Tag Archives: salad

Summer of Salads: Jicama and Watermelon

Jicama and Watermelon Salad

Every now and then, someone comes into your life and you breathe a huge sigh of relief.

One of those such special people made me a Jicama and Watermelon salad on the 4th of July. It went scrumptiously alongside some huge langostines I fried up all spicy-like and some ridiculously fresh sea bass that took a mere ten minutes to broil to perfection. He was all achy and sore from a pulled back muscle. I was exhausted from long days of cooking for other people. We feasted with white wine I had been saving for over a year for a special occasion – until I grew up and realized that every good meal with a good person is a special occasion. Then we climbed onto the roof and watched NYC’s spectacular fireworks burst over the Hudson river.

Then I stole his recipe.

I adapted it slightly for the family I cook for, and set it on the pink-canopied backyard table with some of my garden chicken salad and grilled burgers. By the time I got around to snapping pictures of it 24 hours later it had faded in color but the flavors had developed even more fully.

Jicama is a root that’s a cross between a water chestnut and rhubarb, believe it or not. Watery, slightly sweet and somewhat starchy, it’s often eaten in its native Mexico with fiery spices. Because of the light sweetness and water content, it pairs extremely well with watermelon, giving a salad of both some crunch and texture. They’re found at most big grocery stores out in the east coast, but are easy to overlook.

After grunting and sweating away peeling the annoyingly large jicama, I tossed it lightly with watermelon, lime, cilantro and a bit of jalapeno for a ridiculously refreshing salad that my blew my  bosses guests away.

Happy summer, happy Friday!

- Jacqueline

Jicama and Watermelon Salad


Jicama and Watermelon Salad

Serves 6 as a side

1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin 3″ long strips (about 3 cups)
1/4 watermelon, cut into thin 3″ long strips (about 3 cups)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill before serving.

Orzo Summer Salad

Today I put a bottle of “Lite Pancake Syrup” in my grocery shopping cart.

First I woke up in the arms of someone special. Then I drove to pick up cat food from a vet (I do not have a cat). Then I picked up the boss’ mail and watered a large plant. Then I drove halfway down Long Island to Costco. Then I drove the other half of Long Island, unloaded groceries, planned my weekend menus and went to East Hampton for smoked salmon. Then I put a bottle of “Lite Pancake Syrup” in my grocery cart with a shudder, tweeted my disgust, and returned to the house to make dinner (which did not contain aforementioned syrup, and was well received and complimented on, which I’m always thankful for).

It was a full day.

Another un-dusty-like occurence: this salad.

Yes, orzo is not gluten free. But neither is the family I work for. And this is a tasty salad – quick to make, pumped with some happy-healthy little nibs, and great to leave in the fridge for them to grab on your days off. The dressing is a sweet vinegar with no oil, so it’s low in fat and healthy alternative to the summer pasta salads that bulk up and make you sweat.

Orzo Summer Salad

Serves 4

1 cup dry orzo pasta, cooked as per package directions and cooled completely
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped small
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 small bunch green onions (about 6), chopped thin 1 inch up the greens
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar or (preferably) light, floral honey
1/4 cup pistachio nuts
Olive oil as needed

Combine orzo, red bell pepper, peas and green onions in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar and sugar/honey until the sugar/honey is completely dissolved. Pour over pasta and stir to combine.

Toast pistachio nuts in a saucepan on low heat until fragrant and slightly brown, and toss into salad.

Chill before serving.

Summer of Salads – Beet, Parsnip and Mint Salad

Sweet beets and parsnips combine with spiced walnuts, fresh mint and smooth goat cheese.

I credit my momma for my love of vegetables; for some reason I’ve always preferred veggies over meat, and she (and her parents) were abundant in their love and attention to them as well. I learned the sweet pleasure of beets early on, and other root vegetables followed soon thereafter. While beets and parsnips may not seem like warm-weather foods, served at room temperature or chilled with bright herbs and sitting atop crisp, sharp greens, they make a hearty and colorful contrast to summer’s zucchini and cucumber abundance.

