Fabulous Food – creamy Herb dressing

If you’re like me you put fresh herbs in everything from egg salad sandwiches to soups and pastas. Even pizza!creamyherbdressing2 It really does improve the taste and I love the ritual of cutting a few fresh stems from my herb garden. Well right now my herb garden is not looking so great except for the oregano and thyme (which is thriving since I re-potted them in a huge pot together – they seem to get along very well).  I’ve been looking for ways to preserve their freshness for as long as possible.  Nothing wrong with using dried but I love garnishing with fresh almost as much as cooking with them. So here’s an idea for preserving your soon-to-be-sad-looking herbs and a recipe for a simple dressing which you can use for everything from coleslaw & cucumber salad to potato salad or simple mixed greens.

Preserving: 

Summer might be waning, but your money-saving herb garden can be harvested until the first frost. Preserve those wonderful green bits for winter with these tips.

At the household blog Tipnut, they’ve put together a rather exhaustive list of ways you can preserve the bounty of your summer garden. On top of more traditional methods like hanging herbs to air dry, they have some rather novel approaches to stashing them away for the winter. Want to preserve your more oily herbs as-is, instead of drying them out? Try this trick:

Chop herbs then sprinkle them into ice cube trays (measure into each cube the most common amount you use in cooking). Cover with water and freeze (can also cover with stock or olive oil). Pop them out once they’re frozen, package in freezer bags and store in the freezer (remove as much air as possible from the bags before freezing). When needed for cooking, just take out a cube and pop it in the dish that’s cooking (thawing first is optional–remember to account for the frozen liquid in your recipe). Tip: Try mixing your favorite blends of fresh herbs before freezing.

If you have a consistent stable of recipes, the ice cube trick would be a great way to preserve fresh herbs and oil for easy use.

And now for the low calorie, low-fat RECIPE – Creamy always sounds more fattening right?

creamyherbdressing1Creamy Herbed Dressing

  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise (try avocado or southwest)
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried minced onion or chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon or dill (or use both)
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt or celery salt or 1/4 teaspoon of each
  • White pepper to tastecreamyherbdressing3
  1. Preparation: Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, honey, onion or chives, tarragon (or dill) and onion salt (and/or celery salt) in a bowl until well blended. Season with white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
  2. Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the dressing for up to 5 days. Stir before using.
  3. Nutritional per Tbsp: 16 measely calories & 1 G FAT

 Tell me how you LOVE IT (a switch over from reliable olive oil, balsamic & lemon juice!)

If you were wondering: black pepper is unripe fruit (green), picked and sun dried til it turns black. White pepper is the fully ripe seed stripped of its outer husk.

Furthermore….white pepper has a little milder flavor than black pepper but in some things it shouldn’t matter. Some recipes will specifically call for white pepper but I routinely substitute black pepper for white in my recipes. Keep this in mind… if you are making a cream soup or a lighter colored soup, usually the recipe calls for white pepper so it doesn’t look like you have dirt floating around in your soup. You can’t see the white pepper like you see the black pepper. But as long as you don’t mind the color… the taste is usually just the same.

 

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Simply Satisfying – Summer Salads

I’m enjoying experimenting with different kinds of salads.  While I always love a classic green or Cobb salad, these two are a fresh and tasty change.

salad1

If you’re looking for a cool and refreshing salad recipe for this summer, look no further.
This salad is light and sweet, with a perfect balance between fruit and vegetables. Not only is it delicious, but it also features two extremely hydrating foods – watermelon and cucumber, making it perfect for the summer. Serve it up at barbecues or throw it together at lunchtime. Either way it’s a winner.

As far as the herbs, freshness is key. If you don’t have mint on hand, you can easily substitute basil, for a dish that will be just as delicious.

Ingredients

1/4 watermelon, diced into bite-sized chunks
1/2 cucumber, diced into bite-sized chunks
2 ounces feta, crumbled
1 lime
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4-5 fresh mint leaves, chiffonnade (cut into thin strips)
freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Toss the watermelon and cucumber together in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cheese on top and season with olive oil, lime juice and black pepper. Sprinkle the chiffonnade of mint leaves over the top of the salad as a garnish.

The colors of the salad look best before tossing, so if you’re making this for company, I recommend serving like this and tossing at the table. Alternatively, you can toss the watermelon and cucumber with the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and then add the cheese and mint at the end. Or, you can slice larger pieces of watermelon and place large thin slices of feta over top which gives this an elegant look.

beet, feta, proscuitto, artichoke hearts, sweet onionFor this one you must love cooked beats (not pickled), artichoke hearts, sweet onion & prosciutto (Italian word for ham that is cured & very thinly sliced). 

