Monday, September 28, 2009

Cold Cucumber and Cubanelle Soup with Cashews and Chives

Fall may officially be here but that doesn't necessarily mean us Texans will have cool weather every day from here on out. Which is why I don't feel so bad about posting this recipe right now. Though the ingredients might seem a bit odd, the flavor is amazing! It is a very refreshing dish that I will be making often. I made this on a Sunday afternoon to serve later in the evening with a salad and it was so nice to have a portion of the meal already prepared. It is perfect to serve with a salad or grilled shrimp/fish.

This recipe is from Gourmet magazine's September 2009 issue. This issue featured recipes from A to Z. Though my photo below might not be the best (Gourmet's photo is much prettier), it is still a delicious recipe that you should definitely try! I hope you enjoy this soup as much as my husband and I did!

Cold Cucumber and Cubanelle Soup with Cashews and Chives
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a starter dish

Cucumbers, 3 large (2 1/2 lb total), peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
Cubanelle pepper, 1 (Italian green frying pepper), halved lengthwise and seeded
Water, 2 1/2 cups
Extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup
Unsalted roasted cashews, 1/2 cup
Red-wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp
Garlic clove, 1 large, chopped
Garnish: diced tomato, chopped chives

Puree cucumbers and half of Cubanelle (finely chop remaining half for garnish) with water, oil, cashews, vinegar, garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a blender (in batches if necessary) until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and chill until cold, about 2 hours. Whisk before serving and season with salt and pepper.
Note: Soup is best the day it is made.

(If you can't find Cubanelle peppers, you can substitute with another mild pepper. I had to substitute Anaheim peppers. And please, always use a spoon to take the seeds out of peppers.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Greek Salad with Herbed Pita

I am constantly trying new recipes and I find that the biggest challenge is to find one that is healthy and still tastes great. My goal was to create a blog where I could post my favorite recipes so others can add them to their collections. I am not a chef so all recipes are from cookbooks and the internet. I wish I was clever enough to come up with my own recipes though!

My first recipe is from Williams-Sonoma's Food Made Fast: Salad cookbook. It was a birthday gift from my in-laws and I love it! I have found quite a few recipes in this book that are very tasty. I am not surprised that my step-mother in-law chose this cookbook as my gift because she is the Queen of Salads! Every salad of hers that I have tasted has been so unique and so yum! This is an easy salad that is filling enough as a main course, but if you prefer a little more sustenance you can always grill some chicken to chop up and toss in. Also, don't be afraid of making your own salad dressings. It's super easy and tastes much better than that stuff in a jar!

Greek Salad with Herbed Pita
Serves 4

Lemon juice, from 1 lemon
Garlic, 1 clove, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons
Pita bread, 4 rounds
Dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon
Hearts of romaine lettuce, 2, coarsely chopped (note: I just buy a bag of romaine. Half a bag usually does it if you're cooking for two.)
English (hothouse) cucumber, halved crosswise and thickly sliced (also known as seedless cucumbers)
Tomatoes, 2, cut into wedges
Assorted brine-cured olives, 1 cup (I prefer kalamatas)
Feta cheese, 1/2 lb, crumbled
Green onions, 8, thinly sliced

Make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and a generous amount of pepper. Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup oil until smooth.

Warm the pita: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut each pita into 4 wedges. Arrange on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with the oregano and place in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes.

Assemble the salad: Meanwhile, add the lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes to the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Arrange on plates and top with the olives, feta, and green onions. Place the warm pita wedges alongside the salads and serve.