Category:  Salads

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Caprese Salad with Basil Almond Pesto

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Salads On July 12, 2012 0 Comments

The classic Caprese Salad consists of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and basil leaves. I’ve changed this recipe because I like tweaking and creating new recipes.

My version has some fresh pesto sandwiched between the tomato and mozzarella. There are no words or emotions to describe the luscious flavors of this Caprese with Basil Almond Pesto!

Prep time: 7 to 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

2 to 3 ripe tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
salt and pepper, to taste
6 to 8 teaspoons Basil Almond Pesto (found in our Recipes, under “Salad Dressings, Salsas & Savory Sauces)
1 pound fresh mozzarella balls (these are called “bocconcini” or small bites)
4 to 6 large, fresh basil leaves

1. Slice the tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices and lay on a serving platter.

2. Drizzle the oil over tomato slices, followed by salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Spread 1 teaspoon Basil Almond Pesto on each tomato slice.

4. Drain all water from the mozzarella bocconcini and, on a cutting board, gently cut them in half.

5. Lay each one, flat side down, over the pesto and tomato (the rounded side of bocconcini should be face-up).

5. Drizzle some olive oil over each tomato-bocconcini component, followed by salt and pepper, to taste.

6. Cut the basil leaves in slivers and use them to decorate the plate or to decorate the salad.

Enjoy as a starter or salad course.

Text and Photograph © 2012 Nancy DeLucia Real.

Persian Cucumber Salad

In Salads On June 22, 2012 0 Comments

Besides pairing cucumbers with dips, or adding them in slices to lettuce salads, how can you use them as a main ingredient?

I found the answer to this question in the cuisine of Iran (2,000 years ago, Iran was called Persia). Inspired by the amazing foods of my Persian friends and the restaurants they’ve introduced me to, I’ve made Persian Cucumber Salad.

This delicious salad has a mélange of red onion, red bell pepper, fresh dill, olive oil, lime juice and, the star of the show – Persian cucumbers. Persian cukes are smaller than the  standard ones, but more flavorful. Enjoy this fresh and healthy salad all summer!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4

1 to 1-1/4 pounds Persian cucumbers, about 5 to 6 count (available in Middle Eastern markets)
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, set in cold water for 1 minute and drained
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill weed
Juice of 1 lime
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt and ground, black pepper, to taste

1. Working on a cutting board, remove and discard tips of cucumbers.

2. Peel cucumbers and rinse them under cold, running water.

3. Using paper towels, pat dry the cucumbers and transfer them to cutting board.

4. Cut cucumbers in half, lengthwise.

5. Cut each cucumber piece in half again, lengthwise.

6. Chop cucumbers in 1/2-inch pieces and transfer them to a large glass or porcelain bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients and toss.

7. Taste and adjust seasonings (olive oil, salt and pepper).

Serve Persian Cucumber Salad immediately with Lavosh or Pita breads* as an appetizer or as a side dish to meat, poultry or fish.

Note: *Lavosh is a flatbread typically served in Persian cuisine and is sold in large, rectangular sheets. Pita bread is served in Middle Eastern cuisine (various countries). It is flat, round and when cut in half Pita bread can be opened like a pocket and filled like a sandwich.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real.

Desperation Salad

In Salads On August 13, 2011 0 Comments


 What do you do when you look in the fridge expecting to find that barbeque chicken YOU bought but only see two chicken legs and thighs? First, you have to get over the fact that your own family members cheated you out of the best part of that chicken. Once the trauma’s over, your creative wheels start spinning. And then, you make a meal of whatever items you desperately grab in the fruit/veggie drawer.

All of the above happened to me last month. I ended up creating one of the most artistic and delicious salads I’ve ever made in my life – here it is.

Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Serves: 2

2 barbequed chicken legs, skin and bone discarded and meat cut into cubes
2 barbequed chicken thighs, skin and bone discarded and meat cut into cubes
2 celery stalks, peeled and thinly sliced (diagonally)
1-1/2 cups diced Cantaloup melon
1 large, vine-ripened tomato, cubed
3 tablespoons slivered Italian flat-leaf parsley (do this with cooking shears or scissors)
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lime or lemon
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl.

