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Posts Tagged ‘Quick’

I made this for lunch for my mom when she visited in August.  We had saved a hunk of pancetta for her visit but after calculating the meals we had planned out, using the pancetta was looking unlikely–until I realized our need for a light lunch.  Ironic but true, pancetta would be the star of this light meal.

The dressing has a strong, smoky flavor (even though pancetta is not smoked).  Sturdy romaine is ideal, both for its texture and its light flavor.  Adding croutons or caramelized onions might put this salad over the top, but the simple recipe is enough on its own.

Pancetta Vinaigrette
~2oz pancetta, cubed tiny
~1 tsp mustard
~1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Over medium heat cook pancetta.  When cooked, turn heat to low to continue to render the fat.  Transfer pancetta and fat to a heat-safe bowl.  Whisk in mustard and vinegar.  Thin with oil if necessary.  Of course, you can be creative with what you add to the pancetta.

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Well, I certainly think it’s a milkshake, no sort-of about it.  This is a discovery that keeps on giving: a healthy, quick and easy, delicious shake, perfect for breakfast or dessert or snacking because you’re hungry and dinner is just far enough away to warrant eating something now.

So what makes it a sort-of-milkshake?  Well, there’s no ice cream, for one.  No ice, either.  The cheat: frozen banana.  Blend a frozen banana and milk and you get the texture of a true ice cream shake.  The banana adds both richness and creaminess.  And it’s cheap and healthy to boot.

Frozen bananas are a great trick.  Impossible as it seems, a frozen banana really does have the consistency of ice cream.  And it requires nothing more than just a little forethought and planning.  Peel a banana.  Put it in a container (or put several in one container).  Put in freezer.  That’s it.  Definitely peel ahead though; peeling a frozen banana isn’t quite the same as peeling a fresh one.

You need little more than milk and banana to make this work–the more banana, the thicker and creamier, of course–but why stop there?  This shake pictured above has been our staple: banana, oats, peanut butter, milk (and when feeling decadent vanilla and cinnamon, too).  Blend blend blend.  I use a full banana, a large scoop of PB, and fill maybe 1/2-1 cup of oats.  Don’t be scared by the oats.  They get plenty ground up and add both body and healthiness (word?) to the shake.  Okay, they’re a little “gritty,” so if you hate them leave them out.

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Salad!

Yikes, where did this blog go?!  Well, that’s what we get with the end of the semester (semesters) closing in for one part-time student with a full-time job and one full-time student with a part-time job.  Whew.  But, you know, even though something like 5 weeks have elapsed since our last post, we still have over 40 views just two days ago.  I guess we have a dedicated and hopeful following.

This post is about salad!  And it’s about social constructs, too, because lately our salads are salads only in name, I guess.  What makes a salad?  Romeo by any other name would still smell like a rose, but does a salad have to be cold leafy greens, or a starch smothered in a cold sauce?  Whatever you want to call this, it at least began as a salad.

Before I go on, my wife makes the most delightful salads, and in particular she is a salad dressing master.  I’ve heard those scoffers, those unbelievers who think homemade salad dressing is for people who don’t live in the real world, for people obsessed about purity, and for people with have too much time–real people just don’t have the means to make their own salad dressing–from scratch!!  But, um, this is crazy talk.  These fools have never watched my Joann whip together a dressing, in a snap, with no planning, and reckless abandon.

I’ve tried to replicate.  After all, Joann makes it look so easy!  It’s just some oil, something acidic, salt, pepper, and MAYBE something for flavor.  That’s it.  Well, it’s only a little more complicated.  Classic mistake (which I made, of course): not enough oil.  You’re going to use ingredients that are very flavorful in their own right, so mellow it out with enough oil, which will also ensure that everything in the salad gets nicely coated.  And use good oil.  Come on, there are like three ingredients here, they need to matter.  But “good” oil doesn’t mean black truffle infused olive oil hand squeezed from olives that were massaged every night.  It means olive oil, extra virgin–and it doesn’t need to be fancy.  Or it means sesame oil (actually, it means only 1/3 sesame oil because a little goes a long way).  Or peanut oil.  The point is that the oil add some flavor of its own.  Is that so much to ask?

As far as acid goes: vinegar of any nearly any kind, lemon juice or some other citrus, maybe even pomegranate or cranberry juice (though those are probably more of a “flavoring” than the acid base we’re looking for).  And for flavorings: just about anything.  Herbs are good, as is honey or mustard.  It’s hard to go wrong here.  Just be thoughtful about matching the oil, acid, and flavoring.

Back to this salad.  We started with a bed of spinach.  To that we added caramelized onions, sauteed rutabaga, sliced radishes, toasted almonds (“toast” them in some oil just until they smoke–they are incredible), dried cranberries, and chicken.  More than half the ingredients are cooked!   And the warm ingredients caused the spinach to wilt just slightly, which was very nice.  We didn’t even need croutons or cheese!  For other additions: sauteed mushrooms, summer squash, sliced cheese (we’ve been using a vegetable peeler on romano and cheddar), toasted croutons (can be made using left-over bread and some oil–just pop under the broiler).  Also, caramelized onions make everything better.

Well, after all that, I realized we don’t even have a picture of this epic salad.  Fine.  I’ll leave you with a totally unrelated picture: still life, in April.

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