Salads

Summertime Potato Salad

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Potatoes, celery, lemongrass and herbs. Vinaigrette instead of heavy creamy dressing. Light and fresh and flavorful. This salad screams summer.

We welcomed in the warm weather with a backyard feast. We recently remade our patio with a chaise, love seat and fire pit. Polish sausage and hot dogs, cold root beers and this potato salad? We are ready to welcome in the longer nights and hotter days with delicious, seasonal meals. And this potato salad? Well, it’s just the first course. We’ll have many more summertime recipes in the upcoming months. So, pull up a seat, grab a plate, and watch out for ants!

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Summertime Potato Salad
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 stalk fresh lemongrass, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. walnut oil
1/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Pierce potatoes with a fork. Boil in salted water until fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

Dice cold potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. In a large bowl combine potatoes, celery, lemongrass and garlic. Toss gently to combine. Add parsley, dill and zest of 1/2 lemon. Set aside.

Whisk together juice of 1/2 lemon, sherry vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in walnut oil and olive oil, whisking the whole time to emulsify. Whisk in sea salt and pepper. Pour over potato salad and toss gently to combine. Serve cold.

Serves 4-6

Croque-Monsieur

Croque-Monsieur Ingredients

This week has been CRAZY.

Croque-Monsieur

Committee meetings, website tutorials, newsletter layouts.  Sushi with a good friend, beautiful musical performance by another good friend, quality documentary-watching time with my love.  In the middle of all the HTML code, raw fish and show tunes, I couldn’t find any time to post this recipe until now.

I’m sorry my friends.  Will you forgive me?

Green Salad with Creamy Balsamic

This week called for a quick, throw-it-together-in-30-minutes dinner.  Hearty.  Cheesy.  With a healthy dose of carbs (quick note: I never shy away from carbs.  They are one of the things that make life magical). 

Croque-Monsieur

Hello croque-monsieur.

Open-faced French sandwich.  Thick sliced sourdough bread, ham, Gruyere cheese, béchamel sauce.  Some mashed fingerling potatoes stacked on as well.  Cuz it wasn’t feeling quite filling enough as is.

Winking smile

I also added a little green leaf and creamy balsamic on the side.  For color.  And to pretend like this is a healthy and nutritious meal (spoiler alert: not so much

Smile
).  BUT, it’s delicious.  And easy.  And filling.  And if you have a completely insane week full of stage readings and inDesign files, this is going to hit the spot.  Yum.  THG

Croque-Monsieur

Croque-Monsieur

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 loaf day-old sourdough bread

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 cup béchamel sauce (recipe below)

1/2 lb. thin sliced ham

1/2 lb. Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced

Béchamel sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. flour

1 cup milk, at room temperature

Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  When melted, whisk in flour until a smooth paste develops.  Do not allow flour mixture to brown.  Whisk in milk, sea salt and pepper.  Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a medium-size bowl, toss fingerling potatoes with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.  Lightly mash potatoes until just mixed but not completely smooth.  Set aside.

Cut sourdough into 8 1” slices.  Toast lightly in a toaster.  Rub each toasted slice with smashed garlic clove.  Spoon approximately 2 Tbsp. of béchamel sauce onto each slice of bread and spread to even consistency.  Top with ham slices.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes on top of ham and smooth.  Top with Gruyere slices.  Arrange sandwiches on a baking sheet.

Turn on your oven broiler to low and place the rack directly below.  Place sandwiches underneath flame and broil until cheese is bubbly, about 8-10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through.  Serve sandwiches immediately topped with Dijon mustard.

Makes 8 sandwiches

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1/4 cup olive oil

black pepper to taste

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, honey and pepper.  While whisking, slowly pour in olive oil to emulsify.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes approximately 3/4 cup dressing

Zesty Grilled Chicken, Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad and Fried Polenta Cakes

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

I’ve prepared dinner for you all.  Just an easy, super flavorful, super delicious dinner.

Polenta Cakes

Start with polenta.  Sweet roasted garlic mashed into a paste.  Pecorino Romano cheese, sharp and salty.  Fresh thyme. sea salt and pepper.  A touch of olive oil for body and flavor.  You may want to just scoop this straight out of the bowl.  But wait.

Fry squares in a thin layer of oil; crispy and golden brown on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.  This alone could be your meal.  Oh.  So.  Good.

Raw Vegetables and Quinoa

Roast some vegetables.  Potatoes, peppers, romaine lettuce; whatever you want.  Toss them in olive oil, a little ground mustard.  Roast them nice and crispy.  These would be great on their own; but we’re not done yet.

Roasted Vegetables

We’re making quinoa.

Now, I know that quinoa can sound very sort of “crunchy granola hippie”.  But trust me, it’s great.  Very similar in texture to couscous, but with an earthier, grainier taste.  Yum.

Zesty Chicken, Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa and Fried Polenta Cakes

Toss the vegetables and quinoa together while they’re both still warm.  A simple vinaigrette of roasted garlic paste, red wine vinegar, thyme and olive oil.  That’s it.  Simple, delicious.  Like good old-fashioned comfort food, but healthy.

Zesty Grilled Chicken

And the chicken.  This chicken is so juicy and flavorful.  A super simple marinade of equal parts Worstershire sauce and lemon juice.  Just douse those babies and let them sit.  When they’re ready, just plop them on the grill top.  Done and done.  And delish.

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

This dinner is great to make ahead of time.  The chicken marinade and the polenta cakes can all be made the night before and refrigerated.  Very easy, very yummy and very healthy.  If you put that whole “fried and cheesy” thing aside.

