When It's Hot... Jump into a Lettuce Boat

I don't know where you live but it's a scorcher right about now in NY.   We've been waiting for summer to really arrive and now it's officially a swamp.  Speaking of weather, I've been under it for some time now. So before this heat wave landed upon us (even though it's summer) I made a ginormous batch of soup.  I have been eating it for days. And since it was a ginormous quantity, I figured I would be enjoying it again and again as well as serving it to my hubby and sister.  But with the thermometer outside soaring damn near human body temp, I don't care how much soup I have left over. Frigging 95 degrees screams for something cooler.

I had some ideas. Well, I always have ideas.  Main one.  Use up the egads amount of tomatoes and basil I bought last week.  It's a fact that I am very easily enticed at the farmer's market by produce's beauty.  But in all fairness,  I bought them in anticipation of hosting guests for a Pizza Sunday Party. Those plans were foiled.  Which left me with more tomatoes and basil than two people can comfortably eat unless forced by some game show stunt. Since last week's basil-ed potatoes went over so well, I made another batch of that sauce and quickly got to figuring out the rest.

The abundance. Don't be fooled. That is only half the tomatoes and 1/3 of the basil I STILL HAVE!! (Plus some went into that ginormous soup. And don't forget to look at that beautiful blue bowl by  Miller Pottery

The abundance. Don't be fooled. That is only half the tomatoes and 1/3 of the basil I STILL HAVE!! (Plus some went into that ginormous soup. And don't forget to look at that beautiful blue bowl by Miller Pottery

I had romaine lettuce.  Perfect as boats to fill with good shit. (The heat made me curse.)
I had zucchini and yellow squash.  
I had hearts of palm and chick peas. Ever present in my pantry.
I had thoughts. (sometimes good; other times, well...)

Zucchini and Yellow Squash cubed.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash cubed.

Even though it was hot out, the zucchini and squash needed to be cooked in my opinion.  Reason: I just really wasn't feeling their raw essence for this dish.  Since it was cleaning day and the house was gleaming, no way was I going to make a mess of the stove.  In the oven went the squashes.  And a few tomatoes whole, too.  I roasted them at 400 degrees until nicely caramelized.

Oiled, salted and peppered for the oven roasting.

Oiled, salted and peppered for the oven roasting.

Everything else, cut up and ready.  I sliced up some more tomatoes raw.  One, because I had a ton, and two because I'm a fan of duality.  Warm tomatoes, cool tomatoes.

Once the  veggies were out of the oven, the only chore that remained; Assembly.  I don't need to hold your hand for this part, do I?  Take your leaf and stuff it with what you love. A little of this and little of that and drizzle some of that banging basil sauce a top.  (Chop up some leftover chicken, or toss in some tuna. Be creative.)

Assembly line. Fill your boats!

Assembly line. Fill your boats!

Light but satisfying.  Cool yet with just enough warmth to make it feel like dinner and not a snack.  Crap, I think I yanked this one out from nowhere, and hit it out of the park.  (The heat made me say that part, too.)  Jill and JC loved them. Yeah, I won't be eating soup.  I got me some leftover lettuce boats to my rescue.

When the weather is too hot to think.  Just jump in a boat and bring along whatever's in your kitchen. 

 

Chick Pea Salad with Warm Potatoes - A Hot/Cold Salad Saga

I am a huge fan of beans.  With the wide variety of legumes and the infinite ways to cook them, the recipes ideas are endless.  They each have a different flavor, texture and purpose.  I love when they play together, and I love when they play with others.  In this episode  of "How the Bean Turns", the chick pea and the potato meet in a warm vs. cold encounter.

As you will often hear me say... "I made this dish many years ago because these were items I had at the time." Since starting this blog I have been rummaging through notebooks to see what cryptic notes of recipes past I may have left.  I came upon a scrap of paper with a simple description of this salad with no quantity specifics.  Which means this was early on when I realized I needed to start writing my ideas down but didn't think the amounts were important. (And I still don't, but I do realize that, like for my sister, Jill, amounts are essential.)

A funny thing about my recipe ideas is that since I made them up on the fly, some of them never got repeated. Mainly because I don't specifically go out and buy those items in order to make it again. Add to that no notes, tons of other ideas and I have a memory like a sieve.  I see food items that interest me and just come up with something else.  However, this blog has given me a wonderful platform to revive recipes that I thankfully wrote down in some fashion or another. I have to give total credit to JuanCarlos, who years ago bought me a notebook and said, "Start writing them down."  Hail King JuanCarlos for his brilliant foresight. 

