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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Herbs

TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Salad With Berries & Mandarins

A salad so fruity, you could have it for
dessert. Photo courtesy
PeachValleyCafe.com.

 

Doesn’t this salad from Florida-based Peach Valley Café burst with summer?

Blueberries, mandarin segments, strawberries, frisée and baby greens are garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds and homemade peach ginger dressing.

You can add or substitute any other seasonal fruits: bananas, peaches, kiwi or other favorites.

GINGER PEACH DRESSING

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons flaked coconut
  •  

    OPTIONAL SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • Lettuce: bibb/Boston, endive/radicchio, frisée, mesclun, romaine
  • Fruit: bananas, berries, kiwi, mandarin or orange, nectarines, peaches, pineapple
  • Onion: chive, green onion, red onion, sweet onion
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, chia, flaxseed, pecans, pepitas
  •  
    Mix, match and enjoy.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blue Salad ~ Blue Cheese, Blueberries

    blue-blueberry-summer-salad-driscolls-230

    Shoo the blues: a summer salad with
    blueberries and blue cheese. Photo courtesy
    Driscoll’s.

     

    You’ll shoo the blues away with this “blue salad”: blue cheese, fresh blueberries and homemade blueberry vinaigrette. The recipe is from Driscoll’s Berries.

    The homemade blueberry vinegar will stay fresh for six months and can be gifted to your favorite cook(s).

    Prep time is 10 minutes for the salad, 35 minutes for the vinegar.

    RECIPE: BLUE SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE & BLUEBERRIES

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cups blueberry vinegar (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 cups mixed lettuces (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 package fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cups walnut halves, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives or thinly sliced green onion
  •  

    Homemade Blueberry Vinegar

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) fresh blueberries
  • 3 cups white vinegar (we used the less harsh cider vinegar and halved the sugar)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the blueberry vinegar. Place blueberries and vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. (Note that when heating vinegar or acidic foods, it’s important to use a non-reactive saucepan such as stainless steel, non-stick or enamel. Aluminum or cast-iron pans react with acid and can cause a metallic taste.)

    2. ADD the sugar and orange zest; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain though a mesh sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Pour into glass container. Refrigerate for up to 6 months.

    3. MAKE the vinaigrette. Combine the blueberry vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a screw-top jar or medium bowl. Shake or whisk well to blend.

    4. TOSS the lettuces, blueberries, walnuts, cheese and chives in a large bowl with the desired amount of blueberry vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

     

    blueberries-basket-balduccis-230sq

    Summer is blueberry season. Make blueberry vinaigrette as gifts for friends. Photo courtesy Balducci’s.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Smoked Salmon Potato Salad

    Summer means potato salad, and you can never have too many good potato salad recipes.

    This one, from Tiffany Ludwig of Zabar’s, uses the stores famous smoked salmon to excellent effect. “With capers, dill and smoked salmon,” says Tiffany, “this simple summer dish transforms brunch or lunch into a spectacular meal.”

    Tiffany urges that the key to a great-tasting potato salad is to eat it right away, before refrigerating. Yes, refrigerate any leftovers, but enjoy it first as a fresh dish. You’ll appreciate it even more after you compare the refrigerated version.

    RECIPE: SMOKED SALMON POTATO SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ½ cup smoked salmon, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • ¼ cup quality mayonnaise
  • Coarse salt for the water (about 1 tablespoon)
  •  

    smoked-salmon-potato-salad-zabars-230r

    Smoked salmon potato salad. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. BOIL a large pot of well salted water. While the water is boiling, wash and dice the potatoes. You can leave the skins on, since they add color and nutrition. Dice into ½ inch cubes, add to the boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked through and are a little “fluffy” on the outside.

    2. DRAIN the potatoes in a colander. Don’t rinse, or you’ll remove the starch coating that lets other ingredients adhere. Cool to room temperature; don’t refrigerate.

    3. MIX in the mayonnaise to thoroughly coat the potatoes.

    4. ADD the red onion, capers, smoked salmon and dill and stir until evenly mixed. Plate and enjoy.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Cobb Salad

    asian-cobb-east&westYotelNYC-230-1

    This delicious salad is dramatically plated on
    an oval platter, but we had to cut the photo
    in half. Photo courtesy Yotel New York.

     

    We love East-West fusion food, and there’s no better source for it than East & West at Club Lounge in the Yotel New York.

