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Salad

Crunchy fennel salad with grapes, dates, olives and almonds

This is a really fabulous and interesting salad with wonderful texture and flavor. It’s so quick to make and has a real “wow” factor

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Serves 4

1 cup thinly sliced fennel (make sure you cut off the hard core)
1 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
3 oz green unstuffed olives, pitted and quartered lengthways
5 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced thinly lengthways
juice of a medium lemon
1 tbsp good olive oil (or a little more if you like)
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz toasted slivered almonds
2 oz shaved pecorino romano cheese

Combine the fennel, grapes, olives and dates in a medium sized bowl.
Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Toss to coat evenly.
Just before serving, mix in the toasted almonds and pecorino cheese.

Serve

Roasted cauliflower with olives, currants and tahini dressing

This is a really tasty and well balanced recipe with a lot of interesting flavors going on. It’s terrific for those on the Whole 30 program, as my husband and I are and is fairly simple to put together.

Serves 4

1 large cauliflower (about 3lbs), trimmed and cut into florets
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Tahini Dressing
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp water, plus more as needed

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to taste. Arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the edges are brown and caramelized.

While the cauliflower roasts, make the dressing. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt until smooth and creamy. Add the water and whisk until combined. The sauce will be thick. Add more water to thin it slightly if you like. It will continue to thicken as it sits.

Keep aside some of the olives, currants and parsley (or add a little more) so you can decorate the top of the salad after tossing it in the dressing.
Toss the warm cauliflower with most of the dressing. Add most of the currants, olives, and parsley and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing or salt, if desired.
Decorate with remaining olives currants and parsley

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fig “carpaccio” with blue cheese, walnuts & white balsamic

I have always thought of figs as rather bland and pulpy until we planted our own tree several years ago and now walk out into the garden to pick over 15 per day through the season.
This is such a super and different way of eating them. Thanks to Matt Wilkinson.

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Serves 2, sharing

5 ripe figs, cut in half
2 oz blue cheese; I like to use a creamy gorgonzola.
10 walnuts, toasted and chopped
8 basil leaves, washed and torn
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or if you can’t get it, regular balsamic vinegar)
2 tbsp good-quality olive oil
1 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
good pinch of salt flakes
a few turns of white pepper
2 slices bread, toasted on a char-grill

Take two sheets of baking paper, each about 12 inches long. On one sheet place the figs, flesh side down, then cover with the other piece of baking paper. Now gently smash the figs using your fingers until they are flat. Once smashed, take off the top layer of paper, leaving the figs on the bottom sheet.

Turn the bottom sheet of paper upside down on to a plate, then gently remove the paper. Now crumble the cheese over the figs, then scatter with the walnuts and basil.

Drizzle the vinegar and olive oil all over, then sprinkle with the pepitas, salt and pepper. Serve with toasted bread on the side.

Peach, crispy prosciutto, olive and mozzarella salad

During the long, hot Southern Californian summer months, there is nothing nicer than having a light and interesting salad like this.

 

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Serves 4

* You can prepare the dressing 3 – 4 days in advance and keep in a sealed container in the fridge

1 tbsp butter
3 ripe peaches, quartered
A few fresh rosemary sprigs
3-4 oz thin prosciutto slices
4 red chicory, leaves separated
5 oz green olives, preferably pitted
2 x large buffalo mozzarella balls, torn

For the vinaigrette
1 small shallot, finely sliced into rings
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp superfine sugar (caster)
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Small handful fresh dill, chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sourdough bread to serve

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When it starts to foam, add the peach quarters and rosemary, then fry for 5-8 minutes until the peaches start to color and soften.  Season lightly with salt, then transfer to a large salad platter.

Return the pan to the heat and add the prosciutto slices and fry for 5 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove to some kitchen towel. (Alternatively, you can roast the prosciutto slices on a baking tray at 400 F for about 10 minutes until crispy)

For the vinaigrette, put the shallot, vinegar, sugar, mustard and dill in a small pitcher and whisk. Slowly whisk in the oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper

Add the chicory, olives, mozzarella and broken-up prosciutto slices to the peaches, drizzle over the dressing and gently toss.

Broccoli-Quinoa salad with buttermilk dressing

This is a lovely recipe from Bon Appetite magazine with a clean, refreshing buttermilk dressing poured over the broccoli, herbs and quinoa.

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Serves 4

Buttermilk Dressing
¾ cup buttermilk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp (or more) fine sea salt

Salad
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 small heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
Kosher salt
1 cup white, red, or black quinoa
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
¼ cup coarsely chopped tarragon
¼ cup coarsely chopped pistachios

Whisk the buttermilk, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, pepper, and 1 tsp. sea salt in a medium bowl. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
Do Ahead: The dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

The final salad

Stir together the shallot and 2 Tbsp of the buttermilk dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
Cook the broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, or about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and place on a kitchen towel–lined baking sheet.
Meanwhile, return the water in the pot to a boil and cook the quinoa until slightly al dente, about 12 minutes, and drain. Toss the quinoa and 2 Tbsp the buttermilk dressing in a large bowl to coat; season with salt. Let cool.
Add the dressed shallot, broccoli, parsley, tarragon, pistachios, and 2 Tbsp. buttermilk dressing to the quinoa and toss to combine. Season with more salt if needed.

