As you all know, my kitchen is under construction. I miss cooking! But, everyday I know I am one day closer to sharing some wonderful recipes with you!

I have been grilling a lot of simple meals. I haven’t written anything about these grilled meals, because clearly, they are uninteresting. I have never been adept at managing the timing on the grill, and for the most part, my skills have not improved.

I have been making a lot of salads. They have consisted mostly of tomato, cucumber and onions, as I have an abundance of these vegetables in my garden. 

This salad caught my eye. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so it was convenient. This recipe is about as simple as it gets. The black olives were a tasty addition that enhanced the flavor. I am not usually fond of olives but I really enjoyed them in this recipe. The toasted garlic added a little something extra-special as well. (I had to toast the garlic at my cousin’s house and bring it to my house for this recipe!)

This recipe will serve 4 people who will enjoy this new rendition of the plain old tomato salad! 

Ingredients for the Chopped Tomato Salad

1/2 pound ripe beefsteak tomatoes
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
1 bag of mixed lettuce
1/2 red onion, cut into small slices
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves picked off  stems
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and cut into small pieces

Core beefsteak tomatoes, and cut into small bite size chunks. 

Slice cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise.

Transfer tomatoes to a serving dish, and set aside.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat.

Add garlic, and cook until it is golden brown. Remove from skillet immediately! Remember, garlic will continue to cook after you take it off the heat and may burn.

tomato salad garlic cooking

As soon as you see it turning brown, transfer skillet to an open burner. Add oregano.

Season the tomatoes with the salt and pepper.

Combine with sliced onion.

Mix tomato and onion mixture with the lettuce.

Pour the warm garlic mixture, including the olive oil, over the top. 

Add vinegar and olives; toss well to combine.

tomato salad with lettuce

 

It’s that simple!


I have never been a fan of potato salad. It always looked unappetizing, like a pile of mush with too much mayonnaise. Even after tasting it many times, I just never cared for it.

When I came across this recipe, I was delighted to see that the mayonnaise was home-made.  I knew that I had to give it one more try.

I am happy I did!

This potato salad was delicious! It was light, with the perfect amount of mayonnaise and lemon. I do not think I will ever buy mayonnaise again! (Just kidding I still love Hellmans). 

There are a few changes that I incorporated into the recipe. I made the potatoes a day in advance (so much easier) and I did not peel them. Feel free to if you want, but I love potato skins and I think it enhanced the flavor. I also added 7  hard boiled eggs.

I understand the thought of eating raw egg yolks in the dressing might scare you, but I thought it was much better than any store-bought mayo and would definitely make it again.

It also may seem like a lot of lemon zest, but it tasted wonderful. You can always cut down the amount or eliminate it if you desire.

I am now a fan of potato salad – this one to be exact. It has a pleasant texture, combined with a lemony dressing that is light and flavorful.

This recipe is adapted from Saveur.com and will serve 8 people. They will fall in love with this new preparation of making potato salad.

Ingredients for Potato Salad

2 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus 1/2 tsp set aside
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 tsp. set aside
6 egg yolks
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
Zest of 2 lemons, plus 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about1 1/2 lemons)
1 1/2 cups canola oil
5 additional eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and roughly chopped ( I used 7)
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Boil potatoes in a 4-qt saucepan of salted water until tender, about 35-40 minutes.

Drain and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (You can do this the day before).

Peel and roughly chop potatoes (I did not peel them) . Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Puree yolks, sugar, mustard, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth.

With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified.

potato slad dressing in jar

Pour dressing over potatoes and season with remaining salt and pepper.

potato salad dressing being poured in

Using a potato masher, gently mash potatoes until almost smooth.

potato sald potato mased in bowl

Stir in half of eggs and scallions.

potato salad hard boiled eggs and scallions

Garnish with remaining egg and scallions.

It’s that simple!


While visiting my local farmer’s market, I came across a vendor that sold very unusual vegetables.

He asked me to try several of these “different” treats. One of them was a long, very thin vegetable that resembled asparagus, yet it was much smaller with several stalks emanating from the main one. It was called “Sea Asparagus”, sometimes referred to as beach asparagus, sea beans, sea fennel, or marsh samphire.

sea asparagus picture

It was a delightful and delicious surprise! It had a crunchy texture and a salty flavor that reminded me of the ocean. This is because they grow in sea marshes. They are small with jointed stems and small branches. Their harvest time is during the summer months of June and July.

After tasting this, I knew I had to buy it and try it out in a recipe. 

I found this recipe on “gourmetfury.com”, which I altered a bit. It was simple, fast and had a gorgeous presentation. The balsamic figs were heavenly and they created a delicious mix of salty and sweet.

So, the next time you are at the farmer’s market, look for this flavorful vegetable. It is definitely worth it.

