Cowboy Caviar

My daughter was absolutely obsessed with making cowboy caviar this summer. This recipe made a large volume. The leftovers were perfect to have available to eat as a side, a dip, or over salad greens. Everyone loved it.

This version was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. We ate it with tortilla chips and grilled chicken sausages for dinner. 🙂 I served the diced mango as an additional topping on the side to please everyone in my crowd.

Yield: 8 cups

  • 5 T olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lime juice or red wine vinegar
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 beefsteak tomato, seeded, cored, and diced plus 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or any combination of tomatoes resulting about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 to 4 cobs) or thawed, drained frozen sweet corn (about 8 ounces)(I used kernels from 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 avocado, diced, optional
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 1 mango, diced, optional
  • 1-2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to combine.
  2. Cut the corn kernels off the cob directly into the bowl with the dressing.
  3. Add the tomatoes, red onion, black beans, pinto/black-eyed peas, bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
  5. To serve, toss well and season to taste. Add the diced avocado, crumbled feta, and diced mango, if using.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with scallions and serve with tortilla chips. (Alternatively, the avocado can also be served over the top.)

Grilled Corn & Scallion Salad

We shopped at the farmers market to get beautiful corn and scallions for this summer side dish. I could happily eat corn and basil every day all summer long. 😉

This salad was very fresh and light. It was a perfect accompaniment to our dinner of grilled burgers (and Impossible burgers), pickles, tomato slices drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and potato chips, of course. We even had brownie ice cream sandwiches for dessert. A summer feast.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I incorporated my CSA tomatoes and backyard basil. We ate it immediately but the components can also be made in advance. Perfect.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • cooking oil spray, for grill grates
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 bunch scallions (I used 4 huge scallions)
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 1/2 of a large lime)
  • 2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz mixed heirloom tomatoes, chopped, and/or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate (before heating).
  2. Grill husked corn and scallions, turning occasionally, until very tender and charred and blackened in spots, 10–12 minutes for corn, 5–7 minutes for scallions. (Alternatively, you can cut kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into ¼”–½” pieces; cook together in a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, turning and stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.)
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, sherry vinegar, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl to combine; season vinaigrette generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Cut corn kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. Add corn kernels, scallions, tomatoes, and basil to vinaigrette and gently toss to combine.
  7. Top corn and scallion salad with more basil just before serving.

Do ahead: Corn and scallions can be grilled and vinaigrette can be made 3 days ahead; wrap corn and scallions separately and chill. Cover and chill vinaigrette. Salad (without basil topping) can be assembled 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

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.

Mexican-Style Chipotle-Lime Pork Cutlets

I chose these flavor-packed pork tenderloin cutlets to serve with Mexican-style roasted broccoli and cauliflower steaks. The dishes complemented each other very nicely.

The dish was based on a Mexican dish called cecina enchilada, thinly sliced pork marinated in a chili sauce. This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Diane Unger. I modified the proportions. Serving rice on the side was essential to soak up every drop of the wonderful sauce. Simple and delicious.

The grilled pork could also be sliced and used as a taco filling with chopped white onion and fresh cilantro. Rice and refried beans would make this a complete meal as well. Next time!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 2 T sweet paprika
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 8 medium to large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/4 pound each, trimmed of silver skin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (can use more, to taste)
  • 2/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the oil, cumin, paprika, coriander, sugar and garlic. Microwave on high until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute.
  2. Measure out 6 tablespoons of the seasoned oil, including some of the solids, into a large baking dish.
  3. Cut each tenderloin in half crosswise, then cut each piece in half lengthwise.
  4. Between sheets of plastic wrap, use a meat pounder to pound each piece to an even 1/8-inch thickness.
  5. Place the meat in the baking dish, turning to coat on all sides with the oil mixture. Cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce and prepare the grill.
  6. Into the remaining oil mixture, whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, the chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro. Set aside.
  7. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Cover and heat the grill for 5 to 10 minutes for charcoal or about 15 minutes for gas, then clean and oil the cooking grate. (I used a gas grill.)
  8. Place the pork in a single layer on the grill (on the hot side if using charcoal) and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes.
  9. Using tongs, flip each piece and cook for 1 minute. Transfer browned side up to a platter. (See Tip)
  10. Stir the sauce to recombine, then drizzle 1 tablespoon over each cutlet. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Tip: Don’t grill the second sides of the cutlets for more than about 1 minute or they will overcook. Aim to get charring on only the first sides, then serve the pork charred side up.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Summer Corn & Tomatoes

