Spicy Smashed Cucumber Salad

Spicy Smashed Cuc salad

For those of you who like spice – this recipe is for you! The play of the heat from the red pepper flakes and numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns (commonly used in Sichuan cuisine) makes this dish have an addictive quality. That, plus it’s easy to whip up AND when you have a glut of summer cucumbers on hand, it’s nice to try something new!

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Smashed Cucumbers:
1 pound small cucumbers, Persian or Japanese, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon natural (unseasoned) rice wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 scallion, ends trimmed, sliced thinly (white and light green part), optional

Place cucumbers flesh side down on a cutting board. Gently smash with the side of a large knife. Tear into bite sized pieces.

Place vinegar, sugar, oil and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add cucumbers, peanuts and scallion (if using) and stir to combine.
Spiced Oil:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (chili flakes)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium low. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic turns light brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour spicy oil over cucumbers. Fold to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Asparagus Fritatta

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Yield: 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon*, peel only (rinse lemon before chopping)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottom of stems trimmed, stalks cut on the bias into 1/2 -inch slices, tips kept whole
7 large eggs, whisked with a fork
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 packed tablespoon chiffonade (sliced very thinly) fresh mint leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Set a large, oven-safe, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, preserved lemon, chopped onion, salt and some pepper.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and transparent, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the asparagus stems, stir and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add tips, stir and cook for 1 more minute.

5. Add eggs and sprinkle over feta and the mint evenly. (Shake the pan to distribute the ingredients if needed.) Cook for 30 seconds, then transfer the sauté pan into the oven.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 11 to 13 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

7. Remove the frittata from the oven, slide out onto a cutting board, slice into 6 pieces, and serve.

*You can find preserved lemon at some local grocery stores and at Whole Foods and/or Amazon.

Baby Yellow Potatoes with a Lemony Herb Citronette

German Butterball Potatoes

Yields: 2 servings

 

1 pound small yellow potatoes (preferably German Butterball or Baby Yukon Gold), cut into eighths

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small shallot, peeled and diced finely

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh chives

¼ cup crumbled fresh sheep’s milk feta

 

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover potatoes with cold water, just enough to cover by ½-inch. Add the salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (easily pierced with a fork), but not falling apart approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add shallot, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Drain potatoes and add to the mixing bowl along with the oregano and chives. Mix to combine.

Serve potatoes topped with crumbled feta.

Tray Baked Chicken Thighs with Roasted Grapes and Arugula

Chicken and Roasted Grapes

 

Yields: 4 servings

 

Zest of 1 lemon (grated on a Microplane)

10 (3-inch) sprigs fresh thyme

1¾ boneless skinless chicken thighs (approximately 6 chicken thighs)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound seedless red grapes

4 packed cups arugula (5 ounces)

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

 

Adjust an oven rack 5 inches from the broiler and set the oven to broil.

Add the lemon zest, thyme, chicken thighs, olive oil, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Place chicken thighs on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray.

Add grapes to the same large mixing bowl and mix so that you coat the grapes with the excess olive oil and seasoning left in the bowl.

Distribute grapes on the sheet tray, but do not cover the chicken. (You may need to do some rearranging on the sheet tray so nothing is overlapping.)

Place sheet tray in oven and set a timer for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, flip the chicken. Continue cooking for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees with a digital thermometer.

Remove sheet tray from the oven and transfer chicken and grapes to a plate (don’t pour out the jus!).

Add arugula to a large mixing bowl. Pour ¼ cup of the warm chicken/grape jus from the sheet tray over the arugula. Add the balsamic vinegar and gently fold to combine. Season with salt.

Serve by dividing the arugula onto plates. Top each salad with chicken and some roasted grapes. Got any leftover jus? Drizzle it over each plate for extra flavor.

 

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Fresh Mint

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

6 cups (1-inch) diced seedless watermelon (approximately a 3 pound watermelon)

3 small Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced medium (1¾ cups)

2 teaspoons roughly chopped lemon zest (zested on a microplane and chopped)

1 pint (25-30) cherry tomatoes, halved (preferably assorted colors)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

¾ cups crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Flaky sea salt, to taste (preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Place watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, basil and mint in a large mixing bowl. Very gently fold to combine (you don’t want the tomatoes to leach their juice) with a large spoon.

 

Arrange on plates. Sprinkle feta, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over each plate. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Grilled Mahi-mahi with Spicy Ginger Mango Salsa

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Grilled Mahi-mahi with Spicy Ginger Mango Salsa

Yields: 4 servings

Spicy Ginger Mango Salsa:
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and small diced
1 small chili pepper (habanero, jalapeño, or serrano), de-veined, seeded, and diced small
¼ cup small diced red onion
1½ teaspoons fresh ginger juice*
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small orange, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* For ginger juice: finely chop or peel and grate 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, squeeze with your fingers, capture the juice and discard the flesh.

Stir to combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Mahi-mahi:
2 pounds fresh Mahi-mahi
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Once hot, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in olive oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Pat the Mahi-mahi dry and then rub both sides with the olive oil and lightly season with thyme, salt and pepper.

Place fish on the pre-heated grill and cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until the flesh just begins to flake apart and becomes opaque in color. (You can double check simply by cutting into one.) Once cooked to your liking, remove from the grill.

Serve with a spoonful of the spicy mango ginger salsa.

Note: as with all seafood, check with Seafood Watch to ensure you are purchasing sustainable seafood.

Apple and Carrot Coleslaw

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Apple and Carrot Coleslaw

Yield: 6 servings

 

Coleslaw:

1 small head red cabbage, core discarded, quartered and sliced thinly (1/8-inch thick) on a mandoline (6 cups)

4 medium carrots, peeled and grated (2 cups)

2 medium apples (Pink Lady, Gala, Empire, or Fuji) unpeeled, sliced into French fry strips on a mandoline (3 cups)

½ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

2½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

Combine the cabbage, carrots, apples, and parsley in a large bowl.

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Add approximately two-thirds of the vinaigrette to the cabbage mixture, toss to coat, and season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinaigrette if needed. Taste again (yes, again).

Note: if you do not have a mandoline, this is a great opportunity to practice your knife skills!