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Thanksgiving Harvest Salad & Menu Must Haves

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad & Menu Must Haves

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad

Before you hit delete thinking “Who needs a Thanksgiving Harvest Salad when I can have fat, fat, and more fat on Thanksgiving?” I am here to tell you – YOU DO!! I talked my friend Cozy into this a couple years ago and I know it was a hit because she called me brilliant. I don’t often forget those who think I am brilliant. 🙂  As she quickly found out, this is all about the herbs. If I didn’t have to measure them for a printed recipe, I might just call for a crap-ton. You’ll want just that much. 

The Thanksgiving Harvest Salad is everything you want in a salad, lots of green goodness with just enough rewards to make it not quite a salad and a bit more of an indulgence: fall fruit, tangy cheese, and sweet and spicy nuts. Think of it as your cheese board dumped on some greens. Genius, right? 

Just as I was last making this salad, I found a new produce vendor on its maiden voyage to Michigan’s organic Sweetwater Market. I was squealingly happy! I thrived all summer on Summer Blend Gardens’ lettuce mix which included colorful nasturtium flowers and more. Highlight of the summer. But ba-bye, Marty. It’s fall now. Meet my new besties Caleb and Cindy-Beth at A Garden in the Woods. They bring the most gorgeous array of produce to this indoor winter market after spending their summer outdoors in Pentwater. How lucky am I? Even if you don’t live in the area, treat yourself by checking out their Instagram. Gorgeous. Stunningly beautiful!

Picking the Greens

For this salad, pick any assortment of greens you want, but I like a mix of colors and textures. Some salad blends at the grocery, like baby romaine, are heavy on young greens that don’t have much texture. So if that is your base, be sure to throw in some arugula or watercress. These add both pepper and bounce.

More Salad Greens

Even though I had no intention of adding radishes to the harvest salad, once Caleb told me these were not baby beets, but purple radishes, I had to. I just had to. Check out the cut radish in the salad photos – a gentle sponging of lavender fading across the cut surface. 

Purple Radishes

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad

I see this wave of comprehension starting to wash over you, yet I still feel your skepticism – salad with lots and lots of herbs for Thanksgiving? I wasn’t kidding about the crap-ton of herbs. For 8 ounces of greens, I would add up to a cup of chopped, mixed herbs. I know I am still in sales mode on this herby addition, so I am ratcheting the herbiage down to a mere 1/2 cup in the recipe below. But be bold. Go for it. Add additional herbs if you are so called. Cozy reported that she ended up with arugula and spring mix with lots of fresh herbs. “You were right! The herbs made the complexity of the greens jump.” So trust us on this. 

Lots of Herbs

Now that you have a base in place, my go-to accoutrements are fall fruit, bits of cheese and sweet & spicy nuts. I used apples here, but if you have ripe juicy pears, they would be wonderful, as well as figs or persimmons. And while I used Barber’s Vintage Cheddar 1833 (it’s white) in small cubes (more interesting texture than grated), a perfect pearing (get it??) might include a blue like Roquefort or Stilton. Persimmons and fresh goat cheese anyone? I made that once at the request of Florence Fabricant of the New York Times, using Indiana’s Wabash Canonball, so if it’s good enough for her…………

Like most things in food and in life, winning combos are based either on similarities or contrast. Remember my celery root slaw? It was both! I made all the ingredients look the same (similarity), so you didn’t know til you tasted that there were three very different textures and tastes (contrast). Celery root, white cheddar and apple – all white, all grated. Surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrprise! Similarity and contrast all rolled into one humble slaw.

For the vinaigrette, I chose a lemon olive oil and a maple Balsamic. Gobble! Gobble! I have also used a pear Balsamic when using fresh pears. When using flavored Balsamics, I tend toward a one to one ratio with the olive oil because they are so much sweeter than a traditional vinegar and don’t require a lighter hand. In this case, the maple Balsamic is quite dense, so I scaled it back. If you are choosing your own flavors, start testing with a two to one oil to vinegar ratio and add more vinegar, as you need. Because this dressing is special to this menu, I am only making a small batch, and I short-cut the prep by putting it all in a bottle and shaking before serving. A proper vinaigrette, as you know, has the oil added last in a drizzle so that it can incorporate and emulsify. We are streamlining today because we are busy!! Of course you can prep all your ingredients and the dressing a day or so ahead, except any fruit that would oxidize like the apple. Just keep the ingredients wrapped separately in paper towels and zip bags, and assemble toward serving time. 

