Tomato and Feta Cauliflower

Here we go again. Another night staring at a few heads of cauliflower and trying to figure out how to make it interesting. Thankfully, my love affair with sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL continues (see the 3-Way Tomato Salad for more sun-dried tomato inspo).

SHOPPING LIST: 3 heads of cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, feta cheese, coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, using the convection function if you have that option. Remove the florets from your cauliflower and lay on a sheet pan. Drizzle with melted coconut oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Toss well so all of the florets are equally coated in oil and seasoning and bake for 40 minutes.

The key here is actually the super garlicky oil that that sun-dried tomatoes are preserved in. Once your cauliflower is done roasting, use a large spoon to drizzle about 4-5 tB. worth of the oil over your cauliflower and place the tray under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until your cauliflower is blistered.

Remove the roasted florets into your serving dish and add 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (removed from the oil) and 1/2 cup of feta. I chose NOT to slice the sun-dried tomatoes because I thought they looked beautiful full-sized against the larger cauliflower florets – but you could totally give them a rough chop or slice them in half if you prefer smaller bits. Just remember, at many gourmet markets you will find specially packaged “sun-dried tomato olive oil” so purchasing your sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL actually gives you two products in one! You can also use this garlicky tomato oil in your salad dressings, as a drizzle for a classic tomato/mozzarella salad, or even as a topping on pizza!!

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

I had the ABSOLUTE pleasure of traveling to Vietnam with my husband when the world was normal and traveling was a thing and there are a FEW dishes that stick out in my mind – one in particular was the lemongrass chicken at Cuc Gach Quan. It’s just one of those restaurants where you feel like someone’s grandmother is in the kitchen, and you’re eating in their living room, and each dish is more incredible than the next. Needless to say, I’ve never had Lemongrass Chicken like theirs, so the next best option was to do it myself!

SHOPPING LIST: 3 chicken breasts, jalapeño, scallions, chopped garlic, dried lemongrass, grapeseed oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper

I’m going to link here to a similar version of the lemongrass I used because you want to make sure you are using a FINELY cut product like THIS. Lemongrass isn’t always the easiest thing to find fresh so using a dry product allows us to get the same result with an ingredient that is accessible to most everyone.

Chop your entire bunch of scallions and thinly slice your jalapeno. In a saucepan, add 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add your scallions, sliced jalapeños, 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and 1/4 cup of your dried lemongrass. You want to really fry your spices for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, chop your chicken into cubes. (As a very good Indian friend taught me, DO NOT season your chicken yet because it will omit too much water – WAIT until your chicken is nice and browned).

When you spices are browned and fried, add your chicken, increase to high heat and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR PAN. Let it really get a nice brown on one side. After 5 minutes, give it a quick toss and 2 tB. of fish sauce and 2 tB of soy sauce. Use a wooden to spoon to remove all of the browned bits from the bottom of your pan and season with salt and pepper. Allow to cook another 7-10 minutes or until your chicken is fully cooked through.

I didn’t put any garniture because I really wanted you to see the bits of fried garlic, jalapeño and lemongrass on the chicken but if you have leftover scallions or fresh Thai basil a little bit of fresh herbs would be a lovely finishing touch.

Creamy Cucumber + Radish Salad

SHOPPING LIST: 2 English cucumbers, 2 radish, red onion, parsley, lemon, mayonnaise, salt, black pepper

Slice the ends off your English cucumbers and then thinly slice both cucumbers. Place all of your cumber slices in a strainer and toss with 1 tB of salt. Mix well and allow to strain 10-15 minutes so that some of the liquid leaves your cucumbers. This is a very important step if you are making this dish ahead of time so that it doesn’t become watery as your cucumber omit their natural liquids.

Next, thinly slice your radishes and reserve in a bowl of cold water until it is time to compile your salad. Mince 1/2 of a red onion and add to the bottom of your serving bowl. Rough chop a handful of parsley leaves – leaving you with about 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Add your parsley to the onion.

Over a small bowl, use a microplane to remove the zest of one lemon. Add the juice of the entire lemon to the zest. Add 1/3 cup of mayonnaise (obviously my vegan friends can substitute with a plant-based alternative), 1 tB. of black pepper, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. Mix your dressing well.

