What to have for dinner? It was not quite so swelteringly hot as a few days ago and our pantry and freezer are full. We have a neighbor who has given us beautiful tomatoes and a dinner salad came to mind. I perused a variety of cookbooks, mostly French, to see what comprises a Salad Niçoise. Here is my version. With salads the amounts are not critical as it depends on how many folks are to be served.
For two servings I used the following:
one heart of romaine
one large tomato
12 or so kalamata olives
2 hard boiled eggs
3 snack peppers, one red, two orange
2 small potatoes, steamed
about 1/4 cup crumbled feta
one can albacore tuna
Divide ingredients and place pleasingly on the plates. I mixed up a simple Dijon vinaigrette for the dressing finishing with a bit of freshly ground pepper and salt.
More cooking with Jacques! So salads are not just greens in dressing. This recipe sounded interesting and as I had most of the ingredients on hand I made it.
1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, drained
about 2 ounces of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar (I ran out of balsamic)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fry up the bacon in cast iron skillet and then add the onion and garlic. Add the beans and stir to warm. Blend the rest of the ingredients together and toss together. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Fresh parsley is better than dried. I was able to add fresh parsley to the leftovers. This would be fabulous with fresh spinach mixed into it. It was yummy. And a few days later I mixed up the dressing by itself to use with a green salad.
I could call this “cooking with Jacques” except this did not call for any cooking, except for the brief sautéing of the croutons. My Jacques Pepin EssentialPepin cookbook has lovely ideas for salads. What are salads but tossing oil and vinegar with greens? And a few other raw vegetables…and much more! Our go to salad greens are romaine lettuce and baby spinach.
I had all the needed ingredients for this “garlicky romaine with croutons”. Apparently in the spring I made homemade bread all of which we did not consume. I am of the school of thought to not waste food so I cut the remaining bread into crouton-sized cubes and froze them. Now I have the perfect recipe for them.
3 Tablespoons oil
2 1/2 cups 1-inch pieces “stale country bread”
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet; cast iron works well here. When oil is hot add the bread and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the cubes. Although at first I thought this was too much oil, it worked out very well for the 4 minute sauté.
1 tablespoon crushed garlic; I used minced garlic from a jar.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon mustard; Jacques calls for grainy mustard. I used spicy so as not to have three opened jars of mustard in my fridge.
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
I mixed the dressing ingredients in a small jar. I used half to dress the heart of romaine that I put into the bowl. We added a generous helping of Romano cheese as well. Romaine seems to call out for parmesan or Romano cheese in our household.
This is a tasty garlicky dressing. I was able to use this salad for two meals without making more dressing or croutons. This makes sense in that the recipe says it serves four.
I was reminded by a recent routine doctor visit that one should increase plants in one’s dietary choices. Okay, what do I have available to work with to create veggies and fruits for meals? Carrots and frozen blueberries. Needless to say I did not use the blueberries in a salad, but set them to thaw to make a crumble later. In the past I had enjoyed carrot salads and I decided that a French carrot salad would be worthwhile. So I looked in my Jacques Pepin Essential cookbook and found several carrot salads and had to choose. So I chose this one even though I did not have sunflower seeds, nut oil, or red leaf lettuce! Nor sherry vinegar! I planned to serve this on a bed of spinach.
3-4 cups shredded carrots; this was about 6 small to medium; peel first
1/2 cup sesame seeds as substitute for the sunflower seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic; 2 teaspoons sounded like too much
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 Tablespoons canola oil; I should have used olive oil but didn’t
I peeled the carrots and used a food processor to shred them. I chopped the onion, this was 1/2 of a smallish Vidalia. I put these in a bowl with the sesame seeds. I mixed the dressing ingredients and poured over to mix and set this in the fridge to meld the flavors. Aren’t I fancy!
I served this over chopped fresh spinach. It was tasty but a bit dry. So I fixed another portion of the dressing (olive oil this time) and mixed it in. This will then dress the greens instead of leaving them a tad dry.
And it was good. However, another lesson: Hubby does not particularly care for carrot salads. He might like the sweeter version using orange juice and raisins.
I decided to make potato salad. Mom made hers with Miracle Whip, boiled eggs, and pickle relish. I perused several cookbooks and found too many ideas, as usual. I thought a vinaigrette would be nice for a change. Most of these are for warm potato salads but, “what the hey”, I’d try it for a cold dish. The following is a conglomeration from various recipe books, none more than another.
6 medium potatoes, approximately 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 radishes, sliced
1 green onion, chopped using both white and green parts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
I scrubbed the potatoes and put the whole potatoes with the skins in a pot to boil expecting this would prevent me from overcooking them. It did. When done (I did not time this–just stuck a fork through the center) chop into inch or so pieces. Place in bowl with the chopped celery and green onion. Mix the dressing, pour over, and stir. Done!
