In Italian capelli d’angelo con asparagi e limone has such a lovely melodic lilt to it that conjures up sun drenched plates of pasta bursting with all the essential fresh flavors of a summery pasta served up in the Italian countryside. Italians have such a lovely way with food that deliciously captures elegance in simplicity.
This is a very simple dish to prepare and an ideal way to take full advantage of summer’s farm to table garden fresh herbs and produce. I have included chicken in this recipe, but is entirely optional. This is a pasta that shines either way.
Angel Hair with Asparagus, Lemon, and Fresh Herbs Serves 4
- 2 plump chicken breasts, poached (optional)
- 12 oz organic young asparagus stalks, trimmed, steamed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 6 oz dry angel hair pasta
- 1/3 cup good quality Italian olive oil
- 2 lemons, zest and juice
- ¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise, and again crosswise
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced Italian parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons whole baby mint leaves
- wild rocket (arugula) leaves
If you plan to include poached chicken in the recipe prepare it in advance. Fill a medium sauce pan three quarters full of water. Bring water to a full boil, add a teaspoon of salt, and put the breasts in the pot. Bring back to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid, and set aside for 30 minutes. Then transfer breasts to a bowl to cool. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart into bite size strips. Place in a bowl, cover with cooking broth, and set aside, or cover and refrigerate for later use.
Likewise steam the asparagus in advance. Place the trimmed asparagus in a steamer tray, cover and steam until the asparagus is tender, but not limp. Allow to cool, then cut into 2 inch pieces and set aside.
Place a stock pot three quarters full of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a full boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer and hold until you are ready to cook the pasta.
While the water is heating combine the olive oil, about three quarters of the lemon juice, and the Parmigiano in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined and the cheese is incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and more lemon juice if needed to taste. Set aside.
When ready to cook the pasta turn the heat back up to high. When the water reaches a rolling boil add a tablespoon of salt. Stir and add the angel hair. Stir until the pasta separates and floats freely in the boiling water. Cook about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring now and again, until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander just before you are ready to combine it with the sauce .
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted and bubbling add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Then add the poached chicken and saute 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and toss. Reduce the heat to low and pour the olive oil lemon juice cheese sauce over all and toss 1 minute. Add the drained pasta and toss until evenly coated with sauce. Add the parsley, mint leaves, about a tablespoon of lemon zest, and toss until well to combined. Taste and season as needed.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl or individual pasta plates. Try to arrange most of the asparagus on top of the pasta. Place wild rocket on top in the center, add some lemon zest and serve! The pasta needn’t be piping hot. Warm rather than hot brings out the freshness of the combined flavors.
This is my fifth potato salad recipe, but summer has arrived and surely everyone must have some fond memories of summer picnics that always included a potato salad that their mother, or grandmother made with love and affection. Myself included!
Egg and olive salad sandwiches were always my favorite when I was a kid. So an egg and olive potato salad was an inevitable pairing waiting in the wings and I have to say this fresh alternative potato salad that will become a favorite in your ever expanding repertoire to serve for picnics, barbecues, or just about any summer meal.
Egg and Olive Potato Salad Serves 4
For the Salad:
- 3 organic eggs at room temperature
- 3 large gold potatoes
- 1 small yellow onion, diced finely
- 12 pimiento stuffed green olives, halved and sliced
- 1 celery rib, diced finely
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced Italian parsley leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, lightly toasted
- flaked sea salt (Maldon)
For the dressing:
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- reserved cooked egg yolks
Suggested for a bed of salad leaves: romaine, iceberg, cabbage chiffonade, radicchio leaves, wild rocket (arugula), or others that are in season.
Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. Reduce the heat slightly. Once the water returns to simmer continue cooking for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and set aside for 10 minutes. Prepare an ice water bath in a separate bowl. Transfer the eggs to the chilled ice water bath and set aside until completely cool. Then remove the eggs, gently bash them a few times on the work surface, peel them under running water, and set aside to air dry. When dry, slice the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and set them aside in a small bowl. Coarsely chop the egg whites and set aside.
Place the whole unpeeled potatoes in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a small knife or bamboo skewer. Set the potatoes aside until cool enough to handle. Then gently peel them under cold running water. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, cut into bite size pieces, and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl combine the potatoes, onions, egg whites, sliced olives, diced celery, and sliced parsley leaves. Season with salt and pepper and toss vigorously, bashing the potatoes around a bit, until the ingredients are well mixed.
Combine all the salad dressing ingredients, except the cooked egg yolks, in a small mixing bowl. Using a silicone spatula press the egg yolks though a wire strainer positioned over the dressing bowl. Then whisk the dressing until nearly smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and fold in until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.
Combine a selection of assorted salad leaves in a bowl. Add a couple of splashes of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Arrange a bed of dressed leaves in each salad plate. Lightly add the egg and olive potato salad over the greens. Sprinkle with the toasted mustard seeds and some flaked sea salt and serve!
This is an ideal light yet abundantly flavorful vegetarian dish to consider when putting together summer meals for family and friends. Traditionally Gobhi Panch Phoron is usually served with yellow rice, a dal, and some pickled vegetables, but this dish also pairs beautifully with a selection of summery western style vegetables, grains, and salads.
A trip to your local spice purveyor may be required, but otherwise the preparation for this dish is a breeze. In no time at all there is a heady aroma of exotic sizzling seeds wafting through the kitchen and brilliant turmeric hued cauliflower florets dancing away in a hot skillet. This is fun and lively cookery that delivers some light and spicy Indian taste bites that are sure to please!
