Warm Grilled Shrimp, Zucchini and Orzo Salad

I made this delicious warm pasta salad right before we left for Europe, thinking that I’d get a little Greek going on before we got there (feta, seafood, lemon, herbs…). If vacation turns out the way I’ve imagined it, I might be eating something just like this as you are reading – probably something even better.

I adapted this salad from this Ina Garten recipe. She developed the salad to be served cold, but my version was delicious hot (and cold as well – the leftovers are amazing!). A few changes: I used grilled zucchini instead of raw cucumber, and left out the dill and red onion (I realize all of these changes make it less Greek…that’s okay). I halved the original recipe and, even with three people, we had a ton of leftovers.

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Seared Tuna Sashimi with Wasabi Vinaigrette

 

I hated, hated wasabi for years. When it accidently touched my sushi it would be a disappointment. When chefs felt the need to use it as a Frites dip I saw it as a waste. The taste of it ruined my life (dramatic? me?) until a sneaky sushi chef in San Diego hid fresh wasabi in my halibut sushi. It was life-changing! Such pure flavor, such a sinus-clearing heat! I finally saw the appeal of that wasabi business – people were just trying to make due when they couldn’t get the best (fresh wasabi, I have later discovered, is the best). And it turns out, there are actually some decent wasabi pastes out there, not that I care anymore because I love it all.

This little salad/appetizer embodies my declaration of love for wasabi. It is the fabulous Eric Ripert’s recipe, from the beautiful Avec Eric book, and I am officially adding it to my mental list of absolute favorite recipes.

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Margarita Shrimp

At the beginning of summer, I was incredibly wary about shrimp. I had eaten them here and there but never more than a couple at a time – they weirded me out. Totally abnormal, I know, but crustaceans were one of those things I adamantly refused to eat as a kid and I was still getting used to them. After my time on the East Coast this summer (where I gladly ate a few of these), my crustacean avoidance has disappeared. Realizing this, I have been incredibly excited to see what I can do with these babies!

When I’m not quite sure what to do with an ingredient, I usually ask my dad. For this recipe, which was a last-minute dinner one night when I couldn’t decide what to make, I looked at what we had in the fridge and my dad’s Citrus Chicken immediately came to mind. Using what we had, I gave my shrimp a nice citrus, cayenne, and – why not? - tequila bath, based loosely on his recipe.

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Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Oreganata Pasta

Having an herb garden is the most amazing thing. Tim and I did some serious gardening this spring – we have a regular garden with tomatoes, squash, green beans, jalapenos, and potatoes.  We also have this amazing planter that runs along the garage (about 15 feet); it has perfect soil and perfect shading, and it has become my herb and flower garden. We have green onions, two types of basil, parsley, thyme, chives, sage, and even cilantro (which I despise). Every night when I’m making dinner, I get such a thrill out of walking to the back yard to snip what I need.

I’ve been visiting the garden often lately because I’ve been making a lot of Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipes. She was on the cover of Bon Appétit a couple months ago, and I made two of the recipes – the Halibut with Mango Avocado Salsa (Thanks, Karen!), and this one, and they were both so great that I bought her new cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. What I like about her style is that it’s to the point, simple, and natural. She talks about her kids a lot, which I like, and includes a significant number of vegetarian recipes for a non-vegetarian cookbook…at the same time, my very carnivorous boyfriend found plenty of options, too. I’m sure I’ll be posting more from her!

Fried Fish Sandwiches

This recipe was inspired by summer – there’s nothing like a lazy meal on a hot day (preferably by the water). These sandwiches take me to one of those typical fish joints on the beach where they call your number over a loudspeaker when your order is ready – because of course, who wants to be indoors in the summertime? Easy, quick, fresh and delicious; and honestly, not that bad for you compared to other fried things you might imbibe in this summer (Deep Fried Twinkies?).

If you want to class up your homemade fried fish even more, I would recommend pairing these with a bright Rosé. I am beyond obsessed with Villicana Winery’s 2010 Rosé - I literally take it to every summer social event and drink it at home, too. The wine goes great with spicy foods and while this fish isn’t particularly spicy, if you wanted to up the cayenne to a full teaspoon or sprinkle some on while cooking, you’d definitely get a nice kick. Cheers!

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Ahi Tuna Tartare

I always think of avocado as one of my top summer foods. On wheat bread with goat cheese and tomato, alongside a quesadilla, on toast, or smashed with a fork into guacamole, avocados at their prime are just the best!

I have been obsessed with the combination of avocado, orange, and raw fish (this recipe may have started it). Usually, we keep the fish plain, with microgreens, avocado, maybe citrus, and a simple dressing, but I decided to take a stab at a tartare with this recipe. Now I’m not 100% sure if this technically counts as a tartare – it might have poke leanings (feel free to enlighten me!), but whatever it is, this Asian-inspired dish is the perfect appetizer for a warm summer evening!

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Halibut and Vegetables en Papillote

Tim and I have a fantastic 2011 resolution (one that we actually started in December – how’s that for being early birds?)…and let me start out by saying that it was his idea! We are trying at least one new recipe each per week. It has to be either a food or cooking technique that we have both never tried, and those are the only rules. My secret goal is to show him how non-meat dishes can be filling and delicious.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the most fail-proof, delicious, healthiest way to cook fish: en papillote! Papillote sounds fancy and French, right? So misleading (ha)…it just means that you fold parchment paper into a little pocket, add fish, veggies, and wine, and let it bake for a few moments. The fish and veggies steam in the packet, and you end up with the most tender, flavorful fish imaginable.

This was probably the most fun we’ve ever had cooking together, and having our own individual packets made it easy to customize our dinner to our individual tastes – definitely a great date night cooking recipe!

Can you tell whose papillote was whose?

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