Quick Steakhouse Salad

Now and then, I make a quick steakhouse salad for lunch; using roast beef from the deli counter, crisp greens and decadent Roquefort cheese, for that added special touch. It doesn’t take long to get this salad together but the flavors take you to a good steakhouse dinner in the middle of the day. Enjoy!

  • romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
  • seedless cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • a few cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • a few baby arugula leaves
  • a few roast beef slices
  • thinly sliced or crumbled blue cheese
  • raw pistachio nuts, chopped
  • pistachio nut oil
  • a good sweet and fruity balsamic vinegar or even better a glaze

There is no right or wrong way to make the salad or correct amounts. But a good tip is to mix the salad greens. I love red onions, so I always add a little extra. Not a fan of tomatoes? Just leaves them out and then top your greens with a few slices of the roast beef and top with the blue cheese and pistachios. Serve with the oil and vinegar on the side.


String Beans with a Parsley and Lemon Dressing

This recipe is a little time consuming but I find it deeply therapeutic; splitting each individual string bean puts me in a deep meditative state that ends in a not only a pretty but delicious side dish. Each slightly sweet split bean is a perfect bowl, holding the fresh lemony dressing. You can find french cut string beans in your freezer but there is always something about preparing fresh string beans with the stems still attached; held in bunches, that’s always so appealing to me. Arranging the beans split side up makes an extra pretty dish so save this recipe for a special occasion. This is great served alongside almost anything. Enjoy!

  • 1 1/4 pounds string beans
  • 2 packed cups of parsley leaves, about a bunch
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons raw pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon good whole seed mustard
  • 1 tablespoon water

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in your string beans, allow them to cook for about 5 minutes until they are tender, to your liking. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Using an immersion hand blender or regular blender combine your parsley, olive oil, pistachios, garlic, sea salt and lemon juice (start of with the juice of half a lemon and add the rest if you feel you need more.) Whisk in your mustard and water and adjust the seasoning as needed. To prepare your string beans, trim the one end and with a paring knife and split apart with your fingers, separating the bean in two. Arrange on a platter and pour the dressing over them. You can give the dish a drizzle of olive oil for a nice finishing touch and serve with lemon wedges. This recipe make enough for the beans with a little dressing left over, which is great on top of fish, chicken or veggies. Serves about 6-8.

DSC03467/string beans

Parsley & Pistachio Pesto

There was one summer that I was obsessed with pesto. It started with a traditional pesto of basil and pine nuts and further along in the summer, after putting basil pesto in about everything, I progressed to a parsley and pistachio pesto and I rarely looked back to basil pesto that year. I experimented and found that I like my parsley and pistachio pesto without cheese but when it’s combined with pasta, I like some freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano on top, so I always make the batch without cheese. This is great on its’ own to dip bread in, just top with a little extra olive oil; perfect for pasta, just toss in a little pasta water and this is also nice served with poached chicken and fish, served cold. And if you are a garlic lover, you can always add more. Enjoy!

  • 1 bunch parsley, roughly about 3 cups of loosely packed leaves
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and combine well. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Makes about a 3/4 cup or so. (I did a little adjusting.) ;) This recipe is enough for a pound of pasta.

Creamy Sunchoke and Leek Salad

In the mood for a creamy salad that doesn’t have potatoes or macaroni in it? I was too! A salad that’s great with some grilled chicken and a green side salad; that’s a little different and a little fun. So I opened my fridge and did some experimenting. The internal conversation I had with myself while making this salad went a little like this:

“Hmm…okay…why not?”  (The initial sunchoke and leek combo)
“That could be interesting.” (Adding in the egg.)
“Oh no…I don’t know about this…” (The above combination)
“Eek, I think I just screwed up.” (Adding in the heart of palm)
“Maybe not.” (Adding in the pistachios.)
“Okay, I think we’re getting somewhere.” (Tossing in the beans.)

Finally ending at: “This is gonna be yummy!”(It’s hard to really ruin anything with mayonnaise isn’t it?) And it was! The hubby tested it and approved! He loved it and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound sunchokes, peeled
  • 1&1/2 cup finely chopped leek
  • 1 hard boiled egg, minced
  • 1/3 cup small white beans
  • 1/3 cup minced heart of palm
  • 1 tablespoon raw pistachios, finely minced plus a little for garnish
  • a tablespoon finely minced parsley plus a leaf of two for garnish
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Toss in a wedge of lemon or lime with the sunchokes and cover them with cold water and bring them to a boil, lower the heat to low for about 15 minutes until they are fork tender. Drain them and rinse with cold water and chop them fine. With the leek, rinse well to remove any sand and chop them about the size of the sunchoke pieces, then rinse again. Bring some water to a boil and toss them in for about a minute or two, until the green part of the leek is tender. Then drain and rinse with cold water. Combine the sunchokes and leeks with the rest of the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Garnish with the pistachios and the parsley. Serves about 3. Double the recipe for a bigger crowd.

