Basil Vinaigrette

I used my beautiful CSA basil to make this flavorful vinaigrette. We ate it drizzled over my CSA tomatoes and cucumbers from a friend. We also enjoyed it on sourdough baguette slices. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Rubel Jacobson. The original recipe notes that it would also be great on grilled chicken or fish, on corn, or in pasta or panzanella salad.

Yield: Makes 1/3 cup

  • 1 small garlic clove 
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 1 1/2 to 2 T sherry or Champagne vinegar 
  • pinch of crushed red pepper 
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  1. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until chopped.
  2. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the oil, vinegar and crushed red pepper and process until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Citrus Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower with Queso Cotija Dressing

As soon as I saw Mexican chef Pati Jinich prepare this dish on her PBS show, I had to make it. 🙂 I bought beautiful purple cauliflower and purple broccoli at the farm stand to make it extra special. We ate it with Mexican-Style Chipotle-Lime Pork Cutlets.

The salty, cheesy sauce was absolutely incredible. I loved how the vegetables were sliced into steaks instead of florets as well. I trimmed the tough outer portion of each stem but would remove even more next time to make that portion more tender.

This recipe was adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table and patijinich.com, via kcet.org. It was on an episode featuring dishes inspired by Isla Mujeres. I substituted creme fraiche for the Mexican crema. I also modified the method and proportions. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6

For the Vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 1 large naval orange)
  • 3 chopped chiles de arbol or 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing/drizzling
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into 1/4″ vertical slices, including thick part of stem (I used 2 large heads)
  • 2 pounds cauliflower, cut into 1/4″ vertical slices, including thick part of stem (I used 1 large head)

For the Queso Cojita Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso cotija
  • 2/3 cup Mexican crema or creme fraîche
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola oil)
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 T water
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

To Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. ( I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a glass measuring cup with a spout, mix the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes (or chile de arbol), 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Place the cauliflower and broccoli steaks on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer, making sure that they are not crowded.
  5. Evenly pour the orange juice mixture all over the vegetables.
  6. Place in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until well roasted and considerably charred. Remove from the oven and set aside.

To Make the Dressing & To Serve:

  1. While the vegetables are roasting, combine the queso cotija, Mexican crema (or creme fraîche), vegetable oil, sherry vinegar, water, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the jar of a blender or mixer. Puree until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Serve the broccoli and cauliflower on a large platter and ladle the queso cotija right on top, or let your guests spoon sauce onto their plates and dip their vegetables in the sauce to their liking. (I served the sauce in a bowl on the side.)

Greek Tzatziki

Everyone in my family loves tzatziki. This version incorporates red wine vinegar rather than lemon juice, which is apparently the way it is typically prepared in Greece. I normally use chopped cucumbers but really enjoyed the texture of the grated cucumbers in this dish.

We ate it with warm naan and grillled chicken kebabs. A perfect summer dinner! This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Courtney Hill. I modified the proportions. I also prepared the tzatziki in advance and kept it chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Wonderful.

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 1 European seedless cucumber, halved crosswise
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat Greek yogurt (I used 2 percent Greek yogurt)(see Tip)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 medium to large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 T chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  1. Set a colander in a medium bowl, then set a box grater in the colander.
  2. Grate the cucumber halves on the grater’s large holes, rotating and grating only down to the seedy core. Discard the cores. (Make sure that you don’t shred the cores as the seeds are watery and have a slight bitterness and unappealing texture.)
  3. Sprinkle the shredded cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt and toss. Set aside to drain for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic, mint, dill and vinegar.
  5. A handful at a time, squeeze the shredded cucumber to remove as much liquid as possible, then set on a cutting board; reserve 1 teaspoons of the cucumber liquid.
  6. Finely chop the squeezed cucumber, then stir into the yogurt mixture.
  7. Stir in the reserved cucumber liquid and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt.
  8. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional mint and dill, as desired.

Tip: Don’t use nonfat Greek yogurt. Without any fat, the flavor of the tzatziki is weak and thin.

Chicken & Rice with Leeks & Salsa Verde

I have a few quick weeknight meals to share- perfect for the busy holiday season. I was drawn to this dish because I had several beautiful leeks from my CSA share. I served it with roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Deb Perelman. I have saved a million fresh sauce recipes to make someday but, regretfully, seldom make one. :/ The salsa verde added so much to this classic comfort food dish!

Because the original recipe incorporated a lot of rice, I ultimately made a second batch of chicken and sauce to serve with the leftovers. Next time, I would double the chicken (to 3 pounds) and the sauce (2 cups of herbs) from the start. The recipe below is updated for this change.

