Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Watermelon Salad Three Ways

Watermelon - especially good, sweet, flavorful local watermelon - is pretty great straight up.  But it also lends itself well to sweet-savory combinations, especially with sour or salty counterpoint ingredients.  You can easily freestyle with the general concept, but here are some ideas to get you going.  Quantities are basically according to your  taste and the amount of watermelon you start with; add seasonings in small amounts until you are happy with the flavor.

In all cases, start with cubed watermelon.

1. The classic: chopped fresh mint, lime juice, touch of salt

2. Diced tomato, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice or cider vinegar, salt and pepper

3. Crumbled feta, freshly ground black pepper.  Add diced tomato or cucumber if desired.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rosemary and Garlic Grilled Vegetable Medley

Yet another delicious way to grill some of summer's bounty.  I served this with risotto.

2 medium-large summer squashes or zucchinis, cut up
3 medium eggplants, cut up
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut up
2 large shallots or 1 medium red onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Place the vegetables in a large bowl.  Drizzle generously with olive oil and toss to coat.  Combine the garlic, rosemary, and vinegar in a small bowl or jar, then pour over the vegetables and stir until everything is well coated.  If you have time, let them marinate, stirring occasionally, for up to an hour or two.

Grill the vegetables in a grill basket over medium heat, stirring every 5-8 minutes or so, until done to your liking.  This will take 25-30 minutes, depending on how large or small the pieces are.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Risotto with Pork, Fennel, and Peaches

This came together as a way to use up a couple of leftover Fennel-Garlic Pork Chops, and it was a raging success.  I think you could use other types of leftover pork as well (roast, loin, etc) as long as the seasonings are compatible.

Pork
Olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large fennel bulb, chopped (about 2-3 cups)
2-3 cups diced peaches (peeled if desired; not necessary)
2-3 cups diced or thinly sliced cooked pork chops or similar
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
splash of water
Salt and pepper to taste

Risotto
Olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

You can prepare the pork and the risotto simultaneously if you like.  Otherwise, make the risotto first.


To prepare the pork mixture: heat a little olive oil in a wide bottomed pan such as a braising pan or Dutch oven.  Add the garlic and fennel and saute over medium to medium-high heat for several minutes, until the fennel is somewhat soft.  Add the peaches and cooked sliced pork along with the red wine vinegar and a small splash of water.  Stir to combine, then reduce heat and let the liquid turn into a bit of sauce.

To prepare the risotto: Heat a little olive oil in the pressure cooker with the lid off, then add the shallot. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the rice. Saute, stirring frequently, for another 2-3 minutes, until the rice turns translucent. Add all of the stock, cover, lock, and turn to high pressure setting. Bring to pressure, then reduce heat and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and release pressure. Stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper.


Serve the pork mixture over mounds of risotto.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tomato Peach Pizza with Feta

This was a spur of the moment inspiration and it really worked.  The sweet peaches, tangy tomatoes, and salty feta all complement each other beautifully.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 large slicing tomato, in 1/4-inch slices
1 medium peach, in 1/8-1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 oz. crumbled feta
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil.  Top with the mozzarella.

Spread the tomato slices over the pizza without overlapping - in fact, leave a little space between them.  Spread the peach slice amongst the tomato slices.  Sprinkle with red onion and feta, then top with a bit of black pepper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peaches and Cream

There's a reason peaches and cream are a classic pairing.  You can keep it utterly simple with sliced peaches drizzled with local heavy cream, or you can dress it up just a tiny bit as described below.

6 ripe peaches, diced
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (divided)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Toss the peaches in a bowl with 1 Tbsp maple syrup and set aside (refrigerate if not serving immediately).

Add the remaining maple syrup and vanilla extract to the cream and whip it to desired consistency.  For this dessert I like it on the softer side, so that it's notably thickened but doesn't quite reach the soft peaks stage.  You can do it even softer than that if you like.

Serve the peaches into bowls and top generously with the whipped cream.

Serves 4-6.

Grilled Fennel with Lemon and Parsley

Another recipe for fennel lovers.  Lemon juice adds a pleasant tang as you bite into it.

2 medium fennel bulbs, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper

2-3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Combine the oil and lemon juice, then brush it onto the fennel.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill the fennel over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning once, until done to your liking (I like it tender but still with a little crunch).  Sprinkle with parsley at the table.

Serves about 4.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Balsamic and Garlic Mixed Grilled Vegetables

When you're swimming in produce at this point in the summer, grilling up a bunch of mixed cut vegetables is a great way to use a lot at once.  Go ahead and make more than you'll eat at one meal.  The leftovers are good warm or cold and can be used in a variety of ways.  Try them with hummus in a pita, or tossed with pasta and herbs, or as a pizza topping, among other options.

Good veggies for this mix include eggplant, sweet peppers, zucchini, and summer squash.  You can through in some shallots or onions for a mild kick, and mushrooms are an excellent, deeply flavorful addition.  Grilling time will vary depending on how large or small you cut the vegetables - smaller pieces cook faster.  Squash or zucchini take a bit longer than the others, so you may want to cut them a little smaller.  Note that you'll need a grill basket for this.

8 cups mixed cut summer vegetables
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the vegetables in a large bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl or jar, then pour over the vegetables and stir until everything is well coated.  If you have time, let them marinate, stirring occasionally, for up to an hour or two.

Grill the vegetables in a grill basket over medium heat, stirring every 5-8 minutes or so, until done to your liking.  This will take 25-30 minutes, depending on how large or small the pieces are.

Serves 6-8.