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Posts Tagged ‘salad recipes’

Pom_5136

 

Caesar Salads are ubiquitous – you can find them on menus ranging from the local diner – with or without grilled chicken or salmon – to the most haute of restaurants.  I happened to love a great Caesar – just had one of the bests at Zuni Café in San Francisco.  However, sometimes it’s fun to do a different take on a classic and here is a salad that sorta mimics a Caesar but….. And it features one of my most favorite winter fruits – a juicy tart pomegranate.

About ½ loaf peasant bread, cut into chunks
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Sea salt and pepper
¼ pound slab bacon, cut into cubes
¼ pound feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 small lemon
Seeds of 1 small pomegranate
1 head romaine lettuce, cut, crosswise, into thick ribbons
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line a baking sheet with sides with a silicone baking sheet.  Set aside.
Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic in a small bowl, stirring to blend completely.  Pour the garlic oil over the bread cubes, add salt and pepper, and toss to lightly coat each piece.
Pour the seasoned bread cubes onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading out in an even layer.  Transfer to the preheated oven and bake, tossing occasionally, for about 12 minutes or until nicely toasted.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the croutons are toasting, place the bacon into a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Fry, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until well browned and crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a double layer of paper towel to drain.
Combine the cheese with the yogurt in a small mixing bowl.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with the lemon juice.  Season with pepper and stir with a fork to blend well, leaving some of the feta crumbles.
Place the lettuce in a large salad bowl.  Add the dressing along with the croutons and half of the pomegranate seeds, tossing to blend well.  Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds along with the bacon lardons over the top and then garnish with a good sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese.  Serve immediately before the lettuce loses its crispness.

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panzanella

 

I think almost every culture makes a tasty dish using its stale bread to keep from wasting it.  Once upon a time, this was for the economy of it, but eventually the recipes became part of the everyday menu.   Originally most breads staled very quickly – say by the end of the day – unlike modern commercial breads that seem to stay “fresh” for weeks. I believe that a piece of dry bread was the original “teether” for babies and maybe it still is in other parts of the world (I think most American moms simply buy a package of zwieback.).
The quickest and simplest way to use those stale slices is to turn them into crumbs for use in meatballs or meatloaf or toasted on simple pasta dishes.  My mom saved every type of old bread in a big bag – brown paper before resealable plastic  – to make stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey or Sunday roast chicken or to create rich, buttery bread puddings.  Often the stale or dry bread is soaked to soften, as it is for French toast in milk and eggs or with a vinaigrette as for the Italian salad panzanella (using rustic loaves) or the Middle Eastern salad Fatoush (pita).
With the tomato season at its height right now, I turned some drying ciabatta into lightly toasted cubes to create a panzanella-style salad.  I made a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh oregano.  I tossed the bread cubes in a bit of the vinaigrette to soften slightly; then, I added chunks of tomato and slivers of sweet onion and basil to the soften bread.  I drizzled with more vinaigrette and tossed the whole mess together.  This was dinner along with a couple of grilled garlic sausages.  Perfection.

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I have always loved fruit – all kinds of it – except for persimmons.  In the Midwest, my aunts used to make persimmon pudding and, although I love what I call “nursery desserts” I never liked this homey pudding.  I don’t know why because it really doesn’t have a defined fruit taste, it mostly tastes of the spices used to flavor it.  However, I do love the way persimmons look and, come fall, I always buy some to decorate the table.  Then, I feel guilty about wasting them so, from time to time, I will add a few slices to salads before they get too soft.  Here is a spinach-persimmon salad that I dressed with a warm vinaigrette made with the fat garnered from crisping some diced pancetta, the pancetta, moscato vinegar, a little orange zest, a touch of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  The Fuyu persimmon and the pancetta added just the right touch of crispness to the soft spinach.  But, you know what, I still don’t much like persimmon.

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