As you may suspect, there is not a whole lot of recipe-testing going on around here at the jacksonholefoodie headquarters.
Hiking back from Goodwin Lake in the Gros Ventre Mountains, with a view of the Tetons that looks like a mirage.
Gorgeous summer mornings, lazy stormy afternoons and balmy July nights have put cooking on the back burner here for a spell.
The Snake River is still high, but the Tetons are dazzling, especially when spied from a driftboat on a lazy summer day. Photo by Susan Lykes.
Which is not to say that we haven't been doing a lot of eating. This is the best time to soak up the foods of summer, and prepare them simply and easily without much ado.
Summer in the Tetons is made for gathering friends for easy summer eating.
Although I do have a recipe for you today, it couldn't be easier. The Sicilian grilled vegetable salad was inspired by a salad I fell in love with years ago, on my last night in Sicily. Spiked with red pepper flakes and orange zest, the bright spicy flavor always reminds me of Sicily. The dressing does double duty as a marinade for all your grilled seafood, chicken or pork. Whip up a batch in a mason jar, and it will keep for up to a week in the fridge, ready to dress whatever you've pulled from the garden, or the Farmers' Market, that day.
Our last night in Sicily, enjoying one of the best meals of my life: Risotto with grilled radicchio, flank steak with balsamic vinegar, and the Sicilian grilled vegetable salad. (That's my brother John, by the way. He's single, by the way.)
You could grill just about any vegetable for my Sicilian Grilled Vegetable Salad, but eggplant and peppers and red onions seem essential.
It's no secret that I'd rather be mountain biking with my girlfriends (Ellen, Norene and Chris) than slaving over a hot stove right now.
But first, let me give you a few non-recipes, so you can spend less time cooking, and more time enjoying the Tetons, or wherever summer is where you live.
Make a Fresh Corn Salad: Saute a few tablespoons of diced red onion in olive oil. Add fresh corn from 4-5 cobs. Cook briefly then toss with equal parts olive oil and cider vinegar. Salt, pepper and a chiffonade of fresh basil. A classic from Ina Garten (although she first blanches the corn in boiling water: too much work for me!)
Marinate chicken breasts in my Sicilian vinaigrette. Grill. Serve with Chipotle Mayonnaise: 1-2 tsp. pureed chipotle in adobo sauce (comes in can) with your favorite mayo. Wedges of lime would be nice alongside if I wasn't so lazy.
Make a Blue Cheese Tomato Salad: Slice up the best tomatoes you can find (it is fun to use different shapes, sizes and colors), and sprinkle with chunks of blue cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I found this Blue Cheese at the Jackson Hole Farmers' Market.
When Scott at the Pearl St. Meat and Fish Co. tells me the Day-boat Scallops are amazing, I listen. Take some home, grill them for just a few minutes (I like them almost raw), and toss with fresh greens, fennel, and orange slices, drizzled with olive oil and rice wine vinegar.
Make a warm lentil salad: Boil 1 cup lentils in 3 cups water for 15-20 minutes, salting towards the end. Saute chopped shallot, celery and carrot in olive oil with 1minced garlic clove. Add drained lentils and toss with Sicilian or Mustardy Vinaigrette to moisten (recipes below). Top with goat cheese and fresh herbs, and serve with endive for scooping.
Throw extra vegetables on the grill for great leftovers: tuck into turkey sandwiches, omelettes, salads, paninis, pasta, or polenta for easy meals.
Invest in a cavatelli maker (about $40 at amazon.com) and you will be whipping up mass quantities of fresh pasta without sacrificing time on your bike.
Cavatelli is made from a ricotta-based dough that requires only a quick mix in the standing mixer and a brief kneading on the counter. Its ridges are particularly adept at soaking up sauces.
Ned quickly became an expert cavatelli-maker, but hey, he's Italian. It's genetic.
Cavatelli with a fresh tomato sauce (or Rao's Tomato Vodka sauce from a jar) topped with an overindulgence of summer basil is divine. If that's too much work, just make a quick sage and brown butter sauce.
Make an effortless pasta sauce with sage from your garden: Cook a stick of unsalted butter over low/medium heat in a frying pan. Once bubbling, add a handful of fresh whole sage leaves; cook until crispy and brown. Remove sage leaves, toss browned butter with pasta and garnish with sage and pecorino cheese, salt and pepper.
Make homemade ice cream sandwiches. Any cookies will do, but we like to make pizzelles. Soften ice cream slightly, place a big spoonful between two cookies and smoosh. Nick is an expert.
My children gave me this pizzelle machine for my birthday years ago...now they are the official pizzelle makers in the family. Each pizzelle is unique, like a snowflake.
