This Summer Salad is French, Delish & Super Easy!

This Summer Salad is French, Delish & Super Easy!

Is it summer yet? With Memorial Day right around the corner, and a heat wave oppressing the south, it sure does feel like it. My very own version of a favorite French salad is easily put together, and works with just about any fresh veggies and tuna/salmon you have on hand. It’s perfect for when you have graduation ceremonies, recitals and tee-ball playoff games to attend, yet need a refreshing entrée salad to whip up and fortify you before going into Mom mode.

This simple yet sophisticated salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, anchovies (my favorite) and hard boiled eggs. In this particular version of Nicoise, I left off the olives, and to my sweet surprise it still tasted like a classic Nicoise. The great thing about this quintessential summer salad is not needing everything you think you do to make it great – everything works! Let your creative license run wild!

On many American menus, you can find a version of a Nicoise salad that includes tuna, crisp-tender haricot verts and par-cooked potatoes.

Mine, of course gives a nod to the original French dish, and whole lotta latitude with this creative adaption. Let me know how you tweaked yours, and I just might show up for dinner!

Jorj’s Nicoise Salad
Serves 4
30 minute cuisine

For the salmon:

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the vinaigrette

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Juice of a lemon, about two tablespoons

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

For the baby potatoes:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad:

1 (2–pound) whole salmon fillet

1 pound seared tuna

1 (7-ounce) tin flat fillets of anchovies, packed in oil

¾ pound green beans, trimmed

1 pound Baby potatoes, boiled and peeled

Juice of a lemon, about two tablespoons

½ pound fresh Brussels sprouts, about 12, trimmed, about 2 cups

5 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

 

Boil the baby potatoes until the tines of a fork can penetrate easily, about 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Cool these to room temperature. Blanch the green beans and Brussels sprouts in boiling water, throwing them into an ice-water bath to cool down; then toss in the lemon juice.

Make a salmon rub from brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, onion and garlic powders. Smush the powders onto a whole filet of salmon, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in a 375°oven until still very moist on the inside, about 20 minutes.

Add the seared tuna, anchovies, hardboiled eggs and grape tomatoes.

Make a vinaigrette from chopped shallot, mustard, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can store the dressing in any container that you like, and add to the salad per your own taste. I like to drizzle my salad with vinaigrette right before I eat it.

Lay everything onto a platter and chill for at least an hour (and as long as all day).

 

A “Cocktail Hour” Appetizer Just for You!

A “Cocktail Hour” Appetizer Just for You!

When you’re thinking about Holiday Party cocktail appetizers, my recipe for Marinated Shrimp with Ginger-Peanut Dipping Sauce is a keeper!! This simple appy can be prepped hours before the game and finished just in time for kick-off. It yields six servings, so I don’t think anyone will go home disappointed. You may also have left over sauce to use as an aioli on the Sunday Best burgers I have in mind later this weekend, wink, wink…

Feel free to mess with the ingredients in both the marinade and the sauce until you find your perfect combination of flavors. By this point, Santa knows if you’re naughty or nice, so what’s the big deal about lots of extra peanut butter, right? And to add insult to injury, I gotta say that dirty martinis are amazing with this appy!

For more foodie naughtiness, order Sunday Best Dishes TODAY for the food’ophile on your Christmas list! For Jorj.com subscribers get your FREE autographed bookplate to insert into the book! Send an email TODAY to Jorj.com that includes your mailing address and the name you want me to personalize!!

Marinated Shrimp
with Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce
MAKES 6 SERVINGS


Shrimp
4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced, about ½ cup
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 1 tablespoon
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tender white parts only (substitute with 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground curry
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon all natural sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
½ lb. fresh extra large shrimp, about 10 to 14

Place the green onions, garlic, lemongrass pieces and ginger into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to create a thick, yellow paste. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable paste and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, sugar and salt and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Cool this spice mixture to room temperature. Coat the shrimp with the spice mixture. Place into a re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Heat a grill pan, coated with vegetable oil spray, over medium high heat. Grill the shrimp for about 2 minutes, turn and cook until just opaque about 2 minutes more. The shrimp will be golden and moist on the inside.
————————————————————————————————————
Sauce
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
½ cup all natural peanut butter
Juice of 1 large lime, about 2 tablespoons
½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons
Whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, and ginger in a small pan over medium-low heat until smooth. Reduce the temperature to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm or at room temperature.
Serve the shrimp on a platter with a bowlful of ginger peanut sauce alongside.

