Bitter Greens with Manchego and Cranberry Dressing

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Because this is a festive salad, I just had to squeeze it in before the end of 2021. I made it for Thanksgiving, and it’s truly unique. I had no problem making it a second time!

The recipe, from Bon Appetit, is called Bitter Greens with Cranberry Dressing. What initially caught my attention was how pretty the salad is.

It’s a mixture of bitter greens, with parsley, mint, shaved Manchego cheese, glazed pecans, and a lemony cranberry dressing, made with canned cranberry sauce. You can bet that this was the first time I ever bought canned cranberry sauce.

Because of timing, I purchased glazed/candied pecans, even though they are so easy to make. I used really good Manchego cheese, and bought the best bitter greens I could find.

Bitter Greens with Cranberry Dressing

3 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 – 14 ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
6 heads of green and/or red endive, quartered
2 heads of frisée, torn into similar sizes
4 ounces Manchego, shaved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix raw sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a bowl. Add pecans and toss to coat. Spread pecans out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until sugar is bubbling, 6-8 minutes, then continue to bake 3 minutes longer to allow sugar to caramelized. Let cool; break into small pieces. Or, buy some already glazed pecans.

Whisk cranberry sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, nutmeg, and 5 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl to combine. Season cranberry dressing with salt.

Whisk parsley, mint, vinegar, and remaining 7 tablespoons oil in a large bowl to combine; season herby dressing with salt and pepper. Add endive and frisée to bowl and toss to coat. (I didn’t include the mint because you just never know who likes what!) Do this just before serving, although I don’t mind a little wilting.

Arrange salad on a platter and drizzle some cranberry dressing over. Top with Manchego and candied pecan pieces.

Serve with remaining cranberry dressing alongside.

This salad is incredible. You could make the dressing with leftover cranberry sauce, or simply make a lemon dressing. The combination is spectacular.

Serve with a creamy pasta or crepes for a perfect lunch or light dinner.

Sausage, Salami and Cheese Tart

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I’ve had this recipe quite a while. I recognize it from Bon Appetit, which was my favorite food magazine. The cut-and-paste method was my way to save recipes. Until computers, of course.


As you can see, I thought the recipe was very good, but I needed to add onions and garlic to the tart next time. That time never came until now; I decided to substitute mozzarella with fontina, and make a couple of minor adaptations.

Sausage, Salami and Cheese Tart
Printable recipe below

1 refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces Italian sweet sausages, casings removed
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
5 ounces finely chopped Fontina
3 ounces diced Italian salami, such as Genoa
4 ounces grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Unfold crust on work surface. Press together any cracks in dough to seal crust. Place crust in 9” diameter tart pan with removable bottom; fold in excess dough and press, forming double-thick sides that extend about 1/4” above rim of pan.

I used a 10” deep-dish pie pan. From all of the comments on this recipe online, the egg and cream mixture overflowed, so I wanted to avoid that mess. Plus I chilled the crust first.

Pierce crust with fork. Bake crust 5 minutes; press with back of fork if crust bubbles up. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the sausage with the onions and garlic pepper. Break up the sausage so that there aren’t any large pieces. Lower the heat if necessary; you don’t want much browning.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and onion to a bowl and allow to cool. Add the fontina, salami, Parmesan, and basil to the sausage mixture. Toss gently to combine. Then gently place in the prepared crust.

Beat eggs, cream, nutmeg and white pepper together to blend, then pour the custard over the sausage and cheese mixture in crust. I was so smart and made the pie pan larger so all of the egg and cream mixture would fit and not leak, but I was using my left hand for my “pouring” shot, which already isn’t coordinated, but with the help of recent surgery… a significant amount was poured in between the pie pan and crust. See it?!!

Bake tart until filling is set in the center and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes and serve. Fortunately, despite the leakage, the pie sliced well.

Depending when you make this tart, serve with a tomato salad, or a simple green salad.


Or an arugula and tomato salad!

If you don’t have any fresh basil on hand, you can thin some basil pesto with olive oil and drizzle it over the baked tart or on the serving plates.

 

 

Watermelon Jicama Salad

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I’ve finally fessed up to subscribing to People Magazine. I feel like it keeps me up-to-date on the who’s who and what’s happening. It’s probably not working because I’ve never been accused by my kids of being hip. But occasionally, there are recipes in the back pages of People, and some times I make them, like this fabulous salad.

It’s watermelon, jicama, Oaxaca cheese, arugula, and candied sunflower seeds, topped with a zingy lime dressing.

The chef is Matthew Trebek, who owns Oso restaurant in Harlem, New York. It serves Southwestern cuisine, and this salad is on the menu. The good thing is that it appears that Oso survived the pandemic.

