Baked Goat Cheese with Garden Lettuces
You can vary the accompaniment sometimes, according to what’s available, adding slices of ripe pear and watercress in the fall, for instance, or rocket leaves and hazelnut oil. Delicious as a first course, it can also be served after a meal, as a combination salad-and-cheese course. Investigate fresh local goat cheeses in your area, or use a French chèvre. Serves 4.
- ½ pound fresh goat cheese (one 2 by 5-inch log)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small sprig rosemary, chopped
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil or combination
- ½ sour baguette, preferably a day old
- ½ pound garden lettuces, washed and dried
Carefully slice the goat cheese into 8 disks about 1/2 inch thick. Pour the olive oil over the disks and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Cover and store in a cool place for several hours or up to a week.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and dry out in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until dry and lightly colored.
Grate into fine crumbs on a box grater or in a food processor. The crumbs can be made in advance and stored until needed.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (a toaster oven works well). Remove the cheese disks from the marinade and roll them in the bread crumbs, coating them thoroughly.
Place the cheeses on a small baking sheet and bake for about 6 minutes, until the cheese is warm.
Measure the vinegars into a small bowl and add a big pinch of salt. Whisk in the oil and a little freshly ground pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
Toss the lettuces lightly with the vinaigrette and arrange on salad plates. With a metal spatula, carefully place 2 disks of the baked cheese on each plate and serve.
Chilean Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad
Ensalada a la Chilena is without a doubt the queen of the Chilean salads. Juicy red tomatoes are paired with lots of paper-thin onion fans, and the flavors are heightened with a sprinkle of hot chiles and cilantro. The Central Valley is blessed with a warm and endless summer and sun-ripened, sweet tomatoes are abundant. Serves 6.
- 1 large Spanish or Vidalia onion, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley
- 5 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
- 3 tablespoons vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
Place the onion slices and salt in a bowl; cover with cold water, and soak for about 10 minutes.
Drain in a colander and rinse briefly under cold running water. Shake well. This step will eliminate most of the sharpness of the onion.
Arrange the tomatoes on a platter. Salt generously. Top with the onion, chile, and cilantro.
Sprinkle the oil evenly over the salad, toss to combine, and serve at once.
Pasta Salad with Mushrooms and Fennel
You’re going to amaze friends if you serve this pasta salad at a meal or party. It looks rather ordinary — the balsamic vinegar and mushrooms make it a bit dark — but it tastes like no other pasta salad your guests are likely to have encountered. Cremini mushrooms look almost identical to regular mushrooms, except that they are darker and have twice the flavor. If you can’t find cremini, use regular mushrooms — the salad will still be great — or better yet, wild mushrooms.
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil, mint, or parsley (chopped at the last minute)
- 1 pound mushrooms, preferably cremini or wild mushrooms
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound pasta, such as penne, elbow macaroni, or orecchiette
Save a handful of the green feathery fennel fronds and cut off the stalk (you can save the fennel stalks for making broth or dry them for grilling).
Chop the bulb coarsely so the chunks are about 1/4 inch on each side.Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide sauté pan and add the fennel. Stir the fennel every few minutes, until it just begins to soften, for about 10 minutes. Finely chop the fennel fronds and reserve. Rinse and dry the mushrooms.
If the bottoms of the stems seem dirty, trim off about 1/4 inch and discard.
Slice the mushrooms 1/8 inch thick.Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil for cooking the pasta.
Add the heavy cream and the mushrooms to the fennel and simmer over medium heat until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar, chopped herbs, chopped fennel fronds, and salt and pepper to taste.Pour the pasta into the pot of boiling water. Check the pasta after about 5 minutes — just bite into a piece — to see if it has softened without losing its texture. Keep checking every couple of minutes until the pasta is al dente and then drain into a colander. Immediately toss the hot pasta with the sauce in a mixing bowl and let cool. Just before serving, add more salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste if needed.
Doggie Bag Steak Salad
Here’s an example of how a relatively small amount of leftover steak can be recycled to make several people happy. The salad is especially nice in summer when there’s a chance fresh garden beets, beans, and corn will be at hand. On a hot day, consider chilling the salad plates and the greens. Serves 3 as a main course or 6 as a first course.
- 6 to 8 ounces cooked strip steak or filet steak
- 1 small red onion, cut into thin rings
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup (1 ear) cooked corn kernels
- 4 ounces cooked green beans, cut on the diagonal into strips
- 2 medium cooked beets, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 cups mesclun (mixed baby greens) or other mixed greens
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra virgin
- 6 cherry or cocktail tomatoes, halved
- Cut the steak into 2 x 1/2-inch strips and set aside.
- Combine the onion, corn, green beans, beets, and greens in a large salad bowl. Combine the mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Using a whisk or a fork, slowly stir in the lemon juice, then the olive oil. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the salad bowl. Toss until the greens and vegetables are well coated.
- Divide the salad among 3 large or 6 small plates. Arrange the meat slices on top, drizzle the remaining dressing over the meat and garnish the salad with cherry tomatoes. Serve immediately.
Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 teaspoon natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
- fine grain sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound head of red cabbage or radicchio, quartered and cut into thin ribbons
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 ounces golden raisins (or another plump, chopped dried fruit)
- 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
Roast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle with the sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir until the sugar melts and coats the seeds (you pan will need to be hot enough).
Transfer the seeds immediately to a plate so they don’t stick to the pan. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion for a minutes or two with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, and the cabbage, and a few more pinches of salt.
Stir and cook for just a minute or so, or until the cabbage softens up just a touch. Then stir in the rosemary, most of the raisins, and the vinegar.
The cabbage will continue to get more and more tender even after you remove it from the heat, so keep that in mind, and do your best to avoid overcooking it – where it collapses entirely.
Fold in half of the feta cheese, most of the sunflower seeds, then taste. Season with more salt if needed. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, feta, sunflower seeds and Parmesan cheese.
- 1 package (4-serving size) Jell-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
- 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- ½ cup chopped walnuts nuts
- 2 cups thawed Cool Whip Topping
Stir the pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows, and nuts in large bowl until well blended.
Gently stir in whipped topping.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve.
Garnish as desired.
Makes 8 servings