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grilled wedge salad with honey jalapeño dressing

Grill all of the things!  Summer is a time for grilling, that much is obvious, but there is still a lot of room for creativity when it comes to what you choose to grill.  In this case, we're grilling a whole mess of vegetables to create one glorious, grilled wedge salad.  Radicchio and cabbage make a bittersweet pair and look ever so pretty on the plate.  I topped that off with fresh, grilled corn, jalapeños, red onions and shaved rainbow carrots to make this flavorful, crunchy and quintessentially summery salad.

When grilling your veggies, make sure to pay attention to the cooking times for each item since they come in lots of different shapes and sizes.  The radicchio will grill the fastest, being somewhat light and delicate, followed by the jalapeño.  The cabbage and corn are much thicker and sturdier, so they take more time, and red onions are somewhere in-between.  I may or may not have grilled an extra cob of corn just so I could do this to it:

What the heck is that weird looking sauce, you ask?  If you haven't tried this Chicago-made but Alabama-inspired barbeque sauce, Lillie's Q Ivory, you need to immediately drive to Marczyk Fine Foods and go get yourself some.  It is a mayonnaise based sauce with lots of tang from the addition of cider vinegar and lime juice.  It's seasoned with lots of fresh black pepper and some other magical, wonderful and undisclosed secret spices that came from Grandma Lillie's genius brain.  I salute you, Grandma.  Your BBQ sauce is ridiculous.

Grilled Wedge Salad 

with Honey Jalapeño Dressing

serves 2


1/2 a small head of cabbage

1 small head of radicchio

1 cob of corn

1 red onion, sliced into rounds

1/2 jalapeño, halved and seeded

peanut oil

2 small rainbow carrots, shaved

1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco

1 handful cilantro leaves


Juice of 2 limes

2 tsp honey

1/2 jalapeño, grilled and minced

2 T peanut oil

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat your grill to medium-high.  Slice the cabbage and radicchio into quarters and brush lettuces, corn, onion and the whole jalapeño with a little peanut oil.  Place your veggies onto grill and cook until each side gets a good char.  Remove from grill when done and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Set vegetables aside and allow to cool slightly, then mince the jalapeño and set half of it aside for your dressing.

For the dressing, whisk lime juice and honey together in a small bowl until well combined.  Slowly drizzle the oils in as you whisk continuously, then season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk in the minced jalapeño.  

Assemble grilled wedges on your plates or serving dish.  Slice corn kernels off the cob, chop the grilled onions, and mix the corn, onion, shaved carrot and jalapeño together with a little bit of dressing.  Drizzle desired amount of remaining dressing over lettuce wedges, then top with remaining salad ingredients, garnishing with the queso fresco and cilantro leaves.  Serve immediately.



shredded mexican salad

Summer is here!  It's salad season!!  OK, maybe that doesn't sound super exciting, but is there any other time of year that's better suited to enjoying a big plate of fresh, crunchy, cooling vegetables?  I think not.

Every Summer, without fail, I make some version of this salad.  It happens to be a favorite amongst our friends, who we cook for often, and definitely a favorite of mine, too, although I think I make it a little differently every time!  The foundation always remains the same - a whole bunch of sliced cabbage with lots of other vegetables (other really great additions/substitutions for this salad are grilled corn, jicama, sliced green onions, grilled peppers, or queso fresco) and a creamy, cilantro flavored dressing.  This dressing is extra luscious thanks to the avocado and sour cream, but it has a lot of tang from the fresh lime juice.  For a lighter version, I've played around with different fats like peanut oil (use judiciously!), yogurt or coconut milk instead of sour cream, or eliminating the avocado altogether.

This crunchy slaw gains a lot of heft, substance, and meaty flavor from the addition of ground bison, although a vegetarian version is equally tasty (black beans make a great protein!).  If you aren't familiar with bison, this recipe is a really easy, user-friendly place to start for first-timers.  I'm a real bison lover, myself!  It has a rich, beefy taste but with more sweetness than beef and a subtle grassy flavor.  Not to mention, bison is lean and very low in cholesterol compared to beef, chicken, and even some fishes.

So, here's to enjoying the hot weather with a cool, crunchy salad!  

Shredded Mexican Salad

serves 6


1 lb ground bison

1 T vegetable oil

2 tsp Southwest seasoning (I used

Savory Spice Shop's

El Diente Peak Southwest seasoning, which is a blend of chile powder, paprika, coriander, cumin, pepper, crushed red pepper, and mexican oregano)

salt and pepper

6 cups shredded cabbage

1 large red onion

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks

1/2 an avocado, diced

3 large radishes, sliced

about 1 cup cilantro leaves

a handful of cilantro micro greens (optional)


juice of 2 large limes

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 an avocado

a handful of cilantro (stems and all), roughly chopped

1/2 tsp Southwest seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

First, cook your bison.  Add 1 T vegetable oil to a large, shallow pan and heat to medium high.  Add ground bison, Southwest seasoning, and a generous amount of salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook until meat is just browned, about 8 minutes.  Set aside, allowing to cool.

