Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

I arrived home from Nova Scotia to an empty refrigerator.  Panicked, I moved to my cupboards only to find them as barren as my fridge.  I then succumbed to jetlag and shamelessly broke down and ordered sushi.  The next day dawned and all I had to show for the $30 I spent the night before was some sad day old sushi.  I knew I could not survive on takeout forever, my pocket book couldn’t handle such abuse, but I really didn’t want to go to the grocery store.  Grocery shopping in Toronto can be an extreme sport.

Peaches

Have I ever told you how much I hate grocery stores?  Well, I hate them!  I know it’s an odd thing for a foodie to say, but I do.  I love markets (I love that Toronto has so many of them), but I think grocery stores are the devil.  They’re always freezing, the staff is disinterested, other shoppers are oblivious (especially on Saturdays) and I always seem to select the worst possible cart.

Peach with Pit

My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about it.

But what else could I do, eat old sushi?  So I mustered up my courage, took a deep breath and threw myself into the fray… I should probably mention I’ve been on a war movie kick lately.

Red Pepper

I didn’t even have a list.  I was determined to give each isle one shot to inspire me or seduce me with an exceptional buy.  There was no plan; I was more or less blindly pulling things off the shelves.  When I got home I surveyed my loot and scratched my head.  What on earth could I make with all this stuff?  Well, the answer was this salad.  I started with some gorgeous Ontario peaches and the rest wrote itself.  A base of peppery greens, a red bell pepper, a bit of cucumber, some raw cashews and, of course, bacon.  Incidentally, I actually found the bacon in the fridge.  I can always rely on my beau to replenish the all important bacon supply.  Dish soap on the other hand…

Chopped Cashews

The dressing was made with a dollop of my aunt’s homemade strawberry jam (made with Nova Scotian strawberries), some rosemary, and garlic.  I married these bold flavors with some flax seed oil and balsamic.  I watered the jam down a touch to give the dressing the proper consistency.

Bacon

Not surprisingly my beau was a bit apprehensive about the peaches, but he came around and wound up liking the salad quite a bit.  I, on the other hand, think I’ve found the salad of my dreams!  I really dug this salad!  Peaches and bacon laced with punchy accents of rosemary on a bed of peppery greens; what could be better?

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Give this salad a try before the peaches go out of season.

 

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches: Serves 2

2 cups mixed greens (I used baby spinach and arugula)

1 peach, stoned and sliced

¼ red bell pepper, sliced

1/6 cucumber, sliced

¼ cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped

4 slices of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped

Strawberry Rosemary Vinaigrette:

1 ½ tbsp strawberry jam

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup flax seed oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl whisk together jam and water.

Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.

Place all salad ingredients (except the cashews) in a large bowl and pour in the dressing.

Toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed and coated with dressing.

Serve salad sprinkled with cashews.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado Cantaloupe Salad

Once upon a time I won a melon baller at my cousin’s baby shower and I was embarrassingly happy.  But I never got to use my coveted melon baller.   I lost it instead.  I know this is by far the most tragic story you’ve heard all week, but try to keep it together it gets better.  Yesterday I came across a melon baller at the dollar store and I bought it.  The End.

Limes

Now that I’ve wowed you with my bard-like story-telling skills, I give you the recipe for melon baller enthusiasts everywhere.  I’m usually against kitchen gadgets that seem to have only one purpose.  I don’t need the clutter.  I have a tiny kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cram one more cooking utensil into my kitchen drawers.  But as a child I had a fascination with melon ballers that I don’t completely understand.  Maybe it was because my mother never owned one and it was a simple case of wanting what I did not have… I dunno, it’s weird!  Whatever the reason I concocted this recipe for the sole purpose of getting use out of my new melon baller and I’m not sorry I did it.

Jalapeno

I am in love with the color combination of this salad.  The bright orange of the cantaloupe pops so beautifully against the various shades of green. I chose to use avocado, because we’re in the midst of steamy summer time affair and I don’t care who knows it.  Seriously, look back at the posts I’ve made since the heat hit, I guarantee there are a ridiculous number of recipes that include avocado…

Also I wanted to see what would happen if I used a melon baller on an avocado… yeah… I’m a dork.

