Monday, May 31, 2010

Recipe #25: Easy-peasy Fruit Dip

I hesitate to even call this a recipe, but it's my blog and I can do what I want (haha). This is so good on a hot day (say, Memorial Day, for example) and takes about 2 minutes to make. It's easy, delicious and if you make it with fat-free yogurt and sugar-free or light Cool Whip, healthy!

I first had this at my aunt's house during a party and assumed from the taste that it was a complicated cream-based dip. Nope. You need three ingredients, and you arrive at perfectly creamy, mousse-like fruity deliciousness!

Easy-peasy Fruit Dip
Prep time: 2 minutes

1 4-ounce container of strawberry yogurt
1 8-ounce container of Cool Whip
1 16-ounce container of fresh strawberries

Remove stems/leaves from strawberries. Halve if desired.

Scoop Cool Whip into a mixing bowl. Mix in container of yogurt, using half the container at a time.

Mix until completely blended -- the cream will have a mousse-like texture, and have a slight pink hue to it (great for bridal showers!).

Serve with strawberries.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recipe #24: Roma White Bean Salad

Hi there! So I've been MIA for a bit, but I'm back, and accompanied by the cutest (and tiniest) sous chef in the world.

So, let's get cookin'!

During the summer (and, well, anytime of year in New England -- our high for today is 92, on MAY 2ND!), I love to use as many fresh ingredients as I can get my hands on. I can't wait for the farmers' markets to start up, because the freshness of those foods goes unparalleled.

BUT, even if the best you can do right (now wherever you are) is having foods that are fresh... from the supermarket, that's OK. The flavor in this salad is just as developed whether you buy tomatoes at a farmer's market or a supermarket.

Also, please note, I have charred peppers for past recipes, and one is used below. You can substitute the jarred roasted red peppers if you don't have access to fresh produce, but I can assure you that the flavor of the fresh-roasted type we use below is SO worth the 30-35 minutes it takes to prep it for use. I also didn't use anything special on the pepper just for this recipe, so if you ever need a roasted pepper, below is the method that will get you what you need.

Roma White Bean Salad
Prep time: 40 minutes

6 roma tomatoes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
juice of half a lemon
4 garlic cloves*
1 15.5-ounce can white kidney beans (cannellini beans)
1 red bell pepper
1/2 shallot
8 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper

Serving options:
3 Belgian endives -- if serving as a dip or veggie salad
8 ounces penne pasta (half the box) -- if serving as a pasta salad

plastic wrap
gas or charcoal grill
large bowl for mixing
large bowl for serving
food processor

If serving as pasta salad, cook pasta in salted water, drain, set aside to cool, and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil so the pasta doesn't stick. We'll get back to that later.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve tomatoes, remove seeds. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet. Top with sugar (it helps the caramelization) and roast in oven for 30 minutes.

While tomatoes are in the oven, heat grill. Brush red bell pepper with vegetable oil, and place on grill. Turn to ensure even charring on all sides. Skin should be evenly blackened on all sides after about 15 minutes on the grill.

Gettin' there!

Remove and immediately place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit and cool for 20 minutes.

The wrap over the top will keep the moisture in and make it easier to remove the skin once cooled. Set aside.

While waiting for tomatoes and pepper to finish, mince the shallot, and dice the artichoke hearts. Drain the liquid from the can of beans and rinse with water to remove some of the starchy liquid. Toss beans, shallot, artichoke and feta cheese in serving bowl.

Tomatoes should now be done. Let cool, then slice into smaller pieces (each half should be sliced into about 8 strips). Toss with bean mixture.

Red bell pepper should also be done. Remove plastic wrap, and carefully remove charred skin and discard.

Cut pepper into two pieces, remove the core and all seeds. Pat dry.

Chop into bite-sized pieces. Add to serving bowl.

If serving as pasta salad, throw pasta in with vegetables and beans now.

Add to food processor lemon juice, garlic. Process, streaming remaining olive oil in to emulsify. When mixture has combined (hint: this is done when the oil isn't separated from the lemon juice/garlic), pour over salad and toss together to coat.

If serving with endives, cut ends off and serve in a large bowl accompanied by individual leaves.

-Garlic: I don't usually use fresh garlic when I cook. What I use instead is a huge jar of Spice World minced garlic. It saves me the time of having to chop (and have my hands smell like) garlic for any given recipe. For this recipe, if you use the jarred garlic, use two tablespoons.