Tag Archives: Summer Salads

Halloumi, Arugula and Dried Strawberry Salad

one plate I wouldn’t characterize myself as a greedy person, but something takes over me when I drive by a farm stand or visit a farmers market. I always buy way more than I can possibly eat. It happened to me last week with local summer strawberries. Winter strawberries trick you into thinking they will be good, but when you cut into them, the white centres are so disappointing. These local ones were deep crimson, inside and out!Baskets of strawberries_1Bowl of strawberries_1I needed to use these up fast before they spoiled. No to pie, cobbler, crisp, galette and jam. Been there, done that. I wanted to make something new. And then this recipe for oven dried strawberries popped up in my inbox. Unlike dehydrated strawberries, which are quite dry  and leathery, these oven dried strawberries are chewy, with a plump, juicy consistency. The roasting really concentrates the berry flavours.

Halved strawberries are mixed with a bit of sugar and allowed to macerate for about 30 minutes. Spread them out on a non-stick silicone baking mat and cook at 200°F for about 3-4 hours, until dried at the edges, but still juicy in the center. Once dried, they will keep in the fridge for about a week.strawberries ready for roastingstrawberries roastedThese berries made their way into a seriously delicious salad. The sweet strawberries play beautifully with the bitter arugula and salty halloumi. Toasted hazelnuts bring the crunch.Salad on r and w stripe clothFried halloumi is one of the cheese world’s greatest inventions. If you’ve never tried it,  you’re in for a treat. It’s kind of hard to describe. Salty and squeaky/firm on the outside and creamy and melty in the center.

 

Mike's Hot HoneyThe finishing touch was a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey over the fried halloumi. Sheer perfection. I met creator Mike Kurtz about 4 years ago on a NYC pizza tour. He pulled a bottle out of his bag on our third stop and offered us all a little squirt on our pizza. I was hooked! Sweet heat with cheese is fantastic. I buy mine online here in Canada from The Vanilla Food Company.

Click here to print recipe for Halloumi, Arugula and Strawberry Salad.

half eaten

 

 

Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad

On blue oval platterAs parents, I believe one of our most important jobs is to create memories for our children. Certain aromas or sounds can instantly evoke specific memories or feelings. It only takes a shake of Ajax cleansing powder and a squirt of Joy dishwashing liquid to transport me right back to the kitchen of my childhood. The combo of Ajax and Joy was my mom’s special recipe for disinfecting the sink after dinner each night. The scent was sinus clearing and most certainly  responsible for the loss of a few brain cells. But we had the shiniest sinks in the neighbourhood.

If you were to ask my children, undoubtedly, they would tell you that the annoying whir of my cobalt blue Braun immersion blender was the soundtrack to their childhood. Each morning, they were roused from a deep sleep to the sound of their mom frothing milk for her morning latte. (This was before Nespresso machines with milk frother attachments) No need for alarm clocks in our house.

I hope that I have created other memories for my children, that were perhaps a bit more pleasant.3 platesLast weekend was the start of cottage season and we had a full house. My youngest son was there as well as my daughter and 3 of her friends. A few days earlier the girls had decided that they wanted to eat healthy for the weekend, so I was instructed to please not bake anything tempting. I made this salad for our lunch on Friday. It was met with rave reviews. It’s not really a grain salad, as the farro only plays a supporting role. The real star of this salad are the fat spears of sweet asparagus, charred to perfection on the outside but still maintaining a bit of crunch in the center.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Melissa Clark, over at www.cooking.nytimes.com. She roasted the asparagus in the oven, but I wanted to officially start grilling season. I like fat spears of asparagus and I peel the bottom third of each spear because that’s how I was taught to do it at my very first restaurant job.peeling asparagusready for grillinggrillingThe dressing for the salad packs a flavour punch. Lime juice, garlic, soy sauce and olive oil are whisked together and mixed with the cooked farro. This is a great make ahead salad as the farro can sit in the dressing for several hours. The asparagus and green onion can sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Lime Soy DressingI decided on a bed of peppery arugula and bitter radicchio. Toss the farro with the salad greens and top with the grilled vegetables. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin shards of Parmesan cheese over the top of this salad. close up

Click here to print recipe for Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad.

2 plates

Green and Yellow Beans with Salami Vinaigrette

beans on oval plattergreen and yellow beansI like to think of green beans as the little black dress (LBD) of the vegetable world. Just as versatile as a LBD, green beans can get get dressed in so many different ways. Accessorized with dill, celery and an apple cider vinaigrette, green beans are casual and ready for a backyard BBQ. Adorn them up with blood oranges, hazelnuts and a sherry vinaigrette, and they are perfect for a formal dinner (pearls optional). Tart them up with spicy chiles, almonds and a soy- honey dressing and they are all set for a hot date.

When the baskets at the market are spilling over with green and yellow beans I get very excited. That satisfying sharp snapping sound they make when you break off the ends tells me that these beans are fresh from the field.

