elevating the status of the salad

Category Archives: warm salad

This cashew pesto is really easy, and can be put on anything. It complemented smoky grilled eggplant.

All measurements are approximate, so adjust according to taste.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least an hour
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
A handful of basil
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Water to thin out as needed (1/2 cup?)
1/2 t salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.

For the eggplant…

Turn heat on grill to medium/high.

Slice into planks and brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Grill for 4-5 minutes a side.

Wrap in foil for 10 minutes to evenly cook the eggplant.

To serve, spoon some pesto on the plate and place a few slices of eggplant on the pesto.Top with basil or fresh slices of tomato.

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With the recent abrupt onset of summer, our grill has been getting some good use lately. Although I love grilling vegetables (asparagus, potatoes, eggplant, and portabellas are among my favorites), I kept my greens off the flames until today. I’m happy to report a new vegetable will now be part of the regular rotation. The parmesan basil crisps on top of the lettuce add the necessary crunch. Also, parmesan cheese might be one of the best foods out there and making these crisps  seemed like a  fun experiment to try on this quiet Sunday. 

The crisps can be made a day ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container. Hopefully you make a few extra because you’ll want to taste a few right away, just in case. 

Thanks to Grillin’ Fools for the lettuce method, and to Giada for the crisp method.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 T julienned basil
  • 2 large heads of romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, cleaned and patted dry, and sliced lengthwise down the middle
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

 

For the crisps…

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine cheese and basil.
  3. Put a heaping tablespoon on  a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten gently.
  4. Continue to add more tablespoons of the cheese mixture, leaving a bit of space between each one.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  6. Allow to cool, and then remove with a flat spatula.

For the lettuce…

  1. Once your lettuce is dry, you’re good to go.
  2. Heat grill to medium-high
  3. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and set aside for a few minutes so that the oil gets garlicky.
  4. Brush both sides of the lettuce with the oil mixture, starting with the rounded side and then doing the flat side of the lettuce.
  5. Place the romaine heads flat side down on the grill.
  6. After 2-3 minutes (check for a nice browning), flip the lettuce 1/3 way. Repeat again after 2-3 minutes more. Do it again until the lettuce is nicely browned all over.
  7. Serve with crisps.

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As a follow-up from yesterday, here is a flavorful and simple asparagus recipe. This makes enough for 4 servings. Thanks to Bev Cooks for this recipe. I discovered that green lentils make for a nice weeknight meal because the whole thing took less than 30 minutes. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green lentils
  •  2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 Tbs. freshly minced fresh ginger
  •  1 Tbs Indian curry powder
  •  1/2 bunch asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  •  1 bunch kale, chopped
  •  1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  •  1 lemon
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high. Add the onion and saute until it starts to soften, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add the curry powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to cook the spices for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  3. Add the asparagus and saute until bright green, 2 minutes. Add the kale and continue to saute until wilted, another 2 minutes.
  4. Drain the lentils and add them to the kale mixture. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with lots of cilantro and a good squeeze of the lemon juice. Add more salt to taste.
  5. Serve with more cilantro and lemon juice

I had to take advantage of the tomatoes that were still at the farmer’s market this chilly weekend. Also, I picked up some eggs from Grazin’ Angus Acres stand. They are a farm in Ghent, NY, and their eggs have the “Animal Welfare Approved” sticker. Not only are the chickens a lot happier than your typical chickens, but the eggs really are delicious as well. 

I didn’t have any curry powder on hand, so I mixed the following spices to make my own version of pseudo-curry powder: red pepper flakes, turmeric, yellow mustard seed, brown mustard seed, coriander, hungarian paprika, cumin, and cloves. 

Also, I used the egg-poaching advice from Smitten Kitchen and it worked out well. 

Thanks to Cooking Light for this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain; discard bay leaf.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and tomato; sauté 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add curry, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add lentils; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Add vinegar to pan. Break eggs into custard cups. Gently pour eggs into pan; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Carefully remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon. Place about 3/4 cup lentil mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 poached egg. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro.

