Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cooking for My Parents

My parents just celebrated their 33rd Anniversary, and I decided that this year instead of going crazy trying to think of the perfect gift I would cook them dinner. Well instead of thinking of the perfect gift I was left to think of the perfect meal.

My parents are not picky eaters and I knew whatever I made they would love because "It's the thought that counts" but I really wanted to show them how much I am enjoying my nutrition classes and the ways in which it is helping to shape my cooking.

After looking through a few hundred recipes I finally decided on the menu:

Vegetable Salad with Creamy Oregano Dressing

Ingredients for Salad:
1 small head romaine lettuce, washed and dried                   
1 small head frisee, washed and dried                       
1 small head radicchio, washed and dried                 
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 red radishes, sliced paper thin                     
3/4 cup canned hearts of palm, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 6)
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
1 cup diced feta cheese (6 ounces)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste                     

Ingredients for Oregano Dressing:
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons mayonnaise                  
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard                      
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil    
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
Making the Dressing:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until smooth and well blended. Stir in the oregano and salt and pepper.

Making the Salad:
Chop the lettuce, radicchio, and frisée into bite-sized pieces. Toss them together in a large bowl. Add two-thirds of the vinaigrette and salt and pepper.
Mix together the remaining vegetables, cheese, and herbs in the mixing bowl and toss with the remaining vinaigrette.
Spoon the mixture into the serving bowl and serve immediately.

The salad was fantastic! It is a great mix of vegetables and the dressing had great flavor. I will be making this for many meals to come! Be sure to switch out vegetables for the different seasons and try seasonings in the dressing other then oregano… I plan to try basil next!

Whole Wheat Linguini with Anchovies, Kale and Tomatoes

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1 bunch cavolo nero (Kale) stemmed and shredded
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
6 to 8 flat anchovy fillets
1 fresh chile pepper, finely chopped
About 1/4 cup EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large egg yolks
Salt and black pepper
A few grates nutmeg
Grated pecorino-romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water.
While the pasta is working, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies, cover the pan with a splatter screen or loose foil and let the anchovies melt into the oil. Add the chile pepper and garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add the kale and let it wilt; toss in tomatoes and season with a little nutmeg.
In a measuring cup, beat the egg yolks with some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Toss the drained spaghetti with the kale, a few handfuls of pecorino-romano, lots of black pepper and the tempered egg yolks; add more pasta cooking water as necessary to evenly coat. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls.

Just as expected my parents said they loved dinner and were so happy to have me cook for them, I plan to do it again sometime soon, no need to wait until their 34th anniversary when both Mother and Father’s day are coming up.

In addition to mom and dad I had two special 4 legged guests
Schnoodles and Dylan

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