So here goes another warm & cold salad for all occasions.  Which is ideal for this time of year when the nights have a little chill but the days are warm. 

onions-chopped2.jpg

Ingredients

1 29 oz. can Garbanzo/Chick Peas
3 c potatoes, cut in 1" pieces
1/2 yellow pepper, cut into mince like pieces
2 scallion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c shallot, minced
1/3 c red onion, diced
2 c grape tomatoes, cut in half (if you can find the red, yellow or orange versions buy different colors.  It adds to the overall festive feel of the salad. No worries if you can't, just use all red.)
4-5 stalks Hearts of Palm, optional

Dressing

2 T fresh lime juice
1/4 c sherry vinegar
2/3 c Olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c each Basil, mint, chopped
Whisk together in the order listed above.

Instructions

Boil the potatoes until they are slightly undercooked.   Then remove, drain and set aside.  Using the same pot, sauté the shallots, red onion and the white parts of the scallion until soft.  Then add the potatoes and yellow pepper cooking until all are nicely caramelized.  Add the garlic and 1 c of grape tomatoes and cook until warm.

Meanwhile, in the serving bowl, add the chick peas, the green parts of scallion and the remaining 1 c uncooked grape tomatoes (and Hearts of Palm if you so choose).  Toss with the half of the dressing, then mix in the warm potato mixture and stir in the remainder of the dressing.  Serve immediately.

If you recall from an earlier post entitled Salad: Hot & Cold, I am an advocate of mixing temperatures in salads. Although this one is more warm and room temp, it does give a nod to that thought.  This salad is great for a big party, a Sunday brunch plate, a Saturday afternoon lunch, or now as the weather turns warmer, for a BBQ.  It's a good hearty dish that really plays well with so many main courses.  I made this for a dinner party for a family of friends, three of which were young teenagers.  I got thumbs up from all, which put a smile on their faces and mine. Warm up your smile, with another salad saga of Hot & Cold.  

Post Note: I recently made this again when our nephew, John, came by for dinner.  Here's how it played nicely with all our other offerings.

Simple green salad with carrots/red onion, sautéed Haricot Vert, sautéed Cremini mushrooms, Shrimp & Monkfish in a saffron broth and our star potato/chick pea salad.

Simple green salad with carrots/red onion, sautéed Haricot Vert, sautéed Cremini mushrooms, Shrimp & Monkfish in a saffron broth and our star potato/chick pea salad.

Corn Salad - Fresh & Roasted

Oh, I can hear the sigh from my viewers now saying "another salad".  But as I believe I have mentioned before that salad can be made from just about anything. That's because the actual definition of salad is:
A dish consisting of small pieces of food, which may be mixed with a sauce or dressing. They are typically served cold. Salads can incorporate a variety of foods including vegetables, fruits, cheese, cooked meat, eggs and grains.

Now that is a versatile beauty!! Which is why I love SALAD, and why I make salad out of anything. And why I will continue to post interesting combinations to create salads, hopefully inspiring you to combine small bits, dress them up and give them a name followed by 'salad'.

Now this may sound super corny, but during the summer months I wake up on Saturdays a bit giddy. This is wholly due to the fact that our town hosts a farmer's market.  I get my large wicker basket that I bought in Spain, many moons ago and off I got in search of something interesting.  I suppose the idea of shopping for what's fresh reminds me of those days I lived in Spain when we used to shop on a daily basis. It was the genesis of my love and preference for buying from local markets rather than going to a supermarket. Wherever we go, we try to visit the local market just to get a feel for the food, culture and beauty.  The markets in Europe are a bit different as
they literally have everything from meat to fish to veggies and nuts.  Yet whether in a foreign country or right here in the US, if there's a farmer's market, I make a bee line. Call me old fashioned, it's ok.  I already know it.  

Here's a little sampling of various markets.

Fruits and vegetables in Barcelona's  La Bocaqueria .

Fruits and vegetables in Barcelona's La Bocaqueria.

JuanCarlos in his glory in front of a large variety of dried mushrooms in Barcelona.

JuanCarlos in his glory in front of a large variety of dried mushrooms in Barcelona.

JC wanted to buy an abundance of fish, but trying to figure out how to store it, cook it in our hotel in Barcelona!

JC wanted to buy an abundance of fish, but trying to figure out how to store it, cook it in our hotel in Barcelona!

Gorgeous and freshly plucked choices at the market in Marin County, CA

Gorgeous and freshly plucked choices at the market in Marin County, CA

Freshly baked artisan breads/ Marin  County, CA

Freshly baked artisan breads/ Marin  County, CA

Abundance in Florence, Italy

Abundance in Florence, Italy

Your choice of fruit in Florence, Italy

Your choice of fruit in Florence, Italy

Everything from locally made honey, breads, cheese, etc in the heart of Rome, Italy

Everything from locally made honey, breads, cheese, etc in the heart of Rome, Italy

Dry cured meats in a small but fully packed local market Rome, Italy.

Dry cured meats in a small but fully packed local market Rome, Italy.

So with that back story, and back from my trip down memory lane, the motivation for this one stemmed from spotting fresh corn at the farmer's market, and with it being in season I knew it needed to be the star.  I picked up a few other supporting characters and home I went.

