Jamie Oliver’s Arugula and Radicchio Salad

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If you’re wondering who posts a salad recipe the week before Christmas, when the food blogosphere is nothing but cookies and cinnamon rolls and chocolate covered marshmallows, well, that’s a really good question. I actually did quite a bit of holiday baking over the past week, but I did it all in such a hurry that I forgot to take pictures.  I made these cookies and these biscotti and this hot chocolate mix (although not the marshmallows) – and I would encourage everyone to try all of them, as they are all amazing (especially the biscotti!).  I know that a lot of us, however, have cookie exchange cookies and secret santa treats and eggnog from the work elevator coming out of our ears, and perhaps a tropical vacation on the horizon, so I thought it might be a good time to take a little break and eat some greens.  And yes, in case you were wondering, the eggnog elevator is an actual thing (thanks to my friend Kristy for reminding me about one of the [few] perks of my old job this morning).

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My friend Ellie made this salad for a book club dinner a few years ago, and I’ve been copying her ever since – especially during Christmastime, when the red and green colors are perfect for holiday meals. Jamie’s recipe is pretty loose – a “handful” of arugula, a “glug” of olive oil. I love not having to measure, especially in a salad when you should be tailoring it to your liking. [Sidenote: Jamie refers to arugula as “rocket,” which is what they call it in the UK (if you’re interested, here’s why we have different words for the same thing). “Rocket” makes me think of the quarter I spent studying abroad in London, where we ate a lot of rocket pizza – yum. But I digress.] Anyways, this salad literally could not be easier – especially if you buy the pre-washed arugula like I did. Dump your arugula into your salad bowl, add some thinly sliced radicchio (very thinly sliced, as it can be bitter), parmesan, nuts, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. The pine nuts are optional, but I would strongly recommend them (personal preference). Jamie also suggests red onion and/or bacon as additions. Toss everything together and you have a salad that’s sure to impress all of your holiday dinner guests – or will be the perfect weeknight dinner salad for days when you ate christmas cookies for breakfast and lunch.

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Jamie Oliver, previously: Eggplant Parmesan

One Year Ago: Rum Cake!

Arugula and Radicchio Salad, from Jamie Oliver

Serves 4

One package (or four large handfuls) arugula
One small radicchio, thinly sliced
Grated parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the arugula and radicchio in a large salad bowl with parmesan and pine nuts. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar to taste (Jamie does a 3:1 oil:vinegar ratio, which is the correct way to make a vinaigrette; I do more like a 1:1 as I like my dressing light and less oily). Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper, also to taste. Toss well. Serve the salad topped with additional parmesan and pine nuts.

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Butternut Squash and Farro Salad

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I know that by February I’ll be longing for a warm and sunny October.  OK, by November (which is only 22 days away, eeeek!) I’ll probably be longing for a warm and sunny October.  But as of this week, when the 70+ degree temperatures are keeping me from my new fall wardrobe, I’m really ready for it to start feeling like fall.  I’ve dug all of my sweaters and boots out of the back of my closet(s), but it’s been t-shirt and flip flop weather all week (the things I find to complain about, I know). I’ve decided, however, that even if the forecast points to an Indian summer, the calendar says fall, so that’s what I’m going with.  I colored my hair dark this week (!!!), bought a flannel shirt that’s way too hot to wear anytime soon, and started in on the “fall recipes” on my to-do list. First up, this yummy butternut squash salad from Smitten Kitchen.

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Is there anything more “fall-ish” than butternut squash? (Is “fall-ish” even a word?) Well, there are probably lots of things, but butternut squash has got to be up there. After I made this salad, I found this one and kind of wished I had made it as well. If you’re really on top of life, you could prep a big batch of squash ahead of time and use it for both recipes (it will keep either raw or roasted in the fridge for a few days at least). You could throw it into a pasta dish, or into a green salad, or just eat it plain with parmesan like I’ve been doing a lot lately (yum).  But for now we’re talking farro, which is delicious (and pronounced FAR-ro, not FAIR-ro like a Pharaoh from ancient Egypt.  I may or may not have been mispronouncing this word for entirely too long, so just want to save you the embarrassment in case you’ve been making the same mistake). Deb explains the difference between pearled, semi-pearled, regular, etc., and the corresponding cooking times.  I just bought the Trader Joe’s “10 minute farro” and it was great (TJ’s FTW, as usual).

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My only other notes would be: (1) Deb recommends you pickle your onions for as close to 30 minutes as possible, but tells you that if you don’t have that much time less is ok too.  I’m sure she’s right, but as a raw-onion-hater I’ve found that the longer the onions are marinating, the less raw-onion-y they’ll taste. When I have time, I let mine sit in the fridge for an hour or two (fun tip: even soaking slices of red onion in plain ice water for a few minutes makes them taste a little more neutral).  Of course if raw onion hatred isn’t an issue for you, 30 minutes or less is fine.  (2) Sometimes ricotta salata can be hard to find – I’ve used feta in the past and it works just as well.  This is probably blasphemous to write on a food blog (however wannabe it may be), but I’m not entirely on the ricota salata train in the way that everyone else seems to be and I almost like it better with the feta. (3) Deb will tell you this as well, but this salad is super flexible – use any type of squash or roasted veggie in place of or along with the butternut, use rice/orzo/barley instead of farro, etc.  Although if you don’t have an aversion to anything in the recipe, I would encourage you to try it as written at least initially, as it really is delicious. Ratios are also flexible – I just used a whole squash, an entire (small) bag of farro, and then adjusted my toppings and seasonings accordingly.  (4) This salad is good at room temperature (i.e. when you’ve just finished making it and the squash and farro are still warm), but delicious chilled – it’s one of those salads that is really better the next day (especially if the next day is a little closer to sweater weather).

