And this little figgy piggy screamed “kiwi, kiwi, kiwi” all the way home!
This semi-exotic fruit lends a clean, tart flavor to savory dishes.
You wouldn’t normally think of combining watermelons and another summertime favorite: heirloom tomatoes. But they actually go well together. The sweetness from the watermelon brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes and the tomatoes also provide a contrasting tart note.
If you’re looking for an earthy ingredient, look no further than mushrooms, especially wild, foraged ones fresh with the smell and taste of the forest floor.
Mushrooms are the meat of the vegetarian world. They offer a meaty umami flavor to many dishes. Umami is a Japanese word which translates to pleasant savory taste.
Insalata Caprese, a simple salad in the style of Capri, is so simple that you must use the very best ingredients in season or it will by ordinary at best. The required ingredients are fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and good olive oil.
It is traditionally served as an antipasto. Additional ingredients are often added and could include garlic, balsamic vinegar and in this rendition, sopressata, an Italian style dry salami. Let’s go one step further and push it right into the primo course by including some freshly cooked bow tie pasta.
One of my treasured memories from Baltimore was enjoying meals at The Womens Industrial Exchange tea room on Charles Street. One of their time honored items was a tomato aspic served with a homemade mayonnaise. It was summer on a saucer.
Cold chopped chicken dressed up with fruits, nuts and highly seasoned with curry powder appeared on my radar screen sometime in the 1980s. It was and still is a most definite hit.
This is a hearty, chilled salad with the pungent flavor of Indian curry balanced with the addition of fruit and an accompanying side of summer fruit dressed up in a nutty, fruity poppy seed dressing.
Combining fruits to salad greens is a great way to enjoy seasonal fruits such as strawberries in a way that makes the most of their flavor.
Oregon strawberries are coming to the end of their season, and a great way to enjoy them is to combine them in a light salad with arugula. The peppery flavor of arugula highlights the flavors of the strawberries and addition of crumbled goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts adds layers of texture as well as flavor.
Crab Louie Salad may have been born in San Francisco, Portland or even in Spokane. Written history informs us that it was being served at Solari’s in The Golden Gate City as early as 1914. A cookbook by Victor Hetzler, chef at the St. Francis Hotel, included a similar salad he called “Crabmeat a la Louise” in 1910. Some attribute its creation to Louis Davenport who built the Davenport Hotel in Spokane. An amusingly unorthodox source is The Neighborhood Cook Book, compiled by The Portland Council of Jewish Women in 1912.
Mai-fun noodles are perfect to serve cold, their delicate texture takes on the flavor of sauces easily and these thin noodles are refreshing chilled and served with julienned vegetables such as cucumber and carrot. Add refreshing bean sprouts and you have the basis for a summertime noodle salad. And what about a dressing? Something sweet, salty and tangy like the Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce is perfect for a dish like this. It’s light and refreshing. All you need to do is add a little meat. I love the flavors of cumin and paprika and created a marinade for pork that reminds me of Moroccan flavors so I christened it Morrocan pork. Quickly seared in a cast-iron pan and then sliced into thin pieces, the pork makes a wonderful addition to the salad.
I grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth part of Texas and am familiar with the scorching heat that bakes Texans and much of the mid-west in the simmer summer months.
Putting food on the family table in the blistering heat of summer requires some advance planning. If cooking is necessary, it’s best done early in the day or outdoors. A cold shrimp remoulade salad fills you up with cooling, crunchy ingredients.
A caprese salad is so utterly simply that if you don’t use the best quality ingredients and tomatoes in their absolute prime, it will be ordinary at best. NOW, late summer is the ideal time when tomatoes are in their splendor.
Only three main ingredients are required – Tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. Although usually served as an anti pasta, this salad makes a stellar light entrée if served with some fine salami and a baguette.
When confronted with a challenge of creating a “cold entree” from a group of food bloggers from around the world who use the #letslunch hashtag on Twitter, I immediately conjured up and image of an ivory colored poached chicken breast. Once the star is born, everything else fell into place.
