‘Parsnip, Rocket & Lentil Salad with Tapenade Dressing’

Recipe Courtesy of .........'s Good Good Food cookbook

Recipe Courtesy of Sarah Raven’s Good Good Food cookbook

What a great idea to use a flavorful store-bought olive tapenade as a dressing for a healthy salad!  A simple mix of the tapenade with lemon zest, lemon juice a touch of black pepper and some olive oil and the dressing is complete.  I loved the different layers that this salad has; not only is the dressing superb, but the base of the salad consists of roasted parsnips, cooked lentils, peppery arugula/rocket, fresh parsley and roasted red onions.  Hearty enough to be a vegetarian main course salad, but also great as a side dish for a juicy roasted chicken.  (If you have trouble like I did, finding juniper berries to add into the roasted veggies, try using crushed pink peppercorns like I did; they bring a nice herbal element to the dish which the juniper berries would have as well.)

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Roasted Red Pepper Goat Cheese & Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey

It’s fun to design a dish around one specific ingredient. The one ingredient that this dish was based on was a nice roasted red pepper goat cheese I found at the market.  Super creamy and flavored with the smoky flavor of roasted red peppers, I decided to stuff a couple of tender turkey tenderloins with the goat cheese and a saute of fresh spinach.  With a Mediterranean theme churning around in my head, I decided to serve the stuffed tenderloins with a simple sauce made with sliced shallots, ripe tomatoes, Kalamata olive and white wine.  This dish would also work well with plump chicken breasts or even thick, center-cut salmon filets.

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Orange-Braised Fennel & Carrots

Orange Braised Fennel and Carrots

When I think of a braising liquid for a pan filled with sweet carrots and slices of sliced fresh fennel, the first flavor that comes to mind is that of orange.  The naturally sweet taste of orange juice pairs wonderfully with both vegetables, and brings a nice tang to the overall dish.  The best way to braise these veggies is to saute them first in a touch of olive oil and a bit of butter along with some fresh thyme leaves and some salt and pepper.  Next you add in fresh orange juice and a touch of stock to cover; reduce the heat and allow the veggies to braise until tender.  Try serving this tasty dish with a few golden raisins for an added ‘pop’ of sweet decadence.

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‘Pasta with Salmon, Broccoli Rabe & Garlic’

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Magazine

In a recent issue of the fabulous Martha Stewart Living Magazine, they highlighted that which is wild salmon.  A thorough collection of sublime salmon recipes, I am finding myself working my way through the entire collection one recipe at a time!  This simple pasta recipe combines the Italian flavors of garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.  Those ingredients, along with beautifully bitter broccoli rabe and flaked salmon make for a simple Italian dish that is truly remarkable.  (The recipe actually calls for canned wild salmon, but I baked a salmon filet and flaked it into the pasta myself.)  Flavorful and healthy, this simple pasta recipe is another example of how simple, quality ingredients can combine to make something truly unique.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.marthastewart.com/1151538/pasta-salmon-broccoli-rabe-and-garlic)

Greek Lamb Meatloaf

Greek Lamb Meatloaf

With lamb on the brain I decided to experiment with a Greek-inspired ground lamb meatloaf. (And boy I’m glad I did, the results were super flavorful!)  Into the ground lamb I added some chopped Kalamata olives, some crumbled feta cheese, dried oregano, and minced garlic.  The meatloaf gets its lovely moist texture from the addition of one egg, some Panko breadcrumbs and from the natural fat ratio of the lamb itself.  Lovely when served with a quick-and-easy Greek yogurt-based sauce studded with chopped, fresh dill and the bright flavor of lemon juice, a nice side dish idea for this hearty main dish would be some roasted potatoes and maybe a fresh cucumber and tomato salad.

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‘Okra & Chickpea Tagine’

Recipe Courtesy of Eating Well magazine

Recipe Courtesy of Eating Well magazine

A tagine is a traditional Moroccan stew that is named after the cone-shaped pot it is classically cooked in.  They can be filled with a variety of vegetables and proteins, but one thing is always true—a tagine is always very fragrant and flavorful, thanks to the blend of Moroccan spices.  This vegetarian version pairs summertime okra with buttery chickpeas, onions, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro.  The spices used are ground cumin, harissa, and ground ginger; all which give this dish a warm smell and rich overall taste.  Serve a tagine over long-grain rice, or even cooked cous cous, freekeh or wheat berries would be a nice option as well.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249752/okra-chickpea-tagine/)

Roasted Beet Caprese

Roast Beet Caprese

We all know and love a traditional caprese salad: slices of ripe tomato, rounds of fresh mozzarella cheese and sweet basil.  Usually served with a drizzle of quality olive oil, sea salt and sometimes even a nice balsamic drizzle.  For this spin on a caprese salad I used cubes of roasted red beet instead of tomato, along with rounds of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves from the garden, and a unique pecan vinaigrette as the dressing.  A unique and tasty side salad that puts a colorful twist on a classic.

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‘Cod with Shiitake-Bacon Crust & Arugula Salad’

Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine

Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine

This highlighted recipe from a recent issue of Cooking Light magazine was easy, flavorful and fun to make.  All you need are five easy ingredients: cod, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, bacon and arugula.  The cod is encrusted with a mixture of cooked bacon and mushrooms which gives the fish a really meaty and decadent taste; this baked fish is served on top of an arugula salad with more sliced mushrooms.  Such a great idea, it has me thinking about what other interesting crusts we can come up with for fish…

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cod-shiitake-bacon-crust-arugula-salad*)

Fig & Strawberry Tart with Hazelnut Ricotta Cream & Buttery Shortbread Crust

Fig & Strawberry Tart

This beauty of a tart unites two of the season’s best fruits: ripe strawberries and plump, fresh figs.  I like to roast the cut fruit for a few minutes in the oven to bring out more of their natural sweetness before placing them artistically on top of a buttery shortbread crust covered in a simple ricotta cream.  To make the ricotta cream you simply puree ricotta cheese in a small food processor and add in whatever sweetener and flavorings you are craving; I used agave nectar to sweeten up my ricotta cream, with a touch of pure vanilla extract and hazelnut extract for a rich, nutty sweetness.  A lovely dessert to enjoy after a light summer dinner, or even served in the afternoon with a cup of tea or hot coffee.

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‘Veal Chops with Spinach & Pecorino Romano’

Recipe Based on one from Lidia Bastianich's Italian Table cookbook

Recipe Based on one from Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian Table cookbook

Excited to come across thick veal chops in the market the other day, I immediately began searching through  my favorite Italian cookbooks for the perfect recipe.  I found that very recipe in one of my Lidia Bastianich cookbooks entitled Lidia’s Italian Table.  The recipe is for grilled veal chops served with a quick saute of spinach, cherry tomatoes and garlic–all finished off with a grating of Pecorino cheese and some fresh basil.  I used this recipe as inspiration for our dinner, but made a few changes.

First, I marinated the veal chops for about an hour in chopped, fresh rosemary, garlic powder, olive oil and lemon zest.  I sauteed the spinach and tomatoes with garlic like in her original recipe, but finished it off with a splash of tangy balsamic vinegar. As for the overall presentation, I decided not to top the veal chops with the saute and the cheese, I used the saute as the base for the chops; as for the cheese, I grated a bit onto the sauteed spinach before topping that with the perfectly grilled chops. (Thanks to my in-house grill master, Scott!) Oh what a treat this meal was.

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