Archives for category: Vegetarian

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Most of my clients are on a Paleo Diet or try to eat Paleo most of the time.  I love making granola and set out to create a Paleo granola recipe.  When I did research on the internet I mostly found granola made exclusively with nuts and dried fruits.  These recipes did not seem like granola to me.  I have been using hemp hearts, chia seeds and flax seeds in many of my baking recipes and decided to give this healthy trio a try in a granola recipe.

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Using nuts and seeds with hemp hearts created a very tasty granola that looked much like granola and tasted very close to traditional granola as well.  You can enjoy this granola with almond milk or your favorite yogurt, milk or coconut milk.   One of my clients says he just eats it straight out of the jar throughout the day and takes it on all of his bike rides.

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Paleo Granola with Maple, Hemp Hearts, Chia Seeds and Flax

Makes 6 servings.

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/2 cup flax seeds

1 cup nuts such as almond slices, cashew nuts, walnuts,

1 cup seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds

2 cups dried fruit such as diced apricot, raisins, cranberries, diced dried fig or apple

1/2 cup real maple syrup, honey or agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 fresh grated nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.

In a medium bowl add 1/4 cup maple syrup to chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp hearts. Toss to coat.

Spread this mixture out on the pan and press it down so that everything bakes together.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool and break apart.  This way you get little clusters and crunchy bits.

Add nuts and dried fruit, remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup and sea salt and spices.

Return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes.

Store in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

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I’ve seen salads in jars on the internet but I just started making them.  My garden is producing beautiful salad greens right now.

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I knew my clients would love to look into the fridge and see lovely jars of salad.  When you package food in a glass jar, not only does it look pretty but the jars are reusable.  The best part is that you pour the dressing over your salad, shake and enjoy.

Here is a lovely window box in my kitchen.  I never thought of growing lettuce in the house.  It works great.

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This week I prepared salad in a jar from my garden beds with lemon cucumbers, roasted cherry tomatoes and served it with a cilantro, pumpkin seed, agave nectar dressing.

My cherry tomatoes were not very sweet and so I roasted them with avocado oil, garlic, fresh thyme and sea salt.

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Slow roasting allowed for the moisture to evaporate and the sugars to condense and caramelized on the outside of the tomatoes.  I could not stop eating them hot out of the oven.  I had to make a second batch.

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The tiny roasted tomatoes were very delicate when cooked but firmed up with a rest in the fridge.

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Pumpkin Seed, Cilantro and Avocado Oil Dressing

Serves 6

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup avocado oil, canola oil or extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup of washed cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

I prefer to use avocado oil since it holds an emulsion for much longer than canola oil or olive oil.  Avocado oil has a great creamy flavor as well.

In a blender or food processor add vinegar, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, agave nectar, sea salt and pepper and pulse until the nuts are ground and the cilantro is chopped up.  About 4-5 pulses.

Turn on blender and while it is going add the oil in a stream for about 1 minute.

Chill for about 1 hour for the flavors to meld or you can serve your dressing right away.

 

white chicken chili indian eggplant 032Kale is the new black.  It is so trendy I even saw a kale soda by Hansen’s on the shelf the other day.  My local market has lacinto kale, red winter kale, green kale, baby kale and many packaged snack foods made with kale.  If you go to the market late in the day where I live in Boulder Colorado it is likely the kale display will be picked over and only a few sad bunches left

The mustard greens are often left untouched.  Mustard greens are part of the cruciferous family of veggies that are powerhouse vegetables for phytochecmicals that are beneficial in a healthy heart.

Mustard greens are quick cooking and add a wonderful slightly bitter flavor to dishes.  Grab some instead of kale.

My favorite way to prepare mustard greens is a light saute in olive oil or hemp oil.  Mustard greens are also great added to soups or stews.

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A  veggie popular combination I make for my clients is a combination of baby kale, chard and mustard greens that are lightly sauteed in hemp seed oil or olive oil with just a dash of sea salt.  I remove the greens from the pan when slightly under done so that the carry over heat finishes the cooking process while the greens rest.  Mustard green take only a few minutes to saute unlike full grown kale or collard greens that take longer to cook.  Pair sauteed mustard greens with pasta, curries, soups or as a healthy side dish.  I  like to thinly slice mustard greens and add them to a salad with a sweet component such as dried cranberries or dried cherries to balance the mustard flavor.  Mustard green salads are great with dried fruits, roasted fennel or roasted sweet potatoes and can be dressed with a sweet balsamic.

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To choose perfect mustard greens look for leaves that do not have any yellow or brown spots.  Leaves should also be firm and spring back to the touch.  The color should be a bright green color for the freshest greens.

