The leaves are turning color on the cherry trees across the street from my house and falling rapidly. It’s funny how the cherry trees are one of the first to bloom and stand out in the spring and now again in the fall they are vying for attention again ahead of the other trees. Dog and I walk under them daily and get an occasional decorative leaf or two falling on us while we walk. Soon there will be other trees and bushes joining the rush to fall season.
For now I’m still happily maintaining my garden and picking lots of tomatoes and hot peppers even though fall approaches. Most of my tomato plants are done for the year, but there are a couple of unknown heirlooms producing well. That’s the beauty of planting many types of tomatoes, you get to pick some throughout the season.
With this abundance of great tasting tomatoes I’ve been coming up with new ways to eat them. I have them with breakfast some mornings, especially if I’m eating eggs, and I also slice them up just for a snack at all times of the day. I’ve made, and posted gazpacho soup, gobs of salsa for chips and dip, and canned a bunch of diced tomatoes.
I figure I have two or three more weeks of tomato harvesting before I have to count on the local farms for fresh tomatoes. My herbs however will produce into October and beyond. One year I had fresh herbs right through November! As a chef it’s awesome to have a great little herb garden out back. For most of my life I lived in cold climates and had to resort to grocery stores for almost all my fresh herb needs.
With my tarragon plant starting to look just a bit old I decided to start using more fresh tarragon. I made a fresh tarragon salad dressing this week and for today’s post decided to share with you a tarragon pasta dish that takes less than 20 minutes start to finish. If you don’t like tarragon just substitute fresh basil for this side dish and enjoy just the same.
Fresh Tarragon with Pasta
12 ounces pasta of your choice, I like fettucine for this dish
2 1/2 quarts of water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
1 bell pepper diced, green, yellow, or red
1/2 yellow onion sliced
1 clove garlic minced
1 heaping tablespoon fresh tarragon minced
Start pasta water, and salt boiling on high heat to get a head start. Cook according to directions on package.
In a sauté pan on medium heat cook onions, peppers and garlic for three to five minutes stirring often.
Add sliced mushrooms and cook for another eight to ten minutes.
If pasta is done it is time to add most of the tarragon to the mushroom mixture and cook for just one minute on medium heat stirring. Save a bit of tarragon for a garnish.
Arrange pasta on serving platter or bowl and top with mushroom mixture.
Sprinkle a bit of the leftover tarragon on top and garnish the sides with fresh tomato wedges.
Serves four as a side and two as a main dish.
When I was 19 years old my grand parents in St Louis gifted me a copy of the 1898 White House Cookbook written by the first lady Ida Saxon-McKinley. For those who don’t know about these treasures of Americana, the White House Cookbooks instructed housewives of the day in everything from home remedies, cleaning, etiquette, and of course cooking. This was ages before Julia Childs was on the scene to teach us American cooks recipes from Europe and beyond.
As a rookie cook I was amused by the cooking instructions from a time when pretty much all cooking was done on wood stove/oven appliances. The electric stove wouldn’t be in significant production until 1908 and even then it was rarely found in a home. So if you were baking biscuits the recipe would say something like “ bake in a fast oven until desired brownness appears” or something like that. There was no heat measured in Fahrenheit like we see in modern cookbooks, or exact time it took to cook.
I prepared very few of the recipes in this antique cookbook over the twenty plus years I had the White House Cookbook in my possession as they just didn’t fit what I was cooking in restaurants or home. On a few trips to Marble, Colorado we would stay at some cabins from the 1930‘s that had wood burning stoves and I loved baking in the oven using wood for fuel like in my antique cookbook. It was a bit tricky as I had very few reps in this type of cooking but it always turned out well. I would think back to the directions in the White House cookbook and roast a chicken with vegetables and then bake a cobbler for dessert.
The cookbook mostly provided me with an interesting review of cooking history, and I read it often. One of the exceptional recipes was a fried corn dish that became a favorite vegetable of the day at a restaurant I worked at in Frisco. The cooks loved it because it was so easy to make. The management loved it because it was inexpensive, and everyone loved the taste. This tasty dish is accentuated by todays super sweet corn varieties whether you are using Silver Queen, or Peaches and Cream Corn this recipe lets the fresh summer corn taste shine brightly.
I also have my grand parents to thank for leaving me their entire collection of cast iron cookware that I use to this day. Some pieces are over a hundred years old and still quite functional. For todays post I think it’s appropriate to cook this dish in a pan from that era. I hope you give it a try with your favorite fresh or frozen corn to see how easy and delicious this antique recipe I’ve adapted from the 1898 White House Cookbook is.