Rinse and dry your cabbage and set aside.  Slice red onion into rounds and brush with 2 tsp vegetable oil.  Using an outdoor grill or a grill pan, heat your grill to medium-high.  Grill onions until each side gets a good char, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Allow onions to cool, slightly, then chop well and set aside.  Meanwhile, slice the cherry tomatoes in half (start at the tip where the stem was once attached if your knife isn't so sharp) and set aside with remaining vegetables.

Assemble your dressing in a blender or food processor.  Add dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl and add as much dressing as you like (I used about half for a lightly-dressed salad).  Serve immediately.



Zucchini and Corn Pancakes with Brown Butter Yellow Tomato Sauce

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to have for dinner was breakfast.  Every now and then my dad would make a huge mess of waffles or pancakes with jam-sweetened sour cream (it's a Scandinavian thing) and usually some bacon or sausage.  The prospect of a sweet, doughy treat in the evening was somehow even more exciting than when he made them for breakfast!

As an adult I still enjoy breakfast for dinner, or "brinner" as we like to call it.  This dish is a bit of a departure from your average breakfast but a simple meal of hot pancakes topped with sauce is still decidedly brinner-esque.  These gluten-free pancakes are crisp on the outside thanks to the brown rice flour and soft, toothsome and packed with vegetables on the inside.  You can make these with any ol' flour you have on hand, but I highly recommend giving the rice flour a try.  It's nutritious and it tastes great!

The tomato sauce in this recipe is a great way to use up all those late-summer tomatoes you may have on hand that are starting to get soft.  I used smallish yellow ones to yield a beautiful golden, buttery sauce but any kind of tomato will work well.  Just use a sharp knife to make an "X" on the bottom of the tomato, toss it in boiling water for a minute or two, then plunge into ice water immediately.  Once the tomato is cool it's a cinch to peel and you'll be moments away from this luxurious sauce.

Zucchini and Corn Pancakes with Brown Butter Yellow Tomato Sauce
makes about 8 large pancakes

1 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium yellow squash, grated
3 ears of fresh corn
2 large eggs
3/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Tomato Sauce:
3 T salted butter
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
5 medium yellow tomatoes, shocked and peeled
salt and pepper, to taste

First, prep your vegetables.  Toss the grated zucchini and squash with about a teaspoon of salt and allow to drain in a colander for at least 20 minutes, periodically giving the squash a gentle squeeze to release the excess liquid.  Cut the corn kernels from the cob and toss with the squash.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, flour and milk until smooth.  Heat a large, flat-bottomed pan over medium-high and add about 3 T of the olive oil (enough to coat the bottom thoroughly).  Add veggies to the pancake batter just before you are ready to fry the pancakes, season with salt and pepper, and mix well to combine.  Spoon the batter directly into the pan and fry each pancake until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.  Add more olive oil to the pan as necessary and keep the pancakes warm in a 250-degree oven.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high.  As soon as butter has melted, reduce heat to between medium and medium-high and cook until the butter is browned, stirring often, about 8 minutes.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the pot and crush with a wooden spoon until a chunky sauce results.  Cook another 5 minutes (longer, if you like) and season with salt and pepper.  Serve pancakes with tomato sauce on top and garnish with chopped parsley.



Eggplant, Zucchini and Potato Moussaka

Ah, favorite month of the year!  It is in these late summer days that all the good stuff is in season - eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, and especially tomatoes!  I have a real passion for fresh tomatoes and often enjoy them best in their simple, raw state.  This time of year, however, when they're so abundant that you can't always eat them fast enough, I love a good tomato sauce!  You can always use canned tomatoes in a pinch, but really it's a shame not to enjoy the fruits of the season at their peak.  The taste is something wholly different and completely wonderful!

This tomato sauce for the Moussaka is simple and crazy-delicious.  The fresh tomatoes become rich and sweet when they simmer with the onions and butter.  The sauce gets a subtle hint of spice from the cinnamon stick which adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the Moussaka.  Roasted vegetables are layered with the sauce and some breadcrumbs to create this delicious summer casserole.  The whole thing is covered with a velvety topping that is part bechamel part custard and turns this all-vegetable dish into something rather luxurious! 

When I make this Moussaka, I like to leave all the skins on the vegetables.  It gives the dish a more rustic, colorful look and also saves time, but if you prefer you can peel the potatoes and eggplant before slicing. 

