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Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice Salad overheadHow much time do you spend thinking about rice? I mean, where does it come from? Do you know how it grows and is harvested? I must admit that I hadn’t given it much thought until I read Amy Thielen’s Give a Girl a Knife and she talked about her husband harvesting wild rice near their home in Minnesota. Be sure to check out the video below that shows two guys in a canoe harvesting wild rice. You will never look at wild rice the same again.

Inspired by the harvesting process, I picked up a bag of wild rice at Trader Joe’s. Wild rice is low-carb and gluten-free, so this wild rice salad might be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving table. Which brings up a topic that I am endlessly curious about, Thanksgiving menus. Are you a traditionalist or do you like to mix it up with new recipes?

I have always been a new recipe kind of girl and didn’t realize how contentious that could be for people. Who knew that replacing the traditional green bean casserole with haricots vert with a lemon almond gremolata could have ruined Thanksgiving for some of my family members a few years back? Oops!

Wild Rice Salad Vertical ShotWild rice has a chewy texture and nutty taste and makes a hearty base for this salad. Truth be told, when I created this recipe recently it was because I needed a dish to bring to a potluck gathering. My goal was to make a dish using only ingredients that I had on hand so I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store. The good news is that most of these ingredients are pantry items that you might have in your kitchen.

I will cut to the chase, this wild rice salad got great reviews!  The dried fruit adds a little bit of sweetness to the salad while the green onions and parsley add freshness. The almonds lend some crunch.  Whether you make this for a potluck or for Thanksgiving, the good news is that you can make it a day ahead of time. I think it tastes better after sitting for a day. If you make it ahead of time, I would reserve a little bit of fresh parsley to garnish the salad just before serving.

How to Make Wild Rice Salad

If you are looking for other holiday recipes, check out:

Wild Rice Salad Long Image for Pinterest

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi Cheese

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi

Can we agree that cooking outdoors is approximately 110% better than cooking indoors? The food always tastes better, outdoors > indoors, and your kitchen stays cool. Grilled vegetables are a summer staple at my house. Whatever ripe vegetables I can find in my garden or the farmers market typically makes onto my grill.  The addition of Halloumi takes this grilled veggie dish up a few notches.

Are you familiar with Halloumi? From Cyprus, halloumi cheese is an unripened goat and sheep’s milk cheese. Eaten before grilling, halloumi is a bit bland but once your grill it or cook it in a skillet, a golden crust forms with soft delicious interior. Halloumi can be found in many grocery stores with the fancy cheeses, Mediterranean markets, and at Trader Joe’s.

For this recipe, I made a simple, Mediterranean-inspired dressing to marinate the Halloumi and veggies prior to cooking. Both the vegetables and the cheese will soak up the flavors of the dressing so be sure to allow enough time for the marinade to do its work before you are ready to cook.

How to Grill Halloumi on the BBQ

If you can’t quite wrap your head around grilling cheese on the BBQ this video by Curtis Stone will show you how it is done and what the Halloumi should like when it is done.

If you plan to cook outside on the grill, you can either thread the cheese and veggies onto skewers or use a grill basket (I like this one). If you use a grill basket, be sure to not overfill the basket with vegetables and cheese. You are looking to get a char on the veggies and cheese. If you overcrowd the grill basket you will find that some of the veggies will steam. I would cook half the veggies and cheese first and then the other half if space is an issue.

I like to serve the grilled veggies and Halloumi cheese with warmed pita bread and Greek Tzatziki sauce. You could also add a bowl olives or perhaps some hummus and cut cucumbers to round out the meal.  My favorite way to entertain is to place all the components of this recipe on a large platter or board. Then, your dinner guests can help themselves and take exactly what they want.

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi

Like Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food? Check out these other recipes:

 

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

If you keep pizza dough in your freezer (you do keep pizza dough in your freezer, right?), then weeknight dinners are a breeze. All you need is sauce, a few vegetables, and cheese and you are good to go.

A few years back I found a recipe on a blog for smoked mozzarella pizza with lemon.  The recipe and picture caught my eye because the lemon was sliced into paper thin rounds and used as a topping. Lemon rinds? Can you eat them? Would you want to?

Since I am always game to try new things, I made the recipe and fell in love with it! Since then I have realized that thinly sliced lemon on a salmon sushi roll is also delicious. But, this post is about pizza and over the years I have riffed variations of the original pizza based on whatever is in season or in my refrigerator.

This time around I had spinach that I needed to use and the end of a bag of pistachios. I find smoked mozzarella at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, ask at your local grocery store. Smoked mozzarella can sometimes be challenging to find. You can use fresh mozzarella in a pinch if you can’t get your hands on the smoked variety.