Smile
  THG          

Empty Plate

Fried Polenta Cakes

1 whole head of garlic

1 package pre-made polenta

1 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Sea salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. canola oil

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the head of garlic in half widthwise.  Coat the cut ends in olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil.  Roast in the oven until garlic is golden brown and soft, about 30-35 minutes.  Squeeze the garlic out into a small bowl.  Mash to a smooth paste. 

Microwave the polenta in a large bowl for about 30 seconds until softened.  Add 2/3 of the garlic paste to the polenta and mix well (reserve the remaining 1/3 for the salad vinaigrette).  Add the cheese, olive oil, thyme, sea salt and pepper to the polenta and mix well.  Brush the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil.  Dump the polenta onto the baking sheet and press into the sides, spreading the mixture evenly across the pan.  Refrigerate to set for at least 2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.  Cut out two 2 1/2” squares of the polenta and add to the oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Drain on a paper towel.  Repeat with the remaining polenta.  Serve warm.

Makes approximately 8 cakes

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

6-8 medium red potatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 head romaine lettuce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp. ground mustard

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, plus 1 Tbsp. minced thyme leaves only

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 cup uncooked quinoa

remaining roasted garlic

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Dice potatoes and bell pepper into 1” pieces.  Toss, including full romaine lettuce head, with olive oil, ground mustard, 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, sea salt and pepper.  Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast in the middle of the oven until slightly soft, about 20 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and romaine lettuce to the baking sheet and roast another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup uncooked quinoa and 2 cups salted water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, covered, until water is completely absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Let stand off heat 5 minutes and fluff with fork.

In a small bowl, whisk roast garlic paste, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme leaves until smooth.  While whisking, drizzle in olive oil.  Whisk until emulsified.

In a large bowl, combine roast vegetables and quinoa.  Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

 

Zesty Grilled Chicken

1/2 cup Worstershire sauce

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts

 

In a small bowl, whisk together Worstershire sauce, lemon juice and garlic.  Set aside.

Rinse and dry chicken breasts.  Place between two sheets of saran wrap and pound thin.  Place in a shallow dish.  Pour marinade over top, making sure all chicken breasts are completely submerged.  Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  When searing hot, brush with olive oil.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, being sure to wipe off any excess garlic.  Grill until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side.  Remove from heat.  Slice on the diagonal and serve immediately over polenta cakes.

Serves 4

Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad

Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

The other night, it was just my parents and me. Shawn and Caiti were both off with friends. We had been babysitting for a friend during the day, running errands. I was tired. And busy. I did not feel like making a hugely elaborate dinner. I wanted something that was quick, and familiar, and delicious. So, I made my Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad.

Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad

You know those staple meals? The dinners you come back to constantly, that you can make without any kind of recipe or guidance, the ones you can make in your sleep. This is one of my staple meals.

So simple, so filling, creamy, salty, deliciousness. Shawn and I have been making it for years now. It’s evolved a lot over time: started as a grilled chicken salad with ground olives on top. That turned into tapenade on top. Then I made it with cheese stuffed olives. The creamy texture turned it much more dressing-like, so I began tossing it into the salad. Now, I make it with a couple different type of olives and cheeses, depending on my mood. The other night, it was Lucques green olives, no pimentos, with blue cheese.

Lucques Green Olives and Blue Cheese

It really could not be easier. All the dressing ingredients in the food processor, pureed into a bowl of thick, creamy happiness. This also makes an excellent dipping sauce for bread, which I highly recommend snacking on while grilling the chicken. You can tell yourself you’re not ruining your appetite; you’re just eating your dinner in phases.

Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad

I usually do a very simple salt and pepper coating on the chicken before grilling it. Sometimes lemon pepper, sometimes flower pepper. Just depends on my mood, really. The salad part usually consists of romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes and English cucumber. But, feel free to mix it up. That’s the brilliance of this salad; it’s so simple, there’s really no wrong way to do it. Try jalapeno-stuffed olives with queso fresco; toss some grilled corn and jicama into the salad for a little south of the border action. Try kalamata olives with feta and fresh lemon zest for a Mediterranean vibe. Try a different protein with it; grilled tuna, grilled steak, maybe some lime marinated shrimp. It’s also so good, you really can’t go wrong. Just be sure to have a lot of fresh bread on hand for mopping up the briny, vinegary, cheese dressing; I really like herbed focaccia with this salad, such a great compliment.

Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad

See? Easy, simple, quick, without ever sacrificing taste. There is definitely a level of “gourmet” to this dish, all depending on the type of ingredients you go for. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have half a loaf of bread and a small bowl of dressing calling my name J THG

Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad

Grilled Chicken and Olive Salad

4 chicken breasts, trimmed of skin and fat

Salt and pepper to taste

6 oz. pitted green olives, unstuffed

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese, packed

1 Tbsp. olive brine

2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp.

1 ½ heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped

2 cups baby heirloom tomatoes, quartered lengthwise

½ English cucumber, sliced on the diagonal, skin on

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Wash your trimmed chicken breasts and pat dry. Salt and pepper both sides to taste. In a grill pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is searing hot, transfer the chicken breasts, laying them on crosswise (so you get nice grill marks). Grill on both sides until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven to keep warm.

In a food processor, combine the olives (check for pits!), blue cheese, olive brine and white balsamic vinegar. Process until broken up and resembling a paste. With the food processor running, drizzle in the 1/3 cup olive oil, running until all is combined into a thick, smooth dressing. Pepper (no salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes and cucumber. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over top and toss the salad well to coat. Dish out the salad evenly on 4 plates.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Cut each breast on the diagonal and transfer to on top of each dish of salad. Spoon the remaining dressing over top the chicken breasts on each plate. Finish with fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4