A Bean Salad, A Potato Salad and A Watermelon Salsa

Summer is in full swing! The weather has been quite spectacular thus far. Days have been in the low 80’s and there hasn’t been that many ridiculously oppressive weather days. You know the ones I am talking about… the ones with the three dreaded H’s – Hazy, Hot & Humid. Fingers crossed it continues like this and August doesn’t rear its ugly head with horrific weather. Nonetheless, pleasant weather or not, it is the summer and one thing is for sure, heavy meals are just not what you want to eat. I know I personally don’t like to eat anything too heavy during the summer months. So today, I am brining you two salads and a salsa that I recently made for my 4th of July BBQ that got rave reviews.

Up first a Greek Chickpea Salad. The most time consuming part of this salad was chopping Persian cucumbers and halving cherry tomatoes. Hence, it was a cinch. What was really nice about this salad is that the leftovers kept well for a few days. There are some salads that just turn into a soggy or sour mess, but, not this once. That could be because the vinaigrette is freshly made as opposed to using something from a bottle.

Next, a Cucumber Potato Salad. It might sound like an odd combination and what might sound even more odd is that soy sauce is added to the mayonnaise, but, thanks to the addition of freshly squeezed lemon & lime juice that soy flavor is really toned down and the two veggies together really complement each other. The red potatoes have a nice creamy texture to them and the cucumbers give the salad a nice crunch.

And finally… A Watermelon Salsa. Yes, a watermelon salsa. My friends more or less had a bewildered or apprehensive look on their face when I told them what the salsa was made of, but, once they tried it their eyes widened in delight. It was supposed to have mango, but, since I didn’t have any on hand I opted to add in an extra cup of diced watermelon. Also, I made this salsa the day before to make sure all of the flavors – cilantro, red onion, basil, lime, etc. – really blended together and then on the day of, before serving it, I transferred it to another bowl and drained some of the juices out of it so it wouldn’t be a watery mess.

So, what salads have you been enjoying or wanting to try this summer?

 

Greek Chickpea Salad

Basic Vinaigrette:

1/4 red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk the vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, oregano. 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of the pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing is emulsified and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use and any leftovers.

Salad:

2 15 oz. cans of Chickpeas – drained and rinsed

2 cups Persian cucumber, chopped

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with 2/3 cup of the basic vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and refrigerate until serving.

 

Cucumber Potato Salad

Ingredients:

2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. lemon zest plus 1 tbsp. fresh juice

1/2 tsp. lime zest plus 1 tbsp. fresh juice

1/2 cup chopped chives

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/3 English cucumber, sliced into half moons

1 tbsp. finely diced scallions

black pepper

Directions:

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with about 1 inch of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and spread the potatoes on a baking sheet and allow them to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl mix together the mayonnaise, soy sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, lime zest and lime juice, stir together. Add black pepper and the remaining salt. Add the cool potatoes along with the chives, celery, cucumber and shallots. Stir gently and refrigerate until serving, at least 20 minutes.

Recipe from Dale Talde

 

Watermelon Salsa

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp. lime zest (about 1 lime)

1/4 fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)

1 tablespoon sugar

Freshly ground pepper

3 cups seeded and finely diced watermelon*

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 mango, peeled and diced*

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minces

1 small red onion, finely chopped

8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Tortilla chips for serving

*Instead of using a mango I used 4 cups of watermelon

Directions:

Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Add the watermelon, cucumber, mango, jalapeno, onion and basil and toss gently. Chill the salsa until ready to serve. If you find the salsa is too watery before serving, drain some of the juices out. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe from Trisha Yearwood

 

2 Salads & A Salsa

With summer in full swing you are probably heading to quite a few BBQ’s or hosting a few yourself. Today I would like to share with you two salads and a salsa recipe that are super easy & super quick to make for any BBQ you may be hosting or invited to or for those days that you just want to make something quick and easy for dinner that doesn’t involve much effort or thought. With all of these recipes I suggest making them a few hours in advance and refrigerating them so all of the flavors can marinate together.

