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Spring has Sprung: Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

Spring has Sprung: Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

Edamame & Chickpea Fritters with shrimp in the background

You say fritters? I say falafel? Whatever you do….do NOT call the whole thing off. Something about these little beauties just screams …”summer, she’s a-coming”. For me it’s the serious dose of herbs and lemon juice, my besties for brightening flavor. In this batch of chickpea fritters, you will find an easy-to-prep side dish that is the perfect date for all kinds of “grilled stuff”, as the sign at my favorite beach café in Anguilla advertises. (Uncle Ernie’s in Shoal Bay, if you are in the area! They also advertise fluffy towels and buoyant rafts. Clearly somebody has a thesaurus and knows how to use it.)

Edamame & Chickpea Fritters with chili dipping sauce and arugula and zucchini salad

Long before the world had Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, my family had a bit of a weekly ritual that I think was aimed at giving Mom a light night. Normally the preparer of a real square with veggies AND salad AND meat AND potatoes, this night was more of a toaster oven extravaganza…straight from the freezer. Jimmy Dean sausage patties and apple fritters (which were pancake-shaped). She sometimes rustled up a batch of sausage gravy to go with.  Not remotely our normal dining fare, but kind of a treat. That was my first experience with fritters. These bear little resemblance, unless you count shape, and in that case, they are exactly the same.

As I debate whether to call these fritters or pancakes, I lean toward fritter despite the absence of a vat of 375o oil (definitely not my style). But, they simply don’t have the flour/milk/egg batter that qualifies them as a pancake. But fear not! While ingredients-wise they are close cousins to the falafel, they are a clear fan-favorite over that deep-fried golf ball. A quick pan-sauté crisps up the tops and bottoms, leaving them moist and flavorful and begging for a serious dollop of Chili Dipping Sauce.

Chickpea Fritters with Chili Dipping Sauce

In the next post, I will share a grilled spicy shrimp that appears in some of these photos. But in the meantime, these chickpea fritters also make a great base for breakfast, topped with a couple sunny-side up eggs.  And don’t forget the arugula and squash salad.  It pairs well with all of the above.  

Summer squash with spice blend mixed with arugula and topped with manchego

Pulsing the chickpea fritter ingredients in a food processor work bowl

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close up of chickpea and edamame fritters with chili dipping sauce

Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 18 patties, serves 6 1x


These veggie fritters are chock-full of chickpeas, edamame and a serious handful of herbs. Serve with something right off the grill or top with eggs sunny-side up!



Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup edamame, thawed
  • 4 scallions, cut in 1” pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons panko
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Vegetable oil for sautéing

Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Make the fritters:

Place the chickpeas, edamame, scallions and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor. Process, pulsing 10-12 times until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the panko, flour, cumin, salt, baking soda, and pepper flakes.

Add the lemon juice, egg white, parsley and cilantro to the chickpea mixture. Stir in the dry mixture until well combined.  

Form patties, using 1 Tablespoon measure.

Add enough vegetable oil to a sauté pan to cover the bottom and heat. Cook the patties over medium heat, in batches, turning after 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Transfer patties to a sheet pan and hold in a warm oven.

Make the chili dipping sauce:

Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.

Dollop atop warm edamame and chickpea fritters.


The chili dipping sauce makes 1 cup and will keep, refrigerated and covered, for several weeks (not that you will have any left over!)

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

over head shot of white plate with salt and pepper shrimp, edamame fritters with chipotle aioli and zucchini and arugula salad

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Mujadara: Good Enough to Give Up Your Birthright?

Mujadara: Good Enough to Give Up Your Birthright?

Spiced Lentils and Rice - Mujadara with mint, pita, lemons and yogurt dip

Muja what? I can hear you from here. Mujadara! You can spell it many ways and you can cook it even more. This dish – a combo of lentils and rice, sassed up with so many wintery spices that you will want it for your BFF – seems a lovely way to break bread and bow our heads in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. #GreaterAs1 The culinary roots of mujadara date back to Genesis, when Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a meal of lentils. While the version I share here with yogurt and caramelized shallots is more Lebanese, the dish is also popular with Syrian and Egyptian Jews who historically tend to eat it twice during the week: a simple (hot) meal for Thursday before a more elaborate Shabbat, and then again cold on the Sabbath. Mujadara often serves as a Lenten dish for Arab Christians.

