Autumnal Salad: Orange, Avocado and Cilantro

Guest blogger Jack Mauro brings ES a recipe that proves salad season doesn’t have to end.

Though the temperature is dropping lower and lower with each passing day, it doesn’t mean you have to rearrange your diet around chilis, stews and hot porridge. A delicious means of sneaking summer sunshine into the shortened days, autumnal salads are a light meal that whets an appetite as well as provides necessary nutrition for the upcoming season. We like incorporating fresh citrus into our salads as the boost in vitamin C can mean the difference between being knocked out by the flu, and winning the neighborhood snowball fight. Ramp up the flavor by making your own dressing from scratch—whisking gourmet vinegar and unusual olive oil together with subtle citrus tones.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 head green & purple lettuce, roughly torn
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into medallions
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
  • ¼ cup sliced pitted green and black olives

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons blood orange olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

    1. Toss lettuce, oranges, avocado, onion, cilantro, and olives in a medium bowl
    2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over salad and toss gently. Serve immediately. Makes salad for four.

(Photo: CAC)

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Burns My Bacon: Waste-of-Space Recipes

Maybe I’m just grumpy these days, but I seem to find annoying food-related practices everywhere I look.  Today I bring you: ridiculously inappropriate label recipes.

When it comes to cooking, I’ll take my ideas wherever I can find them: cookbooks (I own many too many), blogs, allrecipes.com, and on and on.  And sometimes, on the food packaging itself.  This seems highly logical at times.  For example, if I have a bag of cornmeal and I want to make polenta, the first place I look is on the side of the bag.  And–aha!–there it is.  I’ll try it, and if it works, great, and if not, my next stop will probably be The Joy of Cooking, followed by the vast plain of the Internet. Sometimes, a recipe can be useful even if it does not directly utilize the enclosed ingredient, like a good dip recipe on the back of a bag of chips.

Let me tell you what has never happened to me, though.  I have a can of olives in the pantry.  I am trying to decide what to make for dinner.  I pick up the olive can and notice, “Hey, look, a recipe for island chicken and rice!  And all I need is…every ingredient on the list.” Because olives aren’t even included until the very last line, as a garnish.  Seriously, I understand that you, label designer, had some space to fill, but really, that’s the best you could do?  I think that an olive-themed word puzzle, a la the cereal box, would have been preferable to this lameness.  But maybe it’s just me.

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Spanakopita Spawns a Salad

Spanakopita—spinach and cheese pie encased in phyllo dough—is our absolute favorite Greek dish. So for summer, we decided to create a potato salad inspired by spanakopita. To celebrate our yiayia’s famous pastry, we mixed the savory, cheesy filling with warm, garlicy roasted potatoes.  The addition of kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and fresh dill adds color while keeping the Greek theme and further amplifying the tasty side.

While spanakopita is notoriously a labor-intensive dish, this potato salad is an easy, foolproof side for any summer BBQ.

Spanakopita Potato Salad

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An Olive Even Olive-Haters Will Love

Personally, we love all kinds of marinated olives, from Spanish to Greek to Italian. While we always seek out olives on a tapas menu and could eat a whole bowl in one sitting, many people are turned off by the pungent taste and slippery texture. So to transform these briny orbs into something even olive-haters could enjoy, we decided to fry them and serve them with a creamy aioli.

The crispy, salty marbles maintain everything that is right about an olive, and add a little fried bready goodness to boot. These will disappear quickly, so make sure to plan ahead if serving for a crowd…

Fried Green Olives 

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Sandwiches in the City

New Yorkers are obnoxiously proud of our lunchtime options. We don’t do chains because we don’t have to. Not when you can find everything from banh mi hot dogs to Brussels sprouts sandwiches for under $10. That’s exactly why I’ve been so bothered by the rapid proliferation of Cosi, Pret a Manger and the like across Manhattan in recent years. Are New Yorkers really lunching at these places now? Sure, these semi-upscale sandwich chains are better than Subway or Quiznos, but I’d still take a Boar’s Head bodega roll any day of the week.

Recently entering the midtown sandwich contest and blowing the chains out of the water is City Sandwich, a Portuguese-style sandwich shop from chef Michael Guerrieri. Now, you foodies may be noting that there’s not really any such thing as a Portuguese-style sandwich. This is true. Like most refined Europeans, the Portuguese prefer to sit down and eat their meals with knives and forks. So Guerrieri, who was born in Naples, raised in New York and spent 13 years cooking in Lisbon, has taken traditional Portuguese meals and turned them into an array of newly-invented sandwiches.

The crispy bread is brought in twice daily from a Portuguese bakery in New Jersey; the insides scooped out to make room for fillings and to ensure the sandwiches aren’t too heavy. Each one is spread with high-quality olive oil and built using unique ingredients you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other sandwich shop in the world. For example, the Bench Girl, pictured above, contains alheira, a smoky, spicy sausage that was pioneered by Portuguese Jews during the Inquisition. In an effort not to stand out among their pork-eating compatriots, the Jews invented this chorizo-like link that is actually made from chicken, but looks enough like the real deal that no one could guess they weren’t dining on swine. Apparently, back in the day on the Iberian peninsula, not eating pork was enough to get you burned at the stake. Today, a little bit of pork has managed to sneak into most versions of alheira currently produced in Portugal, but it’s still a superbly rich and flavorful sausage that’s not quite like any other. It’s paired here with an omelet, grilled onions, spinach, and melted mozzarella, for a savory breakfast-y sandwich that is appropriate any time of day.

For a look at City Sandwich’s other inventive, Portuguese-influenced sandwich creations, keep reading after the jump.

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Pasta Recipe: Keepin’ it Cool

bruschetta

Nothing’s better than a steaming bowl of pasta, right?  Not when it’s 86° outside. That, my friends, was my predicament last week when we were enjoying some unseasonably warm weather here in the Northeast and I got an e-mail from Mrs. TVFF suggesting we have pasta for dinner.  Not one to ever turn down the opportunity for a carb-heavy meal, I resolved to avoid the ususal pasta dishes — which certainly didn’t sound appetizing as I perspired my way around the city — and go for something that wasn’t quite pasta salad either.  We’d meet in the middle with a hot pasta dressed with a room-temperature sauce.

First, the props:  I’m pretty sure this originated as some sort of bruschetta topping or chunky dip from Jamie Oliver.  His input forms the basis of this “sauce,” which is the olives, the cherry/grape tomato and the olive oil.  The rest of the recipe is a bit more free-form.

Warm Pasta with Crushed Grape Tomatoes and Olives

– One pound of short pasta – penne, rigatoni and farfalle are perfect for this.

– One cup, olives without pits

– One pint, grape or cherry tomatoes

– Six tbsp. oil

– Whatever the hell your heart desires (see below)

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