 Ingredients:

Sliced cooked beets

Sliced Artichoke Hearts

Thinly sliced sweet onion

Good Quality Feta Cheese (I always ask for the “Barrel” sheep Feta from Minerva’s Greek)

Top with torn crisp Prosciutto.  (Cook in frypan on medium-high heat (turn once) until done – should only take a couple of minutes).

Just arrange on the plate to your liking and drizzle with organic olive oil, a splash of lemon juice & balsamic vinegar (I used one with fig & dates).  Simply delicious!

My FOOD Board on Pinteresthttp://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/foodsavour-taste-flavor-relish-palate-enjoyment/

Most of all, enjoy your SUMMER

Simply Satisfying – Superfood Salad in Citrus Ginger Vinaigrette

This has become one of my favorite salads that is like a meal on it’s own.quinoa3

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)—a tiny little seed with an ancient history—packs a big nutritional punch: It’s high in protein and nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties, which is likely why it sustained people in South America’s Andes mountains (where quinoa grows best) for so long. Quinoa has a mild, slightly vegetal flavor and cooks up fluffy, like couscous, but is still slightly crunchy.  In this recipe we mix it up with healthy greens, nuts and a bit of dried fruit for a fulfilling and nourishing salad that will make a perfect lunch.

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa (see directions on package).  You can also use a mix of sprouted brown rice.

½ cup each of the following: chopped kale, broccoli, cabbage, grated carrot (optional).

Add to your liking about ¼ cup of roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, sundried tomatoes, chopped kalamata olives.

Preparation

1. Using fine-mesh sieve, rinse quinoa well (if the quinoa isn’t pre-rinsed). In small saucepan, combine quinoa with 1-3/4 cups water or chicken/veggie stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quinoa is translucent and all of the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat; with fork, fluff quinoa. Let cool slightly. Gently stir in cranberries.

3. Mix into a large bowl all ingredients together.

4. For the vinaigrette, whisk together orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice and ginger. In thin steady stream, gradually whisk in oil. Whisk in salt an pepper.

5. Gently toss salad with vinaigrette until well coated.  Top with shredded cheese of your choice.

  • Citrus Ginger Vinaigrette:
  • 1 tbsp  (15 mL)  grated orange zest
  • 2 tbsp  (30 mL)  fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp  (30 mL)  fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp  (5 mL)  grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup  (60 mL)  extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch each course sea salt and pepper

Of course this vinaigrette is only a suggestion – one of many.  Lemon poppyseed and sesame ginger are also excellent. Adding blueberries is nice too, especially in summer.

you can add corn & rinsed black beans for another version
Add corn & canned, rinsed black beans for another version

Do you have a favorite Quinoa Salad Recipe you’d like to share?

simply satisfying – Classic Niçoise Salad

Photo: Johnny Miller
Photo: Johnny Miller

 1960’s.  While no one lays claim to inventing this French salad “niçoise” just means “in the style of Nice,” the French beachside town.  Credit goes to Julia Child for popularizing it in America in the 60’s.

                                               Ingredients:

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons dry white wine
10 ounces haricots verts or thin green beans, trimmed
4 large eggs
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cherry tomatoes or small cocktail tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated
6 radishes, trimmed and quartered
2 5 1/2 -ounce cans Italian or Spanish tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1/2 cup nicoise olives

A modern take with seared Tuna.
A modern take with seared Tuna.

Directions

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with cold water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl; drizzle with the wine and let cool. Reserve the saucepan.

Meanwhile, bring a separate saucepan of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with salted ice water. Add the haricots verts to the boiling water; cook until crisp-tender and bright green, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water to cool; drain and pat dry.

Place the eggs in the reserved saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and let stand, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, then run under cold water to cool. Peel under cold running water.

Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, shallot, mustard, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified.

Toss the tomatoes in a small bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Add about 1/4 cup dressing to the potatoes and toss. Quarter the hard-cooked eggs.

Divide the lettuce among 4 plates. Arrange the potatoes, haricots verts, radishes, hard-cooked eggs and tuna on top. Pour any juices from the tomatoes into the dressing, then add the tomatoes to the plates. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the *olives.

  • The Niçoise Olive is grown in Cote d’Azur – a region of the French Riviera.

*Did You Know…?

  • Because the true Niçoise isn’t a large crop (with harvests rarely exceeding 50 metric tons), most companies and olive importers grab Niçoise Style Olives from Italy, Spain or Moracco. Most any olive you see in the market that is identified as a “Niçoise” isn’t from Cote d’Azur.  Substitutes:  Kalamata

So when was the last time you made or ordered a salad like this?

