jicama-lime slaw

Summer seems to be upon us here in Arizona, even though I think spring only officially got started a couple of weeks ago.  So, with temps in the 90s, and our grill performing its usual work-horse duties, I wanted a side that could herald summer.  Spring is fleeting.  Summer, well that just seems to go on forever.

I have my faithful stand-by recipes, but I like to experiment early in the season to find out if there’s anything worth making for upcoming picnics, get-togethers with friends, etc.  And I’m always enticed by oft-overlooked veggies.  Like the jicama, for instance.  You can find them in pretty much any grocery store, but it’s rare you see recipes calling for this uber-nutritious, fibrous root veggie.  And I’m surprised it took me this long to think of it as perfect for cole slaw.  The flavor and texture are spot on – crisp and sweet, somewhere between a water chestnut and a pear.  The jicama’s flavor is enhanced by the lime and doesn’t give way to sogginess when the dressing is applied.

If you’ve looking for a change of pace from a traditional mayo-based slaw, this one is perfect.  It’s tangy, zesty, and perfectly fresh for summer.  Enjoy!

 

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Jicama-Lime Slaw (recipe adapted from Cooking Light Superfast Suppers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and shredded
  • 1 c green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing well.  Set aside. t
  2. Whisk together lime juice, EVOO, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over slaw mixture and toss well to coat.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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***Cook’s Notes:  I was in time-saving mode, so I grabbed a bag of pre-shredded cabbage in the produce aisle.  Turns out it was the angel hair variety, so a bit too flimsy for my taste, but worked fine.  Next time I’ll either shred my own or make sure I buy a thicker shred.

 

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cucumber peanut salad

Labor Day weekend is fast approaching and we’re having guests for dinner, so I’m experimenting with some new salads.  This one hit the spot.  It’s picnic or barbecue  perfect, has great flavor, texture, appearance, and goes together super fast.  The original recipe called for an English Cucumber, but the ones in the store were so enormous I opted for a package of mini cucumbers, instead.  I actually think they were more colorful, too; the green being brighter and more cheerful.  Because a cheerful salad is a delicious salad, right?

Adapt as you please.  With the exception of the delicious dressing (lime juice and a little brown sugar) this isn’t one of those stuffy recipes where a minor change will make any difference in the finished product.  Enjoy…and have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

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Cucumber Peanut Salad (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, July 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Directions:

  1. Combine cucumber, onion, lime juice, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly with peanuts.
  2. Step 2?  There is no Step 2.  So easy.  Serve and enjoy!

Serves four.

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***Cook’s Notes:  The peanuts make this a salad you either have to finish the day you make it, or eat any leftovers within a day.  They don’t hold up well refrigerated and stored in the dressing.  So eat it all up, or make sure you eat the remaining salad within 24 hours.

penne with herbs, tomatoes, and peas

I’m not one who feels compelled to serve a starch at every meal.  I’d rather double my serving of veggies or add a hearty side salad.   I might even throw some cooked rice or lentils into a salad to beef it up a bit.  But my eaters enjoy their side dishes and I’m easily bored by potatoes.  The poor Irish.  I don’t know what I would have done.  Really?  Potatoes?  Again?

Since I had a flank steak on the grill and my green beans were cleaned and stemmed, I only needed a few minutes to throw this together right before the meat came off to rest.  You can cook your pasta ahead since it’s combined later with the hot ingredients to re-warm it.  I especially enjoyed this as a side because it was anything but “potato boring.”  There are a lot of flavors swirling around in this pasta – from heady garlic and parsley to the sweetness of basil and cherry tomatoes.  I think it would be great adapted to a cold pasta salad, as well, to make it perfect for any end-of-summer picnics you might have on calendar.  Enjoy!

2013-07-28

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Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, and Peas (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, June 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add peas during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 4 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes to pan; cook 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, salt, and pepper to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and parsley. Sprinkle with cheese.

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***Cook’s Notes:  Don’t cook your garlic for 4 minutes.  It’ll be scorched beyond belief and your pasta will be ruined.  Keep a close eye on it and throw in the tomatoes when it becomes fragrant, not brown.  Also, it’s super easy to over cook a tomato, too.  The recipe says cook for one minute, but I’d say less.  You still have to return the pasta to the dish and re-warm, which will be plenty of time for the tomatoes to heat through.  The original recipe called for regular pasta.  I substituted whole wheat to boost fiber and protein.

tangy vinegar coleslaw

What should you do when you’re having a small 4th of July gathering (3 adults, and a child who wouldn’t touch cabbage with a ten foot pole)?  Why, make 3 pounds of coleslaw, of course.  Actually, I had the foresight to cut this recipe in half, but it still makes a ton.  And, frankly, while I prefer a vinegar-based slaw, I don’t think they keep as well.  So, serve it to a lot of people and eat it all.

