Tag: rucola

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Whenever I buy a new appliance for my kitchen, a bigger wardrobe for our bedroom, or a more powerful driller for the tool box, I always ask myself how I managed before the new purchase entered our home. I’m totally fine with having to deal with limited space or less satisfying equipment in the house, but give me the comfort of improvement and I’m hooked for life.

This is exactly how I felt when I got my new fridge last December. It’s only the third fridge I have ever owned and although I can’t really complain about its predecessor – it did a decent job for more than 15 years – it drove me crazy at times. Mainly because the space it offered and the food I tried to put inside it did not match at all. I love fresh food, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables every week at the farmers’ market, and all kinds of cheese, olives, capers, prosciutto … and wine of course. There are only two people to feed but our food needs space. Thinking back, I don’t know how I managed to store all the greens in my old fridge while I was working on my book a year ago, I have no idea. It worked, but now it’s different, now I actually enjoy my fridge. A few days ago I came into my kitchen with lots of bags and baskets full of rhubarb, berries, asparagus and other spring produce and everything fit. I looked at this silver beauty and couldn’t help but say “I love my fridge!”. When Samsung offered me their Chef Collection for my kitchen, I was over the moon and I still feel the same. When you love food and cooking you truly appreciate having the right equipment.

So when I took a look at all the vibrant colours in my fridge, I came up with a salad that looks and tastes as bright and fresh as this season. I cut raw green asparagus very thinly and mixed it with a handful of arugula and canned chickpeas. A few fresh strawberries on top and a light vinaigrette made with orange juice drizzled all over and it was almost done: Some pink peppercorns added subtle spice and their distinct aroma. It was a very satisfying spring creation.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Serves 2

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the salad

young green asparagus, trimmed, 4 stalks
arugula leaves, 1 large handful
drained canned chickpeas, 2 handfuls
fresh strawberries, cut into quarters, 6
a few fresh basil leaves
a few pink peppercorns

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut off the heads of the asparagus and cut them in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, a cheese slicer, or a sharp knife, cut the asparagus stalks into long, very thin slices.

In a large bowl, arrange the arugula, asparagus, chickpeas, and strawberries in layers and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and basil and serve immediately.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

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Sicilian Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

The past mornings have been rather cloudy and grey and to make it even worse, they pulled my beloved wild vine off the wall opposite my kitchen window, which I used to call my vertical garden – the poor thing damaged the bricks. My little garden is gone. So the mood hasn’t been very uplifting. And as I sat at the table in my kitchen, chewing over a new exciting meet in your kitchen feature that I’ve been working on over the past few days and that I’m eager to share with you, I had to decide to postpone it. The feature was supposed to be up on the blog this week, but unfortunately, my guest from afar – Australia – is opening his second restaurant and so busy that we couldn’t finish the interview yet. I felt a bit sad, or rather frustrated, because I adore his work and I’m so curious to read his answers and to get to know him a bit better. In these moments, I can be like a little child, impatient and not willing to accept reality – in this case: having to wait.

Food is the best cure for disappointment, at least in my case, so I looked around my kitchen to see what I could use to throw together for a quick and uplifting lunch. As I spotted a bunch of ripe blood oranges, I remembered a Sicilian salad made with the sweet citrus fruits, olives, and red onions. I added some rucola, olive oil, flaky sea salt, and crushed peppercorns and enjoyed the colourful plate in front of me just as much as the fresh taste of this delicious composition. Needless to say, my mood was much better after the first bite. The sweetness of the oranges merges perfectly with the spicy rucola and onions and the dark and oily depth of the olives. And it’s put together in just a few minutes – it’s a keeper!

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

 

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad with Rucola

Serves 2-4

fresh rucola leaves, 2 handfuls
small blood oranges, peeled (outer skin and white pith), cut into rounds, 4
small red onion, cut into slim rings, 1-2
black olives with pit 12-16
olive oil
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

Divide the rucola between plates. Lay the blood oranges, onion, and olives on top. Drizzle with some olive oil and season with flaky sea salt and crushed pepper to taste. Serve immediately, preferably with soft ciabatta.

