21 July 2017

STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 3

Finally, there is really no cooking here.  You can pull out any leftovers from those other two salads, add these sammies and dip, take a quick look around the mess that your guests left in your house last weekend, and ditch it all for a picnic in the park. Maybe I'll see you there, avoiding eye contact over our beers.



Vegetarian Muffuletta

Serves 4
1 loaf of Italian bread (or something else firm and crusty)
8 oz. roasted red peppers, cut into strips
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives (or your favorite pitted green olive)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 pickled pepperoncini peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for roasting the carrots and cauliflower
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus an extra splash to season the cauliflower
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 shallot, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
Small handful of basil leaves
1/4 pound aged provolone, thinly sliced (leave this out for a vegan sandwich)
Handful of arugula

Add the capers, olives, garlic, pepperoncini peppers, and the 1/2 cup of olive oil to a food processor, and pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Transfer the pulsed ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and add the red wine vinegar, dried oregano, celery seeds, chili flakes, and shallot. Fold all the ingredients together. Some excess oil is OK—it will soak into the bread and make the sandwich delicious. Taste the olive mixture. It should taste strongly acidic, salty, and spicy. Adjust the flavor with more salt or red wine vinegar as necessary. Set the mixture aside.

Slice the bread in half with a serrated knife. If the bread seems too tall, dig out some of the middle of the bread (you can save this to make croutons or thicken soup later). Spread the olive mixture onto both halves of the bread, allowing some of the extra oil to soak into the bread. Starting with the bottom piece of bread, lay down the carrots, followed by the cauliflower. Tear the basil leaves with your hands and place them on top of the cauliflower. Next, add the provolone, followed by the roasted red peppers. Place a handful of arugula onto the top piece of bread. If there is excess oil leftover from your olive mixture, drizzle some of this over the arugula. Close the sandwich and nom nom nom. 




Feta Pistachio Dip

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup shelled pistachios
1 clove garlic
1 bunch of dill
1 teaspoon dried mint or a few sprigs of fresh mint
4 ounces feta
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Get a selection of raw seasonal vegetables for dipping.

Buzz the garlic and pistachio together in a food processor into a rough crumble. Add the dill and mint and pulse until well chopped and amalgamated, add the feta cheese, and pulse. Add the yogurt and pepper and pulse. Drizzle the olive oil in and pulse one more time. Taste for salt; because of the feta, it shouldn’t need any. This dip will hold easily for a day or two in the fridge and should rest for at least 4 hours to let the flavors meld. I actually like it better at room temp for dipping, though. 

14 July 2017

STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 2

This is another salad, made super filling with barley (and yes, you're going to have to cook that), equally portable for picnics, potlucks, and work. I promise this is my last non-cooking recipe that involves cooking in this mini-series.  (Pro tip: you can cook the barley, as well as the lentils from last week's recipe, at any time and freeze for later use.) Also, you could totally serve this at your next otherwise lame backyard BBQ and everyone will love you for not being that person who brought "ambrosia" or uncooked ramen noodles in a bowl.



Grilled Corn and Barley Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1/2 cup dried pearl barley
3 ears of corn (shucked)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1 large tomato
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup basil cut into ribbons
1 bunch of chives, thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil

Boil barley according to package directions, using a large stock pot. Par boil corn for 5-6 minutes with the barley to impart some of the corn flavor directly into the barley.

Remove corn. Brush corn with olive oil and grill on all sides until charred gill marks appear.
Meanwhile, halve all of the tomatoes and prep beans (rinse and drain if using canned, prepare in advance if using dried).

Cut kernels off the corn.  As you cut, collect any of the “milk” that comes from the cutting process, then use the back of the knife to scrape the remaining “milk” from the cleaned cob. 

Next, cut the large tomato in half and grate with a box grater over a dish or wide bowl, discarding the skins, but collecting the juice and pulp. Paste the garlic clove by mincing the garlic, and then adding some salt and rubbing the mixture between your cutting board and the side of your chef’s knife. Add that paste into the tomato mixture. Add a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper to taste, vinegar, and corn milk.  Whisk in olive oil slowly. 

Combine barley, tomatoes, corn, beans and fresh herbs in a large bowl and dress with your tomato vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

07 July 2017

A picnic-ready lentil salad with cheese

It is officially too hot to cook again, but sometimes I get hungry for something other than box wine.  Perhaps you struggle with this, too. Behold, the summer 2017 version of STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 1 (sorry if that seemed like I was shouting):



Lentil Salad with Herbs, Peppers, and Cheese
(adapted from Deborah Madison's Lentil Salad with Mint, Roasted Peppers, and Feta Cheese)

Serves 4 to 6

1 ½ cups small French lentils (Puy or beluga)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8-inch squares
½ small onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8 oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers , cut into ½ inch pieces
2 teaspoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs: parsley, marjoram, cilantro, thyme, basil
Black pepper
Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar to taste
8 ounces feta cheese
Olive oil, for garnish

Rinse the lentils, cover them generously with water, and bring them to a boil with the carrot, onion, bay leaf, garlic, and salt. Simmer them until they are cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. They should be tender, just a little firm, and still hold their shape. Drain the lentils and set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette (see below) and fold it into the warm lentils. Add the mint, herbs, and peppers. Taste, and season with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, if needed. Taste again just before serving and add a little more vinegar to brighten the flavors. Crumble the feta and gently stir it into the lentils.

Garnish with a drizzle some olive oil over the surface.



Lemon Vinaigrette
1 large lemon
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil


Remove two wide strips of peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler, and slice them into narrow slivers (alternately, grate finely with a microplane). Put 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a bowl with the lemon peel, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and salt. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil and taste. Adjust for tartness, adding more lemon juice or oil, whichever is needed.

Alright, so there's actually a little cooking involved, but you can make a big pot of lentils with it's cool in the house and refrigerate this salad for days, carry it with you to work and play, and add variety with accompanying breads, leftover pastas, etc. So, I think it's a worthy investment.