Chef Trebek is also the son of Alex Trebek, who is a well known game show host in the U.S.

What I loved about this recipe are the two main ingredients – watermelon and jicama. When I went to California to attend college one of my roommates turned me on to jicama. She ate jicama with lime juice and salt, and that’s how eat jicama to this day.

And who doesn’t like watermelon?! Well, I actually have a friend who doesn’t, so I won’t share with him. However, because I still can’t drive because of my hand surgery, I’ve been relying on teenage grocery shoppers for my weekly deliveries. And I ended up with a yellow watermelon!


It tastes the same as the red, of course, but I’m weird about food colors. I prefer red watermelon and red tomatoes.

But I persevered, and wow this salad is incredible. I hope you make it. Seriously.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

1/2 medium shallot
1/2 serrano chile
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons white sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces arugula
1/2 small seedless watermelon (20 ounces) cut into matchsticks
1/4 medium jicama (9 ounces) cut into matchsticks
6 ounces Oaxaca, cut into thin strips

Combine shallot, chile, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt in a blender jar. With blender running, add oil in a steady stream until blended, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Place sunflower seeds and remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has caramelized and amber in color, about 9 minutes.

Pour onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break apart into clusters.

Arrange greens, watermelon and jicama on a large platter. Scatter with cheese strips.

Top with candied seeds and add about 1/2 cup dressing.

Then dig in!

It’s really flavorful with the arugula mixed in with the other ingredients, and the dressing is fabulous.

I’m making it again soon, but omitting the candied sunflower seeds. I didn’t feel they were an integral part of the salad, but if you want crunch, include them.

Mushroom Arugula Pasta Salad

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Even though I was born in the U.S. I wasn’t raised on a traditional American diet. As a result, I’m not fond of many popular foods. Velveeta, although not really a food, comes to mind. As does Miracle Whip.

A few salads I also find unpalatable. Like the over-mayonnaised macaroni salad, salads with poppyseed dressing, and any salad with jello.

Pasta salads should be lovely, flavorful, not drowning in any kind of dressing, and definitely not sugary.

One day this pasta recipe caught my attention. If you’ve never discovered the blog The Vintage Mixer, you need to hop over there. Becky is a beautiful young woman, cook, traveler, adventurer, living in Utah.

She has even written a cookbook.

Her pasta salad contains roasted mushrooms, a definite improvement over raw mushrooms! The pasta in this salad if pesto-filled tortellini, and who doesn’t love tortellini?!! Also included are fresh arugula leaves, plus a simple lemon dressing. Simple but brilliant.

Because it is wintertime, I served this salad warm, with the warm tortellini and roasted mushrooms, and the arugula slightly wilted from the dressing.

Mushroom Arugula Pasta Salad

12 ounces fresh assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
16 ounces pesto-filled tortellini
5 ounces arugula
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss mushrooms in olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh thyme. Spread out onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes.

While mushrooms are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the lemon dressing and set aside.

Once mushrooms are done remove from oven and set aside.

Drain tortellini and toss with a little oil.

Once tortellini has cooled slightly, toss with the arugula and lemon dressing.

Let the arugula warm and “wilt” for a few minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and Parmesan gently.

Top with shaved Parmesan and serve.

As you can tell, I also sprinkled on some pomegranate seeds and microgreens over the salad for the sake of festivity!

note: After visiting 4 stores, I had to finally settle on cheese tortellini. Maybe I have to go to Utah for Becky’s pesto-filled tortellini!

Asparagus Gremolata

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No, you didn’t read it wrong. This isn’t asparagus with gremolata, this is actually gremolata made with asparagus!

I’m the first to snicker when cooking terms are wrongly or “loosely” used – especially on menus! Sometimes it just makes it hard to figure out what the dish is. Names like “confit” and “coulis” and now, “gremolata.”

Gremolata is a fabulous condiment of sorts, Italian in origin, made up of lemon, parsley, and garlic. It’s often served with Osso Bucco, but it’s also good with roasted meats.

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My husband and I once dined at a restaurant that served us bread with gremolata as soon as we sat down. Within a short time, the restaurant had run out of gremolata, probably because of us devouring it!

In any case, my friends had me over for my birthday in April, and I sat down to a lovely meal of steaks, grilled by him, and pasta with asparagus gremolata, made by her.

She told me it was called asparagus gremolata, and it was in a recent Bon Appetit. I was a little confused because I was familiar with traditional gremolata. In any case, it so so ingredible, I got the recipe from her and I’m making it. Here’s the recipe, photographed from the magazine.

