Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tomato Basil Brie Panini

This makes for a delicious, quick and easy summer meal with infinite possibilities for variation.  I think Derek doubted whether a cheese and tomato sandwich really qualified as "dinner," but after the first bite, he was convinced.  Since then, panini night has quickly become a weekly tradition.  I've left out amounts on the recipe below because you can easily adjust it for however many sandwiches you are making.  The key to this one is starting with high-quality ingredients - local tomatoes, basil from the garden, and most importantly, delicious crusty bread from a local bakery...
-onion, chopped finely
-garlic, minced
-slices of your favorite crusty bread
-grape tomatoes, halved
-fresh basil, torn
-brie cheese, thinly sliced
-olive oil 
-salt and pepper

->  Saute onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft and translucent.  

Layer onion-garlic mixture with tomatoes, basil, and brie on crusty bread.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Brush outside of bread slices with olive oil as well.  Cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, either over medium heat in a skillet on the stove top, flipping once, or in a panini maker if you have one.  

~*TIP:  Use left-over grilled vegetables like eggplant and summer squash for another delicious alternative.  Also feel free to switch up the cheese you use or add pancetta for extra flavor.  *~

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gimme the beet blue-green apple salad

I can't get enough of fresh salad greens from the garden these days.  I am picking my Forellenschluss, Australian Yellow, Red Oak Leaf, and Flame lettuces as much as they can stand without completely picking them to death. My Ruby Streaks Mustard has bolted, but I still use small amounts of their frisee-esque leaves, despite their growing spicy, bitter taste, and their flowers add a spicy punch of yellow to my salads as well.  In this salad, green apples, blue cheese, and my Grandma's pickled beats top off fresh salad greens mixed with onions and herbs from the garden, all coated in a simple vinaigrette.  
-Several cups of torn salad greens
-Chopped green onion
-Chopped fresh herbs (I used dill, fennel, mint, and cilantro)
-2-3 Tbsp vinaigrette (I used a lemon juice, Dijon, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper mix)
-1/2 green apple, quartered and sliced thinly
-2 Tbsp blue cheese, crumbled
-4-5 small pickled beets

-Toss greens, onions and herbs together and coat with vinaigrette.  Top with apple, blue cheese, and beets.  That's it!

~*TIP:  I didn't have them on hand, but walnuts or pecans would make a great addition to this salad, and pears would be a great apple substitute depending on the season.  *~

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'll-Take-Seconds Cucumber Salads

I am usually a little so-so about cucumber salads and even cucumbers in general.  I have to say, these local cucumbers I've been getting in my produce box have changed my mind about cucumbers entirely!  Cucumbers are in the same family as melons...  but I don't usually think about sweet juicy honeydews when I bite into a dry or tasteless or not-so-crispy one I get in the store.  These fresh, crisp, juicy cucumbers are more reminiscent of their melon cousins, and this makes me tend toward gorging myself on them in the way I might a fresh watermelon in July.  There are a few variations below, but whatever you do with them, you'll want seconds on these salads...  you may not even have room for dinner.  
-1 fresh cucumber, seeded, with alternating strips peeled, and chopped
-1/2 a fresh tomato, chopped
-1 ripe avocado, chopped
-Juice of one lime
-1 Bunch fresh cilantro
-Salt and Cayenne pepper

->  Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado.  Don't worry if the avocado mashes up a bit; it will form a sauce-like consistency.  Add lime juice and cilantro and season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.  That's it!

~*  TIP:  Another favorite variation on this for me is to omit the avocado, and cover the mix of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers with lemon juice, plain yogurt, and handfuls of chopped fresh herbs such as dill, mint, and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!*~