Tapas Crawl Dinner Party!

Tapas Crawl Dinner Party!

Shhh! I snuck a few veggies in these fab meatballs...

close-up view of wide variety of Tapas in restaurant at spain

One of the coolest outings we arranged was on a family trip to Madrid; it was a tapas crawl! Our guide met us at our hotel and then took us on a walking tour of the local bars and pubs. We sampled small plates of paella, shellfish, specialty croquettes, and rich tomato soups, both hot and cold. We ended the evening at a coffee shop that served warmed churros directly from the fryer to the middle of your table, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and accompanied by a rich, deep chocolate sauce for dipping. To say the evening was yummy would be one of the biggest underestimates of the century!

For a recent dinner party, I decided to incorporate the tapas theme into the evening. My BIG plan is to think SMALL! Small plates that is. Rather than a soup to the nuts four-course menu, think small plates all the way through the meal.

I started the meal with an antipasti plate that included plums wrapped with prosciutto. The specialty drink was Sangria, which blended a bottle of dry red wine with brandy, triple sec, lemon and orange juices, and ginger ale.

 

The secret to a successful small plate dinner party, is to have the plates stacked for each item, and the food prepped and ready to go. The rest of the meal went like this: Croquets de Jamon, which is a fried ham and béchamel croquette, served with a dipping sauce of spicy aioli. Chilled gazpacho shooters served in juice glasses came next. A small dish of garlicky shrimp and shishito peppers followed the soup. In place of traditional paella, my Americanized version was made with shredded chili roasted short ribs, peas, and Portobello mushrooms. The final small plate presented warm churros with individual small bowls of chocolate sauce for dipping. Hungry yet?! If any of these tapas ring your bell, let me know. I have the recipes!

 

I canvassed my guests, and by far the favorite dish of the evening was the shrimp. It’s not only terrific as a small plate, but it’s also an easy, one-pan meal that is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. Shishito peppers are only in season for a short time, so feel free to substitute with slices of poblano peppers, snow pea pods, green beans or asparagus. They all work well, with the garlicky olive oil and shrimp.

Garlicky Shrimp and Shishito Peppers

Serves 4 as main 6 to 8 as appy

30 Minute Cuisine

Slow cooking garlic in olive oil does double duty. The oil becomes fragrant, while the garlic becomes soft and sweet. Add the bite of whole shishito peppers and delicate shrimp, and you have a simple one-pan meal that come together in minutes!

1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced, about ½ cup

½ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

10 to 12 shishito peppers

1 bunch green onions, tops removed, halved, and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 pound fresh extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 26 to 30

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and paprika and cook until soft, and just beginning to turn golden on the edges. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Add peppers, green onions, and shrimp to the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Toss the veggies and shrimp in the garlicky oil, until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked for about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Creole Shrimp Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boats

Creole Shrimp Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boats

Delicate strands of spaghetti squash soak up the spiced, lemony sauce in this dish. Scoop the squash onto a serving platter and ladle the shrimp and sauce over top… or take the squash boats to the table and invite everyone to dig in!

Serves 4
40 Minute Cuisine

Preheat the oven to 375°

For Squash:

  • 1 whole spaghetti squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For Shrimp:

  • 1-pound jumbo (21 to 25 count) frozen shrimp, peeled, deveined with tail on, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • ½ cup butter, 4 tablespoons
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 2 large lemons, about ¼ cup
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Pierce the squash with the tines of a fork. Microwave the squash on high for 2 to 3 minutes to soften (this will make it easier to cut). Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place onto a baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle the flesh of the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Flip the squash and bake flesh side down until soft, 30 to 40 minutes.

Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 to 30 minutes.

Melt the butter, olive oil, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and oregano in a pot over medium low heat. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and place into the butter sauce. Cook on medium heat until the shrimp are pink, about five minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and flip over, flesh side up. Use a fork to pull spaghetti strands from the squash. Divide the shrimp into the squash boat. Pour the sauce over the top. Garnish with additional fresh parsley.

