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Ingredient: sea salt

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad

The dog days of summer mean salads for days. The weather is hot but this Italian Chopped Salad is cool, crisp, and delicious. When the temperatures soar I find myself craving cooling raw foods and not wanting to spend much time in the kitchen. Who can be bothered heating up the oven, clicking on a burner or even standing by a hot BBQ grill? On many summer days, I can’t.

There is no cooking involved in this Italian Chopped Salad. It only requires a bit of chopping and assembling. You can even prep the salad ingredients and dressing ahead of time. Then, you just need to take a few minutes to assemble the salad. Viola! Dinner is served.

Italian Chopped Salad

How to Make an Italian Chopped Salad

The steps necessary to make an Italian Chopped Salad are combine crisp Romaine lettuce with a few handfuls of colorful spring mix salad greens for a beautiful base.

For the chopped part of the salad, rinse and drain a can of artichoke hearts and then halve or quarter them depending on their size. You want to have bite-size pieces. No awkward large pieces! For the roasted red pepper, I cut it once around the equator (horizontally around the middle) and then into thin strips.

Halve the olives. Be sure to use nice olives for this salad. Skip the canned olives. Kalamata olives are typically sold in glass jars and have better taste and texture than the canned counterparts. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and then toast the pine nuts.

Italian Chopped Salad

To make the dressing, in a small bowl or Mason jar, combine olive oil (or tahini if you are trying to reduce processed oils), mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic. Shake or whisk to combine.

I like to serve the Italian Chopped Salad on a large platter or bowl. Then, layer the greens, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, olives, and chickpeas, toss salad with dressing and top with toasted pine nuts. I like my salads to be lightly dressed so add about half the dressing then toss. You can always add more but you can’t take any out once you’ve poured it on!

Here are few other salads that you might enjoy

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

I wouldn’t call this a recipe. An assembly job is a more accurate description. And let’s face it, in the summer time, who can be bothered with cooking and recipes and such? I know that many nights I cannot be bothered to heat up the kitchen by turning on a burner or the oven.
Plus, summer means fig season. For those of you who live in a climate where fig trees grow outside, I envy you. For the rest of us, we carefully scour farmers markets, specialty markets, or Trader Joe’s for the first sign of fresh figs.

Fresh figs bear little resemblance to the filling of a Fig Newton cookie. Fresh figs are a succulent and delicately sweet.

If you are a child of the 80s, you may recall an INXS video for the song ‘The One Thing’ which features an opulent dinner party and big haired models seductively eating fresh figs. I can’t lie, every time I eat a fig that song and video play in my mind. Fortunately for everyone, I eat most meals on my own, so they are spared my interpretation of that video. Ha!

If you haven’t ever tried fresh figs, I encourage you to track them down. They are in season during summer and I have recently seen them at both Trader Joe’s and Costco. I usually eat figs just like an apple or pear. They are also delicious sliced and on top of yogurt or oatmeal. But, sometimes I will want something a little sweet and decadent in the evening.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt 6 fresh figs 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted Sea salt Place parchment paper on a plate or small baking sheet. Chop or break up chocolate and place in small glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until the chocolate is melted. Dip the bottom third of each fig into the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper and sprinkle chocolate with sea salt.

Dipping fresh figs in dark chocolate and sprinkling them with sea salt is the perfect way to end a meal. If dark chocolate isn’t your jam, you can substitute milk chocolate. But, I really enjoy the slight bitterness of dark chocolate with the sweetness of the figs.

To start, I break up the chocolate and microwave it in a glass bowl for 30 second increments. Stir the chocolate after each 30 second interval until melted. Meanwhile, line a plate or small baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the bottom third of the fig into the melted chocolate and place on parchment. Sprinkle sea salt on warm chocolate. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes to set up.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

Winter Squash & Havarti Puffs

Winter Squash and Havarti Puffs

A neighbor once told me that she had never met anyone who pleasure read cookbooks before she met me. She made that comment years before blogs and the internet were a thing.  I wonder what she would think if she knew how much time I spent perusing food blogs these days. There are a ton of really, really good ones. I mean they not only have delicious-looking recipes but also breath-taking photographs.

This recipe is inspired by the Kabocha and Havarti Pocket recipe on the I Will Not Eat Oysters blog. I was practically drooling when I saw the photos she posted.  Plus, who doesn’t love roasted squash at this time of year? It’s so seasonal, baby!

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsI have been actively seeking out recipes using winter squash because my friend Laraine had a bumper crop of winter squash this year and generously shared her harvest with me. I used a buttercup squash for this recipe but you could substitute butternut, red kuri, or kabocha squash too.  The process will be the same regardless of which squash you chose. You will want to use a really sharp knife to cut through the hard skin of the winter squash. I quartered the squash and scraped out the seeds and strings. If you use butternut squash you will only need to cut it in half lengthwise instead of quarters.

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsAnother modification that I made to the recipe was to add a bit of heat to the roasted squash filling. I added chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper, and a little drizzle of maple syrup. I thought the sweetness of the squash and creaminess of the Havarti could stand up to the additional spices. I am happy to report that the result was delicious! In keeping with the fall flavors I also used apple cider vinegar instead of the champagne vinegar called for in the original recipe.

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsThese tasty little treats are super versatile too. You can make small puffs which are perfectly-sized appetizers which can be eaten in two bites. Or, you can make larger puffs and serve them as an entree. I would pair the larger puffs with a salad and crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Winter Squash and Havarti Puffs

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