Corn, fennel, farm fresh tomatoes (those will be making an appearance on a tart).  Other items are at the bottom of my "Spanish wicker basket".

Corn, fennel, farm fresh tomatoes (those will be making an appearance on a tart).  Other items are at the bottom of my "Spanish wicker basket".

INGREDIENTS  

Makes approx. 8 cups

6 fresh corn on the cob
3 medium white potatoes
1 English or 4 Persian cucumbers
1/4 c fennel, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 (28 oz) can chick peas, drained

Dressing
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c olive oil
salt, pepper
red pepper flakes, pinch
4-5 tbsp fresh mint, julienned

The leading lady, Corn, and some of her supporting cast members.

The leading lady, Corn, and some of her supporting cast members.

Instructions

Cut the potatoes into bite size cubes (as shown above) and cook them in salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain and set aside. Lightly oil 3 of the corn cobs and grill them on all sides.

I use a grill  pan right on the stove top.  You don't need to fire up the grill, but if it so strikes you to do so, by all means.

I use a grill  pan right on the stove top.  You don't need to fire up the grill, but if it so strikes you to do so, by all means.

In a large bowl, squeeze the juices of the lemon and limes plus the zest.  Add salt, pepper and pinch of red pepper flakes and the mint. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk together.  (If you think there might be too much dressing, pour some into a jar to reserve and add as needed.)  Add the potatoes and chick peas to the bowl.
This allows them to absorb the dressing and get yummy while you are prepping the other ingredients.

Meanwhile, cut the kernels off the remaining 3 cobs.  Slice the scallions, celery, fennel and cut the cucumber into chunks. Mince the red onion and toss all these in a bowl.  

Once the cobs are grilled, still warm but cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off of those and add to the salad.
Stir it all up and see if you need to add more dressing or adjust salt, pepper to taste.   

Nicely roasted with a little char to give a deep earthly flavor

Nicely roasted with a little char to give a deep earthly flavor

Warm, roasted kernels waiting to join the party.

Warm, roasted kernels waiting to join the party.

Of course, this salad is at it's best when corn is in season.  Right NOW.  So hurry to your farmer's market to pick up some corn and serve up it 2 ways in 1 salad: Fresh & Roasted.  Plus the farmer's market is a wonderful place to be inspired by all the gorgeous produce waiting to be made into something from your imagination.   As with many of my salads, they pair nicely with grilled meats, chicken or fish.  I brought this salad to party and it fit in right along an array of BBQ hamburgers, hot dogs and wings. Plus, I was thrilled when several guests asked for the recipe.
My answer; it will be my next blog post.  Voilá, as promised.  

Before I brought it to the party, I took a little taste for myself.  You always need to taste check your creations!!

Before I brought it to the party, I took a little taste for myself.  You always need to taste check your creations!!

(Note: if you don't feel like grilling the corn, then don't.  This recipe is just as delicious if you use all the corn fresh off the cob.  Remember my recipes are just guides. Add, subtract, mix and match as you see fit.  That is the beauty of the something from nothing cooking.  You use what you have, in the amounts that you have and harmonize all the other ingredients to your liking.) 

Spicy Chick Pea Crunch

I love crunch.  I'm always looking for a snack that delivers that kind of texture.  I also like to have this type of offering on a party table such as spiced nuts or these Spicy Chick Peas.  It's an easy item to to have at the ready when guests just arrive as you serve up cocktails, as well as placing around the party setting or on a cheese platter.  It's the kind of appetizer that people can pick up a handful and pop in their mouths as they go.

Abundant charcuterie platter with cheeses, dry cured meats, Marcona almonds, dried apricots and of course, Spicy Chick Peas.

Abundant charcuterie platter with cheeses, dry cured meats, Marcona almonds, dried apricots and of course, Spicy Chick Peas.

There are many versions of roasted chick peas but I like them a bit spicy.   I experimented with a blend of spices that creates enough heat to make you notice but not so fiery that you can't or won't want more.

Here's the combo I ultimately came up with and love.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 can of Chick Peas (29 oz), rinsed and drained
1 t course sea salt
1 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1 t tumeric
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 T olive oil  

INSTRUCTIONS

Toss all above ingredients together and place on a roasting pan.  Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until the chick peas have dried out.

Turn oven off and let sit for another 15 minutes, or take out and leave in the pan for 1/2 hour.  (This step is important because if you put them in a closed jar right away they will get soggy.  But they can still be saved by putting them back in a low oven temp to dry out. How do I know this?  I made the mistake and figured out a solve.)  

Crispy, fiery nuggets of crunch heaven

Crispy, fiery nuggets of crunch heaven

These are great served warm but are just as yummy cool.  These pair perfecting with red wine or a gin or vodka cocktail.  I have even taken some to the office as a snack, minus the vodka cocktail (although, there are some days when I wish I had one!).  Enjoy the Crunch... And the Heat.