It’s hot out there; who wants to cook? Not me. So what I worked on this week are summer salads.
Ho hum, right? Potato salad, cole slaw, macaroni salad? Same old same old.
Not this guy.
I came up with two wonderful new recipes inspired by other, pre-existing recipes and worked them over into wonderful new dishes with my (and Ellen’s) personal twists to make a balmy summer evening absolutely sing with new flavors.
Standard ingredients, new applications. Here’s what we’ve got.
Among the things upon which Ellen and I agree is that we don’t much like creamy potato salads; you know the ones–potatoes, celery, mayonnaise, salt and pepper–not much about which to get excited.
Enter Eating Well magazine. Eating well is something I excel at, although “well” is a bit of a stretch. The magazine means healthy; to me, “eating well” generally means enjoying what we’ve made to the extreme. In this case, I’ll stick to (relatively) healthy–no mayo in this potato salad, just a beautious blend of herbs and spices that make a summer day feel like a celebration. This month’s issue of Eating Well features a choice of potato salads that are different from the norm almost as much as they are different from each other.
Our choice from this page was a luscious Greek potato salad with (or, in our case, without) beautiful Kalamata olives (Ellen doesn’t like olives, so we left them out, but I love them, so I say “put ’em in!” Here’s the plan:
The second recipe is a variation on a Mexican bean salad, with a tangy cumin/lime dressing that is similar to one that has long been one of our favorites. It’s like a bean salad I wrote about a couple of years ago, but with a twist in the dressing. The dressing started with the Food Network’s Ellie Krieger, but I’ve worked it over to my liking, and I sure do like it. Better, although the original is delicious.
I think you’ll like both recipes. We served them with grilled chicken and freshly torn romaine lettuce and the same dressing as in the beans. Fabulous!
Greek Potato Salad
2½ pounds red or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup reduced-fat Feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup Kalamata olives, quartered (optional! — NOT!)
1 medium cucumber, seeded and quartered and diced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Scrub and dice the potatoes to a ½-inch dice and place on a steamer basket above one inch of water in a large pot; steam until tender, 12-15 minutes. Place the potato dice on a baking sheet, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and let cool for 15 minutes. Then gently place them in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, and salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, Feta, olives (or not ;), cucumber, and oregano to the potatoes, then drizzle the dressing into the bowl. Toss gently, so as not to break up the potatoes, and add salt and pepper to taste. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least two hours, then serve.
Mexican Black Bean and Tomato Salad
2 cans black beans, rinsed well
4 fresh San Marzano (or Roma) plum tomatoes, ½-inch dice
1 orange (or yellow) bell pepper, seeded and pith removed, ½-inch dice
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
½ red onion, diced
1 10-oz package of frozen corn, thawed, rinsed, and drained
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (more if you like your salads tangy!)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
Place the first seven ingredients (beans through cilantro) in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, add the zest, juice, cumin, chipotle pepper, salt, and white pepper, and stir to mix well. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing bowl whisking constantly to create a mixed dressing that thickens as you add the oil. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to coat the salad well. Serve immediately to get all the flavor from the tomatoes and cilantro, or chill for later serving.
Both these recipes are tasty and reasonably healthy, and go well with anything grilled. Try ‘em both!
Children hate the idea of “Meatless Monday.”
Truth be told, I’m not so crazy about it either. Butcher’s son, you know.
On the other hand, my wonderful life partner puts up with most of my foibles, so I figure the least I can do is humor her in her craving for “meatless Monday.”
I try all kinds of ways to deal with the concept—I’ve done risottos, pasta dishes, bean burritos, vegetable pot pie—and I haven’t even scratched the surface of the Moosewood empire, where meatless is a way of life.
So when my beloved handed me a recipe for vegetarian shepherd’s pie (which, I think, is an oxymoron—I mean, have you ever heard of a shepherd rounding up his—or her—lentils at the end of the day?
I mean, “Git along, little legume?”
Somehow it just doesn’t ring right.
On the other hand, I’ve made a bunch of shepherd’s pies over the last few weeks, and I think I’ve got the flavor profile down pretty well, and I have, after all, been making my shepherd’s pies from ground turkey (“Git along, little turkey?”), so why not vegetarian. I have been fairly successful making dishes using lentils of a variety of colors, and the recipe appeared to me to be reasonably open to experimentation, so Lentil Shepherd’s Pie it is.
It turned out to be really good. As most of you vegetarians will attest, lentils can be (a) healthful; (b) tasty; (c) brown; and (d) flexible. And pretty easy to work with, too, taking on the flavor of whatever seasonings one might be tempted to use.
I highly recommend this recipe, and I will actually make it again, amending it as I go to see what other interesting taste profiles I can come up with.
Here, then, is my version of Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. Adapted from a recently posted recipe from Eating Well, I’ve changed it up some to suit my and my family’s taste buds, and while getting the children to eat it was somewhat of a challenge (getting my children to eat anything beyond mac-n-cheese is somewhat of a challenge), any families whose kids are open to this sort of thing will, I think, actually like this recipe a bunch.
Here it is:
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons margarine or butter spread (I use Smart Balance)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
¼ teaspoon fine-ground white pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil spray
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
½ cup baby peas
1 teaspoon fresh (or ½ teaspoon dried) thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red table wine
1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with water, at least 1 inch over the lentils; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and set aside.
Cut the potatoes into 1- to 2-inch cubes and place in a pot of boiling, salted water, turn the heat down to medium and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add the buttermilk and butter spread, mash with a potato masher and whip until smooth. Set aside.