    RECIPE: ASIAN COBB SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Salad

  • 1 bag Asian blend mixed greens bags
  • 4 large spicy grilled chicken breasts (marinade recipe below), diced
  • 1 package firm tofu, diced
  • 2 large avocados, diced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1 small golden pineapple, diced large
  • 1 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • Soy Ginger Dressing, recipe below
  •  
    For The Soy Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seed, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cup mirin
  • 1 cup salad oil (we blended 3/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup sesame oil)
  •  
    For The Chicken Marinade

  • 1 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  •  

    Ingredients For The Candied Nuts

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese tograshi pepper
  •  
    †The main ingredient in togarashi red pepper seasoning is red pepper flakes. If you want to create a substitute, use cayenne pepper or dried, crushed chiles; sesame seeds; dried, crushed seaweed and dried citrus peel.
     
    Preparation

    1. MARINATE the chicken for 2 hours. In a sauté pan or grill, cook the chicken on a medium heat until the skin gets crispy on one side; flip it and cook the rest of the way (this should take about 10 minutes). Cool and then dice for the salad.

    2. MAKE the candied nuts. Preheat a convection oven to 300°F. While the oven is heating, combine all ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until the honey coats all of the almonds. Spread them evenly on a large baking sheet (ideally on a silpat) and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool before chopping for the salad.

     

    asian-cobb-east&westYotelNYC-230-2

    The other half of the salad. Photo courtesy Yotel | NYC.

     

    3. MAKE the vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a blender and process. Strain and reserve for salad.

    4. PLACE mesclun mix in a large salad bowl. Arrange the topping in rows across the salad, keeping like colors separated. This is the most dramatic way of presenting a Cobb Salad. If you prefer, you can pre-toss the salad instead.

    5. SERVE with the vinaigrette on the side.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE COBB SALAD

    Here’s how the Cobb Salad came to be, plus a recipe for a Cobb Salad Sandwich.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Watermelon Cucumbers

    watermelon-cucumbers-melissas-230a

    Mini watermelon cucumbers: fun food. Photo
    courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Cucumbers and watermelons are first cousins. Both are from the binomial order Cucurbitales and family Cucurbitaceae, differing only at the genus level: Cucumis for cucumber (the common cucumber genus/species is C. sativus) and Citrullus for watermelon (C. lanatus).

    That’s why you can eat the white portion of watermelon rind—it tastes just like cucumber—or turn it into pickled watermelon rind, a.k.a. watermelon pickles.

    And how about these tiny watermelon cucumbers (in photo), an heirloom cucumber variety native to Mexico and South America? They look like miniature watermelons, but taste like cucumbers.

    They’re available now at Melissas.com.

    The small fruits are often marketed as Mexican sour gherkin cucumbers, although they are not sour. Rather, they have a slightly sweet, refreshing flavor with a hint of lemon. They are cute, crunchy and perfect for pickling.

     
    To pickle, use the same recipe as for pickled watermelon rind. The pickles will taste like sweet gherkins.
     
    HOW TO USE WATERMELON CUCUMBERS

  • As novelty crudités
  • On skewers with ham and cheese cubes or marinated mozzarella balls
  • Grilled on skewers with vegetables and/or meats
  • Pickled as a condiment with sandwiches, burgers, grilled meat and fish
  •  
    TIP: Always store whole cucumbers in the vegetable crisper section of your fridge.
     
    MORE EXOTIC CUCUMBERS

    Take a look at the lemon cucumber and the crystal apple cucumber which look, respectively, like lemons and apples.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Grow Vegetables Into Hearts & Stars

    It’s too late to grow vegetables in star shapes for this July 4th, but you can plan ahead for next year. While you’re at it, plan to grow and freeze some heart-shaped slices for Valentine’s Day or anniversaries.

    If only we had a small plot of land, we’d grow cucumbers and tomatoes just so we could create these heart- and star-shaped vegetables. What fun for crudités, salads, cocktail garnishes and general garnishes.

    The long plastic tube-shaped, snap-on molds are placed over young vegetables; as they grow, they take on the heart and star shapes of the tubes as the fruits grow and mature.

    They’re ideal for cucumbers, plum tomatoes and summer squash.

    When the veggies are mature, simply open the mold and harvest the fruits. Slice them diagonally to reveal the shape of hearts and stars. The plastic molds can be reused year after year.

  • Fun gift for your favorite vegetable gardener.
  • Inspiration for the kids to grow vegetables.
  •    

    tomato-hearts-stars-burpee-230

    Tomato hearts and stars. Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     

     

    heart-zucchini-burpee-molds-230

    Grow your own: Crunchy cucumbers are
    shaped into stars. Photo courtesy
    Burpee.com.

     

    Get yours at Burpee.com.

    Then, plan your “molded” garden:

  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Plum tomato
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  •  
    Any other ideas for what might work?

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Eat Less Red Meat

    People who love red meat tend to like large amounts of it. A one-pound strip steak? Sure, that’s a “normal portion,” just like a pint of ice cream.