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Butternut Squash, previously: soup, baked pasta

Smitten Kitchen, previously: about every other recipe on this blog

Butternut Squash and Farro Salad, from Smitten Kitchen

1 medium butternut squash
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup farro
1/3 cup toasted, salted pepitas
3 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled or coarsely grated (or other salty cheese, such as feta)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Prepare Squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel butternut squash and scrape out seeds. Cut squash into 1/2″-3/4″ cubes. Coat baking sheet (or sheets, if you have a large amount of squash) with olive oil, and then toss squash on the baking sheet with small amounts of olive oil, salt, and pepper until coated. Roast 30-40 minutes, or until squash is tender and starting to brown, tossing or stirring a couple times so that the pieces don’t stick.

Prepare Farro: According to package instructions.

Prepare Onions and Brine: Chop onion into small dice. In a small bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, until the sugar is dissolved. Add onion and stir to coat. The brine won’t cover the onions all the way, but that’s ok. Place onions (in brine) in the refrigerator while you wait for squash/farro to cook. Ideally they can chill for 30 minutes, but less time is ok.

In a large bowl, mix together farro, squash, onions (with brine), cheese, and pepitas. Add three tablespoons of olive oil. Taste, and add more oil, sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Top with more cheese and/or pepitas if desired (I did). Salad is best chilled, and will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Summer Squash and White Bean Sauté {and a new source for recipe inspiration}

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I’ve been on a roll lately with grocery shopping on Sunday nights and then prepping lots of healthy meals and snacks for the week (this is exciting because there are times where I can go for weeks without setting foot in a grocery store, and end up eating most meals at Starbucks and/or the wine bar in my building). No matter how exhausted I am after a busy weekend, it’s so worth it to drag myself to the grocery store – I love waking up on Monday knowing that I have everything I need for my green smoothie, a lunch already packed, and dinner when I come home – so I’m that much less likely to go to happy hour (or at least, less likely to order a pizza at happy hour).

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My cousin Clare sent me this recipe on Friday, along with the suggestion to sign up for kitchendaily.com. They send you an email with recipe ideas every morning, and you can customize your account so that the recipes are based on your food preferences/dietary needs/number of people you’re cooking for. Perfect for those of us who are always on the lookout for fun new recipes or inspiration.

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I modified the recipe a little – I have a hard time buying regular tomatoes these days, when grape tomatoes are so much easier to cut (or to pop into your mouth).

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Yum, cheese. This might be a little more than the recipe called for.

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Onions and garlic. If you were my friend Scott, now is the time where you would comment on my knife skills (or lack thereof). But in my defense, I was trying to hurry to get dinner on the table.

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I had to switch from my frying pan to a soup pot, which I think means I need to get a larger saute pan soon – this should be a one-dish meal.

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Summer Squash and White Bean Saute, from Kitchen Daily – their version here

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed well, or 1 1/2 – 2 cups dried beans, soaked overnight
2 medium tomatoes, chopped, or a couple handfuls grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, squash, oregano, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes.

2. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar; increase heat to medium and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in parmesan. Serve on top of pasta, rice, quinoa, cous cous, or any grain you like – I used barley, and then just stirred the leftover barley into the leftover beans and veggies for easy one-pot leftovers.

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Nutrition Information:

195 calories (54 calories from fat)
6 g fat (2 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated)
600 mg sodium
25 g carbs
11 g protein
8 g fiber
5 mg cholesterol

Jamie Oliver’s Eggplant Parmesan

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I really wanted to post this a couple weeks ago, in case anyone was looking for meatless recipes during Lent, but I’m just now getting around to it. So just in time for a Meatless Monday instead! My friend Tracy introduced me to this recipe a few years ago – I fell in love with it then, and each time I’ve made it since I fall in love with it all over again. I have a couple of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks, and I love his stuff because it’s usually pretty easy and relatively healthy.  This recipe is no exception.

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His eggplant parm is lighter than most because his eggplant is grilled (or roasted) rather than breaded and fried like the traditional recipe. Each time I make it I’m reminded of how eggplant immediately soaks up olive oil, so you really need to brush it on rather than drizzle it (as evidenced above). Jamie has you grill the eggplant slices either on the stove top or barbecue (his recipe can be found here), but Tracy sent me a variation on the recipe (found here – love the Wednesday Chef!) and she just brushes them with olive oil and roasts them in the oven, which seems easier to me.

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Everything else comes together pretty quickly, and the sauce is the best part – every time I make this dish I start thinking I should be making this sauce by itself, any time I need a marinara (which I suppose is basically never, but if I did). The San Marzano tomatoes really make a difference, which I say only for the benefit of people who don’t already know that (as I realize many of you already do).

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I put it on top of whole wheat, Omega-3 fortified pasta (which tastes amazingly just like normal noodles), but I had the leftovers plain and it was still delicious – the eggplant is substantial enough you don’t really need the pasta. I will tell you that between prepping and roasting the eggplant, making the sauce, and then baking the casserole, the dish doesn’t come together quickly – but that shouldn’t deter you from making it. If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal, I would suggest perhaps making the sauce and/or roasting the eggplant the night before, and then putting it together and baking it the following evening. Otherwise, if you get home as late as I do, dinner won’t be ready until bedtime. But although it is time-consuming, it’s really not hard. If you try it, let me know what you think. And if you have any other “Meatless Monday” recipes to share, or Jamie favorites, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Happy Monday, everyone! And Buon Appetito!

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