For those super hot days, nothing beats a refreshing watermelon salad with feta. Interesting combination but unbeatable, as it is both savoury and refreshing. It’s easy and quick to prepare and makes for a great salad to accompany a BBQ.
There are many different variations of this salad, as seen in restaurants and on the web, sometimes it’s served with mint instead of basil, and olives and onions are even added to the mix, but I like to keep it simple as I find the olives and onions can overpower the watermelon. However don’t scrimp on the ingredients, try to get the best feta you can find, not Canadian feta but Greek feta, and even better if you can get your hands on the goat feta, also use the best olive oil you have and choose the pinkest watermelon possible!
No need to prepare this in advance as it only takes 5 minutes to assemble!
watermelon, 1/2 inch slice then cubed
1 inch thick slice of greek feta, cubed
bunch of thai basil or purple basil
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
ground fresh black pepper
watermelon feta salad
Cut one slice of the watermelon and cube it and assemble on a plate by keeping same shape as slice.
Sprinkle cubed Greek feta overtop watermelon.
Sprinkle basil leaves and then drizzle olive oil overtop. Squeeze lemon juice from 1/2 lemon and grind fresh black pepper over salad.
This buttermilk coleslaw is my go-to summer BBQ salad! It is a great side to most meats that you will BBQ, such as beer-can chicken, baby back ribs, as shown above, or sausages. It is especially well paired when you’re serving up something that is spicy as it helps cut the spice with it’s creamy and rich buttermilk dressing. It is also perfect in a pulled pork sandwich too!
This is a great salad to prepare for a BBQ as it can be made in advance and refrigerated. My husband even prefers it the next day so you can even prepare it a day in advance if need be. It’s so easy and quick to put it together that you can also make it on a weeknight BBQ as you can whip this up in under 15 minutes!
Take note that even though the dressing tastes rich, it doesn’t necessarily have to be high in fat content. Yes, the buttermilk is low in fat, but feel free to use light mayonnaise and low-fat sour cream, as I do, it will cut down on the fat and be just as rich and creamy tasting!
1 small red onion (or ¼ of a large red onion) thinly sliced
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Packaged coleslaw (pre-cut green and red cabbage and carrots)
If there are no carrots in the packaged coleslaw julienne 1 carrot
You can’t beat this combination, beets and burrata. I must admit that I have only become a fan of beets, that is, roasted beets, just recently. Pardon my ignorance, but the reason I never ventured into the beets territory is simply because for all these years I thought beets always came out of a jar in their vinegary form! For some reason, I’ve never been a fan of food pickled in vinegar so I just avoided trying anything with beets. And while I’m at it, why pickle anything? Aren’t eggs just better fresh anyways and if you’re going to keep anything why not just put it in olive oil, instead of vinegar…
Anyhow enough about the pickling, let me tell you about one magical day in a restaurant in Montreal which changed my perception of beets. A friend had mentioned that the best salad on the menu of this restaurant was the beet and goat cheese salad. Well, this was the game changer for me, at that moment I discovered that beets come in wonderfully bright colours other than dark burgundy and that they are actually very flavourful especially when roasted.
So, yes roasted beets are quite good served in a salad with goat cheese, as it is often prepared, however you can bring it to another level by serving it with burrata instead of goat cheese.
If you haven’t experienced burrata yet, let me introduce you to a whole new world of fresh italian cheese which is just heavenly creamy. In my book, once you go burrata you can’t go back to mozzarella or even mozzarella di bufala. It’s just a better version of mozzarella as the mozzarella is combined with cream in a pouch made of mozzarella. It’s quite indulgent and can be served with fresh tomatoes just as is done with mozzarella di bufala or served with roasted beets as done here.
The beets and the vinaigrette for this recipe can both be prepared in advance, up to a day prior to you serving the salad, which makes for a great first course when hosting guests. It is not only bright and colourful but it’s spectacular because of the addition of the oh-so decadent burrata. The roasted hazelnuts are also a must in this salad as they add the necessary crunchy texture to the mix.
beets and burrata
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons shallot, minced
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8-10 medium sized beets, golden, candy-stripped or red beets, tops trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 200g packs of burrata or fresh mozzarella di bufala if you can’t find burrata
bunch of basil leaves, cut lengthwise into ribbons
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, peeled and coarsely chopped
Preheat oven at 375oF
To make vinaigrette combine vinegar, lemon juice and shallot in a small bowl and stir in mustard. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can cover and chill vinaigrette while the beets are roasting.
Toss beets in oil and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer beets to a baking dish large enough to fit all beets. I prefer to line the baking dish with aluminum foil as it prevents me from having to clean and scrub the baking dish as the beets will bleed in the baking dish. Then cover baking dish with foil really tightly so steam cannot escape. Cook for about 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothbpick can slide easily through the beets.
Carefully uncover the baking dish as the steam is very hot. Let beets cool for about 10 minutes, until you can handle them, then peel beets by using a paper towel to help rub off the peel. This will also help in ensuring you don’t stain your hands.
Quarter the beets. In a medium bowl toss beets with ½ of quantity of vinaigrette.
Spread burrata on a serving plate and season with salt and pepper. Top burrata with beets and drizzle remaining vinaigrette over the beets and burrata. Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and basil.
The first signs of spring signal the arrival of fresh snow crab here in Montreal, which means it’s a great time for crab cakes or one of my favourite combination of ingredients, a salad of crab, shrimp and avocado. Now there are many different interpretations of these three ingredients but here’s a fresh take which will be a lot more exciting for your tastebuds.
You can also add another level of texture to this recipe by topping the salad with finger lime caviar beads. The finger lime is a cylindrical citrus fruit originating from Australia. The fruit is filled with caviar beads of pink or green color, which has a juice that is acidic and similar to that of a lime. They are not easy to find because of its Australian origin, however the availability of the finger lime is expanding as they are now being grown and harvested in California. Adding finger limes to this recipe is a lot more fun than a lime wedge as the little beads pop and burst and ouze lime juice as you eat them.
finger lime caviar
This recipe is easy as 1, 2, 3, as it only requires cutting and mixing the ingredients. The only time-consuming effort in this recipe is picking the crab meat from fresh cooked crab shells. However you can skip this step and save yourself some time by buying fresh lump crabmeat from the grocery store that is pre-packaged and pasteurized. Obviously you wouldn’t use this stuff for a seafood platter however it’s perfect for this type of salad or a crab cake. When refrigerated and unopened this pasteurized crab meat can last up to a year or so, however when opened it has to be eaten within 3 to 5 days.
Recipe serves 2
1 mango, cubed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced and few sprigs for garnish
½ jalapeno chile, minced
½ shallot, finely minced
salt and ground pepper
4 – 6 cooked medium sized shrimps, peeled and diced
¼ cup fresh crabmeat, picked and shredded (or pasteurized lump crabmeat)
1 avocado, diced
finger lime caviar from 2 finger limes (optional)
lime wedges for serving
crab, shrimp and avocado appetizer
In a medium sized bowl mix diced mango, olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and shallot. Season with salt and pepper.
Add shrimp and crabmeat to bowl and combine.
In small serving vessels or bowls first layer crab mixture, then spoon avocado on top and garnish with finger lime caviar or lime wedge if finger limes are not available. Then top with a cilantro sprigs and serve immediately.
Voila! Makes for an easy appetizer anytime of the week.