Harvest Salad with Apples & Cheddar

Now that we have settled on this glorious, fresh and palate-cleansing salad, there are a few other things that you might need to get on that table. Perfect roast turkey and gimme-more gravy? Check. Goat cheese and thyme mashed potatoes. Done. Brussels sprouts and prosciutto. You bet. And some delish cranberry ginger kumquat chutney. Done,done, done. All that is left is a winning Tennessee whiskey pumpkin ginger cheesecake. I have got you covered. All these recipes, complete with tips and must have equipment – looking at you potato ricer – are linked below. 

I will be back in a few days with another dessert idea – a Bourbon-laced Apple Crisp – so check back in. Above all, remember we are giving thanks in an extra special way right now – so take a deep breath, be grateful that you have food to cook with and people to cook for, and leave that stress at the grocery check out lane. And if Dear Abby were around, she’d probably ask you to put a basket at the door for cell phones and ask your friends and family for the gift of presence. Enjoy this week with a heart full of gratitude. Be back soon. 

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Harvest Salad overhead shot On a white plate with candied pecans, mixed greens, apple chunks and cheddar chunks, with purple radish slices

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad & Menu Must Haves


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

Description

The Thanksgiving Harvest Salad is everything you want in a salad, lots of green goodness with just enough rewards to make it not quite a salad and a bit more of an indulgence: fall fruit, tangy cheese, and sweet and spicy nuts. Think of it as your cheese board dumped on some greens. Genius, right? 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 pound mixed greens, 8 cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs, including parsley, cilantro, dill and mint
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped, or other fall fruit such as pears, figs, persimmons, or dates
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 pound white cheddar, cut into small cubes (I use Barber’s cheddar)
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup lemon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-ounce package of sweet & spicy pecans

Instructions

Combine greens, herbs, scallions, apple, avocado, cheddar and radishes in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Make the vinaigrette, by combining the lemon olive oil, maple Balsamic, salt and pepper in a bottle and shaking to emulsify.

At serving time, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Top with the sweet & spicy pecans.

Notes

The herbs really define this as a special green mix, so don’t skimp here.

I always like to use a fruit for sweetness, the cheese for richness and a tang, and the nuts for crunch. All other ingredients rotate in and out depending on what I have around. The purple radishes were calling out to me and that avocado wasn’t getting any younger. Both were fresh new twists at Thanksgiving.

Trader Joe’s is a good source of several sweet & spicy nut mixes.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Thanksgiving Salad

Menu Must Haves

Thanksgiving Essentials: Roast Turkey Perfection and Gimme-More Gravy

Roast Turkey Perfection

Goat Cheese & Thyme Mashed Potatoes with a Thanksgiving Must-Have: The Potato Ricer!

Pot o Spuds

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Prosciutto

Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto

Spiced Cranberry Ginger Kumquat Chutney

Spiced Cranberry Chutney

Tennessee Whiskey Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

Gentleman Jack Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2018. All rights reserved.

 

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Fig Prosciutto Pizza with Blue Cheese & Arugula

Fig Prosciutto Pizza with Blue Cheese & Arugula

Fig Prosciutto Pizza

This Fig Prosciutto Pizza is a far cry from those sticky Newtons you grew up on. Sweet jammy fig butter, with crispy and salty Prosciutto, creamy rich Cambozola and fresh luscious figs let this pizza span a meal from appetizer to dessert, while achieving rock star status along the way.  If you are like me, your first exposure to figs was the famous Fig Newton. Can’t say I was really a fan. It was kind of gummy and way too seedy for a kid. But yet, against all odds, the Newton became a fan favorite. Must be all that sugar. What really surprises me though is that Newtons are almost always the end of the line for the poor fig. After childhood, we fickle feasters don’t look back and all too often have never seen a fresh fig, much less tasted one. I ran across them in the garden when staying with friends in Italy some thirty years ago. My hostess was not a fan of the texture, and I get that, especially if you pull it from the tree and chomp into it, apple-style. But the flavor!! Oh my. It is a perfect foil for a creamy rich blue cheese and some salty Prosciutto. Hmmm…let me think what else? Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Pizza dough? Now we’re cooking with gas!!!