Linguine & Smashed Tarragon Peas with Pistachio-Panko Crumbs

Happy Earth Day! What a great day to renew some vows to take care of the earth, whether it be to recycle more, shop at the local farmer’s market, start a composting bin or to make more veggie meals. Here’s a great veggie meal that is tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time. The smashed peas adds the creaminess of this dish, so you won’t even miss the cream and what I love about making pistachio-Panko crumbs is they are a great substitute for grated cheese. And the best part, you have a great meal on the table in no time, which is great on a day like today, so you can spend some time outdoors. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. linguine, cooked al dente
  • 1 heaping cup petite peas, cooked and roughly smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain Panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon raw pistachios, minced to the texture of Panko
  • a few leaves of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
  • sea salt

First, start off by making your pistachio-Panko crumbs. They can easily burn, so they require a little extra attention. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil on low heat, when the oil is not quite sizzling toss in the Panko crumbs, give it a good stir and add in the pistachio crumbs and a nice amount of sea salt. Keep stirring the crumbs allowing them to lightly brown. Once they are golden, allow them to dry and drain on a paper towel. While you cook the linguine, in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes until the oil is sizzling, add in the smashed peas until heated through. Toss in the tarragon and season with sea salt and keep warm, until the linguine is cooked. Once the linguine is done, drain, reserving a tablespoon or more of the pasta water. Toss the linguine and water with the peas. Divide among plates, or share from one and top with the crumbs. Serves 2, double or triple, as needed.

Pistachio & Herb Goat Cheese Balls

Herbed goat cheese bites rolled in pistachio crumbs are such a nice way to start an Easter dinner. I love these! I love starting meals with a cheese platter but come spring time, cheese can be a little heavy. But goat cheese is the exception, being the perfect cheese for spring, light, creamy and tangy. Combine with your favorite herbs and it’s a special way to start a meal. These are also nice tossed into a spring mix salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!
  • (1) 10.5 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/3 cup raw pistachios
  • pinch of sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Using a fork, combine the cheese, herbs, pepper and salt. Adjust the seasoning accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed. Feel free to add in any fresh herbs that you like, including parsley or mint. Scoop into heaping teaspoon size mounds and then roll into smooth balls. Using a hand chopper or food processor, make your pistachio crumbs. Roll the goat cheese balls into your pistachio crumbs. Serve right away or chill if making them ahead of time. Makes 17. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Bark: 2 Ways

Do you ever get excited about a food product? Or is it just me? lol. I saw a box of Maldon smoked sea salt at a food/cooking supply shop and was so excited, as soon as I found it, I started walking, maybe even skipping, towards the register and midway, I thought to myself, “I came here for something!?” What that something was, I managed to forget with the box of smoked sea salt in my hands, sweaty hands at that, lol. So all these ideas came to my mind and this is one of them, or two of them. For all you salty and sweet fans, you have a flaky smoked salt with the bite of fresh ground black pepper and a raw pistachio bark and a crushed spicy gingersnap cookie and smooth caramel bark with flecks of smoked sea salt on it. Hope you enjoy! Happy weekend everyone!

  • 1/2 pound bulk white chocolate, (you can use milk or even dark, I was in the mood for a super sweet chocolate.)
  • raw pistachio nuts, (not roasted)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • smoked sea salt
  • 7 caramel squares
  • 1 ginger snap cookie

Begin by chopping up the chocolate, so it melts easier. Using a double-broiler or a pot with a metal bowl over it, pour the chocolate in, using a spatula to stir and speed along the melting process. Less water is always better when using the second method and use a pot holder, to handle the metal bowl, it can get pretty hot. Have a large cookie sheet set up with a sheet of parchment paper on it. Once the chocolate is melted, pour the chocolate in one block or two, depending on if are making the chocolate in one way or both. (Spreading out to an 1/8th of an inch or thicker if you like.) If making both barks, keep a small space between the poured chocolate.

Below is the cause of my sweaty palms! Are yours sweaty too or is it just me? If you want to make your own smoked sea salt, which can be fun, here is a recipe (I used some of it on the gingersnap & caramel bark) but just a warning, make it on a really sunny day while you use the grill. Brrr…

Begin the fun, sprinkle the pistachios, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt on the chocolate!

Melt the caramels with a drop of water in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring with a spatula until melted. Drop spoonfuls of caramel on the chocolate and sprinkle the crushed gingersnap cookie over the chocolate and caramel. Finish it off with a sprinkling of smoked sea salt. Let the bark cool in the fridge, until firm about 15 minutes. Break up the chocolate and enjoy!

