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Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

cukesalad1

For a refreshing summer salad, combine cucumber, avocado, and mint with a little olive oil and lime juice.

We’ve been holding our church services at Spontaneous Celebrations, a community center in Jamaica Plain. I was standing outside after the service in the bright sunshine with Rebecca and Jenny when I noticed there were huge bunches of mint growing between the sidewalk and the bottom of the stairs.

Mint can take over a garden like an invasive weed, so I had no qualms about helping myself to a bunch of mint. It’s wonderful to not only have a mint in a vase to perfume the air but also to keep it handy to chop into salads, or add to a glass of refreshing ice water or lemonade.

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salad

As a city dweller, I don’t have the luxury of stepping outside onto the cool night grass to fire up the backyard grill and fill the air with the smell of smoky burgers, marinated chicken breasts, and melt-in-your-mouth salmon fillets.

So when the urge strikes for a bit of warm salmon to toss into a salad or serve alongside tender-crisp asparagus I turn toward this technique for oven-roasted salmon perfected by America’s Test Kitchen. It is hassle-free and provides some consolation to the fact that it is illegal to grill off my deck three stories up. (Apartment and condo dwellers across Boston break this rule all the time but my condo association happens to be very, very vigilant. My next-door neighbors moved in not knowing this rule and days after they had set up their brand-new grill they were harassed for months until they finally found a buyer for it.)

salmon

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salad2

A few weeks ago I received a cookbook to review: “The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook” by Matt Kadey. With summer temperatures in Boston this year especially sultry for days and days on end, tonight seemed like a perfect time to test out one of the recipes.

Flipping through breakfast, starters and sides, main dishes, and desserts, Peach Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette caught my eye. Fresh peaches, prosciutto, mozzarella, mint, dried cherries, and almonds drizzled with a chocolate dressing? What’s not to like? And it was considered a main dish. Chocolate for dinner, hooray!

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Couscous butternut sage salad

My colleagues in the newsroom tease me about my lunches. Not in a bad way. They like to peer over my cubby wall and look at my salad during lunchtime while I eat at my desk.

“Look!” they will exclaim. “She is using a real plate!”

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Mango Summer Salad

Do you ever have one of those days where everything just comes together without even trying? It has something to do with fruit being ripe and in season. Like perfect mangoes.

I had a perfect mango encounter last Friday.

I was going to meet up with some friends for a “dp” (dinner party) in the neighborhood. I texted my friend Nate to see when and where.

Me: Dp tonight? Heading home now.

Nate: Sure. But I’m also up for going to free Fridays at the museum of fine art and eating here (I’m here now — it’s great)

So that’s how I ended up at the Chihuly: Through the looking glass exhibit at the MFA.

Just like that. I wandered over there and then wandered in, because it was free and all.

Woah.

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I had an epiphany at the Boston Local Food Festival on Saturday. I was standing in line at a farm stand, arms overflowing with vegetables, bright sunshine bathing rows of colorful vegetables in white light, and listening to the jangle of banjos from a Cajun band playing on a nearby stage when I realized: Why can’t buying produce always feel like this?

Going to the grocery store, bracing against its uncomfortable chill, wandering aimlessly in aisle after aisle of fabulously packaged goods competing for my attention as Top 40 music wails of love gone wrong – simply fills me with dread.

Would I consider buying kale in that kind of environment? No. Would I consider it in a sunbathed pile while a smiling farmer stands nearby? YES. (more…)

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I was strolling through the Farmer’s Market at Copley Square on Friday and I heard a woman say, “This is heavenly.” She’s right. Something about baskets of peaches, tangles of beans, and bright sunflowers softens the heart of a city and brings things down to human scale in a forest of skyscrapers and historic buildings. Rows of homemade cookies, bags of bread, and jars of honey have the power to soothe even as sirens wail and traffic rushes by just a few feet away.

And then there’s the corn. Lots and lots of corn.

You barely need to do anything to food that is this fresh, just take take it home and strip it down.

I was heading to a potluck later that evening and I knew exactly what I wanted to bring: A corn and black bean salad, using raw, sweet corn. I came across this recipe at a Fourth of July party last year.

“It’s so easy,” the hostess kept telling me. A guest at the party insisted that the secret was a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing. If you don’t have that handy, it’s pretty easy to season this any way you like, using a combination of dried herbs (basil, oregano), salt (onion, garlic, celery), and a little sugar to draw the sweetness of the corn and fruit. This recipe uses mangoes but I bet you could use peaches, which are just coming into season. (more…)

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I got home from a family wedding over the weekend and discovered a bit of red poking out from beneath my tomato plant. Ripe tomatoes!

These cherry tomatoes look a bit more normal than what grew on my balcony window boxes last year. Along with my basil plant that survived the winter I knew I had the makings for a quick caprese salad to accompany fresh corn on the cob and a teriyaki salmon patty (courtesy of my corner store).

Everyone should make fresh caprese salad with summer’s red jewels as often as possible. It is fast, easy, and pretty to look at. Usually, one layers slices of full-sized tomatoes with overlapping rounds of fresh mozerrella cheese and basil leaves. But I found I could make do with the petite offerings from my balcony just fine.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Delicious. Hooray for summer! So what if the light is beginning to slip away earlier each evening. The tomato plant isn’t finished just yet. Thank goodness.

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Man is it HOT out. Heat wave hits the East Coast.

See my temperature barometer?

The 80 degree F. tag is floating close to the bottom. That means it is hotter than 80 degrees in my apartment even though the a/c has been blasting all day.

Turning on any electrical appliance to cook is just not an option. A watermelon salad is a perfect refreshment for a heat wave. Keep it in mind for your next backyard cookout.

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I just got back from a Thanksgiving “warm-up” meal, which was a delicious evening full of good food and good people. There is nothing like a family of friends to be grateful with before giving thanks with the nation. A casual meal of bounty also helps to temper holiday psychosis (admit it, you know what I am talking about).

Originally I said I would bring corn muffins in the shape of ears of corn simply because I somehow acquired a cast iron muffin pan in said shape. But in a burst of culinary confidence I dug out a Martha Stewart “Living” magazine from November 2000 and settled on Wild Rice and Fruit Salad.

Wild Rice and Fruit Salad

“On a day when warm side dishes abound, salads provide a welcome contrast,” purrs the recipe introduction. “This one has many merits: the hearty, nutty flavor of wild rice, the freshness of fruit, and a tart dressing…. It can be served chilled or at room temperature and can even be dressed in advance, since the rice will stand up to a long soak without losing its pleasant chewiness.”

Wild and nutty. Sounds like Thanksgiving to me. Other than having to hunt for wild rice in two different stores and then paying much, much more than I ever imagined I would for rice, it was worth it. (more…)

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