Well, this is post is officially a day later than I had hoped but I guess that’s what happens when you head out of town and forget your laptop charger. Oops! With a few days away from work and no plans in hand, my husband and I made a last minute decision to head to his family’s cabin in the northern Minnesota lake country. We invited some friends to join us and had a great couple of days of sun, sand, water, and some good food. I love the simplicity of summer foods – marinades and grilled chicken or burgers, fresh fish, and plenty of salads. As part of our Southern themed dinner party earlier this summer, Lane and I tossed together this Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad to lighten up an otherwise heavy menu….
I’ll admit it, I’m having a hard time reentering life after my fabulous trip to the Mediterranean. I’m back to work on a late evening shift (aka not enough sleep), I still have a million emails to catch up on, and to top it all off-I’m sick. I’m struggling to be good to myself, yet still give my kids and home the attention they need. As much as I would’ve loved to spend my waking hours this weekend in the kitchen, it just wasn’t going to happen. Instead I’m eating the Sopressata Sandwich….
The exploding popularity of traditional and ancient grains in recent years has brought with it an abundance of new options for delicious (and hearty!) salads. I love adding barley or quinoa to just about anything and recently discovered the fantastic nuttiness of farro. Once a mainstay of health food stores, this ancient relative of wheat is now widely available in grocery stores (I love Bob’s Red Mill) and is a fun addition to soups, stews, or salads. I’ve really been loving it lately in salads, and this Farro Salad with Arugula in particular.
Adapted from a recipe by Chef Ryan Hardy and the Charlie Bird Restaurant in New York, this salad is easy to make and full of great flavor. I love it for a hearty lunch but it is even great for a light dinner. The farro is best when made a little ahead and chilled and then mixed with fresh arugula, tomatoes, salty shaved parmesan, radishes and vinaigrette. It is studded with pistachios for a great little crunch. If you keep the arugula and dressing out until you’re ready to serve, the recipe is a perfect prepare ahead lunch option for the whole week!
- 1 cup farro
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 cups water
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped pistachios (nuts only)
- 2 cups arugula or arugula/spinach mix
- 1 cup parsley or basil leaves, torn
- 1 cup mint leaves
- ¾ cup halved grape tomatoes
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced radish
- Check your brand's package instructions. Most farro requires a cooking ratio of 1 cup grain to 3 cups liquid. Adjust recipe as necessary.
- In a medium sauce pain, combine farro, apple cider, bay leaves, salt, and water.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer until tender and the liquid is evaporated, approximately 30 min.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Set the farro aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a small pinch of salt.
- In a large bowl, toss together the farro with dressing, cheese, and nuts. Just before serving, add the arugula, fresh herbs, tomatoes and radish and fold to combine.
- Add a pinch of salt to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Course number 4 of our epic dinner party featured Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Crostini. This may be my favorite of all of the courses, although I must admit, with this particular dinner menu the competition is fierce. This is not a recipe for your vegetarian friends. This is not a recipe for your spice adverse friends. This is definitely a great crowd pleasing recipe for everyone else!
I developed this appetizer recently, based on a recipe I found in a cookbook. This cookbook was one that that I bought on a whim at Costco-Valerie Bertinelli’s “One Dish at a Time“. That title is super funny to those of us who grew up watching the sitcom “One Day at a Time” (1975-1984) which starred Valerie Bertinelli (and if you haven’t seen it, you should look it up-for the hair alone). For those of you who are a little younger than me, you may know Valerie Bertinelli as the wife (1981-2007), now ex-wife, of Van Halen frontman, Eddie Van Halen. And if you are even younger than that, you would probably remember her for her stint as a Jenny Craig spokeswoman. For all of her fame on TV, I never knew she could cook. I mostly bought the book for the pictures (does anyone else do that, or it just me?). Sometimes impulsive buys are great buys, because so far what I’ve tried out of this book, proves it…this gal can cook.
This appetizer is based off of her Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce which I have made again and again for special occasions (for instance, girls’ weekend at the cabin). It has never let me down, and is actually pretty simple. The horseradish sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The beef can actually be prepared a day in advance as well, and allowing the meat to sit in the spicy rub only makes it better! Although I surely love when I can serve this as the main course, unfortunately 8 total dinner guests makes this cost prohibitive to serve as an entree. I knew I wanted to serve it though-voila-the crostini was born! I make my horseradish sauce a little spicier and have added some peppery arugula and crunchy french bread to make it into an appetizer instead of a meal. Definitely worth trying for your next party, or your next date night in, or just because you think it looks delicious!
Try it-and then let us know what you think!
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 6 Tablespoons peppercorns (you can use mixed or just black)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons butter (unsalted, at room temperature)
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1-2 pound piece of beef tenderloin
- 2 cups arugula
- 2 loaves of french bread
- Combine the sour cream, mustard and horseradish in a small bowl until smooth.
- Transfer into a refrigerator safe jar or container-this can be refrigerated up to two days ahead-and it really does make the flavors better.
- Grind the peppercorns (I use a cheap coffee grinder that I have designated for spices only) until coarse.
- Combine the coarsely ground peppercorns, salt, mustard, butter and parsley until well mixed.
- Rub the tenderloin with the spiced butter, coating completely-use all of the butter mixture.
