panzanella

June 29th, 2012 · 11 Comments

Chad has a crazy, crazy food dislike: tomatoes. 

I don’t understand it.  He’s ok with pizza, he’s ok with pasta sauce, but put a sliced tomato on anything?  Yuck.  He literally pulls them to the side, and I pick them off his plate.

Because to me, there’s nothing better than a gorgeous, bright, colorful summer tomato — I could eat nothing else all day.  The only thing that’s even better?  This gorgeous tomato-bread salad, tossed with a little oil, vinegar and some fresh basil.  Beautiful enough for a restaurant, simple enough for a weeknight dinner.  Does it get any better than that? 

Panzanella

INGREDIENTS

2 pints cherry tomatoes, mixed red and yellow, cut in half
4 cups crusty bread (sourdough or french), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes
25 stems of fresh basil, torn into little pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Fleur de sel
Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Toast the bread for about 3 minutes, until just crispy on the outside.  Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.  Serve.

Tags: appetizers · food · salads · side dishes

salad on a stick

May 4th, 2012 · 4 Comments

So, some of you already know, but Chad and I got big news yesterday — we both passed the Texas Bar Exam!  Which is very fortunate, because I’m not sure I could have gone through it a second time.  I’m writing this post about two seconds before we meet up with some friends to celebrate, and mostly I’m just happy that the OMG-the-test-is-tomorrow-and-I-haven’t-studied nightmares will now cease.  Hopefully.

But coincidentally, this recipe has something to do with the bar exam (sort of).  A couple days after it ended, Chad and I headed out to the Rodeo, where I was introduced to the phenomenon of food on sticks in a big way.  Like, every food on earth on a stick. 

Like, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough On a Stick.

And once I was done scarfing that down, I thought of this recipe.  Because salad on a stick doesn’t quite have the same ring as fried chocolate chip cookie dough, but this was still really fun to make.  It’s an easy, healthy appetizer to serve for your family or friends — probably mostly with ingredients you already have in your kitchen!

Salad on a Stick

INGREDIENTS
2 bell peppers, yellow and red, cut into 1″ square pieces
3 large ciabatta rolls, cut into 1″ squares and toasted
24 Pitted kalamata olives
Romaine Lettuce
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
24 wooden skewers

DIRECTIONS

Roast the pieces of bell pepper on a sheet of tin foil at 400 degree for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.

On each skewer, layer pieces of lettuce, pepper, olive, and toasted bread.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.  Serve.

Tags: appetizers · food · salads · side dishes

a true greek salad

January 4th, 2012 · 17 Comments

One thing you may not know about me: I’m half Greek.  That means that growing up, I learned to count to ten in Greek, celebrated a whole separate Easter (seriously!), baked bread with a dime in it, and ate the best baklava on earth, made by my grandmother. 

What it also means: I am extremely picky about Greek food.  Which is too bad, because Greek and Mediterranean dishes tend to be pirated on terrible menus more than just about any other type.  But one of my major pet peeves: when a Greek salad uses lettuce.

Greek salads are about thick, chunky vegetables and fresh, colorful ingredients.  And yet every diner and subpar restaurant I’ve ever been to seems to want to add lettuce to this dish — probably because it’s cheap?  But a real, true Greek salad consists of just a few ingredients, and it’s one of the freshest, most delicious meals you’ll ever eat.

And on that note, I want to introduce you guys to Costa Navarino, a gourmet food line that’s based in one of the most beautiful regions of Greece, and also happens to be run by one of my cousins!  Even better — their products are available at Dean & Deluca.  So you can bring a little Mediterranean sun (and salad) to your cold January day!

And speaking of color, I couldn’t resist breaking out my Noritake Colorwave plates — they’re 15% off on the Noritake website until January 8th!

True Greek Salad

INGREDIENTS:
1 package red or yellow cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 shallot
1/2 jar Costa Navarino olives, in olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use the oil that the olives were packed in if it’s good quality!)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Dice tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2″ wedges.  Dice shallot into 1/4″ pieces.  In large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives. Toss with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese over salad, toss again lightly, and serve.

Tags: appetizers · food · salads · side dishes