Roasted Grape Tomatoes Salad in Balsamic

Appetizer, Salad

“Make me sweet again, fragrant, fresh and wild, and thankful for any small gesture.” -Rumi-

Speaking of sweet, fragrant, fresh and wild, here’s another easy side dish recipe. Thought I’d share before 2013 ends. Happy 2014 to all, may our new year be sweet and filled with gratitude.

Roasted grape tomatoes

roasted grape tomatoes

The fresh, cute, and candy-like grape tomatoes always make wonderful salad and snack. A recent eat-out at, an oldie but goody, Italian restaurant gave me a delicious alternative on how to enjoy them: roast and drizzle them with balsamic! Oh, how they became even sweeter!

Here’s how I did it:

  • 10 oz. of grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 garlic (whole or minced doesn’t matter)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (add more if you want)

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Place the halved tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle a little bit of salt, and mix with both hands
  • Roast for 15 minutes
  • Let them cool down for a five minutes
  • Place them in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: Make it peppery by adding arugula!
  • Great to serve together with Spaghetti ala Puttanesca and Roasted Portobello with Breadcrumbs

Thanks for stopping by…

Other source of recipe idea: Roasted Grape Tomatoes Recipe by Claire Robinson

Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Horseradish

Salad, Vegetable Recipes

Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Green Onions and Horseradish by Tiny Chili Pepper

Got a chance to catch up with an old roommate a couple of weekends ago. Jeff and I joined her and her family at a lake house that we rented. We got lucky. October was being kind, sunny, and warm that week. Fall painted earthy colors all around us. We spent most of the time talking, eating, and running around outside.

Dining al fresco

We covered a wide range of topics that weekend. Food was one of them. In addition to exchanging cooking ideas, we also made a few dishes. Eating well was one of the activities we planned to do at this lake house reunion. My friend made red cabbage coleslaw one night to accompany her grilled lamb chops. I’ve always loved crunchy and tangy slaw but had never made it before. When I saw hers, I made notes in my mind: make coleslaw, use red cabbage and green onions, make it colorful! It was delicious. Thanks, Lal.

Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Horseradish ala Tiny Chili Pepper

Feeling inspired and intrigued, I slightly adapted the recipe the other day. Here’s my version with horseradish punch:

(Serves two)

  • 1/2 of small red cabbage head (sliced into very thin shreds)
  • 4 green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of prepared horseradish
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

I mixed and whisked the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, horseradish, black pepper, and salt in a big bowl. Tasted and adjusted the flavors. Then I added the cabbage and green onions, tasted and adjusted again. Mixed them up, covered, and refrigerated it for an hour/overnight before serving. Let the vegetables absorb the flavors. Great to serve alongside steak or lamb chops.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Peace

A glorious day in October

Leelanau Lake, MI

Quinoa Salad with Smoked Salmon, Avocado, and Peppers

Salad

Quinoa salad with smoked salmon, avocado, and peppers by Tiny Chili Pepper

A wholesome salad makes a great power-booster lunch. The other day, I was in the mood for quinoa. So, I combined it with a mix of sliced avocado, smoked salmon, red bell pepper, and cayenne pepper that I dressed in lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, and a little bit of honey. The taste of smoked salmon mixed with creamy avocado, crunchy peppers, and nutty quinoa blended well with the tangy and sweet vinaigrette. What a party in a salad bowl!

Quinoa by Tiny Chili Pepper

Mix the avocado, smoked salmon, and peppers TCP

Here’s my ingredient list:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 avocado (sliced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 slices of smoked salmon (sliced)
  • 1 cayenne pepper (chopped)
  • Lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of honey

Steps:

  • I followed the quinoa cooking instruction on its package: bring it to a boil with two cups of chicken stock and lower the heat to let it simmer for 15 minutes in a covered pot
  • In a medium bowl, I whisked lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, and honey together to make the dressing
  • Mixed the avocado, salmon, and peppers with the dressing. Cover and chill in the fridge
  • Let the quinoa cool down for a bit, place in a salad bowl, and topped with the avocado, salmon, and peppers

Serve two

Great for bring-lunch-to-work menu (keep it chilled) or as a meal after an exercise.

Have a great weekend, all!

