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.

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Sweet Cherry Shrub with Fresh Mint (Bevvy)

Sweet Cherry Shrub with Mint

Yield: approximately 2½ cups shrub concentrate

 

1 pound organic sweet cherries, pitted

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest (zested with a microplane)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

30 medium mint leaves, plus more for garnish

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend on medium-low for 1 minute.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the mixture, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible.

Transfer shrub mix into a bottle or jar, close to seal, and store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Serve one part shrub mixture for every four parts sparkling water (or to taste). When serving, add water and ice (if using) first (to a glass). Then slowly stir in the shrub. This helps to reduce any foaminess.

Add a shot of gin or mezcal for a delicious adult beverage.

Garnish with fresh mint.

Summer Heirloom Tomato Tart with Fresh Herbs

tomato tart

Yields: 1 (15- by 10-inch tart), 12 pieces

 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

All-purpose flour (for dusting)

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

¾ cup freshly grated Emmental or Gruyere cheese

freshly ground black pepper

1 whole egg

1 tablespoon water

1 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably assorted colors (about 4 small), sliced ¼-inch thick

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme and marjoram

zest of one small lemon (zested on a Microplane)

salt flakes, preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt, to taste

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

 

Arrange an oven rack in the upper middle position. Place an inverted sheet tray on the rack. Preheat oven (and sheet tray) to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out puff pastry on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper in the shape of a large rectangle measuring about 15- by 10-inches. Prick pastry with a fork in a few places, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges, then slide parchment paper onto a second inverted sheet tray.

Brush the ½ tablespoon of olive oil on the pastry dough, staying within the 1-inch border and sprinkle over the cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.

Whisk together egg and water to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the edges of the pastry (the 1-inch border).

Arrange tomatoes on top of the oiled portion, overlapping a little if necessary.

Season the tomatoes with the 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs and the lemon zest.

Carefully slide parchment off of the sheet tray and onto the hot sheet tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the inverted sheet tray 180 degrees. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the edges of the pastry are golden brown and puffed up.

Let tart cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces.

Before serving, sprinkle over a generous bit of salt, top with chopped basil and drizzle over some extra-virgin olive oil.

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.

Classic Basil Pesto

Pesto never goes out of style and it’s application is wide and varied. Add it to pasta or roasted vegetables. Slather it on chicken or use it as a pizza sauce. And the best part? You can make large batches, while the basil is overflowing in the summer, and freeze it for later use. Hooray for pesto!

pesto1

Classic Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup

 

2 ¼ packed cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 teaspoons)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a food processor, process to combine, the basil, ¼ cup oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the cheese. Process until the desired texture is achieved, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. For the record, I add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of pepper. No need to rush; taste as you go. Take your time and enjoy.

Note: Care for a nuttier flavor in your pesto? Try using toasted pine nuts.

 

Halibut Ceviche with Tomato Gazpacho

Halibut Ceviche

Photo by Andrew Grinton

Strike this recipe while the tomatoes are overflowing at your local farmers market or in your very own backyard garden! (P.S. This recipe was recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!)

 

Yield: 4 servings

Gazpacho

½ pound small cucumbers (Persian or Japanese) (approximately 2 cucumbers) peeled and chopped roughly

½ large red bell pepper (¼ pound), seeded and chopped roughly (reserve other half for ceviche)

2 pounds red tomatoes (approximately 7 medium tomatoes), cored and chopped roughly

1-ounce shallot (1 medium shallot), peeled and quartered

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

Add all the above ingredients to a blender, except the olive oil.

Blend until smooth. With blender on low, stream in the olive oil until combined.

Taste and adjust salt as needed.

Refrigerate until ceviche is ready to be served. Stir or re-blend briefly before serving.

 

Ceviche

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 small jalapeno (.75-ounces), seeded, deveined and diced small (1½ tablespoons)

1 pound skinless halibut, diced into ¼-inch cubes (Use Seafood Watch to select halibut)

½ large red bell pepper (¼ pound), seeded and diced small (½ cup) (reserved from gazpacho)

1 scallion, thinly sliced (¼ cup)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

Combine lemon juice, lime juice, salt and jalapeno in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add halibut and mix thoroughly.

Using the back of a spoon, level the halibut off so it is pressed down in the liquid. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly atop the fish in the bowl.

Refrigerate for 8 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and stir. Using the back of a spoon, re-level the halibut off so it is pressed down in the liquid. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly atop the fish in the bowl.

Refrigerate for an additional 8 minutes. The halibut should be opaque and white in color.

Drain the mixture in a colander and return it to the original small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.

To serve, pour 1¼ cups of the gazpacho in a shallow bowl. Then, mound ¾ cup of the halibut ceviche in the center of the bowl.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Thyme and Garlic

Chef Nathan Lyon Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Thyme and Garlic

These sweet snackable tomatoes are worth the wait of the roasting time. Top them over a piece of fish, chicken or bowl of pasta or simply eat them straight out of a bowl!

Yield: 2 cups

 

2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled

1½ tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

1.Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 225ºF.

 

  1. Place the tomato halves, flesh-side up, and all of the garlic cloves on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Season the tomatoes evenly with the thyme, salt, and pepper and drizzle over the olive oil.

 

  1. Roast in the oven, uncovered, until lightly colored, soft and slightly collapsed, around 3½ hours… or more. The total roasting time will depend upon the size of the tomato used.
  2. Remove from the oven. Squeeze each garlic clove to remove the sweet, soft insides, and add to the tomatoes. Serve and enjoy.

 

Note:  When roasting for long periods of time, keeping skins on the garlic allows them to steam in their skins and remain sweet, whereas peeled garlic can get bitter. Any leftover tomatoes, garlic, and oil can be transferred into a container, topped off with more olive oil, and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.