Warm Spices: bowls of fennel, coriander, cinnamon stick, pepper corns and sea salt

Some versions of mujadara let the caramelized onions do all the talking. But given it’s the coldest dreariest time of year, I have added all the wonderful pungent spices that you might find in other Middle-Eastern dishes: coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and plenty of pepper. Trust me; they will brighten your mood. When I can, in a dish like this, I use whole spices (not peppercorns, but cumin and coriander, yes!) Since they will be simmering in liquid for a while, there is sufficient time to soften them up. As usual, they get a few minutes in oil before the liquid to toast them and to allow the spices to release their fragrance. Rarely will I add any spice directly to liquid. I can always taste that raw spice in the back of my throat if I was in too big of a hurry to take that one measly moment that I  needed to toast it. For shame.

You may also notice that I have added a healthy dose of greens to this version of mujadara. Because I can. And because it’s winter and because they are good for you and because they add a hit of color. I know it seems like a lot, but I have made it with half that and prefer it with a generous portion. Up to you. (More, more, more, more.)

Sheet pan of Crispy Shallots with sea salt

And a note on the crispy shallots: they really are caramelized not crispy here. If you want to make crispy shallots – which would be a great texture contrast – you really need to use a lot more oil and fry them. That’s not really the way I roll, but I do love the taste and texture. If you are leaning that way, you should make sure the thinly sliced shallots are patted dry and then toss them in a 50/50 combo of flour and cornmeal. Heat several cups of oil to about 300oF and drop the shallots in, frying til crispy, draining on paper towels.  I used to do something similar for a lentil salad at New World Grill and while we didn’t have a deep fryer – the horror – let’s just say our technique was not far off. I. Just. Can’t. (But by all means!)

overhead shot of bowls filled with spices: coriander, fennel, peppercorn, salt, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves

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Overhead shot of mujadara with pita, a turtle shaped bowl with yogurt dip, lemon and fresh mint


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 - 8 1x


Mujadara is a warm and wonderful combo of lentils and rice, sassed up with so many wintery spices that you will want it for your BFF.




  • 1 1/4 cup brown or green lentils
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 shallots, very thinly sliced by hand or in a food processor
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 5-ounce packages (about 8 cups) mixed greens, like kale, chard, and spinach, chopped

Zesty Yogurt Dip

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander, toasted and coarsely cracked
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped mint


Make the Mujadara:

Par-cook the lentils by simmering in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water for 10 minutes.  Drain any remaining liquid and reserve the lentils.

Divide the olive oil, placing 2 Tablespoons in a large skillet and heat over medium. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and cook until well browned and crispy, about 30 minutes. As the shallots brown, remove and transfer to a paper towel and drain. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. If making this ahead, store wrapped in paper towel in an airtight container, once cooled.

Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a stockpot with a tight-fitting lid and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the stockpot, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon stick, allspice, black pepper, and cayenne; sauté for one minute until fragrant.

Add 2 cups water to the pot, along with the bay leaf, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the reserved lentils. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the lentils and rice are almost tender, about 15 minutes more.

Rinse the greens and distribute across the top of the rice and lentil mixture, checking to see if the rice/lentils require any more water. Cover and cook 5 minutes more, until rice and lentils are tender and greens are wilted. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir to combine greens.

Make the Zesty Yogurt Dip:

Combine the yogurt, coriander, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. To serve, add the lemon zest and chopped mint.

Makes 1 cup.

Serve topped with crispy shallots and Zesty Yogurt Dip, along with warm pita.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Middle-Eastern

Overhead shot of mujadara with pita, a turtle shaped bowl with yogurt dip, lemon and fresh mint

This makes a great vegetarian entrée, but I took it to a friend’s who just happened to have a big ol’ pot of curried chicken thighs, and it was a match made in heaven. #damndelicious.