With that said, this was a really tasty recipe and I’d definitely make it again.   It had great texture and a nice variety of flavors.  I opted to use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, which is a little more subtle in flavor.  Not too vinegar-y.  The onions gave it a nice little kick, too.  I served it as a side dish, but this would be great on pulled pork or shredded beef sandwiches, as well.  Easy-peasy!  Enjoy!!

2013-07-041

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Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw (recipe courtesy Food For My Family)

Ingredients: (I’ve halved all the ingredients from the original recipe)

1/2  head green cabbage, shredded
1/4 head red cabbage, finely shredded (or 1/2 head radicchio for a spicy kick)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar*
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/8 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Directions:

In a large bowl toss the green cabbage, red cabbage, and red onion until mixed. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and oil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, dry mustard, and the celery seed. Pour the dressing over the cabbage. Toss to combine.  Refrigerate and serve chilled.

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italian basil pasta salad

This post really needs to start with a confession:  I did not make this dish.  I bought the ingredients, but I had absolutely nothing to do with the assembly.  Not that I don’t want to take credit for it.  It was superb.  But I was off-duty enjoying a lovely, chore-free Mother’s Day.  The husband and the world’s greatest kid put this together as part of a truly relaxing, enjoyable day for moi!  No cooking, no dishes, re-fills on wine, plentiful hugs.  It was all good!

Including this pasta salad, which should go on every picnic menu you put together from now until you can’t eat another pickled banana pepper.  It deviated wonderfully from the all-too-predictable pasta salad of  yesteryear: tomatoes, broccoli, green onions, yada yada yada, slathered in Kraft Italian Dressing.  Don’t make that one again.  Make this one.  Great flavors from sweet to savory, great textures from crisp and crunchy to smooth and creamy.  When I tried it, Kat asked what I thought and I blurted out, “It’s like a fiesta in your mouth!”  I’ll probably regret that later, but at the time it caused endless giggles and was a spot on description.

Let the fiesta begin.  Enjoy!

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Italian Basil Pasta Salad (recipe adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (16 oz) bow tie pasta
  • 2 c grape tomatoes
  • 7 oz mozzarella cheese pearls, halved
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 c pickled banana pepper rings, diced
  • 1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained (the husband used capers)
  • 4 thin slices hard salami, chopped
  • 1/2 c fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Dressing:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 3/4 c red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, tomatoes, cheese, yellow pepper, onion, pepper rings, olives (or, capers, if you’re so inclined), salami and basil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Cook’s Notes:  Make this a day ahead if you can, to let the flavors really come together.

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!

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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.

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

roasted cabbage rounds

I love cabbage.  There are people out there who need to be convinced, cajoled, tricked into eating cabbage.  I’m not one of those people.  On any given day, I probably have cabbage in my veggie crisper.  In the summer it morphs into slaws and salads.  In the fall it takes the form of soups and stews.  But the other day I was looking for a vegetable side dish and came across this recipe (which seems to be making the rounds on Pinterest).  If you’re so inclined, you can follow my pin boards there, too.

But, I digress.  Anyway, I saw this recipe and had to give it a try.  It originated at MarthaStewart.com and, despite my eye-rolling at all things Martha Stewart, I do concede she employs a lot of really talented and inspired people (No, Martha, I don’t believe you come up with all these amazing things on your own).  I used the remnants of a head of Napa cabbage I’d used for a salad recently and, admittedly, I don’t think it held together as well as green cabbage might have.  But it was simple and delicious and made for what I thought to be a perfect vegetable for a cool, fall evening dinner.  Roasting veggies mellows their flavor so nicely, and that held true for the cabbage.  The caraway seeds were the perfect burst of savory flavor, too.

