Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Delicious Summer Dinner

Here is a delicious, easy to prepare, and healthy dinner for the summer.  The prep work is easy, and most of the cooking can be done on the grill.  Vegetables are abundant during the summer, so I made good use of them.  The meal is gluten free as well. This should amply serve two people. 

The salad course is a simple tomato and cucumber salad with fresh mozzarella.  I buy the mozzarella at Stew Leonard’s in Connecticut. You can watch them make it fresh everyday. Don't get something that's been sitting  in the cheese cabinet forever.  Splurge and get good stuff. It makes a world of difference and taste.  That goes with the vegetables too.  Visit your local farmer's market. It's a great way to get the freshest possible ingredients and help support the local economy.  Everyone wins!

I like the salad served at room temperature, but Sal, my wife, prefers it cool.  Either way, it tastes great. 

Two medium tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/3 lb. fresh mozzarella
1-2 Tbl. Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper or Penzey’s Herb blend to taste

 Cut the tops of the tomatoes.  You can core out the inside with a spoon or leave it intact.  I chose to leave it because the tomatoes were very firm and fresh.   I use a large dice, but you can of course adjust it to your individual taste.  Peel the cucumber and slice it into wheels.  Cut the mozzarella into cubes.  

 Throw everything into a bowl, drizzle the oil, and add the seasoning.  I used the Penzey's Sunny Paris blend because it has no salt and is very tasty. Toss and set aside. Yes, that is a Harpoon UFO in the background.  Perfect for a warm sunny day.

The entrée is a simple eight-ounce cod filet, marinated in a teriyaki sauce.  Sal has been using this recipe for as long as I have known her.  It is great for steaks and poultry too. We split the filet.  A four ounce serving has about 21 grams of protein, and around 100 calories.  That's pretty good. 

¾ cup of canola oil
¼ cup of honey
¼ cup soy sauce (we used low salt) 
2 TBL white vinegar 
1 small onion medium dice
2 cloves of garlic minced 
1 ½  TSP powdered ginger 
You can of course use fresh ginger, but this is Sal's recipe so I'm not going to change it.  It is good though.

 Whisk everything together in a bowl.  Pour it into a  jar, and it will keep in the refrigerator for about a month. You can personalize or change it to suit your tastes.  A great idea would be to add a little sesame oil to give it a nutty taste.  Just subtract the same amount of canola.  
I washed off the cod filet, placed it in a clean dish and poured the marinade over it making sure that I covered both sides.  I covered it and placed it back into the fridge for about an hour.  

I love grilled or roasted vegetables.  The high heat brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.  Also, the veggies are crisp and crunchy rather than wilted.  You can pretty much roast anything.  Root vegetables, beans, squash, whatever you prefer.  For this meal I went with what I had in the fridge and larder.  

1/4 cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
2 large portobello mushroom caps 1/2 inch  thick slices
1 medium white onion, sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1-2 TBL extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper or Penzey's Herb blend of your choice (I used Fox Point blend)

Toss the cut up vegetables into a bowl, add the oil, and season to taste.  Toss to coat. Set aside.  

Sal and I love quinoa.  Quinoa is a seed rather than a grain.  By itself, the taste is bland, but I like to add flavor by using chicken or vegetable stock, and sauteed vegetables.   It is very easy to make and gluten free.  For this dish I'm making curried quinoa, with onions, shallots and garlic.  I'm using a sweet curry blend, because my wife, who was born in India no less, doesn't like hot food.  Go figure! To bring out the rich taste of the curry here is a tip.  Pour the curry into a small saute pan.  Heat the spices on medium until it just starts to turn brown.  Take of the heat and pour onto a plate to cool.  This will give you a more pronounced flavor.

1 small onion diced
1 shallot diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 TBL extra virgin olive oil
1 TBL Curry powder
1 cup of quinoa
1 cup of water
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock.

Pour the oil into a medium sauce pan and heat until the oil shimmers.  Add the onions and stir.  I wait until the onions are translucent to add the shallots.  Shallots are more delicate than onions so you don't want to burn them.  

  Add in the curry and stir to blend.  Stir until the edges on the onions and shallots are start to brown. Make a space in the middle of the saucepan and add the garlic.  Cook for thirty seconds.  You don't want to burn garlic because it will taste bitter.  

Add the stock, water and qunioa.  stir to combine, make sure you scrape off the fond(the brown stuff on the pan that is pure flavor) bring to a boil, cover and let it simmer on low for about twenty minutes.  Give it shookle(shake) every now and then.  When it is done, remove from heat and set aside covered. 

Heat the grill and scrape off any residue.  I use a wire basket specifically designed for grilling vegetables.  If you don't have one you can easily cook the veggies in the oven.  Pre-heat to 450 degrees.  Pour the veggies onto a half sheet pan.  When the oven is heated, put the pan in and set the timer for 20 minutes.  Every now and then give the veggies a shake.  Take them out when the veggies start to brown.  

I cook these over a medium to high heat and shake constantly.  You don't want to burn them.  About five minutes before they are done, take out the fish.  You can grill it directly or put it in a dedicated grilling basket.  I have one for sliders that worked perfectly. Cook the fish for about two to three minutes per side.  Check to make sure that it is opaque inside.   DON'T overcook it.  

Plate and serve.  You can add more marinade as a dressing to the fish and the vegetables as well.

Tomato, cucumber and mozzarella salad.

Grilled cod, curried quinoa, and grilled vegetables.

Hope you enjoyed the recipes.  Now I'm going to have dinner with my beautiful bride.  

1 comment:

  1. Your wife looks so happy! How could she not be with a meal like that? I love fresh mozzarella. A pediatrician in our neighborhood used to make it every weekend when we were younger, we always looked forward to it. :)