Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mixed Greens with Black Grapes, Hazelnuts & Manchego

Local, seasonal grapes were on sale at the store the other day, and I could not help but buy a bursting bagful of some very alluring black specimens. Besides nibbling them straight from the woody stems hedonist-style, which is my preferred method of dispatching grapes, I decided to showcase some of the juicy glaucous orbs by nestling them in a bed of green. A simple balsamic and oil emulsion, some shaved Manchego, and a smattering of toasted hazelnuts completed the scene to make a very tasty and exceedingly simple meal, pleasing to both the eye and mouth. A great late-August-grape-harvest salad!

Mixed Greens with Black Grapes, Hazelnuts & Manchego
Makes 1 serving

*1 teaspoon very good quality balsamic vinegar
*1 tablespoon of your finest EVOO
*Pinches of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste 
*3 handfuls mixed greens ( I used a spring lettuce mix and some watercress)
*Decent-size sprig's worth of black grapes, some halved
*Shaved Manchego cheese
*1 tablespoon crushed hazelnuts, lightly toasted

Emulsify the oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle over the greens and toss. Arrange the grapes, cheese shavings and nuts as it suits you.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Egg, Squash Blossom & Cheese Breakfast Quesadillas

We have a magical squash plant in our front yard. I didn't plant it, my husband didn't plant it, nor did our neighbors - it just appeared one day and immediately started taking over. I can only imagine that some autumnal decoration was tossed aside into the bushes and forgotten, once upon a time. I'm watching it eagerly to see if we'll actually get any squash out of it, but in the meantime I've been enjoying its blossoms! It's more for novelty's sake that I've been working with them, but they do have a delicate squashy flavor that is quite pleasant. Plus, it's just plain fun to eat flowers. This quesadilla might not showcase the blossom front and center, but they work perfectly well with the other ingredients, and it makes for a very tasty and filling breakfast (brunch, really!)

Egg, Squash Blossom & Cheese Breakfast Quesadillas

Makes 1 quesadilla

*1 teaspoon butter
*1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
*1 clove garlic, minced
*Petals from 4-5 squash blossoms
*2 eggs
*1 large flour tortilla
*3/4-1 cup shredded melting cheese (I used bagged Mex blend; it was a lazy morning)
*2 basil leaves, chiffonaded

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and drizzle the pat with a little oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent, and then add the garlic. Sprinkle with salt and saute another few minutes before adding in the blossoms, sauteing until they wilt. Spoon the mixture into a bowl along with the basil and set aside. Pour the eggs into the pan, scrambling until fluffy, with S&P to taste. Add the eggs to the blossom mixture when done. Meanwhile, lightly brush a tortilla with a little butter or oil and set it, greased side down, in a skillet that will accommodate it (preferably cast iron). Sprinkle a heaping half-cup of shredded cheese around the tortilla and as it melts, spoon the egg and blossom mix over one half of the tortilla. Add a little more cheese to the top of the filling, and then fold the tortilla over. Press down with a spatula and cover. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, then cut and enjoy! I had mine with avocado and salsa verde, and it was delicious.