After trying this amazing Peach and Basil Salad a few weeks ago, I’ve been enamored with this fruit-plus-basil salad concept. To me, it’s the perfect summer salad: served cold with sweet and tangy flavors.
This time though I was looking for more of a side-dish than a salad, and this episode of Good Eats wherein Alton Brown does some great stuff with melons came to mind… particularly the part where he grills a musk melon in a wok.
Combine that with some bacon (or Prosciutto if you want to get fancy) and you got yourself a killer summer side-dish.
Musk Melon, it’s your time to shine!
1/2 Musk Melon
2 slices of cooked and chopped bacon
5 leaves fresh basil
1 handful of dried cranberries
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt to taste
Cut the musk melon into half-inch cubes, and coarsely chop the basil leaves. Combine all the ingredients together and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
This really has it all: tangy, fruity, savory, herby, and cheesy flavors all mix for a great side that compliments chicken (as I did below), fish or anything really. Enjoy!
… and now you have dozens of left over parmesan and red paper flake packets. You know the ones I’m talking about. What ever to do with them?
Here’s what: Kale chips. Start with this simple recipe and just before you put it in the oven, take those left over packets and sprinkle them over the kale to your hearts content.
The spiciness of the red pepper flakes, and the texture of the pizza-grade parmesan complement the greeny flavor of the kale and go really well with a cheesy sandwich like a panini, or a even with a burger. Enjoy!
From a few different sources I’ve culled together a simple, tasty and healthy side dish: Garlic Bok Choy with Carrots.
2 heads of Bok Choy
3 large carrots
2 - 3 cloves garlic
This one couldn’t be simpler: heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a wok on medium-high. Cut the carrots diagonally into chips and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the carrots start to lighten in color around the edges.
While the carrots are cooking, finely dice 2-3 cloves of garlic. Chop the the Bok Choy into thirds, rinse and drain.
Add the garlic to the carrots, stirring for no more than a minute. Drop in the Bok Choy and cook for another couple of minutes. Dig deep into the wok with a wooden spoon to get the garlic off the bottom of the wok and onto the leafy greens. This’ll prevent it from burning and mix everything up.
Cook the Bok Choy until it starts to wilt then remove from heat. Voila! Simple, tasty, and healthy.
First thought: potatoes. Nah, the steak was going to be rich and adding creamy potatoes would have taken the meal over the top. Fortunately, I’d already found a suitably lighter alternative with turnips and other tubers. So, it’s your turn turnips; braise in that cream!
Ingredients (serves 2)
One large fresh turnip
One cup half and half (for a lighter cream)
Dice the turnip into bite-size chunks, and sauté in olive oil for about 5 minutes seasoning them with salt and pepper to taste. Add the half and half, cover, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes.
Overall, the turnips made a great alternative to potatoes — highly recommended!
Cut the tubers into medium-sized chunks and put them in enough chicken broth and water to cover. Boil until easily mashed with a fork. Drain, and add the grated horseradish, cheese, and salt and pepper and then mash to your preferred mash-level.
The result is a unique tasting, but familiar mashed (un)potato that pairs well with any home-cooking!
I’ve been on a hummus kick lately, so earlier in the week I tried my hand at making some. Searching the internet, hummus is remarkably simple. Perhaps the only ingredient I didn’t already have was Tahini, and if you’re a follower of Alton Brown, he substitutes peanut butter in a pinch so I imagine that’s a safe alternative.
The base ingredients to the three hummuses (ok, spellcheck doesn’t like hummii) I made are:
1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
a half-lemon’s worth of lemon juice, fresh squeezed
2 tablespoons tahini
salt and pepper to taste
To prepare, just add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you reach your desired texture. Starting with this base, I made the following. I apologize in advance for the poor picture quality — there’s just not enough light in my house, and I’m using my iPhone’s camera!
3 tablespoons fresh-grated horseradish
I had tried a horseradish hummus from Whole Foods a while back and I really liked it, so this simple addition made it onto my list. If you like a little bite to your hummus, I recommend adding the horseradish to any you make.
Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to just plain-old hummus when making it in the future. You know what they say; once you go horseradish you can’t go ba… ok, ok no one has ever said that.
Avocado Hummus (Hummamole)
chopped red onion
chopped cilantro to taste
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
I like guacamole and I like hummus, so why not combine the two? I found that this isn’t a novel idea — there are quite a few recipes out there on the net that do this, so I just took the ingredients I normally use in a guacamole and added them to the hummus.
The result was great, but was less spicy than a guac and more filling than hummus. Honestly I think I’ll just stick with either-or depending on what the situation calls for.
Chipotle Chile Adobo Hummus
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce
2 tablespoons sour cream
chopped cilantro to taste
I’m always looking for a light and spicy snack, and I think I’ve just found my go-to! Beware that the chile in adobo sauce is back-of-the-throat spicy, and it’s only partially balanced by the sour cream and hummus.
Out of the three, this was my favorite. I’ve added it to wraps, sandwiches, and it even goes well with a breakfast omellete.
Hmm, cream braising… Interesting. I filed this away for later exploration after first seeing it, but I found myself thinking about it more and more. Reading alone in a quiet room I’d hear a soft whisper, creeeam braaaising. I would wake in the middle of the night, feverishly yelling CREAM BRAISING. One or both of those stories are not true.
I finally got around to trying it the other day, the results were surprisingly good! The cream takes a bit of the bite off the sprouts, and gives them a rich, decadent texture. But, the earthiness and distinctive flavor of Brussels sprouts is still there and makes its way into the cream sauce. Oh yeah, that’s a bonus of making this dish: simmer the cream to thicken and it makes an amazing sauce.
I paired the sprouts with some fried chicken, and the result was the best down-home meal I’ve had in a while. I highly recommend giving it a try.
1 bag of Brussels sprouts
1 8-oz carton of Heavy Cream
I pan-seared the Brussels sprouts in olive oil until there was noticeable browning, seasoning it liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika. I then added the cream and stirred, digging into the bottom of the pan gently to get any tasty bits off the bottom. Finally, I covered and let simmer on low heat for about 35 minutes.
Be sure to use the excess cream sauce to dip whatever protein or baked flour product you’re going with that night — you won’t regret it!