Wingin’ It Wednesday: Tomato Mint Salad

Tomato Mint Salad 10

LongJohn’s Nana, Mrs. Nice, has been coming into town to spend some time with him once a week so that I can do things that necessitate the use of both hands (in fact, she’s here right now so that I can use both hands to type this post – yay for Mrs. Nice, and grandparents everywhere!).

When she was here last I whipped up this salad of things that were in my fridge: normally when I make a tomato salad with feta I use balsamic vinegar and fresh basil but I didn’t have either of those so I went with a little twist, and I hope you like it.

Start with some tomatoes, naturally. I’m using grape tomatoes here but you can use whatever you have.

Tomato Mint Salad 1

Then, finely chop up an onion. This is a shallot. A red onion would also be nice.

Tomato Mint Salad 2

Nice and small. We want the IDEA of onion rather than holy-wow-there’s-a-lotta-onion-in-this.

Tomato Mint Salad 3

Grab some mint. I grew this monstrosity from three stalks I got out of a box at the grocery store.

Tomato Mint Salad 4

Crumble up some nice firm feta cheese.

Tomato Mint Salad 5

Assemble!

Tomato Mint Salad 6

I made a dressing out of grapeseed oil, honey, and a bit of lemon juice, and drizzled it over the whole shebang.

Tomato Mint Salad 7

It was lovely!

Tomato Mint Salad 8

Greek Baked Eggs

Baked Eggs 14My brother and I take turns hosting a family brunch every second Sunday, and because both of our families are on tight schedules on Sundays (us with getting Gren exercised and tired prior to the brunch, and them with getting the General up and ready to go in time), it makes sense to prepare dishes that can be made ahead of time, or that can be cooked all at once, and also dishes that don’t require constant presence in the kitchen when we should be paying attention to the interactions between corgi and toddler. This one from Salted and Styled requires some focus and prior preparation but it’s very quick so you’re not in the kitchen for very long. The original recipe worked for 5 servings, but I upped mine to 8 so the measurements are approximate. Go with what looks good to you. Baked Eggs 2

Start by cracking however many eggs you want into individual bowls. You’ll need to pour these quickly later so that’s why you’re doing this. Grab as well some fresh herbs from the garden: parsley, thyme, and oregano. I bet some sage would be tasty as well, and if you wanted to alter the flavour a little then you could maybe do a sage-savoury-chives combo or something like that. Chop up the herbs and set them aside for a minute. Grab a few handfuls of feta cheese and crumble that up as well.

Baked Eggs 4Grab as well a handful of Kalamata olives, and chop those up (after removing the pits). Mix that with a little bit of minced garlic and some salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt though, as the olives and the feta are both pretty salty in their own right.Baked Eggs 5

Now preheat your broiler and grab a large cast-iron skillet or wide, shallow baking dish. Dollop some butter in there as well as a few drops of heavy cream.

Baked Eggs 6Heat the butter and cream either under the broiler or on the stovetop until bubbly. Baked Eggs 7

Then working very quickly, slide in all your eggs.

Baked Eggs 8Sprinkle with your herbs and olives. Baked Eggs 9

Top with feta.

Baked Eggs 10Shove that under the broiler until the eggs are cooked to your satisfaction (runny or hard, it’s up to you) – probably less than 5 minutes. Baked Eggs 13

Serve straight from the pan with some buttered toast as a plate or for sopping up your yolks. Mmm!

Baked Eggs 15

Iceberg Wedge Salad

Wedge Salad 15

This is a quick way to give your salads a little structure.  I served mine at a buffet, so I plopped them into extra-large cupcake cups to make them portable.

Wedge Salad 11

Start with a crisp head of iceberg lettuce.

Wedge Salad 1

Chop off the stem.

Wedge Salad 2

Then divide the head into wedges.  I cut mine into 12 wedges that were quite thin.

Wedge Salad 3

Dice up a tomato.

Wedge Salad 5

Sprinkle that onto the wedges.

Wedge Salad 7

Crumble some feta (or use cheese curds, which I did last week).

Wedge Salad 9

Mince some chives.

Wedge Salad 10

Sprinkle both of those onto the wedges.

Wedge Salad 12

Add a drizzle of dressing.

Wedge Salad 13

And that’s it.  Simple and structural.

Wedge Salad 14

Made-up Macaroni Salad

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 11

Pasta salads are ideal for summer parties.  You can make them ahead of time and you don’t have to worry about heating up the house.  This one came together on the fly, as most of them tend to do.  I stuck with a reddish theme and it worked out.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 2

Start with a bowl of cooked pasta.  I used cavatappi, or Scoobi-do pasta.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 1

Chucked in a diced onion, tomatoes, garlic, red peppers, and green olives.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 3

Then some fresh oregano, chives, and some cubed feta.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 4

Then I decided to throw in a few bocconcini as well.  I also tossed in some tandoori spice and some Hungarian paprika for kick.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 5

When you make a pasta salad, make a lot of dressing to go with it, because the pasta will absorb so much extra liquid.  The base of this one was olive oil, maple syrup, Tabasco, and rice vinegar.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 6

As I said, make a lot.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 7

Put half in now and then the other half right before you serve it.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 8

TADA.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 9

There was enough left over that I added some pasta sauce to it, topped it with cheese, and baked it into a casserole afterwards.  Waste not!