Follow our FOOD board on PINterest at: http://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/foodsavour-taste-flavor-relish-palate-enjoyment/

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchens

simply satisfying – Classic Cobb Salad

1934.  This popular dinner salad originated as a midnight snack for Robert Cobb, owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles.  There’s a replica of the famous restaurant at Disney World.

photo - Johnny Miller for Food Network Magazine
photo – Johnny Miller for Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:
8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
4 large eggs
Kosher salt
2 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Zest (in wide strips) and juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
2 avocados
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 large head Bibb lettuce, torn into pieces
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into pieces
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes; transfer to paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and let stand, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, then run under cold water to cool. Peel under cold running water. Chop the hard-cooked eggs and season with salt.

Combine the chicken, lemon zest and juice, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan; add enough cold water to cover the chicken by 1/2 inch. Bring to a bare simmer over medium heat (do not boil) and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees F, about 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, shallot, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a serving bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified; season with pepper. Dice the chicken and toss with 1 tablespoon of the dressing in a separate bowl.

Halve, pit and dice the avocados. Season the tomatoes with salt. Add the Bibb and romaine lettuce to the serving bowl on top of the dressing. Arrange the bacon, hard-cooked eggs, chicken, avocados, tomatoes and blue cheese in rows on top of the lettuce. When ready to serve, toss the salad and season with salt and pepper.

Next week – I’ll post a recipe for Classic Niçoise  Salad.  I’m really into salads more and more these days and it’s nice to incorporate some oldies but goodies into the salad mix.

If there’s a specific recipe you’re looking for please let me know.

simply satisfying – grilled eggplant salad

Roasted_Eggplant_with_Tomatoes_and_Feta_Grilled Eggplant (or aubergine as it is called in France) with Tomatoes, Basil & Feta.

This is a delicious side dish or a satisfying vegetarian main course. Serves 4

These strange, beautiful, glossy purple vegetables are truly unique.  An eggplant’s taste is particularly hard to pinpoint, other than a satisfyingly sweet bitterness. Its texture is like a chameleon and can range from gooey to spongy to slippery. But it is one vegetable that has so much potential so if you work with it properly you’ll learn to love it.

1 large eggplant, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1-inch thick pieces.

Course salt

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces), halved

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn

1. Generously season eggplant slices with salt.  Place vertically in a colander, overlapping them.  Let stand 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry. (*Eggplants contain a lot of moisture, which can ruin any dish. The trick to not having a bad eggplant dish is to prep eggplants in advance, by sweating and draining its extra water content.)

2. Preheat grill to medium high.  Liberally brush cut sides of eggplant with oil.  Grill, turning once, until tender, about 4 minutes a side. Or if you prefer you can roast the eggplant.

Mix tomatoes, pine nuts, feta, red pepper flakes and oil.  Season with salt.  Spoon over eggplant and top with torn basil leaves.

*Every Italian grandma knows that you must remove excess water from an eggplant – they contain a lot of extra moisture. Doing so not only   dramatically reduces unwanted wateriness in a dish,  but it also enhances the true essence of the taste.  By sweating out the additional moisture, you also remove some of that extra bitterness taste. This leaves the eggplant tasting more sweet and pure.

Health Benefits: In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplants contain important phytonutrients, rich in phenolic antioxidant compounds.

As a side with salmon & thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes with malt vinegar salt.
As a side with salmon & thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes with malt vinegar sea salt.

Do you have a favourite eggplant dish?

Quick & Satisfying Salad Dressings

Is there anyone who doesn’t love salads?salads2

Right now we’re in the heart of summer and while I do have countless other recipes to share with y’all my head is telling me to keep it simple.  Usually I’ll post a recipe soon after I make it so that it’s kitchen tested, not only by myself but whoever happens to be my guinea pigs at the time.

For now a couple of quick & simple healthy dressings. Which one to try – it’s a toss-up!

On the Side: tender & creamy:salad3

Try one head of torn butter lettuce, 2 Tbsp. chopped chives, sliced cherry tomatoes + toasted pinenuts with 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar & 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise.

OR;salad1

Crisp & Lemony:  1 head romaine, chopped with ¼ dill sprigs, 1 english cucumber, sliced, ¼ cup olive oil and 2 Tbsp.  lemon juice.  S+P to taste.

Have any go-to dressings to share?

 

Grilled Romaine with Ceaser or Goddess Dressing

GRILL TALK: Have you ever grilled lettuce?

grilled romaineCeasar salad has always been a favorite of mine.  I’ve done the same dressing (slightly tweaked) for years and put it on my blog a while back – see LINK at bottom.

