Tag Archives: Light Greens

Seared Tuna Salad with Nectarines and Cherry Tomatoes

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Happy Friday!!! So, I love discovering new food blogs. There are so many food blogs out there that I don’t think any one individual has any hope of reading, or even knowing about, all of them. And sometimes that fact makes it easy to get in your own patterns and even forget there are tons of great food blogs out there of which you’re completely unaware!

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Thanks to joining a few food blogging related Facebook groups, I met Melissa at The Front Porch Gourmet, a great southern lady featuring delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos. When she posted this seared tuna salad with summer plums, I immediately started drooling and knew exactly what I was making for dinner.

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I ran out to the grocery store and started shopping. Tuna, check. Greens, check. Then I got to the plums, and at that particular store on that particular day they were looking rather Meh-not-so-much-thanks-but-no-thanks. Fortunately they were sitting next to some beautiful nectarines, so problem solved!

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This salad completely lives up to its billing. It’s light, healthy, summery, and perfectly balanced. The nectarines worked very nicely, but really I’m sure any stone fruit would do here. And if you don’t groove on tuna, I’m thinking salmon would be nice as a stand-in. Enjoy this one, while we can still get the last bit of seasonal stone fruit! Before it’s all eggplant and tomatoes (not that I’m complaining). And be sure to check out Front Porch Gourmet!

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{One Year Ago: Peach and Cherry Frittata}
{Two Years Ago: Squid Ink Fettuccine with Shrimp and Chorizo, Peach Cobbler, Fettuccine Alfredo}

Source: adapted from Front Porch Gourmet

Ingredients:
2 small to medium sushi-grade tuna steaks
1 sprig rosemary, minced
About 3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for dressing the greens
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 bag of mixed salad greens, whatever your preference
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Pat the tuna steaks very dry with paper towels. Preheat a skillet, preferably non-stick, over high heat. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Brush this over both sides of the tuna steaks. Carefully add the tuna steaks to the hot pan. Leave them to cook undisturbed for about 1 minute. Flip them (it works best with a thin spatula) and cook on the other side for about 30-45 seconds for rare.
Remove the tuna steaks to a plate and let them rest about 5 minutes. Then, with a very sharp knife, slice them thinly against the grain.
Pile the greens into a large salad bowl. Add the nectarines and cherry tomatoes, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, just enough to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Transfer the salad to 2 large salad plates and top each with slices of tuna. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.

Salade-aux-Lardons Pizza

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This is one of my all-time favorite pizzas. And it’s so perfect to feature on my blog, because it truly illustrates how reformed my once-picky palate has become. Growing up, pizza was always in the “special treats”, or “indulgences” category. We didn’t have it all the time, by any stretch. So as you can imagine, when it was permitted, I wasn’t about to let any veggies get anywhere near my slices! The cheesier and meatier, the better.

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It wasn’t until my late twenties that I started to come around and realize that oh, vegetables on a pizza isn’t some horrific crime against humanity, and that it really can be quite tasty. Not that you’ll ever hear me complaining about the meat lovers variety, but I truly have come around to genuinely appreciate different pizza toppings.

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And now, as a mature adult, salad atop a pizza is honestly one of my favorite things on earth. If only that little kid in the buffet line at Cici’s Pizza, scowling at the mere presence of the veggie supreme pizzas, could see me now…

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So this pizza basically takes the most basic and classic of French salads, which is greens dressed with a mustard-based vinaigrette and sprinkled with crispy bacon, and deconstructs it into a pizza. Dijon mustard is spread on the dough, with Swiss cheese on top. Then crisped, bacon bits are scattered on top of the melty cheese and the greens are dressed simply with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. When the pizza is cooked completely you take it out of the oven and toss the greens on top, then dive in immediately. (Hey, the French haven’t solved all the world’s problems – the greens will eventually wilt.)

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And you dig in. All those French flavors come together in each bite. And it’s so delicious. I hope y’all enjoy it.