The recipe did not indicate the number of servings, but I would estimate it serves 4-5 people.

Ingredients for the Tomato and Sea Asparagus with Balsamic Glazed Figs

2 tomatoes on the vine
2 yellow tomatoes
10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 lb fresh sea asparagus
1/2 lb. figs, quartered
10 large bocconcini (small mozzarella)
8 fresh basil leaves
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Slice both the red and yellow tomatoes into thin circles and place them on paper towels to absorb the juices.

sea aspargus tomatoes on paper

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.

Blanch the sea asparagus in a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute. Immediately drain and place in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking process. When it is thoroughly chilled, place on a paper towel to dry.

sea asparagus in ice

Place balsamic vinegar in a pot over medium het on the stove. Bring to a boil and let it reduce by half, about 5-8 minutes.

Take the balsamic vinegar off the heat and toss in the figs. Set aside.

sea asparagus figs in balsmic

Tear the bocconcini into small pieces.

sea asparagus torn mozzarella

Cut the basil leaves into thin slices.

Arrange the yellow tomato slices in a circle on a round serving plate. 

Place the red tomato slices in a smaller circle inside the yellow tomato slices.

sea asparagus tomatoes in circles

Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Toss the basil and sea asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and place in center of tomato slices.

Place the bocconcini, figs, and cherry tomatoes around the tomato slices and sea asparagus.

Drizzle with the balsamic reduction, add a small amount of salt and pepper.

It’s that simple!

 


When I read this recipe, I wasn’t sure the combination of ingredients would be very pleasing to the palette. 

I decided to give it a try, however, because I liked the mix of the farro and kale. Although it is an unusual pairing, it piqued my curiosity.

Wow! This recipe turned out to be just perfect in every way. So many of the ingredients provided great, flavorful textures. The cherries were a lovely addition, surprising me by adding just a touch of sweet and tart at the same time. The citrus dressing is delicious. This recipe is addicting.

I chose not to add the goat cheese. I wasn’t crazy about the addition of this ingredient. But if you love goat cheese, I would add it a little at a time so it does not overwhelm the other beautiful flavors of this dish.

You can use this as a side to any main dish or as a salad for brunch. It is easy to make and is a definite “crowd pleaser”.

This recipe is courtesy of Giada DeLaurentis and will serve 4 people. They will love it.

Ingredients for the Farro and Kale Salad

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. very good extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot diced
1 cup farro, rinsed
2 cups of chicken broth (you can use low-sodium as well)
2 sprigs oregano, tied with cooking string
1 tsp. kosher salt
Juice of 1 large lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1 small bunch kale, stemmed and finely shredded
1/2 cup dried cherries or 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved or quartered
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4 ounces goat cheese

Put the walnuts in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat.

Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.

Cool completely on a small baking sheet.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the shallot and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the shallots have soften and are fragrant, about 3 minutes.

farro and kale Shallots cooking

Add the farro and toss in the olive oil and shallot mixture, stirring often for about 3-4 minutes.

farro and kale. farro toasted

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in 2 cups of chicken broth, the oregano sprigs and 1/2 tsp. salt.

farro and kale chicken broth oregano

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is cooked through and tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the oregano sprigs, drain the farro (if needed) and set aside.

Whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

Add the warm farro and toss to coat.

Add the kale, cherries, cucumber and walnuts and toss to combine. 

farro and kale Kale, cherries and walnut in bowl

Crumble the goat cheese, toss it gently just to mix and serve.

It’s that simple!


The ingredients in this recipe piqued my interest and I found them very appealing. Together with the quinoa, I knew they would be delicious.

I would save it for a side dish in the spring or summer. It just had a very, light, easiness to it that seemed like it would be great on a warm, sunny day.

The combination of the rice vinegar, orange zest and fresh orange juice give it an inviting mellow appeal. The quinoa completes this recipe with its healthy nutty taste. 

Quinoa has become a favorite among many cooks today, It is versatile and marries well with all kinds of ingredients.

This recipe is courtesy of Food Network Kitchen.

If you want something different, this dish is just for you.

Ingredients for the Quinoa

2 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 scallions
1/2 cup chopped raisins
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp, ground cumin
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1  1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Today’s Hint: You should invest in one bottle of high quality olive oil. Use it only when making salads or for the finishing touch on pasta, fish or meat. It really brings out the flavor with just a small drizzle!

golden ingredients

Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add the quinoa and return to a boil.

Reduce the heat to  low, cover, and simmer the quinoa until it has expanded fully, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Uncover, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

golden sunshine quinoa fluff

Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Add the raisins, rice vinegar, scallions, orange juice and zest, olive oil, cumin, cucumber and parsley and toss to combine.

golden quinoa mix

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, then serve.

It’s that simple!