Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Syrup

Watermelon and Arugula Salad close-up

This is, by far, my new favorite summer salad!  With just four ingredients, it’s a cinch to make – add to that that the presentation is gorgeous and the flavors play incredibly well together and it’s a winner.  The peppery arugula, sweet watermelon, savory blue cheese, and kicky balsamic combine to make the perfect bite.  It’s become a go-to recipe for picnics, dinner parties on the deck, or a quick dinner at home.  The kids love it, too!

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Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Syrup
Serves 6-8 as a side salad

Ingredients:

5 oz. baby arugula
2 1/2 cups cubed watermelon (1-inch dice)
4 oz. gorgonzola, chunked
balsamic syrup

Preparation:

1.  Spread the arugula out in a large shallow bowl.
2.  Layer the cubed watermelon over the arugula.
3.  Sprinkle gorgonzola over the salad.
4.  Drizzle the balsamic syrup over the salad.
5.  Serve and enjoy!

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Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Pearl Onions, Carrots and Grapes

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Have you had a chance to wander into a bookstore recently? The other day I had a rare few minutes to spare and made my way to our local Barnes and Noble and went straight to the cookbook section, of course. I was immediately drawn to “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes” by Diane Morgan. It is a beautiful book with gorgeous pictures, fascinating information, and delicious-sounding recipes for root vegetables. One, in particular, caught my eye: Farro with Carrots, Red Grapes and Pearl Onions. In my mind’s palate, this tasted amazing and I couldn’t wait to give it a try. And when I made the dish, it didn’t disappoint. Here is my version of Diane’s dish.

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Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Pearl Onions, Carrots, and Grapes
Serves 8-10 as a side dish

For the farro:
6 cups water
2 cups farro
1 1/2 tsp salt

For the roasted pearl onions, carrots and grapes:
2 cups frozen pearl onions (thawed and drained)
4 carrots, peeled then sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

For the dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

To assemble:
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Add the water, farro, and salt to a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil.
3. When the water starts to boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the farro for 20-45 minutes (it’s amazing how widely the cooking time can vary with farro – definitely start checking for doneness after cooking the farro for 20 minutes). The farro should be cooked al dente.
4. While the farro is cooking, toss the sliced carrots, red grapes, and pearl onions with the 3 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt on a sheet pan and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring twice while roasting.
5. When the farro is done, drain and transfer to a large bowl.
6. Add the roasted pearl onions, carrots, and grapes to the farro, making sure to scrape any liquid into the bowl.
7. For the dressing, combine the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and pour on the farro and roasted fruits and vegetables.
8. Add the parsley and lightly toasted pine nuts and toss to evenly distribute everything.

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Hello Sunshine: Winter Citrus Salad

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It’s that time of year again.  The holidays have passed, the skies are gray, the air is cold, and the days seem long, even though they’re short.  It’s right about now that I start dreaming of spring.  Inevitably, I turn to citrus.  Juicy oranges and grapefruit are just what the doctor ordered for this time of year – vibrant both in flavor and in color, they are at their best when we need them most!

Last weekend, I was asked to make a fruit salad for a brunch and I had only to look at the oranges and grapefruits filling my fruit bowl for inspiration.  A little web searching later and I stumbled upon a recipe on myrecipes.com for winter fruit salad, which I’ve adapted slightly here.  I’ll confess, it’s a little time-consuming.  The recipe requires you to supreme the oranges and grapefruits, but it’s well worth it in my humble opinion.  There’s something utterly decadent about eating those perfect sections of fruit without worrying about seeds or pith or membranes.  You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

To supreme the oranges and grapefruits, first cut off the tops and bottoms.

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Using a paring knife, cut the peel off the fruit.
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Cut between the membranes to release the sections of fruit. When you’re done, your fruit should look like this:
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And your sections should look like this:
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Winter Citrus Salad
Serves 8

4 Ruby Red Grapefruits
6 Navel Oranges
4 Kiwi
1/2 a Pomegranate
1 tsp grated ginger (grated using a microplane grater)

1. Supreme the oranges and grapefruit as described above and put into a bowl.
2. Use the same technique to cut the skin off the kiwi, then cut the kiwi lengthwise and slice into 1/2 circles. Add the kiwi to the bowl.
3. Cut the pomegranate into quarters, then remove the seeds from two quarters. Set aside in a separate bowl.
4. Drain the juice from the bowl of sectioned fruit (there will be a lot) into a glass and set aside.
5. Combine the grated ginger with a 1/4 cup of the reserved juice, and incorporate using a fork.
6. Drizzle the ginger and juice mixture over the fruit salad. Chill the salad for a couple of hours before serving.
7. Just before serving, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the salad.

Note: So far, the fruit I’ve used has been plenty sweet and I haven’t had to add any sweetener. If your fruit isn’t quite as sweet, feel free to add some sugar.

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alexandra's kitchen

mostly simple • sometimes fussy • always seasonal