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Enjoy a Make-Ahead Salad Filled with Freshness


tomato saladA friend recently went through a lifetime of cookbooks and gave me 11 cases to go through. Needless to say, it’s going to take some time, especially when I pause all the time to read through a recipe for this or that.

I’m not going to keep all of them, of course. After all, there are a few duplicates in there. But you never know where you’re going to find a treasure. The following recipe for Green Pepper, Olive and Tomato Salad comes from “Pantry Pleasures,” a fundraiser for the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary in Grand Rapids, Mich. The year the cookbook appeared is a mystery, though my guess would be in the early 1970s.

I was drawn to it because of the freshness of the ingredients, many of which are personal favorites. But the real appeal is that you can make this a day ahead. So, if you know you’re going to be running short on time, here’s one course that you won’t have to worry about.

It’s also easy to play around with the ingredients to suit your tastes. I added an English cucumber. Radishes and cabbage would also be good additions. (If you use red radishes, add them shortly before serving because the color of the skin will run and turn the whole salad pink.)

Green Pepper, Olive and Tomato Salad

2 green peppers, chopped in thin strips or small pieces
1 cup sliced olives (green or black or a combination of both)
3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges or bite-sized pieces
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large red onion, cut into thin half-rings
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as grapeseed or avocado
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together peppers, olives, tomatoes, celery, onion, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Marinate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 12-15 servings.

Adapted from “Pantry Pleasures: Mercy Hospital Auxiliary”

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Christmas Colors This Bright Broccoli, Feta, Hazelnut and Cherry Tomato Salad


Broccoli, Feta, Hazelnut and Cherry Tomato Salad

The red and green of this salad with flecks of white give it a Christmas feeling, but its the freshness of the flavors, from the saltiness of the cheese to the pungent garlic in the dressing make this a winner any time of year.

You might be surprised at how much of the dressing the broccoli absorbs. Though I used a little less than called for, there was no residue at the bottom of the bowl.

One change I would make when making this again: I would halve the tomatoes (I used grape), just so the fruit can also absorb some of that garlicky dressing.

Broccoli, Feta, Hazelnut and Cherry Tomato Salad

4 ounces hazelnuts
14 ounces bite-sized broccoli florets
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into bite-sized cubes
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
7 ounces French dressing (recipe follows)
Pepper, to taste

Toast the hazelnuts in a hot oven, then tip them into a tea towel and rub off the skins. Allow to cool, then put the hazelnuts in a owl with the broccoli, cheese and cherry tomatoes. Gently toss with three-quarters of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Salt may not be needed because feta is usually salted.) Determine if more dressing is needed.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From “Avoca Cafe Cookbook” by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes

French Dressing

1 cup sunflower oil
1 cup olive oil
1 cup peanut oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 scant teaspoons honey, or less, to taste

Place oils, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, mustard and honey in a bowl, and whisk until emulsified. This can be stored in a bottle and shake vigorously before using. It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

Adapted from “Avoca Cafe Cookbook” by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes

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Tomato Salsa Salad with Capers and Mint


Tomatoes are starting to come into season, and this salad — or salsa — is a great way to showcase the brightest summer flavors.

“What’s the different between a fresh tomato salsa and a tomato salad?”  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes in “River Cottage Every Day” (Ten Speed Press, $32.50). “Not much really, but for me, a tomato salsa should always include some kind of raw allium — shallot, onion, green onion — to give it an edge. And if you chopped the tomatoes more finely for this recipe, you’d have a definite salsa, I’d say — perfect for eating with burgers or spicy chicken.”

Tomato Salsa Salad with Capers and Mint

1 pound ripe tomatoes
1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons tiny capers, rinsed
A small squeeze of lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons canola or extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A tiny pinch of sugar
A few torn fresh mint leaves

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then halve each quarter crosswise. place in a bowl and lightly stir in the shallot or onion and caper.

Put the lemon juice and oil in a small pitcher, season well, and add the sugar. Whisk together, then drizzle over the tomatoes. Scatter the torn mint leaves over the top and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “River Cottage Every Day” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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Griffin to Go: Tossed In for Extra Flavor


Fresh herbs add extra flavor to your salad.

I have been forcing myself to garden more this spring than I have in the past. And while I wait for the peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatillos to ripen, I have enjoyed the addition of numerous herbs  that have thrived, thanks to recent rains.

They join the few I had planted years ago, herbs that somehow managed to survive both heavy rains and heavy drought. Some are in pots, others in the ground. A few get a little shade, but most are in full sun for most of the day.

There’s an enormous patch of mint, which spread from a single plant that went into the ground about 10 years ago. There is so much now that I have enough to keep vases of it in the house while other leaves are steeped in boiling water for a tea that’s great either hot or iced.

Then there’s rosemary, sorrel and several types of chive as well as an enormous thyme plant that has spread over the edge of its pot down to the ground below. New this year are dill, perhaps my favorite  herb of all, as well as tarragon, two basils, Mexican mint marigold, Cuban oregano with its fuzzy leaves, parsley and purslane. Cilantro came up in about six spots in the yard after a single plant last year fried in the summer heat.

Another volunteer is lambsquarters, a bright  green plant with magenta leaves at the center of small clusters. The leaves are fuzzy to the touch, but the leaves add color and brightness to the mix.

All are doing well, except for a sage plant that the woman I bought it from said wanted things as dry as possible. The exact opposite proved to be the case and it never had a chance to establish itself. (Most of my gardening is done in the morning before that first cup of tea, when the cobwebs in my brain haven’t been swept away yet and I didn’t really see how dry the plant got during the heat of the day.)

