Cold Asparagus

In my earlier post, I told of our Gourmet Dinner evenings with our neighbors when we lived in Thousand Oaks, California. The sides I prepared to go with the dinner at our house were chosen for their simplicity and ease of preparation. The recipe for Cold Asparagus is so easy it is hard to call it a recipe, but  it is a delicious addition to almost any entree. .

Good Seasons Lemon and Herbs dry salad seasoning mix. (For 2 bunches of asparagus, you will use only 1/2 of the salad seasoning packet.

Lay asparagus spears flat in pan of boiling water to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, lift asparagus out to drain. Cover immediately with ice cubes for 30 minutes to stop cooking process. Remoe any remaining ice, drain, and pat dry. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle lightly with 1/2 package Good Seasons Lemon and Herbs dry salad seasoning mix. Cover and refrigerate until served.

 

Cantaloupe 5 Ways

Summertime in Texas encourages cool meals. We have been thankful that so far hurricane season has not produced bad storms in our area. Rain has been unpredictable – flash floods in Houston and only a few showers here and there for us. So it is dry and unbearably hot. Air conditioning helps, and so does having cold foods on the table for meals. Salads are included often. Also, melons are favorites in our family, Watermelon and cantaloupe are part of my earliest childhood memories of summer in Texas. Both sets of my grandparents grew melons at one time so we had plenty. I can close my eyes and taste the sweetness of fresh melon, even the sensation of their juices dripping on my chin!  When Joe and I were growing up in East Texas, both watermelon and cantaloupe got a sprinkling of salt before we ate them. My family even added pepper to sliced cantaloupe.

The cantaloupe slices above are special because they grew in our own garden. All these years later, I have learned to love the taste of a squeeze of lime juice on melons, and like to serve them in a variety of ways as an addition to meals. You can always add melon to a breakfast smoothie, but consider trying  –

  1. Cantaloupe wrapped in a thin slice of prosciutto – wonderful with Italian food.
  2. Cantaloupe, watermelon, and other fresh fruits like peaches or pineapple, sprinkled with a spicy seasoning like Penzey’s Pico Fruta. The spice and heat makes the sweet of the melon even more mouth watering.
  3. Coarsely chopped fresh melon and berries drizzled with poppy seed dressing.
  4. Chopped melon along with kiwi slices scattered on top of whipped cream on a dessert Pavlova.
  5. Chunks of melon as a surprise element in green salads. One recipe is below.

Spinach Salad with Melon and Mint

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

2 Tablespoons honey

1 (10 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves

2 cups cubed seeded watermelon

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and honey. Set aside.In a large serving bowl, combine the spinach, watermelon, onion, pecans and mint. Toss with the dressing just before serving.

 

 

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Summertime is a good time for grilling. This marinated salad keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, and is a delicious side for any grilled meat, chicken, or fish. Don’t let the long list of ingredients discourage trying it. There is little preparation involved other than some minor chopping and opening the variety of canned vegetables.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Note:  all canned ingredients need to be drained before adding.

1 red onion, sliced

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

15 oz. can petite green peas

15 oz. can white corn

15 oz. can french style green beans

15 oz. can bean sprouts

12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts

10 oz. can bamboo shoots

10 oz. can sliced water chestnuts

12 oz. jar marinated roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 bottle Italian salad dressing, or make your own with oil, herbs, and vinegar.

Combine all ingredients except salad dressing in large bowl with lid. Toss well.

Add salad dressing and toss lightly to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, tossing or turning bowl occasionally. Keeps well and is a great addition to potlucks.

 

 

 

 

 

Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has a twist of flavor provided by contrasting tastes of capers, golden raisins, and red onions. With the addition of yellow peppers, Kalamata olives, and fresh basil, it is also a nutritious and colorful addition to the table. When I make it, I remember a Bow Tie (farfalle) salad I once had at a tea room near Shadows on the Teche  in New Iberia Louisiana. Set among towering live oak trees draped with Spanish moss on the banks of Bayou Teche, The Shadows, built in 1834 for sugar planter David Weeks, paints a vivid picture of life for the four generations that made this property their home,the first National Trust for Historic Preservation site in the Gulf South. I bought a cookbook in their gift shop which has been the source of many other good dishes for our family.

I have experimented with this pasta and remembered ingredients, but have never duplicated the one I ate there.

Serve with grilled chicken or meat of your choice. Top with bacon and feta cheese for a true kitchen keeper! 

Bow Tie Pasta

1 lb. farfalle, or Bow Tie Pasta

1 thin sliced red onion

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup Kalamata olives

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup capers

1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or more to taste)

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

crumbled crisp bacon for topping (optional)

Cook and drain pasta. Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil. Cool and toss again before stirring in all other ingredients. Top with crumbled feta cheese and bacon if desired.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Master Chef’s are fond of saying, “We eat with our eyes first”, but did you know there’s research to back it up?  Studies have found when we find food more appealing, not only do we enjoy it more we also absorb more nutrients from it.  This marinated salad is a true feast for the eyes and tastes even better than it looks!  I recently took it to a group dinner and served it in a trifle bowl that displayed all the tempting fresh veggies. The recipe makes a large amount – 10 to 12 servings, but it does keep well for several days in the refrigerator.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

cups broccoli florets

cucumbers, sliced thin

1 onion,  thinly sliced

1 green pepper, thinly sliced

1 red sweet pepper, thinly sliced

carrots, peeled, thinly sliced

3/4 cup sliced Kalamata olivess

3cup parmesan cheese, grated

teaspoon dried oregano

teaspoon dried basil

(8 ounce) bottle Italian dressing

12 ounces cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and toss before serving.

