Posts Tagged white balsamic vinegar

Braised Pear and Wild Rocket Arugula Salad

Arugula-RocketThis salad borders on the decadent. I mean, the variety of flavors, from sweet to savory, is incredible. Arugula (also known as Rocket) is an amazing green. I’m not one to eat iceberg lettuce anyway. I generally use Boston lettuce, romaine, red leaf or green leaf for my salads…anything but iceberg. And I always add arugula.

My Good Karma partner in crime, Bill, gave me this recipe. This is one of those recipes I received with absolutely no measurements. I laughed when I saw it. So, I played with it a bit and came up with this recipe. This recipe should serve three or more.

Ingredients

3 Asian or Bosque pears (Asian preferred, but sometimes hard to find)

Wild rocket (baby) arugula

Honeyed Chevre goat cheese log

Walnuts or Pecans

1 Sweet Maui or Vidalia onion

White Balsamic vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh-ground black pepper

4 tbsp light brown sugar

4 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

Thinly slice the pears and braise in the butter; add the brown sugar at the end and be sure that the pears are coated. Remove from the stove and set aside.

Add arugula to a salad bowl.

Slice the onion super thin in whole circles. Break apart and scatter over the arugula.

Add generous dollops of the honeyed chevre over the arugula and onions.

Scatter the braised pears and the nuts over the top of the salad.

Prior to serving, add the fresh-ground black pepper, and drizzle olive oil and white balsamic over the top. Toss gently to mix.

 

 

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Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

greek-pasta-salad-orzo-350This is one sweet pasta salad. It is absolutely delicious, and it gets better when you refrigerate it and eat it as leftovers. It’s great for cookouts, for sure. However, I make it all year long as a side dish. There’s nothing like it. It incorporates Kalamata olives, Feta cheese, tomatoes, and dill for starters. You almost cannot go wrong from there. It doesn’t matter when I make it  (and it’s always a bit different when I DO make it) it’s always a favorite of the people I’m feeding at any given time (except the children who will not try anything that might be remotely creative).

Orzo is one of those pastas that I grew up with. My mother and grandmother used it in chicken soup. They also used it when they made us macaroni (which is what we called pasta as kids) and butter, or macaroni and cheese. It’s also used in rice pilaf. It’s just one of those comfort foods for we Italians. And, apparently, for the Greeks as well.

Ingredients

1 lb (16 oz) of Orzo pasta

1.5 cups cucumbers, quartered (I like to use the European “seedless” cukes for this recipe)

1.5 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (Get creative here; they don’t have to be red because the sweet yellow tomatoes are awesome in this pasta salad)

1 cup red onion, chopped (We used to call these Bermuda onions when I was young; maybe some people still do)

1 cup Kalamata olives, halved

1 16-oz packae crumbled Feta cheese (Some recipes call for less, but I say the more the merrier)

4 tbsp dried dill

1 cup julienne sun-dried tomatoes in oil (You can buy them this way)

Greek Dressing (recipe below)

Directions

The first thing you want to do is boil a large pan of water and some salt. Add the Orzo and boil until done. That takes about 12-15 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Don’t be afraid to get your hands in there. Allow the Orzo to drain completely.

Transfer the Orzo to a bowl large enough for you to mix in the ingredients. Throw in the cucumbers, tomatoes, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, dried dill, Feta cheese and Greek dressing. Toss to mix well.

Greek Dressing

This is where the Good Seasons Cruet comes in very handy. I just posted this on the Kitchen Essentials page. If you use this, you cannot go wrong. Trust me.

White Balsamic or Pinot Grigio vinegar

Canola oil

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried lemon thyme

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning (McCormick makes a great product)

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

Fill the cruet with vinegar to the water line (I never use water to cut the vinegar; I just ignore that line). Add the lemon juice, oregano, lemon thyme, lemon pepper seasoning, and salt. Add the canola oil to the “oil” line. Cap the cruet and shake well.

Add it to the pasta salad and mix well.

Refrigerate the pasta salad until it’s ready to be served. There’s a lot of pasta salad here, but no matter. It gets better as it gets older. I’ve made this for weekend cookouts and have eaten it the entire week after until it’s gone.

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Slow Roasted Pork Butt

pork_buttYeah, I know. There are leaner cuts of pork but, frankly, they’re often short on flavor. The slow roasting process helps to get rid of a lot of the fat in the cheaper cuts and they are definitely better tasting. I made this roast a few days ago, and when the pork was sliced there wasn’t much fat at all. Best of all, the kids didn’t complain about what they were eating.

