Open-Faced Caprese Sandwich

Open-Faced Caprese Sandwich

Open-Faced Caprese Sandwich

Open-Faced Caprese Sandwich

Sometimes simple is just better.  This is a riff on the traditional Caprese salad.  Contrary to many snobby online foodies, I think a drizzle of balsamic takes this to new and fantastic places.  Then again, I’m using a much more modest grade of olive oil than pretension would dictate.  As with nearly everything, it’s best to omit the sour grapes.

All that aside, this is a super fast, super easy, super cheap way to have a healthy weeknight dinner.  Make more than you think you’ll need.  Everyone goes back for seconds.

Caprese Ingredients

Caprese Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 good-sized heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ bunch of fresh basil, whole leaves and chopped
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced  (it comes in all shapes and sizes,  — just eyeball the amount that looks right to you.)
  • fresh baguette (I used sourdough, this is SF after all, but French would work just as well)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Italian spices
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Slice baguette lengthwise and then cut each piece in half (so you have 4).  Arrange bread cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (think subtle flavoring not saturation).  Sprinkle with minced garlic, Italian spices, and salt and pepper.
  3. Place single basil leaves side by side to cover each piece of bread.  Place tomato slices in a single layer on top of basil and sprinkle with salt.  Top tomatoes with a slices of fresh mozzarella.  Lightly drizzle top with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Bake in over on middle rack for 15 minutes (or until mozzarella starts to slightly melt).
  5. Remove pan from oven, top with remaining chopped basil and serve immediately with your favorite wine.
Spiced Chickpeas and Vegetable Salad

TASTE THE HEATWAVE: Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad

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For five or six days a year, with blatant disregard for normal calendrical expectation,  San Francisco experiences what the rest of the world commonly refers to as “summer.”  Rare and periodic as these inclement temperatures are, it takes us several days to work up to a full heat-induced panic (though the complaining starts the moment the mercury rises above 75 degrees).

We are currently smoldering in the grip of just such a fiery heatwave:  people wander listlessly about, peeled to the innermost layer, wondering what to do with the light jacket they just can’t possibly leave behind regardless of the temperature and yearning, PINING even, for the return of the glorious, cool, romantic embrace of the San Francisco fog and it’s decidedly more humane and appropriate temperatures.  Karl, where are you?.  It was 80 degrees by 8am this morning for heaven’s sake, which drove the resulting evening temperature in the house up somewhere near the top end of 400 — the bread is toasting on the counter.  It’s still a sweltering 85 degrees as my fingers melt across the keyboard.  Heat advisories are in effect!  Hydration levels are plunging!  People are breaking a sweat outside the designated arenas of gyms and bikram yoga studios!  Fortunately, I’m much too distracted by the satisfying clatter of my imaginary swamp cooler in the window to notice your rolling eyes.

Needless to say, igniting a heat source in such perilously incendiary conditions was unthinkable.  Salad was the only solution and I knew just where to go.  Every once in a while, you find a cookbook that speaks a delicious harmony to your tastes.  For me it’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  Every recipe I’ve made from this book has completely rocked our world.  I’m so grateful and deeply indebted to my friend Darlene for the recommendation.

Serve this with some whole wheat pita bread, hummus, a dollop of greek yogurt and chilled white wine and the heat will melt away.  Without further ado, here is something delicious to make when it’s hot out:

 

Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad

  • ½ cup dried chickpeas (I cheated, took the shortcut and used a can)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 8½ oz  radishes
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • ⅔ oz cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
  • ½ oz flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp juice
  • 1½ tbsp sherry1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with plenty of cold water and the baking soda. The next day, drain, place in a large saucepan, and cover with water twice the volume of the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour, until completely tender, then drain.

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into ⅔-inch / 1.5cm dice; cut the onion into ¼-inch / 0.5cm dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tbsp / 75 ml of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly.
Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and ¼ teaspoon salt and spread on a plate. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Divide the salad among four plates, arranging it in a large circle, and spoon the warm spiced chickpeas on top, keeping the edge of the salad clear. You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.

Excerpt From: Yotam Ottolenghi. “Jerusalem.”

 

 

 

 

 

Celery Salad

Cel-abration! Celery Salad with Celery Root and Horseradish

Celery Salad

Celery Salad

Because we love to eat and because we’re endlessly fascinated with food, we end up having many conversations about what we’re going to eat and just food in general.  During one such conversation a few weeks ago, I said, without the slightest hint of sarcasm, “I think we need to explore celery root.”  Now, I’ll admit, it does sound like a pretty ridiculous thing to say.  As you might imagine, much chortling and chastising ensued so I changed the subject, while quietly resolving to look for recipes that included celery root.

Lo and behold an issue of Bon Appetit arrived sporting a salad recipe that used, not only celery root, but also celery stalks and celery leaves.  It’s a combination for fresh deliciousness that is not to be missed.

Get out your mandoline and prepare to be amazed!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium celery root (about 1 pound)
  • 10 large celery stalks, thinly sliced on a sharp diagonal, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preparation

  • Peel and halve celery root. Using a mandoline, very thinly slice one half. Cut other half into matchstick-size pieces.
  • Combine celery root, celery stalks, shallot, lemon zest, and horseradish in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Let vegetables sit for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  • Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over vegetables. Add celery leaves and parsley and toss salad to combine.