The Ides of March/Shrimp & Radicchio Salad

I have been part of a Supper Club for over a decade and we have slowed down the past couple years. But, we are coming back to life! So last month we were able to catch up with a very fun theme – the Ides of March. How did this come about? Somebody RSVP’d on this day, so why not make that the theme, even though the event didn’t take place on that day.  So, anything you brought had to have an ‘I’ in it – black bean dip, skirt steak, pizza. You get the drift.

It was funny, because I thought awhile on this, because so many things I was thinking about didn’t have the letter ‘I’ in them. I was out running on the Sunday morning of the dinner with a friend who cooks a lot and we were talking about this and I was bouncing ideas off of her. I’m making this sound like I’m making a major life decision! She told me come the end of this 12 mile run – ok, worst case scenario, it’s ‘Mel’s Recipe’.  Thanks, score!

Well, I ended finding a great one – Shrimp and Radicchio Salad. I think I was pretty covered there. It was so simple. I also happened to have all the ingredients already, too, except for the radicchio. I had both raw and precooked shrimp and I opted for the precooked, which made it so much easier. Made it a no-cook meal. The tang in the dressing/marinade was awesome. And that’s what was great. You just marinade the shrimp and then toss them all together with the salad.

Ingredients

1⁄2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄2 lb small shrimp, cooked and drained
1 head leaves lettuce, shredded (used a big of mixed greens)
1 head radicchio, shredded
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Directions

Combine first five ingredients (olive oil – mustard) in a bowl.  Stir in shrimp ***I just put all those ingredients in a ziploc and then added the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. In a large salad bowl combine lettuce and radicchio, pour shrimp and dressing on top. Toss add tomatoes and toss again.

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Also, at the dinner, we had pizza, dips (both appetizers and desserts) and quinoa. And of course some wine.

Smokin’ It

I love seafood, I love smoked seafood. So on my weekly or bi-weekly trip to Trader Joe’s I of course swung by the demo station. Had a bite of what they were serving (I think it was a egg salad). And at the station, they had a stack of Smoked Trout. While I have had their (and others’) vacuum packed/sealed stuff, this one was canned. Think of a sardine can, with a pull-top lid. It’s farm raised (not my favorite), skinless and in canola oil.

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So I grabbed some and used it on a salad.  Simple arugula, tomatoes, kalamatas, hearts of palm and baby Brussels sprouts. Just delicious blend of flavors. So as long as you’re not totally against the farm-raised, this is great stuff to have on hand. Stack it in the cupboard with the tuna and the other stuff and you’re good to go.

Brassicas Bowls

When I make birthday dinners for friends I always aim for new recipes. I was flipping through a Bon Appetit and there was a recipe at the very beginning that was from a chef or that somebody had submitted. It just sounded great and was definitely up my friend’s alley based on ingredients — you can’t go wrong with stuff like hummus, kale, Brussels sprouts, avocado (a lot of green here) and more… It was Brassicas Bowl.

Ingredients
4 Servings

4 large eggs (I didn’t use these as I opted to serve the dish with pan seared tuna)
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
½ bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds, divided (great to grab them from salad bars if you don’t want a whole bunch)
½ cup hummus
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)

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Preparation

Cook eggs in a large saucepan of boiling water for 7 minutes (whites will be set and yolks still slightly soft). Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool. Drain; peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500°. Toss broccolini with 1 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt. Roast, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Whisk shallot, vinegar, mustard, and remaining 4 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl (large bowl is key because of all the other ingredients you’re going to add — I had to change the bowl several times because of the volume of greens!) until emulsified; season with salt. Add kale and Brussels sprouts and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Massage kale until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add roasted broccolini and 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds; toss again.

Swipe some hummus along the inside of each bowl with a spoon. Divide salad among bowls and add an avocado wedge and 2 reserved egg halves to each. Top with chives, sesame seeds, and remaining sunflower seeds; sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

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This salad was delicious. So many flavors and very hearty. The tuna on top was great, so much more flavor than an egg! Will definitely be making this again. And it was enjoyed with a bubbly red (one of my favorite types of wines, and hard to find sometimes). It was the I Quercioli Dolce Reggiano Lambrusco DOC.  Some nice bubbles, not overly sweet and some nice fruit notes.

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Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing

Does the name of the recipe not say enough? This was from a recent issue of Bon Appetit. Kale, love it, cukes, well, I will say I don’t absolutely love them solo (not as much as tomatoes), but when with other stuff, bring them on, and I love ginger. And, I’d never roasted it.

