Posts tagged ‘salad’

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Combining watermelon and tomato is all the rage, but it does sound like an odd partnership, doesn’t it? Well, don’t make any judgments until you’ve tried it, because it’s truly awesome. Sweet, tart, crisp, juicy and, above all,…fresh. And after a month’s worth of caprese salads, it’s time to change things up a bit.

Here’s an easy way to start the flavor parade.

Cut up equal parts watermelon and tomato chunks (halved cherry tomatoes are a visually appealing substitute). Let sit in a bowl for a bit and drain the juices. Add minced scallions, chopped mint and basil, feta and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Minced or sliced jalapenos will give it an extra kick, if desired. Toss and dig in!

Now THIS is summer in a bowl.

August 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Asparagus Season

To me, asparagus sings “spring”, a welcome song after a long winter.

If you grow asparagus, you’re picking more than you know what to do with, and if you’ve been in the grocery store this month, you  can’t avoid the large displays of it.

Avoid no more. Whether you want to make soup, salad, or simply a side dish, this is the time to enjoy it at the height  of its freshness and availability.

My favorite way to serve asparagus is to grill it. First snap the stalks to get rid of the rough and chewy ends. Then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and a bit of  black pepper. Using tongs, move the asparagus around on  the plate  to coat each  spear before placing them directly on a hot grill.  Depending on the thickness, I usually don’t leave them on the grill more than 5 minutes, turning a couple of times to ensure even cooking and blackening. Stay close and watch them carefully to avoid burning.

Once the asparagus is cooked, the  least complicated way to eat it is as a side dish with meat or fish, embellished only with a splash of balsamic vinegar.  I also enjoy making  a salad with asparagus, using greens  or grains  as the base.  Here’s a great Bobby Flay recipe that is substantial enough to serve as a full meal. If you don’t want to take the time to make olive vinaigrette, buy a jar of olive tapenade and doctor it with some red wine vinegar and a touch of mustard.

When asparagus season nears its end and the stalks start getting thick and tougher, use them to make a cream-less asparagus soup.In this recipe, I reserve the stalks, microwaved separately, and add them to the finished product. I also puree the whole batch, using one of my favorite tools, an immersion blender. The sour cream is not an essential element, so feel free to eliminate the fat and skip it altogether. The soup will still taste rich and flavorful.

May 3, 2010 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Roasting Beets

I love beets. I know they aren’t everyone’s favorite, but  people who wrinkle their noses at the mention of this root vegetable are often thinking of the canned beets of our childhood. I didn’t like those either. But fresh beets have a very different flavor than the canned variety.

Here’s my primer on roasting beets to enjoy in a salad.

Scrub each beet to get the dirt off. Cut the stems and leaves (keeping the leaves to saute if you like). You can leave the beets whole, or cut in uniform sizes for even cooking. Place them in tin foil, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with fresh salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and put in a 400 oven for 40-45 minutes, until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork.  Once out of the oven, leave the foil package open to allow the beets to cool.

Now for the time consuming part. Don some gloves to keep your fingers from staining, or use a fork to hold each beet in place while you peel the skins with a knife. If the beets have been cooked long enough, the skins should come right off with minimal scraping.

Red beets are the only ones that stain, the yellow, orange and striped varieties do not, so keep that in mind if you care. If you wash your hands right away, the juice should come off your hands without any problem. In any case, it will go away eventually!

Once the beets are skinned, you can slice or cube them into bite-size peices. Then toss them with mixed greens,  goat or blue cheese, almonds or pistachios,  and a sherry or balsamic vinaigrette, and  you’ve got a stunning and tasty salad.

December 6, 2009 at 6:00 pm 2 comments

Cafe Sebastienne

Café Sebastienne has been a perennial favorite since its debut in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in 1995. In the original and smaller dining room, colorful oils by Artist Fredrick James Brown cover the walls. Diners can also choose to sit in the enclosed IMG_0250courtyard, with its vast ceilings, bright sunshine and decidedly louder decibel level.

Though I am always drawn to the tomato tart that highlights the summer menu, on a recent visit I decided to try the asparagus salad that my friend always orders. We were there to celebrate her birthday, so we complemented our salads with a glass of wine, a gesture that for me feels decadent and delicious, as I usually only imbibe after five. I enjoyed the NEXT Reisling, which is from the King Estate folks in Oregon, though the grapes are sourced from Washington. It was fruity without being the slightest bit sweet.

Now to the highlight of the meal (other than the wonderful conversation with the birthday girl, of course). The asparagus salad was a winner. Asparagus are grilled and served with baby coins of roasted fingerling potatoes and a poached egg. A warm truffle vinaigrette turns a nice dish into a sensational one. The menu offers it with applewood-smoked bacon, but we opted for the vegetarian version. Runny eggs are a big thing these days, on all sorts of dishes. I’m not a morning egg person–I could go through the rest of my life without another omelette or fried eggs and toast. But this new trend hits the right notes, with the yolk oozing out and mixing with other flavors on the plate.

It’s hard to go wrong with anything on Cafe Sebastienne’s menu. Other long-loved dishes include moist fish tacos with spicy black beans and avocado sauce, ever-changing soups and salads, fist-sized crab cakes and an awesome Reuben sandwich.

Just a reminder–if you can’t get there for lunch, it’s only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday brunch is also a treat.IMG_0251

Cafe Sebastienne on Urbanspoon

August 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm Leave a comment


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