IMG_3678

I added some mint, which was left over from the mojitos and jalapeno to add some interest.  I topped the salad with unsalted cashews for a little nuttiness and crunch and drizzled the whole lot with lime juice and flax seed oil.

Cashews

I mixed this salad when I got home from a run and it was the perfect pick-me-up.  I’m positive this is not the last time we’ll see this salad this summer, I’m dying to find out how it would partner with some BBQ shrimp.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Give this salad a whirl!  It’s oh so refreshing and satisfying even on a day with 94% humidity (please send help, my hair can’t take it).  So, find that melon baller you thought you’d never use and get ready to enjoy yourself more than you’ll care to admit.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad: Serves 4

½ cantaloupe

1 avocado

Juice of one lime

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

¼ cup unsalted cashew, roughly chopped

2 tbsp flax seed oil

1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a melon baller scoop out individual balls of avocado and cantaloupe.

Place avocado and cantaloupe in a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.

Add jalapeno, mint, cashews and flax seed oil and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with a fresh sprig of mint.

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Purple and White Cabbage

Today’s recipe made an appearance at my brother’s birthday bash this past weekend and while it can certainly stand alone as a perfectly seductive side, I choose to used it as a topping for a saucy pulled pork sandwich.  Sadly, you won’t find the pulled pork recipe in this post; I’m saving that for later.   I thought I’d get the less interesting component out of the way first and wow you with the sandwich later.

Shredded Carrots

I’m trying to build hype.  Is it working?

I also thought you might like a break from the boozy decadence that has recently invaded my blog, much to the chagrin of my waistband.   I thought this might be a good way to illustrate that I do still possess a small amount of will power and I’m still as health conscious as ever… just ignore the fact that this coleslaw dressing is mayonnaise based.  Okay?

Green Onions

Look!  Green things!  Aren’t you proud?!

I apologize for pulling the whole annoying cliffhanger thing on you, but I promise you’ll get closure eventually.  This won’t be anything like the last episode of My So Called Life. I promise I will not leave you with endless questions that wind up haunting you for an embarrassingly long time.

Seriously!  Did she choose Jordan or Brian?!  Someone has to tell me!

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Not only does this zippy little coleslaw contain all the makings of a damn good slaw, it has a few finer details.  The dressing contains jalapenos and cilantro, the slaw itself is studded with pepitas and the dish is accented with a splash of lime juice that brightens the overall flavor.  The pepitas deliver a different kind of crunch than the cabbage, making for a very satisfying contrast of textures.  I’ve never put nuts or seeds in any of my coleslaws before, but I can guarantee you this will not be the last time I do.  The jalapenos deliver a hint of spiciness, while the cilantro is savory and cooling.  All in all this taste profile makes for a very interesting slaw, one that I will no doubt be repeating over and over again.

Pepitas

This coleslaw was made for the summer and with the summer days threatening to leave us for another whole year, I suggest you strike while the iron is hot (believe me, it really is hot, my air conditioner is broken) and whip this little number up for you and your lucky dinner guests.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Give it a try!

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw: Serves 12

½ purple cabbage, chopped

½ white cabbage, chopped

2 cups carrots, shredded

½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

12 stalks green onion, sliced

2 jalapenos, diced

1 cup unsalted pepitas

1 cup of buttermilk

½ cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo)

3 tbsp sweet relish

1 tbsp vinegar

Juice of one lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl toss cabbage, carrots, green onions and pepitas together until combined. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together, mayonnaise, buttermilk, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, relish and vinegar until combined.

Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine.

Taste and season with salt and pepper according to preference.

Chill until ready to serve.

Everyday Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Life on the farm can sometimes feel like a marathon, an incredibly pleasant marathon, but I marathon none-the-less.  Several of my family members have cottages on the property and, since this place is considered to be party central, my social calendar is more active here in the boonies, than it is in the fast paced city.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Yesterday I was subjected to an afternoon of Caesars in the sun, followed by a lobster dinner!  This morning I woke up early to make pastry for a birthday brunch for my cousin, I’m told there’s an epic card game on the horizon and, of course, we must take advantage of high tide.

Fresh Veggies

My life is so hard!