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 10

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Watermelon Salad 15

Mrs. Nice made this delightful dish for us when we were over for lunch last week and it really hit the spot during that blasted heat wave. She learned it from a man at the grocery store who had been setting out samples and she was immediately hooked.  After tasting it, so was I, and so I made it for a further lunch (on my family’s side) the following weekend.

A note in advance: keep all your ingredients chilled and separate until just before serving or everything will go mushy.

Start with a decently-sized seedless watermelon (or mostly seedless, as was the case here).

Watermelon Salad 1

Crack that puppy open by cutting off the ends and paring off the rest of the rind.

Watermelon Salad 2

Watermelon Salad 3

Cut it into slices and then chop those up into cubes and chuck them in a large bowl.

Watermelon Salad 4

Watermelon Salad 5

Chop up as well a large red onion.  That can be pitched into the bowl as well.  You might want to start tossing the ingredients together with your hands so you don’t destroy the watermelon.

Watermelon Salad 6

Grab yourself a bunch of fresh mint.

Watermelon Salad 7

Pull off the leaves and chop those up finely as well.

Watermelon Salad 9

Sprinkle those over your watermelon.

Watermelon Salad 8

Finally, haul over a good-sized hunk of firm feta cheese and cut that up as finely or as coarsely as you like.

Watermelon Salad 10

Dump that in the salad as well and toss to mix it all up.

Watermelon Salad 11

Juice a lime and pour the juice into a bowl.

Watermelon Salad 12

Add in about 1 tablespoon (a glop) olive oil and whisk to emulsify.

Watermelon Salad 13

Drizzle that over your salad and eat it all up!
Watermelon Salad 14

Tofu Feature Month: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Tofu Lasagna

Today we are going to use tofu to replace ricotta cheese in a healthy and hearty lasagna.  This recipe makes for 2 dishes of pasta, so you can freeze one and then thaw it for cooking at a later date.

Start with your roasting vegetables.  Preheat your oven to 450°F.

Slice up 2 Italian eggplants (or one small regular one), 1 zucchini, and 2 red peppers.

Tofu Lasagna

Make the pieces relatively small so you don’t have to cut them up too much when you eat them.

Tofu Lasagna

Plop those in a roasting pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Toss thoroughly and roast for about 20-30 minutes, stirring about halfway through, until everything is tender and fragrant.  Reduce the heat of the oven to 350°F if you are planning on cooking your lasagna right away.

Tofu Lasagna

Next, chop up about half a large yellow onion, and about a dozen mushrooms.  Sauté those suckers in a large saucepan with a wee bit of olive oil until they are tender as well.

Tofu Lasagna

Add the roasted vegetables and stir them around.

Tofu Lasagna

Pour in 2 jars tomato-based pasta sauce and mix that around to warm everything up.  I only used one jar of sauce in this recipe and didn’t have quite enough sauce to cover everything, so I definitely recommend two jars.  Add in a bit of fresh basil, too,  if you’ve got it.

Tofu Lasagna

Thaw 1 500g package of frozen spinach.

Tofu Lasagna

Add to that 2 packages soft tofu (or firm silken tofu) and squish it around.

Tofu Lasagna

I puréed about half of it in a blender for a creamier texture.

Tofu Lasagna

Season with salt and pepper. Shoulda used a bigger bowl …

Tofu Lasagna

Now, line the bottom of your oblong casserole dishes with noodles.  I use the no-cook lasagna because it’s less of a pain in the butt, and with the size of my dishes, each casserole will take 9 noodles.  Spread on a generous layer of the roasted vegetables in tomato sauce (I had to be sparing, because I only used the one jar of sauce).

Tofu Lasagna

Add another layer of noodles, then a heaping of the tofu/spinach mixture. Use half the stuff for each casserole.

Tofu Lasagna

More noodles.  The rest of your tomato sauce.  Try to cover all the noodles so they don’t dry out while baking.  Obviously, that’s not what happened here.  But what can you do?  I learned from my mistakes.

Tofu Lasagna

For a little extra flavour, feel free to top the lasagna with a handful of crumbled feta cheese.

Tofu Lasagna

Bake at 350°F for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the lasagna is all nice and bubbly.  Some lasagna advocates recommend covering the casserole and then uncovering it in the last ten minutes to crispen it up, but I’ve found that’s only helpful if you are working from a frozen casserole.  If you plan to freeze this lasagna and eat it later, I suggest you let it thaw completely before cooking.

Tofu Lasagna

Now you can eat it.  Comfort food that won’t kill you.  Genius. Though it probably would have been a better choice NOT to eat it with garlic bread.

Tofu Lasagna

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