Archive for the salads Category

Sunday Dinner Part I – Avocado & Tomato Salad with Crispy Pancetta

Posted in apples, Avocado, pancetta, salad, salads, tomatoes on 23 September 2009 by restaurant refugee

Sunday Funday is a blast that usually begins with brunch and continues late into the afternoon and often early into the evening.  It usually crowds out one of my other cherished Sabbath rituals: Sunday Dinner.  This most recent Sunday allowed the opportunity to gather a few friends for supper, conversation, some wine, and a little football.  I had only a rough idea what I was planning to serve and decided that I would allow the available ingredients and relative quality dictate the menu.

This plan violated one of my cardinal rules of cooking – I didn’t have a plan.  I did, however, have a ride which made things a good deal easier, and thus proceeded on the schedule of the person driving.  I spun my wheels around the protein sections of Harris Teeter a good three times, and spent at least as much time in the produce area.  Eventually, a plan started to take shape: salad course, pasta, Surf & Turf (lobster was on a deep sale,) and sweet courses.  The salad that I made was as much about blending of textures as it was flavors.


Avocado & Tomato Salad with Crispy Pancetta

Serves Six

One Pint of Grape Tomatoes

One ripe Avocado

Two ¼ – 1/3 inch thick slices of Pancetta

One Tablespoon Garlic Infused Olive Oil

Two Teaspoons Aged Balsamic

¼ Cup Diced Spring Onions

One “Finger” of Basil Leaves

One Tablespoon of Shallot Confit

Sea Salt to taste

Fresh Pepper to Taste

IMG00032Halve the grape tomatoes and place in a salad bowl.  Roll several fresh basil leaves into a cylinder about the size of your pinkie finger and slice into thin strips; add to the bowl.  Dice the spring onions and add to the bowl.

The Shallot Confit was something that I had sitting in my refrigerator; it was a byproduct of making some infused shallot oil that I gave to a couple of friends for housewarming and host gifts.  It adds terrific flavor and texture but don’t let it be an impediment to making this dish.  I will write about the instructions for the shallot confit/infused oil soon, but in between time feel free to use some shallots caramelized in butter.  Add them to the salad bowl.

The garlic infused olive oil is also a nice to have and something that I recently made for myself and friends.  In lieu of the flavored olive oil, use extra virgin and add two pinches of garlic powder to the mix.  Add the balsamic to the bowl.  While tossing all the ingredients add the salt and pepper and continue to toss until all ingredients are evenly coated.

Grill the pancetta slices (only if you’re doing something else on the grill or have an indoor grill pan, if not grilling, then cook in a non-stick pan with just a touch of butter) for three minutes on each side.  Once the pancetta has been cooked, halve the avocados and slice them into strips (actually the next time I make this dish I will probably slice straight across the halves such that there will be a whole pear shaped slice of avocado; this will increase the number of avocados required to two; but will make the dishes prettier.) Lay two strips across each plate.

Dice the pancetta and add to the salad while it is still relatively hot but not so hot that it will cook other ingredients.  Toss the salad again and scoop onto the avocado slices.

IMG00033The result is an exercise in creamy, salty, chewy, acidic and fatty balance.  I decided to grate some parmesan atop before serving, but upon tasting it, I don’t think it adds enough to merit inclusion.


The rest of the meal was:

Slow Cooked Pork Ragu with a Tomato Cream Sauce of Tagliatelle Pasta – Friday Post, hopefully

Grilled Lobster Tails & Petite Beef Tenderloin in Peppercorn Marinade with “Smashed” Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus

Petite Apple & Pear Turnovers with hot Caramel dipping sauce – Monday Post


Sea Scallop Ceviché with Butter Lettuce and Grapefruit Salad

Posted in ceviché, salads, scallops on 1 September 2009 by restaurant refugee

“I just got back from the farmers market and got some butter lettuce, and some peaches and peppers.  Wanna cook tonight?”

My very dear friend, the Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist, lives five minutes from one of the best farmers markets in the city but this was his first visit.  His tone reflected that excitement.

“Sure, this is a gorgeous day why the hell not.”

Summer nights require bright, clean flavors and this salad is exactly that, and I even remembered to take pictures… with my Crackberry, but pictures nonetheless.

Sea Scallop Ceviché with Butter Lettuce and Grapefruit Salad

(serves six)

Six Sea Scallops

Two Limes

One Lemon



One Head of Butter Lettuce (also known as Bibb lettuce)

Chopped Scallions

¼ cup of chopped red onions

One Grapefruit, segmented

Two Strips of Thick Cut Bacon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sliced ScallopsSlice the scallops into 1/8th inch thick strips and place in a bowl.  Juice lemons over the scallops until it is well covered.  Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper to the scallops and stir until well mixed.  Let stand for sixty minutes.  The acid from the limes and the lemons will cook the scallops.

Cut the lettuce into manageable sizes and place into a salad bowl.  Segment the grapefruit and add to the bowl (nifty instructional video here.)  Add the chopped onions to the mix.  Cook the bacon until the fat is fully rendered.  Dice the bacon and add to the mix – pouring a touch of the bacon grease into the mix would not be a bad idea but is completely optional as is the inclusion of bacon itself.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and mix well.

Drain the juice, add the scallions, and a touch of large grain sea salt for added texture.

I would have preferred to have served this molded into a one inch round but I left the rings at home, so I served a small mound of salad next to a slightly smaller mound of the scallops.