Black Mission Figs

Fresh figs have a fairly short season – found both in the spring and the fall, or if you are in Cali maybe a bit longer. They date back to 9000+ BC and were cultivated more than 1000 years before wheat or rye. Their existence is well documented from Aristotle to the art world. I mean, where would we be without fig leaves? Spanish missionaries brought them to the US in the late 1700s, where the Mission variety thrived in the California sunshine. To this day, Black Mission figs are among the most popular and that is what I used here.

Dried figs used to be a bit tough and required soaking (brandy wouldn’t be so bad) to use. But today there are unsulfured, wonderful, juicy varieties available in resealable pouches. Valley Fig offers organic dried  Mission figs and Made in Nature offers dried Smyrna figs that are velvety and have “hints of honey, jam and butterscotch.” If you can’t find fresh figs, try chopping some of these in place of the fresh. As Made in Nature’s package says, “… congrats, nature. You really nailed it on this one.” They’re “figgin awesome.”

Prosciutto, Cambozola, Fresh Figs and Fig Butter

For the cheese, I used Cambozola, but there is a wide range of blues from which to choose, especially Stilton or Roquefort. I like the creaminess and richness of Cambozola as an offset to the salty meat and juicy fruit. This cow’s milk cheese, made in Germany, is a triple crème-ripened blue cheese and you might liken it to a cross between a blue and a brie. You would not be all wrong. While the name appears to be a portmanteau of Camembert and Gorgonzola given its similarity to the rich creaminess of Camembert and the blue bite of Gorgonzola, the name is also a nod to its terroir. It is made in Kempten (in Bavaria), whose Roman name is Cambodunum.

Fig Prosciutto Pizza

Fig Prosciutto Pizza

This is really another non-recipe recipe, which I know y’all love. Proportions are not essential when topping pizzas. Actually, even choosing the ingredients is not critically important. Just remember to aim for a balance of sweet, salty, fat and acid and a mix of textures, and if you dare, a contrast in temperatures. As written below, the jam provides sweetness; the cheese and meat are salty; the cheese adds creamy fat and richness; the vinegar add acid and serves as a light (just a drizzle) dressing for the arugula. The textures range from creamy to crispy, and the temperature is hot pizza with cold salad. Done and Done!

Fig, Cambozola and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

Let me know how it goes, and – as always – I love to read your comments on the website and see your photos on Instagram.

Happy Fall!

Arugula atop a fig prosciutto pizza

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Fig, Cambozola and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula with a slice out - overhead shot and close up

Fig Prosciutto Pizza with Blue Cheese & Arugula


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 slices 1x

Description

This Fig Prosciutto Pizza is a far cry from those gummy Newtons you grew up on. Sweet jammy fig butter, with crispy and salty Prosciutto, creamy rich Cambozola and fresh luscious figs let this pizza span a meal from appetizer to dessert. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1-pound fresh pizza dough (see notes)
  • 11-ounce jar of Fig Butter (or fig jam) – may have leftovers
  • Favorite oil for drizzling on crust (I wouldn’t be mad if you used truffle oil once it comes out of the oven, but brush the crust with something less delicate before baking. Lemon oil is nice)
  • 8 fresh figs, about 1/3 pound, sliced
  • 1/2 pound Cambozola cheese, or other creamy blue like Gorgonzola
  • 8 slices Prosciutto
  • 3 cups of arugula
  • Crema di Balsamico, or a balsamic reduction
  • Flaky sea salt to finish – like my beloved Maldon’s

Instructions

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 425oF. Check pizza dough directions to confirm this is best for your dough.

