Watercress Composed Salad with Citrus Dressing ~ March Daring Cooks

Salad

I haven’t been living in one place for a long enough period of to really concentrate on joining any cook-alongs. It’s been over 6 months with this back and forth stuff! I’m so excited t his month to not join one of The Daring Kitchen’s challenges, but TWO!

For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

I’ve always made my own dressing. Probably because my mother always made her own dressing and my grandmother always made her own dressing. I will occasionally buy a dressing in a bottle, if I want a quick marinade for something, but otherwise I just find them … hmmm, ICKY! Thick and gloppy and off-tasting.

This challenge was right up my alley!

Many, many moons ago, Erie and I went to a Spanish restaurant in Queens (the name escapes me at the moment and perhaps she will chime in and let us know). We had the most wonderful composed salad – and I was surprised as I’m not usually a fan of composed salads.

Since then, this is my go to company is coming, steak themed dinner, salad. It’s simple with lots of great ingredients.

  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 can hearts of palm
  • 1 shallot
  • juice from 1/2 an orange, lime and lemon
  • 3 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • s&p

NOTE: I used plum tomatoes, use whatever tomatoes make you happy.

Watercress

Wash watercress thoroughly and cut off stems. Place watercress on a platter

Quarter hard boiled eggs into wedges.  Scatter over watercress.

If using Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges. If using other tomatoes, cut into chunks. Scatter over watercress.

Slice hearts of palm into 1/4″ rings. Again, scatter over watercress.

Thinly slice shallot into rings. Scatter over salad.

Dressing salad

In a bowl, whisk together citrus juices, oregano and s&p to taste. While whisking, stream in olive oil. When ready to serve salad, drizzle dressing over the top.

Fattoush Salad #SundaySupper

Ready to serve

One of the things I long for during the long, cold, dreary winter is meat on the grill.

Nothing smells better. Nothing tastes better. Well, only if you’re a carnivore at heart, of course.

One of my favorite things on the grill is lamb … lamb chops, to be exact. And to bring this end-of-the-winter, let’s-celebrate-the-spring feast together for me nothing is better than a Fattoush Salad from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson.

The salad is bright and fresh. Great, simple ingredients, simply dressed.

To make the salad gluten free,  just skip the last step and don’t add the pita bread.

This is another one of those do-ahead dishes that just gets better as it sits waiting for you to devour it! And devour it you will!

  • 2 pita breads
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • Generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 6-8 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt
  • 1 t Sumac powder to sprinkle over finished salad

Ingredients

NOTE: I used an English cucumber and had to cut it into eighths, not quarters. I find they’re much less watery.

Panorama

Gently, but thoroughly, mix the chopped red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and garlic together.

Waiting

Dress the salad with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt.  Refrigerate until almost ready to serve.

You want to have the pita bread still slightly warm and crisp, so this final step should be done just before serving.  Split the pita bread in half and toast or put in the oven for five minutes.  They should be crisp, but not completely brittle.

Using scissors, snip, or just break apart with your hands, the toasted pita bread into medium to small pieces and stir into the salad mixture.

NOTE: This was a lot of salad for two people. Knowing I’d be using the rest of this salad for lunch the next day, I sprinkled the pita shards on top so they would be eaten then and wouldn’t be a yucky, soggy mess in the salad the next day.

Done

Sprinkle over the sumac so it is noticeable but not too thick.

This is part of another wonder Sunday Supper. This week’s theme ‘Free for All’ hosted by Beate at The Not So Cheesy Kitchen. Check out the rest of the posts if you get a chance!
Breakfast
Breakfast

  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut & Soy Free Brown Rice Breakfast Pudding by girlichef
  • Dairy & Nut and Sugar Free Blueberry Tangerine Muffins by Vintage Kitchen
  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut, and Soy Free Homemade Mango Jam Recipe by Masala Herb

Main Courses

Sides
Breads

Treats

Drinks

sunday supper Sneak Peek: 45+ Fabulous Summer Berry Recipes for #SundaySupper

Corn and Black Bean Salad

I know. It’s been a long time. I just haven’t been able to get my head in the game. But I am back. And it’s Thursday. Which means it is Every(thurs)day Food Recipe day!

