Watermelon Feta Salad
Getting back in to the swing of things and also getting back in to the swing of /r/52weeksofcooking. One of the weeks I missed was a tribute to melons, no other rules or restrictions just all about the melon. I knew from the start I wanted to do something with watermelon, it’s hard to pass by a stand on the Eastern Shore and not be amazed by the size and number of watermelons they have for sale. As an added bonus, I inherited half a watermelon a few weekends ago when Joe and I went out to the shore. After a quick internal debate of gazpacho vs. salad, I decided to go with the salad since there was only half left and I wanted something edible at the end of the adventure. The first time I heard of a watermelon salad, outside of the typical fruit salad, was on Top Chef back when Richard Blais made his first appearance. I then had it for the first time a number of years after, at a friend’s baby shower. Recently I’ve seen it popping up on seasonal menus around the Baltimore area, including a rooftop BBQ hosted by a friend! There are a few different versions with the variation normally in the herb choice. Some use basil, others use mint, and some use both, because why not? I went with basil alone, but as with any recipe there is no one way to make it.
This salad was fantastic! I served it alongside my SRC recipe and it provided the perfect light and sweet contrast to the spicetastic dish. I still had some watermelon left over, even after making another round of salad – and looking forward to sharing that sweet treat sometime next week!!!
Sometimes things work out, and more often then not I have to remind myself of that fact. Apparently a few months ago I had a special moment and forgot to sign up for August’s Secret Recipe Club reveal – my first miss in two years!!! Thankfully I was on Facebook at the right time to see a call to adopt an orphan for Group D, so I still get to participate. The blog I adopted wound up being perfect for me as Dena’s Oh! You Cook! blog is 100% Kosher!!! That’s right – 100% full of treats not treif 😀 Which meant I could pick any of her dairy, vegan, or parve recipes and not have to worry about surprise ingredients which was fantastic since I had only a few days to pick and make the recipe. Since I knew I was hosting another game day over the weekend I decided to look for easy side dishes or dips that would work with out bbq plan. Which narrowed it down to her Black Bean Salsa, Buffalo Nachos, Israeli Beet Dip, and Bean Salad. I really wanted to do her beet dip but struck out at the farmer’s market, and again when I suggested the dip on the meetup page – apparently gamers don’t like beets?!?! So I decided to whip up her bean salad, knowing it would be the perfect gluten-free and vegan side dish for our eclectic group of gamers. Some quick changes: used two cans of chickpeas (thought I bought kidney but apparently didn’t) and argula for cilantro since a few of our friends can’t stand the stuff.
Sure enough this salad was a hit! Some people used it as a really thick dip, others topped their burgers with it, while a few of us dived in with spoons. So while gamers don’t like beets – they most certainly LOVE beans!!!!
Garlicky Kale Salad with Grains
This past holiday season I got a large number of cookbooks, and I’m still going through them almost a month later and probably will be for weeks to come. I’ve already tested a few recipes from the Tagine cookbook, and decided to stop neglecting the others and see what goodies that had in store. One of them is Raising the Salad Bar, and while it’s not a vegetarian cookbook, its setup makes it very easy to bypass the meat and go straight to the good stuff. There are set recipes to follow but also tips for how to pick and choice various parts of each salad in order to come up with something totally new. So using the grain section as a guide I decided to throw something together based on what I had left from various meals during the week.
Even tho I’ve primarily been vegetarian for the past decade I’ve never been a big salad person, seeing them as side dishes or appetizers but rarely as the main course. This book is quickly changing my mind regarding what makes up a salad and while this salad certainly isn’t fancy but it’s quick, simple, and very filling.
Balsamic Eggplant with Rosemary Polenta and Dill Sauce
I mentioned before that when Joe and I were in Austria for our honeymoon I was blown away by all the vegetarian restaurants and options available. I had accepted that this trip would be filled with cheese sandwiches, potatoes, and garlic soup and was okay with that…more than okay with that in the case of the garlic soup. However we were able to find plenty of places offering us an Austrian take on vegetarian food. Our lunch at Nice Rice was one such occurrence, and I was sold the moment I saw polenta listed on the menu. One of my earliest food memories is of my Grandma making her cabbage and polenta, stirring and stirring the polenta to make sure it was perfectly creamy. There was a large polenta-free gap during my college years, until I finally had my own kitchen and set out to recreate this delicious side dish. While I have experimented with garlic polenta and cheesy polenta, I hadn’t explored much in the way of adding herbs. After this amazing lunch in Austria I can promise that will no longer be the case.
This recipe does have a fair amount of components, but the dill sauce can be made ahead of time as can the salad and salad dressing. I also used my mandolin in order to speed up the eggplant cutting process tho there is no easy/quick way to make the polenta short of buying pre-made. I prefer to use Indian Head brand for my polenta, their old fashioned corn meal has always come out perfectly for me. The only change I make to their instructions is subbing in 1/2 cup of milk for some of the water in order to keep it more like Grandma use to make.
I serve this with the salad in the same bowl in order to keep it as close to the original meal as possible. Sure enough as soon as I had the first bite I was flashing back to Vienna and remembering once again how amazing our honeymoon was.
So I have survived my first cold of the season, hopefully it will also wind up being my only cold of the season. This has resulted in a small back log of recipes so stay tuned for a large number of updates. Last week was Joe’s birthday, so I did a week of his favorite recipes including this pizza recipe. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and the path to Joe’s heart is paved in cheese. This recipe is not for the lactose intolerant, or for those counting calories but in my world calories don’t count on birthdays.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 large pizza crust, pre-baked if needed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
- 15 basil leaves
- 1 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, dried and torn
- Preheat the oven to 425. Coat the (pre-baked) dough with the olive oil then start layering on the tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella. Overlapping is strongly encouraged!
- Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over top. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the cheese has slightly browned and the crust is golden.
The real trick is to make sure that the mozzarella is as dry as possible otherwise the pizza will become soggy and the crust won’t brown properly. I learned this through trial and error and found the best way is to press the cheese between two plates lined with paper towels for 10minutes while in the fridge.