This was not a hit. Hubby said “it’s okay” but did not like it that much.
So I repaired the remainder by adding:
2 more sliced radishes
2 more sliced green onions, white and green parts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
This repaired version was much more enjoyable. Lesson learned: Hubby likes creamy potato salad.
A week or so ago Hubby was planning to make his mom’s potato salad but found he only had potatoes from the ingredient list. So now I decide to make potato salad and look into the Soulard Market cookbook and find Bevo German Potato alad. Well, I am not cooking 5 pounds of potatoes and really do not want 1 1/2 cups of sugar either. I am adding green beans, just for fun. Here is my version of Green and White Potato Salad!
(I am slicing all of the vegetables with my handy-dandy Rapid Prep Mandoline from Pampered Chef. I try to support my daughter’s business efforts. I like slicing and chopping by hand but this is a cool tool.)
about 3 pounds of potatoes, sliced and cooked
1 medium white onion, sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
1-2 cups frozen green beans, throw in the pot with the potatoes when the potatoes are almost cooked
3 ribs of celery, sliced thin
handful of fresh parsley, my herb garden is not exactly flourishing but hasn’t died!
handful of bacon, fried, and made into bits
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
I have not cooked potatoes for ages so am not exactly sure how long to cook nor when they are actually done. I buy bacon ends and pieces so that is what I used. Be sure to save the drippings.
Slice all the vegetables except the green beans. Put the sugar, cider, water and bacon drippings into a small sauce pan, whisk, and boil. The original recipe called for flour and reducing this to the consistency of a white sauce. I did not do this. I just boiled it for about 5 minutes.
Put all vegetable in bowl. Toss with the salad dressing. I sliced the potatoes too thin so have a little bit of mush when tossing. But the dressing tastes yummy!
We are having this with barbecued ribs. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and father-like figures.
We had a food function at work to say goodbye to a colleague. Someone brought a salad made of oranges, fennel, and green onions. Someone said it was a Sicilian Orange Salad. Whatever it was, it was tasty. And simple to make. In my version to try it out I used a can of mandarin oranges instead of fresh oranges. I made a citrus salad a few years ago and it did not keep well. Let’s see about this one.
Salads, like soup, do not require exact quantities. It is often about what is on hand and what the preferred taste is.
1 15-ounce can mandarin orange, drained, and rinsed if in a syrup
1/2 large fennel bulb, chopped
green onions, chopped into one inch pieces
splash of orange juice
hefty sprinkling of dried oregano
The tops of my green onions were somewhat wilt-y so I have a bit more of the white part than I had planned. Because I used canned oranges instead of fresh, I splashed in a bit of OJ and I think I poured on a bit too much olive oil.
I added a bit of the fennel fronds for interest. I liked it. Haven’t served it to Hubby yet. I’ve been able to take it in my lunch for several days.
I threw a side dish together one evening after work. I thought we needed something in addition to whatever we were eating from the grill. I also had this spare cob of corn. Most likely the main dish was grilled chicken with a dry rub and finished with sauce but it could have been cheeseburgers or grilled Italian sausages. This dish turned out very tasty and the leftovers were perfect to take to work for lunch.
1 can black beans, rinsed
chop a small onion
dice a few small peppers
blanch one ear of corn; cut kernels from cob
chop a few jalapeno peppers, as many as you like for “heat”
cook your quinoa; I found this “boil in bag” recently and think it is a fabulous thing. Cook as much for how many servings you would like.
dice some grape tomatoes
make a lemon or lime vinegrette
chop some cilantro
Mix all of the above together. Initially it is tepid due to the warmth of the cooked quinoa but this does not detract from the deliciousness. Leftovers are cold and are just as delicious.
We were going to make tuna noodle salad to have for dinner on one of these hot summer evenings. Hubby likes to put raw onion in these salads; I can do without. But we have Vidalia sweet onions in the pantry and these are easier to eat raw. Hubby says to let him make the salad as he knows how to. I abide by his wishes and agree to just cook the elbow noodles so they would be cooked and chilled for his return home from work.
But this did not turn out to be tuna noodle salad made with elbow pasta…
So first of all, I found no elbow pasta in my pantry. I had two whole boxes in there recently, or so I thought. I did have these curly pasta, cavatelli, capatelli, something like that. I cooked all of that up; it was almost the entire pound package.
Hubby comes home and I start looking for the tuna. We have no tuna in the pantry; we have only one can in the Camper. This is not enough so he searches through the fridge for his ingredients. He leaves the tuna out altogether.
Can you guess what is in there? I have no clue what spices and herbs he used. But it was a very tasty dish and we had it for two suppers.
I do know some of the ingredients. He used broccoli, green pepper, Vidalia onion, shredded cheese, chunks of cheddar cheese, chunks of a beef summer sausage, and carrots.