Curried Chicken Thighs and Mujadara on a plate with lemon, yogurt sauce and pita

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Julia Child, New York’s Bravest and Shishito Peppers: Live from New York

Julia Child, New York’s Bravest and Shishito Peppers: Live from New York

Melissa\'s Fresh Shishitos on a wooden surface

In this impending season of eating too much – and loving every minute of it – here’s an appetizer that is a real crowd pleaser and won’t bust the gut. Roasted shishito peppers! Super-fast to prep, full of flavor with just an occasional touch of heat, shishito peppers have an “I-want-more-ish” quality to them and are pop-able like edamame, though they have the added benefit of being just as good at room temp.

Shishitos are a Japanese pepper, long and slim and a bit twisty, with a tip that allegedly looks like a lion’s head (shishi in Japanese). A bit citrusy and herbal, they are pretty close to the Spanish Padron pepper. Cooking them until blistered brings a smokiness that makes this a veritable party in your mouth.

Shishito on the Grill

Not long ago shishitos would have been impossible to source outside a fancy greenmarket, but now they are widely available at the grocery, thanks to Melissa’s, the largest distributor of specialty produce in the country. I love the unique items that Melissa’s carries, ranging from tiny coconuts (coquitos) to dried Bhut Jolokia chiles. And I have a special place in my heart for Melissa’s owner Sharon Hernandez who once blessed me with a gift of culinary history – one of Julia Child’s beloved sandwich presses – the very one that almost took me down.

Melissa\'s Produce logo


During the run of the Rosie O’Donnell show, I styled cooking segments with Julia Child on many occasions. This particular day Julia was scheduled to appear live and demonstrate a lovely recipe for a toasted Croque Monsieur sandwich. Rosie, who built her shtick on an alleged pedestrian palate, was making her spin on the famous French fancy. Wonder Bread in place of Pepperidge Farm Toasting White, Bologna in lieu of Black Forest Ham. No Gruyere – just Velveeta. And the plan was that Rosie’s sandwich would not be precious and pressed, but 1-foot high. Bigger is funnier, or so was the show’s mantra.

As the foodstylist for the show, I had assembled all the groceries and props, but awaited Julia’s arrival to make the “beauty” sandwich. She was hauling her prized shell-shaped sandwich iron from her Cambridge home, and with that I could create the final dish. She arrived on schedule, and I made several test sandwiches for her approval. Routine as always, we were good to go.

As the show counted down to its live cold open, I fired up the burner and started browning some butter. Through an epic fail on the part of the special effects department (heads rolled that day) and completely unbeknownst to me, the smoke detector in my make-shift kitchen (better known as a hallway) at historic 30 Rock had not been disabled as was our norm. Being a landmark building, working with open flames and having an unventilated kitchen was strictly forbidden. That had never stopped us before.

No sooner did I turn on the flame than NY’s Bravest stormed the building, throwing my pan against the wall and dragging off with the burners. Silent in the hallway, the alarm was blaring on set with a full studio audience. Mere minutes until the show went live… or would they have to throw to rerun? With just seconds to spare, the alarm was silenced, the audience calmed, and the call was made to continue with a live show. And NYFD was interrogating me as an enemy of State. Well, it wasn’t that drastic, but they did take away my flame.

I found myself with few options. I had minutes, not hours; I had no burners or sauté pans. So, by hand, I smashed the cold bread into the iron to shape it shell-like. I hauled out a Preval paint sprayer and mixed up a combo of bitters and browning agent and lightly spray painted/“toasted” the bread. I dipped the cheese in the Propmaster’s hot tea to melt it. It wasn’t half bad. And, yes, it was the full extent of my equipment and tricks.

And then SHE sauntered from her dressing room, oblivious to the surrounding chaos, and passed final judgment on my creation. “Dear girl, it’s awfully pale.” She had no clue – her dressing room, like my hall, had no blaring sirens!! But she kept walking. And the show went on. And it was just another day in live television.

