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Watermelon

Strawberry, Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

By Barbara Beltrami

Moms love salads. They order them in restaurants and for take out and carry them to work in plastic containers. They probably try to get you to eat them. So why not make Mom a special salad or two or three for her special day? It’s a project that accommodates lots of chefs and sous chefs and is fun to prepare and assemble. Here are some out of the ordinary salads that are sure to bring a smile to Mom’s face and lots of hugs to the kitchen crew.

Tomato, Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup orange juice

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon simple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes

1/8 seedless watermelon, cut into 1” cubes

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes

3/4 pound cubed feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, shallot, syrup, oil, salt and pepper till thoroughly emulsified. In a large salad bowl combine tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, feta and dill; when ready to serve toss with dressing and serve with toasted pita bread.

Strawberry, Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced red onion

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

7 cups baby spinach, washed 

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 large orange, peeled, cut into bite-size cubes

1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, onion, salt and pepper. In a large salad bowl toss together the spinach, strawberries and orange. When ready to serve toss with dressing and top with almonds. Serve with sliced grilled boneless chicken breast, lamb chops or steak and baked potato.

Southwestern Chopped Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup  freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 teaspoon chopped fresh jalapeno pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, chopped

One 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 medium-large tomato, chopped

1/2 cup peeled chopped jicama

1 cup fresh, frozen or drained canned corn kernels

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 avocado

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice and zest, oil, honey, garlic, jalapeño, coriander, salt and pepper; let sit and before using, remove and discard garlic. In large salad bowl toss the lettuce, beans, tomato, jicama, corn, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Immediately before serving, peel avocado and dice, add to salad and immediately toss with dressing. Serve with tacos, nachos, hamburgers, pizza, steak or anything grilled.

Asparagus, Pea, Radish and Bibb Lettuce Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 pound snap peas, cut into 1” slices

1 bunch radishes, washed, trimmed, sliced

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper. Steam asparagus until barely al dente, about 3 to 4 minutes; immerse in cold water to stop cooking. When cooled, place in large salad bowl and toss with with lettuce, peas and radishes. When ready to serve toss with dressing, sprinkle with chives and serve with meat, fish or poultry. 

Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Most likely, it’s not going to be a traditional Memorial Day barbecue this year. No backyard crowded with family and friends and neighbors bearing salad bowls and foil covered platters. No cooler filled with beer and soda on the deck. No trays of hot dogs and hamburgers. Just you and your family or maybe even just you. So … since it’s going to be a different kind of day anyway, why not dispense with the usual menu and go for something different but very easy? How about steak with butter and garlic sauce? Chicken under a brick? A watermelon, feta, arugula and tomato salad? Grilled potatoes and Vidalia onions? And to remember the red, white and blue, how about a strawberry, blueberry and vanilla ice cream tart for dessert?

Watermelon, Avocado, Feta, Arugula and Tomato Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed

Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

4 cups diced watermelon

4 ounces diced feta cheese

4 cups arugula, washed, dried and coarsely chopped

2 large tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, toss avocado with lemon juice; set aside. In a large salad bowl, toss together the watermelon, feta, arugula and tomato. Just before serving, add the avocado, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to the watermelon mixture. Toss to thoroughly coat with oil and vinegar. Serve with steak, chicken or any grilled meat or poultry and grilled potatoes and onions.

Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS: 

One 2-3 pound boneless steak

Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened

2 ounces unsalted butter melted

4 cloves garlic, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat grill to hot. Rub steak generously with salt and pepper. Smear one side with two ounces of the softened. Grill, buttered side down, until browned on that side, about 5 to 7 minutes; turn and smear top with remaining softened butter; sprinkle with half the garlic and grill until meat reaches desired doneness. For medium rare, a thermometer should read 135 F, for medium, 140 F, for medium well, 145 F (4 to 7 minutes per side). Reheat melted butter with remaining two minced cloves garlic. Slice steak and drizzle with melted butter mixture. Serve hot with salad and grilled potatoes and onions.

Chicken Under a Brick

YIELD: Makes 2 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 small chicken, split down the breastbone and pounded flat

Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

1 garlic clove,  minced

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

4 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste

1 ordinary brick wrapped in foil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat grill to medium-low. Rub all ingredients well into chicken’s skin. Place chicken on grill, weight down with brick and cook until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes each side, or until juices run clear. Serve with grilled potatoes and Vidalia onions and salad

Grilled Baby Potatoes and Vidalia Onions

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS: 

2 – 3  pounds baby potatoes, scrubbed 

2 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced thin

1/2 cup olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Prick potato skins with a fork. In a large saucepan, parboil the potatoes in salted water until they’re still slightly hard in the center; drain. In a large bowl combine them with the onions, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes until they have absorbed all the oil. Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium-high. Transfer potatoes and onions to grill basket and grill until potatoes are cooked through and onions start to brown. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot or warm with steak, chicken or any grilled meat or poultry and salad.

