A hot summer afternoon, do not feel like turning on the stove, yet craving for a hearty lunch…..I bet many of you feel the same way sometimes. Well, today was definitely one of those lazy days. I knew I had a cup of cooked barley and some veggies. Barley, two little eggplants, one red bell pepper, some scallions, cilantro, fresh garlic and ginger….I knew I could come up with lunch, but yes, the stove must be turned on. And, this is how the colorful barley salad became lunch with leftovers for another day!I find it easier to write an unscripted recipe, because that is how I cook most of the time. A little of this, a pinch of that, some broth, etc. etc. Here I chopped some scallions and tossed into a hot pan with olive oil, followed by minced ginger and garlic. A couple of minutes later in went the diced red bell pepper followed by the diced eggplant. Sprinkled some salt and red pepper flakes. When the veggies were softened, I added some curry powder and gave it all a good stir. I let the curry do its magic and when the aroma had wafted all over the kitchen, added the cooked barley and heated it through.Garnished the salad with some chopped cilantro and toasted cashews. It was delicious at room temperature. The cashews were an afterthought — but absolutely worth it.
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I’m not a big fan of creamy pasta salads – in fact, pasta salads are something I rarely make. However, pasta salads save me a lot of trouble when I haven’t really planned on something to take over to a friend’s summer barbecue, or as in this case, for a barbecue in my backyard. Some time ago I posted another pasta salad recipe using tiny bow-tie pasta and everyone seemed to love it.
Last weekend, NYC had some gorgeous weather and a few friends decided to drop by. Hmmm….I was looking for inspiration on what to dish up with stuff from the pantry and fridge. I didn’t spend a lot of time deciding on two salads, a chickpea salad and a pasta salad, and of course, some chicken on the grill. Some fresh corn and peppers found place on the grill too. My favorite, the pasta salad with the tiniest little pasta, cute little stars. I’ve no idea what it is called, but recollect buying it because it was so pretty.
A bunch of fresh asparagus went in along with onions, fresh garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Finished it off with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. No cheese or mayo. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But believe me, there were no leftovers and the pasta remaining in the bag was grabbed up by a friend for her barbecue the next day (now I have to go find some more of this cute pasta!)
You don’t need a recipe for this, do you? Just in case you need it, here is what I did. Boiled a huge pot of water, added salt, and the pasta. The pasta was done in about 5 minutes. In another pan, heated some olive oil and tossed in finely diced onions, sliced garlic, parsley, and chopped asparagus. I cut the asparagus diagonally into tiny bits to match the size of the pasta. A huge pinch of red pepper flakes (I know, it is not used in traditional pasta salads), but I’ve rarely done anything traditionally. Tossed the warm pasta right in with a couple of tablespoons of pasta water. Easy and simple, yet delicious. I hope you try it out.
Close-ups display the most detail says Jake, in his Sunday Post: Close-up. Here is a close-up of my lunch – a simple Tomato Open-Face Sandwich…..it was delicious!
I am always on the lookout for easy recipes that I can rely on a day when I don’t feel like cooking or if I do have to cook it should be something that needs minimal use of the stove. I guess the first thing that comes to mind is a simple salad….simple = a no-fuss simply dressed green salad and some leftovers. Well, today was one of those days when the Sunday mood wasn’t one for cooking. The refrigerator yielded some leftover veggies – the only good thing was that the leftover veggies were all brilliantly colored which set me on the track for this delicious lentil salad. The purple cabbage was the leftover from the last week’s farmers market purchase, and I posted the image for the Weekly Photo Challenge Purple.
Maybe I am crazy, but I like the veggies all diced up to a similar size, the smaller the better in this case to match the size of the lentils. Salad dressings enhance the flavor of the salad, and I like a simple dressing that would let the flavor of the fresh veggies come through instead of being masked in a creamy, mustardy dressing. Extra virgin olive oil and vinegar with a pinch of salt and black pepper work wonders on a salad. So, my recipe is just a simple one and you can use your creativity in creating this salad. It is delicious, pretty, and makes you want to dig your fork right in.
Here is what I used for the salad:
1 cup brown lentils
2 cups of diced mixed veggies (I used purple cabbage, red pepper, cucumber, radish, tomatoes, scallions)
1 thai chilli – finely diced (optional or according to your taste)
¼ cup finely minced fresh herbs (I used parsley and mint)
Mix together 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves – finely crushed, salt and freshly ground pepper.
Optional – Olives, capers, feta cheese, grilled veggies or chicken.
How I made the lentil salad:
1. I soaked the lentils for about two hours, then drained and rinsed it. Boiled the lentils for about 20 minutes until done – do not overcook the lentils.
2. Drained and rinsed the lentils with cold water.
3. Add the vegetables, chilli, and herbs to the lentils and gently stirred it to blend. While the lentils were cooking, I made the dressing.
