Heart Healthy – Feta and Green Onion Couscous Cakes over Tomato-Olive Salad

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The basics of eating healthy are quite simple actually: choosing a variety of fresh, natural (as opposed to processed) foods and enjoying them in moderation. But with the wealth of foods, supplements, and information on micronutrients, preparation methods, storage methods and numerous other topics that healthy eaters now have access to, the details can be overwhelming. For today’s Heart-Healthy selection this Middle Eastern dish adds interest and multiple flavors to our quest of eating healthy.

Ingredients

Cakes:

1/3 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons egg substitute
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cooking spray
Salad:
2/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups Acadian salad greens

Preparation

1. To prepare cakes, place couscous in a medium bowl; stir in 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover and let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cool slightly. Add cheese and the next 3 ingredients (through pepper). Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Spoon about 1/3 cup couscous mixture into 4 mounds in pan. Lightly press with a spatula to flatten to 1/2 inch. Cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Coat tops of cakes with cooking spray. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 2 minutes or until heated.

2. To prepare salad, combine tomato and next 5 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon pepper). Arrange 1 1/2 cups greens on each of 2 plates. Top each serving with 1/2 cup tomato mixture; arrange 2 cakes over tomato mixture.

 

Tuscan al Fresco – Insalata

panzanella

Panzanella-Italian bread Salad

For this recipe you’ll need a good, dense loaf of bread that is at least a day old! Italians always find a way to use leftover bread…  in Tuscany there is Pappa al Pomodoro as a regional specialty using leftover bread, also very delicious. Panzanella is considered a summer dish as the tomatoes and cucumber should be fresh and have that wholesome summer taste (something winter produce seems to often lack) but you can still try it anytime of the year! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces with your hands
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices thick stale country style Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces.

Preparation:

  1. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic and basil. Drizzle with the 1/2 cup olive oil and the 3 tbsp vinegar, season with salt and pepper and toss well.
  2. Place half of the bread in a wide, shallow bowl. If the bread is quite stale and dry, you should first spoon a few tbsp of water over the bread and let it soak some of the water up, then with your hands squeeze all of the water out and place bread in a different bowl before proceeding. If it isn’t too stale or didn’t have any, then you can skip this step.
  3. Spoon half of the tomato mixture over the bread. Layer the remaining bread on top and then the remaining tomato mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or until serving time. Just before serving, toss the salad and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. At this point the bread should have assorbed the water from the tomatoes and be all moist. If the bread seems dry for some reason, add a little bit of olive oil and toss well. Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

 

 

Caprese Salad

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Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish).

Caprese is truly a magical and perfect combination of flavors, textures, and freshness: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and some kind of drizzle of either olive oil or balsamic…or both.

This is one of the easiest and yet elegant and colorful salads to prepare and serve. Your  guests will love you for it.

Ingredients:

3 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper

Preparation:

Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Inspire The Chef – The Salad !

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SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD 

Ingredients:

2 bunches spinach, rinsed and
torn into bite-size pieces.

4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Preparation:

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

Stack Your Salad

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“So often we serve food family style at dinner parties, and miss out on the wow factor of serving our guests composed plates. Beautifully plated food, like what you get in a great restaurant, makes eating more fun and certainly more stylish. “

Stacked Cobb Salad

From Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation, by Christopher Styler

Rethinking the arrangement of ingredients is one of the hallmarks of the architectural style. Here, the ingredients of a traditional cobb salad are stacked one atop the other, purely for fun and looks. Just as the “spokes” of a traditional cobb salad last for a moment or two until tossed together, this tower makes its statement, then tumbles into disarray as one starts to eat it. Choose layers of the ingredients that complement each other in terms of flavor, color, and texture. (The ingredients should also be large and moist enough to hold their shape—coarsely chopped nuts, for example, won’t.) Clearly defined layers are the key; picture this cobb salad as if it had been plated after all the ingredients were tossed together, then tamped into the mold.

Step 1

Place a tomato slice in the center of the plate to form the base of the stack. If the tomato is very juicy, drain it on paper towels for a few minutes. Set the mold over the tomato slice. In this case an empty tomato can serves as a mold, but a length of clean, unused PVC pipe works equally well.

Step 2

Spoon the first layer of the salad into the mold. Gently tamp down to help the stack hold its shape after unmolding.

Step 3

Continue adding layers, gently tamping down each, until the mold is filled.

Step 4

Remove the mold from the salad, lifting it straight up to keep the stack intact

Butternut Squash And Root Vegetable Slaw

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Ingredients Slaw:

  • 1 1/2 cups each shredded raw butternut squash, rutabaga, and sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded raw celery root
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 peeled, quartered, cored apples cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup 1″ pieces chives
  • 3/4 cup  Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Ingredients Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped  parsley
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil

Preparation Vinaigrette:

Whisk the mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar and chopped parsley together in a bowl.
Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until thickened.
Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Bring to room temperature before using.

Preparation Slaw:

Combine 1 1/2 cups each shredded raw  butternut squash, rutabaga, and sweet potato in a large resealable plastic bag. Place 1 1/2 cups shredded raw celery root in a large bowl of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to prevent browning; cover. Chill shredded vegetables overnight. Drain celery root. Transfer shredded vegetables to a large bowl. Add 2 peeled, quartered, cored apples cut into matchstick-size pieces (we love crisp, balanced Fuji). Add 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves and 1/2 cup 1″ pieces chives. Add 3/4 cup  Apple Cider Vinaigrette; toss to coat.

Add more vinaigrette, if desired. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Chef Lynnie’s Crab Salad

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Right now in the South, it  is hot, humid and miserable.  Who wants to be in a hot kitchen?  I have the perfect solution for you.  This recipe is healthy, it builds energy and so refreshing on these warm days.  Try it and let me know what you think. Buon Appetito

Ingredients:

1 lb crabmeat, fresh (can use canned)

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (to taste, if prefer spicy go up to 1 tablespoon)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (important to use Hellman’s)

1/4 cup red pepper, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1 small spring onion, minced

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard (Dijon can be subbed)

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 1 dash Tabasco sauce (add more for additional spicy taste)

2 Avocados

Preparation:

1 Carefully comb through crab meat for any extra shells.

2 Making sure not to break up crab, marinate crab pieces with Italian dressing for about 1 hour. But if you don’t get a chance, ten minutes works well too.

3 Mix all other ingredients in a medium bowl thoroughly  with spatula, again not to break up pieces.

Chil in fridge for an hour or so.

5 Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove seed. Slice off a tiny bit of the avocado bottom so each half will not roll around on the plate.

6  Fill seedless avocado with chilled crab mixture, plate and serve.