Traditionally in North America, veggies have been portrayed as a minor character on the plate, letting meat take center stage. However, chefs around the world are beginning to inspire us to flip that view around. Let vegetables shine on the plate , but use meat sparingly, to add some acidity, richness and fat. This recipe was created by Chef Josh Keeler from Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, SC.ready to eat 625 sqAs I perused Chef Josh’s recipe, I did a double take reading the instructions. Put the salami in the blender. Really??? Remember that episode of The Chew when host Carla Hall wonders “Can you blend it?” and then proceeds to puree leftover chicken pot pie? Well, blended salami vinaigrette is way better than that. Surprisingly delicious. It adds richness and an unctuous quality to the beans. Let's get started 2The pureed dressing is a rather vibrant orange colour, thanks to the paprika, but don’t let it scare you. Press on!alarming dressing 2

tossing beansI decided to add a touch more salami , crisping up little cubes to use as a sort of meat crouton.crisping up salamiThe first time I made this we added chick peas to the dish to up the protein content. As my sister Bonnie says, “Chick peas make everything better.” For this photo shoot, I left them out.

Click here to print recipe for Green and Yellow Beans with Salami Vinaigrette.

Have some beans

 

Grilled Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad

plated 3 FWe’re not big on celebrating the “Hallmark Card Holidays” in our house. Valentines Day is just an excuse for me to bake, blog about and then gorge on photo shoot leftovers of gorgeous heart shaped cookies like these, or these or especially these!! Not that I really need a holiday excuse to bake cookies.

Mother’s and Father’s Day are customarily observed with the perfunctory card and a big hug. So imagine my surprise this year when each of my 3 children, totally independant of each other, presented me with gifts. Two days before, my youngest son gave me a delicate sterling silver chain bracelet. On Mother’s Day my oldest son handed me an impeccably wrapped and ribboned box that contained an elegant hand blown glass pitcher with a flavour infuser in the center. And then, 6 weeks after Mother’s Day, my middle child, (my daughter), left a fitbit on my desk.

My first thought was that my husband told the kids he was leaving me for a younger faster version and hadn’t gotten around to telling me yet. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was dying and no one had the guts to break the news to me. But no, the husband vowed he was in it for the long haul and I felt perfectly healthy. Turns out, they just wanted to show me how much they love and appreciate me. Awww. Sweet!!

Guzzling mint-strawberry-cucumber flavoured water and wearing the fitbit make me believe I am healthier already. I decided to go with the flow and assembled this healthy, insanely delicious salad I discovered in the June 2014 issue of Chatelaine magazine.

Already armed with some gorgeous local zucchini, I was prepared. zucchiniI sliced the fatter zucchini on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick planks. The little ones I just sliced in half, lengthwise. slicing green zucchini on diagonalA package of Halloumi cheese gets sliced into 1/2 inch planks as well. slicing halloumiI whisked together a dressing with white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.lemon juice FEverything gets treated to a generous glug of good olive oil, some Kosher salt and pepper (no salt for the cheese!, it’s salty enough already.) The zucchini get grilled until deeply golden brown. I pan fried the halloumi since it can stick to the grill. A can of chickpeas and some fresh mint and parsley and lunch is ready. plated 4FI think that eating raw zucchini is about as pleasant and flavourful as chewing a sponge. But bathe it in olive oil, salt and pepper and let it get grill kissed and something magical happens to the taste and texture. It becomes silky in texture and almost meaty in substance. And if you have never had fried halloumi cheese before, well, let’s just say you are in for a real treat. It is salty, slightly rubbery and squidgey. While that may not sound like the most appetizing description, trust me, it is delicious. It sort of squeaks between your teeth when you chew it and it is very addictive. plated 2F 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad.

Warm Broccoli Salad

three broccoli headsthree small and one large black plateWhile broccoli might not be the first vegetable you think of for a summer salad, let me be the one to convince you otherwise. With the addition of a warm garlic vinaigrette and a garnish of grated hard boiled eggs and crunchy salty rye bread croutons, it’s the perfect warm weather side dish.

Start with hard boiling the eggs. I am a hard boiled egg pro. No green or grey rim around the yolk ever! It was my responsibility to hard boil a gross (don’t see that word used very much anymore! ) of eggs every morning at my very first restaurant job. Here’s how to make perfect ones every time. Place eggs in a pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Put lid on pot and remove pot from the heat. Let sit, covered for 12 minutes. Drain, rinse eggs under cold water and peel as needed. hard boiled eggsNext, dissect the broccoli. three preparationsPeel the stems and cut into diagonal coins. peeling stemsslicing stems on diagonalCut the head of the broccoli into thick 1/2 inch planks. These broccoli planks remind me of the storybook character Flat Stanley. If you have never heard of him, check out this link. I have always wanted to possess this super power of making myself totally flat so that I could slide under locked doors and snoop where I shouldn’t! What super hero power do you wish you had?slicing planksAs you slice the planks, little bits of florets will fall off. Set them aside for boiling or steaming. They are too tiny and tender for roasting. 

A few glugs of extra virgin olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and the sliced stems and flat planks ready for roasting.ready for roastingToast some rye bread croutons while the broccoli is roasting. croutonsWhisk together a warm garlic-mustard vinaigrette.garlic vinaigretteArrange the roasted and steamed broccoli on a platter. Drizzle with the tangy dressing and garnish with the egg and croutons. Each bite is a perfect combination of textures and flavours. The roasted broccoli brings a charred, smoky bite. The verdant steamed broccoli adds a bit of freshness. Hard boiled eggs add creaminess and the rye croutons add salt and crunch, always welcome at any party. The tangy Dijon garlic vinaigrette wakes up your taste buds. round black platter

Click here to print recipe for Warm Broccoli Salad.

white rectangular plate