Julia Child in her kitchen with her wall of tools and Katy Keck\'s sandwich child once belonged to Julia

A few years later, long after Julia went to the big Panini Press in the sky, four sandwich irons came up at a culinary auction. Heavy hitters in the biz got into a bidding frenzy and I was left in the dust. My friend Gerry told me I was out of my league: “That’s some tall cotton, girl.” But not long after, thanks to Melissa’s and Sharon’s generosity that shell-shaped sandwich iron appeared on my doorstep. It is mine, all mine. It’s hanging on my wall, just like Julia used to hang it…well, minus the hospital green pegboard with blue magic marker outlines drawn by her husband Paul, indicating the one and only place each gadget was to be stored. I pull it down every once in a while, but mainly it’s retired out of respect to the woman who made it look so easy and laughed all the while.

Flipping Peppers on a hot grill

Blistered Shishito Peppers

Preheat oven to 500oF or prepare a hot grill.

Toss the peppers with olive oil, lightly to coat, and spread on a sheet pan if roasting.

Roast or grill for about 5 or 6 minutes until blistered.

Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Serves 4.

It’s #NationalPepperMonth – you know what to do!

Roasted Shishito Peppers in a wooden bowl

This post contains affiliate links.  For more of my must-have faves, check out my shop.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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My Big Fat Greek Salad

My Big Fat Greek Salad

Quinoa Greek Salad in a blue bowl with feta, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions and parsley

I created this salad earlier this summer – in part because it is so tasty (of course), and in part because it is a starch that is hearty and filling without being potato salad. Yawn.  Plus that whole mayo aversion thing I got going.  It made its first appearance at the Burger Pot Lucky.  And ever since, I have been getting requests for the recipe.  One of the great things about adding grains to any salad is their ability to stretch.  The ingredients normally found in a Greek salad are all primo, which is to say pricey.  The addition of quinoa gives you bang for the buck.

Red Quinoa in a measuring cup, spilling onto a board with fresh mint

If you aren’t familiar with quinoa, get to know it.  It’s kind of a miracle food: it comes in several colors including black, white and red, cooks in 10-15 minutes, is high in protein, fiber, and folate, is gluten-free, and is a decent source of iron, zinc and magnesium.  First cultivated in the Andes (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador) some 4000 years ago (with non-domesticated sightings dating back more than 7000 years), Incans considered quinoa the “mother of all grains” and held it sacred, which caused the Spanish colonists to consider it pagan and led them to forbid it.  But, quinoa is finally having its day – the United Nations General Assembly gave quinoa its own year – 2013 the International Year of Quinoa – to celebrate the Incan ability to preserve this ancient tradition and live in harmony with nature.  Hallelujah!  It was the hope of the UN that quinoa would be a major player in attaining MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and be instrumental in maintaining SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) by providing food security, nutrition and aiding in poverty eradication.  And while you are getting to know quinoa, get to know the UN and its work on food security.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen: I know I can only ask you to pit olives so many times in one summer (looking at you panzanella), so here I am telling you to pick up a jar of an olive relish or tapenade or bruschetta topping – grab a product that has done the heavy lifting for you – and make that the base of your dressing.  I’m all about short cuts in cooking when possible.  Trader Joe’s has a green olive tapenade that I really like and it makes a super tasty green olive vinaigrette, but check your condiment section at the grocery and see what you have available.  If you can’t find something olive based, then try a pepper relish or whatever kind of bruschetta or crostini topping your joint offers.

My Big Fat Greek Salad

Quinoa Greek Salad in a blue bowl with feta, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions and parsley

Green Olive Vinaigrette:

  • 1 cup green olive tapenade (I like Trader Joe’s and use the whole 10-ounce jar.  But you can also use any kind of tapenade or bruschetta spread, or just use 1 cup chopped oil-cured green or black olives.  Please! No California black olives in water!!!!)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper or favorite pepper blend (lemon pepper would be amazing)
  • Zest of two lemons

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.

Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container.

Makes 2 cups.  (This salad will use about 1/3 of this Vinaigrette recipe.)

