Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recipes for Summer

Okay, so it’s getting summery out. I’m spending a lot more time outside, and I’m staying busy as there are so many projects going on. That doesn’t leave a whole lotta time for meal preparation. Sandwiches are all right, but I get tired of the same old same old. I need something quick and easy.

I was making my own bread quite often over the colder months, but now that the weather is warming up, I’m buying bread. Mrs. Spadoman works right next to a Breadsmith shop. They have some wonderful hand crafted artisan breads. Check out their website and see the vast list of breads they produce. We like the simple French Boule’ or French Peasant. My favorite is something they call Multigrain.

A loaf of Multigrain ready to slice

Lately, I’ve been hard boiling eggs and using them to make egg salad. I love an egg salad sandwich on a good whole grain bread with a slice of tomato. I’ve been buying the tomatoes in the store that are on the vine. They are expensive, but up north, where the growing season is short, there won’t be any Farmer’s Market tomatoes until late Summer. I buy one or two and use them wedged for a salad or sliced in a sandwich.

Tomatoes on the vine seem to have some flavor this time of year.

I also like chicken salad sandwiches on the same whole grain bread. This is great with the same tomato slices and a thin slice of muenster. I make my chicken salad by pan frying the small chunks of chicken in a wok in olive oil. I use a top quality extra virgin olive oil that has been rendered by the first cold pressing. Since I am Italian, I use mostly imported Italian oil, but I have used Greek. The California stuff is good too.

I season the boneless skinless chicken breast meat with a granulated roasted garlic. I found this at a small specialty store. I think you can get some from Penzy’s spices. If they don’t have the roasted granulated garlic, the regular granulated will work fine.

I drain the chicken on some paper towels and chop up some red onion, celery and maybe some water chestnuts. I put everything into a medium mixing bowl and season it with coarse ground black pepper, a little more granulated garlic, a pinch of granulated onion and some Szeged brand Hungarian Hot Paprika.

Add some mayonnaise, mix well and it’s ready for the bread. I use Hellman’s Light mayo these days. The light is just less of the fat. Hellman’s Light has good flavor, and cuts a few calories. It’s the only fat in this recipe and you don’t need much to moisten the ingredients.

The "light" variety does fine in summery salads

My egg salad is pretty similar. I season that with salt, pepper and the paprika. There is regular (non hot) paprika available. It is a good source of Vitamins A, D and E. The Hungarian varieties are best and come in a wide range of flavors from very sweet to very hot.

One of the summery salads I like to make is a simple pasta salad. I use elbow macaroni, but any style of small pasta will work. Around here, the Creamettes Brand is common. I use onions, carrots and celery in this one, maybe a few black olives. It is also made with mayonnaise, but I spice up that mayo with Adobo sauce, a tomato and jalepeno pepper sauce made from roasted smoked jalepenos, or chipotle, (chip-oat’-lay). By the way, we call ‘em japalinos (Jap-a-lean’-ohs) around here.

I shred the carrots into slivers. I cross cut the celery into pieces not more than a half inch. I chop the onion in the usual way. If I use olives, I slice medium black olives in half. I don’t like canned sliced olives as they are too thin. I want a hunk of olive I can taste.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can find these as free range organic if you'd like

I prepare some chicken the same way I did for the chicken salad, that is, pan fried in olive oil and seasoned with granulated garlic, salt and black pepper. After I drain it on paper towels, I add the chicken and the carrots, celery and onion into a mixing bowl.

Elbow Macaroni. A summer salad staple.

I make some of the elbow mac pasta. I drain it and rinse in cold water. If I made it earlier on, I take it from the refrigerator. I add this pasta to the chicken and veggies. Now, it’s time for my mayo concoction. I use the adobo sauce from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo that I can readily find in the ethnic section of a grocery store, or in a Mexican foods market.

Chipotle in adobo sauce.

In the can are the small smoked japalinos bathing in this rich dark sauce. I spoon out some of the sauce and mix it with the mayonnaise. That’s it. Mix some together. It is hot and it can be quite strong, so, a little goes a long way. If you want, you can use a food processor and use the peppers with the sauce. Run them into a puree, then mix with the mayo. Either way, it makes the mayo and your salad come alive.

Mix some of this mayo in with the chicken and veggies, add the black olives and serve cold. A great side dish, or stand alone with some baguette with dipping oil. To make this a full blown meal, I like to slice up some Italian salame with cheese and crackers.

A small serving of my Chicken w/ Adobo Mayo salad

Whatever you do, it’s summer and it needs to be simple. Meals are lighter. These kinds of salads are easy to make and last a while. I like to have a few choices on hand. Next time, I’ll make my own version of the famous Waldorf salad and a Mango Salsa I like with tortilla chips.

Gotta get back to the yard, I’m working on the swing set today. I’ll be in for lunch a little later.

Peace to all.


susan said...

I think you just taught me a better way of preparing the meat for chicken salad than the one I've been using for a long time. Steaming cooks it but add no flavor. It's always a delight to look forward to summer salads and long, warm days for unwinding.

Spadoman said...

Thanks for stopping by susan.... Yes, also, searing the meat in a wok seals in flavor and moisture. Of course you can season any way you need to. There are so many choices for spice.
Tell your friend Crow that I've never had to eat him. (And don't intend to)


Fran said...

Love easy summer salads.

We're having a hard time adjusting down.... have had 2 massively hungry boys living here & now it's just us 2. Still when the college kid comes to visit, he shovels down crazy amounts of food.
Because he is a so-called "starving student", he remains super thin. How unfair is that?
Eat like a horse & stay thin.

I love a fresh fruit yogurt salad on hot summer days. We are lucky enough to have a good quality yogurt maker locally. Yum!

Mel said...

Ohhhhhhh....I'm likin' the sounds of the chicken salad. :-)
I'll have to try that and stick it on lettuce (wouldn't wanna ruin it on ucky bread, dontchaknow...)

Thank goodness it's finally getting to 'patio sitting' weather. I'm hoping this weeks frost was the last for us. Either that or it's gonna make for slim pickings when it's time to steal the neighbor's asparagus!! :-)

rebecca said...

the connections continue to grow!

i love to cook. i LOVE to garden. and i make a mean chipotle mayo,
i promise to share the recipe!!