Tag Archives: salad

NOT your boring Pasta Salad- to go!

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I LOVE pasta! I don’t care what anyone says 🙂 There is a time and place for it, this I will admit. Preferably lunch time, so you can burn off the calories from the carbohydrates throughout the day and as for place, pasta in pasta salad should have a supporting role. I like to have equal amounts of veggies as I do pasta, to keep a good balance of nutrients.

It’s finally summer here in London and a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy the sunshine AND save some money, is to picnic in the park for lunch. I have these great little BPA free reusable containers, with the fork and knife built in the lid, I just fill them up, grab a blanket and off I go!

Be creative with what you have. This was a mid-week lunch made with veggies I found in my fridge. Lots of different flavors will work, so you can substitute depending on what you have at home.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried good quality pasta, I like penne or fusili for pasta salads, cooked al dente
  • handful of sugar snap peas
  • 1 heirloom tomato (if you can)
  • 1 small head of endive
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 can of artichokes
  • 1/2 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano (dried can be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small garlic clove raw
  • 1/4 cup of grated good quality parmesan cheese (or a veggie substitute or for vegans, try some toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds)
  • drizzle of good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp of freshly grated lemon rind
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper (you could also try some red pepper flakes if you want some heat)

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil for your pasta, cook for 10 min until al dente, drain and plunge into a bath of ice water to cool and stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
  2. Wash and chop all the veggies into bite size pieces, the peas I left whole.
  3. In a large bowl, add your pasta, fresh ingredients and lemon rind. Top with the parmesan cheese (or toasted seeds/nuts) and add enough olive oil and s&p to taste. Mix together well.

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4 steps and you’re done! Pack into lunch containers and head to your special spot for a healthy, homemade, inexpensive lunch under the sun.

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Salad Nicoise, Herbes de Provence Encrusted Ahi Tuna, Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes with Homemade Aioli

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Some holidays you just never want to leave. That was the case last week when I was in the South of France. The warm sea breeze, bright sunshine, the freshest seafood and local produce including juicy ripe tomatoes, sweet and mouth-watering melons,  the famous and fragrant Herbes de Provence and of course lets not forget Cotê de Provence Rosé. A delicious vacation to say the least!

After visiting the Chateau Minuty Winery  (http://www.chateauminuty.com) to bring back some bottles for ourselves, I decided to share the experience and have a dinner party once back in London, so we could all celebrate the flavors of South of France.

What’s great about this dinner is that it can accommodate different dietary requirements. The salad portion of the Salad Nicoise is kept separate from the tuna, so those who are Vegetarian (but eat eggs) can help themselves, those who eat fish can add it later and I even made grilled organic, local Sirloin steak for the die-hard meat eaters in the house.

On the Menu:

Hors D’œuvres: Spring Radishes with Herbes de Provence infused Fleur de Sel (Sea Salt)

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This is very easy to make and a French classic. The first time these were offered to me I thought to myself “you can’t be serious, radishes with salt on a plate? Really??”.  I was used to seeing radishes as a garnish and always tossed aside. But I couldn’t insult my host, so I gave them a shot. I was pleasantly surprised at how much flavor they had. Peppery, and cold with a perfect crunch. Just a hint of sea salt, making them the perfect fat-free snack.

This variety is called the French Breakfast Radish and I find the flavor stronger and more distinct than the ones commonly sold in grocery stores (red, round and used for garnishing). Just chop the tops off and rinse in cold water, add some Fleur de Sel on the side, butter is traditional but not necessary and serve right away. Radishes will dry out if left to stand.

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Les Plats (the main dish): Homemade  Aioli, Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad, Salad Nicoise and  Grilled Herbs de Provence encrusted Ahi Tuna

Ingredients & Instructions:

To serve a dinner party of 8 people

Aioli:

  • 1 clove smashed up garlic (I like to use a mortar & pestle)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • s&p
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

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Smash up the garlic clove really well. You can use a whisk for this recipe and a large bowl or you can use a hand blender or food processor. The key is to be really quick with the whisk as the olive oil needs to be drizzled in very slowly to incorporate air to create thickness.

