Greek Tomato & Cucumber Salad w/ Farro

1507p98-greek-tomato-cucumber-salad-farro
Photo: Cooking Light, Randy Mayor

This is one of my favorite summer salads from Cooking Light!  It’s hearty enough on it’s own, but you can mix in a handful of spinach or baby kale, or serve alongside fish, chicken or hummus.  Add a piece of flat bread and a good white wine and you’ve got one delicious dinner.  Salud amigas!

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked farro
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large cucumber, cut into small chunks
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

To make dressing, combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl (through black pepper), stirring well with a whisk.

Stir in farro and the next 4 ingredients (through cucumbers), and toss gently to combine. Top each serving with feta cheese.

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Greek Tomato & Cucumber Salad w/ Farro

Really, this is “The PERFECT scratch margarita”

Classic-Margaritas-with-Casa-Noble-Crystal-from-Miss-in-the-Kitchen
 

Taken again from my vegan cookbook, you don’t have to be vegan, or even close to it, to appreciate this delicious and quite perfect rita.  This is my go-to recipe for a rita nearly anytime the Tex-Mex bug bites…and that happens nearly once a week in our house.

INGREDIENTS:

Kosher salt, as needed
Lime wedges for wetting glasses and garnish
Lots of crushed ice (or just ice) for serving
4 oz. decent tequila (I use Patron Reposado…trust me on this one)
3 oz. Cointreau
3 oz. freshly squeezed limes (about 3-5 limes)
2 TBSP agave nectar
 

If you’re mouth is already watering, quickly, here is what you do:

Place a small mound of kosher salt on plate and wet the edges with lime wedge.  Roll the wet end of glasses in salt and fill them with crushed ice.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a shaker with small amount of ice, shake, and pour into the prepared glasses.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Makes TWO sneakily potent margaritas.

Really, this is “The PERFECT scratch margarita”

Homemade Red Beans & Rice

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This recipe actually comes from a vegan cookbook: Vegan Cooking for Carnivores.  I attempted Vegan-ism a couple of years ago and it lasted all of two weeks.  However, I have a new-found appreciation for meatless meals which we eat most of during the week.  Now here’s the kicker: I made this with real meat and chicken stock.  Sorry.  BUT, if you went the meatless route, it would be just a tasty, I’m quite certain.  Either way, you’re in for a delicious and totally comforting meal (even Maeve gobbled it up!).  Serve alongside buttermilk biscuits and this will be a dish worth repeating time and again.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups brown basmati rice (I used regular brown rice)

3 cups water

Two 15 oz. cans organic kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base (Or chicken broth)

2 Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage (or other vegan sausage)

2 Field Roast Italian Sausage (I used all chicken sausage)

1 TBSP high-heat oil (Safflower, Grapeseed, Canola)

1 large white onion, diced

Six celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 red bell pepper, minced

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS:

Rinse rice thoroughly.  Cook according to package directions and keep covered until needed (NOTE: Brown rice usually takes 40 minutes to cook).

In a blender, puree three-quarters of the rinsed beans in the 4 cups broth until smooth (mixture will be very thin and liquid-y).  Add remaining beans to the pureed mixture, but do not blend.

Cut sausage in quarters lengthwise then cut them crosswise into 1/8-inch pieces and set aside.

Heat a 4-to 5-quart stew pot over high heat, add the oil, and wait until it shimmers.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Add the sausage, chili powder, thyme, bean puree, and bell pepper, bring to simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Season with salt and pepper to taste (I actually only added pepper because the chicken broth and sausage added enough salt).  Serve red beans over rice, garnished with sliced scallions.  Enjoy amigas!

Serves: 6

Homemade Red Beans & Rice

Sourdough Kale Strata

kale-strata

I have become a BIG fan of strata dishes over the last couple of years.  They are easy, delicious and can be served breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I also love kale, so this dish was a happy marriage in my world.  I easily halved the recipe and it came out beautifully.  Leftovers are delicious, so it may be worth making the full recipe to have for lunch later in the week.

Sourdough Kale Strata (serves 8):

2 TBSP olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 bunch of kale, washed, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 tsp. salt
10 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
4 cups sourdough bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese, divided

……….

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes.  Add kale and salt and cook for another 2 minutes.  Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, milk, and pepper in large bowl.

Coat a 9×13 (or equivalent) baking dish with cooking spray.  Add kale mixture, torn bread and 1 cup cheese.  Toss together and spread evenly over pan.

Pour egg mixture into dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Cover strata with aluminum foil and let stand 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F (if refrigerated, let dish warm to room temperature BEFORE placing in oven).  Bake 35 minutes, remove foil and continue baking 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden brown around edges.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Salud mis amigas!  ¡Felíz nuevo año!

