Monday, April 20, 2015

Salad Greens with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette


My favorite part of a salad is the vinaigrette. Don't get me wrong. I love greens and vegetables and try to eat at least one huge salad per day. But a well-made vinaigrette pulls everything together and makes a healthy choice delicious.

I am always surprised  (and a little bit sad) when I see the huge selection of bottled salad dressings on market shelves. People pay so much money for an item that is chock full of preservatives, lower quality ingredients and often loads of sodium and sugar (read the labels...you will be shocked.) Homemade vinaigrettes are fast, easy, delicious and much better for you because you control the ingredients. Keeping a well-stocked pantry of excellent oils like olive, sesame and walnut, along with various vinegars, seasonings and mustards ensure you are always just a few minutes away from a perfect & healthy vinaigrette.

Today I am sharing a recipe for a vinaigrette featuring sun-dried tomatoes. I use it to dress a simple green salad or one with greens, roasted vegetables, and grilled chicken. Double or triple the recipe...it keeps for two weeks in the refrigerator.


Salad Greens with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon capers
pinch dried red pepper flakes
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper 
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups spinach leaves, washed & dried
2 cups baby kale leaves, washed & dried
1 cup romaine leaves, washed & dried 
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 white onion, sliced
sea salt
black pepper

In the bowl of a food processor add sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper and water. Pulse until smooth. With machine running, slowly add oil. Process until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Set aside.

Add greens, red pepper and onion to a large salad bowl. Toss. Add 3 tablespoons vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Add additional vinaigrette if desired. Do not over dress the greens.

Other vinaigrettes and dressings you may enjoy:



Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Salad GreensDo you have a favorite salad recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. Recipes will be posted at noon on Thursday.

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wild Mushroom, Sweet Pepper & Leek Risotto


Risotto gets a bad rap for being difficult to prepare. Nothing could be further from the truth. The technique is actually very easy. I also find the process relaxing. I stand in the kitchen with a glass of wine and slowly...ever so slowly...add broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed and then add another ladle. I don't really have to concentrate so this dish is perfect when hosting a dinner party. We can all stand in the kitchen talking, laughing and taking turns stirring. The whole process should take between 20-30 minutes.


I also love the versatility of risotto. If you keep the proportion of liquid to rice consistent, you can add whatever meat, vegetable and/or cheese combination you like. Plain with just shallot and cheese is delicious, or you can get as fancy as you like. Spring pea and onion?  Roasted eggplant, tomato and basil? Shrimp & lemon? What sounds good to you? Add handfuls of fresh herbs in season or use half olive oil and half butter. Get creative and, in the comments section below, please share your favorite way to prepare risotto.



Wild Mushroom, Sweet Pepper & Leek Risotto
(serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a first)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large leek, cleaned and sliced (white & pale green part)
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb wild mushrooms, wiped & sliced
1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms, wiped & sliced
42 oz vegetable broth
3/4 cup sherry
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano (shredded)
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper.

Warm olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add leek, red pepper, shallot and large pinch each salt & pepper. Saute until tender. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.

While vegetables are cooking, add broth and sherry to a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until warm. Reduce heat to low.

Add rice to vegetables and stir ensuring rice is coated in oil. Add 1 large ladleful of broth to rice and vegetable mixture and occasionally stir until broth is absorbed. Repeat process 1 ladleful at a time until rice is very creamy, tender but still al dente. Ensure you do not add each ladleful of broth until the prior one is absorbed. Taste a bit of rice to ensure it is cooked to your liking.

Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve sprinkled with the parmigiano-reggiano.



Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Grains. Do you have a favorite grain recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network.




best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Roasted Asparagus Nicoise



This is the salad I will be eating all spring. Roasting asparagus and peppers bring out the sweetness of the vegetables. Adding a vinaigrette made from Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, shallots and ingredients like olives, tomatoes and capers creates a delicious, warm salad perfect for all your spring menus.


I like to serve the Nicoise with roasted chicken, beef or salmon. Or, for a vegetarian option, try pairing with Parmigiano-Reggiano and crusty french bread. Add a glass of lightly chilled rosé wine, and dinner is served. Enjoy!


Note, traditional Nicoise salads include anchovies, potatoes, and tuna. You can include any/all of these ingredients in this recipe, but I prefer it as is.