Lightly flour a work surface and stretch or roll the pizza dough into a 12” diameter round. If you are using the roll-out dough that comes in a popping-fresh canister, follow those directions and roll into a rectangle, but plan on using more topping ingredients. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled pan.

Spread the fig butter to create a thin layer, leaving a 1/2 “ border of dough around the outside. (See notes.)   Brush the exposed outer ring of dough with a favorite oil.

Set the pan on the pizza stone and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is set.

Carefully remove from oven, adding the figs, some dollops of Cambozola and the Prosciutto. I like to take a half-slice of Prosciutto and twirl into a rosette, but some prefer to chop it and distribute the flavor more uniformly. Maybe you should be making two pizzas?

Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes or until the crust is golden and the Prosciutto starts to crisp. The cheese should be melty.

Remove from oven and top with the arugula. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction (or Crema di Balsamico) and sprinkle with a flaky finishing salt.

Notes

Dessert Pizza or Appetizer? Actually, I have served it both ways. Spread the fig butter according to taste and purpose. If you use the whole jar (don’t judge) it will be pretty sweet. But it will also be nice and jammy. Depending on your taste, you might want to load up a bit more on the salty items like the cheese and Prosciutto.

Trader Joe’s makes a great fresh pizza dough, stashed in the cheese and prepared food refrigerator case. You can find it made with white flour, whole wheat and even gluten-free.

Stonewall Kitchen makes a lovely Fig & Walnut Butter and Valley Fig offers three flavors of fig spread. For this test, I used the Trader Joe’s Fig Butter.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main, App, Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian, American

Keywords: fig prosciutto pizza

Fig Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2018. All rights reserved.

 

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Going Crackers: Best-Ever Cheese Crisp

Going Crackers: Best-Ever Cheese Crisp

Best Cheese Crisp

You’re driving me crackers, she said to this weather. Luckily this tasty little number is neither season- nor weather-dependent. I found my inspo for this recipe in a fancy store in California (Market Hall in Berkeley, if you must know), and I just might have eaten my weight in them. After “serving” them to guests two nights in a row, while secretly polishing them off on my own in the kitchen, I decided it was time to stop paying this fool’s ransom and knock them off for myself. Armed with only a visual on the seed varietals and my longstanding loyalty to a good cheese crisp, I took it upon myself to try to replicate and I must say I nailed it first try. You’re welcome!!  The base recipe for these – when seed-free – reminds me of the signature dish at an early Lidia Bastianich restaurant – Frico. The frico, as a dish, is a melted cheese crisp, usually made with unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Friuli called Montasio. At the restaurant, these cheese crisps crowned salads and were often stuffed with potatoes or mushrooms and more, served as an appetizer. How I miss this!

But, oh my, these Cali ones were chock-full of seeds, which provides more crunch and an additional level of nuttiness. Yahoo. As I was testing them, I remembered a frequent guest that I cooked for during my days as the food stylist at The Rosie O’Donnell show. Marjorie Johnson, from Minna-so-TA, dont’cha know. At 4’8”, this feisty redhead, always decked out in a red dress, topped with a red apron, is pure sass.  Here she is in 2016 at the Anoka County Fair, where she won 52 ribbons, including 22 blue and the sweepstakes prize for her tea ring. Yes, those are all hers…from that week!

Marjorie at Anoka fairgrounds

Photo courtesy of Marjorie Johnson, BlueRibbonBaking.com

I met Marjorie before the millennium, and her goal was to have 2000 blue ribbons by the year 2000. She has well over 2500 now and has not slowed down one bit. Her secret, she told me, to beefing up her ribbon count was to enter random categories with less competition……………like crackers. And we’re back. Temporarily. (I must add that is something I was long aware of – don’t take the easiest path using a sweet ingredient in a dessert. Work harder and come up with something that is unexpected.) I haven’t seen Marjorie in a while, but we keep in touch and I have her book. I’ll never forget the segments we did with Alec Baldwin or Paul and Nell Newman after Marjorie won a load of dough from Newman’s Own.  It all went to her favorite charity – American Cancer Society in Minnesota – and they in turn crowned her the belle of the ball, tiara and all. I think Alec summed it up best – while on his knees to meet Marjorie eye to eye – “We need more Marjories!!”

Seeded Cheese Crisps

I debated calling this a Cheese Krackle instead of a Cheese Crisp, because the seeds make it so much more than a Crisp. Such decisions!?!  Luckily the recipe is much more straightforward than that challenge. I really don’t need to tell you in great detail about this recipe, because once I locked in the ratio of ingredients, it pretty much baked itself. Instead of Montasio, I chose a rosemary Asiago, an Italian cow’s milk gold medal winner at the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest, and Fontina Fontal, also Italian, and also cow’s milk…from our friends at The Cheese Lady, of course.  The Asiago adds a bit of tang and the Fontina is a sublime melting cheese. Keep the cheeses cold until you grate them, as they tend to be a bit softer than many cheeses we often grate. I used the big holes on a box grater.

Rosemary Asiago

Add all the seeds to the grated cheese and mix well to combine. You may find that as you dole out the mixture onto a sheet pan that the smaller seeds will settle so be sure to keep mixing as you go.

All the seeds and cheeses

You will need two or three batches on a half-sheet pan to bake off all the mixture. If you need to re-use a pan for a later batch, let it cool to room temp first so it doesn’t throw off your oven timing. I used two Tablespoons mixture per cracker and flattened them a bit with my fingertips for even cooking. You will need to leave a little space between them, but more for an easy removal than to accommodate massive spreading.

Cheese Crisp into the Oven

Bake at 375o for 7 – 8 minutes until the crisps are lightly golden. Remove the pans from the oven and let the cheese crisps cool slightly on the sheet pans until they firm up. Then you can transfer quickly to a wire rack using an offset spatula. I would tell you to store them in an airtight container once cooled, but let’s be real – are you going to have any leftovers? Kind of doubt it!!!

Cheese Crisp Ovenfresh

These are tasty as a garnish for soups and salads, or as an accoutrement to a cheese or meze spread. Call it a Krackle, call it a Crisp, but definitely call it delicious.  

When you give this loaded cheese crisp a whirl, tag me on Instagram and as always, I LOVE to see your comments below.

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Best Cheese Crisp

Going Crackers: Best-Ever Cheese Crisp


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 15 pieces 1x

Description

This seed-filled cheese crisp is great on top of a soups and salads, or as an accoutrement to a cheese or meze spread. Call it a Krackle, call it a Crisp, but definitely call it delicious.  And while you are at it, double up on  the recipe. You’re gonna want more. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 ounces grated Asiago, or 1 1/3 cups
  • 1 ounce grated Fontina Fontal, or 1/3 cup
  • 3 1/2 ounces raw shelled pumpkin seeds, or 2/3 cup
  • 1 ounce raw shelled sunflower seeds, or 1/4 cup
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds, or 1 ounce
  • 1 Tablespoon flax seeds, or 1/2 ounce
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds, or 1/3 ounce
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375o F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. The smaller seeds may settle so be sure to stir as you dole out the mixture.

Divide the mixture into crackers, allowing 2 Tablespoon per cracker. Flatten any mounds to a uniform thickness.

Bake for 7 – 8 minutes until lightly golden. Cool slightly on the sheet pans until they firm up, and then quickly transfer to a wire rack using an offset spatula. Store in an airtight container once cooled.

Notes

I used a rosemary Asiago but plain works well too.

Keep the cheeses cold until you grate them, using a box grater. They are a bit soft so they don’t grate as well at room temperature as a harder cheese, like Parmesan.

These are delicious on top of a soup or a salad, or as an accoutrement to a cheese or meze spread, but do note they are not sturdy like a Ritz, so don’t go planning to spread your Cheez Whiz atop. Who are you anyway??:)

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: cracker
  • Method: oven

Cheese Crisp Chock Full of Seeds

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

 © Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2018. All rights reserved.

