Taco Salad

With summer officially beginning in a few days, swimsuit season is finally here.  Not that I wear swimsuits that often, it’s not a pretty sight (it’s not terrible either).  But the point is, it’s time to slim down for a few months, before autumn comes around and I fill up on stews and pies and soups and turkeys and cookies and…can it be autumn yet?

Anyway, when it’s hot, and you’re in a season full of fresh vegetables, the obvious choice is to have a salad. But with so many options, what kind of salad do you have?  The choice is always obvious for me: a taco salad!

I love a taco salad. It’s spicy, it’s flavorful, and when you use salsa as the dressing, it is practically guilt free (in my mind).

It’s also super easy to make, and an easy lunch to assemble if you need to take it to work. I’ve been eating them all week!

I use ground turkey meat, because it’s “healthier,” but you can use whatever meat you want.  You can also totally use packaged taco seasoning, and I won’t judge because it’s delicious.

I sauté some onions, and then added spices like cumin, coriander, chili, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and then let them warm up to really bring out the flavors.

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Add the meat in, brown it, add a little water to let the spices really get into the meat, and you’re halfway done!

For the salad, I chop up some mini-peppers, tomatoes, and radishes.

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Next, add some chopped avocado, black beans, olives, corn (I used canned because I’m lazy), and some pickled jalapeño peppers for a nice kick. Toss all that with some lettuce and a few tablespoons of whatever salsa you love, and crumble a taco shell over it for good measure.

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There you have it, a tasty, satisfying, delicious lunch salad!

To use it during the week, keep all the components in separate containers, and it makes assembling them a breeze, and keeps them from getting all mushy.

TACO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lb ground turkey
1 small onion
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
5 radishes, chopped
1 bell pepper (or a handful of mini peppers), chopped
1 avocado, cut into cubes
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 small can sliced olives
Pickled jalapeños
Salsa of your choice (I prefer green)
Taco shells or tortilla chips

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion to pan, saute for 3-4 minutes until soft.
3. Add cumin, coriander, chili, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant. (*Add more or less of whatever spices you love/hate!)
4. Add 1/3 cup water, and stir.  Cook until water evaporates, and then season to taste.
5. In a bowl, combine lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, pepper, avocado, black beans, corn, and however many jalapeños you enjoy.  Toss all that together.
6. Put some salad on a plate, and top with 1/2 a cup(ish) of meat mixture.
7. Break a taco shell or some tortilla chips on top of the salad.
8. Top with a few tablespoons of salsa, and garnish with cilantro if you have any.

Easy and Impressive

I’m running out to a dinner party but I just had to share a quick note.

My task was to provide an appetizer, and when you have little time, the easiest thing is to throw together a charcuterie plate.  Who doesn’t love some nice meats and cheeses? (Vegetarians, fine. But the rest of us!)

It takes about 10 minutes at the store to pick out some nice salamis, and of course some prosciutto, and partner it with a few cheeses.  In this case, I got a nice raclette, some sharp, grass-fed, cheddar, and a new cheese that is a mix of a brie and bleu cheese, which I can’t wait to try.  I’ll let you know how it is.

The best part is that it always looks so impressive. Probably because it’s called charcuterie, and that just sounds fancy.

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P.S. Don’t be jealous of my cheese knife!

On the Lamb (Meatballs)

You know those times where you look at a recipe and think “oh that might be good!” and then you try it, and you have to stop yourself from eating all of it before your boyfriend gets home because it’s so good?  This is one of those.

I happen to love lamb. It’s meaty, and juicy, and full of delicious flavor.  There are so many herbs and spices that work well with it in a very different way than other meats. You can create unique dishes with it that add an unexpected flair and a richness you can’t get with other meats.

This recipe is buried in the April issue of Bon Appétit magazine, and when I saw it, it piqued my interest enough that it was worth a try.  In fact, the April issue of the magazine is one of its better ones, there were plenty of recipes in there I wanted to try.

I also love meatballs. They’re perfectly sized, can go with pastas, salads, in sandwiches, or just eaten by themselves and they’re always a winner. There are endless ways to make them and I almost want to open a restaurant that sells exclusively meatballs!  Wouldn’t that be nice? (Copyright The Eating Table, 2015).

The key to this recipe is the amazing chili sauce that coats the meatballs. Don’t be intimidated by how much chili is in it, because it’s actually quite mild. It’s more flavor than heat.

The sauce starts with seeded, chopped pasilla peppers, red chili flakes, and cumin seeds, which you toast for a few minutes to really get the flavors going.

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After blending them with vinegar, oil, garlic, and sweet paprika (more flavor!), you’re left with this magnificently red sauce which you put in a bowl.

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The meatballs involve onions, more garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, coriander, cumin, fennel, and I’m already salivating at all those amazing flavors. lamb-meatballs-5

Combine that with lamb and pulse it in a food processor until it gets nice and mixed.  This also helps with the texture of the lamb as well, really making it a fine grind.

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Then you just form them into balls.

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Fry them up in a pan.

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And then, the best part, you toss them in the chili sauce.

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At this point I wanted to eat the entire bowl, because they look so amazing, but I had to wait to make them look pretty.

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The recipe has them being served with a cucumber/yogurt mixture, but I just served them with a lightly dressed salad.  And then ate more than I should have.

