Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stetson Chopped Salad, Earth Day and Recipe Redux

First off, Happy Earth Day to you!! If you are a faithful follower to the Lou, I bet you are already taking small but meaningful steps to improve the health of our planet. If not, hop aboard! Imagine the powerful impact we can make together if each of us made conscious decisions to reduce, reuse and recycle, compost table scraps, collect rain water, eat locally grown foods, plant a garden...whew! But I digress…onto the salad.

I’ve had a hankerin’ for this Stetson Chopped Salad ever since coming back from our trip to Scottsdale Arizona a few months ago. People go gaga over this salad and now I know why- it truly is one of the most unusual and best tasting salads I have ever tasted. 
Thankfully Cowboy Ciao restaurant, the creative genius behind this Stetson Chopped Salad, is generous enough to share the recipe for anyone to try to recreate and enjoy the flavors at home.

The salad is a perfect marriage of unique ingredients. Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and freeze dried sweet corn add crunch; arugula supplies a peppery bite; the aged cheese and tomatoes offer umami taste; the dried currents provide a touch of sweetness, and the smoked fish and dressing add just the right amount of saltiness.

When this salad is presented to diners at Cowboy Ciao, each ingredient is separated on a platter, then tossed tableside with the pesto buttermilk dressing to bring all of the flavors together.

This month’s Recipe Redux theme encourages members to utilize their “treasured kitchen tool” in creating a healthy dish. While preparing this salad, I was able to use my oldie-but-goodie, trusty-but-not-rusty steel tip knife that was handed down from my father. Somewhere along the way the tip of the knife broke off, but that hasn’t stopped me from treasuring this piece of cutlery and using it to chop, dice and mince.

I took a few liberties with a couple of the ingredients, using grape tomatoes rather than Roma, smoked trout rather than salmon and Parm-Reggiano rather than asiago.  The results were delightful, reminiscent of the original. But you can bet your buckaroos, the next time I saunter back to Scottsdale, I will be stopping by Cowboy Ciao for second helpings!
until next time...
Stetson Chopped Salad (adapted from the Cowboy Ciao original)
The dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 cup aioli (if cant find aioli, mix together 1/4 cup light mayo, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

For the dressing: Combine pesto, shallot and aioli in a food processor; blend thoroughly. With motor running, add buttermilk. Add pepper and lemon juice; blend to combine. Season with salt to taste. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

The salad ingredients:
3/4 cup cooked Israeli couscous
1 cup chopped arugula
2/3 cup halved grape tomatoes
2/3 cup diced smoked trout
2 tablespoon crumbled Parmesano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoon toasted pepitas
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup freeze-dried corn (I found "Just Corn" brand at Whole Foods, but I know I have seen freeze-dried corn at Target too)

For the salad: Arrange ingredients in separate rows on a large platter, but have cheese, pepitas and currants mixed together in 1 row. Toss salad at the table. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kale Salad with Glazed Onions and Cheddar

I’ve been holding onto this Kale Salad with Glazed Onions and Cheddar recipe for a while. But the length of time doesn’t compare with how long we’ve been friends with the lovely people we shared it with.

This past weekend, we were invited to go morel hunting at our friends’ property located a few hours from the Lou. Last year, a ton of morels were found in a certain patch of their many hundred acre woods. I happen to know a thing or two about common edible mushrooms so we were hoping this knowledge might be of benefit in finding these coveted ‘shrooms this year.

The weekend weather was warm and sunny, quite lovely for us humans but not ideal for morels- they prefer wet and coolish. It did not take long to realize the morel hunting aspect of our trip would be a bust, but that wasn’t going to stop us from having a magnificent time.

We dipped our toes in the spring-fed streams. 
We perused the property in golf-carts-on-steroids. 
We hung out around a huge bonfire when the sun went down. 

And we ate like royalty. This crew really knows how to turn out a feast! The spread included contributions from each of us: Jerk chicken, mango salsa, coconut rice and beans and fresh sliced pineapple. My contribution was this Kale Salad with Glazed Onions and Cheddar. The colors, flavors and textures all play so nicely together, just like all of our children do when together.

We came away from the weekend empty handed in the morel department but full hearted after spending precious time with priceless people.
until next time...

Kale Salad with Glazed Onions and Cheddar
Recipe inspired by Cooking Light's Big Book of Salads and adapted from recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine, Sept '12

  • 1 bunch kale (or bag), rough chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Cooking Directions
  1. Toss kale with lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. With clean hands, give the kale a good massage to tenderize the kale.
  2. In a skillet, combine onions, butter, water, Worcestershire sauce and sugar. Cook on medium allowing onions to become tender and caramelized, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar, cook about 3-4 minutes more until onions are nice and coated and browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool (can be stored in refrigerator until next day).
  4. When ready to serve salad, add cooled onions, cherries, pine nuts and cheese.
  5. Prepare your mouth for a flavor explosion!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fig Butter, Goat Cheese and Arugula Flatbread

This Fig Butter, Goat Cheese and Arugula Flatbread recipe found its way onto my plate and into my mouth a bit randomly. A couple of days ago, it was lunchtime and I found myself standing in the kitchen, with refrigerator doors open wide, staring at random leftover items.  The words that echoed in my mind are those I so often hear my boys say: “There is nothing to eat”.

Rather than giving up, I used it as a perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and turn a few ordinary left-overs into something extraordinary. At times, when ingredients are seemingly spare, some of the best creations are borne.

So onto a piece of flatbread I spread a few knife-fuls of the fig butter left over after making these Fig and Spice Yogurt Muffins
I then added a couple of slices of goat cheese that remained after making Black Bean, Mango and Goat Cheese Salad
I topped it with a few sliced of a tart green apple, and piled on some arugula for a peppery punch. What transpired was a satisfyingly sweet, tangy and tart, left-over worth duplicating lunch!

 until next time...

Fig Butter, Goat Cheese and Arugula Flatbread
1 slice of naan or other type flatbread
2 Tbsp. fig butter (or other fruit butter)
2-3 ounces fresh goat cheese (aka chevre)- we used Heartland Creamery, Newark MO
1/3 Granny Smith apple thinly sliced
¼ cup arugula
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Spread fig butter onto flatbread.
2. Top with goat cheese, apple slices and arugula.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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