Soups & Salads

 

When creating a memorable salad it is all about following  your instincts while produce shopping. Your choice should reflect the essence of the transitioning seasons. And don’t be afraid to select unusual pairings which can really energizer your seasonal salad repertoire.

Consider all options including local organic sources. Standards like romaine, bib and  curly red, lettuces, as well as crisp iceberg for crunch. And consider using a supporting cast of radicchio, Belgian endive, peppery arugula, or mustard greens for diversity. And don’t overlook fresh herbs and red radishes to add a little zing your salads!

C antelope or honeydew melons are ideal for fall salads. You know the routine. Cut the Mellon in half crosswise. Remove the seeds and pith and cut off the outer skin and discard. Slice the flesh into bite size pieces, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Likewise beets in a salads add a gorgeous beet red color and as well as a grounding earthy founding flavor.

If you plan to use beets it’s best to prepare them a day in advance for salads, and several days ahead if you are planning to pickled the beets. Pickled beets (recipe here) contribute a subtle sweet sour element to salads. I highly recommend including them if you have the time to prepare them.

And as a general rule of thumb consider your dressing choices thoughtfully. Dressing are meant to compliment a salad, not disguise it! A sweet and sour raspberry vinaigrette (recipe here) is ideal for this salad. I like to sweeten it just a bit for this salad by adding a teaspoon or two tof Bonne Maman raspberry preserves. I always keep a jar on hand. Also delicious drizzled over fruits topped with yogurt or with vanilla bean ice cream!

When all of the components for the salad are prepared and well chilled, you are ready to assemble the salad.

Place all leafy salad greens and radishes in a very large bowl and toss. Spoon raspberry vinaigrette sparingly over all and toss again to evenly dress the greens. Then dd the c antelope and beets and toss with the greens. Top up with a little more dressing if needed.

For serving you can either assemble the salad in a large serving bowl or platter or use individual salad bowls.
To finish the salad crumble goat cheese over the salad, tucking it in here and there. Top with very thin slices of prosciutto and serve along with extra dressing on the table.!

Raspberry Vinegar

There are many raspberry vine gars out there but making your own is very easy and a nice way to bottle a taste of summer that will brighten up salads this winter.

I have been using Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins raspberry vinaigrette recipe from their Silver Palate Cookbook since it was published in 1982. It is a simple master recipe that is open to endless variations for the occasion at hand.


Raspberry Vinegar

  • 8.5 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 12 fluid ounces white wine vinegar

Rinse the fresh raspberries and put them in a large jar. Pour the vinegar into t jar and seal with the lid. Place in the refrigerator for 14 days or longer.

Line a large fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth set over a large mixing bowl. Pour the contents of the jar into the lined strainer and using a silicone spatula press the raspberries to extract all the liquid from the berries. Discard the crushed berries.

Pour the raspberry vinegar into a sterilized jar or decanter and let it settle until it comes to room temperature. Seal the jar or decanter and store in a dark place for up to six or moor months.

 

Silver Palate Raspberry Vinaigrette

Makes ¾ cup

  •  1/2cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup raspberry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pink or white peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream

 

Place all the ingredients in a jar and sake vigorously until the vinaigrette emulsifies.

Use at once or refrigerate.

Additions and substitutions you may want to try include

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon full fat Greek Yogurt in lieu of the sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey for a hint of sweetness.

For some reason I keep returning to potato salads this summer. Chilled meals just make more sense. I like to get whatever has to be cooked out of the way in the morning so I’m home free when evening rolls around and I have supper on the table pronto!

Planning summer meals is so easy with the abundance of all the fresh herbs and salad greens available in local farmers markets. Herbs add that taste of summer to marinades, dressings and, of course, pesto! A chilled basil pesto dressing turns a potato salad into the main attraction on the table.

 

And don’t stop there. Make hay while it shines and squirrel away batches of pesto in your freezer. There is nothing like bringing the taste of summer to the table in the dead of winter!

 

 

 

A Summery Pesto Potato Salad with watercress

Plan to cook the potatoes several hours before making the potato salad. The potatoes must be well chilled before making the salad.

  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into a bite size wedges
  • water to cover
  • sea salt

Put the cut potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover. Add salt and bring to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are al dente. Gently pour the potatoes into a large colander and drain well. Once cool, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, cover with cling film, and put them in the fridge to chill for several hours.

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups chopped fresh sweet Italian basil leaves
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ to ¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts, macadamia nuts. or cashew nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmigiana cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cold water if needed

Place the chopped basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor, blender, or a bowl if using an immersion blender. Blend until emulsified.

Add the nuts and blend until smooth. Add the parmigiana and black pepper and pulse until combined.

Taste the pesto and add salt if needed. If the pesto seems a little thick add a little olive oil or
cold water and pulse until the pesto is the consistency you prefer.

 

Basil Pesto Dressing

  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full  fat Greek yogurt

combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir the dressing by hand until well combined. cover and refrigerate.

Refrigerator freeze the reaming pesto for later use.

Basil Pesto Potato Salad

  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • precooked diced potatoes
  • basil pesto dressing
  • fresh watercress

 

Place the onions, celery, and potatoes in a large bowl. Toss the ingredients using your hands and set aside, or refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Serving

Add generous dollops of the dressing to the salad and toss gently using large wooden salad spoons.

Line a large serving bowl or platter with fresh watercress Top with the potato salad and chill the salad until the very last minute before serving!

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

 

As uninteresting as a cauliflower soup may sound, here is an easy cauliflower soup that may persuade you otherwise.

With just a hint roosted roasted garlic, a dash of golden turmeric, a flurry of dried marjoram leaves, and a splash of lemon juice is what turns everything around and delivers a delightfully soothing, fresh, and warming winter cauliflower soup. The flavors are subtle but just assertive enough to win over any cauliflower skeptics at your table.

Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 medium size head garlic, roasted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper + more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, simmering
  • broad leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced, or whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice per serving

 

Place the whole head of garlic in a 325 degree oven and roast just until the flesh is softened and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle separate the cloves and squeeze the garlic out of their skins and set aside.

Place a stock pot on the stove top set over medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted garlic, and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and sauté for several minutes while tossing all the ingredients together. Add the turmeric, salt, white pepper, marjoram, and sugar and toss while sautéing for another 5 minutes.

Add about 1 ½ quarts of simmering stock to completely cover all the ingredients. Adjust the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the ingredients are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until the soup is thick and very smooth. Then add more stock until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to your liking.

When you are ready to serve the soup add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice and stir into the soup until combined
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

If you plan to serve the soup later, omit the parsley or cilantro and the lemon juice and set aside to aside to cool. Then transfer the soup to containers and cool on a rack before covering with lids and either refrigerate or freeze.

Be sure to remember to add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice just before serving the soup nonce it has been brought back to a full simmer before serving.

 

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