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Pizza Dough

I take the pizza dough out of the freezer the morning I plan to make pizza. The dough will be thawed by dinner time. A few tips on pizza dough. Many grocery stores stock fresh pizza dough in their refrigerated aisles. I particularly like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can also hit the freezer section and get bread dough (like Rhodes) and keep that on hand. If you have some time on the weekend, you can make a delicious no-knead pizza dough and use it for this recipe or place it in the freezer for future use.

I also love making pizza on a pizza stone. You put the pizza stone in the oven as you start to preheat the oven. Once the oven comes to temperature, then set a timer for at least fifteen minutes and let the stone get nice and hot.

I roll the dough out on a parchment paper-lined pizza peel. Roll the dough out thin if you want to achieve a crispy crust. Then, drizzle the crust with olive oil and spread it around with your fingertips until there is even layer over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes over the top of the dough.

Next, place slices of smoked mozzarella on top of the dough, followed by lemon slices (rind and all). My sweetie doesn’t love the lemon rind so I do cut the rind off half the lemon slices and put those pieces of lemon on his side of the pizza.

Finally, place spinach leaves over the top and sprinkle with the pistachios. Slide the pizza and parchment onto the pizza stone and let the magic begin.

I usually check the pizza halfway through cooking time and rotate the pizza 180 degrees to ensure even baking.

Let me know if you try this unusual but delicious pizza!

This recipe is inspired Alexandra Cooks recipe for Pizza with Lemon Smoked Mozzarella and Basil  

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Perhaps it is my Irish roots or maybe it is just because potatoes are damn delicious, but either way, I love potatoes. And, as long as I have potatoes in the house, I know I can put a satisfying meal on the table in no time. You do not need me to enumerate all the amazing things that you can do with potatoes. Okay, I will anyway. I love them roasted, mashed, baked, fried, shredded, spiralized, scalloped, or hasselbacked.

As you can see in my previous posts for Roasted Carrot Hummus and Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds, roasted vegetables are my absolute favorite. The roasting process brings out incredible flavor and texture in vegetables and these lemon roasted potatoes are delightful.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

The potatoes in this Lemon Roasted Potatoes recipe get crispy and golden brown on the outside and stay tender on the inside. The flavor of the garlic and lemon mellows in the roasting process and actually develop a sweetness. I have added the chipotle chili powder and cayenne to balance the sweet with a little bit of heat. The rosemary adds an earthy fresh flavor. But, if rosemary isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it out with some parsley but don’t add it until the end of the cooking time.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes are a lovely side dish to accompany any number of protein-filled main dishes. They would be a delicious side to salmon or chicken. On the other hand, if you are looking for a meatless menu idea, I think the potatoes would be delicious served alongside a Middle Eastern mezze platter of cut up veggies, pita wedges, hummus, and olives.

Alternatively, you could toss some asparagus spears in the oven while the potatoes are cooking. I would add them to the oven when you have about 20 minutes of cooking time left on the potatoes. Then, poach or fry an egg and serve on top of the potatoes. So good, right?

How to Make Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsSteamed cauliflower stinks. Growing up I couldn’t stand the smell that would permeate beyond the kitchen when my Mom would steam cauliflower. So, for years I didn’t think that I liked cauliflower because it would never make it past my lips based on the smell alone.

Then, one day I discovered roasted cauliflower and my entire world view of cauliflower completely changed. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. I often have cauliflower in my grocery cart during the winter months especially when the availability of fresh locally-grown produce is sparse.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsHave you tried roasting cauliflower? I want to urge you to give it go if you’ve only had it steamed and didn’t care for it. You might find that roasting cauliflower changes your mind. I love cauliflower roasted simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper. But, sometimes you want a dish that has a little more pizzazz.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsI think this roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds could be a star of your holiday table. Or, it would brighten up a dreary winter meal. The pomegranate seeds make the dish sparkle!

The cauliflower is seasoned with an array of warming spices including sumac. Sumac is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. If you aren’t familiar with sumac, it is well worth adding this lemony-flavored spice to your pantry.  Sumac can be found as Middle Eastern markets or ordered online.  Buying new spices is one of the reasons I love shopping at ethnic markets.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsTahini is crushed sesame seed paste and a crucial ingredient in hummus, baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant dip), and halva (a sweet confection which was a childhood favorite of mine). Tahini is available in most supermarkets in the ethnic food aisle. You will want to give the paste a stir before using because much like natural peanut butter, tahini can separate when sitting on the shelf.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate

Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds

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