3 1/2 to 4 cups fresh corn cut off the cob, about 3 large ears
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons half and half
pinch or two of ground white pepper
salt to taste
Heat sauté pan or cast iron skillet for two minutes on medium low heat.
Add oil and corn and cook for five minutes stirring every 30 seconds or so on medium heat.
Kick up the heat to medium high and add half and half and white pepper cooking for one to two more minutes.
Add salt to taste and serve.
Six Little Tomatoes
This week I had a seven hour session of home canning where I made Kurt’s Killer Salsa(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/kurts-killer-salsa/), Red Habenero Salsa(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/some-like-it-hot/), and diced canned tomatoes. It was a lot of work, but well worth it come winter when I open a jar of home cooked goodness from the garden that the grocery store can’t compete with.
When all the tomato blood had cleared it was apparent that six little tomatoes escaped in the confusion. I was contemplating their fate when I thought of a trip to Greece a few years back and how I loved the fava beans cooked with tomatoes we had several times on that trip.
Being short on fava beans I opted for frozen green beans to pair with my six little toms and cooked them up while they were still in their prime.
If you are like me and through gardening or over indulging at your local farmer’s market has you experiencing no room in your fridge, or counter space you need lots of ideas for cooking veggies. Well, look no further for a tomato and green bean combo as I have a solution to your problem that takes less than 20 minutes to make, and is delicious too!
This is also a great veggie dish for re-heating so even if you are cooking for just two in your home this will provide you with green beans for two or more meals.
Greek Style Green Beans with Tomatoes
1 pound green beans, fresh or frozen
2-2 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup minced onion
1 clove minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
If using fresh green beans, wash and cut into three inch lengths. This will take longer, but will be delicious with fresh beans.
In a pot with water to cover bring green beans to a boil then cook for two more minutes covered.
Just after starting the green beans sauté onions and garlic in olive oil on medium low heat in a 12 inch sauté pan for five minutes stirring often.
Add tomatoes, and oregano to the sauté pan and continue cooking on medium low heat for eight minutes. If green beans are not done yet turn off heat to the tomato mix.
When green beans are done, drain and add to the tomato mixture and cook on medium heat for 2-5 minutes until desired tenderness is reached.
Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve with a garnish of fresh oregano if you have it available.
Fresh oregano can be used but don’t add it until the last minute of cooking. Mince the fresh oregano, and increase to four teaspoons.
I’m home and back in the groove after another great trip to Alaska. It was forty years ago that I first set foot in “The Great Land” on Kodiak Island as a seaman apprentice in the US Coast Guard. Little did I know back then that Alaska is habit forming.
My sister, brother and wife have all heard the siren call too. They are part of almost every trip up north going back many years. What is the draw you might ask? Alaska is bigger than you can imagine with its over two million lakes, more coastline than the rest of the U.S., more than 100,000 glaciers, 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S. and a whole lot of salmon to catch and eat. Alaska casts a spell on all who come. If it wasn’t for the bugs, cold weather, and hours of darkness in the winter the place would be as crowded as California.
There is something for just about anyone’s interest in a place this big. Fishing is one of the most sought after activities, and cruising. You can take a helicopter ride to a glacier and walk in ice if you like. Renting kayaks is another popular option in many parts of Alaska, or four wheel drive ATV’s. Maybe a day cruise on a nature themed trip in the Kenai Fijords National Park is up your alley where you will probably see humpback whales, puffins, Dall Sheep, Dall Porpoises, more seabirds than you can imagine, Steller Sea Lions, glaciers, and maybe even killer whales. Float planes are a lot of fun and a great way of getting around in this water world. Lake Hood in Anchorage is the world’s largest float plane base just a short walk from the main airport where you can watch the float planes take off and land.
What about the food in Alaska? For an Alaskan meal try the famous halibut fish and chips at the Inlet View Restaurant in Ninilchik. If fish isn’t your favorite try reindeer sausage with eggs for breakfast at many Alaskan restaurants. A tourist favorite is Alaskan smoked salmon and Ed’s Kasilof Seafoods in Soldotna is a great place to sample and buy the smoked treats. If you get a chance to try spot shrimp or side stripped shrimp, but don’t miss out on these sweet and tender morsels from the southeast and south central waters. For a meal or happy hour break Lands End in Homer has the best view of any restaurant I know of in Alaska. It looks out on the blue-green waters of Kachemak Bay and three glaciers are visible from the Homer Spit where Lands End sits.
