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Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

Beans are a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates (the good carbs that give energy to brain and muscles) and dietary fiber.  Also, beans have the “good fat” your body needs and a low glycemic index, meaning they have the ability to give you energy over a sustained period of time by slowly releasing its nutrients into your blood stream. In Latin American and Caribbean dinner tables, beans are always present.  Most of the time they are stewed or refried.  I really like my version of three bean salad which is easy, healthy and full of flavor.   Also, beans are inexpensive and easy to store for long periods of time (canned or dry). I use organic canned beans when I find them. Serve this salad with your favorite lettuce, baby greens or over toasted bread as quick snack like a “bruschetta tre fagioli”.  They always taste better the next day when the flavors settle! Be mindful I add olive oil and not extra-virgin olive oil. My aunt Evamari makes a wicked three bean salad similar to this one.  Keeps in the fridge for about a week.

Enjoy!

Three Bean Salad

Ingredients

1 15.5 ounce canned black beans

1 15.5 ounce canned pink beans

1 15.5 ounce canned chickpeas

4 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro

4 tbsp finely chopped red onion

2 fresh garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper

2 tsp fine sea salt

pinch ground cumin

pinch smoked sweet paprika

2 cups of olive oil

pepper to taste

Procedure

1.  Open cans and drain beans in colander.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and refrigerate.  Serve with green salad, alone or over toasted bread.

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The word “orzo” in italian means “barley”. Orzo pasta (pasta shaped like rice or grain) is very versatile. It can be boiled, baked, used as a filler in casseroles or when making stuffed peppers.  Also, great in soups. The best orzo is made of durum semolina flour and is very popular in Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Countries.  I like this version of orzo pasta because it is very savory and not very heavy. Add as much spinach as you can and by all means… it has to be fresh!  Serve alone or as a side dish.  Orzo with Spinach is also great as a cold salad.  If you are going to serve it as a salad, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before serving so that it looks shiny and fresh.

Enjoy!

Orzo with Spinach

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oi

3 ounces of thinly sliced pancetta chopped

1/2 cup of yellow or white onions cubed

1/3 cup red bell pepper finely cubed

2 fresh garlic cloves minced

6 cups of fresh spinach (lightly packed)

2 tbsp cold butter

2 tbsp dry white wine

2 tsp fine sea salt

pepper to taste

drizzle of white truffle oil

1 pound of orzo

fresh parmesan cheese

Procedure


1.  In a deep large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil in medium.  Add pancetta and saute for about 5 minutes until pieces begin to cook. You don’t want pancetta to be crispy or burned. Stir occasionally.

2.  Add onions and red peppers and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and butter and continue to saute for about 1 minute.  Add white wine to deglaze pan. Immediately add spinach and stir until it has wilted.

3.  Meanwhile, in a med sauce pan, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt and cook orzo according to package instructions.  Once cooked, drain and add to spinach mixture and saute for a few minutes.  Add drizzle of white truffle oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Add freshly grated parmesan cheese once you serve.

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Ceasar Salad is near the top of my list of favorite lunch or side dish alternatives.  I admit I am very picky about the way the dressing should taste so the solution to this problem is to make my own dressing.  Simply put, some restaurants have very bad commercial Ceasar Salad Dressings!  Others are heavenly! Some are too creamy others too liquid, too strong or too mild and the ones with excess of anchovy fillets…. well, I am not a big fan.

