Cucumber Grape Salad

Grape Cucumber Salad

This is a simple, fresh salad that took minutes to prepare.

I peeled and cut one cucumber into small pieces and cut 1 cup of grapes into halves. I added about 1 tbsp of finely sliced onions and 2 tbsp of finely sliced cilantro. Adding a bit of salt and pepper, 1 TBSP of sour cream and 1 TBSP of rice wine vinegar and stirred it all up.

The blend of sweet grapes, tangy onion and the springlike freshness of cucumber and cilantro is fabulous and irresistible. It make  4 servings, but good luck not eating it all.

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Salad with Chicken, Grapes and Pear with Tarragon Pear Vinaigrette

Pear & Chicken Salad

I made the vinaigrette while chopping the ingredients for the salad.

In a small sauce pan, I added 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced. I let the onions sauté until they were tender. Meanwhile, I cleaned and chopped 4 leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 small stalk of celery, a handful of green grapes (1/2 or so) and about 1/2 cup of cooked chicken (removed from a roast I made earlier in the week).

I also chopped up a Bosc pear. It had ripened unevenly, so only a portion was ripe and the rest was not. This happened to inspire the dish. I had planned to just chop the pear up on the salad and add some oil and balsamic vinegar. But now I needed to do something with the stubbornly unripened part of the pear. I put the ripe chunks of pear on the salad. The rest I reserved for the salad dressing. I added a bit of pepper and finished up the vinaigrette.

So now my onions are nice and soft. I added the stripped off leaves from two tarragon stems. Then I added the chopped up pieces of pear. I let them sauté for a bit before adding the fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lemon and a bit of salt. I continued to let them simmer until tender and then mashed the pears up with my fork. I thought about pureeing the mix, but was too hungry to get my Magic Bullet out and puree. So, i just mashed a bit with a fork and added 2 TBSP of white wine vinegar – I went by taste more than volume, adding until it was light and fresh. Then, just for a bit of color and earthiness, i added about 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh parsley.

This is a subtly flavored vinaigrette. The pear adds a mellow sweetness, the onion a bit of heat, the lemon brightens it up and the tarragon is just heaven brought down to earth and infuse in a plant. The white wine vinegar just marries all those flavors into a wonderfully light vinaigrette. This made enough for 4 large salads, so i dressed the salad I made and stored the remaining vinaigrette for some more lovely salads.

 

 

Grape Watermelon Salad

Watermelon and Grape Salad

 

This is a simple summer salad. I added 1 cup of chopped watermelon chunks and 1/2 cup of green grapes cut in half. I tossed in 2 tbsp of crumbled feta cheese, 12 tsp of mango nectar and a pinch of sumac. This has a lovely blend of sweet from the fruit, salt richness from the feta and high tart notes from the sumac. It takes 2 to 3 minutes to make and serves one.

Grape & Tarragon Salad

Grape Tarragon Salad

This delicious salad will make you drunk with it rich aroma of fresh tarragon. It’s shockingly easy to make and such a treat for your taste buds. So this is it:

Rinse about 1.5 pounds of small Red Flame seedless grapes. Don’t get the big ones at the supermarker as they are too watery, their flesh is more green than the deep purplish red of the small Red Flames that you can get from an organic market. Rinse and remove from the stems and cut them in half.

Take about 1 oz or so of fresh tarragon and pick the leaves of the stems. Don’t cut the leaves, put just pull them.

Dice two fresh or one dry shallot into small pieces (about 1/2 cm square)

Mix in a bowl. Crumble about 1 inch by 1 inch of a creamy feta. Add 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, but fill the TBSP over the bowl so you can be messy and end up with about 3.5 TBSP of apple cider vinegar. Add about 1/4 tsp of salt (or less) and toss lightly and set in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors marry. It’s insanely delicious with the sweet grapes and the creamy feta challenged by the mellow scallions and the tangy tarragon. It smells so amazing and looks beautiful on a plate.

I served it with a cold meats sandwich made with a baguette, a slice of heirloom tomatoes, provolone, sweet-pickled pimento, pepperoncini, Lebanon Bologna, Genoa Salami and Black Forest Hame. The olives on the side are Castelvetranos.

Tuna Melt & Salad

Tuna Melt

Use a small can of white albacore tuna in water and drain the water off. I rinse in a colander and squeeze the water out of the tuna before putting it in a bowl. You will want to use a storage bowl for mixing this up because it makes two sandwiches, not one. Add 2 TBSP of diced yellow onion and 8 chopped up olives with pimento (or 2 TBSP of sliced black salad olives if you prefer) and 2 ounces of pepper jack cheese sliced into 1/4 inch bits. Season with some salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Add 2 tsp of mustard and 2 tbsp of mayo and juice of half a lemon. Stir all together and spread on both sides of a ciabatta bun or a Kaiser roll and bake at 350° F for 15 minutes or so – until lightly browned on top.

