Suzi's Blog

Grilled Vegetable and Arugula Salad with Crostini

Grilled-Vegetable-and-Arugula-Salad-with-Crostini

 

It’s strictly your choice. This salad can be just that: salad. Or, it can be the entire meal. There is asparagus and zucchini here, which provide bulk and substance as well as flavor. Tomatoes provide their usual accents while avocadoes donate their rich, cream texture, here in a grilled format.

There is so much going on flavor wise, that the salad is quite fulfilling. Of course, just to add that extra layer we all desire, this salad comes with crostini covered in the goat cheese of your choice.

Chilled white or rose wine is a natural accompaniment. You want a brisk wine flavor that is strong enough to announce its presence in the face of all that vegetable competition. And one that works with goat cheese.

The most common wine paired with goat cheese is Sauvignon Blanc. Albarino from Spain is enjoyed there with their very particular and prized goat cheeses. Riesling will work well as do Chardonnay or Syrah. If you are lucky, you can query someone in a gourmet shop that furnishes both wine and cheese to get an accomplished pairing. It’s a task to know wine, a task to know cheese, and surely a leap to be expert in both.


Grilled Vegetable and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

Dijon Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 ½ tablespoons coarse-grain Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad and Crostini:

  • 5 ounces  baby arugula (about 7 cups not packed)
  • 2 firm but ripe Hass avocados, quartered, pitted but not peeled
  • 2 medium tomatoes (preferably heirloom), halved lengthwise
  • 2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, woody stems trimmed
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small baguette, cut on a very sharp diagonal into twelve ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 4 ounces  fresh goat cheese, at room temperature

Preparation:

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, shallots, and mustard together to combine (but not emulsify). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the salad and crostini, prepare a grill for medium-high cooking over direct heat.

Place the arugula in a large wide shallow bowl or on a large platter and set aside.

Lightly coat the cut sides of the avocado quarters, tomatoes, zucchini, and the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of the baguette slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the baguette slices for about 2 minutes per side, or until they are toasted. Spread the goat cheese over the crostini. Set aside on a plate.

Next, grill the avocados, cut side down, for about 3 minutes, or until they are slightly charred and grill marks form. Using your fingers, remove the peel from the avocados and place the avocados on top of the arugula. Grill the remaining vegetables, turning them as needed, until they are slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side for the tomatoes, about 4 minutes per side for the zucchini, and about 5 minutes for the asparagus. As the vegetables come off the grill, arrange them on top of the arugula.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and the crostini. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the salad at the table and serve with the crostini.

Source: What’s for Dinner by Curtis Stone with inputs from About.com

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/60th second at ISO‑1000

 

A Tray of Tartines

zv7qrnb

2013_08_30_1758

 

 

Le Pain Quotidien is a chain of lovely restaurants, European inspired and bread-centric. The new cookbook, thrillingly titled Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook, has favorites from the restaurant but also an abundance of the emblematic tartines that are the Le Pain specialty.

In short, a tartine is a good piece of sourdough bread topped with an inviting array, no spectacular array, of flavors.

For dinner with friends, Suzen scoured this book to find a trio of recipes that would create a complete dinner of multiple, contrasting, yet not competing flavor components. Suzen’s favorite was the first one listed here: Hummus and Curried Cauliflower. I loved the Spicy Shrimp and Avocado. But the Pea, Pancetta and Radish Tartine was a great contribution to round out the night.

Suzen made a double portion of each of these recipes, easily enough for 4 for dinner. Add a dry white wine, perhaps some dried fruit on the side, and you have a feast that cannot be topped. [That’s a food pun, you know: topped? Tartine?].

Never mind.

You probably want to find a copy of the cookbook, itself, and take a journey through the entire bevy of recipes here. There are 40 pages of tartines, but also breads, breakfast ideas, soups, salads, things to share, and desserts to treasure. When you see the picture of the Banana Pastis Pie, you will begin to caramelize the bananas on the spot.

Each recipe comes with a matching full page photograph. These are the perfect food-GPS directions for you to follow, if you wish, or simply be inspired, if you feel a tad creative. This book itself is inspired, but also inspiring. You’ll enjoy reading it, cooking from it, and tasting what are sure to be among your best culinary accomplishments.

 

Hummus and Curried Cauliflower Tartine

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the curried cauliflower:

  • ½ cauliflower, washed, dried and broken into very small florets
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

For the hummus:

  • 1 ⅔ cups canned chickpeas, drained [reserve the  liquid]
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

To serve:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Start by making the curried cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower with spices, thyme leaves and olive oil, mixing well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly brown on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place all the hummus ingredients into a food processor or use a hand blender to process until smooth. If necessary, use a little of the reserved chickpea liquid to thin the mixture to a smooth puree. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To serve, spread the hummus on the bread and top with the curried cauliflower. Sprinkle the scallion on top and drizzle with the olive oil.

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Tartine

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 10 shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 2 cherry tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion, green part only
  • ½ clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fine chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sea slat
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, just ripe, peeled and pit removed
  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 lime, peeled

Preparation:

Cut the shrimp or prawns into half across their length and then their width if they are very large.

Put the shrimp into a bowl with the tomatoes, jalapeno, scallion, garlic and cilantro. Seaton with salt, then add half the lime juice and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Mash the avocado flesh with a fork together with the remaining lime juice. Spread the avocado on the bread slices, then top with the shrimp mixture.

Using a sharp knife, segment the lime by cutting away the skin and pith. Place the lime slices on top of the shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

Pea, Pancetta and Radish Tartine

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the pea hummus:

  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas, or frozen petit pois, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • Black pepper

To serve:

  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 4 very thin slices of raw pancetta [very dry] or fired, if preferred
  • 4 radishes, cut into thin slivers
  • 8 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoon shelled fresh peas or frozen petits pois, defrosted

 Preparation:

For the pea hummus, pout the peas, tahini, olive oil, salt and black pepper into a food processer or use a handheld blender to blend into short burst of 10-15 seconds, until you have a smooth puree.

To serve, spread the pea hummus on the bread, then top with the pancetta, radishes, mint and peas.

Source: Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook by Alain Coumont and Jean-Pierre Gabriel

Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18MM Macro lens, F/2.8, 1/80th second, ISO 500.