That is not a typo. This is Mexican Street Corn made with Indiana Sweet Corn. I had my first Mexican grilled street corn in Red Hook by the ball fields several years ago, and now I’m hooked.   Clearly not the healthiest of side dishes, it went really well with a lighter grilled tequila lime Amish chicken breasts. (Let me know if you want that Barefoot Contessa recipe)

To make it into a much-less-messy-salad-version, just follow all the directions below and then cut the corn off the cob once it is cool enough to handle. Otherwise be sure to have lots of napkins nearby. 

This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s Summer Grilling 2011 issue. 

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil for cooking grate
  • 1/4 cup regular or light mayonaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
  • 1 ounce queso fresco or Cotija cheese , crumbled
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large ears corn, husks and silk removed

 Directions

  1. Turn all gas grill burners to high and heat grill with lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape and oil grate (Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.)
  2. While grill is heating, combine mayonaise, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, lime juice, and cheese in large bowl; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Brush the oil mixture onto the corn.
  4. Grill corn over high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, 7 to 12 minutes total. Remove from grill and place in bowl with mayonaise mixture; toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

UPDATE: I made the salad again, and this time I took a photo of it. I used 1 clove of regular garlic instead of garlic scopes this time around.

 I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how to deal with the mess from peeling beets. I know, I know, I am part of some riveting conversations. Below, I explain a trick I learned. 

I never cooked with fava beans before. The internet warned me that they are time-consuming, and this is true. However, the internet also let me know it would be worth the time. Also true. Wow, the internet is so smart.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized beets
  • 1/2 pound fava beans
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 garlic scapes
  • juice of 1/2 juicy lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. First, you need to get the beets in the oven. Jack Bishop, author of “Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen” suggests heating an oven to 400 degrees, wrapping the beets (cut off any dangling roots and the stalks) in two layers of aluminum foil, and cooking for 1-1.25 hours. After an hour, test your beets to see if a skewer glides easily through them. If so, they are done. Then, allow the beets to cool a bit before handling. Last, take a wad of paper towels to rub off the skin. (that’s the cool trick!) The last step for the beets is to cut them into the shape you want for your salad. Then, place the beets in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Once your beets are in the oven, start to deal with the beans. Get some water boiling.  While you are waiting for it to boil, peel off the stringy part to reveal the beans inside. As a bonus, you will discover that the inside of the pod is pillowy. Fascinating! The sad part will be when you realize that you don’t get a heck of a lot of beans for all that work. But you will get over it once you eat the beans (says the internet).

3. Next, put the beans in boiling water for a little under a minute. While that’s happening, prepare a bowl of ice cold water. Then, spoon out the beans and put them directly into the cold water to stop the cooking.

4. One more step before you eat the beans. Pinch off the outer shell to get to the edible part. You did it!

5. In a food processor (I used the mini prep), combine garlic scapes, lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the beets and stir to coat the beets

6. Arrange the dressed beets on a serving dish. Top with feta cheese and beans. (You can toss the ingredients all together, but the result will be a very pink salad.) Enjoy!


Are you familiar with Whole Foods’ Step System for animal welfare ratings? If you haven’t already heard me or someone else going on and on about it, here’s the link. What’s tricky is that they don’t have all of their cuts available in all levels at all times, so one has to be flexible. I’m still too new at buying meat to know about good substitutions, but I’m slowly learning. I went to get flank steak, as this Cooking Light recipe called for, but they did not have any steps 4-5 of that kind. The butcher suggested skirt steak, which they had in a Level 4. Great! Thanks, helpful butcher! I ended up bringing home entirely too much steak because I got flustered ordering it, and froze half for fajitas another night.

Also, this recipe calls for fish sauce. So do most Thai recipes that I find. Since I don’t eat fish, I just omitted it. However, when I took a Thai cooking class, I was told you can substitute “this mushroom sauce” for the fish sauce. However, I was in Thailand at the time and could not read the label on “this mushroom sauce.” Oh well. I should look for it in an Asian market one of these days. In the meantime, I usually just taste my food and add more soy sauce if I think it needs more salty flavor.

This gave me a chance to use some of my fresh herbs: mint, basil, and cilantro.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle steak evenly with pepper and salt. Add steak to pan; cook 6 minutes each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steak from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.
  2.  Combine juice and next 4 ingredients (through Sriracha) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
  3.  Combine cabbage and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Add 6 tablespoons juice mixture to cabbage mixture; toss well. Toss steak in remaining 2 tablespoons juice mixture. Add steak to cabbage mixture; toss to combine.