Spring Fling, Russian Salad with Fresh Asparagus

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This dish takes asparagus and eggs to the next level.   Asparagus paired with a fresh vegetable, egg filled Russian Salad…. so tasty.  Mainly served as an appetizer, Russian salad, is a favorite here in Venice.  I thought it might be interesting served with seasonal asparagus.  Russian Salad also called Olivier Salad,  is a traditional Russian celebratory dish.  This salad  has become quite popular in Europe, there are many variations and each country has adopted their own version.  I  quite like the way the Venetians make their Insalata Russa.

Russian Salad with Fresh Spring Asparagus

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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This salad can be served year round,  alone or as a side to boiled shrimp or lobster.

Ingredients

10 carrots peeled and diced in 1/4″cubes (should yield approximately 3 cups)

2 large non starchy potatoes peeled and diced in 1/4″ cubes (should yield 3 cups)

2 cups of fresh peas shelled (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)

8 hard boiled eggs

1 cup of dill gherkins diced in 1/4″ cubes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of Mayonnaise  (high quality)

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

sea salt

salt and pepper to taste

2 large bunches of asparagus

Directions

-Peel and dice potatoes into 1/4″ size cubes,  slice the potatoes on the long side lay the potatoes flat on a cutting board and cut into cubesIMG_1031.JPG

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-Peel and cut the carrots along the length, lay the cut side down on a cutting board and cut again, then cut into 1/4′ cubesIMG_1033.JPG

-All items need to boil separately each has different cooking times

-In cold water add potatoes and course grain sea salt, bring to boil, after water comes to a boil time 10 minutes (note the potatoes need to retain their shape and NOT fall apart, so watch carefully, Please do not overcook them). Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the carrots and sea salt, bring to boil and time 8 minutes noting the same not to overcook the carrots.  Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the peas and sea salt you will need to test the peas but if fresh 10 minutes,  if frozen much shorter, also be careful not to overcook. Drain and let cool completely

-In a pot large enough for the eggs, bring water to a boil, add the eggs carefully into the water boil for 10 minutes.  Let cool and peel

-Dice egg whites into 1/4″ cubes separately chop the yokes

-Dice the dill gherkins in 1/4″ cubes

-It is important that all items cool and dry before mixing together

-In a bowl add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, mix well

-In a large mixing bowl add all of the cooked ingredients along with the dill gherkins, egg whites and yolks, mix in the mayonnaise, stir carefully , refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be made a day in advance.

-Cut the tough bottom end of the asparagus, with a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom rough outer layer, place the asparagus in cold water bring to boil.  Test for preferred doneness with a fork.  Carefully lift the asparagus out of the water let drain.

-With a pastry form in the center of a plate, fill with  Russian Salad, lay the asparagus alongside, lift the form and Voila!!  A Beautiful Spring Plate!!!

Buon Appetito !!

 

 

 

Meatless Monday, Creamy Potato Leek Soup

It is hard to believe it’s Monday again and time to share another “Meatless Alternative” for Meatless Monday.  Today’s recipe choice is another seasonal favorite…a comfort food for Spring,  a creamy, hearty dish that is really light and healthy.   My version of this recipe is made without heavy cream or butter,  if you like,  feel free to add them!

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A creamy, hearty light and healthy dish for Spring

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Ingredients

3 large leeks

4 large potatoes (try not to use “new potatoes” they will not be as creamy)

6 Cups of Vegetable or Chicken Broth

2 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large garlic clove

Thyme to taste

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Butter or heavy cream (optional)

Directions

-Cut the leeks in half along the length, wash well  (leeks have a tendency to be very dirty on the inside) and slice into 1/4 inch slicesfullsizeoutput_12

-Peel the potatoes and cut into small piecesfullsizeoutput_14.jpeg

-Smash the garlic clove with a knife, in a medium size soup pot add olive oil and  lightly brown the garlic on a low heat

-Add the leeks saute with the garlic fullsizeoutput_13.jpeg

– When the leeks start wilting and get slightly golden, add the potatoes, the broth, salt, pepper and the thyme bring these ingredients to a boil.  Turn heat down and cook until the potatoes are very soft,  between 30-45 minutes.