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

 

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

 

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad

 

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A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

Here’s another one of the kitchen leftover mash-ups I mentioned yesterday: There were 3 bunches of rucola (rocket) on the window sill, Italian plums which started to look a bit sad and ripe pears, ready to be eaten just before they get soft and mushy. I tossed everything together in a bowl and mixed it with my new favourite summer salad dressing: olive oil whisked with freshly squeezed orange juice and a little orange blossom water. It’s fantastic, the citrus’ fruitiness merges wonderfully with the orange blossom’s flowery aroma and the warm olive oil.

Citrus and olive oil is a delicious combination. One of my favourite recipes on eat in my kitchen features this glorious treat, it’s a very simple yet absolutely delicious Sicilian salad. The first time I ate it was at a farm in Noto where we stayed a few years ago. The lady of the house would make it for us for breakfast. She used the ripest oranges from the farm, cut them into fillets and sprinkled them with a little olive oil and dried oregano. It was a heavenly and eye-opening experience for me. I had never really thought of this combination before, mixing fruit with olive oil was quite new for me at that point and this morning treat influenced many of my recipes over the years. It taught me to be open minded and experimental, to combine various flavours, to mix what seems far away in taste but trust that it will lead to a satisfying result (which it often does).

However, the combination of fruit and olive oil needs a strong partner, either a herb or spicy rucola leaves as I chose. You could replace the plums and pears with any other sweet fruit you have at hand in your kitchen: strawberries, nectarines, figs or oranges. As long as they have honey sweet juices to add to the salad, they will be a good choice!

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

For a quick lunch for 2 you need

rucola (rocket) leaves, 2 handful
pear, quartered, cored and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)
large plum, cut in half and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)

For the dressing
olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
quality orange blossom water (preferably organic) 1-2 teaspoons, to taste
salt and pepper

Arrange the rucola and fruit in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing, season to taste and sprinkle over the salad, serve immediately.

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

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Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter, Rucola and Cherry Tomatoes

Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter

If you ever want to seduce a (non vegetarian) man, make schnitzel, and if you want to be 100% sure that he’ll definitely fall for you, make a schnitzel sandwich! There must be something in this rustic snack that men absolutely love. When I fry schnitzel, I always prepare a bigger batch as I know that the leftovers are more than welcome the next day. To see the satisfaction in someone’s face after the first bite of this breaded piece of meat stuffed in a bun is impressive. If the man of your heart is a true schnitzel connoisseur this will send him straight to culinary heaven!

You could put the cold meat on a slice of white bread and keep it simple which is already delicious, or you could take it to the next level. Serve the schnitzel warm, fresh out of the sizzling pan and combine it with crunchy rucola and sweet cherry tomatoes. I drizzled lemon butter over it and that made it absolutely irresistible!

Here’s another one of my schnitzel recipes with Swabian potato salad!

Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter

 

Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter

 Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter, Rucola and Cherry Tomatoes

For 2 sandwiches

white buns, cut in half, 2
schnitzel, 5mm / 1/4″ thin, lightly pounded, 2 (each about 125g / 4.5 ounces)
organic egg, beaten, 1
breadcrumbs
plain flour
butter 1 tablespoon for the lemon butter plus 1-2 tablespoons to fry the schnitzel
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
cherry tomatoes, sliced, 6-8
rucola, a small handful
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons of butter over a high temperature, the bottom of the pan should be covered. Prepare 3 large, deep plates, fill one with the egg, the other with flour and the last with breadcrumbs. Lightly dust and turn the meat in the flour first, then turn it in the egg and finally, quickly turn it in the breadcrumbs until covered. Fry the schnitzel for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and take the meat out of the pan. Dip the inside of the buns into the pan and let them soak the juices.

In a sauce pan, warm up 1 tablespoon of butter and the lemon juice. Take it off the heat when it’s hot.

Spread some rucola leaves on the bottom of each bun and put the schnitzel (cut in half) on top. Drizzle the lemon butter over the meat and lay a few tomato slices on top. Close the bun, squeeze it and enjoy in good company!

Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter

 

Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter

 

Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter

Spicy Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

A bag of sun-dried tomatoes fell into my hands while I looked through my pantry shelves and it reminded me of the good times I had with them in summer. With Mr. Cini at his salt pans in Gozo, in my pesto that I used as a spread on a sandwich, mixed with sage and chèvre on juicy zucchini steaks or in my spaghetti with broccoli pesto – so many nice memories! I still put them on my pizza sometimes which we bake every Sunday, but recently I’ve been neglecting this salty concentrate of the summer sun, until today!

A few days ago my Maltese mother Jenny sent me a picture of my favourite snorkeling spot at Dwejra in Gozo and all the nice memories were back in my head. Our summer in Malta, the food, the sea, the hot sun, the salty smell of the air and with these feelings came the urge for a Mediterranean snack! Crunchy ciabatta bread roasted with a little olive oil under the grill, fresh rucola (arugula) leaves, a dip made of feta cheese mixed with sun-dried tomatoes topped with red hot chili peppers – and here it is, summer is back, at least for a few bites!

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 Spicy Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

I like to cook the sun-dried tomatoes in a little water for 1 minute to wash of excess salt.

For 6-8 crostini you need

ciabatta bread 6-8 slices
olive oil
feta cheese 200g / 7 ounces
sun-dried tomatoes 5 around 40g / 1.5 ounces
rucola (arugula) leaves a small handful
fresh red hot chili pepper, cut into thin slices, with or without seeds, 1

Sprinkle the slices of bread with a little olive oil and put them under the grill for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

In a small sauce pan, bring the dried tomatoes to the boil in a little water and cook for 1 minute. Take the pot off the heat, rinse the tomatoes and dry them well between kitchen paper. Purée the feta and the dried tomatoes in a blender until well combined.

Spread some rucola leaves on the crostini and top with the tomato-feta dip and a few chili slices (to taste and according to their spiciness).

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

Juicy Lamb, Moroccan Lemon and Caper Sandwich

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

Maltese capers, dried tomatoes, wild fennel seeds, honey and sea salt, these were just some of the goods I took home with me from my last trip to the Mediterranean island and these were also the ingredients I offered Malin from The Bread Exchange to choose from for our next sandwich. The sourdough queen went for salty capers and then it was my turn to come up with an idea for our next eat in my kitchen x The Bread Exchange creation.

Malin called me in the morning when the bread was done, after a night without much sleep as she had to get up a couple times to take care of her caper sourdough bread. I jumped on my bike excitedly to meet her in her kitchen which was already filled with the sweetest smell of freshly baked bread when I arrived. When she showed me her beautiful loaf of bread, juicy and spongy on the inside as always, refined with capers and the amazing oily crust that Malin mastered to perfection, I couldn’t wait to get started in my kitchen! A colourful composition of a few strong flavours, a wave of tastes on the tongue, that was my idea when I held the warm bread in my hands.

This inspiration led to a rich sandwich voluptuously stuffed with tender slices of lamb fillet, cooked for just a few minutes to keep it pink on the inside, thin strips of my Moroccan preserved lemons, crisp lemon peel roasted in olive oil (I used both the infused oil and the rind), salty capers and spicy rucola leaves. This was one of those moments when I wasn’t sure if I went a bit overboard with the flavours, especially when they are all so powerful on their own. But the first bite cleared any doubts, there wasn’t too much of anything, it was just right!

This sandwich has been featured on Food52!

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 Lamb, Moroccan Lemon and Caper Sandwich

For 4 closed sandwiches you need

the best sourdough bread you can get, 8 thick slices
lamb fillet 250g / 9 ounces
Moroccan preserved lemons, cut into thin strips, 1/4
lemon peel, 6 long strips
olive oil 3 tablespoons plus more for frying
capers, rinsed and drained, 1 heaped tablespoon
fresh rucola (arugula) leaves, a small handful
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
salt

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F. 

In a small baking dish, mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon peel and roast in the oven for 6 minutes or until the lemon is crisp and golden (it shouldn’t be brown!). Set the oil and roasted peel aside.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil, season the lamb fillet with salt and pepper and brown for 1 1/2 -2 minutes on each side. The meat should stay pink to keep its juiciness. Wrap the fillet in aluminum foil and set aside for a few minutes.