    You can cut back on the ounces by enjoying your steak in a taco or on a salad. A few slices equal the three-ounce portions that nutritionists and healthcare professionals recommend, and you still get your steak delivered in a delicious way.

    Steak tacos and steak salad are also ways to stretch leftover steak or other grilled meat (we especially enjoy a grilled lamb salad).

    RECIPE: STEAK TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE SLAW & AVOCADO SALSA

    This recipe is from QVC’s David Venable. David suggests: “A fun way to make sure you get a beer that will go with your meal is to shop by region. If you’re cooking a big Italian meal, try an Italian beer. If you’re going Mexican, stock up on your Coronas. Try this recipe with a dark Mexican beer (like Negra Modelo) to match the heartiness of the steak.”

    Ingredients

    For The Steak

  • 1 2-pound-to-2-1/2 pound flank steak
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 package (10-12 count) 8″ soft taco shells
  •    

    steak-tacos-target-230jpg

    Steak tacos let you enjoy steak—just less of it. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    For The Chipotle Slaw

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons canned chipotle in adobo (or more, to taste), chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 cups shredded cabbage
  •  
    For The Avocado Salsa

  • 3 avocados, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1/2 of a large jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/3 fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  

    steak_salad_McC-230

    Steak salad (recipe below) provides the opportunity to enjoy steak and salad, while cutting back on the steak. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the marinade. Combine the garlic, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, jalapeño and chili powder in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely minced.

    2. PLACE the flank steak in a large zip-top plastic bag, pour in the marinade and squeeze out any excess air before sealing. Allow the steak to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours; do not exceed 8 hours.

    3. PREPARE the slaw. Combine the sour cream, milk, chipotle and vinegar in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the cabbage and stir until it’s completely coated with dressing.

    4. PREPARE the salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl; toss until combined. If kept refrigerated, this can be made up to 2 hours prior to serving.

    5. GRILL the steak: Preheat a barbecue or indoor grill and set the temperature to medium high. Grill the steak for 8 minutes on each side, or to your desired degree of doneness. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting, diagonally across the grain, into thin slices.

    6. ASSEMBLE the tacos. Place 4-5 slices of steak in a taco shell, top with approximately a quarter cup of salsa and the same amount of slaw.

     

    RECIPE: STEAK SALAD

    Hearty greens, including spinach, peppery arugula and bitter watercress, are good counterpoints to the steak. In the summer, a garnish of berries adds seasonal festiveness.

    Ingredients

  • Mixed greens (try mixed greens, including arugula and baby spinach)
  • Kalamata olives (or olive of choice)
  • Raw mushrooms, sliced
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Halved cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomato wedges
  • Grilled steak, lamb or other meat
  • Optional: blue cheese or goat cheese
  • Optional: blueberries or other berries
  • Vinaigrette (soy sauce mixed with rice wine vinegar makes a delicious, low-calorie dressing)
  •  
    Also check out this Thai Beef Salad.

    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. TOSS salad greens with tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, olives and dressing.

    2. LAYER sliced steak atop the salad. Garnish with crumbled or sliced cheese and berries.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Radish & Stone Fruit Salad

    Fruit-and-Radish-Salad-gentyHyers-chefscollectiveFB-230

    A salad can be much more than dressed
    leafy greens. Photo courtesy Gentyl & Hyers
    | Chefs Collaborative.

     

    Chef’s Collaborative is a nonprofit, national network of member chefs who work to promote clean, sustainable food. They’ve created a cookbook of recipes that are imaginative and refreshing, yet can be enjoyed every day. Sign up for the newsletter on the website for additional ideas.

    The unconventional “salad” recipe below strays from the well-worn path of green vegetables.

    There’s nothing leafy, instead presenting a mélange of peppery radishes, tangy feta cheese, sweet peaches and earthy almonds. You can substitute mangoes or strawberries when peaches are not in season.

    The recipe is the creation of member chef Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. You can serve it as a separate salad course or as a side dish. Prep time is 20 minutes.

     
    RECIPE: RADISH & FETA SALAD WITH STONE FRUIT SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 3 to 4 radishes
  • 2 pounds fresh peaches, strawberries, or mangoes, peeled or stemmed as needed) and cut into 1/4-inch slices or wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or other mild vinegar like white balsamic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup mild feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  •  

    PREPARATION

    1. CUT the onions into thinly slices, using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. You should end up with about 1/4 cup.

    2. FILL a small bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes and soak the onions for 5 minutes. This mellows the sharp bite typical of raw onions and makes them crisp. Drain the onions and pat dry with paper towels. Thinly slice the radishes.

    3. COMBINE the oil and vinegar in a bowl with some salt and black pepper and whisk to combine. Add the peaches, onions, radishes, and basil, tossing gently to evenly coat the ingredients. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.

    4. DIVIDE the salad equally among six plates and top with the crumbled feta and toasted almonds.

     

    The-Chefs-Collaborative-Cookbook-230

    Chefs Collaborative Cookbook: Local, Sustainable, Delicious: Recipes from America’s Great Chefs. The cookbook is a cornucopia of recipes with bright, fresh flavors. Photo courtesy Taunton Press.

     

    GET THE COOKBOOK

    We rarely thumb through a cookbook and want to make everything. Get this one as a gift for yourself or anyone who likes imaginative seasonal cuisine.

    You can purchase it on Amazon.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bacon Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    Another way to enjoy bacon: stuffed into mushrooms. Photo courtesy Dietz & Watson.

     

    When we saw this recipe for Gourmet Bacon Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms from Dietz & Watson, it seemed like a companion recipe to these Mushroom Stuffed Bacon Cheeseburgers.

    You can make them as a first course or as hors d’oeuvre.

    RECIPE: BACON-STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 6 large portabella mushrooms or 18 Baby Bellas, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach, chopped
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces mozzarella, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1 pound bacon, diced small
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F.

    2. REMOVE stems from the mushroom caps, finely chop and reserve.

    3. COAT a baking sheet with oil. Bake the mushroom caps, stem-side down, until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

    4. ADD the bacon and cook until crisp. Add the garlic and onion, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped mushroom steams and cook until the pan is dry, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach, toss the skillet, until spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

    5. TRANSFER the spinach mixture to a medium bowl, add the breadcrumbs and cheese and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    6. TURN the mushroom caps stem-side up, fill with the stuffing and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

    Find more recipes at DietzAndWatson.com.

     

    bacon-strip-igourmet-230

    Crumble bacon into mushroom caps. Photo courtesy iGourmet.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Whole Carrots

    roasted-whole-rainbow-carrots-ohmyveggies-colorfulharvestFB-230r

    Rainbow carrot colors, including the
    now-standard orange, were bred centuries
    and millennia ago from mutations. Photo
    courtesy Colorful Harvest | FB.

     

    Why carrots, you may ask, when such summer bounty abounds? And with all the vegetables to throw onto the grill, how often do you think of carrots?

    Grilling carrots brings out their natural sweetness; the grill contributes a mellow smokey flavor. These grilled rainbow carrots are perfect drizzled with the basil vinaigrette or served with the vinaigrette on the side for dipping.

    And, you can add leftovers to simple green salads for a splash of color and flavor.

    You’re looking for rainbow carrots, that transform the ordinary root veg into something quite spectacular. If you can’t find rainbow carrots (in a specialty produce store or farmers market), simply substitute standard orange carrots. You can also find rainbow baby carrots.

    THE ORIGINAL CARROTS WERE WHITE!

    That’s right: The iconic orange carrot began life as a wild white carrots, similar to parsnips*. With natural mutations, purple and yellow carrots were cultivated more than 1,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan.

    Other colors are the product of generations of traditional plant breeding. Orange carrots were first successfully bred in Holland from an orange mutation by Dutch farmers. Here’s more history of carrots, plus an explanation of how the different hues of carrots get their colors.

     

    Try this recipe for Grilled Rainbow Carrots with Basil Vinaigrette: an eye- and palate-pleaser. It’s from In Sonnet’s Kitchen. Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time 10 minutes.

    As a variation from the vinaigrette, you can use pesto or a honey glaze.
     
    RECIPE: GRILLED RAINBOW CARROTS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2 bunches rainbow carrots
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: snipped herb such as chervil, parsley, rosemary, tarragon or thyme
  •  

    Preparation

    This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. The carrots can also be sliced into smaller pieces before serving.

    1. PREHEAT grill to medium-high. Trim carrot tops as desired and slice carrots in half lengthwise (this decreases cooking time).

    2. TOSS carrots with oil (or oil the grill as needed) and grill for 4-5 minutes, until the carrots develop sear marks and are beginning to soften. Flip, cover and grill for another 4-5 minutes. Carrots should be softened, but still retain their crunch. Meanwhile…

    3. BLEND the vinegar, basil and olive oil into a vinaigrette. Season to taste. Serve drizzled over the carrots or on the side for dipping.

    4. GARNISH with herbs and serve.

     
    *Carrots (Daucus carota) and parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) are both members of the Apiaceae family, which includes caraway, celery, chervil, dill and fennel.

     

    roasted-carrots-kristin-theendlessmeal-colorfulharvestFB-230

    Yellow carrots were bred from a mutation of the original white carrots. Here, they’re served with pesto. Photo courtesy The Endless Meal.

     

      

    Comments

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