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Next time you are at the market choosing greens add some mustard greens to your cart and you will be glad you did.

May 13 2014 052

There was a  barrel of little tiny eggplant at Sprouts market recently.  My teenage daughter was with me and she delightedly exclaimed.  “Mom, look at the tiny aubergines.”  She loves to call eggplant, aubergines since she found out that is what they call them in England.  “Can we get some?”  This question surprised me so I said to her that she did not like aubergines.

Her response was to tell me they would be great in pictures.   She really knows how to get me to do what she wants.  I often purchase food just because of its photo worthy qualities.

I don’t use eggplant often in my private chef service as many people find the interior texture of cooked eggplant to be unpleasant.  Eggplant can  get a bit mushy inside.  I thought I would try these new small eggplant and see what the flavor and texture were like.

I cut the small veggies  into half and tossed them in olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and sea salt and let them marinate for about an hour and grilled the eggplant at a high temperature.

The interior texture was firm and flavorful.  Most of my eggplant haters loved these tiny aubergines.  I found out they were called Indian eggplant.

I can see why these smaller eggplant are used in Indian cuisine.  They hold a firmer texture in sauces but still soak up the flavors.  The larger eggplant sold in grocery stores would not be very good in a thick sauce since the texture of the spongy vegetable would become too mushy.  Try these little veggies next time you are making a curry or grilling.

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March 28 2013 180I have made many flourless chocolate cakes in my career.  I love the ease of a flourless chocolate cake and when you use exceptional chocolate the result is a dense and flavorful cake that all of your guests will love.

I can finally say that I have developed the perfect flourless chocolate cake recipe.  I have made many recipes from Martha Stewart to Rose Levy Barenbaum and this recipe takes all of the best parts of those recipes to create not only a delicious cake but an easy cake.

This cake is so easy you would not say it was unreasonable at all.

The people who I served this cake were definitely unreasonable in the best possible way.

I was catering recently for a group from the Unreasonable Institute.  If you have not heard about this group, check them out.  Amazing….is all I have to say.  I spent at least 3 hours just looking at all of the entrepreneurs they have helped with their program the first time I went to their website.

This is what it says on their website:  “We get world-changing ventures and entrepreneurs what they need to scale their impact. Each year, we unite 10-30 entrepreneurs (called “Unreasonable Fellows”) from every corner of the globe to live under the same roof for six weeks in Boulder, Colorado. These entrepreneurs receive customized training and support from 50 world-class mentors, ranging from a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet, to the head of user experience at Google X, to an entrepreneur who’s enabled over 20 million farmers to move out of poverty. In the process, they form relationships with corporations and international organizations, receive legal advice & design consulting, and get in front of hundreds of potential funders. Our goal is to bring all the resources to accelerate these ventures so they can scale to meet the needs of at least one million people each.”

How cool is that..

Here are a few of the ventures they have helped out:

Worms 4 Change

Replicable vermicomposting production and training model to promote health and development in rural and urban communities

Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS)

Restoration of peace & security in West Africa through Former child soldiers’ rehabilitation & reintegration.

Lili Dairy

Empowering Women Through Dairy Farming

The list goes on and on.

I had the privilege to cater for this group and the one dish they raved about most was the flourless chocolate cake.  I agreed to share the recipe.

Very Simple Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 oz unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
8 oz 60% cacao chocolate chips (I used Costco Brand which I love..)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup very hot and very strong coffee
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli again)
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
Instructions:
 Pre heat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 10-cup Springform pan by lining the bottom with buttered parchment
Break up the unsweetened chocolate into pieces and put the chocolate into the bowl of the food processor or blender. Add the chocolate chips as well.  Pulse until the chocolate breaks up into small bits. Add the sugar. Pulse until the chocolate and sugar turns into a sandy grain.
Pour the hot water or coffee slowly into the feed tube as you pulse again. Pulse until the chocolate is melted.
Add the butter pieces and the cocoa powder, and pulse to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla, whisky and process till smooth. The batter will be liquid and creamy.
Pour the batter into the lined Springform pan. Wrap the outside of the whole pan with a big piece of foil. Bake at 350º  in the center of the oven, till puffed about 45-55 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove from pan and let cake cool on rack for 1 hour.  Best when refrigerated over night wrapped in plastic wrap.  Top with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar or berries.
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March 5 2013 161

I happened to hear a conversation my daughter was having with one of her friends.  The girl who was visiting us said to Maddy, “You guys don’t have any snacks?”  They were looking for something to eat in the cabinet.  My cabinet is filled with foods to make snacks but nothing prepared.  Sure, we sometimes have chips or pretzels but not all of the snack foods most people have in their houses.