2. Toss and taste.

3. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Wine pairing suggestion: Chilled Verdejo (white).

*Note: I prefer two types of chicken: organic chicken from Wholefoods® stores; and Mary’s Free Range Chicken® (vegetarian diet; no antibiotics or preservatives).

Text & Photographs © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Hearts of Palm & Olives

In Salads, Vegetables On April 16, 2011 0 Comments

A few years ago, while standing in the canned vegetables aisle of a supermarket, I picked up a can of hearts of palm, looked at it and thought, “I know I ate these somewhere, but they looked boring and tasted bland. Maybe tonight I can turn these ‘palmitos’ into an exciting dish”. Later that day, as I prepared dinner for my friends, I cut the hearts of palm into bite-size pieces and tossed them with olives, lemon, and other ingredients I had on hand.

My novelty appetizer-salad not only looked fresh and inviting, but my guests were amazed at how hearts of palm could become such a colorful and exquisite appetizer. That night, the Hearts of Palm & Olives must have been an instant hit because I never had a chance to put any on my plate.

Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

One 14-ounce can Roland’s® Hearts of Palm, drained and rinsed
½ cup Spanish olives
2 tablespoons chopped red onion, rinsed in cold water (excess water squeezed out of onion)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh, Italian flat-leaf parsley and 1 sprig (for garnish)
1 celery stalk, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
Juice of ½ lime
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients (except the sprig of parsley) and gently toss together.

2. Taste and adjust oil and/or seasonings.

3. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley sprig.

Serve immediately as an appetizer, accompanied by cheese, bread, your favorite wine, friends and music.

Note: “Palmitos” is Spanish for “hearts of palm”. The country with the largest production of palmitos is Costa Rica.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Caesar Salad (Eggless recipe)

In Salads On March 29, 2011 3 Comments

Inspired by the Original Caesar Salad from Caesar’s Restaurante Bar (published on this blog), I came up with this version of the salad sans egg. I made both salads the same day for my husband and son. They were clearly impressed – they couldn’t even tell that there was no egg in this recipe. The consistency is a little thinner than the original Caesar Salad recipe, but my end note clearly states how to thicken the dressing. As they told me in Mexico last week, “Buen Provecho” (Bon Appetit)!

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 2 as main course; 4 as appetizer course

1 head Romaine lettuce, dark outer leaves discarded
1 tablespoon plain, nonfat yogurt or mayonnaise*
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon® brand preferred)
2 teaspoons anchovy paste can be substituted
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup oil (in a 3/4-cup measure, combine half each extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil – a perfect blend!)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Garlic croutons, for garnish (can be substituted with plain baguette toasts or Kalamata olive bread toasts)
2 to 4 leaves of Italian (flat leaf) parsley, for garnish
2 to 4 pitted Kalamata olives, for garnish

1. Rinse lettuce leaves under cold water; spin them dry and gently pat with paper towels.

2. Refrigerate lettuce leaves for at least 1 hour or more (this can be done the night before or early in the morning the day of).

3. Meanwhile, in a large wooden or stainless steel bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic, mustard, anchovy paste, Worchestershire sauce, vinegar, lime juice, the lesser amount of salt and black pepper until well blended; set aside.

4. Slowly whisk in the combined oils in a stream until dressing emulsifies and all oil is absorbed.

5. Stir half of the cheese into the dressing and reserve the other half. Taste and adjust salt level, if needed.

6. Add the whole Romaine lettuce leaves to the dressing in bowl and gently roll them around until they are thoroughly coated. Alternatively, tear the leaves into slightly larger than bite-size pieces and then coat them with the dressing.

7. Divide the salad evenly among 2 or 4 plates. Garnish each serving with remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, a few croutons, 1 parsley leaf and 1 olive placed in center of salad.

Serve immediately.

*Note: Before tossing the lettuce leaves into the dressing in bowl, you may thicken the dressing by adding 1 additional tablespoon of plain yogurt or mayonnaise.

Also, rather than saving half the grated cheese for garnish, I prefer to stir it all into the dressing before coating the Romaine leaves.

Recipe inspired by Original Caesar Salad Recipe of Caesar Restaurante Bar, Tijuana, Mexico
Text and Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real