Strawberry Salad

Delicious with raspberries too, this salad is a great combination of flavors, colors and textures.

Delicious with raspberries too, this salad is a great combination of flavors, colors and textures.

Recently, I was cooking for a friend’s birthday and she requested a salad with berries. With my farmer’s market filled with local strawberries, my fondness for arugula and my belief that everything-is-better-with-avocado, this salad was a no brainer. I added some walnuts for crunch, some sheep’s milk cheese for salty-umaminess and a lemony-sherry dressing. Birthday worthy.

Strawberry and Arugula Salad

Makes four small salads or two large salads

For the dressing:

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon mince shallot

1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried

1 cup strawberries, stems removed and cut into bite-size pieces

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into slices

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I like to toast them for a better texture)

¼ cup grated pecorino or manchego cheese

1) Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the mustard, shallot, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while whisking to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

2) Combine the arugula, strawberries, avocado and nuts in a bowl. Add the vinaigrette to taste, salt and pepper and toss. Divide the salad among the plates and garnish each with the cheese.

 

 

Endless Summer

Tomatillo Salsa

I love summer and this time of year, as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, I avoid looking at the calendar and try to extend the season as long as possible. And while this sometimes means I make questionable choices (like wearing flip flops at Thanksgiving), with food it means trying to enjoy my summer favorites as long as they’re availble locally.

This year, Mother Nature seems to agree with me: the Northeast last few weeks have been full of sunshine and my farmer’s market is still full of warm weather vegetables. This weekend, with temperatures in the mid-80’s, I avoided the pumpkins and apples already for sale and picked up some tomatillos to make salsa and a riff on gazpacho. Great with steak or fish, the salsa can also be the base for enchilladas. The gazpacho has avocado, which adds a creamier texture to the soup.

Turn up the air conditioning!

Steak with Tomatillo-Poblano Salsa

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds of steak, about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick (I usually like it with hanger or skirt)

salt and pepper to taste

canola oil for sauteing

Salsa:

8-10 small tomatillos (about 1-1/2 cups), husked and cored

3 poblanos, roasted, peeled and chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

1 jalapeno, seeds removed (if desired) and chopped

1 teaspoon vinegar or lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. To cook the steak: Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add enough canola oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Carefully add the steaks to the pan and cook, about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare, flipping the steaks when they develop a well browned exterior. Remove the steaks from the pan and rest on a platter for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  2. For the salsa: Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.Thin sauce with cold water if too thick.

 

Tomatillo Gazpacho

Makes 4-6 bowls

2 pounds tomatillos, cored and chopped

1 seedless cucumber

1 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1 avocado, halved, pitted and peeled

1 small jalapeno

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons mint leaves

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

  1. Combine the tomatillos, cucumber, onions, avocado, jalapeno, garlic and lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the herbs and olive oil and puree again briefly. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

 

Spring Cleaning

 

Radish Salad

Spring! It’s finally here!  After an especially brutal, cold, wet, miserable winter, I’m eager for everything spring brings: longer, warmer days, seasonal allergies and, of course, spring eating. Unfortunately, Mother Nature hasn’t quite caught up with the calendar yet–even though the weather is warmer, I’ve got a few more weeks before my farmer’s market will have the asparagus, greens and ramps I crave.

To satisfy my hunger for lighter, fresher eating and also do some spring cleaning, this week I made a salad that used a lot of the fresh vegetables that had been lingering in my refrigerator.

A combination of three radishes: daikon, watermelon and breakfast give this salad flavor and color contrast.

A combination of three radishes: daikon, watermelon and breakfast give this salad flavor and color contrast.

The daikon and watermelon radishes had lasted through the winter and, along with some red radishes and celery heart added crisp textures, colors and peppery, bright flavors. Avocado (I almost always have one in my fridge) added satisfying richness and a chile (yes, still there from the fall) added just enough heat to combat the last bit of winter chill.

 

 

Radish-Avocado Salad with Lemon-Chile Vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings

5-6 radishes, scrubbed and trimmed

1 small daikon radish, scrubbed and trimmed

2 watermelon radishes, scrubbed and trimmed

1 small celery heart, cleaned

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 ripe avocado

½ tablespoon shallots, minced

½ teaspoon lemon zest

1-2 teaspoons minced cherry pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the radishes into paper-thin slices. (I use a mandoline for this, but if you don’t have one, or it makes you nervous, this can be done with a sharp knife.)
  2. Cut the celery into thin, bias slices with a knife. Include the leaves along with the stalks.
  3. Combine the radishes and celery in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Mix well and let the vegetables sit for 10-15 minutes.
  4. When ready to serve, halve the avocado, remove the pit, peel and cut the avocado into 1-inch slices or cubes. Add the avocado to the radish-celery mixture.
  5. Combine the shallots, lemon zest, cherry pepper and olive oil. Drizzle this mixture over the salad. Toss with the cilantro and season with salt and pepper.