The original recipe says to roast for 40 to 45 minutes, but the Napa cabbage may be a more delicate cabbage.  I pulled it at about 37 minutes and it was quite done.  It might even have come out a handful of minutes earlier, so watch it closely at the end of your cook time.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cabbage Rounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 more Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch thick rounds (I used Napa)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway or fennel seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place 1-inch-thick rounds in a single layer on sheet and brush with olive oil.
  3. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds.
  4. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

This recipe is also linked up over at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.  Click over and I guarantee you’ll find something good to eat!!

sweet restaurant-style slaw (otherwise known as the-best-ever coleslaw)

I’m not a huge fan of coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, preferring something a little lighter with a vinegar base.  Throw in some Granny Smith apple slices and I believe that might be the perfect slaw.  But uber-healthy coleslaw just doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to pulled pork or shredded beef sandwiches.  You really need something more traditional – roadside diner-ish traditional.
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Honestly, there are hundreds of good slaw recipes out there, so it’s not that hard to find something to please everyone.  But my husband thought this one was The. Best. Ever.  It’s the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, with slightly fewer calories and fat because it uses Miracle Whip as a base rather than mayo.  If you use the “Light” option, you can trim a few more calories and fat grams from the finished product.  And, even though I’m a true-blue healthy coleslaw lover, sometimes you just gotta live a little.
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We use this on hot dogs, brats, pulled pork, and most recently the slow-cooker shredded beef.  While it’s a great topping, it’s perfect for a summer picnic side dish, as well.  Enjoy!
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Sweet Restaurant-Style Slaw
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Ingredients:
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  • 1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup creamy salad dressing (I used Miracle Whip Light)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
Directions:
  1. Combine the coleslaw mix and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Pour dressing mixture over coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

tangy apple-cabbage coleslaw

Coleslaw is a classic summer side, and one I don’t care much for when served in the typical drippy, heavy,  mayonnaise-y way.  I liked this recipe for a number of reasons: low cal, no fat, lots of flavor!

The original recipe, found in Cook’s Illustrated Healthy Kitchen, suggested salting the cabbage ahead of time to draw out some of the water that naturally dilutes coleslaw once cabbage is cut and allowed to sit.  This took a bit of the crunch out of the cabbage, but it wasn’t watery.  The cabbage was more the consistency of “pickle-crisp.”

The crunch the cabbage lost in the salting was gained back by the addition of crisp, tart Granny Smith apple slices.  The cider vinegar adds a nice sweet, pungent flavor and, of course, some complimentary heat from the crushed red pepper.

There are so many great flavors going on in this recipe it should please even the most ardent mayo fan.  It might even make a convert out of them.  Note, however, like most dressed salads, this doesn’t keep well.  Eat within a day or two, at most.  Enjoy!

Tangy Apple-Cabbage Coleslaw

Ingredients:

1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored and chopped thin
1 tsp salt
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Toss the cabbage with the salt in a colander and let sit until wilted, about 1 hour.  Rinse the cabbage under cold water, drain, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Toss the dried cabbage, apples, and scallions together in a large bowl to combine.
  • Bring the vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, and red pepper flakes to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until the flavors have blended, about 1 hour.

tomato feta and basil galette

Isn’t summer all about homegrown tomatoes and garden-fresh herbs?  I mean, I’d be hard pressed to ever grow tired of tomatoes chopped into salads or drizzled with balsamic over Buffalo mozzarella, but I’m not opposed to using the season’s bounty in new and unique ways.

I pulled this recipe from the June issue of Cooking Light; enticed by the variety of savory flavors, the textures, the colors, and the opportunity to use a few garden-fresh ingredients.  The cornmeal dough is easy-peasy to whip up, rolled out nicely, and created a beautiful crust.   Despite the fact I baked it on a really hot and muggy day, the galette was refreshing even warm from the oven.  The only thing I’d suggest is cutting down on the 1/4 tsp of salt the recipe has added to the tomatoes prior to baking.  I generally don’t salt tomatoes before I eat them and I found the finished product a little on the salty side for my taste.  Other than that, it’s an elegant but rustic addition to a meal, or served as an appetizer with a glass of wine before dinner.  Enjoy!

Tomato, Feta and Basil Galette

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 pint jewel box tomatoes or multicolored pear tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup small basil leaves

Directions:

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add ice water through food chute, and process just until combined (do not form a ball). Gently press the mixture into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 425°.

3. Unwrap dough, and roll dough into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, on top of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Fold edges of dough over tomatoes to partially cover. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, and sprinkle with basil. Cut into 8 wedges and serve.