Red, White and Blue Tart

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pie crust, pre-baked

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

1/2 pint strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

1/2 pint blueberries, washed and drained

1/2 pint raspberries, washed and drained

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Spread ice cream evenly in pie crust.  Cover and freeze. Twenty minutes before serving, remove from freezer. In a  medium bowl, toss berries with granulated sugar, then sprinkle or arrange them over ice cream; dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately with iced coffee, iced tea or lemonade.

 

Poached chicken breasts with tonnato sauce

By Barbara Beltrami

Midsummer. Not exactly a dream and more of a nightmare if the temperature hits the 90s and the humidity is high too. No time to turn on an oven or sweat over a grill. Better to cook in the early morning, then refrigerate for later. But what? 

A steak grilled, cooled and refrigerated in a savory marinade, then sliced works well; so do poached chicken breasts immersed in a tonnato (tuna, mayonnaise and capers) sauce. Potato salad is always welcome whether dressed with the traditional mayonnaise, celery and hard-boiled egg or an herbed vinaigrette. 

Salad? Sliced tomatoes with onions or scallions, sprinkled with fresh corn kernels or the ever popular mozzarella and basil; garden lettuce and cucumbers and peppers; watermelon, tomato, cucumber and feta. Here are a few dreamy recipes to help you keep your midsummer nights cool.

Poached Chicken Breasts With Tonnato Sauce

Poached chicken breasts with tonnato sauce

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium boneless chicken breast halves

3 cups cold water

1 cup cold dry white wine

1 medium sprig fresh thyme

1 medium sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 handful fresh chives

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

One 6-ounce can Italian dark tuna packed in olive oil

2 anchovy fillets

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained

Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Place chicken breasts in a large skillet; cover with cold water and wine; add herbs and salt. Bring water to boil over medium heat. When a rolling boil is achieved, turn breasts over with tongs, remove from heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast reads 150 F. Remove breasts to cutting board; let sit 5 minutes, then slice. Arrange on a platter, cover and refrigerate. 

Put mayonnaise, oil, tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, capers and black pepper in jar of blender and puree until smooth; cover and refrigerate one hour. Pour generously over sliced chicken. Serve cold on a bed of lettuce with potato or rice salad and sliced fresh tomatoes.

Herbed Potato Salad

Herbed Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

¼ cup chopped fresh chervil

2 scallions, very thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon dry white wine

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Place in large bowl to cool to room temperature. In small bowl whisk together herbs, scallions, oil, wine, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat thoroughly; cover and refrigerate tossing again after 30 minutes, one hour. Serve with poultry, fish or meat. 

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups diced cucumber

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 cups diced watermelon

1 cup crumbled feta

Sliced red onion (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, toss together cucumber and tomatoes. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, parsley, dill, salt and pepper; pour over cucumber and tomatoes. Tossing frequently, let sit one hour. When ready to serve, add watermelon, feta and red onion (if used); toss again. Serve with poultry, meat or fish.

Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries

By Barbara Beltrami

Even in these days of political dissent, I think and hope that we all still remember what the Fourth of July is really about, the achieving of independence from tyrannical rule and the birth of our nation and the good old red, white and blue of our flag. 

Accordingly, I say Fourth of July food should be not just the traditional barbecue fare but also concoctions in red, white and blue. However, what blue foods are there except for blueberries and blue corn? So here in honor of Old Glory, our grand old flag, the birth and longevity of our nation, I offer you a cherry clafouti with mascarpone and blueberries, blue corn chip spread with sour cream and salsa, and watermelon, feta, cucumber and blueberry salad parfait.

Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries

Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1¼ cups milk

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

½ cup flour

3 cups pitted fresh cherries

8 ounces mascarpone 

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Vigorously whip together the milk, half the sugar, the eggs, vanilla, salt and flour until well emulsified. Grease a 2-quart casserole, then pour half the batter into it. Bake 7 to 10 minutes until it starts to set but a knife inserted in center does not come out clean. Remove from oven, evenly distribute cherries over top, sprinkle with remaining sugar, then remaining batter. Bake 45 to 60 minutes until clafouti is puffed and golden brown. 

Remove from oven and serve warm with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkling of fresh blueberries.  

Blue Corn Chip Spread

YIELD: Makes 8 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups crumbled blue corn chips

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

One 8-ounce container sour cream

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream

2 cups shredded manchego cheese

2 to 3 cups salsa

DIRECTIONS: 

Grease a large deep pie plate or 9×13 shallow baking dish with olive oil. Spread the crumbled corn chips evenly on the bottom. In a blender or food processor combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper and milk until they are well blended and the mixture is smooth but thick. Spread over the crumbled chips, then sprinkle with manchego cheese. Finally, spread the salsa over the top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with whole blue corn chips, crackers, cold beer, sangria, lemonade or soda.

Watermelon, Cucumber, Blueberry and Feta Salad Parfait

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups bite-size watermelon pieces

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Place ½ cup watermelon pieces in each glass, next add 1/8 of the diced cucumber, then 1/8 cup blueberries and finally two tablespoons feta. Repeat procedure. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, salt and pepper; keep at room temperature. When ready to serve, uncover and drizzle dressing evenly over each parfait. Serve as an appetizer or side dish with bread sticks, crusty rustic bread and extra virgin olive oil in which to dip the bread.