Bacon, avocado and corn salad

This has got to be the headiest combination of ingredients and although simple to make, your guests will adore this and there will never ever be any leftovers! The recipe uses a Mexican cheese called “cotija” but you can easily substitute feta cheese.

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Serve 4 to 6

5 strips of thick-cut bacon
4 ears corn, husks and silks removed
3 oz cotija or feta cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 good sized Hass avocado
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon strips on both sides until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to dry and remove all but 1 tbsp of the bacon fat from the frying pan.
Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and put into the frying pan with the 1 tbsp bacon fat.
Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 mins or until slightly golden-brown. Turn off the heat and tip the corn into a nice serving bowl, leaving behind as much of the bacon fat as possible. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Crumble in the cotija or feta cheese and add the cilantro and lime juice.
Roughly crumble the bacon into the corn mixture and toss to combine.
Cut the avocado flesh into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the avocado cubes into the frying pan and gently toss.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate for later.
Bring to room temp before serving

Cumin, avocado and corn salsa

This is delicious served with rice crackers or tortilla chips as an appetizer and also gorgeous on a dinner plate with a piece of sauteed salmon sitting on it. I like to roast my cumin, then grind it myself, as the oils are released and the smokiness of the roasting really adds something to the flavor. You can also add a can of drained and rinsed black beans to the salsa for extra protein.

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Makes about 3 cups and serves 6

3 ears corn, husks and silks removed. (I have been known to use the equivalent in drained, tinned corn, when pushed)
1 good sized Hass avocado
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno chili pepper
1/2 to 3/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the kernels off the corn cobs by using a sharp knife and transfer the kernels to a large bowl.
Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the flesh and cut the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to the bowl with the corn.
Add the cherry tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, chives, cilantro, jalapeno and cumin to the bowl, and toss together gently so as not to mash the avocado. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate the salsa for about 30 minutes and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Great cucumber and avocado salad

The wonderful food blog, “Smitten Kitchen” has come up with a version of a lovely and easy salad to have either as a main course or as a side to some grilled protein.
The salad is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian and takes about 5 minutes to put together.
There are many ways to adapt it, too. You can add some thinly sliced Romaine hearts for bulk, but still leave it predominantly a cucumber and avocado bowl.
The scallions weren’t in the original recipe, so if they’re not your “thing” skip them.
If you’re not into lime, cilantro or parsley, try lemon and dill.
If you’re not into mayo, try using yogurt…

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Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

3/4 to 1lb seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks
2 thin or 1 regular scallions, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
2 tbsp mayonnaise (or use or make your own Whole30 complaint mayonnaise)
Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
Salt and hot sauce (we used Sriracha) to taste
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Combine the cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste.
Drizzle the salad with the dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Grilled corn with chiptole cream and cilantro

A super tasty recipe from Rachel Ray. and it’s sweet, smoky and spicy at the same time. This is perfect with some grilled meat or fish from the BBQ.

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4-8 appetizer-sized portions

1 cup cream
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, 1 tsp adobo sauce reserved
Zest and juice of 1 lime, divided
1/2 heaped cup mild crumbling cheese such as queso fresco, Asadero or Cotija, for topping
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 to 3 scallions, finely sliced
2 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.

In a small saucepot over a low flame, heat and reduce the cream, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and lime zest until thick and flavors come together, about 15 minutes. Reserve and keep warm.

While the cream is reducing, mix the crumbled cheese, oregano, scallion and cilantro together in a small bowl and set aside.

Grill the corn until the kernels begin to char evenly. When the corn comes off the grill, let cool slightly and cut the corn off the cobb. Place a spoonful of corn in a bowl, drizzle with the chipotle cream sauce, sprinkle with the cheese mixture and serve with a squeeze of lime

Watermelon Tomato Salad with Cumin and Fennel

Another vegan, dairy-free beauty of a salad (from Food 52) for those hot summer days. If you like, you can add crumbles Greek feta cheese or even sliced Kalamata olives to have some variety, of course it would become vegetarian.

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Serves 6

6 cups cubed (1/2-inch cubes) watermelon
2 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp sugar, optional
Salt
1/4 cup sliced mint
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chile powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional – Greek feta cheese, crumbled
Halved pitted Kalamata olives

Puree 2 cups of the watermelon in a blender and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining watermelon and tomato and toss with the sugar, a large pinch of salt, the mint, and lime juice.

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and add enough oil to thinly coat the base of the pan. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the cumin, fennel, and ginger, and toast for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric and chile powder, then 1/2 cup watermelon juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Add salt or sugar as desired, and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the sauce over the watermelon and tomatoes and gently fold together. Divide among 6 shallow bowls, and serve.