Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Hot!

As the days heat up sometimes the thought of cooking or eating for that matter is the last thing we want to do. What a great opportunity to go into the fridge and grab a bunch of fresh veggies and make a big salad. This time of year whenever I grill chicken, fish, steak or veggies I always grill extra to have for salads. Walk around an open-air market for inspiration and enjoy a meal on the cooler, lighter side.

Citrus Rice Salad
4 cups water
2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2-cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
30 cherry tomatoes, halved
7 small Persian cucumbers, diced
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
16 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Bring 4 cups water, rice, and salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Uncover saucepan and cook rice over very low heat until dry, about 5 minutes. Transfer rice to large bowl and cool to room temperature.
Whisk orange juice and next 6 ingredients in small bowl to blend.
Add halved tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, mint, and feta to rice in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to blend. (Can be made 8 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and toss before serving.)

Orzo Salad With Heirloom Tomatoes And Goat Cheese
8 ounces orzo
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2-cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced pitted oil-cured olives
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Sautee 1/2 of the orzo in a little olive oil until golden brown. Cook all of the orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Transfer to medium bowl; cool.
Whisk vinegar and lemon juice in small bowl; gradually whisk in oil. Pour dressing over orzo. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grilled Zucchini and Crookneck Squash Salad

6 large zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise
6 large yellow crookneck squash, trimmed, halved lengthwise
1/2-cup olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Place zucchini and crookneck squash on large baking sheet; brush all over with 3 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until tender and brown, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate and cool.
Cut vegetables diagonally into 1-inch-wide pieces. Place in large bowl. Add basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and balsamic vinegar and remaining oil and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Crunchy Green Salad with Creamy Guacamole Dressing

2 Heads Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1 bunch watercress, leaves picked
1-cup pipitoes
1 large ripe avocado
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-4 dashes of Tabasco sauce
1/4-cup canola oil

Halve the avocado and remove pit. Scoop out flesh into a food processor. Add mustard, lemon juice, zest Tabasco. Salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth. With the motor running pour in the oil in a steady stream. Allow it to become rich and creamy about one minute. In a large bowl add the lettuce, watercress and pipitoes. Toss with the dressing and serve.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Buttermilk Balsamic

1 bunch asparagus
1 zucchini
2 yellow squash
1 eggplant
1 red pepper, seeded
2 ears corn
1 small jicama, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch arugula
1 head romaine
Salt and pepper

Lightly coat asparagus, zucchini, squash, eggplant, pepper and corn with olive oil.. Heat cast iron grill pan over high heat. Grill vegetables until tender. Toss arugula and romaine leaves with jicama and Tomatoes. With buttermilk balsamic dressing e in a bowl. Arrange on platter and top with grilled vegetables. You can top with ground pepper, shaved Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese.

Buttermilk Balsamic Dressing

3 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-cup well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup Balsamic
1-cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients until well mixed. Let Stand for one hour.

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