Thursday, August 27, 2015

Caprese 'Cocktails' with 'Green Passion' Dressing



Caprese salads are simple to prepare. You just have to have great tomatoes and really good mozzarella. Heirloom tomatoes, when you can get them, are a must.  But our new dressing takes all this to a new level.

This dressing is reminiscent of the classic ‘green goddess’ dressing of old. Sadly, green godess dressing went to the wayside years ago along with Thousand Island and Russian dressings, but to be fair, green goddess still rates as a classic among chefs.  Green goddess was named for its tint, and has an herbaceous flavor.  Ours follows suit with both, and adds a tangy fruity freshness.

This is a versatile dressing, folks!  Already we have paired it with classic green salads.  If you are a fan of panzanella (think Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that is popular in summer), this makes for an amazing dressing to soak the bread and brighten the tomatoes!

for the cocktails:
  • 2 (8 ounce) containers fresh mozzarella (cherry sized or 'Ciliegine')
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 6 small basil leaves (as garnish)
for the dressing:
Combine scallions, garlic, basil, and passion fruit vinegar in food processor or blender and pulse to blend. Stream in Meyer lemon olive oil, then extra-virgin olive oil to form a smooth dressing. Add pepper and a touch of salt - not too much! A light touch of salt enlivens the flavors, too much will take away the 'fruitiness'.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of thick dressing, ideal for coating the tomatoes and mozzarella. For a lettuce salad or panzanella, you may want to 'thin' the dressing with more olive oil.
Combine tomato halves and mozzarella balls in a large bowl - you are looking for a 50/50 mix. Lightly salt and pepper. Add dressing to taste and toss to coat. Arrange in a cocktail glass and garnish with a basil leaf.

Serves six.

Green Apple & Fennel Slaw

We are big Food Network fans, which I am sure surprises no one.  One of our favorite shows is Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.  We recently viewed an episode which presented pulled-pork sandwiches topped with a green apple and fennel slaw.  The awesome restaurant was in Vancouver, BC, a bit too far for a visit and taste.   However, for a recent large family gathering, we attempted to recreate the dish tweaking it to feature our amazing gourmet condiments.

The slaw we created turned out to be a stand-alone star.  Our take focused on a creamier (but not too) version of what we saw on TV - theirs had a more 'pickling spice' approach.  Plus, we knew our White Balsamic Vinegar with Pear would tie the elements together - particularly the apple & fennel.  We think the result is amazing, with varying shades of white to green color that is gorgeous when presented.


By the way, you can still use this on a pulled-pork sandwich!  We won't tell!


ingredients:
  • 1 (8 or 10) ounce package shredded green cabbage
  • ice water as needed
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Pastamoré White Balsamic with Pear
  • 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 green onions, including tender green parts thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley 
Fill a large bowl with ice water and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into it. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat and add the juice of remaining lemon half.

Cut off stems and feathery fronds of the fennel bulb and remove any bruised or discolored outer leaves. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out any tough core parts. Thinly slice each half into matchsticks sized pieces and place immediately in the bowl of iced lemon water. When all the fennel is cut, transfer with a slotted spoon to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. (Reserve the bowl of iced lemon water for the apples.) Drain the blanched fennel and rinse under cold running water. Transfer to a fresh bowl of ice water. Set aside.

Working with 1 apple at a time, quarter it and cut away the core. Slice each quarter into matchstick sized pieces and place immediately in the reserved lemon water. Repeat with the remaining apple.

In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, pear balsamic vinegar, milk. Mix together and add the black pepper and adjust the seasonings, taste. The dressing should be both sweet and tangy, and the consistency should be pour-able, not thick. Add a little more milk if the dressing is too thick.

Place cabbage in a large bowl. Drain the fennel and apples, squeeze gently to remove excess water, pat dry and add to the bowl of cabbage. Add the green onions and parsley. Pour the dressing over all and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves six.

Late Summer Corn & Bean Salad



Nan & I had a cook-off with this recipe.  Nan always wins best bowl!
This is a simple, easy to prepare salad. Just cut some corn, tomato and parsley, and you are pretty much done. This salad was inspired by our love of beans in summer, but the thought of hot baked beans on a hot summer day doesn't always have appeal. Think lighter and fresh!

A variation on this salad is a suggestion from Nan; use black beans instead of kidney, and cilantro instead of flat-leafed parsley. You have moved from Italy to Mexico for a great new flavor profile!


ingredients:

Whisk together balsamic vinegar & Dijon in a salad bowl. Add Spicy Tomato Oil in a slow drizzle while whisking. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt & pepper.

Add corn, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes. Toss lightly to coat. Add in most of the parsley, reserving some for garnish before serving. Allow to sit in refrigerator for a few hours to meld flavors. Garnish and serve.

Serves six.