Archive for August, 2016

Grilled Halloumi & Herb Salad

Corn and Fregola with Grilled Halloumi Cheese

Summer is for grilling and picnics and fresh produce and spending less time cooking and more time outside. This Grilled Halloumi & Herb Salad covers all the bases, somehow managing to deliver bite after bite that’s all at once smoky, fresh, tender and crunchy. Plus, it gets better with age, as all those flavors marinate and meld into one another. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

With so much going on at once, it’s hard to say which component is the centerpiece, but the grilled halloumi cheese is a good place to start. This Greek sheep’s milk cheese is a grill’s best friend. It gets charred and crispy on the outside, a great canvas for those glorious hash marks. Meanwhile, the inside softens up just so, releasing it’s complex, briny, mint-infused flavors. Torn into the salad along with grilled and shaved corn, halloumi adds some smoky, salty flavors to an otherwise bright meal.

grilled halloumi salad

To counter that big, bold flavor, fresh torn herbs bring the salad to life. Basil, mint, parsley and scallions make this a complete sensory experience – adding sweet, summery aromatics to every bite and whiff.

Holding it all together are our friends fregola and walnuts. Their toasty notes and prominent texture speckled throughout keep things from getting out of hand. Think of them as the cool chaperone at the party.

israeli couscous herb salad

All together, this torn, toasted, grilled, dressed salad is refreshing and substantial. It’s made to last, so make extra and thank yourself later. And hurry! Summer isn’t getting any younger, the corn is as sweet at it’ll ever be, herbs are cheap and everywhere, and your grill has a hot date with some halloumi cheese.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup fregola or Israeli couscous, cooked and cooled
  • 2 ears corn, husked
  • Olive oil
  • 8 oz. halloumi cheese, cut in ¾ inch slices
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  1. Turn the grill on to medium heat. Brush halloumi slices and corn with olive oil and place on the grill, arranging halloumi on the least hot areas. Flip the halloumi after 3-5 minutes, when brown hash marks have formed. Cook for 3-5 minutes on the other side and remove. Rotate the corn until slightly charred on all sides. Let both ingredients cool down for about 10 minutes.
  2. Once cooled, cut the corn off the cob, tear halloumi into bite-sized pieces and add both to a serving bowl. Add fregola, scallions, parsley and walnuts. Tear basil and mint in just before serving. Add lemon juice, vinegar, a glug of olive oil and salt to taste. Toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Summer Panzanella

summer panzanella

Panzanella is Italian for “bread salad,” and there’s nothing wrong with that! Swap out a few of the traditional ingredients with their better-tasting contemporaries and things are looking too good to be true.

There’s just about nothing better than a simple arugula salad. Crunchy, peppery greens are cut with lots of sour lemon juice, grassy olive oil and flaky Maldon salt. It’s my favorite lazy side dish – the perfect accompaniment to just about anything I tend to cook.

Heirloom tomatoes are summer’s candy. The heavy, gnarled fruits are literally bursting at the seams with juice, the ultra-thin membrane just thick enough to contain the outrageous flavor within. They’re good enough to eat like a peach – standing over the kitchen sink with the juices running down your wrist.

There’s almost no feeling more satisfying than that which is experienced upon piercing a shimmering, delicate ball of burrata cheese. The stringy, salty outer layer contains light, unbelievably creamy curdles of nearly liquefied mozzarella. If eating an entire ball is sinful, I hope they have burrata in hell.

I’ll never forget the pungent, porky smell of my neighborhood grocery store in Italy, where entire legs of cured pig dangled from the ceiling. Prosciutto is a delicacy both bold and versatile – thinly sliced, fat-laced pieces drape gracefully on a cheese plate but a quick pan-fry brings out smoky, salty notes and crumble without hesitation for a crunchy finish on any dish.

crispy prosciutto

The transformation that flour, yeast and water undergo to create bread is both magical and mysterious. A fresh baked loaf of thick-crusted, fluffy sourdough or ciabatta needs no dressing up and is perhaps best eaten torn with nothing added (though a smear of butter never hurts). Though the half-life of this euphoria is short – as soon as it’s out of the oven it begins to go stale – a toss in olive oil over a hot stove breathes new life. Fresh croutons bring out the best in bread – its crater-like crumb allowing oil to moisten the inside and crisp up the outside.

panzanella salad recipe

Separately, these foods reach unparalleled heights of perfection – obvious winners in their own categories. Each ingredient is self sufficient, needing no accouterments to bring out their best. Typically, ingredients like this are attention hogs – they need to be the stars of the dish they’re a part of – the flavor centerpiece that the rest of the meal is built around.