This statement made me laugh because I remember when I was about 14 and my friend Jenifer was over to visit.  We stood in our huge dry storage area of the converted farmhouse my family lived in.

This was my mother’s domain.  For those of you who do not know my mother she is a formidable force of nature.  We grew up on a 5 acre subsistence farm.  We grew or raised most of what we ate.  My mom did most of the work.!

Jenifer was saying, “your family does not have any snacks.”

Our dry storage contained big huge bags of flour, big bags of beans and beautiful canning jars full of produce from our garden.  I remember loving to see how the light played off of the different colors in the jars.  Red tomatoes, dark green beans, yellow summer squash and purple beets all lined the shelves.  There were no Doritos.

When I would go to Jenifer’s house I would feel as if I stepped into the Plaza Hotel.  They had individual slices of cheese in plastic, single yogurts and chips and crackers.  How very fancy it seemed to me.  Don’t get me wrong, Jenifer’s mom fed her great food but it just seemed so fancy to me to have snacks.  My family could not afford these things for all 5 of us kids.  Sliced deli meat was a luxury that only came once or twice a year.  Grapes from the grocery store were descended on like a fallen gazelle by a pack of lions when my mom dared to bring them home from the store.

My need to make snacks from scratch also arises from not wanting to pay the grocery store prices for snacks but also that I want my family to eat well.

Making chips from scratch is a breeze if you have a mandolin. This is the one that I have but there are much cheaper ones that work great as well. French Mandolin.   I use my constantly.  It makes things much easier.  If you hand cut chips or fries it takes too long!  At least for me as a chef I cannot stand tasks that are too laborious or slow.  I am usually moving in high-speed.  I will slice the potatoes and let rest in extra cold water for about an hour.

Then I will place a rack over my sink and let the potatoes drain for an hour or so.  I also do this for fries. March 5 2013 159

Then you do not need to pat the potatoes down with a bunch of paper towels and all of the water evaporates off.

I pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Oil a pan with coconut oil.  Do not use too much oil.  Coconut oil is great because you do not need to use much.  I only oil the bottom of a cookie sheet and do not toss the chips to coat.  When they are half way done I just flip the chips to crisp the top when the bottom is crisp.

This will take about 15 minutes.  When chips are hot out of the oven add garlic, shredded parmesan and salt or any other creative flavors you can think of but add when hot so it sticks.

Let cool on a rack and enjoy.

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Feb 27 2013 044

I bought a couple of pounds of roma tomatoes at the store.  They were a wonderful color and looked yummy.  These tomatoes were not very yummy.  As a fresh tomato these little fruits were completely useless.

Being frugal I could not throw them out.  Oven drying was the only solution.  This way the sugars in the tomatoes would be concentrated and the flavor enhanced.  I do not like to waste food.

I had some fresh thyme that I had frozen when I realized I would not use it up by the time in turned.  Freezing thyme is a great way to preserve it when you are not going to use the whole bunch.

I tossed the tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Threw on some sea salt and pepper and tossed some garlic and fresh thyme on top.

Feb 23 2013 053I set my oven and 250 degrees and let the tomatoes roast for 3-4 hours.

Feb 23 2013 079I took out the thyme stems and saved them in a bag in the freezer for stock and packed the dried tomatoes and garlic in a jar with some olive oil.  The tomatoes last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or 2 months in the freezer.  Use the oil to coat veggies, for a tasty salad dressing or spread on some fresh-baked bread.  Do not throw out the oil after you have used the tomatoes as it has a great flavor for the herbs, garlic and sweet tomatoes.

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These sweet dried tomatoes are very versatile.

Here are 10 ways to use oven dried tomatoes:

1.  Pizza topping

2.  Toss with pasta, olive oil, garlic and a good cheese

3.  Antipasti

4.  Top a salad with bacon and blue cheese

5.  Add to mayo and it is great in a sandwich or as a dipping sauce with fresh veggies

6.  Add to your favorite pasta sauce to punch up the flavor

7.  Add to stew at the end of cooking for a sweet complexity

8.  Add to soup with kale, white beans and garlic

9.  Blend tomatoes, oil that you stored the tomatoes in, and more fresh herbs with some balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing

10. Toss with feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and grilled veggies

What do you use your oven dried tomatoes for?

Check out Lucys Friendly Foods for a great antipasti salad recipe.

I am going to admit to one of my strange quirks…. one of many….of course.

I love to watch the cranberries split!  I love it.  This is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.   Most people would say they love eating roasted turkey or pumpkin pie.   They may say that they love the football games or eating stuffing.

