Monday, June 28, 2010

Warm Spinach Salad with Grapes and Pancetta

"A good spinach salad is always a welcome addition to your recipe collection, and this one is a winner.  It makes an excellent starter to a seafood or pasta dinner, or a light main course all on its own."

2 bunches fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 cup (4 ounces) chopped pancetta (or substitute bacon if pancetta is unavailable)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup greed, red, and/or black grapes
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/4 medium onion)
1/2 cup shaved or grated Parmesan cheese

Place the spinach in a large bowl; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until almost crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.  Do not drain. 

Add the pine nuts to the pan with the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until they become lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

Add the grapes and red onion and continue to cook until warmed through.  Pour the dressing over the pancetta mixture and bring to a boil.  Pour the hot dressing over the prepared spinach.  Toss quickly to coat the leaves.  Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan shavings and serve.

Serves 6

My Review

I would eat spinach everyday if it was this beautiful salad!  The salty crunch of pancetta is always a treat and it pairs nicely with the grapes.  Pine nuts add a rich touch and the dressing with red onion is zingy.  Loved this one!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Curried Summer Squash Soup

"This flavorful soup gets its smooth texture from yogurt and pureed chickpeas, which also offer a nice hit of protein.  It's satisfying chilled or warm."

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 t curry powder
2 medium yellow squash, chopped (3 cups)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt
2 T chopped fresh basil

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Stir in squash and onion, cover, and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is softened, about 8 minutes.

Add broth and chickpeas, bring to a simmer, and remove from the heat. 

Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender (or a stick blender works great too) and puree until smooth.  Return pureed soup to the pan with the rest of the soup and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer soup to a covered container and refrigerate until chilled, about 45 minutes.

Divide soup amoung 4 bowls, top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of basil, and serve.

Makes 4 servings

My Review

Yum.  What a fabulous soup!  We ate this soup warm today because it might as well be Fall here in Seattle.  But leftovers were popped into the fridge and we'll try it chilled tomorrow. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chicken with Rhubarb Sauce

"This dish is quintessentially French in execution, with a Northwest twist- rhubarb.  The rhubarb melds with the butter, leeks, and onions to form a subtle tasty sauce."

1 T butter
1 leek, white part only, washed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 t butter
Half an onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6-inch stalk of fresh rhubarb, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 T chicken broth or water
6 chicken breasts, boned, skinned, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt or granulated garlic to taste
Flour, for dredging chicken pieces
 2 T butter
1 cup chicken broth
 Salt and pepper to taste
2 T Triple Sec

Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat, and cook the leek until tender.

Melt the 2 teaspoons butter in another small skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until lightly browned.

Place rhubarb slices in a small glass dish, add the 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water.

Cover and vent with plastic wrap, and microwave on HIGH 2 or 3 minutes, or until tender. 

Put in blender or through ricer and puree.

Measure 1/2 cup of the rhubarb puree and mix together with the leek and onion to make rhubarb sauce.  Set aside.

Season chicken pieces with salt (or sprinkle lightly with granulated garlic) and dredge in flour.  Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken pieces until lightly browned.

Add rhubarb sauce and the 1 cup chicken broth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer 1 or 2 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and tender, but not rubbery.  If sauce becomes to thick, add a bit more chicken broth.

When ready to serve, remove from heat and stir in the Triple Sec.  Serve with or over rice or pasta with steamed vegetables.

Serves 6

My Review

This recipe was submitted by Francois Kissel from Maximilien In the Market, although he is no longer owner, his recipes live on through the new owners.  Maximilien is a romantic little French restaurant in The Pike's Place Market and was Julia Child's favorite in Seattle.  

While I love the saucy, tender chicken in this recipe, the rhubarb flavor is too subtle.  I would have liked to taste more of the acidity from the rhubarb and seen more of its color.  The Triple Sec added a nice sweetness though.  I probably would not follow this recipe again... but would perhaps put my own twist on it. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Corn, Tomato, and Shrimp Saute

"This dish makes use of summer's best- fresh corn, tomatoes, and basil.  To save time consider purchasing precleaned (but not cooked) shrimp at your fish market."

2 1/2 T olive oil
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t coarsely ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, the garlic, and onion to the skillet.  Saute until the onion starts to soften, about 1 minute. 

Stir in the corn and cook 1 minute.

Add the cherry tomatoes and cook 1 minute longer.  Add the reserve shrimp and continue to saute until they are opaque inside, 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil, salt, and pepper.

Makes 4 servings

My Review

This dish tastes like summer!  And it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.  I used grape tomatoes and sweet onion and the flavors were great together served over a whole wheat pilaf.  Delicious!