I loved the July/August 2011! Then again, I love anything that is chock full of simple, it’s-to-hot-to-cook recipes!

So here I was making these fabulous Burgers al Pastor – you have to make these, they were seriously slammin’ – with Cilantro Fries – yet to come! – and needed some sort of salad to tie it all together, but within in my FIESTA theme! Everyday Food and Corn and Black Bean Salad to the rescue!

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 C corn kernels
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 t seeded, and minced Serrano chile
  • 4 t chopped cilantro
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced medium
  • coarse salt & pepper to taste

NOTE: Obviously, fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice. I couldn’t find Serrano chilis – well, the husband couldn’t – so I used jalapeno. You will get about 2 cups of corn from 3 ears of fresh corn. Go with the fresh if you can.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is browned in spots, should be about 3 minutes.

Transfer corn to a large bowl. Add balance of ingredients. Stir well. Serve immediately.

Really, does it get easy than this!?

Tuscan Potato Salad

I LOVE POTATO SALAD. I LOVE MAYONNAISE. I don’t like the 2 in the same dish.

I am not a fan of hard boiled eggs in my potato salad, or macaroni salad for that matter. I don’t like mayo in my potato salad. I do like mayo on my french fries, though. Yes, I know, picky, picky, picky!

I like a salad that is room temperature friendly and is not likely to spoil or taste funny if it’s too hot outside.

I love this recipe. It started out as a Paula Deen recipe. It was the first non-mayo based potato salad I had seen that I found intriguing. It has changed now – through tweaking and tweaking – to be my recipe.

I was thrilled to see potato salad as this months’ challenge at the Daring Kitchen! I have decided that with my changes that this is a Tuscan-style potato salad.

It’s really quite simple and can easily be doubled or halved.

  • 14 or 15 large red potatoes (about 5 pounds)
  • s&p
  • 1/2 C chopped basil
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 C chopped scallions
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C white wine vinegar
  • 1 T marjoram

I switch this around quite a bit. Sometimes I substitute tarragon or thyme for the marjoram; or basil for the parsley; or simply add basil in with the parsley.

Give potatoes a good scrub. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water and boil until potatoes easily pierce with a knife and are tender – about 30 to 40 minutes.

Once done cooking, drain potatoes and let sit until cool enough to handle. At this point, you can peel the potatoes if you want.  Cut potatoes into bite sized chunks.

Place cut potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle the parsley (or basil) and scallions over the top.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the warm potatoes. Mix. Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or all day, mixing every hour. Do not refrigerate before serving. This is best served at room temperature.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is without a doubt my son’s favorite side dish. Winter or summer, makes no difference at all. When I have bought macaroni salad in the past, he would hide the container in the fridge and then keep it directly in front of him, doling out meager portions to everyone else.

Honestly, it never occurred to me to make this for him before. Can you imagine? I make butter to see how it’s done, or ricotta because I am curious, or English muffins just because it’s cold out, but I am buying macaroni salad!? This needed to change  – and quickly!

This was so simple to make and came together in a snap! (I am still sitting here grumbling and shaking my head in disbelief at my – well, LAZINESS is the only thing that would fit here!)

  • 2 cups of dry pasta – a small shape like elbows, shells or Barilla Piccolini Fusille (which is our fav)
  • 1/4 C diced celery
  • 1/4 C diced carrot
  • 1/4 C chopped scallions
  • 1/4 C chopped bell pepper
  • 1 T minced parsley
  • 1/2 C diced tomato
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 3/4 t dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cider vinegar
  • 3 T sour cream
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Pepper to taste

NOTE: Remove the seeds and pulp from the tomato. The bell pepper is the color of your choice. The peppers and tomatoes are optional, really, but the colors are pretty, the crunch is nice and it adds to the overall flavor.

Cook the pasta, rinse and drain well.