While the potatoes are boiling, spray an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with olive oil spray. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil, add the onion and carrots, and sauté until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to combine. Add the broth and cook, stirring, until the sauce begins to thicken, about three minutes. Add the Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, and wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Drain the lentils and add, along with the peas, and stir to combine completely.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Spoon the lentil filling into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Top with the mashed potatoes, spread evenly, and draw lines into the potatoes with a fork to create ridges. Spray the top with olive oil spray and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and brown the top lightly, rotating once to brown evenly, 6-8 minutes.
Here are more wonderful recipes from our Around the World in Eight Courses dinner party ten nights ago. These are three more of the tapas presentations on the platter. Mini roasted peppers stuffed with herbs and goat cheese, a terrific parsley and anchovy (that’s right! anchovy) dip that was served with slices of bell pepper, toasted pita chips, and an onion and potato torte that was cut into bite-sized pieces. The surprise of the platter was the parsley dip, with the anchovies poached in a broth of milk and olive oil. Not salty, not offensive in any way, but rather very tasty and begging to be sampled twice.
Here, then are the recipes:
Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese
8 ounces goat cheese
3 scallions, green parts only, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of two lemons
12 mini red and yellow bell peppers
Prepare the filling an hour or two ahead. Place goat cheese, scallions, mint, and red-pepper flakes in a bowl. Zest and juice lemons into the bowl, straining seeds. Mix until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to fill the peppers.
Roast the peppers in a 350-degree oven, turning every five minutes, until they are blackened all over (alternately, roast them over a gas-stove flame, using tongs to keep them above the flames); then place them on a parchment-lined tray and cover with a dish towel until they are completely cool. Peel the skins gently, trying not to damage the roasted peppers.
Spoon the filling into a plastic bag, squeeze the filling into a bottom corner of the bag, remove as much air from the bag as possible, and twist the top of the bag. This forms a small piping bag. Cut a small piece of the bottom corner of the plastic bag, and fill each pepper with about 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese mixture. Place on a serving plate, and sprinkle with red-pepper flakes; garnish with spring onions if desired. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, about 1 hour.
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup whole milk
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bunches parsley heads
2-3 tsp. Lemon juice
In a small saucepan, bring olive oil, milk, garlic, and anchovy fillets to a simmer over medium; cook until garlic is tender, 8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and add parsley. Pulse until smooth; season with pepper and lemon juice.
Onion and Potato Torte
7 tbsp EVOO
1 medium onion, ½-inch rounds
3 Yukon golds, ¼-inch rounds
Freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic
Chicory or endive
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
Preheat oven to 325.
Saute onions till golden, place in bowl. Repeat with potatos. Whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper. Add to onions and potatoes.
Heat pan with extra-virgin olive oil, add mixture and cook until edges begin to brown. Place in oven and bake, covered, until set, about 10 minutes. Remove top and broil until lightly browned.
Brush bread with EVOO and garlic, toast until golden.. Toss lettuce with vinegar, salt and pepper. Scatter over bread, cover with torte, cool. Serve at room temp.
I wrote once in my column about Ellen’s little tin box. It’s magical. Chock full of recipes from so many years of collecting. She got the box at Hershey Chocolate World when she was in high school (not really that long ago), and in the ensuing years collected recipes from magazines and newspapers and various other sources, including many of her mother’s recipes, which she wrote down on 3×5 cards. It features recipes like “porcupine meatballs,” and “shake-and-bake chicken,” and “Mrs. Fuller’s soup,” and “Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick stew,” and corn pudding, and…and…and…on and on and on. As I said, it’s magic! Many of the recipes have become part of our current dinner rotation, and I fell in love with her over the meat loaf recipe (romantic, huh?). The meat loaf is so good that I have abandoned my mother’s recipe and my own recipe, and even the Epicure Market’s recipe, because the one in the tin box is perfect.
That said, I’m going to give you a simple one, a favorite around here, one that gets requested over and over again, and now that I’ve discovered the Char-Broil infrared grill, it’s a 10-minute breeze and a serious winner. I tend to want my beef done simply–salt and pepper and a little garlic and butter–but this one, a large steak grilled and sliced to serve, just wants a wonderful marinade. This one is it. Simple and elegant, tasty and memorable. If you crave a beef supper with a little zing, try this one. Serve it with a simple cold salad and some oven roasted sweet-potato fries. Fantastic!
Grilled Teriyaki Flank Steak (or London Broil)
2- to 3-pound flank steak or London Broil
1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
Combine all the ingredients in a pan large and deep enough to allow the steak to lie flat and to hold the marinade and the steak.
Deeply pierce both sides of the steak with a fork, at 1-inch intervals. Place the steak in the marinade, allow to rest for 1/2 hour, then turn. Turn the steak every hour, marinating for at least four hours, but no more than eight.
Prepare a charcoal grill, allowing the charcoal to turn white, and resting under half the cooking grate; or preheat one burner of a gas grill for 10 minutes.
Allow the steak to come to room temperature before grilling. Place the steak directly over the hot coals or the burner for five minutes, turn and repeat on the other side. Then move the steak off the direct heat and continue cooking another five to seven minutes for medium-rare steak–or minutes longer if you prefer your steak more done–until the steak reaches 140 degrees internal temperature measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove the steak from the grill, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Slice the steak across the grain and serve with small bowls of Teriyaki sauce for dipping.
Perfect Oven-roasted Sweet Potato Fries
1-2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cut the ends off the potatoes, then slice them into 1/2-inch slices. Turn the potatoes to stack the slices, then slice them into 1/2-inch slices again, to make half-inch by half-inch potato sticks. Place them in a mixing bowl, add the salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil and toss to coat well.
Lay the fries in a single layer on foil-lined baking sheets (use more than one baking sheet if necessary. Don’t stack the potato fries.
Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, turn over, and bake for 10 – 15 minutes more. They are done when they begin to brown and crisp. Serve with the steak, and a dipping sauce of your choice or ketchup or ranch dressing.