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-Off the heat, with an immersion blender (or in a blender) blend the soup until all ingredients are blended and creamy.  If you want to add butter or heavy cream to taste (optional)IMG_0992.JPG

-Serve hot or  at room temperature with croutons and/ or Parmesan Cheese

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Buon Appetito!!

Directions

 

 

Meatless Monday….Greens and Beans Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons

If you grew up in an Italian American home, you probably have eaten or are  familiar with “Greens and Beans”.  The greens, escarole or Swisschard  are cooked in a garlicky oil mixed with white beans.  I have taken this dish one step further making it into a soup, topping it with a garlic Parmesan crouton. It is a filling flavorful soup for lunch or dinner on a Meatless Monday!!

Greens and Beans Soup with Garlic Parmesan Croutons

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A soupy version of a favorite, Green’s and Beans

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs a of cleaned chopped Swisschard or Escarole

4 cups Cannellini Beans ( not dried)

1 hot pepper chopped (note- peppers have different heat this is to taste)

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

4 scallions finely diced

2 garlic cloves finely diced

6 cups of vegetable broth

sea salt

pepper

For the bread

1 loaf  of crusty bread Italian

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

3/4-1 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

-In a soup pot, add the olive oil, garlic, scallions and pepper sauté until garlic is lightly browned

-add the chopped greens, the beans and the brothIMG_0879

-add sea salt and pepper to taste

-bring to boil, and simmer for 35-45 minutes

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

-slice the bread in half or thirds depending on size

-in a prep bowl add olive oil and the crushed garlic stir

-with a pastry brush paint the bread with the oil mixture then dust with the parsleyIMG_0880

-Spread the Parmesan on the bread generously

-place the bread under the broiler until golden brown, let cool and cut into cubes

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-ladle the soup into bowls, add the Croutons and server

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Buon Appetito!!!

Split Pea Soup with Spring Onions and Thyme

Another favorite soup to welcome the season.  This Split pea soup  is a light vegetarian version, few ingredients,  easy to prepare and flavorful.  Great for lunch or dinner served with a sprig of fresh thyme… Spring is in the air!!!!

Split Pea Soup with Spring Onions and Fresh Thyme

  • Servings: 2-4
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A Fresh, light Springtime favorite

Ingredients

-1 cup of split peas

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-1 garlic clove

-2 large carrots

-3 celery stalks

-4 spring onions

-2 scallions

-7 cups broth, vegetable or chicken

-course grind sea salt

-fresh ground pepper

-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions

-In a deep soup pot add the olive oil, finely chop the spring onions, garlic and the scallions and add to the oil.  Saute on medium/low heat until the onions are translucent about 3-5 minutes careful not to burn.IMG_0837

-Dice the celery and carrotsIMG_0835

-add the chopped celery, carrots and the split peas to the onions

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Add the broth, sea salt, pepper and thyme cook simmer on a medium/low heat. (Note- unsoaked peas can take 1-2 hours to cook you need to watch the and maintain the broth level, if you presoak the peas cooking time is around 45 minutes.)    Cook the soup until the peas are soft to the bite.IMG_0843

-remove approximately 2 cups and blend with a immersion blender, mix the creamed soup back into the pot

-serve with a drizzle of olive oilIMG_0846

As always I look forward to your feedback!

Buon Appetito!!

Welcome Spring… with a Mango, Avocado Shrimp Layered Salad !!

I saw this beautiful ripe mango at the market and just had to buy it.  Since today is the first day of Spring , I thought it might be nice to make a sweet and savory salad with my mango.  Certain fruits go so well with seafood, mango being one of them so I decided to do a Shrimp Salad and Layer it with Guacamole and Mango…… Hope you try it!!!!!

Layered Shrimp Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

-10  (1/2lb) med/large shrimp shelled and deveined

-2 Stalks of Celery finely chopped

-1 scallion

-1 tbls mayonnaise

-1 tbls plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

-2 dashes of Tabasco

-1/2 tsp of Dijon mustard

-1/2 lemon

-dash of balsamic vinegar

-1 tsp lemon juice

-1/2 Mango chopped

-1/2 Hass Avocado chopped

-2 medium plum tomatoes chopped

-lime juice

-1small garlic clove pressed

-cilantro chopped

-1/4 chopped red hot pepper (optional)

-sea salt and pepper

-extra virgin olive oil

Directions

-Peel and devein the shrimp. In a pot large enough to hold the shrimp,  cut a lemon in half then cut of the end , add the lemon to a pot filled wth cold water, add sea salt and bring to boil.

