July 24, 2011

... Corn and Pasta Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

It's the age-old dilemma... do you take a green salad or a pasta salad to a Summer BBQ?  Or am I the only one who questions these things?  Just me?  Ok then.  Well, should you ever find yourself in my shoes, here's the perfect solution... both!

With fresh, bright colored veggies, crisp bacon, and sweet Summer corn roasted to perfection, this recipe will be the perfect addition to your backyard barbeque... or dining room barbeque if you're suffering the sweltering heat like we are.

The homemade ranch dressing was really easy and added the perfect creaminess and tang to this side.  And, lets be honest, anything that has pasta in it is good with me.

So next time you're pondering what kind of side salad to make, just think What Would Taylor Do? and you'll have your answer.

serves 6

4 ounces gemelli pasta
1 small garlic clove
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 scallion, minced
2 small ears fresh corn
8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 cups baby arugula
2 sliced bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain and run under cold water to cool.

Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic clove on a cutting board; sprinkle with salt.  Using the blade of a chef's knife, press down onto garlic, smashing it to make a paste.  Add the garlic paste to a large bowl with the sour cream, buttermilk, cider vinegar, and scallion; season with salt and pepper.  Whisk the dressing until smooth and reserve.

Cut the kernels from the corn (breaking sheets of kernels into about 2-inch pieces, if desired).  Add the corn, tomatoes, onion and arugula to the bowl with the dressing; gently toss to coat.  Sprinkle with the bacon.

Taylor's Notes:
It's always surprising to me to find an incomplete recipe.  Like the one above... what are you supposed to do with the corn?  Just put it in raw?  That doesn't seem quite right...  And when does the pasta go in?  Here's my take on it, they just want us to all be creative and explore new ideas with the ingredients they've given us.  Pretend like you're on an episode of Chopped... only if Ted Allen ever shows up in your kitchen you better call me.  Pronto.

I digress... I decided to roast the corn before adding it to the salad.  My first thought was to grill it on the cob and then I remembered it was over 100 degrees outside and the oven practically turned itself on.  Thanks to my good buddy Mark Bittman, I found quick directions to roasting corn.  Put it on a baking sheet in a 500 degree oven for 10-20 minutes, rotating every few minutes.  What that meant to me was 15 minutes, rotating every five.   I put it in the oven as the pasta was boiling and then cut it from the cob and added it to the dish once everything else was finished.  As for the pasta, just toss it in with the veggies and dressing and you'll be good to go.  

And there you have it.  A quick summer side salad perfect for any occasion, whether you're in the mood for pasta or greens.


July 9, 2011

... Maple-Glazed Salmon with Panzanella Salad

Well, hello Summer!  We're officially in the heat of it here in Kansas City (heat of it... get it... ba dum dum)  and it's about all I can do to bring myself to turn on the oven.  So why not fire up the grill instead?  Hey, at least it stays cool inside that way.

Once my friends Ben and Kim of Four Foodies posted their Panzanella Salad recipe, I knew I'd need to make it soon.  Pairing it with salmon and zucchini just seemed to be a great healthy match-up.

All of that accompanied by a couple of bottles... glasses, okay... bottles of crisp white wine and we had a great Summer meal.  Hey, when you have a healthy meal like this one, you can afford to treat yourself a little.  Amiright?

serves 4

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
cooking spray
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Prepare grill, heating to medium.

Combine first 5 ingredients.  Sprinkle fish with salt; rub with paprika mixture.

Place fish on grill rack coated with cooking spay; grill 7 minutes.  Drizzle fish with syrup; grill 1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Taylor's Notes:
This recipe was super simple and easy considering I had everything besides the salmon in my pantry.  No wait, I didn't have ancho chile powder and couldn't find it at the store, so I just added a little more chili powder and cumin to make up for it.  I did half this recipe, as in I only grilled two salmon fillets, but I bet I used a full recipes worth of seasoning.  Next time I'll try to heat it up a little more... it was good and we liked the spicy-sweet thing it had going on, but the spice factor could have been taken up a notch or two.

Click on the link above for the Panzanella Salad - you'll love it.  It was really tasty, super easy, and will definitely become a staple for these Summer months.  

For the zucchini, I just sliced 'em up, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a little s&p and put them on the grill with the salmon.  

In case you're wondering, we drank Sauvingon Blanc from both Kim Crawford and Dashwood.  Delish.