your mother-in-law ūüôā

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