On most of our trips we stay at a cabin and do most of our own cooking. Salmon is on the menu often and one night’s grilled salmon might become salmon salad sandwiches the next day, or salmon and rice. On this latest trip I made up a new dish that was so good I decided to share it with you all. It’s a fast one that is perfect for our busy fishing schedule at the cabin. When the fish are running we would rather be fishing than spending much time in the kitchen. This dish uses leftover rice and what ever fresh salmon you can get, though I’m partial to fresh pink salmon for this dish. It takes just 15-20 start to finish so try it and see if you like it as much as I do.
Cajun Salmon and Rice
8 ounces fresh pink salmon, or what ever is available. See note.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper, optional
1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup diced yellow onion
3-4 teaspoons blackening seasoning, see note
3 cups cooked brown or white rice
Skin and trim fat off a salmon filet then cut into one inch cubes.
Sauté onion and peppers in a large sauté pan on medium high heat for five minutes stirring often.
Add salmon and cook for three more minutes stirring often.
Add rice and seasoning being sure to bust up any clumps of rice. Cook three more minutes.
Serves two but is easily doubled.
Fresh pink salmon is best for this dish, but silver salmon or atlantic salmon will do.
Be sure and get the tail half of the filet to insure there are little or no bones.
If you don’t have blackening seasoning on hand here is a simple recipe for it.
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, optional
When I was a child my somewhat eccentric parents invited foreign exchange students staying at Buckly Airforce Base east of Denver for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Why they were staying there I don’t know, but I remember going to the base to pick them up. Through this exchange I met someone from the Phillipines, and Nigeria. There were one or two others but I forget where they were from. The guy from the Phillipines showed my mom how to make adobo which we all liked very much, and instilled a love for the dish that has lasted a lifetime. The meat of choice was doves as dove season was the previous month and we had many of the tasty birds in the freezer.
The guy from Nigeria was interesting because of his family. My mom casually asked at dinner, “what does your father do”, and the answer was, “he is the ruler” which shocked my mother. It’s not every day you have someone for dinner who’s father is the king of a country so that gave my parents something to talk about for years to come. For me the guy was fun because he indulged me with some archery in our backyard as I had just received my first bow and arrow set for Christmas that day. Apparently I thought at that young age, I think I was eleven years old at the time, that men from Africa knew how to shoot an arrow. Pretty funny in retrospect as we were both rather bad at it.
Over the last twenty years my wife and I have had only one foreign house guest and he was a chaperone from Japan assigned to a bunch of middle school aged kids visiting Denver. It was fun and I would have liked to do more hosting. In June of this year I saw a home made sign announcing “20 Spanish students need host families” and called after getting approval from my wife. We ended up with a great kid from Burgos, Spain who at the ripe old age of sixteen speaks very good English and is a great addition to our household.
Turns out he is a natural cook. Even though his mother does almost all the cooking in his home I found out that he has significant talent in the kitchen. His first homework involving food was to prepare an American dish for a competition in class on Tuesday. I helped him select the dish to prepare and he made shepherds pie with virtually no help from me. Then that night he cooked us two traditional Spanish dishes for dinner. He made a Spanish tortilla and a gazpacho soup. For those of you who have never had a Spanish tortilla it’s nothing like what we see in Mexican restaurants. A Spanish tortilla has potatoes, onion and eggs in it and looks like an omelet.
Both dishes Manuel made for us were excellent but I really liked the gazpacho, and since I have a lot of tomatoes getting ripe lately I wanted to make another batch the next day. Manuel didn’t use a recipe but I took notes and tried to copy his gazpacho. The results were good but it took some more testing to come up with the recipe I share with you here. It’s fast and simple as well as healthy. If you have an abundance of garden tomatoes like I do it’s a great way to use them up. With these hot summer day upon us give this a try and see if you agree with me that this is one great Spanish cold soup.
Gazpacho Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
1/2 yellow onion chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 cup peeled and diced cucumber with seeds removed
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 medium sized apple peeled and diced
1 clove garlic minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons good quality apple cider vinegar, I like Bragg’s brand best
1 slice of bread cubed, about 1 cup
1 teaspoon salt
Soak bread in water for five or more minutes to soften. Drain water off before adding to the blender.
If using a blender instead of a food processor put tomatoes in first to facilitate faster blending. Then add rest of the ingredients.