Then I came across this one on yahoo & decided to try it.  The main difference was not only the way the romaine was served, but using two whole (not just the yolk) eggs that were first coddled & the dressing made, non traditionally in a blender.

First the hearts of romaine were cut in half along the length but the bottom was not torn from the base (do not trim).  Season the leaves with salt & pepper and drizzle with some olive oil then place cut side down on the grill until done.  This will bring your salad to the next level – believe me.  You can try this dressing or use the other one.  Both are good with this simple and delicious way of preparing the salad – especially for Summer.

Caesar Dressing:

Coddling 2 eggs:  rinse and put in boiling water for one minute.  Let sit for a few minutes and put them in the blender.  **coddling is done to reduce or minimize the risk of bacterial contamination when using raw eggs.

Add:  red wine vinegar, grainy mustard, balsamic, Dijon mustard and blend.  Add lemon, garlic, anchovy, parmesan, pinch of salt.  Put in blender & slowly add olive oil.  TIP:  I also put a bit of tabasco,  worcestershire & caper juice in this one.

For Croutons:  Take crusty bread & pour some olive oil over top.  S+P.  Spread on baking sheet in 350 degree oven until crisp.

Top grilled lettuce with dressing & croutons, sliced fresh tomato (optional), top with parmesan cheese & enjoy!  And do give me your feedback.

Traditional caesar dressing previously posted:

https://intrigueimports.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/simply-satisfying-the-best-caesar-salad/

Green Goddess Dressing – a lovely, creamy dressing

photo - Marcus Nillson
photo – Marcus Nillson

 Dressing:

  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


To make dressing: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine avocado, basil, parsley, tarragon, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and process until very smooth, scraping down sides. With the motor running, add olive oil. Add enough cold water to make dressing pourable, about 3/4 cup. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  For the salad with grilled romaine you can add chopped tomatoes, onion, avocado, etc.  You can even grill those too if you like.

Simply Satisfying – Super Summer Salad

Quinoa, Arugula, Tomatoes, Cucumber & Mango – Spicy Citrus Dressing

Quinoa Salad with Arugula, etcd.Have you ever used quinoa in a salad? If not, try this one.  The combination of crunchy, soft, sweet & tart works really well here.  This is a healthy AND delicious summer salad.  It has a fresh flavor and the dressing has a sweet/sharp taste.

First rinse & drain 1 cup of quinoa.  In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of  water *(I prefer using chicken or veggie broth for added flavor), the quinoa, 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil & a pinch of kosher salt to a boil.  Cook like rice (ratio is 2-1) – reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Uncover, fluff with a fork, transfer to a plate or bowl, and set aside to let cool.

In a large bowl toss together – arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, ½ english cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced, ½ small red onion, very thinly sliced & 1 diced mango.  Add a bit of the dressing (1/4 cup or more).

Spoon quinoa over arugula salad, drizzle with a bit more dressing & sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  Serve.  Add more dressing as desired.

*TIP – for quinoa broth I use 2 cups of water and add 2 tsp. of organic “better than bouillon” reduced sodium chicken base or concentrated vegetable base.  Either will give it loads of flavor.  Available at whole foods or your local health food store.

Spicy Citrus Dressing

¾ freshly squeezed orange juice (from 2 or 3 oranges)

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1 ½ Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 lime)

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 clove of garlic, very finely chopped

1 small jalapeño, seeded & very finely chopped (if you don’t have jalapeño you can use a little cayenne)

½ tsp. ancho chile powder (optional)

½ tsp. kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well combined.  Makes about 1 ¼ cups. Pour into a glass container & shake. You’ll have enough dressing leftover for another salad. You can also use it as a marinade for chicken or fish.

A great barbeque or pot luck salad

Simply Satisfying – Oriental Chicken Salad with Crispy Noodles

For a colorful presentation, serve the salad in red cabbage leaves.  Serves six.applebeesorientalsalad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, well trimmed.  Grill chicken until done and shred (or cut up into bite size pieces if preferred).  You can even use leftover roasted chicken.
  • 4 ounces snow peas
  •  1 small package of coleslaw mix (if you don’t feel like shredding cabbage plus it usually comes with grated carrots which are always nice).
  •  sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bunch chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or less)
  • crispy chow mein style noodles
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño chili (with seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • a little brown sugar
  • (if you want a creamy sauce you can use about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and less soy)

Preparation

Combine vinegar, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili, dijon, sesame oil and sugar in medium bowl and mix.

Place grilled (or cooked) chicken, coleslaw mix, snow peas, mushrooms, and green onions in large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to combine.(Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)

Just before serving toss in the sunflower seeds, slivered almonds and crispy noodles.  Then sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over each plating.  Enjoy.