NOTE: Yes, rinse the pasta. The only time I will ever tell you to rinse the pasta is for a cold salad. While the starch that’s on the pasta helps a sauce cling to the pasta, it don’t taste too great cold!

Add the pasta, celery, carrot, peppers, scallions, parsley and tomatoes to a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, sour cream and salt together. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.

Season with s&p.

Edible Containers – Daring Cooks

Really intriguing thought, don’t ya think? That’s what I thought when I saw this as a challenge over at Daring Cooks. Such a good idea that it’s a joint Daring Cooks/Daring Bakers challenge.

Perhaps it’s the thought of not washing a dish that intrigues me. But, wait, that can’t be so. The edible container still has to sit on something, doesn’t it?

So goes that theory.

The question became … sweet … savory … sweet … savory?

I thought perhaps a spun sugar bowl with beautiful strawberries … (stop laughing) … okay, I am laughing too. Who am I kidding?

Savory? Looking through the mountainous recipes next to my bed I came across frico – crispy discs of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – which can be molded into shapes. I found my solution.

I used Giada’s frico cup method –

1 1/2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

I didn’t use the smallest holes on my box grater. I didn’t use the largest. I used the ones in between. If I had any sense I would have taken a photos of the grater to show you, sense wasn’t something I was necessarily born with!

Sadly, I wasn’t really holding out hope for this working.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Definitely use a silpat or parchment paper. Use 1/4 cup for each cup, flattening it out to a diameter of 4 1/2 to 5 inches.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

NOTE: My second batch I baked for less time, about 6 1/2 minutes, and had a better result.

Working quickly and using a thin spatula, transfer the frico to a muffin tin and put a glass inside to shape.

NOTE: ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME HERE OR WHAT? Totally didn’t work. I tried using the bottom of the muffin tin, but the muffin cups were not deep enough. I tried a juice glass. NOPE. The bottom of my cordial glasses were the perfect size.

If you don’t have the frico molded before they start to stiffen, pop them back into the oven for 20 seconds or so – they become pliable again.

Now that I had the edible container part sorted out, what to put in them?

I was roasting a cut up chicken (surprise, surprise) for dinner with Mediterranean spices and thought I would serve a tomato, cucumber and parsley salad to go along. Usually I toasted pita bread and break it into shards to sprinkle over the top, but the penny dropped and I thought what a great way to use the salad AND my beautiful frico cups.

I removed the seeds and pulp and then diced a couple of tomatoes. Then I peeled, removed the seeds from and diced a cucumber.  Chopped some parsley. A simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano and we were all set!

The frico are terrific. A little bite of crispy cheese, some yummy salad. A lot of oooohing and aaahing and a lotta gone! Isn’t that the end result we all want?

Tackling something I found a little intimidating is so empowering!

Fresh Corn Salad

One of my favorite Ina Garten recipes is her Fresh Corn Salad from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It is the ultimate summer in a bowl recipe. It is great with anything you throw on the grill, a rainy day indoor meal to bring sunshine inside, or a winter pick-me-up to remind you summer has to be coming soon!

Driving back from the Hamptons one weekend, there was stand after stand of fresh fruit, vegetable and flowers. Piles and piles of fresh corn. How could I not stop and buy some? I started making plans of what to do with my booty, top on the list the Fresh Corn Salad!

I adapted this recipe from Ina’s, a few of my own twists, a bit of a South of the Border flair.

  • 5 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin (more to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

NOTE: My husband would certainly disagree, but I need one of them fancy corn strippers! For the number of times a year I actually make this I suppose I could suffer through cutting  the corn off with a knife, but wouldn’t one of those strippers be much more fun!?

Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the chopped cilantro. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

NOTE: The nice thing about this salad is how many ways it can be changed to suit what you’re cooking. I swapped out the vinegar and basil in Ina’s recipe for lime juice and cilantro. I have added tomatoes. I have added string beans or sugar snap peas. I have used frozen corn in the winter and even – GASP – canned corn when the yen for the salad has struck. Try it once and you will be hooked!