-When the water boils add the shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes they will turn white when cooked. Drain

-Finely chop the celery and the scallions, cut the shrimp into bite size piecesimg_0815

-For the Shrimp dressing add the yogurt,mayonnaise,mustard,Tabasco, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, in a bowl mix with the shrimp

-peeel and chop the avocado, chop the tomatoes, add garlic, lime sea salt pepper cilantro and hot pepper (optional) mix well.

-Peel and chop the Mango into  small even size pieces

-Assemble, on a serving plate, using a large pastry ring layer half of the shrimp salad, pressing it into the form, next your guacamole and last the Mango.  Carefully lift the ring exposing your 3 layers.  You can carefully dribble on some olive oil. E’ Voila!!

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Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy butternut squash soup you can make in 1 hour

Today it’s chilly and cloudy, the perfect day to make my favorite soup for lunch.  Spicy Butternut Squash is a light healthy soup packed with loads of flavor that you can make in less than an hour.  It is so easy and so so good!!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Spicy, easy to make soup packed with tons of flavor

Ingredients

-2 lbs of uncooked butternut squash peeled and cubed (note-you can roast the squash in the oven to make it easier to peel, place on a lined cookie sheet, make a few knife incisions and bake until soft, scrape the seeds and use the pulp in place of the cubed pieces)

-2 inch piece of fresh ginger grated  (note- a microplane does a great job grating ginger)

-1 large sweet onion roughly chopped

-1 scallion chopped

-1/2 red pepper chopped

-3 garlic cloves smashed with a knife

-1 fresh red hot pepper split

-4 cups of vegetable broth

-grated lemon peel

-1 lime

-1 can of coconut milk

-fresh cilantro

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt and pepper

Directions

-In a soup pot, on medium heat add the olive oil, garlic, hot red pepper, grated ginger, scallion and a few grates of lemon peel, stir letting the flavors release.

-Add the chopped onion and red pepper

-Add the butternut squash, and the broth, sea salt and pepper to tasteimg_0787

-Cook for 45-50 minutes on medium-low heat until all vegetables are soft add the cilantro to your likingimg_0788

-Off the heat, add the juice of 1 lime blend with a immersion blender until you have a smooth creamy soupimg_0789

-Stir in the coconut milk

-Serve hot or at room temperature.  IMG_0791

Buon Appetito!!

Creamed Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Hopefully this creamy, healthy, spicy soup will keep  our friends warm in the cold weather….This soup is  fast, easy and  nutritional, with tons of veggies and lentils.  I like making it  a little spicy, and love using a fresh mexican salsa, avocado, tomato and cucumber salsa and/or  even shredded radicchio salad on top…a dollop of sour cream works too!!

Creamed Lentil and Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 1 pot
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

-2 1/2 cups of green lentils rinsed

-4 stalks of celery chopped in chunks

-1 large yellow onion cut in chunks

-3 scallions peeled and quartered

-5 carrots peeled and chopped in chunks

-2 cups of chopped mushrooms

-1 red bell pepper cut in chunks

-1 red hot pepper fresh chopped finely

-4 cloves of garlic, peeled whole and smashed

-1 ripe tomato cut in pieces or 1tbls tomato paste

-5 cups of broth vegetable, chicken of beef

-2 tbls olive oil extra virgin

-1 tsp cumin seeds

-1 tbls of chili powder

-1tsp of ground oregano

-sea salt and ground pepper

Directions

-in a soup pot add olive oil, garlic cloves and hot pepper, lightly brown the garlic to release it’s flavor

-add all the vegetables and lentils, stirring with the pepper and garlic

-add the broth and seasonings

-cook on low heat until all vegetable and lentils are soft 45-60 minutes (note-if lentils absorb cooking liquid add more broth at anytime during cooking)

-off of the heat, with an immersion blender puree the soup into a cream

-serve with chopped avocado, fresh salsas and or sour cream

Buon Appetito