Green Bean – Cucumber Salad

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 English cucumber, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add green beans. Boil the green beans until they are tender – approximated 7 minutes – and then drain and rinse under cold water.

2.  In a large bowl toss the green beans along with the remaining ingredients and then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Black Bean – Corn Salad

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Ingredients:

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup canned corn

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

Juice of 3 limes

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Whisk together the olive oil, honey and lime juice in a measuring cup.

2.  In a large bowl add the black beans, corn, pepper, scallions and cilantro. Add the olive oil mixture to the black bean mixture and toss all the ingredients together. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the dice avocado. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup diced white onion

1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in juice*

2 tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

*Alternatively can use 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings.

Directions:

1. Soak the onion in cold water for 15 minutes then drain.

2. Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium heat and lightly oil the pan (you could also grill the pineapple on a grill.) Grill the pineapple rings until marked, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and chop.

3. Combine the pineapple, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, ginger and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and season with salt then toss. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa also tastes great over salmon and grilled chicken.

A Slow Cooker Hit And Half Miss

The cold days of winter call for warm and hearty soups (or stews) to help keep you feeling warm and toasty to beat the winter chill. In a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine I came across one such soup that had the added bonus of being made in a slow cooker. A kitchen item I do enjoy using but don’t use often enough.

This stew – a Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew  – was a cinch to make and was ready in about four hours. I began by adding white beans, chopped onions, carrots & celery, garlic, bay leaves and chicken broth to my slow cooker and cooking it on high heat for three and a half hours. I then added sausage meatballs and let them cook in the soup for about twenty-five minutes. Finally, I added in the spinach for the final ten minutes.

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Final verdict… The stew was delicious. I’ll definitely be it making again. But, I think next time I’ll cook the meatballs a little before adding them to the soup.

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Since I had my slow cooker out from obscurity I figured I would finally try making a dessert in it – a Triple Chocolate Brownie recipe I came across from Martha Stewart.

To begin I whisked together my dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

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To get started on my wet ingredients I melted butter and bittersweet chocolate together.

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After giving it a few good stirs I added in sugar and eggs.

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I then folded it into the dry mixture along with walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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I then poured it into my slow cooker, which I sprayed with cooking spray and lined the bottom of with parchment paper.

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I cooked it on low for four hours, the final half hour uncovered.

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After letting it cool in the insert for two hours I flipped out the brownies to sadly discover that the edges were quite burnt and definitely not edible.

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All was not lost though… After some clever cutting I was left with six, albeit irregularly shaped, brownies that were quite tasty and definitely not lacking in chocolate flavor.

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Baking in a slow cooker… definitely not my first choice for delicious desserts, but, I wouldn’t rule out trying it again, just not brownies though!

Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew

Ingredients

1 pound dried large white beans, such as great northern, rinsed and picked through

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 sprigs fresh thyme*

1 bay leaf**

Parmesan rind (optional)*

1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, shaped into 1/2-inch meatballs

1 bunch spinach, trimmed

Juice of 1/2 lemon*

Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

In a large slow cooker, stir together the beans, chicken broth, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using. Cover and cook on high heat until the beans are nearly tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Place the sausage meatballs on top of the beans. Cover; cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Stir in the spinach, then cover and let stand until the spinach wilts, 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice; season. Serve with crusty bread.

*I omitted these ingredients when I made my soup

**I added in two bay leaves as opposed to just one

Slow-Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)

Directions

Lightly coat a 5-quart slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted. Add sugar; stir to combine. Stir in eggs. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and chocolate chips and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Transfer to slow cooker and smooth top.

Cover and cook on low, 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 minutes. Remove insert from slow cooker and run a knife around edge to loosen brownies. Let cool completely in insert on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Turn out onto a work surface and cut into 14 brownies.