This was one of last week’s starter salads on my menu, and one that I stole a teeny tiny bowl of to keep myself fortified after a long day of cooking on my feet. It’s sweet, bright, fresh and the perfect start to an end-of-day meal.

Beet, Parsnip and Mint Salad

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients:

  • 3 large beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 large parsnips, peels and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp chopped mint leaves, plus more for garnishing
  • Kosher salt or fleur de sel (or your favorite rockin salt)
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Awesome, nutty olive oil
  • 6 cups mixed greens or arugula
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 tsp mild honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup soft goat cheese

Heat oven to 400°. Place beets and parsnips separately on one large or two small baking sheets. Drizzle with oil to just coat, and toss on salt. Bake for 40 minutes until very roasted and slightly shriveled. Cool completely. Combine in a large bowl and toss with mint.

Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add walnuts and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 5 minutes (watch the stove so they don’t burn!) Add honey and cinnamon, stir to coat quickly. Spread walnuts on cutting board to cool, then roughly chop into smaller pieces.

To serve, divide greens on four serving plates, making a well in the center. Divide beet/parsnips between, piling in the center.

Crumble goat cheese equally around each pile. Sprinkle with walnuts and remaining mint. Grind pepper straight on top. If desired, drizzle balsamic vinegar and a touch of oil around sides onto greens before serving.

Summer of Salads: Shaved Fennel and Arugula

As a child, summer means lazy days of wandering, camp, sprinklers, playgrounds and park.

As a parent, summer means road trips, wet bathing suits, even less time alone and daydreams of September.

As a New Yorker, summer means steaming sidewalks, escaping to chilly movie theaters, constantly humming window air-conditioners, and hair that refuses to lay flat.

As a private chef in the Hamptons, summer means whipping up a quick meal or two and then stealing some time by the pink-canopied pool.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

If I have one more person give me a variation of, “lucky girl, a summer in the Hamptons on the beach”, I might throw a pie in their face. Which would be satisfying but a horrible waste of pie.

I experienced the long weekend in Amangansett recently, and it gave me a taste of what my summer is to look like: waking at 7, at the market by 7:30, breakfast constantly in the works as people rise anywhere between 8 and noon, some hungry for lunch at 1 while some are barely finishing coffee, four frantic market runs a day, cooking three separate meals for dinner, eating cuttings of things throughout the day and only sitting to eat for real after the kitchen is clean at 10pm.

I’m definitely not complaining. I don’t have the chops to work in a restaurant kitchen, and despite the panic of being the sole person responsible for whether 13 people like their meals or not (which gives me a rather constant furrowed brow), I’m loving adapting to this job and what it’s already doing to broaden my kitchen skills.

—————

I’m going to attempt to keep up a few series of summer recipes here while I’m cooking away. While my trusty, dusty DSLR will be with me, I doubt I’ll have the time, organization or brain capacity to use it much. Rather, Instagram will be my friend as I try to snap some somewhat-edible-looking images of the amazing things coming out of the kitchen. Oh, the kitchen with this view in the misty morning:

Not bad, huh? I’m preparing to utilize certain moments as self-centering: this view when the house is quiet and all are asleep, the sunshine on the top deck, a shot of tequila while I wait at a certain fish counter and the proprietor asks in a heavy brogue how things are going and how I’d like my fish cleaned (this man might be a saving angel for the next few weeks) in the middle of the long day.

I’ll be making tons of luncheon salads, bright soups and rich marinades to keep some variety and va-va-voom on the table. And {hopefully} getting to write about them on my days off.

This salad was narrated to my predecessor before he left, without specification. I let it evolve naturally, and it’s both refreshingly simple and rich in flavor – a bit of bite from the fennel bulb but sweetened and softened with good orange juice. I was psyched to hear a really positive response to it – as with any new job, tiny amounts of praise help tamper anything you’ve messed up in ignorance or over-thought.

Happy beginning of summer.

Let’s do this thing.

Fennel and Arugula Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fennel bulb (sometimes written as Anise)
  • 1 bag of pre-washed arugula
  • orange juice (splurge on fresh-squeezed or as close as you can get it)
  • lemon juice (doesn’t have to be fresh, but why not?)
  • Parmesan cheese (brick, not grated)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a large flake salt (kosher works)
  • freshly cracked pepper

Remove fronds and tough outer leaves of fennel bulb. Thinly slice the remains, slicing width-wise if needed before finely slicing into ribbons. Place in a (preferably) metal bowl. Fill with orange juice almost up to the top. Add at least 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Taste. You should get mostly orange flavor but with a tart bite of lemon. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (the fennel will set well for a few hours).

Meanwhile, bring a small fry/saute pan to a medium heat. Add pine nuts, and toast (flipping now and then) until the oil just starts to come out and the pine nuts brown. Add 1 tsp olive oil and a nice pinch of flaky salt. Toast, constantly flipping, until pine nuts smell fragrant and are slightly crisp. Set aside to cool.

To assemble: divide arugula on four plates. Drain the juice from the fennel*. Pile equally on top of arugula. With a vegetable peeling, grate large pieces of Parmesan over each salad. Top with pine nuts and a healthy twist of black pepper.

*If you want to make a quick vinaigrette from the orange/lemon mixture, whisk it with some tart vinegar (like apple cider), good olive oil and any combination of basil, oregano, black pepper, fennel and salt. Drizzle on top. The salad also works with just a drizzle of balsamic and oil or a sweet vinaigrette.

Spanish Butter Bean Salad

Butter Bean Tapas and Green Salad

Butter Bean Tapas and Green Salad

There’s a market in Astoria, Queens that has a delightful variety of imported Spanish goods, and butter beans are one of my favorites.  So one night I had a friend over for a Spanish gastronomical excursion, and figured I’d highlight these delicious beans.  This recipe is super-simple and SO tasty. And very good for diabetics and hypoglycemics (read below).

Health Benefits:

Butter Beans (also called Lima Beans) are rich in dietary fiber and, when paired with a grain, are a perfect protein that’s very low in fat.  I could retype in my own words, but this information from World’s Healthiest Foods just says it so well.  Lima beans, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber. For this reason, lima beans and other beans are useful foods for people with irregular glucose metabolism, such as diabetics and those with hypoglycemia, because beans have a low glycemic index rating. This means that blood glucose (blood sugar) does not rise as high after eating beans as it does when compared to many other foods. This beneficial effect is probably due to two factors: the presence of higher amounts of absorption-slowing protein in the beans, and their high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the stomach forming a gel that slows down the metabolism of the bean’s carbohydrates. The presence of fiber is also the primary factor in the cholesterol-lowering power of beans. Fiber binds with the bile acids that are used to make cholesterol. Fiber isn’t absorbed, so when it exits the body in the feces, it takes the bile acids with it. As a result, the body may end up with less cholesterol. Lima beans also contain insoluble fiber, which research studies have shown not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Just one cup of lima beans will give you 65.8% of the daily value for fiber.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried Spanish Butter Beans or large lima beans, dry
  • 2 Tablespoons of particularly delicious and organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the butter beans for AT LEAST 24 hours.  The longer you soak them, the more tender they’ll be.  I only soaked mine for about 18 hours and had to cook them longer.
  • Cook the beans in about 3 cups of water in a nice boil for about an hour.  Start checking them around 40 minutes – the longer you soak them the softer they’ll get.  When I made them into soup, I wanted them to be so soft they’d puree well.  This time I wanted them to have some firmness to them.  You want some ‘al dente’.
  • Strain the beans and place in a small bowl.  Add the olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, and season with salt to taste.
  • Stir in the cilantro and squeeze the juice of the half lemon over everything.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!  My buddy Jonathan and I decided that was one of our favorite parts of our meal.  The recipe feeds two people comfortably as a side dish.  And tastes just as good the next day.

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