Parmesan Herb Crostini

With all of our garden greens, we’ve been eating a lot of salads around here.  There are so many ways to make a salad that my hubby and I really don’t get tired of them.  Some of my kids, however, quickly tire of any salad which does not have lots of bacon–which is almost every salad we make around here!  I thought that serving these crunchy little crostini on leftover French bread with our next salad might be a good way to hold off their total salad burn-out.

1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. fresh oregano
2 t. fresh basil
1/2 t. fresh thyme

Combine cheese and herbs; set aside.

Brush slices of French bread with oil on both sides.  Bake slices at 350 for 5 minutes.

Turn slices over and spread herb mixture on soft side of bread.  Return to oven and bake another 7-10 minutes.

Yum!

Coleslaw Perfection

Okay, I understand that perfect coleslaw is a matter of opinion.  I can accept that.  However, I want to add that I get lots of compliments from folks when I fix this–sometimes from people who don’t even really care for coleslaw!  So there must be something lovely about this recipe.

I sometimes add finely-diced sweet peppers or cucumbers to this before dressing.

scant 1/3 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. mayo (the real stuff, please)
1/2 t. pepper
1 T. vinegar
2 T. lemon juice
small sprinkling of celery seed, if desired

Combine above ingredients and let sit while you chop the following:

1 medium head cabbage
2 normal-sized carrots
1/2 onion

Pour dressing over veggies and stir well.  Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours, or even overnight.  Stir well before serving.

Serves 12 or so.

Bacon Ranch Broccoli Salad

Not too long ago, my friend, Jimmy, made this salad for his family and me for dinner.  I thought that kids across America would enjoy broccoli more if it tasted like this!  I asked for the recipe and was told that it was just broccoli and ranch dressing.  Hmmm.  “Surely it’s more complicated than that!” I thought.  I finally gave it a whirl yesterday, and no, it’s not complicated in the least.

Incidentally, this would be good with cauliflower, carrots, peas and many other garden veggies.  What an easy lunch to pack for the job!

1 bunch of broccoli, raw or barely blanched, cut in bite-sized pieces
bacon, cooked and crumbled (I think I used 4 or so slices.)
cheese, grated (I think I used about a cup.)
ranch dressing (from the bottle, from the packet or from scratch–your choice, as much as you want)

Combine above ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tomato-Basil Salad

1heirloomtomatoesDuring the summer months when I have basil and tomatoes at their best, this is happy food for me.  I can eat this for any meal of the day and be satisfied.  As a “skeleton recipe”, there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to measurements and ingredients, so relax and enjoy!
perfectly ripe tomatoes, diced
fresh basil, cut in ribbons
a clove or two of fresh garlic, minced
a handful or so of cubed mozzarella, fresh or cured
salt and pepper to taste
a drizzle of olive oil
a splash of vinegar (apple cider, balsamic or whatever you have is fine)

Mix and serve at room temperature for best flavor.  Then, enjoy the leftover later over toasted crusty bread.  Mmmmm!

Avocado Salad

There are a blue million ways you can make a tasty avocado salad, but this is one of my favorites.  It’s so incredibly flexible that you can put all manner of odds and ends in it and have a scrumptious result.  I call this a “skeleton recipe” because it can be followed so loosely and still turn out great.  The measurements are pretty much up to you, so grab an avocado or two and check what you’ve got in your “graveyard” (aka crisper drawer) and go to town!  If there’s anything on the list below that you don’t have or don’t like, skip it.

I eat this as a meal, but it also makes a nice side dish especially with grilled chicken, pork or fish.  You can also wrap it up in a homemade tortilla and be very happy about that decision.

avocado, diced
cucumber, diced
onion, diced
tomato, diced
bell pepper, diced
clove or two of garlic, minced
piece of jalapeno, minced
1-2 T. lemon juice
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Combine and eat immediately.

Zucchini-Basil Salad

I love, love, love this summery salad!  Unfortunately, my family does not.  Hopefully some of YOU will enjoy it as much as I do!

1/4 c. olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
4 c. zucchini, diced
Saute’ onion in oil for a couple of minutes, then add zucchini and saute’ for a couple more.  Remove from heat.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 T. fresh basil, sliced into ribbons

Gently stir tomatoes and basil into onions and zucchini.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Eat warm or serve chilled.  My family prefers it warm; I like it cold.  It’s yummy with pasta.

My Mom’s Wilted Lettuce

When I was just a tot, my we had a huge garden.  Every night through the summer months, we had SOMEthing out of our garden–sometimes the whole meal was garden fare!  Sweet corn on the cob, fresh green beans, sliced tomatoes and some cucumbers was probably my favorite garden meal–and a tradition that I’ve continued with my own family.

Wilted lettuce was NOT at the top of my “love” list when I was little, but I ate it while it was in-season, secretly pining away for the day when the sun would dry out those tender leaves of Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce that my dad felt made the best wilted lettuce.  Thankfully, the day always came.  After two decades of not having to eat a single leaf of the stuff, I found myself unsatiably hungry for my momma’s wilted lettuce.  I followed a recipe in a cookbook once, and I could hardly eat it.  So, I called Mom and got her version.  It tastes the same to me now as it did back then when I had to choke it down.  Strangely, though, I now enjoy every bite…and have for the past four years.  This version is on the “sweet” side.  If you like more of a vinegar taste, reduce the amount of sugar.

Here’s her recipe:

6 pieces bacon, fried crisp in large skillet, removed from grease and crumbled
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. white vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
1 big colander full of Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce

While bacon is frying, wash lettuce well and spin or pat dry.

Put in a large, heat-safe bowl and top with sliced green onions.

Mix the sugar and vinegar together and pour into hot bacon drippings.  It’ll pop and sputter, so keep your hands back and pour slowly.  Throw in a pinch of salt and a some ground pepper.  Stir a little bit until sugar is dissolved.

Carefully pick up skillet and pour over lettuce and onions.

Toss lettuce, then throw crumbled bacon into bowl and toss again.

Serve immediately.  4-5 servings

Or, this makes a lovely, nostalgic meal all by itself if you don’t share much.