If it won’t all fit blend for thirty to sixty seconds and add rest of ingredients.
Blend thoroughly for two to three minutes, depending on the strength of your blender. There should not be anything larger than a sesame seed for best results.
Best if chilled for and hour or two, but can be eaten right away if needed.
I tested this with both a blender and a food processor. The food processor I have held all the ingredients but was a bit slower to blend thoroughly. The blender did a good job blending but didn’t hold all the ingredients at once and I had to add the rest after a minute of blending reduced the volume.
Here’s another fast and healthy recipe for your summer grilling. I have been experimenting with mushroom blending and swapping for over a year now since hearing about it from the folks at The Woodlands at Phillip’s Mushrooms. I created a chili recipe using mushrooms and beef,http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/soup-season/, and now have been focusing on grilling. In case you are not familiar with blending mushrooms it’s where you use half the beef and substitute the other half with mushrooms. In theory you cut out some of the calories and saturated fat by cooking this way.
With swapping you cut out the meat all together using mushrooms in place of meat.
In both swapping and blending my first choice of mushrooms are the mighty portabella. They taste great, are easy to prepare and last long in the fridge compared with most other mushrooms in the grocery store. They are very similar to meat in their ability to fill you up especially if you try the following recipe with it’s burger bun, cheese, avocado, tomato, lettuce and salsa. It provides all the major food groups, and does it in a healthy way.
This is also a very fast meal if you are using a gas grill it should take no more than 20 minutes from start to yummy finish. You can use just about any cheese on it like cheddar, provolone, swiss, gruyere, or even gouda. If you are gluten intolerant this is still a great entree without a bun. Try serving corn on the cob, and cole slaw with it for a new summer combo meal to share with family and friends. I think you will agree with me that it’s easy to cut out the meat once in a while when you eat hearty mushroom based meals.
Grilled Portabella Mushrooms with Avocado and Salsa
4 large portabella mushrooms with caps removed
4 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil, or plain olive oil
6 tablespoons salsa
1 avocado, sliced
1 large tomato,sliced
4 hamburger buns
If using a charcoal grill, or gas grill get it fired up first.
Wash the portabella caps if needed and remove stems. Wipe caps to dry.
Brush caps with some of the olive oil, and save the rest for brushing and toasting the buns.
Brush buns with oil and toast buns then set aside.
Cook portabellas cap side down for 5-7 minutes covered. Flip and cook two minutes with gill side down.
Turn caps gill side up and top with 1 1/2 tablespoon of salsa. Cover grill and cook for two minutes.
Top with cheese and cover the grill to melt it.
Top the bottom part of burger bun with lettuce and tomato, add grilled portabella cheese side up then top the portabella with the avocado slices.
For an Italian version use goat cheese, or provolone and bruschetta topping.
Remove gills with a spoon if you like.
As a chef I love the explosion of specialty food shops over the last twenty years. Within that explosion are oil and vinegar shops scattered throughout the US. Back in 1999 my wife and I went to Austria on vacation and visited Vienna for a couple of days. At an open air market we had a good conversation with a local who was working the vinegar shop at the market and educated us on the old world’s vinegars. She related that she had lived in the US for a few years and most Americans don’t have a clue about quality vinegar. She sold me two different types of high quality vinegars that I experimented with for happily over a year.
Now days us foodies are so lucky to be able to find oil and vinegar shops in abundance. My wife and I took a day trip to Bethesda last week and discovered Secolari Atrisan oils and vinegars. The big difference between them and others is they are not a franchise. The owner and his wife take trips to California where all of their olive oils come from. They hand pick anything that goes in their store, but before it goes on the shelf they both have to agree it is worthy. If one of them doesn’t like the selection, out it goes. Tasting is free and encouraged in their shop and I tasted many vinegars and a few oils.
I came home with a Blackberry Vinegar and an Ancho Pepper Vinegar to play with. Since I had just gone to my favorite local farm in Kingsville yesterday and bought five pounds of green beans and six ears of bi-colored corn I knew what I was going to do. I cooked up the corn and ate three for dinner reserving the rest for a salad the next day. I steamed the green beans the next morning and chilled them in ice water. Now the stage was set for a perfect summer salad. I picked basil and jalapeño peppers from my garden and put it all together in the recipe below.