French Lentil Salad with Feta, Cranberries, and Pecans

I have added this to my favorite lentil dishes. I recently bought French green lentils that had a recipe on the back of the package. I altered the list of ingredients to exchange pecans for the requested walnuts. We have access to wonderful local pecans, fresh at this time of year, so I enjoy using them in many dishes. We enjoy this with crackers or crusty bread for a light lunch.

French Lentil Salad with Cranberries, Feta, and Pecans

1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed well

2 cups water

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped or left in halves

For Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijo mustard

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put lentils and water in a heavy saucepan, bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot to cool. While lentils are cooling, whisk dressing ingredients together. Slowly drizzle over lentils, add salt and pepper, and toss with diced onion. Top with cranberries, feta, and pecans.  Serve as is in a small bowl, or on a plate of torn greens.

 

 

 

 

I

Asparagus, Parmesan and Red Onion Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

With the approach of summertime, gatherings on the porch, and grilling, I like serving a variety of vegetable salads. This one is perfect with grilled meats and chicken. It keeps several days covered and refrigerated.  This is my version of a recipe Anne Burrell features on the Food Network.  It is good with fresh Lemon Vinaigrette as well.

Asparagus, Parmesan, and Red Onion Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 bunch pencil-size asparagus

1 small red onion,  diced

1 cup shaved parmesan flakes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Rinse and trim asparagus stalk ends by bending and snapping off where the stalk naturally wants to break. Cut asparagus stalks, including the tips into very thin slices, crosswise and place in a bowl. Add red onion and shaved Parmesan and toss to combine. Dress with vinegar, olive oil, and salt and toss again to coat vegetables with dressing.The vinegar will tenderize the asparagus. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow vegetables to marinate.

.

 

Kale with Cherries and Apple

kale

Even though our garden beds are newly planted, we have lovely winter greens that have begun to thrive in recent cooler weather.  Kale is a favorite, so we planted both red and green ruffled kale as well as Cavallo Negra, or Tuscan Kale.  For a side with baked chicken this week, I sauteed kale leaves, chopped apple, and dried tart cherries. Delicious! For this skillet, I only cut 3 large kale leaves!

Kale with Cherries and Apple

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Kale leaves, stems stripped, and chopped

1 Honey Crisp apple, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

salt and pepper

balsamic vinegar

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in iron skillet.  Add kale tossed with apples, and cherries, and saute until kale is wilted.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

 

Thai Chicken Salad with Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

VietnameseChickenSalad

In the heat and humidity of August days, salad suppers are a simple, nutritious and delicious welcome.  The added benefit is no cooking to heat up the kitchen if you use a rotisserie chicken to top this family favorite.  Every time I make this salad I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Most of the ingredients are ones we keep as pantry and frig staples.

There are dozens of similar recipes in cookbooks and online. Some are called Vietnamese, some are called Thai. Most list fish sauce as an ingredient and since we lived in Southeast Asia, I know this is a traditional seasoning.  But we prefer to omit it in most dishes.  The greens can be a combination of almost anything you wish. If you are cooking for several people, increase the amounts and it is beautiful served on a large platter with ingredients layered separately to toss before serving. When I make it for two, I create the salads right on the serving plates.

Thai Chicken Salad with Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

2  cups shredded or chopped chicken (I use rotisserie chicken!)

4 cups coarsely chopped Romaine lettuce or Napa Cabbage

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 small red onion

1 small cucumber, sliced thin

3 carrots, grated

!/2 cup roasted peanuts (more if you like)

 

For Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

Juice of 2 large limes

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (I use Penzey’s)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

honey to taste

whisk together and drizzle over salad before serving

Layer greens, chopped vegetables, and chicken.  Sprinkle peanuts and dressing on top before serving.

 

 

 

 

 
// //

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

IMG_3790

Our church Thanksgiving dinner is tonight. Turkeys and pans of dressing are volunteered for and prepared ahead of time, but those attending (it is one of our congregations favorite functions all year) bring salads, vegetables, and desserts.  I am bringing 2 salads.  One is Caprese in a bowl using the last of the season’s basil leaves along with c herry tomatoes and tiny mozarella balls. The other salad is a hot salad, one of our favorite dishes this time of year.  I first found a similar recipe in a church cookbook given to us by friends from that church many years ago.  It can be found with many variations online, but this is my old, tried and true way to make it.

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

21/2 c.whole washed cranberries
3 c. chopped apples, no need to peel
1 c. sugar
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter
In an 8X10 inch baking pan,.mix together apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture of oats, brown sugar, and nuts over top. Cut pats of butter to dot over all. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Serve warm.