Roasted Asparagus Nicoise
(serves 8)

2 lbs asparagus
1 lb mini sweet peppers
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 Nicoise or Kalamata olives (pitted and rough chopped)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon capers
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and peel if stringy. (You probably will only need to peel very thick stalks. Thin stalks are usually fine as is).  Place asparagus in single layer on prepared sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Using your hands, roll the asparagus in oil until coated on all sides. Add peppers to the pan and drizzle with oil. Generously season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 15-30 minutes or until the asparagus and peppers are beginning to brown and caramelize. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the stalks. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustard, shallot, vinegar and a pinch each salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until thoroughly combined. Drizzle 1/4 of the vinaigrette over the warm asparagus and peppers. Toss to combine.

Place the asparagus and peppers on a large platter. Scatter the olives, tomatoes and capers over the top. Drizzle another 1/4 of the vinaigrette over the platter. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve with remaining vinaigrette on the side.


Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Asparagus. Do you have a favorite asparagus recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

The Lemon Bowl: 20 Asparagus Recipes for Spring
Feed Me Phoebe: 
White Asparagus with Herby Sabayon Sauce
Dishing with Divya: 
Mock Guacamole with Asparagus
Dishin & Dishes: 
Asparagus Spinach Coconut Soup
Creative Culinary: 
Grilled Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan
Jeanette's Healthy Living: 
Low Carb Pasta with Asparagus Pancetta and Pine Nuts
Weelicious: 
Italian Asparagus Sticks
The Heritage Cook: 
Asparagus Caprese Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Roasted Asparagus Nicoise
Red or Green: 
Spicy Roasted Asparagus & Leek Soup
Swing Eats: 
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus with Rosemary
The Cultural Dish: 
Asparagus Milanese
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Asparagus Carbonara with Garlic Crumbs
Taste with the Eyes: 
Savory Matzo Brei with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon
The Mom 100: 
It's Simple Roasted Asparagus with Shallots and Parmesan
FN Dish: 
The Asparagus Motto: The Simpler, The Better


best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ceviche Appetizer


When I was a child, I was fortunate enough to travel with my family each October to Mazatlan Mexico. My mom, dad and both my sisters would take a week off of work or school and fly to this beautiful, warm, beach community to spend a week exploring, swimming in the ocean and, of course, working on our tans. (We were in middle school and high school during these years so an extra week of vacation was so cool!.). We also spent a lot of time eating fresh fish, vegetables and fruit. One of the dishes we discovered was Ceviche. Every night prior to our main course, a huge bowl of this fresh from the ocean fish dish would arrive accompanied by homemade salsa and a basket of hot-from-the-fryer corn tortilla chips. We were hooked.


Ceviche is a salsa type dish made with freshly caught white fish, onion, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro "cooked" in a vinaigrette made with lime juice, vinegar and a touch of olive oil. The lime juice and vinegar pickle the fish creating a taste and texture similar to poaching, but with amazing flavor. Nothing like raw fish or sushi. Delicious.

I decided my ceviche recipe would be a perfect dish for Easter this year. Spring is here, fresh produce is starting to appear at the market and the fresh, spicy, flavorful fish appetizer will be a perfect side dish with roast garlic chicken, asparagus, salad, warm potato salad and a Meyer lemon tart. How good does that sound?


Ceviche Appetizer
(serves 4)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb very fresh white fish (I use halibut), cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup Anaheim chile, diced
1-2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, minced (Start with 1 tablespoon and add more if you want it spicier)
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Warm corn tortilla chips as an accompaniment. (If not making from scratch, spread store bought chips on a rimmed baking sheet and warm in 250-degree oven for 5-7 minutes)

In a medium sized bowl, combine lime juice, vinegar and olive oil.  Stir in fish, onion, chile, jalapeno and tomato. Add a pinch each salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.

Approximately 1 hour prior to serving, stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve chilled with warm corn tortilla chips.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

My other Easter Dinner Menu items:

Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Easter Side Dishes. Do you have a favorite Easter recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Green Goddess Avocado Toasts with Roasted Spring Vegetables and Tahini Sauce
Dishing with Divya: 
Thai Roasted Vegetables with Peanut Coconut Sauce
Haute Apple Pie: 
Smoked Gouda Scalloped Potatoes
Food for 7 stages of Life: 
Spicy Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
The Recipe Specialist: 
Spring Vegetable Tart
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Ceviche Appetizer
Red or Green: 
Taos Cowboy Caviar
Creative Culinary: 
Avocado and Orange Chopped Salad with Orange Honey Mustard Dressing
Swing Eats: 
Greek Spinach Casserole (gluten-free)
Dishin & Dishes: 
Deviled Egg And Avocado Dip
Daily*Dishin: 
Perfect Deviled Eggs 5 Ways
FN Dish: 
5 Fuss-Free Easter Side Dishes

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.