Eggplant, Zucchini and Potato Moussaka
9 small servings

1 medium eggplant
2 medium zucchini
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
6 T butter
6 T flour
3 cups whole milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Tomato Sauce:
about 10 small tomatoes, blanched and peeled (or 1 28oz can whole tomatoes)
2 T salted butter
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper, to taste

First, make the tomato sauce.  In a medium saucepan, heat butter and oil over medium-high until butter is melted and bubbling.  Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.  Add tomatoes and their juices and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and add cinnamon stick.  Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes can easily be crushed apart with a wooden spoon.  Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and the cinnamon stick is soft, at least 30 minutes.  Remove cinnamon stick just before using the sauce.

Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables.  Heat the oven to 350.  Using a mandoline, slice the eggplant lengthwise about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Arrange on a wire rack and sprinkle salt on both sides.  Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, then blot the eggplant dry with a towel.  Slice the zucchini and potatoes lengthwise, the same thickness.  Toss sliced vegetables with olive oil and arrange on baking sheets in single layers.  Roast for about 15 minutes, then flip the slices over.  Continue to roast until the edges become lightly golden (a little longer for the potatoes so they become lightly crispy).  Remove from oven and allow vegetables to cool.

Next, make your bechamel topping.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Switch back to the whisk and slowly pour in the milk.  Turn the head up slightly and whisk until sauce is smooth.  Stir with the wooden spoon until the sauce starts to bubble.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until the bechamel is thick and creamy.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Whisk the eggs and egg yolk in a small bowl until blended.  Add to bechamel once it is only warm to the touch and whisk vigorously until well blended.  Set aside.

Turn oven up to 400 degrees.  In a 9x13 lasagne pan, add about 1/2 cup tomato sauce and spread evenly along the bottom of the pan.  Arrange half the eggplant and follow with a layer of potatoes.  Add all the zucchini, then top with half the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with half the bread crumbs, then layer with remaining vegetables.  Top with remaining sauce and breadcrumbs, then pour the bechamel sauce on the top of the casserole.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake in the oven until the bechamel is lightly golden and set, about 45-50 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, then slice into 9 equal portions. 




Beet Latkes and Dill Creme Fraiche with Grilled Corn and Salmon Salad with Dill Butter

One thing that's definitely abundant this time of year is beets.  We've been getting them from our CSA in copious amounts, and I see them on the shelves at the grocery store in lots of beautiful, colorful varieties.  I happen to love these sweet, earthy root vegetables, but this meal is a great way to convince somebody who thinks they don't like beets (far too many people) that they can, in fact, enjoy eating them!  When mixed with potatoes and fried until crispy, they add an extra depth of flavor to latkes without being too over-powering.  I topped them off with a rich and flavorful dilled creme fraiche to make these simple root vegetable cakes into something special.

The salad makes a light, crunchy and delicious accompaniment to the latkes.  I grilled some rich Coho salmon and sweet Colorado corn together and mixed them with a generous helping of melted butter with lots of fresh dill.  The salad has even more fresh dill, parsley, and a hint of champagne vinegar to add a little tang.  For a lighter meal, the salad would be delicious on it's own, or perhaps with some grilled zucchini slices added.

Beet Latkes with Dill Creme Fraiche topping
makes 12-14

5 medium beets, grated (about 4 cups)
2 large yukon gold potatoes, grated (about 4 cups)
1/2 large yellow onion, grated
1/2 cup matzoh meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil

1 7.5 oz package creme fraiche (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped dill
2 T whole milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Place a large cookie sheet in the oven and heat to 200 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix beets, potatoes, onion, matzoh and eggs until well combined.  In a large, shallow pan, add about 3 T oil over medium-high heat.  Form beet mixture into patties by hand and place in hot oil.  Fry until each side is crispy and golden-brown, about 5 minutes per side, adding a splash more oil if the pan gets dry.  Once cooked, allow latkes to drain on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Place on the baking sheet in the oven while you fry the rest of the latkes and keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, make topping.  Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix until combined.  Serve latkes hot with a dollop of the topping.

Grilled Corn and Salmon Salad with Dill Butter
serves 4

1 lb. salmon 
2 T olive oil
4 ears of corn, shucked and washed
3 T salted butter, melted
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 head leaf lettuce, washed and chopped
1 T champagne vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat grill to medium-high.  Drizzle salmon and corn with olive oil.  Place salmon on grill, skin side-down.  Arrange corn on grill.  Cover grill and cook salmon for about 10-12 minutes, flipping over after about 5-6 minutes or until the skin becomes crispy.  Grill corn until lightly charred on both sides, about 7-9 minutes per side.  Remove salmon and corn from grill and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to cool, slightly, then cut corn kernels from cob.  In a medium bowl, flake salmon meat into bite-sized pieces and add corn kernels.  In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter with 2 T of the chopped dill and drizzle over the salmon and corn.  Mix well to combine. 

In a large bowl, combine remaining dill, parsley, chopped lettuce, and vinegar and toss well to combine.  Add half of the salmon and corn mixture and toss again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Dish out the salad servings and top each with more of the salmon and corn mixture.  Serve salad on its own or alongside Beet Latkes.