Potato Salad with Peas, Radishes and Eggs- A new twist on a classic

It has been another week of glorious weather! We experienced our Northern solstice a few days ago marking the beginning of summer. As the days slowly grew longer we enjoyed the daylight late into the evening hours. Now the days will gradually get shorter so we will scramble out to enjoy every minute of sunshine before summer ends.

I am continuing on my journey to improve my health through exercise and healthy eating. The other day I rode 31 km on my bike covering a span of Toronto from the east side of the Don River to the west side of the Humber River along the waterfront and Don Valley trails. Every few kilometres we looked up to see a different side of the CN tower allowing us to gage the distance travelled and to see the skyline from many different perspectives.

There is a fairly steep hill near my place that, until now, I have barely been able to scale on foot without breathing hard. At the end of this cycling trip I was able to ride up the hill without stopping. This major milestone has taught me that 2 months after my biking accident I am able to ride with confidence. I am able to face the challenges head on and knock them off the list one by one.

It has been an incredible journey, so far. I am learning to live in the moment and to savour each one. I have renewed my love affair with my city by cycling around her parks and paths. I have taken my life back under my control and I feel great!

Part of this wonderfiul journey is discovering ways to enjoy classic dishes with a lighter twist. Potato salad is a traditional addition to a grilled dinner or picnic. This version is light yet has subtle, balanced flavours. The addition of radishes and eggs add a level of complexity needed to make the dish memorable.

Potato Salad with Peas, Radishes and Eggs

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp. pine nuts
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Sea salt
4 eggs
1 cup frozen green peas
1 ½ pounds organic potatoes, washed and halved
2 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:

Sea salt and pepper
1 tsp. French Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Toast pine nuts in a frying pan for 2 minutes, or until lightly coloured and fragrant. Set Aside.

Soak the onion in a bowl of cold salted water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Boil the 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them from cooking. Shell the eggs and cut each in quarters.

Boil the green peas in salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking and let them cool.

Boil the potatoes for 20-25 minutes in salted water until tender to the fork but not overcooked.

To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together.

In a large bowl combine the potatoes, onions, peas, eggs and radishes. Dress with the vinaigrette, herbs and pine nuts and season with sea salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.

Recipe adapted from La Tartine Gourmand- Recipes from an Inspired Life by Beatrice Peltre

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Roasted Potato Salad with Feta and Mint

As I mentioned earlier, I have taken up cycling again. I used to cycle quite often until my last bike rusted out and died. I had such a glorious ride on Saturday so I rushed out Sunday afternoon to hunt for a new bike. I decided to test drive a hybrid bike from my local cycle shop. While riding down a side road the tire got caught in a rut in the road. I went down face first onto the pavement and I ended up with a badly scratched face and 2 black eyes. Thankfully no cars were coming and I did not break any bones.

Thankfully, the bike was not even scratched. I promptly returned it to the store and came home to find an ice pack.

I have spent the last few days explaining my new look to my colleagues at work. It is interesting to see people’s reactions to this. Some immediately thought the worst and assumed that someone had hurt me. Some hardly noticed. I must say that I am more amused by their reactions than by my own.

Now I know you must be thinking that this will make me give up on cycling, but my stubborn Scottish blood won’t let me. Now it has become a challenge that I must take on. I cannot let this get the better of me. I was back out last night hunting for a new bike.  I plan to keep at it although next time I will definitely wear a helmet.

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
– Author Unknown

In addition to cycling I am walking, doing a Zumba work out and eating well. I still feel good about my journey in spite of this setback. I plan to report back in a month or two to say that I have reached my personal goal.

During the summer, I like to eat salads and light meals for dinner. This is a quick and easy take on a traditional potato salad. It makes a great week night dinner when you are in a hurry but still want to eat healthy.

Roasted Potato Salad with Feta and Mint

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
6 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and halved
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt flakes
1 cup frozen peas blanched
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, blanched
2 oz. feta cut into large slices
6 slices prosciutto
½ cup mint leaves

Dressing
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the potato on a baking sheet and toss with a little olive oil and sea salt.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and tender. Set aside to cool slightly. To make the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar and mustard.