Prepping the Ingredients for the Greek Salad with Quinoa: quinoa, scallions, feta, garbanzo, cucumbers, tomatoes

Greek Salad:

  • 1 cup raw quinoa (red or white)
  • 1 16-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ seedless English cucumber, cut in ½” dice
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces feta, cubed
  • ¼ cup each: chopped parsley, mint, dill and cilantro

Rinse and drain the quinoa, then add to a pot with tight-fitting lid along with 2 cups water or stock.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool.

When cool, add garbanzos, cucumbers, scallions, tomatoes and feta.

Dress the salad with the green olive vinaigrette, using about 1/3 of it or more, as needed.   Refrigerate until ready to serve, then add chopped herbs and check seasonings. I like to finish it off with my beloved Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. This dish can easily be made a day or so ahead, but add herbs and check seasonings and acidity at serving time.

Makes about 1 ½ quarts.

Burger and a Salad - a Greek Salad with Quinoa on a blue plate with fresh mint

This post contains affiliate links.  For more of my must-have faves, check out my shop.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Rustic Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad: Best-Ever Bread Salad with Peak of the Season Tomatoes

Rustic Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad: Best-Ever Bread Salad with Peak of the Season Tomatoes

Rustic Bread Salad in a square white bowl with olives, caper berries, bread, scallions and tomatoes

This time of year when the tomatoes are hanging ripe and juicy, heavy on the vine I am often reminded of two lively ladies from London whom I met styling Panzanella Bread Salad at the Today Show for their River Café Cookbook.  Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers set up shop in the Hammersmith section of London along Thames Wharf in the late 80s. It was a stylish and very popular place (still is) and a launching pad for the new generation of star chefs, Jamie Oliver and April Bloomfield, among them.  But despite its iconic status and reputation for exclusivity, the restaurant is most famous for serving the kind of familiar food you might eat in an Italian home.  Simple, rustic and full of flavor.  But don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity.  It takes a lot of work to look that simple.  The recipes in that first book were extremely demanding and there is some chance that I resented all those details, if ever so slightly.  I had to squeeze and sieve tomatoes by hand to get cups and cups of tomato juice.  I had to make A LOT of dishes and each seemed to have endless lists of both ingredients and steps.  But I did get what they were doing. They had an immense respect for ingredients and exerted what some called a “moral pressure” to be precise.  I like to think I am a bit more of realist than they, and I always point the way toward short cuts when possible.  But then again, the Queen hasn’t awarded me with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  Yet.

Sourdough bread with garlic head and tin of olive oil

Panzanella – a Tuscan bread salad which incorporates day-old bread – is best when tomatoes are at their peak.  N.O.W. Authentic bread salads do not toast bread, but rather rely on stale bread.  The traditional panzanella is made with a bread that stales quickly on its own, having been made without salt, a tradition that dates back to the days when salt was heavily taxed and therefore used only for essentials like curing meat and preserving milk (cheese).  Bread made without salt will dry out quickly – hence the abundance of Tuscan recipes using stale bread, many of which Ruth and Rose served at River Café: bread soups like ribollita, pappa al Pomodoro or acquacotta.  These recipes use this very stale bread, soak it in liquid, and then crumble it into the dish.   In our modern American lifestyle, we’re less likely to have stale bread laying around, so I stale it up here by rubbing with garlic, brushing with olive oil and putting the slices on the grill (or under the broiler), then hand tearing and leaving the cubes out to stale a bit more.