Sourdough Kale Strata

Fall Flavors: Tailgate Potato Salad

I discovered this delicious potato salad in one of my favorite cookbooks and quite frankly, this salad makes me giddy.  The combination of flavors embodies the season of fall and makes my heart (and taste buds) sing.  This is no ordinary potato salad.

The original recipe calls for baking the sweet potato, cooling, peeling, then cubing.  Boiling the potatoes, cooling, peeling, cubing and the same for the squash.  It takes a bit more time and I’m not sure it changes the texture of the potatoes.  Knock yourself out if you want to go that route; however, I’ve modified the recipe to be a little more time-friendly.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

1/2 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cubed bite size

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold or new potatoes, cubed bite size

1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed bite size

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 chopped parsley

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted

Dressing:

1/2 cup sugar (or less)

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

2 TBSP. grated yellow onion

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup to 1 cup canola oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add cubed sweet potatoes and potatoes and boil for 10 minutes.  Add cubed butternut squash and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until all veggies are just fork tender (too tender and they will just fall apart in the salad).  Drain veggies and set aside.

While potatoes cook, prepare dressing.  Combine sugar, mustard, salt, grated onion and 2 TBSP of cider vinegar.  Gradually add canola oil and remaining vinegar until well combined (you may consider reducing the amount of sugar here…it ends up being a very sweet dressing).

Place slightly cooled potatoes in large serving bowl along with chopped parsley.  Pour dressing over mixture and add the red onion, cranberries and walnuts.  Toss gently, cover and refrigerate about one hour.  Bring to room temperature to serve.  The salad keeps in the fridge for several days.

Serving Suggestion: Personally, I skip the refrigeration step and serve the salad warm over a bed of arugula and spinach, along with shaved Pecorino or other shaved hard cheese.  It goes splendidly with a glass of Chardonnay or dry Riesling.  Happy Fall dear friends!

Fall Flavors: Tailgate Potato Salad

Front Range Peach Pancakes

Peaches are at their peak in Colorado this time of year and while delicious and perfectly peachy all on their own, this is a yummy way to start any day with ripe, in-season peaches as the star.  Because the peaches are cooked into the pancake, they get a nice carmelization that just makes the peaches sing – it’s like peach cobbler for breakfast!  You can use your favorite pancake recipe to start (I usually make my own), but for this recipe, I used Bisquick.  Alongside a good cup of coffee, fresh fruit and maybe a mimosa (or two), this makes a great breakfast or brunch!

Front Range Peach Pancakes

(Serves 4-6, depending on pancake size)

2 cups Bisquick mix

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 TBSP sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 TBSP lemon juice

2 to 3 fresh peaches, thinly sliced

cinnamon, to taste

toasted sliced almonds or pecans

real maple syrup

Heat griddle or cast iron skillet to medium heat.  Warm oven to 200°F to keep cooked pancakes warm as you continue to cook.  Warm maple syrup over low heat.

Combine lemon juice and milk and let stand for a few minutes while you combine remaining ingredients.  Combine bisquick mix, sugar and baking powder.  Add beaten eggs to milk mixture and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until just moistened (you want to see a few lumps and bumps in the mixture). 

Grease skillet using cooking spray or butter and pour about 1/4 cup pancake batter (or preferred size) onto preheated skillet.  Arrange a few peach slices on top of pancake batter while the underside cooks.  Sprinkle a few toasted almonds or pecans and cinnamon on top of peaches.  Once edges begin to dry, flip pancake over to continue cooking peach side.  Transfer pancake to warm oven and continue with remainder of batter.

I like to serve mine with a dollop of greek yogurt and a drizzle of real maple syrup.  A ricotta cheese mixture would also make magic in your mouth alongside this pancake.  ¡Buenos dias, amigas!

Front Range Peach Pancakes

Herbed Goat Cheese Pasta

The original recipe is from The Herb Companion magazine.  I made this pasta for our girls’ weekend in Boulder in early June and again when James’ parents were visiting.  So delicious.  So simple.  Serve with a side salad and life is complete (at least for dinner).  Leftovers are just as good.

Herbed Goat Cheese Pasta

Serves 4-6

1 lb. pasta (any type will do: fettuccine, rigatoni, penne, etc.)

3-4 oz. goat cheese

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 TBSP. unsalted butter, melted

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped soft-leaved herbs (I use parsley and basil)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil pasta according to directions and reserve one cup pasta water.  In a large serving bowl, combine cheeses, melted butter, herbs, salt and pepper; add reserved pasta water to help thin the sauce.  Add pasta to mixture and toss gently to coat.  Serve warm.  Salud!

Variations:  I usually add some type of roasted vegetable to round out the pasta.  During summer when veggies are fresh and at their peak, I often throw in a mix of roasted mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, and shredded rotisserie chicken.  Cherry tomatoes, peas, and spinach are also fabulous.  I’ve also made the dish without the ricotta and it was equally delicious.  The pasta is great with or without these additions.

Herbed Goat Cheese Pasta