Saturday brought about Cooking Class #2 – entitled “Simple Summer Salads”. Since it was over 90 degrees out, the thought of preparing a nice, cool, summer dish was very enticing. So here’s what Linda, Maggie, and I dished about:
Started off by making a simple Insalata Caprese – sliced mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil from our patio garden, topped with olive oil, and a small drizzle of balsamic cream. Devoured prior to picture-taking (sorry!) so on to the next one….
Next, we created a Cucumber Salad from Fructose Free Me’s blog recipe. Simple, unique twist on the ingredients. Let it “rest” while we made the next creation…..when we came back to try it, the cucumbers had released their liquid, the saltiness of the peanuts were now throughout the dish, and we were all surprised at how much we enjoyed the unique flavors in the salad.
Hector’s Waldorf Salad, from Talking About Food Again’s blog recipe. Liked this one, and we all decided we would customize it to our individual tastes: add rotisserie chicken, toss in grape halves, maybe use Granny Smith apples for more tartness, add some lemon zest with the lemon juice. Next, we took our salad and rolled it in a whole wheat tortilla shell with spinach leaves. Yum! On to more!
Summer Farro Salad consists of cooked farro, chopped roasted veggies (thanks to Hubby for his grill expertise!), lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Tear some fresh basil and add that to the bowl. Stir all to combine. (No real recipe, just flavors we all liked). Stir in some balsamic vinegar. Top with small chunks of pecorino cheese. Delightful! This is a simple salad that can be served warm, room temp, or leftover cold from the ‘fridge.
Finally, the white wine was opened (we needed it for the Penne with Grilled Fennel, Blue Cheese, and Sage….) and since it was opened, we each enjoyed a cold glass. Ahhh….now for the dish.
Cook the penne according to the box (we used whole wheat). Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Preheat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil, one or two cloves of minced fresh garlic, and the sliced grilled fennel. Stir to coat with oil, and cook 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and fennel warmed.
Add a splash of white wine (see, told you it’s in the dish), some crumbled blue cheese, 8-10 fresh sage leaves, and a splash of half & half or cream (we used milk and a 1/2 tsp of butter instead). Season with white pepper and a tiny pinch of salt. Once the sage infuses into the sauce, add the cooked pasta to the pan. Turn heat to low. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water and a little more blue cheese. Stir to coat pasta.
Plate the dish, sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top, and place a sage leaf on each serving. Then, enjoy with your glass of white wine.
Too full for dessert, we dismissed class, shared notes and tips, and said “good-bye” until July 14th, when we will enjoy the next Cooking Class featuring “Desserts – Healthy, Easy, Oh So Good For You”.
(P.S. – If you live in the Alpharetta / Roswell / No. Fulton area of Atlanta, and have an interest in attending any classes, simply send me a comment on the blog post. I’ll email info to you. Thanks!)