Morning is the perfect time to gather snippets from each herb to toss into a salad for lunch. There’s something that feels so alive and refreshing about biting into a piece of sorrel, the flavor of which reminds me of cold mountain water, or the bold tang of tarragon.

Basil is the focus of this year's Herb Market, June 2 at the Pearl Brewery.

I don’t want to mask those flavors with a heavy dressing. Instead, I toss the herbs with a few spring field greens, a pinch of flaked sea salt and the tiniest drizzle of exceptionally fine olive oil. I then shake it all up vigorously, so that a teaspoon or two of oil proves more than enough. A grind or two of black pepper is all that’s needed to finish it off. I could graze through acres of it with just a little cheese or salami on the side.

Of course, the herbs pack a wallop in whatever I’m cooking, but the salads are what I’ve enjoyed the most.

The big surprise this year has come from my two basil plants, one of which had been a table decoration at the inaugural SA Chefs Coalition dinner.  Both are now growing  like weeds, thanks to a tip I learned last fall on how to handle the plant. Susan Belsinger, the guest speaker at the Herb Market last October, shared a tip that works perfectly: Cut the plant back regularly to just above the leaf that is the second from the bottom. It will look as if you are butchering your plant, but the plant actually loves it. This year,  using that method, I’ve harvested three times the amount of basil that I’ve gotten from my plants in the past, and it’s still spring. (Click here for more of Belsinger’s tips.)

One of our Twitter friends, Jessica, from the Bake Me Away blog, has a great idea for a Balsamic Strawberry Basil Pizza. It’s one of several herbal new recipes you can try. The others are for Lemonade Made with Vanilla, Mint and Rosemary, a great thirst quencher over Memorial Day weekend and the rest of the summer, and Chilled Shrimp and Peruvian Corn Salad, which has plenty of cilantro and mint adding flavor.

 

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Red Cabbage Salad with Anchovies


Red Cabbage Salad with Anchovies

This refreshing salad needs to pickle in a vinegar solution for 24 hours before you add the dressing. The end result is tangy with a rich mouthfeel. It has a very Mediterranean flavor.

It should come as no surprise then that the recipe is from Clifford A. Wright’s wonderful collection “Little Foods of the Mediterranean,” which is sadly out of print though used copies can be found on the Internet.

Wright offers a short history of the salad: “This Catalan recipe, called amanida de col llombarda amb seitons, literally means ‘salad of Lombardy cabbage with anchovies.’ Lombardy cabbage refers to red cabbage. I’ve adapted this recipe from Marimar Torres’ ‘The Catalan Country Kitchen,’ published in 1992. It is best served at room temperature.”

In my haste to get a number of dishes out for a recent party, I forgot the parsley. It didn’t seem to be needed. Leftovers also keep well, though you should bring it up to room temperature after removing it from the refrigerator.

Red Cabbage Salad with Anchovies

1 pound red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
3 tablespoons fine sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
6 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/4 cup extra-virgin  olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped freshly parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, combine the cabbage, vinegar, salt and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until a lavender color, about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours.

Place the anchovies and olive oil in a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. Drain the cabbage and squeeze out the excess moisture. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cabbage with the anchovy mixture and parsley. Correct the seasonings and toss again with black pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Little Foods of the Mediterranean” by Clifford  A. Wright

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Radish and Cucumber Salad


Radish and Cucumber Salad

Sometimes, the simplest combinations shine more brightly than complex creations. This salad features only three ingredients outside of the dressing — radishes, cucumbers and either arugula or spinach. And the dressing isn’t that complicated either. But put them together and a rewarding salad results.

This went well with ham and seafood both on Easter and would work with just about anything else you were serving. It is yet another winning surprise from Suzanne Somers’ “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” (Three Rivers Press, $21.99).

Radish and Cucumber Salad

1 bunch radishes, sliced into quarters
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into half-moons
1 bunch arugula or spinach
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine the radishes, cucumber and arugula. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss until well coated.

Place the salad on individual plates and top sliced chicken, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

From “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” by Suzanne Somers

 

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Get Your Greens — And Not Just on St. Patrick’s Day


Just about any kind of tender lettuce is good in this salad.

Don’t wait for Saturday to add some green to your diet. For the next few days, we’ll offer some great green dishes that you can enjoy year round. The recipes will come from around the world, which doesn’t matter since everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right?

The following recipe comes from Cafe Pasqual in Santa Fe, N.M. It originated with the aunt of the owner Katharine Kagel, who writes, “As a child, I was so enamored of this dressing that she would give me a mason jar of it as a gift at Christmas. It is tangy, salty and sweet all at once, an engaging range of flavors and better when served the day after it is made. Keep the dressing refrigerated until just before serving.”

By the way, A.J. is short for Aunt June Shane.

A.J. Romaine and Shrimp Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

2 to 3 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveied
3 to 4 heads romaine lettuce (see note)

For the dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained (about 4 lemons)
2 cups firmly packed, stemmed fresh parsley leaves
1 bunch scallions (about 6), including the green tops, coarsely chopped
1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets, drained
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced (optional)

Bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add the shrimp and boil just until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Drain, cover and chill.

Use only the hearts of the romaine lettuces; reserve the large outer leaves for another purpose. Separate, wash and dry the leaves, then wrap in a cloth towel or paper towel and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

To prepare the dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, anchovies and sugar, if using, in a blender and liquify, 10 to 15 seconds.

To serve, tear the romaine lettuce leaves into 20inch lengths and place in a salad bowl with the avocados, if using. pour on the dressing and toss well to coat the leaves and avocados. Arrange the shrimp on top of the salad and serve.

Note: You can use any lettuce but iceberg for this recipe.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Adapted from “Cafe Pasqual’s Cookbook: Spirited Recipes from Santa Fe” by Katharine Kagel

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