To serve, toss the potato, peas and sugar snaps with half of the dressing. Divide the feta, prosciutto, potatoes, peas, sugar snaps and mint leaves between serving plates. Spoon over remaining dressing and serve.

Recipe adapted from Fresh, Fast, Simple by Donna Hay

Risotto Primavera-a taste of Spring

It’s Saturday morning and the end of a long week. I usually spend my weekends cooking and writing and shooting photos. I will spend some time doing research and finding the right recipe for the evening meal or blog entry. Once it has all come together as a plan, I head out to my local markets to shop for the freshest ingredients.

I am very lucky to live in a neighbourhood that is full of great markets, cheese shops, butchers and fruit stands. Often, I can get whatever I need at the local merchants. In summer we have a farmers’ market in the park where we can get locally grown organic produce and baked goods.

All of this is in the heart of Canada’s biggest city, Toronto.

I have spent the last month taking you on a tour of Italy and writing about regional Italian cuisine. I have really enjoyed making all of the dishes that I featured because I love Italian food for its simplicity and great flavours. Italian cooking is all about the fresh ingredients. I also loved reliving my travels through Italy by sharing those stories. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have.

My last entry in the series is Risotto Primavaera adapted from a new cookbook called The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. The book contains wonderful traditional recipes and great photos of the Tuscan region. Because I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock it makes a very tasty vegetarian and gluten-free dish. Cooking the peas in the wine and stock made them slightly mushy but full of flavour. In fact, the flavours were so well- balanced and delicious the leftovers were just as wonderful as they were on the first day.

Risotto Primavera

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup fresh or frozen peas
3 large carrots, peeled
1 bunch of asparagus
5 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ cup white wine
2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. butter
½ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Directions

Break the asparagus stems where they naturally snap and steam or roast them until cooked but still crunchy.

Slice carrots in diagonal medallions about ¼ inch thick and steam them until cook but still crunchy.

In a large saucepan, heat the stock and wine to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer and add peas.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy 6 quart pot over medium heat. Add rice and onion and sauté couple of minutes , stirring to coat and brown the rice.
Add 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Gradually ladle in the stock one ladle a t a time allowing the rice the rice to absorb the liquid as you stir. Keep stirring and ladling in the rest of the liquid and peas until the rice is done, about 20 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp. butter and stir.
Remove from heat and add the zest and lemon juice and Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve rice immediately in large shallow bowls with vegetables surrounding the rice.

Recipe adapted from The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes

Tortellini Soup with Vegetables

Don’t you just love spring? It is the time of year when the world comes to life again!

Those beautiful spring flowers are breaking through the ground, buds are forming on the trees and the birds are migrating north again. During March and April we see hundreds of bird species in this area as they stop by on their migration to Northern Ontario. Someone told me they stop for a rest after crossing the great lakes.

Some of the species stay with us until winter adding life and music to the landscape.  As soon as I hear the sound of birds outside my window in the early morning, I know the weather is changing.

Another great thing about spring is the burst of colour. The grass turns green all of a sudden and the drab greys of winter disappear. It’s time to pull out our bright spring wardrobe and pack away our winter woolies for another season.

This colourful soup reminds me spring. I used multi-coloured tortellini to add extra flavour and colour to the vegetables.

Tortellini Soup with Vegetables

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 medium leeks
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 oz. frozen cheese tortellini
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp. butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

Directions

Trim off the roots and dark green leaves from the leeks. Slice the white and light green part in half lengthwise and then slice the halves thinly crosswise. Rinse well and drain.

Melt the butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, leeks, and carrot. Season with a couple of pinches of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in ¼ tsp. black pepper and cook about 20 seconds, then add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add the tortellini and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the peas. Continue to simmer until the tortellini are cooked 3 to 5 minutes.

Season to taste, with salt and pepper.

Serve in warm bowls and top each bowl with some parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from the Best of Fine Cooking Pasta