Potato Salad with Green Beans

DSCN6718

So, I started out making a potato sad that I intended to use rocket in, to use up some of the rocket I have, but then I got around to adding the rocket and changed my mind and added green beans instead. I am glad I did because the freezer was just starting to extract the liquid from the beans and would have soon dried them out.

This is a pretty standard potato salad. I boiled 4 potatoes in salted water and hard-boiled 4 eggs. I use Martha Stewart’s method to boil eggs and it never fails me. I am not going to reinvent boiling eggs. When the potatoes were done I ran cold water on them to chill. I also chilled the eggs. I then boiled some salted water and blanched the green beans. I did not want them mushy and wanted them to stay bright.

So then I chopped up one whole yellow onion, the potatoes, the eggs and the green beans and tossed them together. I drained a can of black olives and crushed about 1/3 of the can.

In a bowl, I missed 3 TBSP mayo, 1 tsp of mustard, 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and a 1/2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper. I made it to taste and added to the salad and blended.

This made 4 to 6 servings and was better the next day. It’s nice and tangy with the mustard, the olives add an earthiness that I love.

Advertisement

Asparagus, Fennel & Grapefruit Salad

DSCN6378.png

I made this delicious salad, riffing off a delicious sounding salad in the Italian Diabetes Cookbook by Amy Riolo. Her recipe served six and include oranges to which I am allergic. I miss oranges terribly as they were one of my favorite fruits and I loved citrus-based cleansers. I guess I must have already eaten my lifetime allotment of oranges because all of sudden about 10 years ago, I became terribly allergic to them. So for me, I often substitute grapefruit which oddly enough I can still eat. It’s not the same, it is not nearly so sweet, but it’s in the ballpark. And sometimes, I think it is probably even more delicious precisely because it is less sweet.

The thing to remember about cooking is that it’s like jazz while baking is like classical music. When you cook, you can extemporize. Don’t have an ingredient, use something else. Use your instincts and your taste buds. Her recipe also called for fresh parsley and I did not have any. I used the fennel fronds instead just for the color. Parsley would have been a good addition and I will make this again with parsley, but it still made a delicious salad. In fact, that I can mess around with the original recipe here and there is proof, in my opinion, of the soundness of the foundation recipe. Good recipes can tolerate a lot of fiddling.

  • 3 asparagus spears, lightly boiled or heated on low for a few minutes in microwave, until tender
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced and chopped fennel
  • 1/2 grapefruit supremed (cut segments out)
  • 4 black olives, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp of fennel fronds

Mix together in a bowl, squeeze the juice out of the leftover grapefruit, add 2 tsps of olive oil, a splash of rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

This was light, flavorful and satisfying. The olives were a surprisingly good addition, adding a satisfying bit of fattiness to the very light meal. I have loved green olives and grapefruit in salads. I thought black olives would be too mild, but they are a surprisingly good match. Asparagus is mild, which makes it a great foundation for strong flavors like fennel and grapefruit. Crunchy, light, flavorful, what more can I ask?

 

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

So this was more effort than my usual meal since I actually had to make this broth before I could poach the cod, but it was so worth it. The fennel broth imparted a delicate hint of fennel, nothing overpowering and cod needs something light and delicate. It was delicious. Good thing, too, as the first time, I forgot to take the picture. So I made it for lunch the next day and took pictures but forgot to make sure they were in focus. So, 2 days later for my third meal, I finally got the pictures. While this makes one serving, the broth is usable multiple times if you strain it after using it. It should be good for four days or you can freeze it and use it to poach chicken, fish, or vegetables.

So first you make the broth. This took a little over an hour.

DSCN6118

Sauté onion, celery, carrot and fennel until they change color.

Start with 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1/2 yellow onion and half the stalks and fronds from a fennel bulb. Clean and chop into thin slices.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan to medium, add the veggies and stir. Cook until they change color then add 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 tsp of thyme, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds, salt, pepper and the rest of the stalks and fronds, chopped up finely. Simmer.

DSCN6120

Add water and wine to the sautéed vegetables and bring to a boil, then simmer.

Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 2 cups of liquid. Cool and strain.

Heat the broth to a simmer in a small sauce pan and then put your filet in the broth to poach. Make sure it is completely covered. Like all fish, do not overcook. It will take about  7 minutes more or less, depending on the size of the filet. It should be flaky and opaque.

While the broth was heating, I made an easy little sauce for the fish. I took 3 grape tomatoes and quartered them lengthwise and put them in a dry sauce pan on high to get a tiny bit of char. Then I added 2 tsp of chopped onions, salt and pepper, and 1 tsp of butter. I cut 4 olives into slices and added them. I let it all cook until tender and the tomatoes were breaking down and added a splash of white wine.  I turned down the heat and let simmer until the fish was done.