This dish is absolutely perfect for entertaining. It is not only quick to prepare, but also needs to rest at room temperature prior to serving. By placing the warm grilled chicken over the raw corn kernels, as well as the thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, the juices and seasonings enhance every layer.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I modified the proportions. Next time I would consider adding even more corn, noted below. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Healthy and delicious. A great summer dish!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 4 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used 3 large tomatoes plus 1/2 pound Campari tomatoes)
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob, plus more, if desired
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh oregano leaves, for garnish, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, coat the chicken with 4 tablespoons olive oil, chili powder and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside. (You can do this step up to 1 day ahead; covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before cooking.)
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Drain excess liquid before using.
  3. Hold each ear of corn upright over a bowl; slice off the kernels. Repeat with remaining ears.
  4. Using a mandoline, slice the red onion into 1/8-inch rounds.
  5. On a large platter, layer the corn kernels, red onion, and (seasoned and drained) tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  6. Heat the grill to medium-high.
  7. When ready to grill, clean the grates with a grill brush, then lightly grease the grates.
  8. Grill the chicken until browned and cooked through, and it releases easily from the grates, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  9. Transfer the chicken to the prepared platter; let rest for 5 to 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh oregano before serving, as desired.

Cucumber Caesar Salad with Dill & Crispy-Spicy Panko

This is another flavor-packed adaptation of a classic. It was a wonderful way to enjoy the bounty of delicious summer cucumbers. Although this version is lighter than a classic Caesar, I was initially concerned that the dressing may be too potent. No worries! It was perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I modified the method and proportions, used cucumbers from my CSA share, and used harissa instead of Calabrian chile paste. I loved the generous volume of fresh dill.

We enjoyed it with grilled chicken thighs and and roasted potatoes. Great.

For the Crispy-Spicy Panko Topping:

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Harissa or Calabrian chile paste (or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal)

For the Salad & Assembly:

  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 T anchovy paste or 5 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets, smashed
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more (or 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal)
  • 5 peeled, halved, and seeded cucumbers or 3 European hothouse cucumbers, cut on a diagonal into 1″ pieces
  • 2 oz Parmesan, shaved (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 cup dill, chopped

To Make the Crispy-Spicy Panko Topping:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Add the chile paste and stir into the warm oil.
  3. Add panko and salt (and crushed red pepper flakes, if using instead of chile paste) and cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer spicy breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl; set aside.

Do ahead: Breadcrumbs can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

To Make the Salad & To Assemble:

  1. Whisk garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies, mustard, and salt in a large bowl to combine.
  2. If using regular cucumbers: peel, slice in half, and seed them. (I used a melon baller to seed them.)
  3. Add the cucumber slices; toss well to coat.
  4. Add shaved Parmesan and top with dill. Gently toss to distribute evenly.
  5. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
  6. Just before serving, transfer cucumber salad to a platter and spoon reserved spicy breadcrumbs on top. (I reserved some of the breadcrumbs to pass at the table.)

Do ahead: Dressing can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Salad (without breadcrumbs) can be made 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

Cucumber-Cilantro Margarita

These cocktails were wonderful! They were the perfect way to use the delicious home grown cucumbers given to me by a friend.

This recipe was adapted from The Village Times Herald, contributed by Barbara Beltrami. Tasty and refreshing.

Yield: makes 2 cocktails

  • 1 wedge or slice of lime
  • coarse salt
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 1 tsp orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
  • 3 oz freshly squeezed lime juice or key lime juice
  • 1/2 cup peeled and seeded chopped cucumber
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 6 cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 dashes Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 2 cucumber slices, for garnish
  1. Wipe the rims of two margarita glasses with the lime wedge or slice. Dip in a shallow dish of coarse salt; set aside.
  2. In a blender combine the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, chopped cucumber, sugar, cilantro, hot sauce and ice cubes; blend for one minute. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Immediately pour into prepared glasses over ice.
  4. Garnish with cucumber slices, as desired.

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