Peace

Summer Party on a Plate: Grilled Sea Scallops, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, and Beets Orange Salad

Salad, Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

There are days when I get highly motivated. When they come, something like this materializes:

Party on a plate by Tiny Chili Pepper

Moved by a warm summer day with the perfect breeze, I went a little overboard with Wednesday’s dinner menu.  I wanted something light and colorful.  Grilled scallops, mango salsa, and guacamole immediately came to mind. But as I walked around the farmers market, I also got some beets (and a lot of other things!). I had never cooked beets before but I was curious about it.

IMG_5134

When I got home, I realized that I forgot to get cilantro for my mango salsa and guacamole. So, I substituted with green onions, which worked out quite well for both dishes—though I still prefer using cilantro. For this version of my mango salsa, I chopped 10 cherry tomatoes, two garlic, four cayenne peppers, and three green onions in a food processor. I added a little bit of lime juice and salt to the salsa before I mixed it with the mango slices. I also cut more cherry tomatoes, each into four pieces, and added them to the mango salsa.

IMG_5126

For the guacamole, I followed the recipe I wrote last year. The combination of creamy avocado with cumin, lime juice, salt, garlic, and onion made such a wonderful treat (cilantro would add a fantastic taste and aroma to it too). And it wasn’t hard to make at all! I like to have guacamole and mango salsa as side dishes for grilled fish as well.

Guacamole by Tiny Chili Pepper

For the sea scallops, I marinated them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice from one lemon, salt, and pepper. After 15 minutes, I threaded the scallops onto the skewers (which I have soaked in water for about 15 minutes prior to using). It’s much easier to grill scallops this way. Then, I grilled them for about three minutes on each side.

Grilled Sea Scallops by Tiny Chili Pepper

I saw a recipe called Perfect Roasted Beets with Orange Slices in a magazine and was intrigued by it. I basically followed the recipe but did not have sherry vinegar so I went without. The result? The orange slices and juice gave sweet taste to the dish. But the beets’ earthy flavor was definitely something for me to get used to. Let’s see, maybe I could find a different beet recipe to try. Do you have one to recommend?

IMG_5118

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

A Favorite Summer Salad

Salad, Vegetable Recipes

Hi all! I hope you are having a wonderful summer wherever you are. Doesn’t it seem like the season is evaporating so quickly?

This summer, I found a favorite salad combination: arugula, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, walnut, peaches/apples/nectarines (pick one or use all of them), with fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice- based dressing mixed with olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, green onions, and cayenne peppers.

Summer Salad by Tiny Chili Pepper

Arugula has this wonderful peppery taste that I like so much. The selection of bountiful summer fruits add natural sweetness to the bite. Salty feta cheese, crunchy walnut, chopped green onions, and cayenne peppers liven things up with their distinct flavors. Oh, and the dressing! It enhances the peppery, tangy, sweet, and refreshing taste of this salad. Such a great companion for grilled fish/shrimp/sea scallops, turkey sandwiches, or even steak.

Summer Salad with Grilled Turkey Sandwich by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s the list for the salad (serve 2):

  • 3-4 cups of arugula (you could also add radicchio or other greens that you prefer)
  • ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup of walnut (chopped or not, you decide 🙂 )
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 peaches/apples/nectarines (sliced)

For the dressing, mix the following in a bowl:

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • ½ tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 2 cayenne peppers (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper

Optional: you could also add a little bit of dill to the dressing

Combine the arugula, walnut, cheese, and fruits in a big bowl and mix with the dressing. Serve immediately. My mouth is watering as I type up this recipe 😀

What’s your favorite summer salad? Do share.

Thanks for reading!

Recipe inspiration came from: Arugula, Watermelon, Feta Salad by Ina Garten

Green Pea Salad Over Broiled Halibut

Salad, Seafood Recipes

Green pea salad by HR

People say we eat with our eyes. There might be some truth to that statement. I like this warm green pea salad recipe, another creation of Giada De Laurentiis, not only for its taste but also for its beautiful colors.