Our pizzelles are made with anise extract and anise seeds for a very Sicilian flavor that pairs well with mint chocolate chip or chocolate ice cream.
Nick made dozens of ice cream sandwiches for his dad's 50th birthday party. I suspect he ate at least a dozen while testing out his recipe.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Sicilian Vinaigrette
You could use just about any vegetable for this salad, but I especially love eggplant, red onion and sweet bell peppers. I like to serve this as an antipasti, and let everyone dig in with their hands, using the vegetables as scoops for the spicy vinaigrette.
This recipe will make lot of extra Sicilian Vinaigrette to have on hand. Use it to marinate chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, scallops, shrimp, or fish fillets before grilling. Toss with salad greens and top with pistachios and orange segments. Toss with lentils or quinoa, and leftover grilled vegetables, for a great lunch.
This recipe was adapted from Mario Batali's recipe for Capri-style grilled vegetables in his amazing book Italian Grill. He had this salad on the Isle of Capri; I had a similar version in Catania, Sicily. Those Italians are famous for stealing ideas from the Sicilians!
Please make sure your Colman's Mustard is fresh. No Colman's? Try a teaspoon of Dijon mustard instead.
For the Sicilian Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Colman's dry mustard (please make sure it smells fresh; stale mustard won't give the dressing the same bite)
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 orange
- zest of 1 orange
- kosher salt, to taste
Sicilian Vinaigrette will keep in a tightly sealed Mason jar for up to a week, maybe longer!
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, and the fresh orange juice. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
- Add salt to taste.
- If you are using only as a marinade, add the orange zest too. Otherwise, it will be sprinkled over the vegetable salad before serving.
After my vegetables were nicely prepped, my crazy dog Gunner knocked over the platter, and I had to start over.
For the grilled vegetables:
- 1 medium or 2 small eggplant, 1/2 inch slices
- 2 red and 2 yellow bell peppers, quartered, seeds removed
- 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices (use a mandoline if you have one)
- 2 medium red onions, cut into 6-8 wedges each, keeping root intact
- 1head radicchio, cored and cut into 6 wedges
- 12 spears of asparagus, woody ends snapped or cut off
- 12 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
Keeping the root end intact will help prevent your onions from slipping through the grill.
- Make the SIcilian Vinaigrette. Set aside.
- Heat the grill to medium high. Make sure you vigorously clean the grill to get rid of last night's fish or steak remnants.
- Prepare the vegetables. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, and brush with Sicilian vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt.
- Grill the vegetables in batches, until soft and nicely charred on both sides. Set aside on a nice platter when done. Cut the peppers into smaller pieces, and the eggplant into strips.
- Drizzle the vegetables with the Sicilian Vinaigrette, and sprinkle with the orange zest. Top with the slivered basil. Garnish with whole basil leaves. Add more salt to taste.
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Warm Lentil Salad with Mustardy Vinaigrette
Lentils cook so quickly that they are perfect for an impromptu warm summer salad. They are beautiful with a grilled piece of fish perched on top, or alongside grilled sausages.
You can toss the lentils with the Sicilian Vinaigrette, or try this decidedly French mustardy version. This recipe is loosely adapted from Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking. l like her mustardy vinaigrette very much on so many things. If you have some nice salt in your pantry, such as fleur de sel or Maldon, sprinkle it over your warm lentil salad for a contrasting crunch.
Serves 4, with leftover vinaigrette
For the lentils:
- 1 cup French green "Puy" lentils, or black "Beluga" lentils (the ones that look like caviar)
- 3 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Crunchy sea salt, such as Maldon, or fleur de sel, for garnish
- handful of Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
- optional and delicious: a few tablespoons of goat cheese on top, and/or homemade croutons
For the mustardy vinaigrette:
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar or Banyuls vinegar if you have some
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Pepper, to taste
- Wash the lentils in cold water, and pick out any pebbles. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Throw in a bay leaf.
- Bring lentils to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook at a gentle simmer (barely bubbling) for 15 minutes. Check for doneness: they should be soft all the way through, but not mushy. Add a pinch of salt in the last few minutes of cooking.
- Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the olive oil slowly to form an emulsion. Add pepper and more salt to taste.
- When the lentils are done, drain in a fine mesh sieve and discard the bay leaf.
- Using the same pan, sauté the shallot, carrot and celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. After a minute, add the garlic and sauté briefly, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove from the heat.
- Add the warm lentils to the sauteed vegetables and toss.
- Toss the lentils with about half of salad dressing to moisten; use more if you like. Top with goat cheese and croutons, if using, and the crunchy salt and fresh parsley.
- Serve alone or with endive spears, or atop a bed of greens, drizzled with more vinaigrette.
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Happy Trails Everyone!