Drizzle a little of the lemon oil on a slice of bread and cover with a few rucola leaves. Cut the lamb fillet into thin slices and spread on top of the greens. Scatter over some strips of Moroccan lemon, roasted lemon peel, capers and lemon oil. Sprinkle with some crushed black pepper and close with another slice of bread.

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

Here are all of the eat in my kitchen x The Bread Exchange sandwiches we created so far:

Sainte-Maure Chèvre, Rosemary Oil and Olive Sandwich

Roast Apricots on Turmeric Bread with Cardamom Crème Fraîche

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

Mediterranean Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

For this rich sandwich you need strong and tasty, coarse sausages, stuffed with flavours. Maltese sausage is ideal as it is the most aromatic and also the chunkiest sausage I’ve ever eaten. The meat is enhanced with lots of garlic, coriander seeds, spicy black peppercorns and parsley, while sea salt adds a strong saltiness. These sausages are perfect for a thick wintery vegetable soup, but in summer I like to have them in sandwiches. You could also use an Italian salsiccia which is also rich in flavours.

I like to fry the sausages first, then I deglaze them in the pan with a splash of wine, sweet wine even. I close the pan with a lid and let the meat cook in the juices until it’s still a bit pinky on the inside. When you fry them only, they tend to dry out as they need quite a few minutes to be cooked through, and I like them juicy! Some people here in Malta like to eat them raw, a habit I’m a bit suspicious of due to the hot climate, but the taste apparently is amazing, according to my friends!

For this week’s sandwich, I cut a crusty sourdough bun in half and brushed both sides with the cooking juices before I covered the bottom side with rucola (arugula or rocket salad) leaves and thick slices of juicy sausage. I sprinkled the meat with a bit of olive oil infused with coriander seeds and squeezed the bun together for it to soak all the nice and aromatic cooking liquids. This sandwich is quite hearty but the rucola and the coriander add a light summery feeling to it!

Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

 

Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

Mediterranean Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

For 2 sandwiches you need

crusty sourdough buns, cut in half, 2
thick, coarse sausages, preferably with herbs and spices like salsiccia, 2
rucola leaves, a handful
olive oil 3 tablespoons plus more for frying
coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
white wine for deglazing

Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan with the coriander seeds for a few minutes to infuse the oil.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and fry the sausages until golden brown on all sides. Deglaze with a splash of wine, close with a lid and cook for a few minutes until the meat is just a little pink on the inside. Cut the sausages into thick slices.

Brush both sides of the bun with the cooking liquid, cover with rucola leaves and spread the sausage slices on top. Sprinkle with the coriander oil and close the bun, pushing it together a bit.

Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

 

Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

 

Sausage Sandwich with Rucola and Coriander Oil

Spinach, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad with Pink Peppercorns

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

Green, white and red! Many of my summer dishes sing praise to the Italian flag, without any intention, but maybe my subconscious has something to do with it as I love this country so much. I was so shocked and sad for this football loving nation when they had to leave the World Cup this week (and one of their players got bitten!). I know they love this sport almost as much as their food (which means a lot!), so here’s a patriotic salad to lift up their spirits!

Crunchy baby spinach, rucola (rocket salad) mixed with a light olive oil, orange and Balsamico dressing, topped with sweet strawberries, thin slices of young goat gouda and pink peppercorns. The mild Dutch cheese, the berries and aromatic pepper  work perfectly on their own as well, cheese, fruit and a little spiciness, a scrumptious little nibble I can never reject!

For this salad for 2 I threw together a handful of baby spinach leaves and a small handful of rucola. My fruity dressing is the same one I used for my spinach and melon salad, I whisked 5 teaspoons of olive oil with 3 teaspoons of orange juice, 2 teaspoons of Balsamico vinegar and seasoned it with a little salt and black pepper. 12 strawberries cut in half and 6 slices of goat gouda (or another mild hard goat cheese) torn in pieces sprinkled on top together with a teaspoon of crushed pink peppercorns finished it off.

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

 

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

 

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese