White Bean Crostini with Arugula

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 15-oz can Great Northern or Cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small baguette, or 1/2 a loaf of French bread, cut on the bias into 8 slices
  • 1 cup loosely packed arugula

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Cut the bread into slices; set aside.

Put a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp. of the olive oil followed by the beans, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and the beans are warmed. This should only take 4-5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, and mash into a thick paste (a potato masher works great for this). Add 1/4 cup of water. Continue stirring and mashing until the mixture is creamy, but not completely smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and Parmesan.

Drizzle both sides of the bread with 1 tbsp. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill until toasted on both sides, about 1 minute per side.

In a medium bowl, combine the arugula, lemon juice, remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, and a pinch of salt; toss to combine.

Spread some of the bean mixture on each toast, top with arugula, sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Salami, Mint, and Cantaloupe Salad

This is a refreshing take on a summer salad. The sweet melon pairs well with salty salami and spicy onion flavors.

  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 oz thinly sliced salami, cut into strips
  • 2 cups (about half a melon) cantaloupe, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together the cantaloupe, salami, red onion, and mint. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Add to the salad mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the yogurt, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and mix well.

Serve the salad topped with a dollop of the yogurt mixture. You can garnish with mint leaves or crushed pistachios.

Easy Tabouli Salad

This is a great salad that can be served warm or cold. If you make it the night before, make sure to drain it again before serving it.

  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cups boiling water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced (peeled and seeds removed)
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced (small)
  • 1 scallion, greens thinly sliced and whites removed
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 sprigs mint (about2 tbsp), leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 large radishes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup diced olives (try Kalamata, green, and black for a tasty mix)

Place the bulgur wheat and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a large, heat-resistant bowl, and mix to coat everything with oil. Cover the bulgur with the boiling water, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam for 15-20 minutes.

Strain the soaked bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve and discard the water. Spread the bulgur onto a sheet tray to cool. Place back in the bowl when cool.

Add the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining olive oil into a separate large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cucumber, tomato, red onion, radishes, scallions, parsley, mint, and olives to the bowl with the bulgur. Stir the dressing into the salad mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.

**other options: add cooked rice or quinoa in place of part of the bulgur before mixing

Summertime is here

Pit Boss Pro Series 1100 Wood Pellet & Gas Combo Grill

It is summertime in the Central Valley, which means daytime temperatures of upper 90s-105 or so. One of the challenges with the heat is staying hydrated (to me, water is boring) while keeping sugar and calories down. The other is how to fix meals that won’t heat up the house while staying affordable. We recently bought a Pit Boss smoker and BBQ combination, and have already used it a few times. The hubby is still dialing in the timing but so far the results have been very tasty. We’ve been cooking enough meat for a few meals at a time, so that all is needed is reheating or finishing.

Another way to beat the heat is using a sous vide device. If you don’t know what sous vide is, it is basically using a hot water bath to cook the food to the desired temperature. There are several models available, along with the respective price points. I have a basic Anova model that has bluetooth. Some of the newer styles have WiFi capability, which is great if you want the flexibliity of being able to change the time or temperature when you aren’t home. It does take a bit of planning, but if you are used to meal-prepping there isn’t much of an adjustment. Sous vide can cook more than just meat; you can make cheese, desserts, hardboiled eggs, sauces, vegetables, and more, and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. I have a few sous vide cookbooks, and will post about any recipes I make.

*Not a sponsored post, just items l like and use at home.

Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker 

Time flies…..

So far, 2022 has been moving merrily (and rather quickly) along. The semester is almost done, the Wind Symphony has a joint concert on May 1st with the Air Force Band of the Golden West, and I’m counting down until May 13-15th when the National Garlic Festival will be held in Fresno. This food groupie would be very excited to have a way to talk with the chefs (Food Network and local) about what they are making with garlic.

We had a recent trip to Las Vegas for my birthday (separate post later this weekend), where we ate our way across the Strip on a foodcation. No spoilers, but I do have to give Hell’s Kitchen a double thumbs-up for great service, quality of food, and cost overall. We didn’t get to try any of the many gelato vendors though. We were so full from all of the planned meals that we had no room for anything else. I know, me pass up ice cream?! Next trip for sure.

I’m enjoying working with the doctor on my internship for the folklore archiving project. We have created the process from the ground up, and have had to overcome a few bubbles in the process. It is slower going than we both would like, but I’m learning a lot as we go. It looks like it will probably continue after the semester is over, and become a paid side-gig. After all of the work and progress, I would really hate for someone new to take over.

There are a few things planned for spring and summer. I’m going to be adding to the cookbook page weekly. I have to, because I forget which books I already have and sometimes wind up with duplicates. The Fresno County Library contracted with me for a couple of videos for summer meals that will be aired in July. If you miss the debut showings, they will be available on the library’s website and YouTube. I hope you pop in to watch; I am very happy with the dishes chosen.

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