Category Archives: Vegetarian

Chilled Asparagus and Leek Soup with Truffle Whipped Marscapone Cream

    •  In recognition of the longest day of the year, Mother Nature decided to turn up the thermostat here in Virginia on the first day of summer, and she hasn’t looked back. I wish I could call it a heatwave(which would mean at some point that wave would crest and return to normal), but heat and humidity go hand in hand when you are talking about summertime in the south, so with the warm weather here to stay, it looks like it is time to crank up the a/c and make some chilled soup…and just in time for this month’s 5 Star Makeover Event:

 Hosted by Lazaro Cooks! and 5 Star Foodie

 

  • I think chilled soups are a really nice addition to summer menus; offering a refreshing break from the day’s heat, and  the chance to showcase summer flavors with a different approach to presentation.
  • Another bonus is that the soup will be made ahead and chilled, which means it is ready for a quick bite on the go, or may be added to a complete menu.
  • For this soup, asparagus is quickly roasted to warm up the flavor, then whirled together with sauteed leeks & chicken broth to create the base. Buttermilk and lemon juice brighten the soup, and add a bit of tang. You could stop here and enjoy it just the way it is, but I like to garnish with something like crispy prosciutto or in this case,  truffle whipped marscapone cheese. Either way, this soup will cool you off, and keep you looking pretty good in your bikini!
  • Chilled Asparagus and Leek Soup with Truffle Whipped Marscapone Cream
  • 1 pound  asparagus, trimmed
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 leek (white and light green part only), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup buttermilk

 

For the garnish:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the asparagus with salt, pepper, two tablespoons olive oil, and one tablespoon lemon juice. Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for five minutes, or until the asparagus are tender  and still bright green.

Sauté the leek in remaining olive oil over medium heat for four to five minutes, or until tender. Put the asparagus, leek, and chicken stock in a blender, working in batches if necessary, and purée the vegetables. Pour into a large bowl and add the buttermilk and remaining lemon juice. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least one hour. The soup may be made and refrigerated for up to one day in advance.

Whisk the cheese and cream. Fold in the truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper. Put a dollop on top of each serving of soup. Sprinkle with fresh chives.

4-6 servings

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Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Ricotta and Herbs: A Quick Summer Appetizer

My tomato plants have little green fruit on them, but it will be a while before  they are ready for picking.

In the meantime, I have basil, thyme, and other herbs that are exploding out of the garden; begging to be used.  Hard to resist such fresh flavors this time of year, and I am more than happy to add them to whatever I am making in the kitchen.

With garden tomatoes not quite ready, I turn to grape tomatoes from the market; sweet little gems, also referred to as “farmer’s candy”. I like to toss them with some olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme, and roast them off in the oven until they have softened and taken on the subtlties of the infused oil.

From here you can do all sorts of things with the tomatoes: add them to salads, toss in pasta, or place them atop a grilled steak.

Or…you can incorporate them into a quick, easy appetizer, which is what I have done here.

 

Fresh baguette slices are brushed with some of the reserved herb oil, then toasted on the grill until crisp and golden brown. Top with fresh ricotta cheese (I found some artisan ricotta at Whole Foods that was just like homemade), a spoonful of roasted tomatoes, and a sprinkle of basil.

Simple little bites that let you know summer is here.

Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Ricotta and Herbs

2 pints grape tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, smashed

2/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dry  thyme leaves (or 5 sprigs fresh)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

1 baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices

8 ounces ricotta cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

1/4 cup minced fresh chives

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tomatoes and garlic  on sheet pan; add olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper; toss with olive oil, and roast  30 minutes. Cool completely in pan, reserving oil.

 

Brush one side of bread with the reserved olive oil from tomatoes. Place on grill over medium high heat; grill until crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Top each toasted baguette slice with ricotta cheese, tomatoes, and chopped basil & chives. Drizzle with reserved oil from roasted tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

 

8 servings

 

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Grilled Baby Potato & Broccolini Picnic Salad

Though June 21st is the official first day of summer ,  don’t you feel like Memorial Day weekend is the quintessential kick-off for summertime festivities?
Kids are either out of school, or counting down the days to “No more pencils, no more books…..” The weather is getting warm (or if you live here, HOT!), and we are ready to hit the road, whether its to the beach, the mountains, or your best friend’s backyard.
What better way to celebrate these extended days?
Let’s eat our food outside!
 

This month’s 5 star Makeover theme is picnic food; just in time for Memorial Day weekend, and all of the lazy days of summer that lay ahead.

When it comes to picnic food, I can’t help but think of the American staple,  potato salad.  So many directions you can go–I had to put a spin on this classic perennial favorite.
Having just finished a week of cooking classes,  I had a  jar of roasted garlic oil  reserved from the carnitas I made. I  told everyone in class, that saving the olive oil in which the garlic roasted was a very good idea. It would make  wonderful as a base for a salad dressing, drizzled on bread or as I have used it here, brushed on vegetables before grilling.

I don’t know about you, but when the weather is nice, I like to do as much cooking out on the grill as possible, and that goes for veggies too. So my potato salad will get its start with the warm garlic infused flavors you see here. The vegetables really don’t need a whole lot of anything else, and would be wonderful sitting alongside some grilled chicken or steak all on their own.

But to make this a “salad” I needed to add a few additional ingredients. Tomatoes and cilantro were added along with a roasted jalapeno vinaigrette to add a little bit of zip.

 

 

You’ll want to serve this salad at room temperature to enjoy all of the flavors at their finest, which makes it ideal for the portable picnic. You can make it ahead of time, and  if you want to have some fun with this, pick up some Chinese take out boxes at our local craft store, or pack in individual mason jars.

Go ahead and vary the ingredients too, depending on what you find at the market: corn, zucchini, asparagus, all would make excellent candidates for this spin on traditional potato salad.

So what about you? Are you heading anywhere this weekend?   I have been traveling a lot these last few weeks, and think that spending a quiet weekend here at home on the back porch sounds just about right. I plan to catch up on my favorite blogs, and can’t wait to see what all of the other participants have come up with this month!

Thanks to our hosts, Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! who  will be posting a round up of all of the recipes on their sites tomorrow. Be sure to check them out!

Grilled Baby Potato & Broccolini Picnic Salad

Garlic Oil (see recipe below)

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes

1 pound broccolini

1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings

2 medium tomatoes, diced (red & yellow if available)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic oil over potatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to coat potatoes evenly with garlic oil mixture. Bake potatoes 30 minutes. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauce pan filled with water to boil. Add broccolini, and cook 2 minutes. Transfer broccolini to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Brush potaotes, broccolini, and red onions with garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place potatoes, onions, and broccolini directly on grill grate.

Cook time:

Broccolini: 2 minutes per side

Potatoes: 5 minutes per side

Onions: 5 minutes per side

Remove vegetables from grill as they finish cooking, and transfer to a large bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Add tomatoes and cilantro to bowl. Add desired amount of dressing (recipe follows) and toss well to combine.

6-8 servings

 

Dressing:

2 or 3 roasted jalapeno chilies, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

For dressing:

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

 

Garlic Oil

3/4 cup olive oil

3 heads  garlic, excess paper removed, top trimmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic in small baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic. Cover with alluminum foil; bake 1 hour. Remove garlic from oil and cool completely. Reserve garlic oil.

 

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