4. Then added the dressing to the lentil/vegetable mixture and tossed it altogether.
5. I added some olives and capers to the salad.
6. Tasted for salt and pepper, and just added a pinch of salt and pepper. Because I had added the olives, the salad needed very little salt.
7. Drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil and tossed again.
8. The salad was delicious at room temperature, and the leftovers will make a delicious weekday lunch.
Summer has arrived early at WordPress with this week’s challenge Summer. New York City has seen rain all week-long with some very heavy downpours. But, that hasn’t stopped the loads of zucchini and tomatoes available at roadside vegetable carts in my neighborhood. I am sure everyone planning a barbecue party tomorrow on Memorial Day is hoping the rains don’t spoil the fun. I bought a bag each of zucchinis and tomatoes and, of course, had no clue how I was going to use it. Ratatouille…nah…. soup….nah….zucchini bread?? What about the tomatoes? So, out came the tart pan and the result was a vegetable tart that looked stunning and tasted even better – just simple and tasty veggies that were delicious with the roasting intensifying the flavors.
What about the pepper relish? That was an afterthought when I saw the pepper relish sitting on the counter. That is my latest discovery and I’m addicted to it. It is a perfect relish for sandwiches and I even added it to a marinade (that recipe is for another time). I could simply dig the spoon into the jar and enjoy the stuff. I guess I must return to the store and buy all the Pepper Relish I can find before others discover this delicious stuff.
It was very simple to assemble as you can see from the pictures. I used 2 medium-sized zucchinis, 2 medium-sized tomatoes, 2 onions, and 2 potatoes – all medium-sized. All the veggies were washed and sliced evenly into rounds. I thawed a store-bought pie crust and blind baked it for a few minutes and set it aside to cool. You can assemble them however you like I guess, I just assembled it in circles. Drizzled extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground coarse black pepper. Snipped off some fresh herbs from the backyard and threw in a few sprigs of oregano and thyme. Into a 425-degree oven went the tart pan, and the tart was done in about 45 minutes.
This tart is very light and healthy unlike the cream/milk and cheese laden heavier vegetable tarts. Of course, this is a basic tart and will work well with mushrooms, carrots, parsnips, etc.
Then, the best part of the tart, Pepper Relish. I thinned out a few teaspoons of the relish with warm water and drizzled it on the warm roasted veggies. The warm veggies absorbed the peppery goodness. I did not return the tart to the oven because I thought the pepper may spew hot smoke – and I might have to save the situation. Well, the tart was delicious and devoured as soon as it was cool enough to handle.
The most viewed and popular post on my blog is Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts, which I posted a few months ago. Judging by the post stats, I guess brussels sprouts are gaining in popularity. Do the readers make it or not, I have not a clue. Since then, I’ve shredded the sprouts, quartered them, and roasted them. However, today I was in the mood to try something new, and didn’t know where to begin. I looked in the freezer for inspiration and saw some baby lima beans. So, why not, baby lima beans and baby cabbages…
I used 1 cup lima beans, 2 cups brussels sprouts, one leek (coarsely chopped), one clove garlic (minced), fresh lemon juice (use how little or how much you like), red pepper flakes (a pinch is not enough for me), a little cumin seeds, and salt.
Here are the directions to lemony brussels sprouts:
- Trimmed and halved the brussels sprouts. Blanched in salted boiling water for a few minutes, drained and set it aside. Into the same boiled water I added the lima beans and cooked until done. Drained the beans and set it aside.
- Heated some olive oil in a skillet and added the cumin seeds, leeks and crushed garlic clove. Also added the red pepper flakes and a little more salt.
- When the leek was softened, added the brussels sprouts and lima beans and tossed well.
- Sprinkled fresh lemon juice and served warm with fried rice.
I hope you will make this dish – it was delicious with a contrast of textures. The crunchy sprouts, creamy lima beans and the occasional bite of a toasted cumin seed – easy and quick to prepare as well.
The title of the post is rather vague, isn’t it? That’s because I’m not sure what to call these cute little baked treats….cherry tomatoes and pearl onions with a topping of gooey melting cheese. All I know is that it vanished too quickly, long before they were cooled enough to handle. This is not out of any recipe book or website, but the result of a handful of cherry tomatoes and red pearl onions that almost made it into a pasta salad but were saved just in time to snuggle into a 3-inch pastry shell and get a topping of cheese and dried thyme. I had very little pepper jack cheese in the fridge, so in it went, although I wish I hadn’t munched on the rest of the cheese yesterday.
Since there wasn’t any particular recipe I was following, it was a little of this, and little of that, and instead of folding the pastry, how about piling on the tomatoes and onions and baking a kind of mini pizza….but without tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. After a little bit of this and that, I ended up with four little tarts or something like tarts….. What would you call these?
These went into a 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown and the cheese was gooey.
These pictures tell the rest of the story…….