Give your cucumbers in the strainer a final shake to remove the excess liquid. Add the cucumbers to your onions and parsley and then use the strainer to remove the liquid from your radishes as well. Once all of your ingredients are in the bowl, give your creamy lemon dressing an extra good mix and pour over the contents of your bowl. Toss your cucumber salad and CHILL. I love a salad like this to have to be served a little bit cold – also, the chill will keep your cucumbers CRUNCHY!

Fig + Rosemary “Baked” Brie

You know that Dalmatia Fig Jam that you always buy and put out with your cheese plates and MAYBE someone takes a spoonful and then you put it back in your pantry until you make another cheese plate? Or maybe that’s just me. Either way – let’s put that bad boy to FANTASTIC use. I know, “baked brie” doesn’t scream summertime – but this isn’t en croute. A full-sized wheel of brie in a cast-iron skillet with a fantastic topping makes this warm, gooey brie perfectly positioned at your picnic, poolside or dinner table. Just don’t forget the crackers.

SHOPPING LIST: large brie cheese, fig jam, dried rosemary, red pepper flake, walnuts, balsamic glaze, salt, black pepper

Unwrap your large wheel of brie and place it in the center of your cast iron skillet. In a small bowl, combine about 3/4 cup of your fig jam with 1/2 cup of walnuts. Add two pinches of salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 2 tB. of dried rosemary and 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes and mix well. Top your brie with the fig mixture.

NOW – you have two options. You can either bake this in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes OR since you are making this in a cast iron skillet, fire up your BBQ and you can GRILL your skillet for the same 25-30 minutes period. Grilling it will infuse the brie with a bit of a smokey flavor which is lovely as well.

When your brie is melty and popping at the seams, finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra burst of tangy sweetness. Aside from traditional crackers, I love serving this with my favorite ever – Aurora Tostones – or a freshly sliced French baguette.

Grilled Shrimp and Halloumi Skewers

I mean you put grilled halloumi cheese in/on anything and you’re off to a great start. These simple shrimp skewers not only benefit from alternating cubes of this blackened, salty cheese, but the homemade lemon parsley marinade, which takes just seconds to whip up in your food processor, bathes each skewer in bright, beautiful flavor.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. cleaned, deveined shrimp, halloumi cheese, cherry tomatoes, lemon, fresh parsley, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper

This made 4 skewers but they were tightly packed so you could totally stretch this and make 4-6 skewers with this recipe. Toss your raw shrimp in salt and pepper. Then take one package of halloumi cheese. My store-bought cube of halloumi allowed me to slice the brick into three horizontal slabs from which I made cubes, trying to emulate the size of the cherry tomatoes. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo but these heirloom cherry tomatoes were variations of green and red and just so beautiful. So begin skewering, shrimp –> halloumi –> tomato. When your skewers are set it’s time to make the marinade.

In your food processor, add the zest and juice of one lemon. Add one heaping tB. of chopped garlic and then about 1/2 a bunch of parsley leaves – it would be almost one cups worth of fluffy leaves. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until you still have bits of parsley — this is NOT going to be a pesto or puree-like consistency but more like a thin dressing. Season with salt and pepper to tase and then rub your skewers with 3/4 of your marinade.

Get your grill blazing hot and grill your skewers about 4 minutes on each side – until your shrimp are cooked through and your cheese is nice and blistered. Before serving, drizzle the remaining 1/4 of your marinade over your finished skewers.

One thing to note is that the inclusion of the grilled halloumi is seriously be the STAR of these skewers for me. With that said, this would be a great idea for completely VEGETARIAN skewers. Layer up a bunch of your favorite veggies – slices of red onion, zucchini, tomatoes, what have you, with the cubes of halloumi and the same parsley lemon dressing for a super satisfying ALL vegetable meal.

Spicy Scallop Crudo

Raw scallops are my favorite. Scallop sushi. Scallop crudo. If you have access to fresh, sea scallops – it’s simply the best way to enjoy these gems of the sea. The texture is rich and velvety but also light and silky. You can thinly slice them and literally do nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt – or you can take it up a notch. This is clearly the latter.

SHOPPING LIST: 1/2 lb. sea scallops, olive oil, wasabi sauce, wasabi peas, sea salt

First, you have to understand, that as soon as you start slicing your scallops they begin to oxidize so you want to slice them and serve this dish IMMEDIATELY! The only real prep here is crushing your wasabi peas – so take about 1/4 cup in a plastic bag and bang on them with the edge of a jar and you’re ready to get going.