Add the garlic, egg yolk, Dijon mustard, s&p and lemon juice to the bowl and whisk together, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you have a mayonnaise like texture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad:

  • 6 heirloom tomatoes (Heirloom: A non-hybrid breed of tomato, usually passed down through generations, these are my favorite tomatoes bursting with juicy sweetness)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 balls of Burrata cheese (this is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, it is tough on the outside and soft and creamy in the middle, a special treat!)
  • good drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • good drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Herbs de Provence seasoned Sea Salt & fresh cracked pepper ( I picked this up in St. Tropez but you could easily make it yourself, just add herbs de provence to your salt and keep in a jar, it will be fragrant and give your food a South of France flavor)
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano

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Chop the tomatoes and burrata into 2 inch pieces and place in a large dish. Chop the basil up and sprinkle on the tomatoes and burrata, add the oregano, fresh cracked pepper and herbs de Provence sea salt, olive oil and balsamic.

Salad Nicoise:

  • 2 heads of cos or romaine lettuce
  • 6 boiled organic eggs, cooled and peeled
  • 10-12 baby potatoes skin on
  • 1 cup of nicoise olives, pitted
  • 500-600 grams of French or Fine green beans, ends cut off (handful per person)
  • Dressing: 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup of champagne or white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp honey Dijon mustard, s&p

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Wash the lettuce and chop into bite size pieces (the French never cut their salad with a knife and fork! I was quickly informed of this on my first trip to Paris…ahem…). Chop the potatoes in half or quarters and boil for about 15 min. Boil the eggs for about 10 min and let cool. Boil the beans until they are just al dente, about 3 min and then plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Peel the eggs and cut in half. Assemble on a large plate, placing the olives in the middle.

Herbes de Provence Encrusted Grilled Ahi Tuna:

  • 4 tuna steaks, about a pound each, make sure you go to a trusted fish monger with good quality fish
  • 4 tbsp herbes de Provence
  • s&p
  • olive oil

IMG_4936Rinse and dry the tuna steaks. Brush a little olive oil onto each side and then sprinkle with the herbs, about 1 tbsp per steak and s&p. Do both sides.

Have the BBQ on high and cook the tuna for about 2 minutes so it is medium rare. Tuna tends to dry out very quickly if it is fully cooked, so be careful not to over cook. This method will sear the outside and leave the inside pink. If you want it fully cooked go for about 4-5 min on each side.

Slice lengthways and plate. Drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil before serving.

Bon Apetite! 🙂

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Sunday Lunch: Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella Di Buffala and Basil. Fresh from the Farmers Market!

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Fresh, ripe and juicy heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market here in London. Finally! I’ve been waiting all winter for these.
One of my favorite salads and so simple to make. You see this salad all the time in Italian restaurants, also known as a Caprese Salad. But it’s so easy to make at home, so why not?

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Ingredients:

3-4 juicy ripe tomatoes
1-2 balls of Mozzarella Di Buffala or Burrata is also delicious (don’t use regular mozzarella as that won’t have as much flavor and it’s a bit chewy in texture, better for melting actually)
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Drizzle of good olive oil
Drizzle of good balsamic vinegar
Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
Pinch of dried oregano

Instructions:

Cut the tomatoes in half and then each half into quarters. Or you can cut into slices if you prefer.

Drain the mozzarella and cut into equal size pieces as the tomatoes.

Arrange on a plate and drizzle with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, sprinkle of oregano and chopped basil.

Ready to serve! Spring is here! 🙂

Zucchini and Arugula Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Tangy Feta Cheese

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I had some zucchini in the fridge that I wanted for dinner but I didn’t feel like cooking it. So I decided to use my handy Mandolin (see pic) and make raw zucchini spaghetti in a creamy honey Dijon dressing with Arugula, fresh herbs, tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. This is a great way to prepare raw vegetables as it gives them a different texture.

If you don’t have a mandolin you can either julienne the zucchini (cut into match sticks) or slice the zucchini very finely by hand.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • handful of arugula
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • small handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • small handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup of organic feta cheese
  • juice of half a lemon and 1 tsp of freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of good quality olive oil
  • s&p

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Instructions:

Wash the zucchini and either cut in half and slice finely or use the mandolin to make spaghetti like strips. Either way, you want it be as thin as possible to soak up the dressing.

In a bowl, make the dressing: mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and s&p. Toss the zucchini in the dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Set aside.

Wash the arugula and tomatoes and prepare on a large plate. Crumble the feta cheese over top. Place zucchini and dressing on top of the salad and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and grated lemon zest.

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Fresh, different and tasty! 🙂