Tomato and Fennel Salad

_DSC6494When I lived in Sheboygan, I was a frequent dinner guest of one of my favorite co-workers.  She made seemingly simple ingredients truly sing, without recipes.  Her pan seared and wine braised chicken thighs come to mind right away and then this amazing salad she always made with fennel, cilantro, and lime- I never ate fennel this way, truly I can’t remember fennel before this salad!  Anyhow, we had some fennel on hand and cilantro and lime, so it was meant to be recreated and brought me back to the kindness showed to me when I was alone and so far from Jason, my friends and my family.  Thank you.  I added cherry tomatoes on top of the original recipe it adds a variety to the crunchy texture of the fennel and look at the colors…

 

Serves 4

1 medium bulb of fennel, trimmed and sliced**

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon fennel fronds, chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

 

Toss fennel, tomatoes and cilantro together in a bowl with the lime juice and olive oil to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, serve cold.

 

** To trim fennel, cut the stalks away from the bulb, reserve enough fronds to add to the salad.  Cut the bulb in half from the top to the bottom, then in half again, same way.  Next take each quarter fennel bulb on its side and slice the point off on a diagonal, this will remove the tough base of the bulb.  Then slice on the bias thinly.

 

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“Marinated” Kale and Green Bean Salad

Veggie side recipes are abundant, but often never tried out- we all have our favorite ways to eat veggies and usually seeing a recipe like this one seems too much work.  But we made this semi marinated, and served it hot because that’s what we wanted with our dinner.  It’s important to know that you can alter recipes to suit YOU.  So here we have not really marinated the Kale but rather sautéed it with the flavors from the recipe, tossed with steamed green beans and parmesan, wa- lah delicious, fresh with a spicy kick veggie side, that can easily be brought to your Thanksgiving table feast!

Marinated Kale and Green Bean Salad

Adadapted from Bon Appetit: If you want to do this the cold way, BA says “the longer the raw kale sits in its lemony vinaigrette, the more tender it will become. If you prefer a crisper salad, let it sit for an hour or two; for a softer texture, chill it for up to 1 day.”

Ingredients

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut lengthwise into 1/2″ strips (about 8 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Ingredient Info

    Tuscan kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, has long, narrow, dark-green bumpy leaves; it’s available at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets.

Preparation

  • Heat a large dutch oven skillet over medium heat with Olive oil.  Add kale lemon juice, honey, and red pepper flakes and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the kale is bright green and slightly tender remove from heat and put in a large serving bowl.
  • Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain beans.
  • Add beans to kale and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with grated cheese.

Summer Corn Salad

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At long last, warm long summer days have equated to summer vegetables popping up at the farmer’s market!  Knowing we wanted a fresh salad for a side to serve with dinner, we hurriedly picked out the best summer staples- corn on the cob, basil and zucchini.  We just barely made it through the tents when the wind kicked up and sky turned black, another summer favorite- summer storms that fly in as quickly as they go…  Not to worry, this salad  will certainly brighten any stormy summer day- it’s our very own concoction so please comment and try it out, we’d love to hear what you think!

Ingredients

4 ears of corn, husks removed

1 medium yellow zucchini, diced

1 medium green zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 serano, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon salt ( or to taste)

 

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except for the corn.  Cook your corn by rapidly boiling for 8-10 minutes in a large pot, then remove the kernels when the corn is slightly cooled but still warm.  Make sure the bottom of the cob is flat. If it has a round tip, slice it off. Hold the cob upright on the board. Run a large sharp knife down the side of the cob cutting off the kernels. Cut as close to the cob as possible. Rotate the cob in your hand and continue to cut all four sides of kernels off.  Toss the corn kernels in to your bowl and adjust salt/ pepper seasoning to taste.