Ingredients

Dressing
8 ounces fresh ginger
1 green or red Thai chile (I used a couple dashes of tabasco b.c of my low heat tolerance)
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

Salad
1 bunch small Red Russian kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (ended up using baby kale)
1 English hothouse cucumber, very thinly sliced
3 Persian cucumbers, very thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (love cilantro)
¼ cup store-bought fried onions (nixed these)

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Preparation

-Heat broiler. Broil ginger in its skin, turning once, until very dark brown and beginning to scorch in places and a paring knife passes through the center with relative ease, 40–50 minutes (if skin is getting too dark before flesh is tender, turn down the heat or move to the oven). Let cool; slice (leave on the skin).

*This really does take this long, and I had a smaller piece. I would highly recommend putting it on foil on your baking sheet as it can ‘scar’ the thing — make major black marks. I’m not saying cookie sheets are all about looks, but it does leave evidence of what was there. Come the end, the skin of the ginger is very crackly and also bulbous, is the best way to say it. Quite cool! Forgot to take a picture.

-Pulse ginger, chile, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, oil, and 2 Tbsp. water in a food processor, adding additional water by tablespoonfuls if needed, until a smooth paste forms.

Do Ahead: Dressing can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Assembly

-Toss kale and ¼ cup dressing in a large bowl to coat; massage with your fingers until kale is slightly softened.

-Toss English and Persian cucumbers, onion, lime juice, and sugar in a medium bowl to combine; season generously with salt. Let sit 10 minutes to allow cucumbers and onion to soften slightly.

-Add cucumber mixture to bowl with kale and toss to combine, adding additional dressing if desired. Serve topped with cilantro and fried onions.

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This was a very nice salad — very fresh! Can definitely be paired with a variety of food. It’s fairly light and has a great flavor. And fun to make since the roasted ginger isn’t your everyday affair. And a side note, it was enjoyed with the wild boar burgers highlighted in another post.

Nom Nom…tomatoes and eggplant

Found another recipe recently that I had to try from Food & WineMarinated Eggplant and Tomato Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella.  What sounded unique about it is that the eggplant is never cooked, it just marinates for a heck of a long time.  Hey, think about it as veggie ceviche, right?

Ingredients

1 pound small or medium Italian eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick, slices scored on both sides at 1/4-inch intervals — I just picked up the first eggplant I saw
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 basil sprigs, plus basil leaves for garnish
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, coarsely torn or chopped (I used a goat gouda)

Directions
-In a colander set over a large bowl, toss the eggplant slices with 1 1/2 teaspoons 
of salt. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally. — I actually let that sit for a few hours while I was out

-Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, basil sprigs, oregano and crushed red pepper; season lightly with salt and black pepper.

-Squeeze all of the water from the eggplants and pat dry. Chop into bite-size pieces. Add to the marinade and let stand for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. — then once this was done I put it in the fridge overnight — was REALLY glad I actually read this recipe thoroughly several times

-Add the tomatoes to the eggplant mixture and toss to coat; discard the basil sprigs and garlic. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the mozzarella and basil leaves.

Make Ahead
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

This was pretty good, quite unique. It also looks quite Chrismas-y.  I think it got even better the next day.  And actually, the next day, used it more as a bruschetta and also tossed it in salad. Can’t complain!

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Chayote Salad

As it’s been so hot recently, wanted to make a refreshing salad that pairs with Mexican food.  Remembered a great one from a Mexican cookbook I have, Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the Regions of Mexico. It’s with chayote squash and pretty simple.  The hardest part is peeling the squash.

Ingredients

2 lb (1 kg) chayotes (vegetable pears/chokos)
salt
6 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings

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Directions

-Place the chayotes, unpeeled, in a large saucepan. Cover with water, add a pinch of salt and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes or until they can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes. Peel the chayotes, cut in half, then cut each half into 3 or 4 strips. Chill.
-Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano. Stir well and correct the seasonings.
-Before serving, mix the chayotes with the dressing, top with the onion and sprinkle with more oregano if desired. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Very refreshing, easy to make and pairs well with tuna steaks, salsa and guac, too!  Oh, and margaritas, of course.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette

Need a nice refreshing salad with these crazy hot summer temps?  There is a great one from the March issue of Food & Wine.  It’s Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette.  The brussels sprouts aren’t cooked so it’s a nice cold salad.  And it’s lactose free and gluten free.

