“Autumn Supper Salad with Crispy Cornbread Croutons”

fall salad

Shhhhhh…did you hear it? Summer made a very quiet exit as Autumn crept in. I hardly noticed. Did you?

Regardless of the seasons we eat salads for Supper. Salads as entrees, not as sides. Salads with ravioli scattered on top, salads with thinly sliced steak nestled amongst the greens, salads with fruit & cheese. Spinach, Mixed Greens, Kale, Arugula. Carrots, Tomatoes, Berries and Plums. Feta, fresh Mozzarella, shreds of Parmesan Reggiano. Croutons made from baguettes, ciabatta bread or cornbread cut up &  tossed with olive oil & herbs, cooked until crispy.

Salad

Here is what you will need to make one of our favorite salads with lots of healthy stuff.

For the Salad: Salad greens such as Arugula, Spinach, Kale or Mixed Green. A handful of berries, grape or cherry tomatoes, figs or grapes, plums & Feta Cheese

1. Place greens in a bowl. Cut figs & plums into quarters and add to the bowl. Top with berries. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and toss into bowl. Crumble Feta over everything keeping it in somewhat big chunks. Set aside or cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Figs on cutting board

plums

arugula salad

For the cornbread croutons you will need some precooked cornbread (available at most groceries in their deli), olive oil, shredded Parmesan.

1. Add olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium high heat. Cut cornbread into cubes. Place in hot skillet in a single layer tossing gently with olive oil. Turn once to brown on both sides. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan and let melt somewhat. Remove pan from the heat.

cornbread

cornbread croutons

Serve Autumn Salad topped with these slightly warm,  crunchy croutons and add a light drizzle of a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Life is busy. What could be easier than a salad for supper?

“Peas in a Pod Salad Fit for a Princess”

Nashville has hot, muggy Springs. Green Peas need cool, crisp weather. So, last week I was very thrilled to find one lone basket with green peas in their pods from a local farm…one basket at the downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market with these fresh, fat little pods of pleasure.

Shelling peas is a single-minded, meditative and full-of-memories activity. Back porches on early summer mornings, my Grandmother sitting quietly shelling peas and beans for lunch. She taught me how to pick the plumpest peas, how to string beans, how to push them gently out of their shells with my thumb. Last week I shelled & mused, pea-by-pea.

“Peas-in-a-Pod Salad on a Plate”

1. Shell peas until you have 2 cups. Rinse & drain. Place in a pot just barely covering peas with water. Add a pinch of sea salt &  1 tbsp of butter. Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer for about 6-8 minutes.

2. Pour peas in a colander and rinse with cool water.

3.  In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, a fruity flavored vinegar such as peach, apple or balsamic, a bit of lemon juice, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.

4. Rinse & pat dry tender, crisp lettuce leaves.

5. Cook a few slices of thick bacon until crispy. Remove to drain. Cut a few slices of crusty bread into cubes for croutons. Add to skillet with bacon drippings. Sprinkle bread cubes with a light drizzle of olive oil. Toast bread in skillet over medium high heat until crispy. Remove & set aside to cool slightly.

6. To assemble salad, divide salad greens evenly between plates. Top with peas, bacon cut into pieces, generous grating of fresh Parmesan cheese, toasty croutons & a drizzle of dressing.

 How do you like your peas? When you read “The Princess and the Pea” did you feel the Princess was laying it on a bit thick?  Have you ever taken the time to sit and shell peas? Did you enjoy it? What are your favorite peas?

Today is the Transit of Venus…a once in a lifetime event..unless you live a really, really long time..which I hope you do….so enjoy and eat your peas.

Cook, Eat, Share.

“Weekend Kitchen Math – When 4 = 2”

When does 4 equal 2? When  4  first-crop small ripe tomatoes from my garden became 2 simple, fresh meals in just minutes. Each meal uses 2 small ripe tomatoes.  

Weekend meals should be easy to prepare, should incorporate fresh from-your-garden, or the farmer’s market,  vegetables &  fruits, should definitely be enjoyed with a crisp chilled glass of wine and each bite should make you very, very happy.

The thrill is never gone when I find ripe tomatoes in my garden after weeks of waiting, watering and wondering. Saturday morning I found these little jewels hanging ripe on the vine waiting for their close-up.