Asparagus Salad

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After a long hot workout, a power packed salad is the way to recharge, refuel and fill up.  Searching through the fridge for some extras to toss with mixed greens, we found asparagus spears and homemade pita crisps ( a few left from a separate Bobby Flay recipe we tried out last week), hard-boiled eggs ( great to keep on hand if you buy extra eggs), and cherry tomatoes.  This is how to make it magical:

Serves 1

2 cups mixed greens, loose packed

7 cherry tomatoes

6 asparagus spears, trimmed

1- 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

Fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated fresh if you have it

salt and pepper

1/2 pita, cut in to bite size pieces

1 hard-boiled egg

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a rimmed baking pan, toss asparagus spears in a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  On a separate baking sheet, toss pita pieces with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the asparagus from the oven, give the pita chips a toss but continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until slightly browned.  Let pitas cool ( and turn your oven off- this heat! whew)  Meanwhile, squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle nutmeg over your cooked asparagus, toss together, then transfer to a cutting board and chip in to 1″ or bite sized pieces.  Then in your favorite salad bowl, I recommend one with some sides, add your mixed greens, then add the tomatoes, chopped hard-boiled egg, asparagus pieces, and pita pieces, drizzle with more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Warm Corn + Green Bean and Quinoa Salad

The idea that a recipe is not only sustaining our bodies, but also nourishes it and is so good for you makes us happy here at Urban Kitchen.  So when we find one with ingredients we know we love, have on hand and help us use local in season produce- well we just had to make it.  This recipe was altered a bit of course as usual to suit what we have in our pantry and to bulk it up as a warm salad dinner to fill up on.  Quinoa has been a long time favorite of ours + we always keep it stocked for quick and easy meals ( cooks in 15 minutes!)- you can use red or black varieties to punch up the color contrast of this dish.  We had the most GLORIOUS corn ever from Bob’s corn in Coloma Wisconsin from our trip- the call it ” honey dipped corn” it is naturally super sweet and amazing.  Green beans are plentiful right now, and even though it’s a pain to trim a pound of green beans- they really make this salad crunch, you can do it while the quinoa cooks!  So please make this and feel amazing while you eat it, after you eat it and when you eat it as lunch the next day!  
Warm Corn + Green Bean and Quinoa Salad
adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Dressing
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Light vinegar, like white balsamic or Champagne
2 tsp. Honey
1 Clove Garlic
1/4 cup Basil Leaves
Pinch of Salt + Pepper

1 Cup Quinoa 

4 ears of corn, hulled, boiled and chopped from cob
1 lb. Green Beans, ends trimmed
3 Scallions/Green Onions
1/2 Cup Macadamias, toasted and skins removed, roughly chopped
1. In a blender or food processor, whirl all of the dressing ingredients together. Taste for salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge.
2. Bring 2 Cups water to a boil and add the quinoa, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. Meanwhile boil your corn and in another pot steam the green beans until just barely softened. Drain well. Add the drained green beans and chopped corn to the quinoa. Thinly slice the scallions and add them, and half of the chopped macadamias to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Finish the salad with a few grinds of fresh black pepper and the rest of the macadamias. Serve warm or chill in the fridge. The leftovers hold up great.


Left overs salad and homemade ranch dressing with croutons

To be quite honest, it’s been very hot and our electric bill is insane.  So, we’ve been eating salads- much to Jason’s chagrin.  So to make it filling and hearty we tossed in what we had in the fridge with some springy boston lettuce chopped.  Our list of stuff included roasted chicken, avocado, green onion, cherry tomatoes, homemade croutons (recipe here), and a light version of homemade ranch dressing- recipe follows!

Ranch Dressing

adapted from Ellie Krieger

Serves 6

Ingredients
1/3 cup nonfat Greek style yogurt
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the strained or Greek-style yogurt and the rest of the ingredients. Add salt, to taste.  Whisk until smooth and delicious

Basil Pesto Potato Salad

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
Bring a dish to pass!  The idea of taking along the perfect tasty dish to a party to share with other people can be daunting.  I didn’t want to bring just any old potato salad.  We have TONS of bright green basil growing thick and fast at home… enter: the search for an interesting Pesto Potato Salad… this one I came by on my favorite food blog- Smitten Kitchen.  It adds green beans ( also in season!) along with green onion and champagne vinegar- unique and a great idea, plus it keeps the salad this uniform bright green palette!  I altered the recipe to suit what I found at the store ( 3 lb bag of potatoes not 4) and added my own little spin on homemade pesto.  All I can say is this: we didn’t bring home any leftovers…
What is your favorite thing about potato salad? What is your favorite summer produce? 

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 10

3 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered twice
12 ounces green beans, cut into one-inch segments
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
3 cups loose packed basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or a white balsamic
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Add in toasted almonds and grated cheese, pulse till smooth.  Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste.
I made this the night before serving, stored in the refrigerator.  It was delightful!