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Ingredients

1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper
1 pound brussels sprouts, very thinly sliced
1 Pink Lady apple—halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
1 serrano chile—stemmed, seeded and very thinly sliced (I didn’t use this)
1/2 cup chopped mint
Black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Directions

In a small skillet, toast the white sesame seeds over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender and let cool. Add the lemon zest and juice, then add the vinegar, garlic and honey and puree until a chunky paste forms, about 1 minute. With the machine on, gradually add the olive oil and puree until nearly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the vinaigrette into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Add the brussels sprouts, apple, shallot, chile and mint to the dressing and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Garnish with black sesame seeds, if using, and serve right away.

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It was so nice and crunchy with the sprouts and the apples, and so nice and cold.  Perfect with the crazy hot temps!

New veggie salad

Found a new recipe to try from a recent issue of Health magazine, Tomato, Cucumber and Green Bean Salad with Walnut Dressing.  Sounded perfect for these hot days.

Ingredients

1/3 cup broken walnut pieces
1 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1-in. lengths (grabbed the frozen  ones from Trader Joe’s)
Salt
6 ounces grape tomatoes, halved (that quantity seemed low, almost doubled it)
1/2 cup thinly sliced (lengthwise) red onion
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and cut into 1⁄4-in. slices (added more)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (I accidentally grabbed flat leaf parsley)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

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Preparation

1. Combine walnuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and blend until finely ground. (If preferred, walnuts, garlic and salt can be pounded into a paste with a mortar and pestle.) Combine walnut mixture, oil and vinegar in a salad bowl and whisk until blended. — I ended up with a nice paste.

2. Cook green beans in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, spread on a dish towel and pat dry.

3. Add green beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, cilantro, dill and mint to walnut dressing and toss to blend.

Very refreshing.  As mentioned, I grabbed parsley instead of cilantro, so it can likely taste even better than it did.  Nice for hot summer days.

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Fetta’s Greek Tavern, Cairns, AUS

When in Australia, one must eat Greek!  Was on a tour bus on somebody mentioned this great Greek place in Cairns.  Sounded good so decided to check it out.  The name — Fetta’s Greek Taverna.

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Got there, got a table and right away we knew this was authentic Greek.  Was tough to understand the staff because of accents, we could not figure who our waiter was vs who the (apparent) drink order taker was.  We asked a lot of questions and the waiter sort of gave answers but we couldn’t totally understand him.

Most important thing for me to get at a Greek place is an appetizer and we and opted for the Melitzana, an eggplant, onion & garlic dip.

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After that we decided to split several small dishes.  We went for dolmas, a village salad (with true feta) and octapapodi (octapus marinated in olive oil, vinegar, garlic & oregano).

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For wine, the waiter wasn’t overly helpful but this guy sitting next to us piped in and gave us amazing help and suggested a wine I would not have jumped on, but so glad I took his advice.  We opted for the Bay of Stones Merlot.  Not what I would expect from a Merlot.  This was another amazing dinner in Great Barrier Reef world.  This place is just great!

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Raw artichoke & herb salad

Another one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook recipes I recently made as part of Christmas Eve dinner was the Raw artichoke & herb salad.  I took the super easy way out and did canned artichoke hearts though…

Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients:
2 or 3 large globe artichokes (1 1/2 lb/700 g in total) (used 2-3 cans of artichoke hearts)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cups/40g  arugula
1/2 cup/ 15 g torn mint leaves
1/2 cup/ 15 g torn cilantro leaves
1 oz/ 30 g pecorino toscano or romano cheese, thinly shaved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Instructions:

Prepare a bowl with water mixed with half of the lemon juice.2.  Remove the stem from one artichoke and pull off the tough outer leaves.  Once you reach the softer, pale leaves, use a large, sharp knife to cut across the flower so that you are left with the bottom quarter.  Use a small, sharp knife to remove the outer layers of the artichoke until the base (or bottom) is exposed. Scrape out the hairy “choke” and put the base in the acidulated water.  Discard the rest, then repeat with the other artichokes. Drain the artichokes and pat dry with paper towels.  Using a mandoline (or a large, sharp knife), cut the artichokes into paper-thin slices and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Squeeze over the remaining lemon juice, add the olive oil, and toss well to coat.  You can leave the artichoke for up to a few hours if you like, at room temperature. (So I just sort of skipped this whole part and simply opened cans of artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed them).

When ready to serve, add the arugula, mint, and cilantro to the artichoke and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Toss gently and arrange on serving plates.  Garnish with the pecorino shavings.

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What a delicious combination of flavors, between all ingredients.  Another one that will totally be made again!