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Showing posts with label vegetable salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetable salad. Show all posts

Friday, August 28, 2009

Garlic Toasts and Farmers' Market Tomatoes

In southern California the end of summer means heat waves, brush fires, traffic jams near the beaches, and a bounty of produce in the farmers' markets. At the Santa Monica Farmers' Market and our neighborhood Pacific Palisades Farmers' Market, tomatoes fill the stalls. All kinds of tomatoes: conventional, heirloom, and cherry tomatoes.

Taking advantage of all those tomatoes is imperative.

I especially enjoy the sweetness of cherry tomatoes. I've skewered them. Roasted and turned them into pasta sauce. Used them in salads. Served them with fresh mozzarella. Recently I discovered a new combination that is perfect for a summer meal.

With a nod to bruschetta, the vegetable and cheese topping contrasts with the garlic toasts, but the bread should be cut thin, about 1/4" thick, the easier to break apart with a knife and fork.

Assemble the salad at the last minute so the toasts stay crunchy.

Garlic Toasts Topped with Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetables

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

8 slices Italian bread, thin sliced, 1/4" thick
4 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1 basket cherry tomatoes, stems removed, washed, quartered
1/4 cup olives cracked green or black, pitted, finely chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh mozzarella, dried, roughly chopped
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, roughly chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

In a small sauce pan, reduce the balsamic vinegar by half over a low flame, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large frying pan, add the chopped garlic and the thin slices of Italian bread. Saute until lightly browned on both sides. Add olive oil as needed but only enough so the slices brown evenly.

Place the sauteed bread on the bottom of a large bowl, add the Italian parsley, avocado, red onion, mozzarella, quartered cherry tomatoes, and slivered olives.

Drizzle with olive oil and the reduced balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Variations

Add 1 ear corn, boiled or grilled, kernels removed

Add 5 grilled shrimp, roughly chopped

Add 1 cup grilled chicken breast, roughly chopped

Add 4 anchovies, finely chopped

Add 1 hard boiled egg, finely chopped

Friday, August 14, 2009

Now & Later Meals: Grilled Corn Has a Second Act as a Salad

Besides outdoor grilling, days at the beach, fried chicken, ripe tomatoes, and ice cold watermelon, corn on the cob is one of the great markers of summer.

When I was growing up, my mom loved to search out road side stands that sold fresh corn. She'd buy a grocery bag full and we'd feast on boiled corn with slabs of melting butter, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper.

I still enjoy corn that way, but now more often than not our corn on the cob comes to the table grilled not boiled.

Shucked and drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, then turned on a grill until lightly browned, the naturally sweet kernels are sweetened even more by caramelization. Yumm.

For a snack, nothing is better than an ear of corn pulled from the refrigerator. But there's more that can be done with those grilled ears of corn. Cutting the kernels off, they can go into a chopped salad and move from side dish to entree.

And on hot days, that's another marker of summer--putting meals on the table with as little effort as possible.

Now: Farmers' Market Fresh Grilled Corn on the Cob
Later: Grilled Corn and Chopped Vegetable Salad

NOW: Grilled Corn on the Cob

The most important part of this recipe is the corn itself. The fresher the corn, the better the taste. When you're picking out corn, select ears that have green husks and golden silks.

Yield 4 servings plus left-overs (which you will need for the LATER recipe)

Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

8 ears of corn, shucked, silks removed, washed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the grill.

Break the ears in half or cut into 3" lengths. The ears you're saving to make the salad can be left whole. Pour the olive oil onto a large plate. Season with sea salt and pepper. Roll each piece of corn in the oil.

Using tongs, grill the corn on all sides until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and serve hot.

LATER: Parsley-Corn Chopped Salad

The salad can be prepared ahead and refrigerated but it tastes better if served at room temperature.

Yield 4 servings

Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

3-4 ears of grilled corn
1 large bunch Italian parsley, washed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, skin on
1 tablespoon yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, washed, peeled, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and pepper

Directions

Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and reduce by half over a low flame. Set aside to cool.

Using a sharp knife, cut off the kernels and put into a mixing bowl. Place the garlic clove on a skewer or the point of a sharp knife. Char in a flame so the skin burns off. Brush off any bits of burnt skin and roughly chop the garlic.

Add the charred garlic, parsley, and onions to the mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Transfer to a serving dish.

Variations

Instead of using a raw carrot, grill a carrot cut into slabs 1/4" thick; dredged the slabs in seasoned olive oil and grill until lightly browned; let cool and chop into pieces the same size as the corn kernels; add to the salad

Grill asparagus dredged in seasoned olive oil, then chop into pieces and add to the salad

Quarter cherry tomatoes and add to the salad

Add 1 cup cooked couscous

Add 1 medium sized avocado, peeled, roughly chopped

Add 6 medium sized shrimp, washed, peeled, deveined, and grilled, roughly shopped

Crumble 3 pieces of crisp bacon on the salad and toss

Shred 1/2 cup turkey or chicken breast and add to the salad

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

California Dreamin: A Salad of Iranian Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Onions

Living near the beach in Pacific Palisades, I have to drive a long way to visit one of my favorite places to eat. An Armenian restaurant, California Dreamin (6424 San Fernando Road, Glendale, CA 91201) is located in Glendale some 30 miles inland. Happily a block away is another favorite, Golden Farms (6501 San Fernando Road, Glendale, CA 91202), also Armenian, a supermarket famous for its low prices, fresh produce, specialty cuts of meats, and enormous liquor department.

Reflecting the diversity of the neighborhood, California Dreamin is an all-purpose coffee shop serving American, Mexican, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Armenian food. I imagine it was once a hamburger joint or the kind of coffee shop that served 99¢ breakfasts.

For years I drove by without stopping. Now I look for excuses to swing by and have lunch.

I'm certain all their food is good but I'm a creature of habit so I always order #8 the Chicken Breast Kabob. The perfectly cooked chicken is tender and juicy. Served with basmati rice, a fire-roasted whole tomato and a pepper, toasted pieces of lavash, and a small bowl of cucumber salad, there's always more than I can eat. Invariably I bring home a to-go box for a late night snack. And they make a cup of thick Armenian coffee that packs more flavor than any espresso.

At some point, I realized I came as much for the cucumber-tomato salad (Salad-e Shirazi) as anything else. The combination of flavors is so deceptively simple. Making the salad at home I shop at the local farmers' markets to get the freshest ingredients. Delicious by itself, the salad is a perfect side dish for grilled meats.

Iranian Cucumber, Tomato, Onion Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 5 minutes

I tried using regular cucumbers but they're too watery. For me the salad only works with Iranian or Persian cucumbers because they have more density and fewer seeds. The traditional version of the salad calls for the addition of an acid, either vinegar or citrus juice (lemon or lime). Personally, I like it without either, but all versions are worth trying.

Ingredients

2 Iranian cucumbers, washed, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds or quarters
1/2 basket cherry tomatoes, washed, quartered
2 tablespoons yellow onion, washed, peeled, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Mix together and dress with olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve as a side dish with grilled meats or to be eaten with grilled lavash or tortillas.

Variations

Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, or 1 teaspoon vinegar.

Add finely chopped Italian parsley or cilantro or mint leaves.