Honestly, they were so good I almost had to ration them to make sure I didn’t eat them all in one sitting.  Even my boyfriend, who says he doesn’t like lamb, kept eating them and I had to make him stop.  They’re all gone now, and I immediately want to make more of them, but that feels so indulgent!

Then again, it’s my birthday week, so I can do whatever I want.  Off to the store for more ingredients, brb!

Recipe can be found here. And you really should try it.

Grilled Steak with Celery & Anchovy Salad

As much as I love to take my time and explore all my cookbooks and go down a Pinterest-hole to find new recipes, sometimes the inspiration is right in front of me, in the form of my favorite magazine, Sunset.

A seemingly questionable recipe, this one from the April issue (ripped from the headlines!) for Grilled Steaks with Celery and Anchovy Salad struck my fancy, mostly for the sheer audacity of using an entire can of anchovies.

Anchovies are one of the best secret ingredients you can use in a lot of dishes. They are intense, salty, full of umami flavor, but yet more often than not blend into the background of a dish, and you can’t tell what that flavor is, you just know it’s delicious.

I think most people look at anchovies and think they’re gross, and quite honestly, if you eat a canned anchovy, yeah, they’re a little much to taste. But if you have a fresh anchovy, that’s a whole different story. If you’ve never had fresh anchovies, I suggest you try them. They’re delicious and incredibly tasty.

More often than not a recipe asks for just a few of these magical little fish, but as I said, this recipe called for an entire can!  Plus it involves steak, and I always love a good steak.

Another good thing about this recipe is that the dressing doubles as a marinade, making prep super simple.

So first comes the marinade.  First the anchovies.

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Delicious, nutritious anchovies

In a blender, or small food processor, combine them with garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, red chili flakes, olive oil, and salt.

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Zesty!

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Flavor bomb.

Whirl all that together until it’s a nice, smooth dressing/marinade.

Then take a rib-eye steak (the recipe calls for four, but I can’t eat all four!  I mean, I could, but…) and cover it with some of the marinade. Let it sit while you do some other things.

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While that’s marinating, you can get the salad ready. I’m not a huge fan of celery, personally. I mean, sure, with peanut butter, well, anything’s good with peanut butter. But it generally plays a supporting role in a dish, instead of being front and center (though lord help you if you try to serve me cooked celery in something other than Thanksgiving stuffing. BLECH!).  This salad is all celery, all the time, so I was skeptical.

Slice the celery at an angle so you get nice, hearty pieces.

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You’re going to want to wash and tear some parsley leaves as well. You also need to toast some almonds in a pan.

Now, cooking this is fairly simple. The recipe calls for a grill, which I don’t have (thanks, apartment living/Obama), so I just used the broiler. Broil the steak for about 5 minutes on each side. While that’s broiling you can act quickly and combine the celery, parsley, and almonds, and toss them with some more of the flavorful anchovy dressing.

When the steak is done, let it cool for a few minutes (key to a juicy steak!), and spread a little more of the dressing on top. It will absorb into the meat making it even tastier.  Put it on a plate and serve it with the celery and parsley salad.

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Now, let me tell you something.  I’ve made a lot of steaks in my day, and I’ve tried a lot of different sauces and marinades to go with them. So imagine my surprise when this one suddenly shoots to the top of my favorites list after the first bite. On the steak the dressing is flavorful and enhances the flavor of the beef, while adding a ton of complexity to it. But on the salad, it’s cool and refreshing, and not overpowering by any means. And that celery? What an unexpectedly great complement to the meat. The crunch added some much needed texture to the overall dish, and it was bright and flavorful.

So for all you anchovy doubters out there, my boyfriend is one of them too and he devoured his steak and said it’s the “best thing you’ve ever made*,” and was very surprised when I told him there were anchovies in it, because he couldn’t taste them.  So give it a try, and embrace the taste!

* he says that a lot.

Recipe can be found here.

Beet around the Bush

On a normal shopping trip I have a list of things to get, a carefully planned out menu for the week that I’ve spent time figuring out.  However sometimes you’re walking through the market and something looks so good you have to get it.  The other day I happened upon these delicious looking beets at Whole Foods, and I couldn’t resist.

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Beets are super tasty and delicious, and also turn your hands red enough that your significant other, if not aware that you’re playing with beets, will freak out and think you hurt yourself.  And then, after you laugh, you’ll freak out because the red will not wash off your hands easily.

Anyway, the point is, I found some beets and needed to do something with them. Naturally the first person I turn to when it comes to ideas is my beloved Ina Garten. She knows EVERYTHING. Thankfully I got some really good beets so I was already in great shape.

She has a recipe for Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad that is so easy and delicious and satisfying and amazing and…well, you get the idea.

First you wash and cut off the beet tops, but save the greens! You can saute them up just like kale and they’re delicious.  After they’re clean you wrap each one in foil and bake them for an hour.

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While they’re roasting you make the super simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

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When the beets are done, they get peeled, and sliced, and look oh so pretty.

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Toss them with some of the dressing so they absorb the flavors.  When you’re ready to serve, toss some salad greens (Ina, we’re on a first name basis, uses arugula, but I used regular mixed greens), with the dressing, and top with the beets, some goat cheese, and some marcona almonds.

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It’s impossible to resist.  I made enough for four and the two of us devoured the entire salad. It’s easy enough to make for yourself, or impressive enough to serve guests!

Check out the recipe here: Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad