balsamic marinated tomato and mozzarella salad

I know there are a lot of food purists out there who will say this is a travesty; the bastardization of the Caprese Salad.  Yes, there is balsamic vinegar which some say you would never find on a Caprese Salad in Italy.   And yes, I served it as a side dish as opposed to a starter as they would in, you guessed it…Italy.

Alas, we are not in Italy.  We are in the United States of America and here?  Here, I put balsamic on my Caprese Salad and serve it as a side dish.  Except there’s one, minor detail.  This isn’t really Caprese salad.  Because it also has minced garlic and chopped onion.  So, there.  Take that, Italy.  It’s a side salad!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some Caprese Salad.  It’s the most tantalizing starter at any summer meal.  But this version is basically a balsamic marinade, and the added onion and garlic gives you an added kick in the taste buds.  It really was very, very good.  Lots of robust flavor with the same summer freshness of the purist’s Caprese Salad.  Keep this recipe on hand for summer weekends where you’re not hosting a formal sit down meal with several courses.  This has summer picnics and barbecues written all over it, especially if you’re invited to a summer meal where you’re asked to bring a dish to pass.  Make it ahead and let the flavors mingle.  It’s all good.  Enjoy!

2013-04-1012013-04-102

Balsamic Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (recipe courtesy Food.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, cubes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

In medium bowl, combine cheese pearls and tomatoes.  In separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and chopped basil.  Stir to blend evenly.   When dressing is evenly mixed, toss over cheese and tomatoes, stirring gently to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

DSC_6396-001

Cook’s Notes:  Especially where dressings and marinades are involved, always use the best quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil you can afford.

Advertisements

meat-of-choice teriyaki

This recipe came from one of my many, many Pinterest pins (can you say, “Get a life?”).  Actually, it’s so easy to pin from anywhere now that killing time at gymnastics or swim lessons or waiting for school to let out is a lot more productive.  (You can follow my pins here, if you’d like).  And Pinterest is absolutely overflowing with amazing recipes I can save for later, or a rainy day, or the day my husband comes home from the doc and tells me his cholesterol is too high.  Huh??  Ok, that’s just genetic, but to the extent I can make my already healthy cooking healthier?  Yeah, I’m in.  I kinda want to keep him around for a while.

The original recipe was for Teriyaki Turkey Tenderloins (say that three times fast), but my butcher was out of turkey tenderloins.  And, hey, it’s teriyaki.  Doesn’t that pretty much go with everything?  So, while I ended up using chicken breasts, any meat will do: chicken, turkey, pork, your choice.  It was also a little different from my standard teriyaki with the addition of sesame oil and chili-garlic paste.  The chili-garlic gave this version a nice kick and a little heat, but not overpowering.  I’ll definitely use it again – maybe on the last of the shrimp in the freezer now that my healthy cooking just got healthier.  Enjoy!

2013-01-15 (1)

Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients:

  • turkey breast tenderloins, chicken breasts, or pork tenderloin (meat-of-choice), approx 1 – 1 1/2 lbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbps fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ c  low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ c orange juice
  • ½ Tbps sesame oil
  • 2 Tbps rice vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ Tbps chili garlic paste (optional, or cut back quantity to taste)
 Instructions:
  1. Place meat-of-choice in a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour in to resealable bag containing your meat-of-choice.
  3. Marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  4. Pre-heat grill to medium high heat.
  5. Place your meat-of-choice on the grill and cook to recommended temp (have a meat thermometer handy).
  6. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

DSC_4968

grilled tilapia marinade

I like to incorporate fish in to my recipe rotation as a good source of low-fat protein.  Since I no longer have access to a bevy of fresh freshwater fish – white fish, walleye, perch, etc., I’ve adopted tilapia as my go-to fish because of its mild (some say flavorless) flavor.  What I like about tilapia is it’s a bit of a blank slate in terms of marinades and rubs.  While the fish itself is so mild as to seem flavorless to some, I think it takes to and holds the flavors and seasonings of a marinade or rub really, really well.

A few years back there was a big discussion in the health/food industry about whether tilapia, with a high content of omega-6 fatty acids (as well as omega 3s), was really considered “healthy.”  The down and dirty at an article I read from the Mayo Clinic was this:  eat tilapia, eat salmon, eat tuna, eat mackerel.  The health benefits outweigh the higher levels of omega-6 when eaten as part of a well-planned, nutritionally balanced diet.

This is one of my favorite marinades and, of course, you don’t have to limit its use to tilapia.  I think it would probably work just as well on a flank steak as fish.  If you like your marinade to have a little more kick, splash in a little extra hot sauce or red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!

Grilled Tilapia

Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 5 dashes hot sauce
2 to 3 fresh Tilapia fillets

Procedure:
Combine all ingredients in non-reactive container, preferably with lid. Marinate fillets for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Place fillets on well-oiled, heated grill, approximately 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill roughly 5 minutes per 1/2 inch of fillet (measuring from thickest part of the fillet). Flip once halfway through the grilling time. Be very careful not to overcook.