Pistachio & Panko Encrusted Grilled Salmon

I love pistachios and wish that they would come up with a grinder that holds pistachios, like they have for sea salt and cinnamon sugar. I hope someone is reading this from Everybody’s Nuts! or McCormick. They need to merge this idea! lol I would take my pistachio nut grinder everywhere! Okay, maybe not everyone feels the same passion towards pistachio nuts, that I do, but really, bite into one and savor all of its’ explosive flavor. They are delicious and I just love them! I’m gonna have to look into growing them in the front yard or something, lol. (Not sure how that’s gonna to work on the east coast.) So if you are a passionate pistachio lover and happen to like your pistachios as more than just a snack, this may be the dish for you! Serves 4.

  • 1 pound salmon, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts or more, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 6 tablespoons plain Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

In a heavy bottomed pan, combine the butter, oil and the shallot. Saute the shallot, until translucent, on low heat. Stir in the pistachio nuts, parsley and the Panko crumbs, stirring often so the crumbs don’t burn, but get light golden brown. Stir in the mayonnaise and combine well. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Heat up your grill too about 500 degrees. Cut your salmon into 4 pieces. Layer two sheets of aluminum foil down, big enough to fit the fish, and cup at the edges. I use the foil for easy clean up, but if you want, you can cook directly on the cast iron grill flat pan. Drizzle olive oil down, on either the foil or the pan and season the salmon skin with sea salt and fresh pepper. Lay the salmon, skin down, puzzling them back together, so it looks like one piece. Press the pistachio and Panko mixture onto the top of the salmon. Try to keep the crumbs on the fish, once they fall onto the pan, they burn quickly. Grill your fish for 10 minutes. I like my fish a little pink in the middle, so keep an eye on it, grilling to your liking, fifteen minutes and it should be cooked completely through. It depends on the thickness of the fish also. A great side to the salmon, is farm fresh corn, grilled in their husks. Trim the corn of any husks that are splaying, they will just burn. And also, trim the silk if too long. Run your husks under the water and grill along the fish, directly on the grates. I used to submerge the corn for an hour in water, but forgot to and ran them right under the water, before hitting the grill and it worked just as well! Grill the corn until the husks blacken, and inside you will find perfectly cooked corn. Enjoy!

Pistachio & Panko Chicken over Baby Arugula

Summer and salads go together. This is a nice salad to pack for a picnic in the park. Just pack everything separately and pour the dressing over the greens when it’s time to eat. Then lay back on your blanket with your honey and watch the clouds as the pass by. Happy picnicking! :)

  • 2 chicken breasts halves, pounded thinner
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Italian style panko bread crumbs
  • 2 heaping teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 7 cups tightly packed baby arugula, ripped up
  • 2 oz. herbed goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic pear infused vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon all natural raspberry preserves
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • nasturtium flowers for garnish

Heat the canola oil, (enough to fry the chicken breasts in) in a non-stick pan. Combine the panko bread crumbs, pistachio nuts and the parsley. Dip your chicken breasts into the egg then into the breading. Really pack on the breading with your fingertips. Once your oil is nice and hot on low heat, you can put in your chicken breasts. I test the hotness of the oil by throwing in a few panko crumbs, once it sizzles your oil is ready for the chicken. Fry the chicken for ten minutes each side and drain on paper towels. Combine the olive oil, shallots, vinegar and the raspberry preserves and toss with the arugula. Season with salt and pepper if needed. When you are ready to make your salad, serve the chicken with the arugula and crumble the goat cheese on top along with a pretty nasturtium flower. To keep your chicken crisp for your picnic, let your chicken cool completely, then wrap in paper towels and place in a paper bag. This serves 2. Enjoy!

Cheese Platter Yumminess

Let’s say we went to a party together, and I was missing, the first place to look is where the cheese platter is sitting. I love cheese! The buttery cubes of goodness, combined with something sweet. There was a time, I hated cheese. Like the time in kindergarten when I was forced to eat my grilled cheese sandwich, before I went back to class. Tears streamed down my face. I laugh at the memory now, but that day made me a little unhappy. Many years later, the love affair with cheese started. And then whenever there was a holiday or special day, a cheese platter was made, this one was one of my favorites!

On the plate, going clockwise starting at the green apple slices, we have brie, cooked bacon pieces, smoked Gouda, peanut brittle, blue cheese, Jarlsberg, a little bit of  walnuts followed by the center of raw pistachios nuts and fig marmalade. All served with a big loaf of your favorite crusty bread and quick and easy homemade butter (April 16ths’ post) There are so many possibilities of flavor combinations here…All creamy, sometimes salty and sweet…

  • apple slice + brie + bacon
  • bread + brie + pistachios + fig marmalade
  • Jarlsberg + bacon
  • bread + butter + fig marmalade
  • bacon + blue cheese + walnuts
  • apple slice + blue cheese + peanut brittle
  • bread + butter + smoked Gouda
  • apple slice + brie + pistachios

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)