- At this point you can wrap in plastic and refrigerate-up to 1 day-or go to the next step.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- If you have refrigerated your beef, take it out and allow it to warm to room temperature.
- Place beef in a shallow baking pan (I use a small rectangular pyrex baking pan, you can also use a rack in your pan if you have one, but I have not found this necessary).
- Roast at 450ºF for 25-30 minutes, until your meat thermometer registers 130ºF (for medium rare).
- While tenderloin is roasting, thinly slice french bread and lay flat on a baking sheet or jelly roll pain.
- When tenderloin is done, take out of oven and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes.
- Slice beef thinly with a very sharp knife.
- Turn oven to broil.
- Place bread in oven on broil for 1-2 minutes, watching very closely to ensure bread does not start to burn.
- Allow bread to cool slightly.
- Spread horseradish sauce (made previously) on bread.
- Place arugula on top of sauce
- Place a thin slice of beef tenderloin on top of arugula
- If you are like me and love your sauces, you can place an additional dollop of sauce on the top.
- Serve and enjoy
Homemade pizza, and specifically Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza, was on the menu for this past weekend. We spent a lovely weekend relaxing at our cabin, which means pajama days, family time, movies and of course, a lot of cooking. While at the co-op earlier this week, I asked my youngest what he wanted for dinner this weekend, and he replied “Homemade Pizza!”.
This is another one of my favorite ways to get my kids into the kitchen. My kids have been making their own pizzas since they were very young. I make up a batch of dough in the morning and when it gets closer to the time we are going to start making the pizzas, I prepare everyone’s preferred toppings. Everyone gathers around and stretches their own dough, adds their own sauce “decorates” their pizzas and then anxiously awaits the finished product. Since it’s a meal so easy to customize, it’s perfect for even the pickiest of kids!
For my son, homemade pizza means a pizza with pineapple chunks and mozzarella cheese. For my daughter, who will not touch cheese, it means a pizza with a ton of sauce and heaping mounds of pepperoni. It’s a little more complicated for my husband and I. On our very first date-almost 21 years ago-we went out for pizza. The big problem then was that I was a vegetarian, and he had not yet met a vegetable he was willing to put on a pizza. That first we night we settled on a cheese pizza, yep, plain cheese pizza. I am happy to report we have come a long way since then! Tonight’s masterpiece was one of our favorites-Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza. (I am happy to report, I am no longer a vegetarian, and my husband is no longer afraid of vegetables)
In order to make Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza, I crisp up some prosciutto in the oven. I always make a little extra since this goes so well on salads, pasta and just to munch on. I also caramelize some shallots in butter, which gives the shallots a sweet, rich taste, plus a few shallots always get crispy and are perfect for garnish. This pizza also features goat cheese and parmesan cheese for depth of flavor, although if you don’t like either of these two ingredients, never fear, you could always substitute all mozzarella cheese instead. Arugula finishes this pizza off with a hint of pepper and a beautiful green color. Prosciutto, Shallot and Arugula Pizza satisfies all of my pizza cravings with each perfect salty, peppery, crunchy bite.
So no matter if you like the same toppings we do, or something completely different, this recipe is for you. You can modify it to please any preferences. And it’s a great recipe to get the kids involved in-after all, kids are always more likely to eat foods that they helped prepare! You never know, you may even get lucky and inspire your older kids to keep on cooking-and make dessert! (My daughter, inspired by my time in the kitchen this weekend, spent her afternoon making us frosted brownies!)
- 1 envelope instant dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 2 ounces prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large shallot (sliced-when sliced it will form rings, try to separate these rings)
- 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 Can/jar of pizza sauce (our favorite is Muir Glen Organic)
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 handfuls of arugula leaves
- Place instant dry yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
- Add water, sugar, salt and olive oil.
- Turn mixer on and slowly add flour until dough forms a ball.
- Place into a lightly oiled bowl or plastic ziplock bag lightly oiled with olive oil
- Allow dough to rise for at least 1-2 hours, or until dough doubles.
- Split dough in half (for 2 14-inch pizzas). You will use one half of the dough for the remainder of the recipe-save the second half to make pizzas for the kids!
- When dough has 30 minutes left of rising (or you are 30 minutes from cooking your pizza), preheat oven to 400ºF
- Place proscuitto slices on a sheet pan (since my prosciutto comes in a 3 ounce package, I always crisp the whole 3 ounces, extras are useful!)
- Place into 400ºF oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy (keep an eye on this, burnt prosciutto is not good and thinner slices cook faster).
- Melt butter in a small skillet.
- Add shallot slices and caramelize at low heat, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Turn oven up to 450ºF with pizza stone inside.
- Remove warm pizza stone and sprinkle with cornmeal (you may use less than 1 tablespoon).
- Stretch pizza dough (half of total recipe above) until it is in a circle (rustic is fine!).
- Spread desired amount of sauce onto pizza dough (I use no more than ½ cup-otherwise crust gets soggy).
- Sprinkle crumbled prosciutto onto pizza.
- Sprinkle cheeses (goat cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese) over dough.
- Place in 450º oven for 15-18 minutes or until cheeses are melted and crust is golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Sprinkle arugula leaves over middle of pizza.
- Garnish with caramelized shallots.
- Slice and enjoy!