Put the lid on the remainder for a second meal.

I served with a simple salad of romaine, red grapes, feta, pecans and a bit of oil & vinegar dressing.

Pork Chops with Nectarine/Fig Chutney and Salad

Pork Chop with Nectarines & Fig Chutney and Salad

I had company over and tossed this together quickly. She liked it so much that she went home and made it for her husband who loved it as well. It’s a very easy recipe.

I began by heating my skillet and adding just a touch of olive oil so that the pan was hot when I put the chops on. Cooking 6 minutes on one side, I turned it over to cook on the other.

In another pan, I added 1/4 cup of white wine and about half that of water and tossed in about half of a finely chopped onion to braise in the wine sauce. Meanwhile I cleaned and cut up two nectarines and 4 figs. I did not peel the figs. I cut the figs in half and cut the nectarines so they were in chunks the same size as the figs. I tossed the fruit into the wine and let it simmer. I added salt, pepper and 2 tbsp of dijon mustard. I occasionally added a dash of water to keep it from burning while the fruit broke down. When it was done, I squeezed the juice of one lemon in it.

Meanwhile, I chopped up a bit of lettuce, tossed on some red grapes and chevre cheese and dressed with a bit of balsamic vinegar and oil. When the pork chops were done, I put them on the plate and served with a some of the nectarine-fig sauce.

 

Cider-Braised Endive, Pierogies and Waldorf Salad

Cider-Braised Endive, Pierogies and Waldorf Salad

In a sauce, I melted 1 TBSP of butter, added 1 tsp of sugar and a little salt and swirled it around. I cut one endive in half and put the flat side down in the butter and left it on medium heat until it began to brown and began pitting a dozen cherries. After five minutes, I turned the endive over to brown the rounded side for three minutes. (Time to start the pierogies) Turning it back to flat side down, I tossed in the cherries and 1/3 cup of apple-cider vinegar. I let this simmer for about 12-15 minutes. This has a lovely sweet-sour flavor that is irresistible.

To start, I chopped up a slice of bacon into 1/2 pieces and tossed it in a skillet with 1 TBSP of melted butter on medium heat. I added about 1/4 of onion sliced pole to pole thinly, separating the slices so they can caramelize. I added the three pierogies and put a lid on the skillet. After 10 minutes, I turned the piergies and let them finish cooking. I used the lemon from the salad and squeezed a little more juice out to give it a bright freshness to complement the caramelized onions and the savory comfort flavor of the pierogies.

While these were finishing up, I sliced apple, added red flame grapes in an equal amount and tossed in a few pecans and mixed together. I added 1/4 cup of mayo and squeezed a fresh lemon over it and mixed well. I cut up a few leaves of romaine as a bed and served on top, mixing it in as I ate the salad. This makes 4 servings and by added the lettuce when you serve, it stays fresh longer.

Chicken Lettuce Rollups and Roasted Green Beans

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I washed the green beans and let them dry in a colander. Meanwhile I put 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of my paella pan. I tossed the green beans on top and spread them around with my finger, swirling them in the oil so they were completely covered. I poured about 1 tsp of kosher salt into my hand and sprinkled it directly on the beans. I put the pan in the oven on Broil.

For the chicken salad, I took about 4 oz of chicken (I had pulled this off the bone of a chicken I stewed for soup over the weekend) and cut it up into chunks about the size of a grape. I added 10 grapes, 5 pecans cut in half and about 1/3 of an apple cut into similar sized chunks. I took one green onion and chopped it up small and added that. Then I put 2 tbsp o mayo, a tsp of mustard and the juice from half a lemon together with some dry tarragon and mixed together to dress the salad. I heated two romaine leaves in the microwave for 20 seconds to make them tender enough to roll without cracking, but still crispy enough to taste good.  I put the lettuce on the plate, cutting a notch down the length of the stem so it rolls more easily, dished the salad in the middle and rolled it up like a burrito before eating. It was messy, but delicious and so fresh tasting this time of year.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I chopped up the last of the chicken from last week’s soup into squares. It came to about a cup of chicken. I sliced 8 grapes in half. I diced 1 TBSP of onion and 2/3 cup of red cabbage and 3 small radishes. Mixing these together in a bowl, I then made the sauce from 1 TBSP of mayo, 1 TBSP of Peach Mango Salsa and 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar with some salt and pepper to taste.

I washed 3 outer leaves of romaine lettuce and then to make it flexible enough to work as a wrap and not just make a mess, I heated it for 12 seconds in the microwave. It cools quickly and retains most of its texture but is just pliable enough not to crack and fall apart when you pick up your food and eat it.