Yield: Serves 4 (1 1/2 pounds chicken) or 8 (2 1/2 to 3 pounds of chicken)

For the Chicken & Rice:

  • 1 1/2 lbs to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 to 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed until water runs clear (I used Basmati rice)
  • 2 cups chicken stock with 3/4 cups water (or 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth)

For the Salsa Verde: (make 1/2 recipe below for 1 1/2 pounds chicken)

  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 T drained capers
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups tender herb leaves (such as parsley, cilantro, basil and/or mint)
  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Pat the chicken thighs with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper. (My chicken thighs were very large, so I cut them in half crosswise.)
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. (I used a large, low and wide enameled cast iron pot with a glass lid.)
  3. Add leeks and half of lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and mix to coat leeks in butter. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are somewhat tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to take on color, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add rice and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes, then add broth, scraping up any browned bits.
  6. Nestle the chicken thighs (“skin side up”) into rice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from heat.
  7. Cut remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and scatter over mixture. Re-cover and let sit 10 minutes.
  8. While the chicken and rice is resting, make the salsa verde. Pulse anchovies, garlic, capers, a few pinches of red pepper flakes, and remaining lemon zest in a food processor until finely chopped.
  9. Add herbs; process until a paste forms.
  10. With motor running, gradually stream in oil until loosened to a thick sauce.
  11. Add half of lemon juice; season salsa verde with salt to taste.
  12. Drizzle remaining lemon juice over chicken and rice. Serve drizzled with salsa verde.

Weeknight Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Even though I have a tried and true recipe for this family favorite, I couldn’t resist trying another version- especially a Milk Street version. 🙂 It did not disappoint! It was more flavor-packed and spicy than the recipe I’ve used in the past. This shortcut version uses the broiler to cook the chicken and does not require advance preparation or marinating time. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I used the suggested amount of hot paprika but would only use half next time. (It was spicier than I had anticipated!) The delicious yogurt-tahini sauce offset the spiciness nicely. Serving the chicken with rice and warm naan also balanced the meal.

For the Spice Mix:

  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 tsp hot paprika (or 1 tsp hot paprika with 1 tsp sweet paprika)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T tahini
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 5 large)
  • 1 medium-large red onion

For the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  • 1 tsp Spice Mix (reserved from above)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek whole milk yogurt)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T tahini
  • grated lemon zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

  • chopped mint, for garnish
  • warm flatbread such as naan or pita, optional
  • rice or rice pilaf (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice)
  • chopped cucumbers (seeded, if desired)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • lemon wedges, optional

To Make the Spice Mix:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper.
  2. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mix into a medium bowl; set aside. This will be used in the Tahini-Yogurt Sauce.

To Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Trim the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cut each thigh crosswise into thirds (or fourths if large).
  3. Cut the red onion in half. Slice 1/2-inch thick. (I cut the onion into 12 slices.)
  4. Into the remaining spice mix, whisk the olive oil, 1 T tahini, and 2 T lemon juice.
  5. Add the chicken and onion pieces to the spiced olive oil mixture. Mix until coated evenly. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @500 degrees.)
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat with cooking oil spray. While the broiler preheats, make the yogurt sauce.

To Make the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  1. To the reserved teaspoon of spice mix, add the yogurt, 1 T olive oil, 2 T tahini, lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice, and 2 T fresh mint.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir and set aside.

To Cook the Chicken & To Serve:

  1. Transfer the chicken-onion mixture, along with the marinade, to the prepared baking sheet. Distribute in an even layer.
  2. Broil until the chicken is lightly charred on both sides, 18 to 20 minutes, flipping the pieces once about halfway through. (I also rotated the pan halfway through.)
  3. While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice. (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice.) Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven.
  5. Place the rice in an even layer in a shallow serving dish. Top with chicken and onions; drizzle with pan drippings. Sprinkle with chopped mint.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges, warm flatbread, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and yogurt-tahini sauce.

Garlic Aioli Potato & Egg Salad

Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂

The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
  • 2 T finely chopped red onion
  • 1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
  1. Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
  2. Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
  4. With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
  5. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
  6. Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
  7. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
  8. Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  9. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
  10. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
  12. Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.

Shrimp & Grits with Garlicky Roasted Poblano-Jalapeño Sauce

Annually, we treat ourselves to Southern shrimp and grits over Easter weekend. This year, I served the special dish using purple “unicorn” grits from Millers All Day in Charleston, South Carolina. Festive!

This version was topped with a spicy and garlicky roasted poblano-jalapeño sauce which had a terrific balance with the rich, cheesy grits. The shrimp was also cooked in garlic oil. It was a great variation to try for the garlic and sauce lovers in my house. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Marc Meyer. I modified the method and proportions.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk 
  • coarse salt 
  • 1 cup stone-ground white grits (I used stone-ground unicorn grits)
  • 2 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup) 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 jalapeño chile 
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced 
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 T freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1/2 an orange)
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp, patted dry (I used 21-25 count per pound)
  1. Place oven rack in the highest position and set to broil. Place the jalapeño and poblano chiles on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil until blackened all over, about 3 minutes per side.
  2. Remove from the oven and wrap in the foil. Allow to steam and cool for 10 minutes, then rub off the skins. Stem and seed the chiles.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Whisk in the grits and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the grits are tender and very thick, about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the milk, cheese, and butter. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. (I used about 1/2 tsp salt.) Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then keep warm.
  6. In a small skillet, cook the garlic in the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the garlic is softened and very lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a blender. Add the chiles and the orange juice and puree until smooth. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and puree until creamy. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. (I used a Vitamix.)
  8. Pat the shrimp dry and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic oil. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Heat a very large skillet until very hot, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until browned and just cooked through, about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side.
  11. To serve, spoon the grits into bowls and top with sauce and shrimp. Serve additional sauce at the table.

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