I must admit that I never really thought much of green pea before, let alone turning it into something appetizing. To me it was just some complementary vegetable used in a soup or in fried rice or just served (sadly and quietly) steamed as a side of something else better and tastier. And Jeff confirmed. He said he didn’t really care for green pea until he tried this salad. In this recipe, the vegetable gets a special attention enough to transform its plain being into a flavorful and visually appealing dish. Sometimes it really does depend on how we cook things, doesn’t it?

Green peas salad on broiled halibut by HR

In Giada’s recipe, the salad is served over baked halibut fillets. As usual, I did a few things differently. First, I used regular green pea instead of petite pea. Second, I made the salad a little bit garlicky and of course spicy by adding Serrano peppers ;). Third, since I prefer to have my fish crispy on the outer part and flaky inside, I broiled the halibut instead of baking it. Lastly, the recipe called for fresh mint and thyme, which I didn’t have this second time I made it so I went without.

The result? Sweet but yet spicy with a hint of lemon, nicely seasoned, and surprisingly filling salad. A perfect companion to the flavorful, lemony, and flaky broiled fish. The combination makes a great dinner menu. I added boiled potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper as a side but I really didn’t need to. The fish and salad were quite filling by themselves.

Here’s my adapted version to serve two people:

Salad ingredient list:

  • 1 small bag of frozen peas (thawed)
  • 4 garlic (chopped)
  • 3 shallots (thin sliced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (sliced)
  • 3 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Serrano peppers (you could also use other bigger peppers like jalapeno, hot fingers, cayenne, etc.)
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon

Broiled halibut ingredient list:

  • 2 halibut fillets (enough for two people)
  • Lemon juice from 2 lemons
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Steps:

  • As suggested in the original recipe: I mixed the lemon juice, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Then I added the halibut fillets in the bowl, covered it with a plastic wrap, and let the fillets marinate for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
  • Then I heated up a medium pan and added: olive oil, garlic, shallots, and bell pepper to cook for about 6 minutes until they became soft and translucent. Once they were cooked, I turned off the heat, and added the thawed peas, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Mixed all of them together nicely and set aside.
  • After the 30 minutes marinating time was up, I placed the halibut fillets on an oven tray (sprayed with olive oil), and broiled them for 10-13 minutes (no turning) or until they had these golden color around the edges. I also made sure that there was about 6 inches (about 15 cm) distance between the broiler and the tray to avoid charring.
  • I served the fillets and topped them with the green pea salad.

Green peas salad on top of broiled halibut by HR

Thanks for coming and have a great day!

Original Recipe: Roasted Halibut with Pea and Mint Salad, (De Laurentiis, Giada. Giada at Home. Clarkson Potter, 2010. Pg. 134)

Online version: Roasted Halibut with Pea and Mint Salad

Easy Summer/Picnic Menu: Chicken Salad Sandwich with Mayo, Chives, and Celery

Salad, Sandwiches

During the warmer months, Jeff and I try to squeeze in a few hiking trips. Sometimes we’d camp out and other times we’d simply go for a day hike. It all depends on location and distance. For the shorter outdoorsy excursions that we do, I like to pack up some simple and good food with us. I keep them in a small cooler in the car. Though energy bars work fine, in my humble opinion, there’s something incredibly comforting about having real food before or after a hike.

Last month we went on a day hike at the Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. For the trip, I made a couple of chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. One with mayo dressing (inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe) and the other with basil pesto (next blog entry). The sandwiches made the perfect meal for that afternoon.

Here are the things that we will need for the chicken salad sandwich with mayo dressing:

  • 1 pound of thick-cut roasted chicken breast meat from the deli section. (Next time I will roast bone-in and skin-on chicken in the oven as the original recipe suggests. I was rushing to pack for the trip since I had miscalculated my schedule that day. Hence the deli alternative to create the sandwich at the time. It worked really well!  The second time I did the salad, I poached skinless and boneless chicken breast and it was a bit dry.)
  • 2 celery sticks (chopped)
  • ½ cup of light Mayo with Olive Oil (My friend, Leena, recommended this type a while back when I was looking for a good mayo. The suggestion worked. I like it very much.)
  • ½ tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon of horseradish
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper powder
  • 4-5 fresh green stems of chives (minced). I have chives growing in my container garden. I love its mild onion-like flavor and aroma.