Here’s the important point I want to make. If you plan ahead and cook extra items you are already cooking for dinner then the next day’s food preparation can be a breeze. By cooking the corn and beans the night before you have part of the makings of this salad for the next day and it will take less than ten minutes to make the salad. This is a fast, easy, and healthy salad that just about anyone can make so give it a try and see what you think. Please share with friends and family and leave a comment on this recipe.
Two Bean Salad with fresh Corn and Tomato
1 cup green beans, see note
1 1/2 cup cooked corn cut from the cob
1 can kidney beans, see note
3 sliced jalapeños, about 1/3 cup, or use diced green bell peppers
1 medium sized fresh tomato diced
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil, about 1/2 package
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, see note
salt to taste, about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
To make this easy plan ahead and have steamed green beans the night before and cook extra, but take the beans for your salad out of the pot and chill in ice water then drain and refrigerate over night.
For the corn it’s pretty much the same thing. You cook an extra two ears and chill it in ice water. Cut it off the cob and refrigerate over night.
Rinse and drain kidney beans and put in a medium-large bowl.
Dice tomato and add to mixing bowl.
Slice jalapeños or dice bell peppers and add to bowl.
Dice tomato and add to bowl.
Add oil, vinegar and salt and mix gently.
If serving soon add basil otherwise wait until just before serving to add basil. They helps basil retain its green color instead of turning black.
Fresh or frozen green beans will work.
Chill your can of kidney beans the night before.
I used Secolari’s, (an oil and vinegar shop in Bethesda, MD) Ancho Pepper vinegar, but white wine or champagne vinegar will work also.
Summer provides us with so many lasting memories, and as a kid I couldn’t wait for school to be over and blissful summer to arrive. I loved many things about summer growing up in Lakewood,Colorado. It was a time for games like “kick-the-can, hide-n-seek, kickball in the street, and baseball at the nearby school yard. We also loved the pool four blocks from home and my brother and I went there often to beat the heat.
The family camping trips into the majestic Rocky Mountains were a highlight each year. We would usually camp out and eat fresh caught trout cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire for dinner with pork and beans. When It got dark my brother and I would lay out on a picnic table or the ground if no picnic table was available and stare at the billions of stars one could see back in the 1960’s way up in the Colorado mountains. It was paradise on earth.
Back in Lakewood in a corner of our yard was a plot about ten feet wide by fifteen feet long for a veggie patch. I was the unofficial veggie gardener of the family taught by my grandfather and my dad on the art of growing one’s own food. I started young, about at tens years of age if memory serves me right, and I loved it! I grew radishes, carrots, green beans, corn, and beets. I would eat it all but not the beets.
It took another two decades before I would willingly eat the red monsters of the dirt. They were grown for my parents to enjoy, not us kids. Better late than never though as I have learned to not only like them, I love beets. I cook the beets greens in garlic infused olive oil with or without sliced mushrooms. I cook and eat the beets hot or make a variety of summer salads with them all through the season. Plain cooked, chilled and sliced beets are a colorful accompaniment to a green salad, or just by themselves with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar as a side dish.
Today I share with you a recipe using the first Chioggia Beets of the year from my garden. This heirloom beet named after a fishing village in Italy has a lovely candy striped inside and a soft red outside color pattern. They are more like a golden beet in taste then a typical Detroit Red Beet. This recipe can be used with whatever beets you have available, but best with golden beets if you can find them. So give it a try and have a great summer and a safe Fourth of July!
Golden Beet Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
12 ounces fresh beets
3 tablespoons thin sliced fresh basil leaves (chiffonade sliced)
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil, or walnut oil
Wash and trim beets and remove green tops.
Put beets in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. If your beets are global size it will take about 10-12 minutes to cook after they come to a boil. If bigger they will take 15-17 minutes to cook.
Cool beets in cold running water for 3 minutes.
Drain and trim any hair like roots, or peel if you wish.
Cut into bite sized pieces and tops with oil, basil and vinegar .
Chill for a half and hour or more and enjoy.
I like to start by putting my mixing bowl in the fridge to expedite the chilling process.
Cut up grapefruit sections are a nice addition to this salad.
I usually don’t peel organic beets.
With World Cup fever running strong the next game the US team plays against Germany is sure to draw a large viewing audience world wide. Even though I’m not a big soccer fan I love watching the skill and drama that goes with a World Cup series. I had the pleasure of watching the US team hold its own against mighty Portugal on Sunday and look forward to the next match against the even higher ranking team in the group, Germany.