For me, right behind hanging out with my family would be watching the cranberries split.  What?  You may be thinking “what does she mean?”  Crazy food blogger…..

Well, let me tell you about it.

It is a multi-sensory activity using your sense of smell, taste, visual and auditory all in one easy cooking activity.  What more could a food obsessed individual need for the holidays

I love looking over the edge of the pot and seeing the different reds and purples and pinks of the fresh cranberries mingled with the dark green rosemary and bright yellow of lemon.  Shiny with water and sugar the berries sparkle in the light.  They dance when the water starts to boil.  It is like a cranberry disco on your stove.

Turn up the heat and wait a couple of minutes and the fun really starts.  The berries start to dance around in the pot and the earthy smell of rosemary and bright smell of lemon reach your nose.  Next comes the popping.  Cranberries will expand and split when cooked and release that quintessential of holiday smells, fresh cranberry sauce.

I just love it.

Simmer the berries a bit longer and that is all you have to do.  The sauce is best cooled overnight and it will thicken naturally.  No need to add gelatin.  Gone forever from your table is the metallic tasting can of cranberry flavored gelatin that slides out in one big ribbed lump.  Canned cranberry gelatin is not nearly as fun as dancing cranberries with fresh herbs and citrus.  You can get very creative with cranberry sauce as you can see from my extensive list of variations at the bottom of this post.  Have fun with this traditional side dish and add dried fruit, nuts, spices and herbs.

Master Cranberry Sauce

200 gram sugar (1 cup)

1 cup water

4 cups fresh cranberries

After you cook the cranberries you may add any savory or sweet additions you would like to flavor your sauce.  At the bottom of this post I will list some of my favorite variations.  Makes 2 1/2 cups cranberry sauce.

1 Wash your lovely cranberries.  In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add cranberries, return to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.   Lovely!

2 At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients.  The cranberry sauce in the picture has fresh rosemary and lemon wedges.   You can add a cup of dried cranberries or dried cherries.

3 Remove from heat.  Cool at room temperature for 1 hour and chill in the refrigerator overnight.   Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Cranberry Sauce Variations

Southwestern Cranberry Sauce

1/2 tsp chipotle powder and topped with minced fresh cilantro and lime juice before serving

Orange and Almond Cranberry Sauce

Substitute fresh orange juice with water and add sliced almonds

Apple and Ginger Cranberry Sauce

1 tbs candied ginger diced fine with 1 cup diced honey crisp apple

Rosemary and Port Wine Cranberry Sauce

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, 1/4 cup port wine (reduce water to 3/4 cup) and 1 tsp orange zest

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

4 tbs maple syrup, substitute brown sugar for white sugar and 1/3 cup diced toasted walnuts

Apricot and cardamom Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup diced dried apricots and 1 tsp cardamom

Lemon Thyme Cranberry Sauce

1 tbs fresh thyme and 1 tbs lemon zest

Let me know if you have any creative variations for cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving menu.

ImagePeople have come and go in my life and some people really stay in my heart forever.  One of these people I met about 16 years ago while my husband was learning to speak Arabic at the defense language institute in Monterey California.  Laura and her husband John were our great friends and we had some pretty fun times together.  They make me laugh.  Especially Laura’s husband John.  This guy is seriously funny and I am tough customer on this issue since I dated a professional comedian and worked as the chef at a comedy club for years.  I can remember hanging out that their apartment and laughing the entire time we were there.  You know the kind of laughing that you stomach muscles are sore the next day.  Tears streaming down your face and gasping for breath type of laughing.

As young married women Laura and I had some pretty good heart to heart discussions that helped me deal with being newly married.  I guess I am thinking a lot about these things because of my recent separation from my husband.  I love the quote from Dr Suess “don’t cry because it is over but smile because it happened.”

One particular memory I have is when Laura and John came over to see my daughter when we brought her home from the hospital.  John made some comment about her being an alien but Laura just picked her up and held her with such tenderness that I knew she would be an amazing mother.  She is, by the way, and so I was right.  I love to say that…..I was right.

Laura and John now live in Baku Azerbaijan.  I think it is very cool and impressive to pick up your family and move to a foreign county and those two seem to roll like that.

About the cookies now….I posted a picture of some cookies I had made at Cal-Wood and Laura asked if I shared my recipes….really?  She needs to get with the program and read my blog!  This is be a good way to get her started.

I made these cookies one afternoon because the kids at Cal-Woood come and go but the staff is there all year.  They may have been getting a bit tired of the same treats so I decided to create a cookie that was easy to make but appealed to a more adult palate.