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{One Year Ago: Glazed Donut Muffins}

Source: adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Issue June/July 2010

Ingredients:
1 lb. ball of pizza dough
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
8 oz. Jarlsberg, or Swiss cheese, grated
6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, sliced thin
4 cups baby arugula, or other light greens of your choice
1 tbs white wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grate.
Roll out the pizza dough into a large rectangle that will still fit on your grill surface. Carefully transfer the dough to the hot grill and grill for about 4-5 minutes until the underside is getting some good grill marks. Carefully transfer the dough to a baking sheet, uncooked side down.
Spread the cooked side with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the cheese on the mustard.
Transfer the pizza back onto the grill, uncooked side down. Close the lid and cook another 5-8 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is melted.
While the dough is grilling, make the bacon bits. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring, until bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Pour out all but 1 tbs of the bacon fat. Add the shallot to the remaining bacon fat in the skillet, over medium heat. Saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
When ready to serve, remove the pizza from the grill and sprinkle the bacon pieces evenly over the top. Transfer the shallots to a large bowl. Add the vinegar and olive oil, then the arugula. Toss to combine, then immediately place the salad on top of the pizza. Cut into squares and serve right away.

Zucchini Arugula Lasagna

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So a couple weeks ago I was menu planning, and suddenly it occurred to me that it has been, I don’t know, maybe FOREVER since the last time I made a lasagna. How terrible of me! Time for that to be rectified, stat.

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As much of a lasagna lover that I am, I really was a bit baffled at how I could have let such a culinary sin occur in my kitchen. So, okay, time to fix the misstep. But it’s still the last vestiges of summer, and maybe a full on meaty dish isn’t appropriate or appetizing right now, and I have to admit that the traditional meat and red sauce version is what I think of most when I picture lasagna, despite all the infinite variations out there. But, no matter what my childhood lasagna first impressions were, it’s just too heavy for right now. Veggies to the rescue!

Zucchini Arugula Lasagna

I chose a recipe featuring zucchini and arugula since they are both very currently seasonal. This one did feature a tomato sauce, but it wasn’t heavy or the least bit greasy. The dish turned out perfect for the weather and for our taste buds. Extremely flavorful, satisfying, with the familiar comfort of the tomato sauce but the fresh pop of zucchini. We loved it. And as always with lasagna, the leftovers just get better.

zucchini arugula lasagna

A few recipe notes: I really, really, really should have used a larger/taller baking dish. I used a pretty, kind of frouffy one, where the sides aren’t very high, accidentally forgetting that I have a pretty lasagna pan with high sides (d’oh!) and well, my lasagna runneth over. Quite a bit. Thank god I had the good foresight to place the pan on a baking sheet, but still. I’d recommend a higher-sided pan. Also, slice the zucchini very thin, to ensure it cooks through in the oven. I absolutely adored the smoky smoked mozzarella here, but you can certainly use regular mozz if you prefer.

Zucchini arugula lasagna

Zucchini Arugula Lasagna

{One year ago: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs}

Source: slightly adapted from Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp

Ingredients:
TOMATO SAUCE:
2 tbs olive oil
½ a medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp crushed chile flakes
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
Kosher salt and black pepper

CHEESE FILLING:
5 oz. baby arugula, tough stems removed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt

LASAGNA:
2 tbs minced fresh oregano leaves
2 tbs olive oil
2 lb. zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced thin crosswise
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 (8-9 oz.) box of no-boil lasagna noodles
12 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese, grated
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
First, make the TOMATO SAUCE. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook until softened. Add garlic and chile flakes; cook one more minute. Stir in the tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes start to simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, at least 20 minutes longer.
Now make the CHEESE FILLING. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
For the LASAGNA: preheat the oven to 375 F and arrange a rack in the middle. Toss together the oregano, oil, and zucchini in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble the lasagna: grease a high-sided 9×13” baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange one-fourth of the lasagna noodles over the bottom of the pan, breaking to fit as necessary. Top with 2 cups tomato sauce and spread it evenly. Dollop one-third of the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Spread it evenly. Layer one-fourth of the zucchini over the ricotta, then top with one-fourth each of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat to make 2 more layers.
For the final layer, top the lasagna with the last of the noodles, sauce, zucchini, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
Cover with aluminum foil, tenting it along the center of the lasagna to avoid the cheese sticking to it. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the liquids are bubbling and the noodles are beginning to soften, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and the noodles are completely tender, about 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Basil and Blood Orange Salad

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As we are drawing near to the end of blood orange season (in my grocery store, at least) I thought it fitting to have just one more blood orange post for this season. I know I can’t possibly be the only blood-orange-obsessed person out there. They are just so beautiful! I love the striking red color of their insides, made all the more remarkable because their outsides look so much like a regular old orange. (So much so that when a careless shopper puts a regular navel orange in with the blood oranges, you’re likely to take that one home and not realize it’s a navel orange until you slice it and then be tempted to throw a big, fat tantrum. Or so I’ve heard.)