With this being a midweek game most of us are too busy to spend much time preparing food for this round. No worries. There are still some healthy home made goodies you can serve during the game. Take for instance this chips and dip recipe I eat occasionally at home. Just a few simple ingredients and you have a great tasting chip and dip appetizer that goes great with beer, wine, mojitos or margaritas. It takes less than five minutes to make too.
This recipe can be tweaked to include crab, shrimp, hot jalapeño slices or whatever your taste buds desire. It can be served with tortilla chips, pita bread, or baguette rounds with equal yumminess. It can be made fresh and served right away or chilled for a couple hours if needed.
So pull up a chair and root for the home team that has come a long way to get where they are on the world stage, and give this recipe a try. With any luck I will get to add another world cup post for our US team next week!
Avocado and Salsa Dip
2 ripe avocados, about 2 cups total
1 small red and ripe tomato, enough for 1/2 cup will do
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa, Pace Picante medium hot will do
sliced fresh jalapeños, optional
Wash avocados then slice long ways into four equal sized pieces. Peel then cut into about half inch sized pieces.
Cut tomato into half inch sized pieces.
Put tomatoes and avocados in a medium sized bowl and pour salsa over it.
Squeeze lime over it and mix.
Stir gently so you don’t break up the avocado slices.
Add salt to taste and serve with sliced jalapeños.
A half cup of jumbo lump crab meat is a fine addition to this recipe as is cooked small shrimp.
For those who love fresh cilantro chop up a bit and mix it in leaving some sprigs whole to garnish the dip with.
If you love garlic toss in a small clove that is minced fine.
Don’t worry if your avocados have some bad spots. Just cut them out and use the good parts. Perfect avocados are hard to come by.
It’s been a hot and humid week here in the Baltimore area and I have been concentrating on summer recipes. Even though my tomato plants seem to like this heat and humidity I don’t! When the weather is like this I don’t want to be in the kitchen for very long.
One of the things most people forget about in summer is the crockpot. In summer I love to use my crockpot so I’m not in the kitchen come dinner time except to serve it up. Think about it. You spend may five to ten minutes in the kitchen in the morning putting together a crockpot dinner and eight hours later there it is ready to serve. The ultimate in easy healthy home cooking.
I have also been grilling three to four times per week to get out of the kitchen. This keep the cooking heat outside instead of inside. I’ve mostly been cooking up Alaskan salmon, and lots of grilled veggies too. Since it is about the end of asparagus season I have eaten it a bit more than usual. I’ve grilled it, stir fried it and eaten it on salads delighting in that special taste unique to the green spear from the garden.
Today I decided to create something different with asparagus using fresh herbs from my garden. I bought asparagus and bell peppers from the grocery store for a new salad recipe. Oregano is not just for pasta and Italian cooking. This year I have a lot of oregano. Fresh oregano is high in vitamin A and also contains calcium, but most importantly it tastes great.
Oregano is a member of the mint family and has that fresh mint taste like spearmint when fresh. I found a new kind of spicy oregano at my favorite farm back in May and decided to mix it with my Greek Oregano for this new salad. I thought that the blended oregano would pair well with asparagus and bell peppers with an oil and apple cider vinegar dressing. It’s a fairly quick and easy recipe that anyone can make. Check it out and stay cool.
As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Asparagus and Bell Pepper Salad with Fresh Oregano
1 pound fresh trimmed asparagus , see note
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 1/2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup fresh oregano, or 3 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
1/4 cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, or Spectrum brand
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart pot bring water, and salt to a boil. While water is heating up trim asparagus.
After trimming the tough parts of the asparagus rinse and set aside.
When water is boiling add asparagus and cook thin asparagus for thirty seconds, thick asparagus for one minute. Drain and rinse well in cold water. You may need ice water if your tap water is not very cold as you want to stop the cooking process quickly. See note.
Wash and dice bell peppers into 1/2 inch size.
Wash oregano if needed, and dry. Take about 1/4 of the oregano and slice in thin shreds. This will help distribute its flavor better.
Wash, dry and mince fresh chives and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve right away or chill for one or more hours.
One pound of asparagus will not yield one pound trimmed. It takes about a pound and a half, but asparagus is usually sold by the pound. No worries, just buy two pounds and use the extra for steamed asparagus at dinner or cook in an omelet for breakfast.
I use a bowl of ice water to submerge the hot asparagus in. First I drain off the hot water then dump the asparagus in the big bowl of ice water, but remove any unmelted ice cubes before submerging the asparagus. Otherwise they tend to melt and dilute the dressing later.