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I have nothing to say to you today. It’s not personal, I swear. I like you all, every single one of you just the same amount, and the amount is rather significant.

It’s possible I’m suffering from a less known, and yet quite peculiar form of the Samson Syndrome. (Remember the story of Samson and Delilah?) I got a haircut today, and quite possibly along with the hair I lost my brainpower.

Another explanation could be hiding in my estrogen high. The hormone’s levels have been rising for a few days now, and such high tide usually pushes all reason away through my ears. There’s probably one lingering thought still roaming inside my skull. If I stay still for a minute I can actually hear it stumble upon pieces of leftover furniture in my head. It falls down, bounces against the walls, and….Wait, I can hear it now… Holly cow, I think the last rational thought I had left has just committed suicide and jumped off the cliff!

Popcorn anyone?

Luckily, I have a recipe sitting around that I had put together for my clients earlier, and now I can just pretty much copy & paste it here for your satisfaction. That requires little to NO thinking on my part. And who knows, you may actually go bananas over the salad. Check it out!

GREEN SALAD WITH MANGO & BASIL VINAIGRETTE

This guy’s name is Foeniculum vulgare, or simply Fennel for close friends. Boy, is he vulgar! And it has anise flavor to add insult to injury. Hence, it makes a perfect sense paired with sweet and tart mango and intermixed with intensely green greens. Toasted pignoli not only add body to the salad, but also round its edges. Try it and you’ll understand what I mean by that.

Fennel may look scary at the first glance, but in reality he’s a pussy cat. With a sharp knife chop the green top off, then quarter the bulb. Using the tip of your paring knife cut out the “core” in each quarter, as it’s too hard to bite, thus no longer pleasant. Now slice the fennel into paper-thin pieces. Voila! Ready for the salad.

Ingredients:

–       1 bag of green salad mix

–       fennel, thinly sliced

–       ripe mango, diced

–       1/4 cup raw pine nuts (pignoli)

–       scallions, chopped

–       fresh basil, a bunch

–       extra virgin olive oil

–       white balsamic vinegar

–       honey

–       salt + pepper to taste

Get comfortable and toast your nuts, then set the pignoli aside to cool. Empty the greens into a large bowl. Add paper-thin slices of fennel, mango cubes, chopped scallions, and the pine nuts.

Using a blender or Magic Bullet, mix together 3 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp of vinegar, a bunch of fresh basil leaves, salt, pepper and a touch of honey. Taste the dressing, and if approved by your taste buds sprinkle it over the salad mix, toss about, and serve along the Chicken Thighs dish we made last time. (You know, that night you and me had an online rendez-vous playing with those THIGHS and sipping white wine by the candlelight…shhh!)

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Hurry! Hurry before the summer really is just a sweet, sunny memory. . The scorching heat is behind us, true, but if you open your windows, spread your arms wide and look up, your face will still get a big fat lick of energy from our Brightest Star. Hurry!

As October makes itself more at home with each passing day, there are also fewer varieties of sweet luscious fruits at the Farmers Market to be found. Bummer. Even though I’m bursting with fruit flavors for all the fall apples and pears, I wish I could somehow capture the sweet joy of peaches we devoured this past season.

PEACHES

If you HURRY, you may still be able to grab a few juicy peachy balls from the last supplies of an orchard. And while you’re there browsing the stands of fresh, organic produce from your local farmer (hats off for the love he delivers in those crates and boxes), snatch a bag of iron and calcium rich spinach, a couple of pinkish shallots and run home to check your stock of pine nuts.

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

As I’m pondering how to segue from the tour at the local Farmer’s Market to your kitchen, Cosmo checks on me occasionally (You know, the usual editing stuff – typos, orthography, syntax – he’s alert!) from his office.

Cosmo on desk

I won’t beat around the bush any longer. Today we’re making a Spinach and Grilled Peach Salad. Empty your shopping tote and align the following suspects on your kitchen counter:

–       2 Peaches

–       Spinach (6 oz. bag, more or less)

–       1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts

–       3 slices of pancetta

–       White Balsamic Vinegar

–       Extra Virgin Olive Oil

–       1 Shallot (the rest you can keep for later)

–       Salt + Pepper

How do you like the ingredients so far? Can you put it all together into a perfect salad just using your imagination? Can you taste the sweetness mixed with salty bites of Italian bacon, all wrapped in a smooth symphony of White Balsamic Vinaigrette? No? Then go ahead and grab yourself a grilling pan and heat it up, while you seed your peaches and give each one a wedgie – eight to ten per fruit, to be precise.

You also need your nuts toasted, and for such a small amount, I wouldn’t bother the old fat oven if I were you. Just spread the pignoli flat on a sheet pan of your toaster oven, or – if there’s a lack of such – use your loyal buddy, the frying pan. It will take circa 5 minutes (maybe 7, but that’s pushing) and only 2-3 on the pan for the guys to be all tanned and happy. The minute you smell your nuts, it’s time to get them out. (I can see where your mind is heading. Do NOT even go there!)

Your grilling pan surely is scorching hot by now – a perfect surface for the slices of pancetta. Let the fat melt away while the bacon gets crispy. Next, remove the brittle slices and set on a paper towel to get rid of the extra grease and let the guys chill.

Onto the same pan, throw the wedges of your fruit and spread in one layer. Let them sit flat for a couple of minutes until the heat breaks the body and you see grill marks on one side. Flip each one over and give it another 2 minutes or so. Turn off the heat and set the peaches aside to cool as well.

Before you relocate everybody into a bowl, you want to shake up the vinaigrette first. Mix two parts of olive oil with one part of white balsamic vinegar, add a finally chopped shallot, big pinch of salt, a smaller pinch of black pepper, and whip it good. Better even – drop the potion into a blender, and let it take a ride on a rollercoaster.

Bowling time! Into a glass bowl, toss the spinach, drizzle with just a touch of your vinaigrette, and mix until the greenery is all coated and smiling brightly. Now gently place pieces of grilled peaches on top, sprinkle with crushed chunks of cooled pancetta, bring in the pine nuts, and sprinkle all with another few drops of the White Balsamic Vinaigrette. Like a gentleman, toss everybody around, carefully, softly, easy…

Spinach

The salad is ready. Picture time! Enjoy the view, as it won’t last long after you dive with your fork for the first taste. Do you get it now? The sweet and savory fixed together in the mist of sweet and tart vinaigrette…Mmm.

Are you hungry yet?

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