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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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Capture the Flavors of Summer in a Tomato Basil Salad


What are you going to do with the basil you bought at Basil Fest? One of the freshest, simplest answers is to create a salad matching the herb with its best friend, tomatoes, which are also coming into season.

Tomato Basil Salad

Tomato Basil Salad

You probably have everything else you need for this salad, already in your house. And many of you probably enjoy this amazing combination on a regular basis. But for the few of you who have never made it, here’s a brief run down of what you need to do.

Tomato Basil Salad

4 large tomatoes
Salt, to taste
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper, to taste

Remove the stems from the tomatoes and cut into wedges or slices, whichever you prefer. Salt them and let some of the juices drain in a colander until you’re just about ready to serve the salad. (Don’t let them set more than 20 minutes.)

Remove any stems from the basil leaves. Tear them in small pieces or cut in a chiffonade (thin strips).

In a salad bowl, toss the tomatoes, basil and garlic with the vinegar, oil and black pepper. Serve immediately.

You can vary this salad, but adding fresh mozzarella to the tomatoes and basil for a classic Caprese. Or you can use any type of goat cheese. Just skip the garlic, drizzle with oil and vinegar, and sprinkle salt and pepper on top of the tomatoes, basil and cheese.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From John Griffin

 

 

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Add a Touch of Ground Pomegranate to Your Cooking


Pomegranates have become popular in recent years because of their healthful properties. The superfood is known for being high in vitamins C, B5 and E as well as beta carotene, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid.

In short, they’re supposed to be good for you.

They also taste great, which is why I jumped at the chance to try ground anardana, or ground pomegranate, when I saw it on the shelf at the Himalayan Bazaar, 8466 Fredericksburg Road. The Indian market had three different varieties available. I picked up a jar made by Rani, which was offered at $3 for a 3-ounce jar.

In doing a little research, I discovered that anardana is made from a type of pomegranate that’s considered too sour to eat fresh, so they dry the seeds, which retain a remarkable amount of flavor.

Daikon salad with ground pomegranate.

Rani offered the following background on its website: “Anardana comes from the dried seeds of the pomegranate. Native to Southwest Asia, the fruit is both sweet and tangy. In India, the dried seeds are ground down to make a coarse powder used to flavor curries and chutneys. In the Middle East, it is used often to garnish dishes such as hummus, salads and tahini.”

You could use it in any dish that would benefit from a sweet-sour brightness, whether it was in a sauce for chicken or lamb or as an alternative to raisins in baked desserts. Once you start using anardana

I used the tangy ground pomegranate in a simple shrimp stir-fry with a butter-white wine sauce. I also added it to a daikon radish salad with EVOO and lime juice.

Plus, here’s a vegan-friendly recipe from Rani’s website for a easy garbanzo salad that would be ideal for a summer picnic.

Garbanzo Salad

1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
½ onion, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
1 tablespoon ground pomegranate, such as Rani Anardana
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl combine garbanzo beans, onion, bell pepper, ground pomegranate, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Toss and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Makes 4 servings.

From Rani

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Chilled Shrimp and Peruvian Corn Salad


Use any type of fresh or frozen corn kernels you want in this recipe.

Fresh cilantro and mint are the star herbs in this summery salad from “Lorena Garcia’s New Latin Classics” (Ballantine Books, $32.50). But there’s so much more flavor, thanks to avocado, corn, shrimp and lime juice.

“There are more than 50 varieties of corn grown in Peru,” Garcia writes. “The kind known as Peruvian corn has large kernels with a nice crunchy texture. You can find it frozen in Latin markets or use fresh or frozen local sweet corn instead.”

Meanwhile, guasacaca salsita is a Venezuelan-style guacamole-like sauce.

Chilled Shrimp and Peruvian Corn Salad

For the shrimp:
1 lemon cut in wedges
16 jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound) peeled and deveined

For the corn salad:
1 cup Peruvian corn or fresh or frozen (thawed) sweet corn
1/2 cup finely chopped jicama
1 medium jalapeño, halved and finely chopped (seeded and deveined for less heat)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lime  plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Spicy guasacaca salsita:
1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 clove garlic, optional

Place a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add the lemon wedges and bring to a boil over  high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, set a steamer basket in the pan, and place the shrimp in the basket. Cover the pan and cook the shrimp until they are pink and opaque, about 3 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the shrimp to ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the shrimp are completely cold, remove them from the ice water and place them in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Place the corn in a medium bowl and add the jicama, jalapeño, cilantro and mint, stirring to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the corn mixture. Stir to combine and set aside.

To make the guasacaca: Place the avocado in the bowl of a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Add cilantro, lime juice, salt, Tabasco sauce and garlic, if using, and purée until completely smooth, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Divide the pureed guasacaca mixture among four plates, and using the back of a spoon, spread it out evenly. Top with 1/4 cup of the corn salad, 4 shrimp and a little of the lime zest. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Lorena Garcia’s New Latin Classics”

 

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Gordon Ramsey’s Shrimp, Feta and Watermelon Salad


Watermelon slices make the basis for a tasty salad.

Watermelon is beginning to come into season,and this salad from “Gordon Ramsey’s Healthy Appetite” (Sterling Epicure, $24.95) offers an easy way of layering four bold flavors together in one  salad.

Shrimp, Feta and Watermelon Salad

7 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
Pinch of cayenne
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
3 pounds ripe seedless watermelon
1 3/4 ounces wild arugula leaves, washed
4 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoons toasted mixed seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds (optional)

Dressing:
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil

Marinate the shrimp by tossing them together with 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of cayenne and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut the watermelon into wedges, then cut off the skin and slice the flesh thinly. Layer the watermelon slices on a large serving platter, interleaving them with arugula leaves. Crumble over the feta and grind over some black pepper.

Place a large skillet, preferably a nonstick one, over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Tip in the shrimp and pan-fry for about 2 minutes until they turn opaque, flipping them over after a minute or so. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly while you make the dressing.

Whisk the lime juice, sugar and oil together and season to taste. Add the shrimp to the platter and sprinkle over the seeds, if using. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Gordon Ramsey’s Healthy Appetite”

 

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Chefs’ Corner: Rossini’s Insalata al Tonno (Salad with Tuna)


Insalata al Tonno at Rossini Italian Bistro.

Looking for a light salad for a hot summer’s day that is substantial enough to work as a main course? You might want to try this delicious, rustic array from Rossini Italian Bistro. It goes together in minutes.

“This is how we eat at home,” says Maria De Rosa, whose husband, Ezio, is the chef.

The dish, like the best of all Italian food, is simplicity itself. That means you need the best ingredients you can find because you can taste just how perfect (or imperfect) each one is. At Rossini, the field greens are organic, the extra-virgin olive oil packs plenty of flavor, and the asiago cheese aged enough to make it crumbly on top of the salad.

You can also change the recipe to use what you have from your garden or what you’ve just picked up from the farmers market. Tomatoes would work beautifully, as would hard-boiled eggs, cold roasted chicken instead of the tuna, or strips of zucchini, whatever you wish.

Rossini Italian Bistro is at 2195 N.W. Military Hwy. at West Avenue. Call 210-615-7270.

Rossini’s Insalata al Tonno (Salad with Tuna)

Field greens
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Canned tuna, well-drained
Asiago cheese, shaved into thin slices
Capers

Fill a salad bowl with desired amount of greens. Lightly dress the salad with olive oil and vinegar, to taste, and place on chilled plates.

Top with shreds of tuna and asiago cheese. Sprinkle capers on top. Drizzle a little more olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.

From Ezio De Rosa, Rossini Italian Bistro.

 

 

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