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Archive for May 27th, 2007

These warm days at the beginning of summer make us think fondly of cold dishes, with the cooking portion, if any, done in the cool part of the day. Not only does this save heating up the kitchen during the hottest part of the day, but it also gets part of a meal’s preparation done ahead of time, freeing up time later for other things, maybe a cool drink in the shade. Mojito, anyone?

Salads are a great contribution to these meals. There are so many from which to choose that it is difficult to select just one to offer you today. Perhaps more may come your way when time permits. For now, let’s look at a simple pasta salad, well suited for warm weather. With some fruit, and maybe bruschetta with ciabatta or other good chewy bread, you have the fixings for a hearty meal.

TORTELLINI SALAD

Tortellini, cheese filled
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Black olives, Kalamata or Greek
Pepperoni slices, cut in half
Green onions, sliced
Optional ingredients: bell pepper pieces, roasted red peppers chopped, red onions, almost any vegetable you like; fresh herbs, chopped, especially basil.

Vinaigrette, garlicky, preferred

Cook the tortellini until just tender. Drain. Combine with cherry tomatoes and the rest of the vegetable ingredients, gently, so as not to break up the tortellini. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss gently.

There are no amounts given so as to let you decide what flavors you want to dominate the dish. Your eyes will tell you when there is enough of each for presentation’s sake and your tongue will tell you what else you need to know. Feel like more garlic? Add a minced clove either to the vinaigrette or to the salad itself. Want some fresh herbs? Add some basil. Feel free to make this to your own taste.

Enjoy.

Morgana

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Cole slaw is one of the ubiquitous picnic dishes, so much so that it is taken for granted. It seems that it is given short shrift when it comes to imaginative touches to the two main types, the vinegary ones and the creamy ones. Every now and then one runs across a slaw that has something different added to it that makes it rise above the ordinary slaws. It’s not that hard to do considering that ordinary slaws are usually too sweet or too bland.

I was pleased to find this recipe that has the addition of fresh cilantro (coriander) to give it some pizzazz. Cilantro always adds a brightness to the flavor of a dish and this is no exception. This recipe has a lot of garlic, so tailor it to your own “garlic tolerance.” I am sorry to say that I can’t relate it’s origin. I didn’t write the source on my recipe card. I thought it was from Cook’s Illustrated, but I can’t find it in any of those cookbooks. They do have a “Cilantro Slaw” recipe but it bears no resemblance to my recipe.

By the way, here is a link to more coleslaw recipes. I haven’t tried any of them but I will.

CILANTRO SLAW

Mix in a small bowl::
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. cider vinegar
1 t. sugar
2 t. minced garlic or less

Mix in a large bowl:
3 c. finely shredded cabbage
1/2 c. finely chopped green onions
1/2 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c. minced fresh cilantro
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/4 t. cumin, optional

Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the cabbage mixture, stir. Store in the refrigerator.

Serve with finely sliced green onions and a few torn cilantro leaves as a garnish.

Happy picnicking.

Morgana

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