Mom and I took the dogs for a walk in a park not far from our home during one of the pauses in the rain, and I discovered to my surprise that several of the towering Douglas Firs in a grove at the edge of the park had green shawls of miner’s lettuce around the bases of their trunks. Miner’s lettuce grows wild in the woodlands of Oregon but its season is a brief one and it withers and dies back as soon as the rains stop and the weather warms. Native Americans ate this wild green. Early settlers of the Pacific Northwest also ate it. Folklore has it that California Gold Rush miners ate it to prevent scurvy, and thus its nickname. It’s also known as winter purslane, spring beauty or Indian lettuce.
The secret ingredient to our version of steak salad is marinating the meat in some dried galangal root powder (available at any Asian grocery store) and a touch of oil an hour or two before cooking. The galangal will enhance the flavor of the steak and take away some of that “beefy smell” that turns some people off. Plus, while you’re searing the steak, it will add an other-worldy aroma to the beef.
There have been only a few times in my life when I’ve eaten a meal somewhere and the dish I’m eating makes a lasting impression, its flavors etching its memory into my taste buds and mind. Such was the case many years ago when I was eating at a now-defunct restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, called Celebration, and I tasted their creamy luscious cucumber dressing. They wouldn’t part with the recipe and it’s taken me several years of trial and error to replicating the flavor and consistency. And it makes a wonderful dressing for this salad of avocado stuffed with shrimp (it would be great with crab too!).
Gravlax can be used as the base for a light and flavorful salad topped with pomegranate balsamic dressing. The dressing of pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar and olive oil offers a fruity burst of palate-cleansing flavor when paired with the gravlax.
My mother knew how to stretch a penny and on many occasions canned salmon came to our family table in the form of salmon patties. That would be “sall-mon” in our home with a distinct and noticeable lean on the letter “l”.
This tasted nothing like the salmon I have come to love in the Pacific Northwest. My mother’s salmon patties were tasty enough with some mayonnaise, onions, spices and an egg to hold it all together but the taste difference between those patties and fresh, line-caught salmon is like night and day. WOW!
Cold somen noodles in miso sauce act as a foil for grilled Pacific spot prawns. This marriage of salty (noodles and miso sauce) and sweet (grilled prawns) are perfect for a light dinner on a hot summer day.
I was thinking of how well pork and mushrooms go together the other day, while musing on a novel way to use black trumpet mushrooms we received from Marx Foods, a purveyor of bulk fine foods. I remembered a favorite Thai dish that Mom occasionally makes that is a salad made from stir-fried ground pork and mung bean noodles in a lime and fish sauce dressing, topped with lots of cilantro and shallots. Collaborating, Mom and I decided to make this dish with the addition of black trumpet mushrooms.
A wise old Buddhist monk told me a few years ago when I was pondering some drastic possibilities for changes in my life that you can either live your whole life surrounded by people, places, things and experiences that are familiar to you, or you can embrace the unknown and grow from those experiences. I was thinking of that as I was roaming the farmers market this weekend and came face to face with a vegetable I’d never eaten before — kohlrabi.
Dinner was my responsibility on this particular evening, and how does one follow a brunch where just “tasting” a little of everything adds up to a gargantuan meal? We had leftover miner’s lettuce from the Saturday market and Vic wanted to use that up. When he asked what I planned to make, all I said was, “Scallops with miner’s lettuce!”
Utilizing a seared scallop recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine and building a salad made for a delicious and light Sunday dinner.
For me, boredom can sometimes turn into culinary inspiration. Such was the case recently when I was faced with coming up with a vegetable or starch side for a seafood entrée I was making after spending a day of fishing on the Garibaldi jetty. So I took a look at our overflowing cupboard and refrigerator and came up with a side dish using ingredients that we had…freeing up shelf space for more stuff!
I have managed to escape personal injury and public shame over my post on Duck Legs Braised in Pinot Noir and a days-gone-by holiday dinner of Grilled Roast Beaver. I would like to make amends by offering this simple vegetarian salad that allows the Beavers’ orange and the Ducks’ green to mingle together peacefully if only until the dish is gobbled up.