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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grilled Watermelon Wedges with Balsamic Reduction

Here's one last recipe from my Blooming Glen Farm demo last week--and this one is probably the most unusual of the ones I made that day.  But it was also the one that was completely scarfed up by samplers.

I love grilling fruit.  I think it really brings out flavors that you might miss from the raw fruit.  Watermelon is no exception.  You just have to make sure that you don't grill it for too long or it will get pretty mushy.  (If you missed it, click here for a grilled cantaloupe and peach recipe from my demo in July.)

This dish has that sweet and salty thing going on, which I love.  And I think you'll love it, too!  It will be the talk of your picnic.

Serves 4-6

You can cut up the watermelon to serve as a salad if you wish.  I like serving it in wedges as an interesting finger food.

2 1/2 lb watermelon, preferably seedless
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup feta cheese (or goat cheese)
Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

  • In a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a simmer over med-high heat.  Cook until reduced to a thick syrup.  Set aside.
  • Preheat grill to high.
  • Cut watermelon into half-moon slices.  Brush both sides of melon with oil.
  • Clean and oil the grill grates.  Grill watermelon about 2 min per side or until grill marks appear.  Transfer to a plate and season with salt.  When cool, cut into smaller wedges.
  • Place wedges on a platter.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with crumbled cheese.  Finish with pepper and a little extra-virgin olive oil if you wish.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

Zucchini--it's one of those veggies that just seems to come at you non-stop through the whole summer.  You can saute it, bread it and fry it, make muffins or bread, even make pickles out of them.  You have to be fairly creative to come up with different ways to make zucchini without getting into a rut.

Well, at my Blooming Glen Farm demo last week, I made a delicious dish using zucchini and the wonderful tomatoes and herbs that are available now.  This should help you out of that zucchini rut.  And it doesn't get much better when you use farm-fresh veggies!

Serves 8

6 plum tomatoes
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2" thick slices
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
1/4 cup basil, chopped
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

  • Preheat grill to medium-high.  Clean grill grates.
  • Place tomatoes on grill.  Reduce heat to medium and roast, turning occasionally, 10-15 min or until charred and tender.  They will be soft and the skins will split.  Remove from grill and let cool.  Remove skins and place tomatoes in food processor.
  • To the tomatoes, add 3 Tbsp oil, 2 Tbsp vinegar, garlic and oregano.  Pulse until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
  • Place the zucchini and onion on a sheet pan or in a large bowl.  Toss with 2 Tbsp oil, 2 Tbsp vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Oil grill grate and grill vegetables for 10-15 min or until tender and slightly charred.  Remove and let cool slightly.  Chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • Transfer zucchini and onion to a bowl.  Add vinaigrette, toss and season to taste.  Garnish with basil and Parm. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

When I do demos at Blooming Glen Farm, people often ask what to do with Swiss chard.  My old standby is just to saute it with some onion and garlic.  It's really good that way.  But for my demo last week, I wanted to find a different way to prepare chard.

I found an interesting idea in an old Cooking Light magazine that I tweaked a little bit and it came out great.  It's a raw preparation--the leaves marinate to tenderize a little bit.  It's very summery--fresh tasting and doesn't heat up your kitchen!  Even kids will like it.  My son, Jake, who isn't crazy about cooked greens, really loved it.

SWISS CHARD WITH PINE NUTS AND RAISINS (adapted from Cooking Light magazine)
Serves 4

1 1/4 lb Swiss chard, leaves removed, stems reserved for another use
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

  • Slice the chard leaves crosswise into very thin shreds.  Place in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together the juice, oil, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the chard and toss.  Add raisins and nuts.  Toss to combine.
  • Let stand about 15 min before serving.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tomato, Pine Nut and Arugula Pesto Pasta

Here's another recipe I made for my demo at Blooming Glen Farm last week.  I've made this dish for a number of clients and it's always a big hit.  It's really easy and, when you use fresh ingredients, so tasty!

(By the way, congratulations to Tom, Tricia and all the folks at Blooming Glen Farm for becoming certified organic!  It's a lot of work to get that designation.  Way to go!)