SATURDAY EVENING SALAD:

2 small ripe garden-fresh tomatoes, sliced

slices of feta cheese

slivers of red, yellow or orange bell pepper

Arugula

A simple vinaigrette

Directions:

1. Arrange tomato slices in a ring around the outside edge of a dinner plate.

2. Add a handful of arugula in the center of the plate.

3. Create “spokes” with the bell pepper strips.

4. Evenly arrange feta slices over tomatoes.

5. Serve with a drizzle of your favorite home-made vinaigrette. Season with sea salt & cracked black pepper.

SUNDAY EVENING PASTA:

1 pkg fresh gnocchi (I used a sweet potato gnocchi) or any other fresh pasta

Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Shredded Spinach leaves

2 small ripe garden tomatoes chopped

Directions:

1. Cook fresh Gnocchi/pasta in boiling salted water for about 2-4 minutes. Drain quickly & return pasta to pan. A few tablespoons of cooking water should be left in the pan.

2. Add a generous 1/2 cup grated Parmesan & toss with pasta & pasta water.

3. Add portions of Gnocchi to serving bowls, sprinkle shredded spinach leaves over the top.

4. Scatter chopped tomatoes  &  additional grated Parmesan. Season with sea salt & black pepper.

Bon Apetit!

“Crop Circle Tabbouleh / Third Thursday”

“Crop Circle Tabbouleh”

Ingredients:

Gather the following: Fresh, Ripe, Local Peaches & Strawberries, Cilantro, Parsley, Mint, Spring Green Onions, Jalapeno & Sweet Red Bell Pepper, Wheat Berries Cooked, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Honey, Herbs de Provence, Sea Salt & Black Pepper (Amounts really don’t matter just use whatever amounts you want of each based on your own personal palate.)

1. Chop finely Spring Onions, Parsley, Cilantro & Mint. The onions I used came from the Downtown Farmer’s Market and the mint from my garden.

                                                       2. Carefully peel ripe peaches & cut into a large dice.  I used a combination of Alabama and Georgia peaches                                                              that started showing up at our local Farmer’s Markets last week.

  


                                     3. Let cooked Wheat Berries cool completely. Finely chop a bit of Jalapeno pepper & Red Bell Pepper for garnish.Wash                                                   &  trim Strawberries, let drain. The small sweet berries in this salad came from a farm in Ridgetop, TN.

4. Choose a large round serving dish and place cooked wheat berries in the middle a bit “domed” spreading out to the edges.  Add each prepped ingredient in a circle around the domed center, creating a “crop” circle!

Cover loosely with plastic wrap & refrigerate until ready to serve. 

5. Mix a simple Vinaigrette using the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, herbs de provence, sea salt & black pepper. I make quick vinaigrettes in small canning jars and shake to mix ingredients. Taste and adjust.

To Serve: Remove Crop Circle Tabbouleh from refrigerator anda drizzle Vinaigrette over all, add a large serving spoon.

The destination for my “Crop Circle Tabbouleh” ……………..

“Third Thursday May 2011 at Gigi’s Home”

Third Thursday’s Potluck was held this month at the home of Hat Maker and Gardener Extraordinaire Gigi Gaskins. Also hosted by Nancy Vienneau who invited some out-of-town guests who livened things up for us all.  Third Thursday’s are always much-anticipated by all of us who attend regularly and even more so as a bounty of  seasonal crops  are arriving daily, fresh from farmers all over our area here in Nashville.

Out-of-town guests, Kathi Speller and Lanette Mohr read about Third Thursdays in the current issue of Relish Magazine (check it out online at relish.com) & as they were both nearby on this particular Third Thursday they  joined our pot luck dinner party.

Image Gallery of the evening of food, conversation, laughter………..

                                                             

                 

                                                                                        

                                                                                  

Good food, new & familiar friends, a beautiful May evening.

Bon Apetit.

(My “Crop Circle Tabbouleh” was inspired by a recipe by Nigel Slater in his Tender, Vol II  cooking book. His recipe was for a Peach and Mint Tabbouleh.)

(The styling for”Crop Circle Tabbouleh” was inspired by an article I recently read on Crop Circles and by my good friend, Nancy Vienneau.)

A bit about Crop Circles from Wikipedia:

crop circle is a sizable pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheatbarleyryemaize, or rapeseed. Crop circles are also referred to as crop formations, because they are not always circular in shape. While the exact date crop circles began to appear is unknown, the documented cases have substantially increased from the 1970s to current times. 

Since the early 1990s the UK arts collective founded by artists Rod Dickinson and John Lundberg (and subsequently includes artists Wil Russell and Rob Irving), named the Circlemakers, have been creating some crop circles in the UK and around the world both as part of their art practice and for commercial clients.

Using local crops to make circles in food seemed a natural progression. Teresa B.