Salted Anchovies straight from the tin

Another precise ingredient Ruth and Rose call for in this recipe is salt-packed anchovies. I know you are already moving toward delete and curling your lip. Stop it. Right now!  I promise there are other options, but let me make a brief case for the lowly anchovy, starting by pointing out that I think I know why you are not a fan. In the US, we are exposed to tiny tins of little hairy fish often slapped atop pizzas. Why? Exactly! Why? They are hairy, oily and full of little bones.  On the other end of the slimy fish spectrum (trademark pending) are salt-packed anchovies, bearing little resemblance.  They are big enough to pry open with a thumbnail and easily lift out the bones.  And the salt has wicked away the nasty fishy oils that we don’t so much like.  The rich and unctuous saltiness amplifies other flavors and provides an umami (the fifth taste after sweet, salty, sour, bitter) that is impossible to recreate with salt alone.  #depthofflavor  You won’t have a clue there are fish in this, but you will wonder how tomato juice got this damn tasty.   If you don’t want to take the trouble sourcing them (Trouble? Really? Salt-Packed Anchovies are in my shop and available at amazon prime!), go ahead and use the hairy fellas in the little tin.  Just cover them in kosher salt and set aside for 20 minutes.  That is the easiest DIY way to pull out the fish oils.  Just be sure to rinse well and pat dry.  These little ones are okay to throw in the blender whole, as their bones will pulverize.  If you go the distance – yeah, you! – don’t worry about all the leftovers.  Just transfer the remaining salt-packed anchovies from the metal tin into a glass container with air-tight lid, and cover with sea salt and a few drops of water to dissolve the salt. They will keep for a very long time, refrigerated and covered.

Rustic Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad

Full disclaimer: you would be hard-pressed to find a salad in Tuscany that looks like this.  I have taken the liberty to super-size it American-style:  Bigger, less delicate, chunks and a combo of ingredients (in addition to the ubiquitous bread, peppers, and tomatoes) that add both pops of flavors and texture contrasts. Caper berries and oil-cured olives are mine, all mine.

The panzanella bread salad below will use a bit more than half of this dressing.  But if you are putting the time into sourcing the ingredients, you will be sorry if you don’t have leftovers.  I stopped short of giving you the ratios needed to fill a tub, but you may want to bathe in it.  It’s that good.  I have short cut the hand squeezing of tomatoes, so use that time to try to find oil-cured olives. Of course you can use pitted water-packed canned black olives….if that’s your cup of tea.  But some day give the oil-cured olives a whirl. They are what olives should taste and feel like.  And when you are pitting them by hand, don’t cuss at me – think of Rose and Ruth, putting a little “moral pressure” on you.

Oil-Cured Olives, Caper Berries, and Salted Anchovies and a lemon, halved

Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 cups tomato juice (or two 5.5 ounce cans)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 Salt-Packed Anchovies, soaked for 5 minutes, rinsed, bones pulled out, and patted dry (see notes above and below about anchovy options)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup EVOO

Combine all the ingredients, except olive oil, in a blender and puree until the garlic and anchovies are incorporated.  With the motor running, pour the olive oil in a thin stream, until all is incorporated and the dressing is emulsified.  Listen for the motor to change sounds as you finish with the oil and saturation is reached with the emulsification.  It should go from a noisy high-pitched whine to a smooth whir.

Keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container until needed.

Makes 2 2/3 cups vinaigrette.

Grilled Bread

Panzanella – Best Ever Bread Salad

  • 1 pound loaf 1-2 day-old chewy good-quality bread (I used sourdough with seeds), cut in 1 ½” wide slices (about 5 slices)
  • Garlic and oil to brush the bread
  • 1 ½ cups Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes (combo of red and yellow), cut into large chunks
  • One 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch of watercress, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 5 or 6), sliced
  • ½ cup pitted oil-cured black olives (or whatever olive you prefer)
  • One 4-ounce jar of Caper Berries in Brine (or capers), drained
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley

Rub the bread slices on both sides with a smashed garlic clove and brush with olive oil.  Grill over a hot grill or toast both sides under the broiler or in toaster.  Let cool, and then tear into large bite-sized pieces.  You should have about 8 cups of bread chunks.  Spread out on a sheet pan and let “stale up” a bit more.  You can prep to this stage several days ahead.  Once they are dried out, store in a zip bag.

Two hours before serving, toss the stale bread cubes with ¾ cup Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette. Set aside.

When ready to serve, add the remaining ingredients and toss with additional vinaigrette, as needed.  This is where I normally say taste seasonings and adjust, but this is so full of flavor I can’t imagine what you could do to improve it.  Damn, that’s tasty!

