Sunday, April 21, 2013

ChezCindy: Spring Salad Greens with Vinaigrette

Finally we have the arrival of Spring after this long extended Winter!  It's so pretty to see the grass greening-up, the early flowers blooming, and the trees beginning to bud.  We can also look forward to local salad greens that will soon be reaching the markets.  Of course we have great variety of salad greens throughout the Winter months, but the fresh local-grown greens at the farmer's market are special, sweet and delicious.  Many farmer's markets open in May, including Westerville!

This winter I ventured out and tried several different greens beyond what I normally use in my salads.  Most commonly I use spinach as a base for my salads.  I'm not a fan of the "Spring Mix" as it doesn't keep well if not used quickly.  I turned to a hardier greens and found that I really like chicory, often called curly endive.  I also tried celery cabbage and napa cabbage.  The cabbage combined together with the curly endive is a great combination that holds up well to the dressing.  And really, a salad is only as good as the dressing added. 

I have made my own salad dressing for so many years now.  Below is my standard salad dressing recipe.  You can switch it up by changing out the type of vinegar.  My pantry is stocked with red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, sherry, raspberry, balsamic, and white balsamic, to name a few. Also consider using different oils; olive oil, canola, grape seed, or walnut oil.  Each of these will produce a different taste and color.  You can also add chopped shallots or herbs.

Chez Cindy House Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar
6 tablespoons oil

In a small bowl, add the Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper; whisk to combine.  Add the vinegar; whisk to combine.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking vigorously while doing so.  Serve with your favorite combination of salad greens.  Dressing will keep for 3-4 days.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

ChezCindy: Welcome the Weekend with Parsley Walnut Pasta

Friday dinners are my transitional meals.  Making something wonderful to share with family, transitions me from the stresses of my everyday work, into the relaxation of the weekend.  Sipping on a glass of wine helps too!  Friday dinners need to be quick-cooking, uncomplicated, kind of fun, and really delicious.  This parsley walnut pasta meets every bit of that.  And it comes together in minutes.  I paired it with seared salmon, but I have also served this with seared boneless chicken breasts and tilapia. Use a whole-grain pasta to power up on healthy ingredients. 

Parsley Walnut Pasta
12 ounces whole-grain pasta
2/3 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of reserved pasta water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the walnuts in a pie pan.  Roast for 5-7 minutes.  Remove and set aside to cool.  Once cool, chop into medium size pieces. 

Cook the pasta according to package directions; reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water before draining into a colander.  Set aside.

Using the same pan the pasta was cooked in, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic; cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth, chopped parsley, chopped walnuts, salt and pepper; cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the pasta back to the pan, stirring to combine, heating it through for a few minutes.  Turn off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to yield a creamy texture, adding more as necessary.  Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.  Serve hot; garnish with additional cheese if desired. 

Seared Salmon Recipe