Back to the food.  This pesto is great with pasta, although you could even use it as a sauce for grilled meat.  It stands on its own really well, but feel free to add some grilled chicken or, as I did in the photo below, some Italian sausage.


TOMATO, PINE NUT AND ARUGULA PESTO PASTA (from America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook)
Serves 4

12 oz cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup arugula
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 small pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pasta

  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
  • Process tomatoes, arugula, Parm, pine nuts, pepperoncini, garlic, 1 tsp salt and pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth, 30-60 seconds.  Scrape bowl as needed.
  • With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated.  Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss in the pasta and serve.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tomato Pineapple Salsa

Another fun demo day at Blooming Glen Farm on August 19, so you know what that means!  More recipes to share with you.

The first was probably the most popular all day--and the simplest.  Chop, squeeze, stir, serve.  Gotta love it.  Yes, it's another salsa, but there's a little tangy twist from fresh ginger in this one.  It's really great as a dip with tortilla chips, but try it as a condiment for grilled fish and meat.  Oh yeah.

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups tomato, diced
2/3 cup pineapple, diced
1 small jalapeno (or other hot pepper), minced (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp lime juice (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp ginger, grated
2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Serve.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cucumber Salad with Chile, Mint and Basil

Here's the last recipe from my demo last week at Blooming Glen Farm.  This one is probably my favorite--I just love the flavors that are in it.  It's kind of a Thai-type of thing going on--sweet, sour, spicy.  I actually made this for one of my clients today.  You'll love it, too.

Oh, and if you like these recipes, check back after my next BGF demo on August 19.  I'll be posting more.

But for now, enjoy this crisp and fresh salad.  Perfect for a side with some grilled meat.  I used Kirby cucumbers at the farm--they're the smaller ones used to make kosher dill pickles.  They have very small seeds, so I didn't seed them.  If you're using the larger, slicing cucumbers, you'll want to seed them to get rid of a lot of water and the tough seeds.  I also left out the peanuts at the farm due to allergy concerns.

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH CHILE, MINT AND BASIL (adapted from Cook's Country magazine)
Serves 4

4 cucumbers (or 8 if using the smaller Kirby variety), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced thinly
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 hot peppers (Thai bird chiles or jalapenos, for example), seeded and minced
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
3 Tbsp peanuts, toasted
  • Evenly spread cucumber slices on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.  Refrigerate while preparing dressing.
  • Bring vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over med-low heat; cook until reduced to about 2 Tbsp, 4-6 min.
  • Transfer vinegar to a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 10 min.  When cooled, whisk in lime juice, oil, sugar, fish sauce, chiles, salt and pepper.
  • When ready to serve, combine cucumbers, mint and basil with the dressing.  Let stand 5 min; then retoss and sprinkle with peanuts.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Grilled Cantaloupe and Peach Salad

I love grilled fruit.  Grilling brings out the sweetness and really intensifies the flavors.  You don't have to grill fruit for very long (in fact, too long and they'll get too mushy).  This salad, that I made at my Blooming Glen Farm demo, is a nice mix of flavors and textures.

I used lettuce at the farm since spinach and arugula weren't available and it was great.  But the spinach and arugula add even more variety to the flavors.

GRILLED CANTALOUPE AND PEACH SALAD (adapted from Cooking Light magazine)
Serves 6

1 Tbsp soy sauce
3-4 ripe peaches, pitted
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3 cups baby arugula, about 3 oz
3 cups baby spinach, about 3 oz
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cantaloupe, seeded and cut into 6 wedges
3 Tbsp walnuts, chopped and toasted

  • Preheat grill to medium-high.  Clean and oil the grate.
  • Place peaches, cut-side down, on grill.  Grill for 2-3 min or until starting to get grill marks and flesh is starting to soften.
  • Rub more oil on grill grates and place cantaloupe slices on grill for about 1-2 min per side, or until starting to get grill marks and flesh is starting to soften.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, honey, oil, garlic and salt.
  • Combine arugula, spinach, celery, onion and pepper in a large serving bowl.  Remove melon from rind and dice into bite-sized pieces.  Dice peaches as well.  Toss with greens.  Drizzle with dressing to taste.