Closing arguments for the Case of the Anchovy:  If you really really really can’t see your way past their bad reputation, use salt to taste, and maybe even a splash of soy in your vinaigrette. Soy Sauce in all its fermented glory might give you a hint of the umami you’ll be missing. Just know that Rose is rolling in her grave and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that Ruth will ever confirm your dinner reservation.  Choice is yours.

Serves 8-10 and makes fabulous leftovers.

Rustic Bread Salad in a square white bowl with olives, caper berries, bread, scallions and tomatoes

This post contains affiliate links.  For more of my must-have faves, check out my shop.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Salad Days of Summer: Farm Fresh Summer Squash & Arugula Salad

Salad Days of Summer: Farm Fresh Summer Squash & Arugula Salad

overhead shot of a white plate filled with Summer Squash Salad, edamame fritters and spicy grilled shrimp

How is it exactly that “Salad Days” has gone from meaning green and naïve (Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra) to the more current American connotation of being at one’s heyday or pinnacle?  So American, right?  Wait long enough and it can mean whatever you want.  And what I want is green – as in green salad with green (and yellow) summer squash.  It’s reparation for making you go to that 425o kitchen last week, chasing a cherry pie.  This one is perfect for these oppressive muggy days. You won’t have to turn on a thing.

I have to admit, I never really thought about raw squash as a tasty treat, finding it a bit pithy and bland. However a couple summers ago I was on a media tour for a client and met a journalist at a farm to table restaurant in NYC where I promptly fell in love with a version of this salad.  The trick is to thinly slice the squash – as paper thin as possible.  I like using a mandoline and particularly like the Matfer Mandoline.

Thinly slicing squash on a mandoline

I once styled a cooking segment on the Today Show for the best chef in the Army, and he turned me on to this fine piece of equipment. I have had it for 15+ years and it is still in great shape.  It’s got good safety features, so it’s not scary like some mandolines, and it doesn’t pit or corrode like the one I got in France a zillion years ago and need to toss.   Chef arrived on some kind of Army transport so he didn’t have to worry about blades at TSA.  However his most important travel companion was an 8 1/2 x 11” flat piece of striped genoise sponge cake that was created by piping razor thin lines of alternating chocolate and vanilla batter.  He used it to line a tall glass trifle bowl for an elegant presentation.  And he carried it in a manila file folder.  Filed under P for pastry?  I was pretty much speechless. Given the turn of world events, I often wonder if our military still carry pastry in their file folders.

After first tasting that salad in NYC, I have tweaked it pretty much every time I make it and this is how it rolls this summer.  A dear friend recently delivered a spice jar filled with a pepper blend which I found I couldn’t live without. I burned through that jar in short order and have now made my own.  Mine seems a lot darker than hers so I suspect mine has more black pepper.  She even recommends adding green peppercorns to the mix, but so far I have not tried that.   I love the KitchenAid coffee grinder to grind all my spices  – and now they have an even better model that comes with an additional bowl fitted with a blade optimized for spices, in addition to the primary bowl specifically tooled for coffee – two gadgets in one – KitchenAid Blade Coffee and Spice Grinder Combo.

Pepper, Cardamom & Coriander

Zesty Pepper Blend

  • 1 cup ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds

Grind each seed separately in a spice grinder or mini chopper.  Mix all spices together and store in an airtight container.

Summer squash with spice blend mixed with arugula and topped with manchego

Summer Squash and Arugula Salad

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 3 cups arugula
  • ¼ pound sheep’s milk cheese, such as Ewephoria, cut in shards or with a cheese planer
  • Seasoning: flaky sea salt like Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and zesty pepper blend
  • Dressing: equal parts fresh lemon juice and EVOO, whisked together

Trim the zucchini and yellow squash and slice thinly by hand or using a mandoline.

Arrange the summer squash and arugula on four salad plates. Grate the sheep’s milk cheese on top and season with salt and zesty pepper blend.

Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette.

Serves  4.

Summer Salad with Grilled Shrimp on a square white plate

This post contains affiliate links.  For more of my must-have faves, check out my shop.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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