Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fresh fava bean salad with tomato and mozzarella balls

Another spring vegetable that has a short season is fava beans. It is a three step process before they are edible but worth it. Paired with cherry tomatoes and  bocconcini (mozzarella balls) they make for a great spring salad. The beans have a buttery texture, slight bitterness and lovely, nutty flavor. The tomatoes are slightly tart and sweet and the mozzarella balls just melt in your mouth. A handful of crisp greens and a lemony herb dressing brings this beautiful salad together.

Fava Bean salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

1 1/2 cups peeled fava beans (You will need 2 lbs beans in the pod)
7 baby mozzarella balls, cut in half
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups salad greens (I used baby spinach)

1 small clove fresh garlic, peeled and grated
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil)
1/8 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried oregano leaves
  1. Bring a huge pot of salty water to a boil. How salty? It should taste like the sea. In the meantime get an ice water bath ready. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling water. Let them boil for a minute or two. You will know they are ready when they are all floating in the top of the water.
  2. Plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Now look for the reverse: When all the favas have sunk to the bottom, pinch them out of the jackets.  
  3. Add the cooked fava beans to the salad bowl with the cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls. 
  4. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing and pour half of it on the fava, tomato and mozzarella mixture. Let it marinate for 30 minutes. Then add the baby spinach leaves and add the rest of the dressing. Toss and serve immediately.
Serves 3

Monday, May 15, 2017

Potato and lentil salad with basil vinaigrette

I had seen a post of David Leibovitz where he is in love with basil vinaigrette as much he is in love with pesto. We used to eat a lot of basil pesto but then got bored of it, and I started making pesto with  baby arugula and baby watercress, but this vinaigrette looked interesting and I decided to give it a try. The vinaigrette has all the elements of a traditional french potato salad dressing with a little extra. Lentils added some bulk and a change in texture. Its a perfect vegetarian main course salad.
The creamy potatoes, with the earthy french lentils, mild pickled shallots and the tangy vinaigrette work beautifully together. Spring and summer are a great time to make this salad when basil leaves are easily available. Use the freshest basil leaves as the vinaigrette is the star of the dish!

Potato and lentil salad with basil vinaigrette
24 oz fresh new potatoes cut into quarters or sixth's depending on the size
1 cup French green lentils
1 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white vine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  1. Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup lentils to a 3 quart saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Simmer over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes till the lentils are cooked but not mushy. If the water has not absorbed, drain the excess water. Transfer to the serving bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the potatoes in another large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes till the potatoes are cooked but not breaking apart. Drain and combine with the lentils.
  3. While the lentils and potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl, add the lemon juice to the shallots and let it pickle. 
  4. Drain the shallots to the potato and lentil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.
 Serves 3 to 4

Basil Vinaigrette by David Leibovitz
1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 small shallot (25g) peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
2 cups loosely packed (25g) fresh basil leaves

Combine all of the above in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Makes about 1/3 cup.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pearl barley salad with watercress,radish, asparagus, sugar snap peas and feta

Fresh and vibrant - this is the perfect spring salad. Tender watercress, combined with steamed asparagus and sweet sugar snap peas, sweet and crunchy radish, burst of spicy tart capers and salty feta all tossed with chewy pearl barley. The baby watercress is extremely tender and does not take to heavy dressings. Hence I dressed it with a very simple vinaigrette with a tinge of garlic for punch.

If you are in the NY/NJ area, look for the Dream Greens brand of baby greens. I bought mine at Freshdirect and fell in love with their quality.

Pearl barley salad with watercress, radish, asparagus, sugar snap peas and feta
1 cup pearl barley
2.5 oz baby watercress leaves
3 red radish, thinly sliced
6 thick asparagus spears
1 cup sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons capers in brine
3.5 oz Greek feta cheese, crumbled

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 teaspoon grated garlic (use the microplane)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the barley as per the instructions on the packet. I cooked mine in salted water for 30 minutes and it was cooked and chewy. Drain the excess water and cool in the serving dish.
  2. Bring another pot of water to a boil. While the water is boiling, trim the asparagus and chop into 1/2 inch piece leaving the tips whole. Once the water comes to a boil, add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook the asparagus in the boiling water uncovered for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the cooked barley. 
  3. Bring the same pot of water to a boil again and add the sugar snap peas. Cook for 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon and add to the barley and asparagus mixture.
  4. Once everything has cooled, add the capers, radish and feta cheese and mix well. 
  5. Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients for the dressing and add to the salad tossing to coat all the ingredients with the dressing.
  6. Finally add the delicate water cress leaves and mix gently.
Serves 4