It seems sacrilegious, almost, to take that away from them. But together, these ambrosial ingredients create a powerhouse of flavor and texture that is so complete and diverse that there’s no turning back. The impossibly creamy cheese cuts the acidic tomatoes. That indulgent, velvety burrata is challenged by salty, crunchy prosciutto and crispy, jumbo croutons soak up every flavor without giving way to the juiciness surrounding them. Last but not least, arugula gives a burst of verdancy that keeps the whole thing tasting fresh.

arugula burrata salad

This Summer Panzanella is the kind of dish that arouses and challenges the taste buds – rock star flavors enhance one another without losing their own identities, resulting in an experience that’s at once encompassing, indulgent, and seasonal.

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 ball burrata
  • 2 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large heirloom tomato or 2 handfuls heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet. Lay the prosciutto pieces flat in the skillet and flip once or twice until slightly shriveled. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, chop into bite size pieces.
  2. Make the croutons. Add a few glugs of olive oil to the skillet. Once hot, add the bread pieces and toss to coat. Continue turning until bread is toasted on all sides and still soft in the center.
  3. Chop the tomato into bite size pieces. Add to a large serving bowl with arugula and croutons.
  4. Cut the burrata into pieces. Don’t worry if it’s gooey!
  5. Add burrata to the serving bowl and toss with a some olive oil and sea salt. Top with crumbled prosciutto and serve!

Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

stuffed squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are to summer produce what ricotta is to cheese – humble and subtle characters in a cast of bold-flavored knockouts. Separately, there’s not much to them, but together, they steal the show.

ricotta cheesestuffed sqush blossomseasy summer appetizer recipe

In this classic Italian recipe, the super delicate flowers are stuffed with a lemony, minty ricotta filling, lightly coated with seltzer-spiked batter, and shallow fried until the petals are crispy crunchy and the inside is warm.

lemon ricotta recipesummer squash recipestuffed12  fried squash blossoms

It’s the perfect beginning to a long summer night and a refreshing break from the heirloom tomatoes and peaches that are reigning supreme these days.

ricotta stuffed squash blossoms

Make some raw tomato sauce for dipping or dig in straight up!

Ingredients (serves 2-6)

  • 6 fresh squash blossoms (the larger the better)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • Handful mint, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup Parmigianino Reggiano, grated
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup seltzer water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups canola oil
  1. Make the filling. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, mint, lemon zest, parmesan and egg yolk until consistent.
  2. Make the batter. In another bowl, combine flour, seltzer, salt and pepper. Add more seltzer until consistency is similar to pancake batter.
  3. Stuff the blossoms. Delicately peel back the petals just enough to create a small opening. Gently (using your fingers, a tiny spatula, or a butter knife), fill the blossoms all the way up with the ricotta mixture. Once filled, carefully twist the ends of the petals between your index finger and thumb to seal.
  4. Batter the blossoms. Place a blossom in the batter bowl and gently rotate until blossom is completely coated. Repeat with remaining blossoms, and set aside for frying.
  5. Fill a heavy bottomed skillet ½ an inch high with oil. Heat until small bubbles form. To test the oil, drop a tiny bit of batter in the oil. If it sizzles and floats, it’s go time!
  6. Place the blossoms in the oil, but don’t crowd them! Fry for 1-2 minutes, until the bottom side is brown and crispy. Gently flip them over and repeat on remaining exposed sides until blossoms are universally golden. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  7. Sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy right away!
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