Creamy Tomato Cucumber Salad
How about a simple dinner that is summery, sustainable, super-easy, and super-tasty? Grilled swordfish with a creamy tomato cucumber salad fits the bill.
Certified sustainable wild-caught swordfish steaks from Whole Foods are excellent. The swordfish is caught in the pristine waters off the eastern shore of Nova Scotia where they work with fourth generation fishermen at a Marine Stewardship Council Certified Fishery. The fish are only caught during peak season, September through November, processed into 5 to 6 oz. portions, then frozen individually.
Place the frozen fish fillets in their packaging in an air-tight baggie. Submerge the baggie in cold water for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the fish from packaging. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Let fish come close to room temperature. Coat with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook on the grill over medium-high heat for approximately 3 minutes per side. The packaging says to cook to an internal temperature of 145°F, but many chefs recommend 135°F. Just be sure not to overcook the swordfish.
Creamy Tomato Cucumber Salad
The store-bought buttermilk ranch dressing from Trader Joe’s is perfectly creamy, dilly, and garlicky. No need to make the dressing from scratch when composing this easy-going summer meal!
- cherry tomatoes – halved
- persian cucumbers – quartered lengthwise, then sliced bite-sized
- red onion – thinly sliced
- pitted kalamata olives – halved lengthwise
- fresh dill, chopped
- buttermilk ranch dressing
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Combine equal amounts of tomatoes and cucumber in a mixing bowl. Add a lesser amount of onion and olives. Sprinkle with dill. Dress liberally with buttermilk ranch dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon tomato cucumber salad into shallow bowls. Top with a grilled swordfish fillet and garnish with a sprig of dill.
As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”
Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini
Feta, Kalamata Olives, Oregano, Red Chile Flakes
These large plump shrimp have a striking golden hue. Here, the exotic flavor of saffron – that heady spice derived from the dried stigmas of a crocus – takes a simple shrimp and pasta dish to another level.
Traditional Greek ingredients – kalamata olives, oregano and feta play supporting roles as lemon “two ways” adds bright tangy notes and red chile flakes bring piquant qualities. And while spaghetti or linguini shapes would work just fine, those robust bucatini noodles magically weave this super-satisfying dish together.
Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini Recipe
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Everything But The Bagel Vinaigrette
Farro Cucumber Date Salad
I like to make my salads from scratch, using the freshest ingredients dressed with a homemade vinaigrette. Today I took a short-cut.
Trader Joe’s sells a snappy seasoning blend with a clever name called Everything But the Bagel made with black and white sesame seeds, sea salt, garlic, onion, and poppy seeds. I put a scoop of the seasoning blend into a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, and agave syrup. It was a surprisingly good vinaigrette with sweet and savory flavors and a nice crunch. The dressing paired perfectly with my farro cucumber date salad. It was visually stunning too, with contrasting black and white seeds; ribbons of cucumber swirling around the platter; and just a few scattered edible flowers that made the neutral brown-green palette come alive.
Farro Cucumber Date Salad Recipe
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French Green Bean/ Portabella Mushroom/ Gruyere
With Fried Onions
It dawned on me a few days before Thanksgiving that my nephews, Stone & Jett, would not ever know of the iconic green bean casserole unless I served it. You see, I always host the Thanksgiving meal now, as I took over that delightful task from my mother well over a decade ago. Stone and Jett, being 8 and 6 years old respectively, have only celebrated Thanksgiving at my home. So all of a sudden I realized, they would be going to college soon (well, not that soon) and someone in the fraternity house would mention their mother’s classic green bean casserole, and they, being foodies, would not know anything about it. “Aunt GeeGee?” they might ask one day, “why didn’t you ever teach us how to make the green bean casserole?”
So…the green bean casserole has made a come-back! And it was, dare I say, popular! We all agree that it should grace the table again next year.
The original recipe created in 1955 by home economist Dorcas Reilly in Campbell’s Soup’s Creative Food Center, the one my mother always made, found on the Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup can, is now on their website here. My recipe is a variation of one from Trader Joe’s where we double the mushrooms and add gruyere cheese. Stone made the entire casserole, by himself.
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Colorful Side Dish #3
Spinach and Feta
Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo, Red Quinoa
Sauté chopped garlic, chopped scallions, and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add fresh baby spinach to wilt. Season to taste.
Toss spinach mixture with cooked Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo, and red quinoa. This blend is called Harvest Grains Blend and is available from Trader Joe’s. Crumble feta on top. This recipe was inspired by one in Gourmet magazine some years ago, they made theirs with Acini di Pepe (tiny pearl pasta) and used frozen spinach.
Something New at Home
I am very excited about this change that cost nothing but makes my home feel dramatically different for the new year. I switched the dining room and family room. The former family room is considerably larger and has a fireplace in the corner. I moved the dining table here so now there is a more open and casual space for dining, and we can eat in front of a beautiful crackling fire.
The former dining room is now a cozy den. The chandelier which was above the dining table is above the coffee table, so you can still walk by without hitting your head. Makes a great spot to sit and read cookbooks! I also switched some artwork around, and that has freshened up some of the other rooms in the house.
Have you made any changes to your home or kitchen for the new year?