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I’m so glad they are a winter fruit – it’s so lovely and appropriate that during the longest, coldest, grayest, dreariest month of the year, we are graced with cheery, bright, happy exotic-looking citrus. It’s like a consolation prize from Mother Nature. As easy as they are on the eyes, I also adore the flavor of blood oranges. They are a bit sweeter than navels, but still bright and citrusy. Sigh…. I love them….

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Alas, they are only available up here during the month of January, so during that time, they frequently grace my grocery cart. Then I get them home and have to figure out how to showcase them. This salad was a fine idea. I’m always a fan of spinach salads and tend to prefer them over romaine lettuce salads. I loved the addition of the basil, too. But what really made this salad was the dressing, particularly the inclusion of Sichuan peppercorns. If you must, you can substitute regular black peppercorns. But I would highly, highly recommend hunting down Sichuan peppercorns. They add a smoky richness that really makes the dressing, and the whole salad sings as a result. So refreshing and delicious on a gray day.

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Source: adapted from Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet by Padma Lakshmi

Ingredients:
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs lime juice
1 tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
5 ounces baby spinach leaves
3 cups fresh basil leaves, stems removed, coarsely torn
1 cup dried cranberries
4 blood oranges, peeled, pith removed, and sliced into circles
1 cup pepitas, roasted and salted

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, lime juice, peppercorns and salt. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Set aside.
In a large salad bowl, mix together the spinach, basil, and cranberries. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the greens and toss to combine. Lay the oranges on top of the greens and arrange nicely. Sprinkle the pepitas over top and serve immediately.

Arugula Pesto, Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

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Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I hope your presents have been bought and wrapped, your menus planned and prepped, and that everyone can have a relaxing and wonderful holiday. We are just chilling out tomorrow, just the two of us. Tonight we are treating ourselves to a nice dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

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I must admit that it feels strange and somehow a little bit wrong to have a nice, relaxing Christmas with all the recent devastation that has gone on around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. I still feel such sadness for every person out there who has lost so much, so suddenly and unexpectedly. But I know that I have much to be thankful for, and I do fully recognize that. A fellow food blogger, Elizabeth of Diplomatic Kitchen has written a most beautiful post about finding joy and comfort in darker times. Check it out, you can read some uplifting, kind words AND get her recipe for Chocolate Snowballs! It was what I needed to read today.

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So I made this pizza last night. It’s festive, easy and delicious. The colors are seasonal and Christmas-y. It feels appropriate to share it today, a reminder that it’s Christmas Eve and hopefully a fun and special day for everyone. I know that I always loved Christmas Eve as much as Christmas Day. It’s always special in its own right.

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Try to find smoked mozzarella, sometimes labeled Scamorza. Regular mozzarella would work, but the flavor really pops with the smoked cheese. Another tip: make sure your pizza dough is close to room temperature before rolling it out. If it’s cold, it will just snap back into place and frustrate you to no end. So get it out of the fridge ideally one hour before you need it, but even thirty minutes will help tremendously. And the final tip: I always parbake my pizza crust. I’ve found that’s the secret to avoiding soggy crust in the center of the pie. This way, you get that brick oven pizza taste and texture with your regular old oven.

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Source: adapted from Weeknights with Giada, by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
Flour or cornmeal, for dusting
½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed or sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
8 oz. shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
1 packed cup baby arugula
1 pound pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
2 plum tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 475 F and place a rack in the center. Grease a round pizza pan.
In a food processor, blend the ricotta, garlic salt, and pepper until smooth. Add the smoked mozzarella and arugula. Pulse until just combined but still a little chunky.
Sprinkle flour or cornmeal on a work surface, then roll out the dough in a circle until it is ¼-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the pizza pan. Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.
While that is working, spread a double layer of paper towels on a plate. Place the tomato slices on the paper towel, and then top with another double layer of paper towels. Press gently to extract as much liquid as possible. Leave there until time to use them.
Remove the crust from the oven and spread the ricotta mixture on top, leaving about a 1-inch border. Arrange the tomato slices on top.
Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is golden but not burned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let it set up. Then slice into wedges and serve hot.