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.

IMG_8335

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

Farmer’s Market Finds

Roamed by the farmer’s market the other day and had to stop when I saw all the great looking heirloom tomatoes.  These guys were awesome.  I knew I wouldn’t be leaving without some.  I had to pick, though, and that was the hardest part.  The one I really wanted was the big orange one behind the the large group of smaller red guys on the right (not in the basket).  But first I had to take it to the scale…1.8 pounds.  WHOA!  Ok, I was not going to pay over $7 for 1 tomato.  I grabbed various colors of the smaller guys.

image

Then, next to them were some eggplant I’d never seen before, Fairy Tale Eggplant.  I was told to slice them longways and grill (can’t have a BBQ at my place) or pan sear/cook them.  They had a nice flavor to them, different than a normal eggplant — a bit sweet — and just so fun.

Love the farmer’s market!

image

Pasta Sauce on a Whim

Last Saturday was just cold, snowy and blah here in DC and all I wanted was some great pasta sauce.  Why buy the stuff?  Decided to grab a bunch of stuff and see what I could put together based on the rough research I did on cooking the stuff.  Came up with the following ingredients (don’t have exact measurements on any of these):

-canned tomatoes
-onions
-olives
-garlic
-spices
-bay leaves
-fennel seed (almost forgot that one)
-red wine
-S&P
-olive oil

IMG_2237[1]IMG_2240[1]Threw them all in a pot and brought them to a boil then simmered them over medium heat for about 30+ minutes.

IMG_2314[1]Final result was a delicious, chunky sauce with tons of flavor.

IMG_2264[1]Served it over spaghetti squash with some seared shrimp.

IMG_2266[1]

Tomato and Arugula Pasta Sauce

Got to enjoy a pasta sauce I hadn’t had for awhile the other night.  It has tons of veggies and is super simple to make — Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Rocket (Arugula) or Spaghetti con Pomodori e Rughetta from The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed.

Ingredients:

1 lb spaghetti

10 oz red ripe plum tomatoes — I use a lot more

4 cloves garlic

2 oz rocket (arugula) — about 1/3 cup chopped — I used about 2-3 times this much

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Salt & Black pepper

past_ing

Directions:

Skin the tomatoes by first plunging them into boiling water for a few minutes (I have always skipped this step).

Chop finely (I keep them in chunks) and place in a large bowl together with the finely chopped garlic and coarsely chopped rocket (arugula).  Add the olive oil and S&P to taste and leave for at least 2 hours.

pasta_step1

Post 2-hours:

pasta_wilt

I was in charge of the sauce…got to enjoy some nice homemade pasta.

pasta

Cook the pasta as usual, drain and stir in the sauce.

final_pasta

No-Recipe Stew

Last Sunday I finally had the time to break in my new kitchen (just moved).  So wanted to make something fun.  And, the night before I opened a bottle of red wine that did not merit being finished.  I don’t really want to waste wine therefore determined I would just cook with it.  It had been a windy, sort of cold day around DC, so determined I wanted to make a stew-like meal.  I did some research online and didn’t find anything that truly struck my fancy so got creative and put together my own thing.

Ingredients (all quantities are some/non specific):

-chicken (sliced or cut into pieces)
-cannellini beans
-stewed/canned tomatoes
-mushrooms
-kale
-red wine
-onion (used a red one)
-garlic
-thyme (had some fresh stuff on hand)
-water
-S&PIMG_0875[1]

I sauteed the garlic and onion for a few minutes then added the chicken and sauteed that until it was cooked.  After that I added the balance of the ingredients and cooked it over low heat for about an hour — I was in no hurry.

IMG_0880[1]

It was a very tasty stew, lots of flavor.  I served it with a quality-of-a-name Zin, Zinzilla.  It was a nice wine!

IMG_0882[1]

Explore in the kitchen!  Never hurts to have fun and try something new.

 

Curiosity…

…might kill the cat, but it only creates a (better) cook.

I had this huge bunch of basil left from a recipe I made yesterday and was trying to figure out what I could/should do with it.  Didn’t want tomato-basil salad, pesto wasn’t striking my fancy so decided to walk into my kitchen and see what I could do.  I opened the freezer and scanned what was in there that I could be creative with and also looked around the counter.  And the wheels starting spinning…

I was going to make a unique (?) dressing with fresh basil, fresh lime juice, shallot, pepper, black sea salt (decided that after the first blend) and a bit of olive oil.  Wanted to play with appliances so threw it all in the mini-prep.  That’s all it took.  WOW!

IMG_1556

IMG_1557

Then, the ingredients I found — simple, basic, easy and healthy — what other words do I need?  Like I said, I found them ‘sitting’ around — some were in the freezer and some were fresh.  Sort of mentioned this in another post — use what you have!  Corn, tomatoes, edamame, mango, olives.

IMG_1560

Put them in a bowl (some of each — no specific quantities or ratios), toss with the dressing.  Can we say colorful?

IMG_1559

Then I served the salad with some pan seared scallops.  Great balance of flavors all around.  And, a pretty healthy Sunday night meal.  Also, with the rest of my tons of basil, I did make pesto — basil, walnuts, olive oil, S&P — that’s it.  Forgot garlic…

IMG_1562

There’s no place like home

I have been out and about the past few days and as much as I love it, I have been tapping the heels of my ruby red slippers together to get back to my kitchen.

Tonight I was finally able to do so.  With the amazing weather I wanted to make something light and refreshing and one of my favorite salads is Nicoise.  But, I love just making spinoffs of it.  So, after walking around outside for hours and doing a mental inventory of my kitchen, I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up the balance of ingredients I needed to make the ideal dinner.

My relaxing night preparing ‘Nicoise’ included making a vinaigrette with:

-Lemon olive oil

-Italian herb vinegar

-Dijon mustard

Penzey’s Sunset Spices

-Garlic

-S&P

Then, the ingredients for the salad ended up being:

-Arugula

-Pan seared shrimp

-Green beans

-Grape tomatoes

-Artichoke hearts

-Greek olives

-Peanuts

-Generic triscuits on the side

Oh yeah, red wine, too.  Had more of what I was enjoying while writing the post about the wine bar in Annapolis — Anakena Pinot Noir from Chile.  It’s about $13/bottle in the DC-area.

All in all, delicious and refreshing.  Trader Joe’s has great fresh, frozen and canned ingredients.  Actually, there is VERY little that isn’t great at TJ’s.  I will say, don’t go generic for triscuits, not worth it (I didn’t get the crackers at Trader Joe’s).

Great way to end the week.  And tomorrow is Monday, it’s supposed to be in the upper 70s, and work calls.  I digress…

IngWine Final