elevating the status of the salad

Tag Archives: feta

After a week of enjoying the local cuisine of the Pacific Northwest, I’m back! It was fun to see the similarities and differences between the produce available on the west coast compared to what’s been growing here on the east coast. We loved the restaurant Local 360, located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. My husband and I shared a greek salad, and I was dreaming of making a similar one while on the red-eye back to NY. Lucky for me, my green-thumb-of-a-mom happened to  have a surplus of all the key ingredients on hand from her garden and CSA. If you mix in the beans and serve it with toasted pita, this salad turns into a satisfying meal. For my original greek salad post, otherwise known as the salad that started it all (which is quite different from this one) click here!

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced with a mandoline
  • 3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 pounds of a variety of tomatoes–core and seed the bigger ones, slice the little guys in half
  • 2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can small white beans (such as navy), strained and rinsed-optional
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 shallot,finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Prepare the dressing by mixing together the vinegar, shallots, garlic and oregano. Whisk the oil until combined and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the onions in with the dressing and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

2. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, green pepper, and beans (if you are using them) in a large bowl.

3. Add onions and dressing mixture and combine. Adjust seasoning as necessary. If you are using beans, you probably want to add more salt.

4. Sprinkle with feta, and serve with toasted pita.

Some Highlights from Seattle’s Pike Place Market

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While you have the feta and mint ready, here is another summer salad. This one was adapted from Peter Berley’s class. He used farro (spelt) but I had quinoa on hand. Also, he used golden beets–so that the color would not bleed into the rest of the salad. I only had red beets, so I did just added the beets on top at the end, rather than mixing them in with the cucumbers and quinoa.

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 beets, cooked, peeled, and diced

Beet Preparation Note (can be done ahead of time and stored in fridge) I roasted in an aluminum foil pouch for about an hour at 400 degrees, testing for done-ness when a fork glided easily through the beets. Depending on the size, it takes about an hour or more. Then, I allowed them to cool. Once cool, I used a paper towel to remove the skins from the beets, and diced.

Mint Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cucumbers and vinaigrette. Mix well. Top with beets. Refrigerate until cold.
  3. Add the feta, dill, and parsley to the salad. Season with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Top with beets.

While spending a warm summer evening out with friends, I got two excellent pieces of advice for this blog.

1.”You really should put a watermelon salad on there.”

2. (after I expressed my concern that I was overusing feta cheese) “Feta makes everything better. Why deny it? Just go with it.”

So here goes. Thanks for the easy recipe, Paul Deen!

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-pound) watermelon
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 whole mint sprigs

Directions

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.

To serve, divide salad among individual plates and garnish with mint leaves.


I have a few strong beliefs about Indiana sweet corn:

1. Indiana Sweet Corn is the Great Equalizer

Horace Mann said that education is the great equalizer. However, on a muggy summer evening in northern Indiana, when the fireflies light up the sky and the crickets start to play their nightly symphony, corn can certainly level the playing field as well.

My love affair with Indiana sweet corn began soon after my love affair with my husband started. We  sat down to a wonderful dinner with his family on a hot Indiana night several years back. This was before we were married. I was just getting to know his family. Of course, I was feeling nervous about eating with the right fork, talking at the right time, and passing my food in the right direction.

When the corn got passed to me (from the left), I gingerly selected an ear, and quietly panicked. How am I supposed to eat this thing? No one was passing the corn holders from left to right. Reluctantly, I began to tackle the corn. It took me way too long to peel the husk off, as I was trying painstakingly hard to remove every single fiber. I delicately began nibbling at my corn, being careful not to get any stray kernels on the corner of my lips or between my teeth. Should I floss mid-meal?! I was about to take a knife  to start cutting the kernels off the cob, when I finally looked around me.

I saw everyone else eating corn with gusto!  Husks were being nonchalantly tossed to the middle of the table, and ear after ear was being devoured with no utensils or apparent concern for dental floss. Everyone was busy eating their corn type-writer style. It seemed that my future father-in-law had especially mastered this technique. He glanced at me for a moment, and smiled. I picked up my corn with two hands, started chomping away, and smiled back with a corn-toothed grin. It was then I learned the power of corn to bring people together.

2. Indiana Sweet Corn Can Be Eaten Raw

Before I tasted Indiana sweet corn, I used to only eat corn when it was slathered with butter and salt, or hidden under a mound of a mayonnaise/cheese/spices to make Mexican street corn. While I still adore the street corn at one of the numerous street fairs in NYC in the summertime, I enjoy eating Indiana sweet corn just as nature made it. If you’ve never eaten raw corn before, I recommend only doing so if the corn is as fresh as possible. We get our Indiana sweet corn from none other than Sweet Corn Charlie’s farm stand:

http://www.sweetcorncharlie.com/

And a quick quiz, for my fellow city slickers. How many ears of corn grow on a single stalk? (Scroll down to find the answer)

Indiana Sweet Corn Salad

This recipe is from Real Simple magazine

1 cup walnuts

4 cups fresh corn kernels: To cut the kernels off the cob, first cut it in half crosswise. Then, Place one half cut end down on a rimmed baking dish or shallow bowl. The rim will keep the kernels from falling all over the place. Use a sharp knife and cut as much of the kernel off as possible. Avoid cutting too close to the cob, or you will end up with tough pieces.

2 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool and roughly chop.

In a large bowl, combine the corn, jalapenos, lime juice, oil, walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspooon pepper. Sprinkle with feta before serving.

Quiz Answer: One! (sometimes 2)

You can enjoy this corn salad with some beer can chicken. These lovely ladies are organic Amish chicken from northern Indiana.

Beer Can Chicken


This salad was a highlight of a Memorial Day weekend barbeque, which also included lamb chops on the grill and Near East red pepper quinoa and rice .

The Salad (serves 4-8, depending on how much salad people like…)

4 medium cucumbers, peeled and diced

2 small bunches of radishes, thinly sliced

several cups of  baby greens (I used a very full bag of greens from the market)

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped mint

The Dressing

stir together:

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper

gradually whisk in:

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil