Vinaigrettes perfect for summer salads

Dear Fellow Foodies:

The Summer heat has been here with a vengeance this year. With so many days over 95 degrees, trying to stay cool and also trying to figure out what to make for dinners has been a challenge. I just want lots of salads. Since we just received lots of new infused olive oils and a delicious Grapefruit White Balsamic vinegar to the store’s expanding line up I created a few different vinaigrettes for both salads and vegetables. Voila! No oven necessary (thank goodness). Even David has been happy with the selection of summertime treats. The advantage of using hot veggies with a vinaigrette is that they tend to absorb the flavors more fully.

Steamed Green Beans with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

 

1 pound green beans, trimmed and rinsed
3 Tablespoons Jacksonville Mercantile Grapefruit White Balsamic
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
pinch Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 Cup Blood Orange Avocado Oil
1 Red Bell Pepper – seeded and chopped in small dice

Steam the green beans until tender (approximately 5 minutes). Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the Grapefruit White Balsamic, Shallot, Salt and Pepper and slowly add the Blood Orange Avocado Oil by whisking until emulsified. Toss the cooked green beans with the chopped red pepper and about 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette to coat. Serve warm with extra vinaigrette on the side. If you have any left over vinaigrette you can also use this as a marinade for chicken.

A few years back I gave a recipe for French Potato Salad which uses a white wine reduction, olive oil and lots of tarragon. This recipe is similar, but instead of tarragon I use Basil, the newest Spicy Red Wine Vinegar from Italy and some Dijon mustard to round it out. This has a 1-2-3 punch from Basil oil, basil and basil Dijon. Hooray! You can either use your food processor for this or just whisk in a bowl. The food processor will make it a brighter green color.

Warm Potato and Basil Vinaigrette

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes – cleaned
1/2 cup fresh Basil leaves
1 clove garlic – minced
2 Tablespoons Edmund Fallot Basil Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Spiced Red Wine Italian Vinegar
Pinch salt & black pepper to taste
2/3 cup Jacksonville Mercantile Basil Infused Olive oil

Steam the potatoes until tender (about 15 minutes). In a blender or food processor, add the basil, garlic, spiced red wine vinegar, mustard salt and pepper. Blend and slowly add the Basil Olive oil until emulsified. When the potatoes are still hot, but cool enough to handle, cut them in half and toss in a bowl with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette. Serve warm with extra vinaigrette on the side. This vinaigrette can be used as a marinade for shrimp or fish as well.

 

Happy Cooking!

Constance

 

Pantry Challenge – Corona Beans and Tuna

Dear Fellow Foodies:

More from the pantry challenge. We just brought in some amazing dried beans from Italy. The following recipe is so simple it’s almost comical. All you need to do is open two packages and one jar and have an incredible meal for 14 people. Crazy huh? The only items we had to pick up at the grocery store were parsley and cherry tomatoes. If it was summer, these items could have come from the herb garden on the deck. This recipe uses Corona beans. These huge plump beans are similar to the Coco Blancs you find in France or the Giganta beans found in Europe. Known as the “poor’s meat” these beans are creamy and hearty. With the addition of Spanish Bonito Tuna in oil, this was a very satisfying meal hitting all the right notes. Even meat and potato folks would enjoy this!

This also is a wonderful gluten free meal. Since the Corona beans are high in protein, this would also make a great vegetarian meal, just omit the tuna.

corona beans

Corona Beans with Spanish Bonito Tuna

One Bag of Corona Beans – soaked overnight

One Jar of Spanish Bonito Tuna

One package of Boscaiola Dried Pasta Sauce from Italy

Parsley – chopped fine

Cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Salt and Pepper

 

When cooking any kind of bean you need to soak them overnight for best results. The instructions on the packet of beans recommended soaking for 12-14 hours and cooking for 30-40 minutes. After soaking the beans overnight, they actually needed an hour of cooking time to get them creamy enough. Be sure when you are cooking any kind of legume or bean that you don’t salt the water. You know the saying “tough beans”? That is what you will get if you cook them in salted water. Wait until they are almost cooked completely before salting.

Soak the Boscaiola Dried Pasta Sauce in a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook off the water from the sauce and reserve. You may add olive oil to this if you like. These dried pasta sauces from Italy are great to have in your pantry for adding to pasta, risotto or in this case, beans.

When the beans are done, taste and season again with additional salt and pepper if desired. Open the tuna and pour the olive oil onto the beans. Crumble the tuna into the beans and add the tomatoes. Add the cooked Boscaiola to the bean mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle additional olive oil over if you desire.

We were able to have this dish for lunch for several days and also had enough to bring to a friend’s home as a side dish. Ta da!!

Happy Cooking!

Constance

Warm Squash Salad with Arugula

Most folks don’t think of using squash in a salad, but when roasted and paired with goat cheese it becomes a hearty meal in itself. This was part of the pantry raid week. We had a wonderful cinderella squash left from our grower’s market that needed to be used. Feel free to substitute the hazelnuts for any other nut and you can leave out the bacon for a vegetarian option.

 

Warm Squash Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese
  • 1 small kobotcha squash or cinderella squash 3-4 pounds – peeled, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2″ slices.
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons smoked brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espellette or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon Flake Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup White Balsamic
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 ounces mild goat cheese
  • 4 ounces hickory bacon – cooked and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 pound arugula – washed and trimmed of any stems

Warm your oven to 475F. Mix all the ingredients except the hazelnuts, goat cheese, bacon and arugula to create a vinaigrette. Toss the slices of squash in the vinaigrette and bake 10 minutes on a non-stick baking pan. Turn over and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until soft, but not mushy.

Form the goat cheese into small rounds and roll into the finely chopped hazelnuts. Reserving the remaining hazelnuts and vinaigrette.

To serve:

Arrange 3-4 squash pieces on a plate. Sprinkle with bacon and a small amount of hazelnuts. Place a few rounds of goat cheese on top. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of reserved vinaigrette. Toss the arugula in a small amount of vinaigrette (you may not use all the vinaigrette) to lightly coat. Top the warm squash with the dressed arugula and serve with additional flake salt and cracked pepper. Enjoy with a Southern Oregon Viognier. Serves 6-8.

Happy Cooking!

Constance

Fresh Fava Bean Panzanella with Home Made Croutons

I just taught a class on how to cook from the Farmer’s Market recently. Since most of my students didn’t know how to cook a fava bean (or even what they were) we decided that we would have them for part of our meal.  Since I had help cleaning the fava beans, I got 8 pounds.  Then they realized what a pain in the butt they are to clean and cook, but they are SO darned good.     I know, I know, you think that is a LOT.  Nope, just enough with a small amount left over for me today.  We made a wonderful spread with the favas but I wanted something else.  This got me to thinking about Panzanella salads.

I’ve also been on a bread baking kick. Not just any bread baking, but the rustic loaves you get at the grower’s markets with the crusty, crispy exterior and the large holed interior that just melts into your mouth.   I made my starter and fed it for a few weeks.  My friend Jois told me that I should name my starter so I wouldn’t let it die.   I named it Henry.   When it gives me trouble I call him Hank, and when I attempt French Bread I’ll call him Henri.  Henry has helped me bake some amazing loaves and of course I started to have half loaves all over the house.

I made some croutons with olive oil, herbs de Provence and a pinch of salt. Then came the dressing. Using the juice from my quick pickle recipe and the oil from the Italian Olives in Lemon I made the vinaigrette. Sliced up some wild ramps (you guessed it, Farmer’s Market) and mixed this all together with a few leftover tomato pieces from David’s dinner the night before.

I have never eaten a salad where I was grunting and groaning over it and I was happy no one was close enough to hear me .  Sometimes the best meals are right in front of you while you stand at the open refrigerator door.  This was one of them.

Next time maybe I’ll share – then again, maybe not.  Grunt, grunt, grunt, ooooohhhhh.

Quick Pickles

  • 1 cup Reisling Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 small seedless cucumbers – cut in small pieces
  • 3 small ramps – sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon Harissa Paste
  • Mason Jar to store

Heat the vinegar until warm, add the sugar, harissa and the salt.  Stir until melted.  Pour over the cucumbers and ramps in the jar.  Allow to sit chilled for 2 hours or longer.  Use this as your vinegar for your vinaigrette.

Walnut Champagne Vinaigrette

As the holidays roll around many people have to watch what they consume to protect their hearts.  Heart disease is one of the top diseases in America today.  The way to protect yourself from future or further harm is to avoid trans fats and eat healthier fats.  Healthier fats are monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats.  The trick is to consume the right kind of fat in the appropriate amount. When it comes to calories, all oils are the same. They each contain 9 calories per gram — this includes oils labeled “light,” a term which refers only to the oil’s taste, not its nutritional makeup. But some oils are better for you than others.

Fats and oils are either saturated or unsaturated; unsaturated fats can be either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. No oil is completely made of one fat; they all are a combination of the three fats in different percentages, based on the nut, seed or fruit from which the oil is derived.

Saturated fats, which come mainly from animal sources, increase cholesterol levels. Hydrogenated oils such as margarine and vegetable shortening are saturated fats that have been chemically transformed from their normal liquid state into solids. During the hydrogenation procedure, extra hydrogen atoms are pumped into unsaturated fat. This creates trans fatty acids, the most unhealthy type of fat found to be the number one cause of heart disease.

Monounsaturated fats are known to help reduce the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol without lowering the good HDL cholesterol. The most widely used oils that are high in monounsaturates are olive oil, avocado oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats, made up of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are also considered relatively healthy and include grapeseed, safflower and sunflower oil.  Oils high in omega-3 rich polyunsaturate fat such as walnut oil are a good addition to the diet since our body require omega-3s for good health but cannot manufacturer them. New studies show incorporating omega-3s into your diet reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

We like to make this dressing for salads and to put into our rice or potatoes or over steamed green beans with Champagne Walnut Vinegar and Walnut Oil.  Very heart healthy.  You may substitute Hazelnut Oil for a different taste.

Walnut Champagne Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (I like Edmund Fallot)

3 Tablepoons Walnut Champagne Vinegar

¼ cup Walnut Oil

pinch sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place the mustard in a non-reactive bowl, add the salt and pepper.  Add the Champagne Walnut Vinegar whisk in the walnut oil s-l-o-w-l-y until the dressing is emulsified.  Add chopped walnuts to your salad or into green beans for extra crunch.

Green Goddess in the Summer

Wandering around our grower’s market this last Saturday I spotted fresh Dill.  Now most people immediately think pickles.  Not me.  I go straight to Green Goddess salad dressing every time I see fresh dill.  Quit rolling your eyes!  I’m not talking the bottled high fructose, xanthan gum laden gunk they sell at your local mega-mart;

 

 

I’m talking about the FRESH stuff.  The only time this salad dressing works is in the summer when the herbs are fresh.  Go get yourself a large (hopefully organic) head of iceberg lettuce (quit rolling  your eyes again), cut into “the wedge” and pour a generous amount of this Green Goddess over it.  Sprinkle with bits of pancetta or local bacon  if you want to gild the lily.  You’ll note I didn’t give any amounts for the ingredients.  This is a dressing you can make as loaded with herbs as you like.  Taste this as you go.  Make more if you have more people.  This will keep in the refrigerator for about a week after you make it.  No, it doesn’t freeze.  Try it on your turkey sandwich too.  Now go make some lonely iceberg lettuce happy.

Green Goddess Salad Dressing

  • Fresh Dill Chopped
  • Fresh Parsley Chopped
  • Fresh Oregano chopped
  • Fresh Basil chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 4 anchovies – chopped
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
  • lemon juice
  • creme fraiche
  • home-made mayonaise

Blend all the above in a food processor.  Spoon over the lettuce wedge.  Sprinkle with bacon if desired.  Wait for the look of happiness on your guests faces and smile!

 

Happy Summer Everyone!

Chef Constance

 

 

Healthy Holiday Vinaigrette

To all my foodie friends, I have to apologize for not posting for so long.  I got to spend an extra week sleeping on a cot in the hospital room of my mother.  What started out as a simple operation turned into an extended hospital stay including time in the ICU.  While there I got the luxury of trying to eat from the cafeteria or other chain restaurants and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.  Something as simple as a salad was continually ruined by soaking the limp iceberg lettuce and out of season cherry tomatoes in a high-fructose corn syrup gunk they called salad dressing.  Well here ya go, try this one on for size.  It is tasty, healthy and if you eat this way I’m willing to bet you won’t end up in the hospital in the first place.

Healthy Holidays Made Simple:

Monounsaturated fats are known to help reduce the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol without lowering the good HDL cholesterol. The most widely used oils that are high in monounsaturates are olive oil, avocado oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats, made up of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are also considered relatively healthy and include grapeseed, safflower and sunflower oil.  Oils high in omega-3 rich polyunsaturate fat such as walnut oil are a good addition to the diet since our body require omega-3s for good health but cannot manufacturer them. New studies show incorporating omega-3s into your diet reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

We like to make this dressing for salads and to put into our rice or potatoes or over steamed green beans with Champagne Walnut Vinegar and Walnut Oil.  Very heart healthy.  You may substitute Hazelnut Oil for a different taste.

Walnut Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (I like Edmund Fallot)

3 Tablepoons Walnut Champagne Vinegar

¼ cup Walnut Oil

pinch sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place the mustard in a non-reactive bowl, add the salt and pepper.  Add the Champagne Walnut Vinegar whisk in the walnut oil s-l-o-w-l-y until the dressing is emulsified.  Add chopped walnuts to your salad or into green beans for extra crunch.

The way the oil is extracted also plays a role in how healthy it is. Oil is extracted using one of two methods — mechanical or chemical. Chemical extraction, often called solvent extraction, is the most common and cost efficient method. It employs high heat and a series of chemical processes, primarily exposure to hexane gas, to remove and refine the oil.

In mechanical extraction, called cold pressed or expeller pressed, oil is squeezed from the source, usually with hydraulic presses. This minimal exposure to heat preserves the natural flavor of the oil but limits the yield, making mechanically extracted oils more expensive than chemically extracted oils.

Just as each oil has a unique nutritional makeup, they also have distinct flavor components and smoke points, making some oils more appropriate for certain uses than others.  If you are unfamiliar with the smoke point of an oil, look on the side of the label or ask someone in the store where you purchase the oil.

Heating oil past its smoke point can cause it to have an off flavor, lose its nutritional value and turn the once healthy oil into a trans fat laden heart disease machine. Oils that can take high temperatures make good all-purpose cooking oils. Choose from sunflower and peanut for high-heat uses such as searing and frying. Medium-high heat oils are good for baking, sautéing and stir-frying; try grapeseed, avocado or sunflower oil. For sauces, lower-heat baking and pressure cooking, medium-high heat oils are best. Good choices are olive oil, hazelnut oil, pumpkinseed oil and walnut oil.

Anyone else out there have some favorite salad recipes to share??

Constance

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

We have a wonderful micro creamery named Mama Terra. This ethereal goat cheese is fantastic for many different applications.  For summer this is always an easy recipe.  This recipe highlights the creaminess of the goat cheese.   If you can’t get this particular brand, try a farmer’s market in your area.  The local stuff is the best!

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

1 tub plain goat cheese (Mama Terra)

¼ cup Dried Herbs du Provence

1- 4 oz. package Proscuitto – cut into small pieces (or use cooked bacon) leave off for vegetarian option

2 Tablespoons Sun Dried tomatoes chopped fine

Mixed baby greens – washed

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard  (I prefer Edmund Fallot)

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Vinegar (or you can substitute other fruit vinegar)

5 Tablespoons Blood Orange Avocado Oil

Salt and Pepper

Wash and dry the lettuce.  Reserve.

Using a small spoon, scoop small balls of the goat cheese and roll in the dried Herbs du Provence.  Reserve.  Heat oven to 350F.

Make the vinaigrette:

Mix the Dijon mustard with the Vinegar and a pinch of salt.  Whisk in the Avocado oil S-L-O-W-L-Y until the vinaigrette is emulsified and smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve

Place the goat cheese on a baking sheet with foil underneath and warm through for about 3-5 minutes.  Drizzle a little vinaigrette over the lettuce until just coated-don’t drown the lettuce (you may have additional vinaigrette left over).  Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes and proscuitto or bacon pieces over the lettuce and place a few warmed goat cheese balls on the top.  Serve immediately.