These buttery darlings are easy to make and have a subtle cardamom flavor that brings out the earthy oats and sweet dried apricot.

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Do not overbake these cookies.  Take them out of the oven when the edges are browned but the center is light in color.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7 1/2 oz)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon good quality cardamom, ground

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 sticks of unsalted butter (4 oz)

1 cup packed brown sugar (7 oz)

1 cup granulated sugar (7 oz)

2 large eggs

3 cups rolled oats (not the instant kind but the good old fashioned stuff)

1 cup finely diced dried apricots

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven racks to the low and middle of your oven.  I use parchment sheets to line my baking try but you can also use non-stick spray.

Whisk your dry ingredients together.  Flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom should go in a seperate bowl and whisk until combined.

With a stand mixer or hand held mixer beat butter for about 1 minute and then add sugars and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add eggs to fluffy butter and sugars one at the time and beat for about 2 minutes.

Stir the butter mixture into your dry ingredients.  Add oats and apricots.  Mix until combined.

Scoop dough onto sheet pan keeping the cookies at least 2 inches apart and bake for 20-25 minutes.

After baking let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a baking rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Yesterday was bright and sunny when I woke up.  There was a bit of a chill in the air but overall it was sunny and clear.

I went up to the lodge and got the grill ready.  My mother in law, sister-in-law and nephew were coming up for Sunday brunch.

It was a perfect spring day.  I was even thinking we may set up a table on the deck and eat outside.  Was I wrong.   Weather can change fast in the mountains.

I starting grilling and decided to take some pictures from the deck.

It was warm and sunny.  Next thing I know I spot a white mass out over one of the hills.  It almost looked like smoke.

As the mass began to move and drift toward the lodge I realized the it was bringing a chilly wind.  It began to spread out and when it reached the lodge I realized it was snow.

Snow….in May.  Well I do live in the Rocky Mountains.

So here I am standing on the deck in cut offs and sandals grilling in the snow.  It made me laugh because almost every time I pull out the grill it starts raining.  I should grill more often since we are having a dry spring.

Thankfully I was done grilling and could move in a light the fireplace and relax with my family.

Ok, so back to the food….I was planning on featuring a summer salad.  This is a salad that we make nearly everyday during the summer.

But how can I feature a salad when it is snowing?  Shouldn’t I feature a stew or soup?  Well since the rest of the country is not blanketed in snow I will go ahead with my summer salad.  It kept snowing all night.  Most of the snow melted on impact but we got some great precipitation that was needed.

In the warm spring and summer months my  family enjoys salads nearly every dinner.  Sliced ripe red tomatoes, rich and creamy cheese, and bright fresh herbs is our favorite combination.

This salad is made with tomatoes (Compari vine ripe tomatoes from Costco), fresh mozzarella, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme.

Fresh Tomato, Mozzarella and Balsamic Salad

The key to getting the best flavor from this salad is to thinly slice the mozzarella which can be done if you freeze it for about half an hour or until slightly firm but not hard.  With the thinner mozzarella you can marinate it with balsamic and olive oil and the flavor will permeate the creamy cheese.

8-12 vine ripe compari tomatoes (I used the tomatoes from our local Costco but the salad is best with fresh tomatoes in season)

1 lb fresh mozzarella ( I used Bel Gioioso brand)

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I used my trusty Kirkland Signature Brand from Costco, yes I know I love Costco..)

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove minced finely

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (you can also use basil, oregano or mint)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice your mozzarella thinly and marinate with balsamic, olive oil and garlic.  Let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours in your refrigerator. 

Slice tomatoes and arrange tomatoes, mozzarella with marinade and fresh herbs on a plate.  Drizzle a bit more vinegar and olive oil and top with fresh herbs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Serve as a first course with crusty fresh-baked bread or as a side dish with a nice piece of grilled meat.

Here are a few variations on this salad:

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, mint and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, oregano and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, blue cheese and bacon and arugula

Fresh tomato, brie cheese and pancetta

More great tomato salad recipes:

This one from Jamie Oliver. (I just love how he uses tomatoes of different sizes and shapes.)

Or try this one from Martha.

Here is Elsies’ beautiful version of the tomato mozzarella combo.

I enjoy to just sitting and watching my tomato starts and dream that this season will be long enough for us to actually harvest some tomatoes.  Last year our crops froze before they had a chance to ripen.  We are much more prepared this year.  Wish me luck!

If I am not successful I will have the Boulder Farmers Market at my disposal and in late summer the farmers in the area will have a dizzying array of tomatoes to choose from.

Now I will resume my fresh tomato dreams…..

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