DSCN6129

Lay down a nice sauce (tomatoes and olives) and serve with a vegetable on this side (cucumbers).

I served it with some slices of cucumber with salt, pepper and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar on the side. I laid down the sauce and placed the cod filet on top.

While the Swede in me thinks nothing in the world can compare with some torsk sautéed in butter with a bit of nutmeg, this is a delicious, light and flavorful alternative. Definitely a better use of the stalks than compost.

 

Cleaning Out the Fridge Salad

8309192013_67ea9772a8_z

Before I went grocery shopping, I made up a salad designed to use up some stuff and free up some room in fridge. Generally you can make a salad using a pretty crazy assortment of  foods if you use a classic oil and vinegar (or balsamic vinegar) dressing For this one, I use the last of the romaine, 1 Jazz apple, 5 pickled pimentos. some black olives from a can I has opened earlier in the month and thin slices of parmesan. I also had a couple chicken breasts in the freezer that were at the point where ice was beginning to form inside the freezer bag – meaning that the moisture was about to be sucked out of them rendering them dry, tasteless and not worth cooking.

I thawed the breasts in the microwave and sauteed them lightly in olive oil. I made a real effort not to overcook them because being frozen, they risk being dried out already. I cored the apple and cut the slices in half. I sliced up the pickled pimentos. I tossed everything together in a pie plate, added some salt and pepper, some balsamic and olive oil and enjoyed a tasty salad. The pickled peppers add such a sweet and tart bite, that any salad featuring them feels special. I ended up with a huge salad, but I was super hungry, so it ended up being a single serving, though most times, it would be two.

 

Dinner Salad with Chicken Tenderloin

Dinner Salad with Chicken

This is a simple salad that you can chop and mix up while frying a chicken tenderloin to cut up and add on top of the salad. Now, to make breading, normally you use an egg with a bit of water and beat it. However, that makes enough breading for a a dozen tenderloins, not just one. If I were making a big batch, I would probably use an egg, but I am not, so I used a teaspoon of plain yogurt that a rubbed onto the tenderloin before dredging it in a mix of 1 TBSP bread crumbs, 1/2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and paprika. I used a small skillet with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom and sauteed at medium high for about 3 minutes on each side. You will still get a nice, flavorful crust, though it won’t be as thick as one made with eggs.

While the chicken sauteed, I cut up 5 leaves from the heart of the romaine. I chopped up 1 small pink lady apple and 1/4 of a red bell pepper. In a bowl, I mixed the lettuce, the apple and bell pepper and added a small handful of sliced black olives. I sprinkled about 1 TSBP of balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP of olive oil on top and tossed lightly to mix the dressing oil and vinegar with the salad ingredients. Then I added some salt and pepper and laid the salad on a plate.

By then the chicken tenderloin was finished, so I sliced it into about 8 or 9 slices and spread them on top. I really like the fresh hot chicken with the cold salad, the contrast in texture and heat is lovely. The chicken adds a nice crispiness that’s a different quality than the crispy apples and red peppers. The apples and vinegar add brightness and the olives add depth while the chicken gives it that substance that makes a salad into a meal.

Lettuce Salad with Corn Salsa Vinaigrette

Lettuce Salad with Corn Salsa Dressing

I always check the specials when ordering my groceries for home delivery. This last week, Safeway gave away a free large package of precut lettuce salad with carrots and cabbage just for typing in a code during checkout.  Normally, I prefer romaine to iceberg, but I don’t hate iceberg lettuce and free is free. For this salad, I put a handful of salad mix in a bowl after rinsing and squeezing it dry. I don’t know if it’s the plastic bag or the water the salad is prepped in, but there’s an unpleasant flavor to bagged lettuce that improves with a quick rinse.

The salad mix is the bed for this salad and I layered on a few additions. I put about 1 TBSP of black beans I had drained and rinsed. I also added 2 tsp of sliced black olives. I grated 1 oz of pepper jack cheese using a larger grater.

Now it is time for the dressing. Trader Joe’s makes this phenomenal corn & chili salsa without tomatoes. It’s amazing! I thought I could make a decent salad dressing by mixing 1 TBSP of corn salsa with 2 tsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of white vinegar. I added a bit of salt because the salsa is a tad sweet. I dressed the salad and peppered to taste.

This is an easy salad and has a great flavor. The cheese adds a mellow creaminess that contrasts nicely with the sweet heat of the salsa vinaigrette. The beans and corn make it a bit toothsome and the olives add an earthy base.