Generally speaking, the roast either comes tied with string or not. I prefer when it is tied. If it isn’t available tied, I tie it myself. You can use bone in or boned. I happened to use boned the last time around.

Again, the measurements on the spices used here aren’t critical. You can certainly adjust to your own taste, but the combination of spices included here is amazing. I highly recommend it.

Cooking the roast at a very high level initially will help to brown the roast and sear in the flavors.

Ingredients

1 3-1/2 to 4 lb. pork butt (bone in or boned)

1 tbsp dried crushed red peppers (if you’re worried about the heat, use rainbow peppercorns here)

1 tbsp minced garlic

whole garlic, roughly cut

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tbsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

Directions

The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 500 degrees. While waiting,  stab the pork butt and insert chunks of garlic. I’m not going to tell you how much you should put in; it’s a personal call. I happen to like garlic.

Then, mix all the rest of the ingredients together to form a paste. Rub the paste over the entire roast: Top sides and bottom. Place the roast in a pan with a rack. Because this will drip while roasting, I added water to the bottom of the pan to keep the smoking down. It also helps keep the roast moist.

Roast the pork but on 500 degrees for the first 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 degrees and roast for an additional 2-1/2 hours.

Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.

 

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Mediterranean Mussels

This is an incredible feast for very little money. Mussels are among the most economical shellfish, and they are delicious. If you pick them up at a supermarket, they are cleaned and debearded. All you need to do is rinse them in cold water prior to cooking (and be sure to discard any that are broken open). If you purchase them from a fish market, cleaning may be a bit more complicated, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

You need Fines Herbs for this recipe. You can buy them in a jar all prepared, or you can make some yourself. The recipe for them follows the main recipe.

Ingredients

2 lbs. Mussels (cleaned and/or rinsed)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 yellow onion (chopped)

1 fresh lemon (seeds removed; cut in quarters)

2 Roma tomatoes (seeds removed and chopped)

8 cups water

1 cup white wine

1 cup clam juice

3 tbsp. fines herbs

3 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)

2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped; for garnish)

Loaf of Ciabatta bread (I like rosemary and olive oil), Italian bread, or garlic bread (you choose)

Directions

Use a nice, big pasta pan for this dish. Add olive oil, garlic and onions to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. No more. The idea here is to add a bit of flavor, but not to overwhelm the flavor of the delicate mussels.

Add the water, salt, fines herbs, clam juice, tomatoes, lemons, and white wine. Heat for a bit, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cleaned mussels. I can’t give you a definitive time here. All you do is cook them until the mussels are opened. Serve in bowls with plenty of broth. That’s what the bread is for.

Great with white wine. If you’re not a white wine drinker, have some red. I’m not a believer in red for meats and red-sauce pastas; white for fish and chicken. You should be drinking what you like. The food police are not welcome on this blog, thank you very much.

I like this dish with an arugula salad. A simple arugula salad, which means just arugula and a simple Italian dressing. I’m going to give you the recipe for the Italian dressing below also.

Spoon the mussels into individual pasta dishes, throwing some chopped parsley on top for garnish. Don’t be shy with the broth. It’s delicious. That’s why there’s bread in the recipe.

Here is the recipe for Fines Herbs.

Fines Herbs

1 tbsp. chopped tarragon

1 tbsp. chopped chervil

1 tbsp. chopped chives

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tbsp. chopped marjoram

That’s it. A lot of recipes out there tell you the marjoram is optional. It isn’t in my book.

Simple Italian Dressing

This is a great dressing. I’m not a fan of heavy olive oil in my dressings. I like the light olive oils that are used for dressings and marinades. If I don’t have that on hand, I use canola oil.

McCormick  makes an awesome Tuscan Seasoning. It’s a mix of black pepper, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, red pepper, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomato, red bell pepper and salt. Trust me. You don’t need to create this yourself. I keep a bottle on hand all the time. It’s one of those must-have things.

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for dressings and marinades; not the one for cooking)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp. Tuscan Seasoning

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Shake it up. It’s ready. If you’re a cheese-o-holic like me, you can put some shaved Parmesan or Asiago on your salad. If not, it’s fine without.

By the way, I love those Good Seasons cruets for dressings. I don’t use the packets, but it’s worth buying the package just to get the cruet. Keeps well in the fridge for the next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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