Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

Permit me to make a football analogy. If life was like Sunday Night Football, I would be living in the culinary Red Zone.

Geographically speaking, I live in the sweet spot for grocery stores. I have a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods and a Wegmans; all located within four miles of my house. If I have a yen for something or need an esoteric ingredient, I can usually get my hands on it within 20 minutes. Yes, I am spoiled.

Many of you may have shopped at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, as they are national chains. Then there is Wegmans, a regional chain based in Rochester, N.Y. I feel sorry for anyone who has never been to Wegmans. You need andouille sausage? They got it. You need duck pate? Yep, they got that too. You want chanterelle mushrooms? They got em, and six other varieties to boot. Lapsang Souchong tea? Uh, huh… Can you tell this post is turning into an “Ode to Wegmans?”

I naturally belong to their Shoppers’ Club. As a perk, they send you their Menu magazine, which I think comes out quarterly. It is a beautifully produced publication which contains great information and some super recipes. The winter 2010 issue is now out and it has an Italian theme. I made the Orange Fennel Salad on page 70 (see original recipe) with a few twists. It is quite light and a refreshing change to the cloying sweetness of most salads. We paired this salad with last week’s Bacon-wrapped scallops. Enjoy!

Orange Fennel Salad
(adapted from Wegmans)

2 navel oranges
1 small bulb fennel
1/4 red onion
1 tsp. lemon-flavored olive oil (I find mine at Wegmans)
2 big handfuls baby spinach
1 handful baby arugula
3 tablespoons pignoli nuts, toasted and cooled

Using a zester, remove the zest from one orange into a two-quart bowl. Cut both oranges in quarters and use a grapefruit knife to segment the fruit. Be sure you work over the bowl to catch the juice that is produced from the oranges. Squeeze the rinds over the bowl to remove any remaining juice.

Using a very sharp knife, or better yet, a mandoline, thinly slice the fennel and onion. Place in the bowl, along with oranges, juice, lemon olive oil and salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Just before serving, place your greens in a large bowl. Drain the juice (dressing) from the fennel mixture into the large bowl. Toss the greens to coat.

Plate the tossed greens on a chilled serving platter. Top with the drained orange/fennel/onion mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pignoli nuts and serve.

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Memorial Day weekend is the big picnic kick off for Americans. Everybody runs to the store for burgers and dogs, corn on the cob and WATERMELON!

A picnic is not a picnic without watermelon. Our local grocery has huge bins of melons waiting to be thumped and pressed before being hefted into the cart. The problem is that watermelons don’t arrive at their prime until mid summer. What you get at the store now is mediocre tasting. But purchase you must because it’s the big picnic weekend and the family will run you out on a rail if you do not produce the goods.

So here’s a cure for a melon with a subprime taste crisis:

Mojito Melon Salad

1 quart melon balls
1 cup mint leaves, lightly chopped
juice of 1 LARGE lime (don’t cheat and use bottled–you’ll only be cheating yourself)
1/4 cup simple syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp. rum (or extract) *optional

Cut your watermelon in half. Scoop melon balls out of half the melon and place in large bowl. Set aside.

Place remaining ingredients in blender, process until liquified. Pour over melon balls and toss to coat. Garnish with sprigs of mint. Serve cold.

Simple Syrup

2 parts granulated sugar
1 part water

Place in saucepan. Bring to boil. Boil for 5 minutes to ensure sugar is dissolved thoroughly. Cool and place in airtight container in refrigerator.

I use simple syrup all summer for a variety of things. It’s good to keep some handy.

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