It’s lovely visiting various branches of the family and staying this active, but I can’t help but feel slightly frazzled.  I don’t like to neglect my blog duties, but unfortunately the Internet up here is shoddy at best and my cell phone is currently about as useful as a paperweight.  It’s nice to throw off the shackles of the modern world, but it can be detrimental when you’re cyber life is so active. I’m not one to complain, I’m extremely happy to be here, but if I seem slightly distracted you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve made plans with eight different relatives today.

Feta

Somehow I managed to throw together this pasta salad together yesterday and I’m so glad I found the time.  It’s a bit of a fusion dish; vaguely Italian with Asian undertones.  I know it’s strange but, yes, the two can coexist.  Oh, and I guess the feta makes a little bit Greek, so this salad is a mutt, just like me.  Since Mutt Pasta Salad doesn’t have such a good ring to it, I feel Everyday Pasta Salad is just as fitting a title and a whole lot more appetizing.

Crumbled Feta

Pasta salad is among my favorite summertime dishes.  It’s easy to make, it improves after sitting over night, and it’s easily the most refreshing solution to even your most dire summertime food emergencies.

Pasta Salad

So, throw this together this weekend, just in time for the eight BBQs you agreed to attend.

Enjoy!

Everyday Pasta Salad: Serves 6-8

4 cups uncooked pasta

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

½ red onion, diced

1 cup feta, crumbled

1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved

1/4 cucumber, diced

½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

4 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lime

4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil over medium high heat.

Salt the water and add the pasta.

Cook for 9-12 minutes until tender.

Drain and coat pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Set aside to cool.

When pasta is cool, place  it in a large bowl and add veggies, cheese and cilantro.

Add lime, ginger, and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad

I am back! Hope you guys had wonderful holidays!

Meanwhile after getting a good rest, I left my zone of comfort….

…and look at me! I fried something!

Mango

I never fry anything! I have a deep-frying phobia.

Cucumber

I, like the rest of humanity, happen to love fried food! Anything deep-fried is positively out of this world. I bet if you deep-fried a boot it would taste delicious, but as much as I love these crispy edibles I’m still wary of deep-frying at home. I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a proper deep fryer, but if I had said deep fryer I would also be 300 pounds. So, I figure it’s in my best interest to make deep fat frying as cumbersome as possible. I didn’t even do a legit deep fry for this week’s recipe. It was more of a shallow fry; I couldn’t quite bring myself to add the full amount of oil, guilt was holding me back. This time, I simply borrowed a deep fryer from my friend, it was Waring deep fryer.

No. No way I am buying one myself.

Red pepper

Yes, it was messy and yes, I did fear my kitchen afterwards, but these almond crusted fried shrimp were well worth the grease burns.  I served them atop a mound of spicy mango salad and garnished the whole lot with fresh cilantro and dry-roasted peanuts. The combination of the piping hot shrimp and chilled salad was out of this world. The shrimp was beautifully juicy and it’s breading brought a subtle crunch to the dish.

Red Onion

My beau was adequately impressed with my efforts. He could hardly believe I fried anything. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to nutrition, but I justified the whole exercise by saying it was for the blog. Do you hear that? If your at all interested in the state of your waistline don’t start a food blog, it messes with your logic.

Almond Crusted Shrimp

As deep-frying adventures go this one was fairly uneventful. Shrimp cooks quickly and the breading process with simple and efficient. Salads are always low maintenance, but I will warn you there is a fair amount of chopping involved.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad (II)

Decadently rich and restaurant caliber, Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad is one recipe you’ll be happy to have sitting in your back pocket when all you can think about is expensive takeout. This recipe will subdue those pesky cravings and save you a bundle at the same time.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad: Serves 4

FOR THE SHRIMP

16 shrimp, deveined and shelled with tails on

¼ cup almond meal

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peanut oil

FOR THE SALAD

1 mango, julienned

¼ cucumber, julienned

½ red bell pepper, julienned

¼ red onion, sliced

¼ dry roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh cilantro, torn

DRESSING

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup lime juice

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place veggies, mango and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl combine ground almonds and salt and pepper.

Combine egg and milk.

One by one douse each shrimp in the egg and milk mixture then roll them in the almond mixture and set aside on a plate.

When each shrimp has been coated heat oil in a large wok until it reaches about 350°

Drop shrimp into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Remove from oil and leave to drain on paper towels.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide salad amongst four plates and top with peanuts.

Arrange four shrimp on top of each salad and serve immediately.