Turn your scallops on their side and try to slice as THIN as possible. I like to layer them a bit for presentation’s sake but feel free to take liberty here. You could display your scallop crudo slices in horizontal lines or scatter them around your platter. When your scallop slices are displayed on your platter you will give them a drizzle of HIGH QUALITY olive oil (note the green color – this not the same olive oil you would cook with), a drizzle of wasabi sauce (I’ve mentioned here before I use the Kikkoman brand, Inglehoffer makes a great option too), a sprinkle of sea salt and then your wasabi peas to finish. I love the little bit of crunch against the smooth scallop and of course the extra spice is always welcome in my house.

SOMETIMES my local fishmonger has wasabi tobiko which is the absolute BEST finishing touch but alas he was out. In my search to link wasabi tobiko, I just learned that you can buy it on AMAZON – so I guess I don’t have any excuses for next time!

Spicy Korean Cucumbers

First we did the Jewish-style Dill-icious Cucumber Salad. This is a similar concept with a COMPLETELY different flavor profile + technique.

SHOPPING LIST: 3 English cucumbers, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, chili garlic sauce, gochugaru Korean chili flakes, sesame seeds, chopped scallions, garlic salt, salt

I like to use English cucumbers for this – the long, thin, “seedless” kind. Either way, slice your cumber in half lengthwise, use a spoon to remove the seeds and then sprinkle the inside with salt and allow the cucumber to rest in a strainer (salt side DOWN) for 10 minutes so the salt will draw out the natural water from the cucumber. SKIPPING this step will result in a watery pickle! Don’t do that.

In the meantime you can make your pickling liquid. Combine 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar, 2 tB. sesame oil, 1 tsp. honey, 2 tB. chili garlic sauce, 2 tB. gochuchang Korean chili flakes, 2 tB. sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt and 3 tB. chopped scallions.

I love doing a pickled cucumber salad because it honestly gets better the longer it sits in the pickling solution. Sometimes, when the cucumbers start running out, I’ll add a whole new batch to the same liquid for a quick and easy refresher without starting over!

Creamed Corn + Crab Pasta

My husband loves crab pasta. So when I’m feeling like a sport (ha!) I’ll grab a pound of lump crab meat. My typical crab pasta recipe is essentially the same as the Lemon Ravioli (a la Misi) – with a boatload of crab thrown in at the last minute. But you know me – always trying to think outside of the box – and always looking into my pantry for inspo. What else does the prince love? Crab and corn chowder. And because we’ve been loving a good (actually, GREAT!) cornbread around here, I always have canned creamed corn on hand.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat, 1 can creamed corn, 3/4 box of pasta, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Bring your pasta water to boil and make sure it is HEAVELY salted because you are going to use your pasta water. I added 2 tB. of olive oil to my pasta water as well because I was using angel hair pasta which I find particularly likes to stick together. As always, use whatever pasta you prefer or have on hand. Especially with angel hair, you want to make sure to PAR COOK your pasta so you can finish cooking your pasta in the super easy sauce. When it’s time to strain the pasta, make sure to save 1/2 cup of your pasta water.

In your sauce pan, melt 2 heaping tB. of. butter. When the butter is melted, add 1/2 cup of the creamed corn and 1/3 cup of your pasta water and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if you’re like me and want everything to have a kick but also, the red pepper flakes add a little pop of color). As your sauce thickens, add back your pasta and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until your sauce is thick and creamy (did you know that creamed corn is a NATURAL thickening agent?!?!).

