Salad Mix: Avocado, Artichoke Hearts, and Hearts of Palm

Salad

Holiday Dinner Menu (Part 2)

(See Part 1 : Roasted Butternut Squash with Gouda and Pine Nuts)

The salad that I prepared for the holiday dinner contained three things I loved: artichoke hearts, avocado, and hearts of palm. I found this recipe a while ago from Food Network and saved it in my recipe collection. Please click here to read the original recipe: Avocado, Artichoke Hearts and Heart of Palm Salad served in Lettuce Wraps

A few things I modified from the original recipe were:

-For the dressing, I used apple vinegar instead of white vinegar. I also drizzled a little olive oil and sprinkled some chili powder to give this salad a little kick.

-I added grape tomatoes for more flavor and color.

Canned hearts of palm are available in most grocery stores.

-The author called for butter lettuce as the serving cups for the salad. Unfortunately I did not have the time to do it. So I chopped the lettuce and mixed it with the rest.

The crunchy poblano pepper, cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes gave a wonderful balance to the tender and buttery artichoke hearts, avocado, and hearts of palm. So delicious!

Note: Next time, I’d like to try another modification using the three main things: avocado, artichoke hearts, and heart of palm. I’d add grape tomatoes into the mix, drizzle all of them with olive oil and apple vinegar, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. I think this variation would make a great appetizer.

Seared Scallop over Basil Pesto Pasta and Roasted Artichoke

Basil Pesto, Seafood Recipes

I have always loved sea scallops. But for whatever reason I would always forget to make them a regular menu in our kitchen. I am not sure why. Maybe I was still searching for the right pairing for this seafood in a dish.

Earlier this month, we “fell back” an hour to daylight savings time and were in adjustment to the early nighttime. So that Monday night I decided to distract myself from dreading about the coming of winter by making a special dinner. Somehow the thought of pan-seared scallops with basil pesto penne pasta and roasted artichoke came to mind. I enjoy all three, individually, very much and thought that the combination would make a great dish. The result did not disappoint at all. The sweet and succulent seafood is a perfect canvas for me to make a savory dish.

So here’s what I got in mind:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • Create a marinate oil in a small bowl for both artichoke and scallops. Mix olive oil, minced garlic, a little salt, pepper, and cayenne powder.  Do the artichoke first.
  • Dip the canned quartered artichoke hearts (One can should be enough. I usually get rid of the water from the can and give the artichoke a quick wash. Or you can also substitute with the frozen ones), place them on an oven tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes on each side.
  • Dip 8-10 sea scallops into the marinate oil and let them sit on a plate for 15 minutes
  • Heat up a non-stick pan (medium heat)
  • Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on each side or until both sides get those beautiful golden crust
  • Boil three handful of penne pasta. Add a pinch of salt. Let it cook for about 12 minutes, drain, and set aside.
  • Mix a handful of basil leaves, a teaspoon of pine nuts, one clove of garlic, and ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese in a food processor. Add olive oil and transfer to a serving bowl to be mixed with the penne pasta.
  • Serve (immediately) the scallops over the basil-pesto covered penne pasta and roasted artichoke

Serve 2

I think a special dinner doesn’t have to be tied to a particular occasion all the time. It also doesn’t have to be super fancy. To me, “special” means, of course, out of the ordinary but it should also be original and creative. So once in a while, try to combine food that you like (or that you’ve wanted to make for a while) and then pick a very ordinary night to have them. See if this pick-me-up trick works for you too. Have a great Monday!