Ceasar Salad’s creation is attributed to Italian restauranteur Ceasar Cardini in his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico on 4th of July 1924.  The story goes that he ran out of supplies and improvised with the ingredients at hand.  The original recipe for the dressing includes eggs, olive oil, worcestershire sauce (which in part is made with anchovies), fresh garlic cloves and lemons but no anchovies, they were later added by “recipe revisionists”.  The salad first appeared in the continental USA in the menu of a restaurant in Los Angeles, California in 1946 and the Cardini family registered a trademark in 1948.  I remember when as a young girl in early 1980’s, I went on a cruise with my parents (the Galileo Galilei) through the Mediterranean, and for dinner the waiters would make the dressing tableside which added to the whole experience and drama of ordering Ceasar Salad.  Originally, the leaves of the romaine lettuce were served whole in order to eat with your hands by grabbing through the stem and take a bite of the crisp lettuce covered with the dressing, croutons and shaved parmesan cheese.  I coarsely chop the lettuce or you can tear it with your bare hands.  Try making your own croutons with bread that is a few days old, it makes a big difference.  Make sure the eggs you use are clean and to coddle them (cook them partially in hot water) before you use. Also, you may serve with grilled chicken strips, churrasco (skirt steak) or grilled shrimp to make it more hearty.  I created my recipe by watching friends and family make their versions, reading cook books and magazines, and tasting Ceasar Salad Dressing in many restaurants.  Here is my version of Ceasar Salad Dressing.

Enjoy!

Ceasar Salad Dressing

Ingredients

2 eggs (cooked in very hot water but not boiling, for 1 minute)

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp anchovy paste (optional)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 fresh garlic cloves (remove germ)

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

pepper to taste

Procedure

1.  Carefully place eggs in hot water (just below boiling point) for 1 minute.  Take out of hot water and put under running cold water to stop cooking.  Take out of shell scraping inside with small spoon.

2.  In a blender or with a hand blender, beat eggs for about 30 seconds.  Add anchovy paste, garlic cloves (remove germ for better taste and make sure they are fresh), worcestershire sauce, salt, mustard, pepper and lemon juice. Pulse until mixed.

3.  With the machine on, start to pour olive oil in a steady stream. The result will be a creamy dressing. Store in a sealed dressing container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.  Serve over romaine lettuce, croutons, chopped cilantro and top with shaved or grated fresh parmesan cheese.

Important note: There is potential risk of infection by salmonella bacteria occasionally found in raw egg from cracked or improperly washed eggshells.

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Once again, you can see the colors of the italian flag in this dish. Insalata Caprese is one of my all time favorite salads.  I like to serve it over a bed of fresh spinach.  Refreshing and light!

The word mozzarella comes from the italian verb “mozzare” which means to cut.  Mozzarella di bufala is made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, a bovine which has it origins in Asia but is now found in southern Europe, South America, Northern Africa and India among others.  Mozzarella di bufala is a bit saltier and softer than regular cow’s milk mozzarella.  The best quality is considered by many Mozzarella di Bufala di Campania made in the geographical areas of Lazio (near Rome) and Campania (Naples, Salerno, Paestum, Pompeii, including Capri) Regions which became protected by the European Union under Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC like in wines) in the 1990’s. It literally melts in your mouth!  In short, mozzarella is made by heating the milk (to separate the whey form the curds), resting, spinning and pulling the cheese curds to shape into balls. The cheese maker will knead the curds like bread by hand, pull-out and cut the mozzarella balls once the cheese curds have reached the desired consistency. This is a semisoft cheese and has a high moisture content. That is why it is sold in specialty food shops in brine and vacuum sealed.  On the other hand, good quality mozzarella di bufala is made in many other countries in Europe and the Americas.

Insalata Caprese (salad made in the style of Capri) can also be called Tricolore Salad which also includes avocado.  If you want to splurge (it is more expensive than regular mozzarella) and the best flavor and quality, use mozzarella di bufala when you make homemade pizza. Use it as a topping or make Insalata Caprese Pizza.  It is amazing!

Buon Appetito!

Insalata Caprese

about 6 servings

Ingredients

2   7 ounce mozzarella di bufala balls

2-3 roma tomatoes

2 tbsp fresh basil coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

pepper to taste

drizzle of good quality aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

Procedure



1.  Slice mozzarella and tomatoes.  In a plate, alternate placing one slice of tomato over each slice of mozzarella.

2.  In a small bowl, place the chopped basil with olive oil, salt and pepper and stir with a spoon.

3.  Spoon mixture over mozzarella and tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

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