Suzi's Blog

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


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


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

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



Brian’s Potato Salad ala Hungary


We have just had the summer solstice and now, officially now, is the season for barbecue and all the side dishes that tradition dictates we bring to the table: beans, slaw, cornbread, potato salad, …
Ah, potato salad. Many of us grew up on that mayo-and-hard-boiled-egg-and-celery recipe, but there are options aplenty. For your consideration, here is minimalist version of potato salad with few ingredients but deep flavor and some heat. This time the heat is not from south of the border, no chipotle here, but instead from Hungary. You’ll be fascinated by what a touch, and I do mean a touch, of hot paprika can do.
If in preparing this salad you do happen to go overboard with the paprika, do not fear. A little additional apple cider vinegar and some salt can restore a modicum of balance.
From this basic recipe, you are free to add in what you want: those hard boiled eggs, or herbs, or some peppers. Even that chipotle. But, on your first pass, stick to this recipe to see how enjoyable a very basic potato salad can be.


Brian’s Potato Salad ala Hungary

Yield: serves 8

• 3 pounds new potatoes
• 5 slices of bacon
• 1 red onion
• 2/3 cup sour cream
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• Salt and pepper
• 1 teaspoon hot paprika
• Sliced scallions for garnish, if desired.


Boil the new potatoes until soft to a knife, then allow to cool to room temperature.

In the meantime, cook the bacon until crisp. Set aside to cool.

Slice and then dice the potatoes into thin pieces and place is a metal bowl. Dice the bacon and add to the bowl. Finely dice the onion and add to the bowl.

In a separate bowl, add the sour cream, mayo and vinegar. Whisk to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour this dressing over the bowl of potatoes, bacon, and onion. Stir slowly to mix. Make sure every piece of potato has dressing.

Add the 1 teaspoon of paprika and again stir slowly to mix and make sure everything is coated. Taste test to your satisfaction. A single teaspoon of paprika will give you some flavor and heat. Add more if you desire, but be aware you’ll soon be creating a paprika, and not potato, salad.

Put the metal bowl in the refrigerator to chill. When read to serve, dust each portion with some sliced scallion.

Source: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/60th second at ISO