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Besides serving the asparagus gremolata with meats and fish, Bon Appetit suggested adding pasta and arugula, which is how it was served to me. I used half spinach and half arugula!

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There was a little prep work involved, but it didn’t take much time. One thing I did was to remove the ends of the asparagus spears, so that only the thinly sliced asparagus stems were part of the gremolata.

The sliced asparagus was rinsed multiple times in icy water to keep it crisp. I was so tempted to parboil the asparagus, but it was so good as my friend made it that I didn’t want to change a thing!

A ribbon pasta would be beautiful tossed with the gremolata, but I chose pipe rigate.

Once the gremolata, the pasta and the arugula/spinach combo was tossed together, I added much needed salt and a generous amount of olive oil.

You can treat this dish as a side dish, or also like a pasta salad.

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It would be good with some shaved Parmesan as well.

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Although the arugula adds some spiciness, I could see sprinkling a little cayenne pepper flakes on the top of the pasta.

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But I just offered salt and pink peppercorns. Enjoy!

note: What was especially nice about the whole dinner, is that many friends won’t cook for me! That made the whole celebration even that more wonderful. People, if you have friends who are cooks, whether it’s their main passion in life, a hobby, or their livelihood, please cook for them! They will love it!

Pear Vinaigrette

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You may find this fact hard to believe, but I’ve never purchased a bottled salad dressing or vinaigrette! I honestly don’t understand why anyone would. Don’t take this the wrong way if you happen to like them, but to me, they’re a real waste of money. And that’s besides the fact that you are also investing in chemicals and preservatives, in most cases. (In all honesty I sometimes have ranch dressing around, but I also have a good mix that’s better.)

But for me, even without the financial aspect, what’s more important is making my own vinaigrettes depending on my mood, what kind of salad I want to make, and the season. I’ve actually taught vinaigrette making in classes before. They’re so easy to make, and they’re way healthier because you control the ingredients. There are an infinite number of creative ways to make vinaigrettes.

When I cooked for a family for so many years, I never made the same dressing twice. So trust me, there are potentially multitudes of vinaigrettes.

There are two basic components to a vinaigrette – the vinegar and the oil. Think about all of the vinegar choices these days! There’s apple cider, red wine, rice wine, white balsamic, and the list goes on. It’s also important to consider the color of the vinegar when you’re choosing one, as well as the flavor you want.

If you’re not too fond of vinegar, try using rice wine vinegar. It’s less strong than the others. And if you like a touch of sweetness, try white balsamic vinegar. It’s clear as well, so it mixes with anything. Balsamic vinegar is pretty powerful, so I usually don’t use it in vinaigrettes. I prefer it as is. Plus, the brown color can “ruin” a pretty salad if you’re not careful.

There are also fruit vinegars that can be purchased and used in vinaigrettes. I bought a raspberry one once and it was awful. And it even said “all natural” flavors on the label. A good reason to make your own fruit vinegars at home! (Which I never have but I know they’re very straight forward and easy!)

Then there are the oils – extra virgin olive oil, of course, but also hazelnut, avocado, walnut oil, and so forth. These don’t add huge amounts of flavors, but they’re all delicious. And it’s fun to mix and match them to the vinegars.

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Garlic is a common ingredient in my vinaigrettes that I make at home. Mostly because I love garic. But if you’re making a very subtly flavored vinaigrette you might have to back off from the garlic. It can overpower. The same goes for ginger and shallots. But they both work in a vinaigrette as well.

Now we come to the fun stuff. Think about these additions – frozen orange juice, sun dried tomatoes, beet juice, reduced leftover champagne, herbs, apple cider, mango, roasted red bell peppers, pesto, harissa, chimichuri sauce, avocado, strawberries, and on and on. All of these “accessory” ingredients can be added to a basic vinaigrette to create a really unique flavor. I’ve only listed a few.

Today, because it’s autumn and the pears are ripe and delicious, I’m making a pear vinaigrette. I wanted to make a composed salad of butter lettuce, some cabbage and carrots, a few mushrooms and hearts of palm slices, lentils, and some grilled chicken. The pairing with the pear vinaigrette sounded perfect to me.

I chose to use apple cider vinegar and walnut oil, just for fun, along with a whole pear.

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Pear Vinaigrette

1 whole pear, cored
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut oil

Place the pear, vinegar, garlic and salt in a blender jar.

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Blend until smooth. You have to make sure that the garlic is blended. It will look like this:

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Keep blending on low, and gradually pour all of the walnut oil into the pear-vinegar mixture. It will be nice and smooth like this:

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Serve immediately, and store any excess in a jar in the refrigerator.

Although it may not last long because it’s fabulous!

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