 

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Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

When I find something that will change  your life – FOREVER – I must share. I’m not such a fan of pre-seasoned packages, like those dried bean soup mixes loaded with some heavy doses of sodium, but I recently stumbled across this beauty at Trader Joe’s. It’s simply called Harvest Grains Blend and can quickly become the rock star of a wonderful fall Harvest Grains Salad. I wanted to take issue with the fact that orzo is a pasta  and not technically a grain, but I guess pasta started as a grain, right? There’s really no reason to get cranky, because this is a great Mama’s helper. It has Israeli couscous (the jumbo pearl size), three colors of orzo (plain, red pepper and spinach), split baby garbanzo beans (so cute), and red quinoa. The beauty of the pre-package is that it takes the guesswork out of cooking. You can easily make your own blend, or even just use one single grain/pasta. But if you are mixing, you need to pay attention to cooking times so you don’t, for example, throw couscous and wild rice into the same pot at the same time. Cooking time here is a mere ten minutes.

Harvest Grains

Israeli couscous and OrzoIsraeli couscous is larger than standard coucous and is slightly chewy and comes in a variety of flavors. Shown here is  a tri-color blend, including unflavored, spinach and tomato. The pasta in the center is orzo.

I hope you are taking advantage of the last of the season’s juicy tomatoes. I have detailed before how you can simply split them, put them cut side up on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt, and slow roast them to concentrate the flavors and dehydrate the liquid. From there, once cooled, they are easy to Ziploc and freeze. I  use them all winter in frittatas, cornbreads, pastas, soups and stews, on pizzas, focaccia, and in salads.  They are a sweet treat come February, and now is the time to make it happen!

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a natural BFF to blue cheeses.  While blue can be made with cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk, all varieties share a common production technique which involves ripening them using cultures of the mold Penicillium. The green or blue veins are created during the aging process by spiking with stainless steel rods to aerate the cheese and encourage the mold’s growth.  It’s not hard to see where the spikes went in on this hunk of Glacier Wildfire Blue. To learn more, check in with our friends at The Cheese Lady for great info on many cheeses, blue and beyond.   

Glacier Wildfire Blue

For this salad I chose Delft. It’s a buttery cow’s milk cheese with a clean finish – a bit sweet and not too salty. This cheese comes from the Netherlands and is so named for its resemblance to Delftware pottery. The blue veins and milky whiteness resemble the lovely pottery, as if broken and put back together.

Delft Cheese

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Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 1x

Description

A new twist on pasta or grain salad, this dish uses a Trader Joe’s pre-packaged combo and includes Israeli couscous, tri-color orzo, split baby garbanzos and red quinoa. While you can, oven dry some end-of-summer tomatoes and stash them in your freezer. They will add a nice flavor boost to salads like this, as well as pastas, soups, stews and anything else you might make this winter when the tomatoes in the store then will taste like cardboard.


Ingredients

Scale

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salad: 


Instructions

Make the Vinaigrette:

Whisk together the ingredients and refrigerate until needed. 

Make the Salad:

Cook grains or pasta according to package directions.  Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add tomatoes, cheese, parsley, and scallions.  Stir to combine.

Toss with the dressing and refrigerate until serving time. Before serving, taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice if needed and adding the almonds.

Notes

I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend, but you can make this with pasta, or your own combination of couscous, both regular and/or Israeli, orzo, quinoa or other favorites. 

This salad is perfect for extra add-ins. I’m keeping it pretty simple here, but feel tree to add other vegs, bacon, different cheeses or whatever your little heart desires. 

Makes 1 quart.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stovetop

Keywords: cous cous salad

Don’t you want to just dive headfirst into this Harvest Grains Salad? 

Harvest Grains Salad with Deflt Cheese and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

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

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No-Recipe Charred Asparagus with Aged Balsamic & Manchego

No-Recipe Charred Asparagus with Aged Balsamic & Manchego

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic and Manchego

Every now and then – LONG HOLIDAY WEEKEND PEOPLE!!! – we deserve a real no-recipe recipe. Just take what you have and make it work. Since you are likely firing up the grill, this is one that you can throw on the side. Or if you are in a real hurry, you can throw asparagus in a very hot oven and let it do its thing in a matter of moments. 

Asparagus

I first learned about high temperature vegetable roasting from the legendary chef/owners of Providence, RI’s Al Forno restaurant. George Germon and Johanne Killeen. They had just published their iconic book, Cucina Simpatica. I had yet to open New World Grill, but I was fascinated by their magic. They proved you could crank up the oven temp – 450 or 500oF – and blast any vegetable, with the exception of rock solid beets, in a matter of minutes. It was only the early 90s and we were otherwise much less aggressive about time and coaxing natural sugars out of our victims. Asparagus had mostly been relegated to boiling or poaching. Sure sure sure, it stays bright green that way, but so much of that baby is lost in the bathwater. Put it in a fiery oven or on a rip-snorting fire and you get this wonderful char that is a perfect foil for natural sugars.

Picking the best - asparagus

Picking Asparagus Perfection

First pick the perfect stalk. Diameter is more a matter of preference, but it’s always easier to time the cooking if they are uniform in size.  The hallmarks of a good spear are tight buds and firm stalks. Look for bright green or lavender-hued buds with wrinkle-free stems. Rinse them off under cool water to remove any sand and snap the bases where they want to be snapped. If the spear is a bit older, it will snap higher up the stalk. Follow the natural breaking point. If the stalks are bigger and super woody, you can whittle a bit away using a vegetable peeler. Make sure the spears are dry before cooking so they don’t steam.  We are going for a dry cooking technique and want a little char.

Ljubljana Asparagus

How cute are these teeny weenies? I found them in a market in Slovenia and bonus!!! I got to pick asparagus from a nearby field the very next day. #heaven

If you need to store them until you are ready to use them, don’t clean them yet, but do give them a fresh trim on the ends. Then put them upright as you would a bunch of flowers in a container. A large liquid measure is a great and non-tippy choice. Cover the bases with a little water. I like to wrap the tops with paper towel to wick away moisture, then loosely tie a plastic bag around that. If the water gets murky, switch it out just like you would for flowers. You can store asparagus like this for several days, up to a week, but they are always best when cooked as soon as possible to avoid loss of flavor.

Farm Fresh Asparagus

When it’s time to cook them, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and toss to coat them all, then season with salt and pepper.  Place them on a sheet pan in a single layer – don’t overcrowd – or on the hottest grill. Cooking time will vary based on thickness, but can range from 8-10 minutes for thin spears to 12-15 for fatter ones. Give them a roll to turn about half way through and keep an eye on them. They should still be quite firm but start to get a bit of char. 

Sorting Asparagus

Way too overcrowded. Single layer only – puh-leeze!!

To serve, drizzle a good balsamic vinegar and top with shards of Manchego.  And because the measurements are all yours, this is now your recipe. Go. Enjoy. Brag. You’re welcome!

Grated Manchego and Aged Balsamic

Print
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Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic and Manchego

No-Recipe Charred Asparagus with Aged Balsamic & Manchego


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Description

There was a time when asparagus was relegated to poaching or boiling and flavors were delicate, maybe napped with a Hollandaise? But no more! Char these babies and drizzle with a good Balsamic and shave some tangy Manchego on top. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus (see notes above on selection)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • aged Balsamic vinegar
  • Manchego cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 oF or fire up a very hot grill.

Prepare asparagus by rinsing under cool water to remove any sand.  Snap the bases where they want to be snapped. Follow the natural breaking point. If the stalks are bigger and super woody, you can whittle a bit away using a vegetable peeler. Make sure the spears are dry before cooking.

Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and toss to coat them all, then season with salt and pepper.  Place them on a sheet pan in a single layer – don’t overcrowd – or on the hottest grill. Cooking time will vary based on thickness, but can range from 8-10 minutes for thin spears to 12-15 for fatter ones. Give them a roll to turn about half way through and keep an eye on them. They should still be quite firm but start to get a bit of char. 

To serve, drizzle a good balsamic vinegar and top with shards of Manchego.

Notes

Top with a poached egg if you like!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Roasting or Grilling
  • Cuisine: American

Asparagus topped with a Poached Egg

And if you are as obsessed with the poached egg on everything craze as I am, why not? This makes a mean breakfast, brunch, lunch dish. I could even see some avo toast on the side…if I squint my eyes.

Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg and Arugula

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