At the last minute, throw in all of your lump crab. Give the pasta a quick toss and serve immediately. You do not want your crab to “cook” – so you could even do this last step in your serving bowl if you are nervous about your beautiful lumps of crab turning into mush – which will happen if you cook them too long. But you’re paying attention to my explicit instructions so that would never happen to you 🙂

Halibut Saganaki

I am SO excited to share this recipe with you guys for so many reasons. Obviously, the first one is because it’s super delicious – otherwise who would even care? Secondly, I love any dish that you can serve directly in your cooking vessel because that’s always such a pleasure. Third – and really the most exciting – is poaching fish in this manner is such an EASY and approachable way for people to enjoy cooking fish at home. Cooking fish can be INTIMIDATING – maybe it smells, maybe the fish falls apart when you try to flip it – this style of cooking your fish eliminates all of these risk factors and above all, creates a complex and robust dish with minimal effort.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. halibut, 1 jar of tomato sauce, 1 can of quartered artichoke hearts, pitted kalamata olives, red wine, chopped garlic, 1 lemon, feta cheese, parsley, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Before we begin, let me sing my praises for Mia’s Kitchen Kale Pasta Sauce – I would recommend using a pasta sauce that has “STUFF” in it – the more complex your sauce, the more complex your saganaki is going to turn out. The first thing you want to do is slice your halibut in about 1 inch cubes, thoroughly season your cubes with salt, pepper and garlic powder and set aside.

Strain your quartered artichokes and make sure they are patted very dry. In a sauce pan, add 2 tB. of grapeseed oil and sauté 2 tB. of garlic with your quartered artichokes until your artichokes are blistered and crispy. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add 1/4 cup of HALVED kalamata olives and 2 cups of your preferred tomato sauce and bring it a simmer. Once your sauce is simmering, add 1/2 cup of red wine and continue to simmer for 5 minutes or until the alcohol has cooked out of the wine. Finally, add your halibut cubes, shimmying them into the mix of sauce and vegetables, reduce to LOW heat, and COVER for 10 minutes.

While your fish is poaching in the sauce, ROUGH chop 1/4 cup of parsley and ZEST your entire lemon. When you remove the cover from your saucepan, sprinkle your cooked saganaki with your final ingredients – the roughly chopped parsley, the zest of one lemon and then 1/3 cup of feta (or more if you want, this is your dish after all!)

I have to mention that Saganaki is a very traditional Greek dish. What I love about it, other than it being an easy thing to re-create at home, is that it breaks the lame rule that fish and cheese don’t mix. THERE ARE NO RULES WHEN IT COMES TO COOKING! THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT SO FUN! As always, I have to to encourage you to be creative with your protein. ANY thicker white fleshed fish would work well here, and SHRIMP saganaki is a classic combination. Or another alternative, use this tomato-wine base to steam MUSSELS, once your shells have opened, top them with the same trio of the lemon, feta and parsley before serving.

Mexican Street Brussels Sprouts

When Cinco de Mayo came calling, I was trying to figure out fun ways to play with your typical Mexican flavors. We’ve always loved Mexican corn – ya know the grilled corn that’s slathered in spicy mayo and rolled in cotija cheese and served with a wedge of lime – so these Brussels sprouts were given my version of the “elote” treatment.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, jalapeño, lime, cotija cheese, taco seasoning, coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Trim the ends off your Brussels sprouts and then slice each Brussels sprout in half and put all of your cleaned Brussels on a large sheet pan. Slice your entire jalapeño and throw that on the sheet pan too – the roasted jalapeño slices are going to add a subtle, smoky heat!!! Melt 2 tB. of coconut oil and toss your Brussels in the coconut oil and 2 tB. of your taco seasoning – I love the spicy Siete brand buy any taco seasoning will do. Using the taco seasoning INSTANTLY gives your Brussels sprouts those vibrant latin flavors. Roast your Brussels sprouts for 45 minutes or until fork-tender and crispy on the outside.

When your Brussels sprouts are done, remove the zest from your lime. To finish your Brussels sprouts, you are going to garnish them with the juice and zest of the lime and then cover them with 1/2 cup of crumbled cotija cheese. As you can see, I didn’t use a spicy crema here like the traditional corn to keep the dish a bit lighter, but you could TOTALLY toss your Brussels sprouts in a quick, homemade spicy crema (1/2 cup sour cream + 2 tB. of chipotle hot sauce + salt + pepper) and then finish the same way with the lime and cheese.

One key takeaway here that I’d like to emphasize is the use of the taco seasoning here. You could literally do this to ANY vegetable!!! Just using a vibrant spice blend to roast vegetables instead of your usual salt and pepper can be an INSTANT flavor fix. Don’t want to go to the trouble of making this entire dish? Roast vegetables with your taco seasoning and serve the spicy crema as a dipping sauce! As always, we have to balance what’s delicious and what’s EASY!