I understand why they call DC The Swamp in the Summer. Holy heck it’s been hot this week. I apologize for not believing in the heat-index back when I lived in the mercifully arid west. This plain sucks. So the last thing I want to do is cook, right? But the kids want to eat. Every day. I know. It’s time to feed them again??! Yeah. So yesterday I dug out my trusty cookbook, and decided to find a way to make cold dinner. No oven use, and only the barest of stovetop- you’ll need one frying pan, used for two things. It’s three separate recipes, which I served family-style and everyone had small tapas style portions. Except Bean. He had… wait for it… peanut butter toast! I know, you’re shocked. Anyway… There’s plenty of leftovers, and while they may not be as pretty the next day, they taste even better.
Recipe #1: Apple Curry Chicken Salad
- 1 Rotisserie chicken from Costco, shredded. (I made Jeffrey do this, because… bones.. ick… he thought it was fun)
- 1 red onion, small dice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tart apples (fuji or macintosh work well) diced
- a handfull of grapes, sliced if you have them, but not utterly necessary
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped or sliced almonds
Dice the red onion and get it in a frying pan over medium heat with the olive oil and a dash of salt. Let this saute and caramelize while you work. Tear up the chicken and add to a bowl big enough to toss everything. Add the apples and grapes, if you have them. I kind of like it better without them- the apples add tartness and crunch. But I had them, so there you go. In a smaller bowl, mix the mayonnaise, curry power, lemon juice and salt and pepper with a whisk. When the onions are caramelized, pour them on top of the chicken and fruit, and add the dressing. Toss well. Top with green onion and slivered almonds, and serve in a pretty bowl.
Recipe #2 Marinated Italian Vegetables
- 1 small American eggplant, 1/2″ dice. No need to peel. Keep this separate. Everything else can go in the same microwave safe bowl:
- 1 red pepper, cut into strips
- 1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
- 1 container of button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
- (any other veggies you like- cauliflower works, yellow squash, broccoli, etc…)
Lay the eggplant out on a layer of paper towels. Microwave it for five full minutes, then toss it, put on fresh paper towels, and microwave for another 3 minutes. This gets all the moisture and bitterness out, and makes it like a little sponge to soak up the marinade. Put it in a big bowl and set aside.
Add all the other vegetables to a microwave safe bowl, and zap them for 3-4 minutes, then add to the bowl with the eggplant. To the same bowl, add the following:
- 1 can of olives, whatever kind you like- black, kalamata, spanish, whatever, drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
- 1 can artichoke hearts (in water, not the marinated ones), drained
- 1 cup of sliced, cherry or grape tomatoes
For the marinate, the best part, that turns all these colorful awesome veggies into a dance party:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 regular)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp sugar or honey
Mix this by hand with a whisk, or you can whirl it up in the blender/food processor if you want it really emulsified. Either way is fine. Pour it over the warm veggies, toss them well, and wait for them to soak up the yummy marinade. That’s the purpose of briefly heating them, by the way- makes the suck up the goodness.
Top with some basil chiffonade and some extra pepper, and you’re good to go.
Recipe #3 Mozzarella A La Capresse with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
Everyone knows how to make this, right. Yeah, pretty much. The only difference is reducing the balsamic vinegar turns it into a thick, sweet syrup the likes of which you won’t believe.
- 1 pound pretty heirloom tomatoes. Splurge, and buy the pretty ones- they actually DO taste different and better!
- 8 ounces fresh, soft mozzarella cheese, sliced, or use boccacini (the small balls, cut in half)
- good salt and fresh pepper
- fresh basil, shredded
- 1/2 cup dark balsamic vinegar, simmered in the same frying pan you caramelized the red onions, until it’s reduced by half and is thick and syrupy.
- Drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil.
That’s it. Toss the tomatoes and cheese together sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with basil, drizzle the syrup over the top and follow with the fine olive oil. (Add the olive oil after the vinegar, or the vinegar will just slide off) This is a place for your best, freshest ingredients, since there are so few. It really is sublime, and worth the 5 minutes it takes to reduce the vinegar. So, SO good.