Steps:

  • Dice the thick-cut roasted chicken breast
  • In a large bowl, mix mayo, dijon, horseradish, chives, celery, pepper, and cayenne pepper powder
  • Add the chicken into the mayo mixture
  • Place in a container and a cooler for your picnic
  • Serve on either Italian or pumpernickel bread

Enjoy!

Easy Summer Menu: Sweet and Spicy Corn Salad

Salad

A few weeks ago, Jeff prepared a corn dish to serve alongside our steak and tomato salad. He basically just cooked thawed frozen corn kernels in a little bit of butter and cayenne pepper powder. I couldn’t believe how that simple process produced such a delicious dish. I was hooked and inspired to create a salad out of it.

This colorful salad just screams summer, don’t you think? 🙂 It’s a little sweet and spicy, lemony, crunchy, and mmm…it’s got that wonderful cilantro’s fragrance!

Here’s what we will need for my version:

  • A bag of thawed frozen corn or peeled fresh corn kernels from four to six ears
  • One tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • One red bell pepper (cored and chopped)
  • Cayenne pepper powder (I also added three fresh cayenne peppers. But PLEASE adjust to your piquant-tolerance level)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • A handful of chopped cilantro (if you’re not a cilantro fan, go with parsley).
  • Lemon juice from 1 lemon

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium pan
  • Melt the butter
  • Add the chopped bell pepper and corn kernels. Cover with a lid and let cook for 5 minutes (until the butter and water that comes out of the corn and bell pepper start to bubble).
  • Remove from the heat
  • Add salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne powder, cilantro, and drizzle with the lemon juice. Mix and serve. You could also chill it in the fridge and serve it cold.

This time I served the corn salad with grilled lamb shoulder and tomato salad. Delicious!

Easy Summer Menu: Colorful Tomato Salad

Salad

I like tomatoes. They are so colorful, plump, and cheerful. When I was little, mom used to make a refreshing treat out of tomatoes. She’d cut them up, mixed with crushed ice, and sprinkled sugar on top of them. Delicious!

I have two tomato plants growing and I can’t wait until they start bearing fruits! Since I can’t have my own home-grown tomatoes yet, I got these wonderful and colorful ones from the market the other day and turned them into a delicious summer salad!

I just sliced the tomatoes in big wedges, sprinkled them with a little salt and black pepper, drizzled an equal amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (you could also use red wine vinegar instead of balsamic if you want), and added basil leaves I picked from my container garden. I covered the plate and chilled it for a bit before serving. Easy and yummy!

I served this salad with the steak that my guy grilled for us and the sweet and spicy corn salad (next entry) that he also made. Mmm…another fabulous dinner!

Couscous Salad – A Side Dish

Salad

Cooking gives me a chance to expand my creativity and sense of taste. For someone who gets easily bored with food, learning and trying many combinations of ingredients, spices, and herbs is important. Recently I tried to expand my salad creativity. Though preparing salad isn’t cooking, finding a good balance and combination of color, taste, and texture matters as much as it is in cooking.

One day I had been in the mood for a hearty salad. I had couscous, garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes, baby arugula, and artichoke hearts. For the vinaigrette, I wanted something lemony and tangy but with a kick. I thought of my good friend Deniz while making this salad. Many moons ago, she taught me that couscous and garbanzo beans (and other fresh veggies too) made such a good combo.

I did this version of mine in no time at all. The result was this substantial and nourishing salad that worked well as a side dish to my grilled halibut or sea scallops (which I also served with my roasted butternut squash with Gouda and pine nuts).

Here’s how I make the salad:

  • Bring ½ cup of chicken stock to a boil
  • Turn off the heat and pour ½ cup of couscous, stir, cover, and let it sit for a minute. Once the couscous absorbs all of the liquid it swells up and becomes cooked and tender.
  • In a salad bowl mix the cooked couscous, a can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), a handful of grape tomatoes (halved), a cup of baby arugula, and a few marinated artichoke hearts.
  • In a smaller bowl whisk ¼ cup of olive oil, salt, black pepper, a teaspoon of minced garlic, chili powder, lemon juice (from one lemon). Add a tablespoon of Sriracha hot chili sauce or a teaspoon of Tabasco hot sauce for an extra punch.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette on the salad and mix
  • Serve 2-3 people