Panch Phoron seed mixture is the flavor base for this dish, but the seeds are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Cumin seeds have an earthy flavor and aid in digestion. Anise seeds are aromatic with a slight sweetness. Mustard seeds are hot and pungent. Nigella seeds have a peppery smokey flavor. Fenugreek seeds are aromatic with a slight bitterness. The combined seeds are sizzled together in hot oil that unleashes their flavors and aromas before other ingredients are added to the pan, and sauteed.
Make the Panch Phoron seed mixture before you start cooking.
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds (jerra)
- 2 tsp. anise seeds (saunf)
- 2 tsp. mustard seeds ( sarson)
- 2 teaspoons nigella seeds (kalongi)
- 2 tsp. fenugreek seeds (methi)
Combine the seeds and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
Gobhi Panch Phoron serves 4
- 1 medium size cauliflower, separated into florets
- 8 oz green beans (optional)
- 2 ½ teaspoons Panch phoron
- 3 tablespoons neutral flavored vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced and minced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled, and minced
- 1-2 fresh green chilies, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 1/4 to ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or butter
- fresh coriander leaves for garnish
I prefer steaming the cauliflower and green beans separately, both al dente, before proceeding with the cooking for this recipe.
Select a wide skillet or a wok with a lid and set it over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the panch phoron seed mixture. Using a wooden spatula, give the seeds a quick stir and then promptly cover with the lid as the seeds will immediately start sizzling and then popping, the seeds rapidly bouncing off the lid. Once the popping stops remove the lid and add the onions. Lower the heat slightly and saute while stirring until the onions are wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies and stir while sauteing another 2 minutes. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and the red chile flakes and stir until well combined.
Add the cauliflower florets and green beans (if using) and cook while continuously turning the vegetables for about 5 minutes. You will notice the pan drying out so it is important to keep the vegetables moving so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Then add the water and deglaze the pan using the wooden spatula, releasing any bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the contents of the pan are bathed with the deglazed liquid add the ghee (or butter) and fold it into the ingredients until the vegetables are evenly glazed.
Taste and add salt if needed.
Serving: Spoon the Gobi Panch Phoron into a serving dish, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
Here in Thailand fruits are often incorporated into salads as well as to savory dishes.The sweetness of fruit combined with some saltiness, bitterness, and heat from chilies upends the whole idea of what salads are or what they might be. And don’t limit your fruit choices to just tropical ones. Summer and fall fruits further north will also shine with a whole new range of flavor bites from Asia.
I have used the Thai Basil Cashew sauce/dressing from my previous post for this salad. This sauce includes the pillars of traditional Thai flavors; sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter. An ideal combination of flavors that will lighten, spice up, and cool down some of your summer meals wherever you live.
Spicy Thai Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Salad with Basil Cashew Dressing Serves 4
The Thai pineapples I’ve used in this recipe are considerably smaller than those you find in the west. They tend to be very sweet, tender, and much more flavorsome, and well worth seeking out in Asian markets. They are often sold already prepared and ready for eating too!
Or, do it yourself. See video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM12_DHt6v4)
Prepare the Thai basil cashew sauce (see recipe here) and Thai sweet chili sauce in advance.
- 2 plump skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally making 4 fillets, grilled
- 4 small pineapples, outer skin removed, grilled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup fine carrot julienne
- 1 small Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
- small head radicchio (or red cabbage)
- thinly sliced red shallot, sliced into thin rings
- Thai basil cashew sauce
- Thai sweet chili sauce (see recipe below)
- fresh basil leaves s garnish
- fresh coriander leaves as garnish
- ½ cup whole cashews as garnish
- fresh lime wedges as garnish
Prepare and grill the chicken fillets and pineapples an hour before you intend to assemble the salad.
Combine the oil, lime juice, and salt in a shallow tray and stir to combine. Add the chicken fillets and turn them over several times until they are covered with the marinade and set aside for one hour.
Fire up the grill or grill pan until very hot. Place the chicken on the grill, or in the grill pan, and grill until the fillets are well marked. Then turn the fillets and grill until well marked on the other side. Then turn the fillets once again placing then at at 45 degrees to create a crisscross grilling markings on the fillets. When marked remove the fillets to a plate and set aside.
Roll the pineapples in the marinade and place them on the grill, or in the grill pan, and grill, turning as needed until they are marked on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Place carrot julienne, Chinese cabbage, sliced radicchio (or red cabbage), and sliced shallots in a medium bowl and toss to combine. The mixture will resemble what we call a slaw in the west. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the salad.
Slice the chicken fillets at a 45 degree angle across the grain of the meat and set aside.
Cut through the grilled pineapples, making thin rounds, and then cut the rounds in half, and set aside.
Spoon the Thai sweet chili sauce over the chilled prepared salad (slaw) and toss until evenly coated.
Set out individual shallow salad plates and mound the dressed salad (slaw) in the center of each plate. Arrange slices of grilled chicken and grilled pineapple slices alternately across the top of the slaw. Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander leaves, and a fresh whole basil leaf. Top the salads with cashews and add a slice of fresh lime to each plate. Serve with a bowl of extra Thai basil cashew sauce on the table.
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Thai red chilies, including half of the seeds
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped small Thai green chilies
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt + more to taste
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup water + more as needed
Place the red chilies , green chilies, and garlic in a small mortar and grind to a pulp.
Place the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water in a stainless sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Then add the chilies and garlic mixture and stir to combine. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by some and the sauce has thickened somewhat. Taste and add salt if needed. Set aside to cool before serving