Company’s Comin’ Gumbo

Company’s Comin’ Gumbo

It’s almost Christmas Eve! If you’re looking for a dish that is perfect to serve while gathering around the tree, here is my Company’s Comin’ Gumbo recipe. You can prepare it in the morning and heat it up as the family arrives. This soup/stew has just enough spice to keep you warm and toasty so get out there a carol up a storm!!


Gumbo

This is a great make-ahead meal. You can put it together on the stove anytime of the day and warm it up when the guests arrive. The roux makes the dish… it’s rich, luscious and full of flavor!

Serves a 6 to 8
40 Minutes (or more) ‘til Dinnertime

Preheat the oven to 350°

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, 2 sticks
  • 1 red pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 1 green pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth, or prepared low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and cut in half
  • 2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled, deveined with tails removed
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked white rice

Spread the flour onto a baking sheet. Toast the flour in the oven for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the toasted flour. Stir in the diced peppers. Cook the roux until it is amber brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook until the liquid is incorporated. Stir in the chicken broth, clam juice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Pour in the roux and cook for 5 minutes. Season with hot pepper sauce and additional salt and pepper. Stir in the sausage, shrimp and okra. Simmer until the shrimp is cooked through and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.

Serve the gumbo by placing a scoop of rice in the middle of a bowl. Surround the rice with gumbo. Serve additional hot pepper sauce on the side!

Nana Network Tip

Use thawed, frozen shrimp and frozen okra in this recipe. It’s perfect and way less expensive!

All the Single Ladies!

All the Single Ladies!

I hear from my single girlfriends that cooking dinner for one is just too hard to do. Instead they opt for a drive-through fast food joint, a stop at the expensive prepared food department in the grocery store, a table for one in the corner of the local restaurant or even worse….  a bowl of cereal in front of the tv! There must be a better way.

When I find myself alone for an evening I look forward to enjoying a meal that I might not have on a regular basis. For example, my hubby is allergic to shellfish and hates, hates, hates beans. When he’s absent my culinary tastes go wild with anticipation. Red beans and rice, black bean enchiladas, lobster mac and cheese. The meals are endless, and most are made with ingredients that I keep in the pantry and freezer. Just like that box of cereal.

My Cajun Shrimp over Sautéed Spinach is just the recipe you need when you find yourself hungry and alone. It’s comforting, yummy, quick and adjustable. A well-stocked pantry and fridge help make your meal come together without a trip to the store. I keep certain frozen foods like shrimp and veggies in my freezer at all times. Most shrimp is flash frozen on the boat after it’s caught so doesn’t get much fresher than the freezer bag. Fresh veggies are best, but frozen veggies are often prepared right after harvest at the peak of ripeness, so they are a great back-up.

Seasonings like Cajun spice and hot sauce will last forever on the shelf and in the fridge, respectively. So all you really need for this recipe is fresh lemon, and this too is something I keep on hand. Remember the old Oprah decorating tip of keeping a bowlful of lemons on a side table? Not only do you have a fresh ingredient… you have décor!

Let’s channel your inner chef (kinda like that Chopped show on the Food Network):  What if you don’t have frozen spinach? You can serve this shrimp dish over rice or pasta (also pantry staples). What if you don’t have shrimp? You can use chicken tenders or veggies. This same recipe can become Spicy Cajun Brussels Sprouts over Rice or Spicy Cajun Chicken over Pasta. Any ingredient works. The dish comes together in minutes and lends itself to your tastes. You know what else? A nice glass of chilled white wine pairs way better with seafood, poultry or veggies than it does with cold cereal and milk. Right there is all the motivation you need to get cookin’.

What’s your “Single Ladies” favorite meal?


Cajun Shrimp over Sautéed Spinach

I keep frozen shrimp and spinach in my freezer all of the time. On those nights I find myself at home alone for supper, this is my go-to meal! I love it spicy…. So will you!

Serves 4
15 Minutes ‘til Dinnertime

For Spinach:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 4 to 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach (substitute with 20 ounces frozen spinach, thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper

For Shrimp:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons, about ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 to 6 drops (or more) hot pepper sauce
  • 1 lb. fresh jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 21 to 25 (substitute with frozen, thawed shrimp)

For the spinach, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and just beginning to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

For the shrimp, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the lemon slices. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Cajun spice and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in as much hot sauce as you like. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until the shrimp are opaque and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the shrimp over the spinach and serve!