Category Archives: Salads

The Perfect Stack: Crispy Eggplant, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

Fresh market tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese and crispy eggplant make for one of the simplest summer pleasures.

This salad highlights three of my favourite foods: eggplant, tomato and cheese.  This salad was so good, I could have eaten it every day of the summer.  Sadly, I ran out of eggplant – but I did eat it two nights in a row, which is very unusual for me. I don’t like leftovers or having the same thing over and over, but this salad was different.

This salad came to be kinda by accident actually.  I knew I wanted a tomato and mozzarella salad for dinner, something nice and fresh.  But when I opened my vegetable drawer, this little eggplant was looking at me sadly and was on the last stages of its life.  I knew I had to use it up quickly, but couldn’t decide how.  I realized the eggplant and my tomatoes were about the same size and that is how this dish was born.

CH is back in Canada for 3.5 weeks, however he was still able to ‘share’ this dish with me. I was chatting with him on Skype (btw – Skype is the greatest invention since the computer, IMO) and his jaw literally dropped when I came wondering into the room with this gorgeous looking creation.  He immediately instructed me to photograph it for the blog, but I couldn’t wait any longer and devoured it immediately (sorry, I know that’s so wrong of me as a food blogger!).  However, as I mentioned above, it wasn’t long before this was on my table again, and this time I made sure to nibble away before plating it, just so I could get through photographing it!

Anyways, I hope you enjoy this dish soon.  If you aren’t a fan of eggplant, simply omit it.  But with tomato season upon us, don’t omit this one from your repertoire.

Enjoy!

The Perfect Stack – Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Yield:  1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  5 – 10 minutes

For the Eggplant:

  • 1/2 small eggplant
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • S&P
  • 2 – 3 TBSP vegetable oil

For the Salad:

  • 1 medium tomato, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (or however thick you like)
  • 3 slices of mozzarella, about 1/4 of a ball, sliced into desired thickness
  • 3 small leaves of basil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar reduction
  • 1 TSP olive oil (optional)

** TIP:  To make the balsamic reduction, simply heat 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Allow the vinegar to reduce by half, or until it coats the back of a spoon **

For the Eggplant:

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Rub both sides of the eggplant slices with garlic cloves (switch garlic halves about half-way through).

Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a shallow bowl. One by one, place each piece of eggplant into the flour, press down lightly to coat the eggplant evenly.  Tap lightly to remove extra flour.

Heat a large frying pan (or sauté pan) over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and heat until glistening.

Add the eggplant slices and pan-fry for 2-3 minutes per side.  Keep careful watch as not to burn them.  If they brown too quickly, lower the heat.

Flip each slice over and cook the other side, until nice and crisp (and golden brown).

Remove from frying pan and place on paper towel to drain off excess oil.

To Assemble the Salad:

Place a piece of the fried eggplant on your plate, top with a slice of mozzarella, 1 leaf of basil and a slice of tomato.  Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used up.

Drizzle the salad with the balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP of olive oil (if desired).

Enjoy!

A JBean French Cuisine Original Recipe

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Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Asparagus with Grapefuit Sauce

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that I get SO excited to see at my local store/market.  It means spring/summer is here and it reminds me of good times at family get-togethers and not to mention, grilling season.

With that said, I find that after a few weeks of grilled asparagus with lemon butter sauce, I grow a little tired of the simple preparation.  Since asparagus is in high season right now in France, I was dying for a new recipe.  We were out for dinner in La Rochelle and my friend ordered an asparagus salad with orange strawberry sauce.  Needless to say, I was really intrigued – a sweet sauce, with asparagus?  I am usually not a fan of sweet and savoury together (let alone sweet itself most days), but he gave me one bite of his dish and I was hooked (not to mention that every other part of that meal was amazing – I am dying to re-create the fish dish I had!). The earthy flavours of the asparagus were the base for a bright, acidic sauce that just took it to another level.  I knew that this had to be on my table soon.

When we got home from our weekend, I went to work trying to find a recipe for an orange sauce.  I came across many, but I literally jumped for glee when I saw that my Laura Calder cookbook had a recipe for asparagus with orange sauce.  She even quoted that this was “one of those dishes that people eat at my house, ask for the recipe, go home and immediately add it to their repertoire, which is the greatest compliment any cook can hope for – that’s why it baffles me that anyone would ever be stingy about sharing recipes”.  Thank you LC for those absolutely perfect words – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

So now, I added my twist by using grapefruit instead of orange and let me tell you, it was even BETTER than the sauce we had in La Rochelle.  It is the quintessential summer dish and as in the words of LC, I am sure you will have people asking for the recipe after two bites (and yes, I am happy to share it with you!)

