Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jicama Salad with Cilantro-Orange Vinaigrette



I got the idea for this next recipe from my father. My father is really big on eating fruta fresca which means fresh fruit in Spanish. Various fresh fruits and vegetables like oranges, mangos, watermelon, papaya, cucumbers, and jicama are cut up into bite size pieces and dressed with lime, salt, and chile powder. I know for some of you, it may seem odd to eat fruit and certain vegetables like this, but it really is delicious. Considering that I am no longer in Chicago, I often find myself trying to recreate certain foods that I miss. Believe it or not, something I really miss is the fresh fruit cups that the street vendors sell on the city corners. These sweet, spicy, and refreshing fruit cups are quite satisfying, especially on a hot summer day. Couple days ago while grocery shopping; I came across a jicama and decided to buy it in order to recreate one of these delicious fruit cups. However, when I got home I was starving, due to going to the grocery store on an empty stomach (bad idea), and decided to make myself a quick salad. I was so anxious to cut open this jicama that I decided to include it in my salad and add other fruits and vegetables that I knew would go well together. For those of you who are not familiar with what jicama (pronounced Hee-ka-ma) is and looks like, it is a crisp and sweet vegetable that resembles a large odd shaped potato. It goes well with any lime or citrus flavors and is sometimes pickled as well. Mixing this sweet vegetable with the orange segments and cucumbers really created a light and crisp salad. And not to mention that this cilantro-orange vinaigrette really gives a sweet and tangy taste to each bite! It’s interesting how you can create a new dish off of ingredients you enjoy in another. In this case, I was able to have my fruit cup and eat it too. 

 Jicama Salad with Cilantro and Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4
Ingredients:

1 Jicama (about 1 lb)
1 ½ oranges
1 medium size cucumber, sliced
1 large lime
2 small heads of romaine lettuce
½ cup feta cheese

Cilantro-Orange Vinaigrette:
Juice of 1 ½ oranges

½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:
  1. Wash all vegetables and oranges and set aside. Roughly chop romaine lettuce and cucumbers and place inside salad bowl.
  2. Take two of the oranges and cut the top and bottom off of both to create a flat surface. Cut down and around the orange to remove the skin. Repeat this step until all the skin has been removed. Using a pairing knife cut out segments of the orange and mix with cucumbers and lettuce.
  3. Carefully cut the bottom and top off of the jicama. Cut down and around the jicama to remove outer layer. Repeat this step until the outer layer is removed. Cut the jicama in half, cut into batons, and add into salad bowl with other ingredients.
  4. Squeeze one lime over salad and season salad with a pinch of salt.
  5. For the dressing, add the juice of 1 ½ oranges, white wine vinegar, honey, salt, and chopped cilantro. Slowly whisk in ½ cup of olive oil.
  6.  Pour salad dressing over salad and top with feta cheese.

Note: Queso fresco can be used instead of feta cheese. 

Source: L.Chavez. Sweet,Spicy, and Sassy Original. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cucumber Salad Stuffed Tomatoes



Couple of weeks and I will finally be cooking for two again. And I cannot wait!! But until then, I am still cookin’ up small and simple dinners for myself. On the few days that I cook red meat, I like pairing it with either a zucchini boat or some roasted vegetables. However, I noticed that my basil plant was growing like wildfire and figured I should use it in one of my dishes for dinner. I looked in my fridge and noticed I also had tomatoes. My first thought was, “I’ll make a caprese salad!” But the last episode of Bethenny Ever After was about to play off of my DVR and was not in the mood to run out to the store to buy fresh mozzarella. This was one of those moments that I was determined to use what I had in my fridge. I combined tomatoes, a cumber, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and basil together to create a cucumber and tomato salad. I added in olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the end to create a simple dressing for the salad and was pleasantly surprised at the final product. What I love about this dish is the fresh taste of the tomatoes and cucumbers with the salty taste of the Kalamata olives. Plus, who doesn’t love feta cheese!? After I made this salad, I thought it would be cute and creative to stuff the tomatoes with this salad. If you have the time or have special guests coming for dinner, stuffing the tomatoes with this salad is an alternative way to serve up this side dish. However, this salad is just as delicious if it is chopped up and mixed all together in a bowl. Enjoy!  


Cucumber Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

6 red, round tomatoes ( use 2 for the stuffing)
1 medium size cucumber
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tsps.fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup feta cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cut off a small piece off the bottom of tomato and remove the core. Remove as much of the seeds as you can by gently squeezing the tomato over the sink. Using a small pairing knife, gently hollow out the inside of the tomato. Salt and pepper inside of tomato and set aside. Repeat step for other tomatoes.
  2. Chop the two tomatoes plus what was hollowed out from the other four tomatoes and set aside in a bowl. Peel and cut cucumber lengthwise and spoon out seeds. Chop cucumber and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes.
  3. Chop the basil and Kalamata olives and add it to the tomato mix along with the feta cheese.
  4. Add in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to the tomatoes and mix all ingredients together.
  5. Stuff tomato and cucumber mix into tomatoes and top with additional feta cheese.      
Source: L.Chavez. Sweet, Spicy, and Sassy Original