If you are looking to switch-up your go-to asparagus recipe, or make your asparagus a little more elegant, this is a recipe for you.  This would also make a beautiful started dish to a fancy summer dinner party.

Bon Appetit!

Asparagus with Grapefruit Sauce

Yield:  2 main servings (4 side-servings)
Prep Time:  10 minute
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pink shallot
  • 3 tbsp white or red wine vinegar
  • 1 large grapefruit (well ripened)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
  • S&P
  • 20 spears of green asparagus, trimmed
  • parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions:

Mince the shallot very finely and place in a small dish. Pour the vinegar over the shallot and stir to coat.  Set-aside for 5 minutes, or while you prepare the other ingredients.

Wash the grapefruit.  Using a fine grater, zest about 2/3 of the grapefruit.  Set aside.

Juice the grapefruit (cut in half and squeeze!).  Place the juices in a small saucepan and heat over medium.  Boil the juices down until about 3 TBSP remain.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl.

Add the grapefruit zest to the warm juices and slowly whisk in the mustard.  Drain the shallots, discarding the vinegar, and add shallots to the grapefruit mixture.  Slowly, 1 TBSP at a time, whisk in the oil.  Season with S&P, taste and adjust seasonings (you may need a pinch of sugar to balance it out – just depends on the sweetness level of your grapefruit).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and then add the asparagus and cook until tender-crisp (around 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus).

Drain asparagus and immediately rinse with cold water to set the color and stop the cooking.  Pat the asparagus dry with paper towel and place on a platter.

Spoon the dressing over the warm asparagus and grate fresh parmesan on-top!

Enjoy.

Recipe Adapted From Laura Calder – French Food at Home

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Filed under Appetizers, French, Healthy, Mains, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Spring Vegetable Tumble

And tumble I did for this dish. Okay, sorry – that was really nerdy!  But this dish warranted a little hoopla.

In order to use a variety of vegetables from the local market (with the supply and variety that is available at the market – I can’t keep buying just tomatoes and cucumbers!), I saw this recipe in my French Taste cookbook, I knew I had to make it – not to mention that it looked so pretty.

CH is not a fan of radishes normally (I love them, especially in potato salad), so I was curious to see how he’d react with not only radishes, but turnips too, in one dish.  I am happy to report that not a peep came out of his mouth as we enjoyed this dish with a glass of Chinon Blanc and there was not a pea left on his plate at the end of dinner.  I’d say that was a resounding success.

The fresh vegetable and bright herbs, combined with the soft butter flavour created a perfect spring dish that paired amazingly well with the roast chicken we had with it.  I just love the bright colors of the dish and the variety of vegetables it offers all in on one plate.  It is truly a dish that celebrates that spring/summer has finally arrived.

Although this dish took a bit of time to prepare (blanching all the vegetables), it was well worth it. I think it would be a welcome addition to any bbq buffet or as a side-dish to Sunday dinner – it is really that beautiful yet so simple.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables appeal to you or whatever looks the freshest at your farmer’s market or local store.  This dish is all about enjoying what’s in season, so I am sure you will enjoy the fresh taste of spring regardless of what vegetables you use!

Enjoy.

Spring Vegetable Tumble

Yield:  4 side servings (two main course servings)
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 baby garden carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 10 stalks of asparagus, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup of green beans, trimmed
  • 6 radishes, halved
  • 5 baby turnips, quartered
  • 1 cup frozen or shelled peas
  • 1 cup fresh snow peas (I couldn’t find them at my market, so I didn’t have them in mine, but I know they would be a delicious addition)
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of chives, parsley and tarragon
  • S&P to taste

Directions:

Prepare a large bowl (or your sink) full of ice-cold water.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water and blanche all of the vegetables separately.

Exact time it will take to get each vegetable just shy of tender will depend on the thickness and quantity of each, but it will likely be around 2 – 3 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the water using tongs or handheld strainer and immediately dunk into the cold water (this sets the color and stops the cooking process).   I left all of my vegetables soaking in the cold water until I was done blanching all of the others.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and the melt the butter until just about brown.  Add all of the vegetables to the pan and toss to coat.  Allow the vegetables to warm through (2-3 minutes).

Season vegetable mixture with S&P, toss with the fresh herbs and serve.

Enjoy!

Receipe Adapated from Laura Calder’s French Taste

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Filed under French, Healthy, Mains, Salads, Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian and Vegan