Tag Archives: tomatoes

Pasta salade Nicoise

Pasta salade Nicoise

I had some haricots verts left over. My first thought was to make a salade Nicoise. And then I thought, how about trying something a little different, a pasta salade Nicoise?

Along with the pasta and haricots verts, I could iinclude the tomatoes and Kalamata olives from the salade Nicoise. Mix the tuna in and the taste of the tuna would overwhelm the other ingredients in the salad, so that should be served on the side. I also thought that serving the egg on the side would be best.

I tend to be fussy in choosing the pasta for my pasta salads. I think it’s important that it complements the other ingredients in the salad. Here, the haricots verts are very thin, so I thought it best to have a smaller pasta. I found the mini farfalla, which worked well.

With combinations like this, you know before making the salad that it will be good. But I was surprised by just how well the pasta salad complemented the tuna and egg. This really is a serious competitor to the traditional salade Nicoise.

Pasta salade Nicoise

1–1/2 cups haricots verts cut into 1 to 1–1/2-inch pieces
1 hard-cooked egg, sliced into quarters lengthwise

3/4 cup mini farfalla
10 grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half
10 Kalamata olives cut in half lengthwise
yellowfin tuna in olive oil

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 clove (or 1 very small clove) garlic, pressed
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon herbes de provence
fresh ground pepper

Sometime before serving the salad, bring water to the boil, put in the haricots verts, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until just tender crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water to keep the color. Refrigerate. This would also be a good time to cook the egg.

When you are ready to make the salad, cook the mini farfalla following package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.

Mix the pasta, haricots verts, tomatoes, and olives in a bowl. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, mustard, and spices. Pour over the pasta salad and mix. Put on the plate and add the tuna and egg on the side.

Antipasto pasta salad

Antipasto pasta salad

I wanted to make a pasta salad with a lot of different ingredients and a lot of flavor. I thought of my antipasto salad. This is essentially the same salad but substituting the farfalla for the romaine lettuce. It worked well.

Antipasto pasta salad

3/4 cup farfalla

1/3–1/2 cup salami in bite-sized pieces
1/3–1/2 cup provolone in bite-sized pieces
4 artichoke hearts, cut in quarters
8 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2–3/4 roasted red pepper, sliced and cut into smaller pieces
8 Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
8 green olives, cut in half lengthwise
8 basil leaves, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspooon oregano
1 small clove garlic, pressed
fresh ground pepper

Cook pasta following package directions. Rinse, drain, and let cool.

Combine other ingredients with pasta in a bowl. Add the salami and provolone small amounts at a time and mix to keep pieces from sticking together. Add artichoke hearts last to minimize breaking them up.

Whisk or shake in a small jar the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, and pepper. Pour over the salad and lightly mix.

Scallop ceviche salad

Scallop ceviche salad

I like ceviche made with all different types of fish and seafood. I thought that ceviche would make a great centerpiece for a salad. As I considered what type of ceviche, I easily decided on scallops. I am a great scallop lover, so scallop ceviche sounded great.

I had never made any type of ceviche. I looked up recipes online. As far as the time to “cook” the scallops in the citrus juice, recipes varied from 20–30 minutes to 4 hours and even 8 hours to overnight. I settled on 2 hours and was very pleased with the outcome.

Most ceviche recipes include chiles. This is not surprising since the origin of ceviche is in Latin America. I wasn’t interest in going in that direction, so I omitted the chiles. But I did include the red onion. That worked well both for flavor and for adding some color. I used my mandolin to get very thin slices.

The tomatoes on the salad were the mini-heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. I love the color variety they add. Obviously other tomatoes would work as well.

This is a very easy and quick prep. Cut up the scallops and onion a few hours before and add the lime and lemon juice. Then just assemble the salad.

Scallop ceviche salad

4 sea scallops
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
(enough of the juice to cover the scallops)
2 very thin slices of red onion, cut into pieces

spring mix lettuce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
fresh ground pepper

Cut the scallops into quarters. Put in a small dish with the onions. Add lime juice and lemon juice to cover the scallops. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Assemble the salad with the lettuce, avocado, and tomatoes. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, lime juice, and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the salad. Strain the juice from the scallops and onions and place them on the salad.

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise

I consider the salade Nicoise to be one of the great, classic salads along with the Caesar salad. This is my take on it.

As I said with the balsamic chicken salad, the haricots verts are so much better than ordinary green beans. It’s worth the effort to find them.

With the Greek salad, I encouraged you to try the yellowfin tuna in olive oil. That is a good choice for this salad as well. But you can certainly get fancier. Specialty grocery stores (and Amazon) sell tuna filets in jars. Much more expensive than even the premium canned tuna, but awfully good. Or go all the way and sear a piece of Ahi tuna, nicely rare, for a special salad. This makes a salad that you can definitely serve to company.

Some other ideas for making the salad special for guests. Get several different kinds of small potatoes. When I did this for company, I combined small red potatoes with tiny fingerling potatoes. And include a mix of various types of olives–easy to do if you have a market with an olive bar. The variety just makes the salad even a little more special.

You will notice that I am making a little more of the vinaigrette than I usually make for a salad. This is because I like to toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes in the vinaigrette before putting them on the salad. I want to be sure I have enough to do this after having put dressing on the salad itself.

Salade Nicoise

3 to 4 small potatoes
1 helping fresh haricots verts
1–2 hard-cooked eggs

butter lettuce
Nicoise or Kalamata olives
cherry or other small tomatoes, cut in half
tuna (see discussion above)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
fresh ground pepper

Put potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until just tender, so a fork can be inserted easily. This will take something around 15 minutes, but use the fork test and start checking earlier. Drain the potatoes. Before finishing the salad, cut them in half or whatever seems appropriate for eating, given their size.

For the haricots verts, bring a pot with plenty of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook until they are just starting to get tender, 2 to 3 minutes, 2 for very crisp to 3 for tender crisp. You can take one out and check, but they will become a little more tender after you strain and rinse them, so stop on the crisp side. When cooked, strain and run cold water over them. This not only cools them down and helps to stop the cooking but also helps keep the nice green color.

Start the egg cooking in cold water. This heats the egg gradually, allowing air to escape from the shell slowly, without cracking it. Bring the water to the simmer, turn down the heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and cool the egg. Peel and cut the egg into quarters lengthwise for the salad.

Whisk together or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, and the other ingredients for the vinaigrette. Place lettuce on the plate. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the lettuce. Toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the ingredients on the lettuce, with tuna in the center.

Taco frittata

Taco frittata

I wanted to keep this simple. To me, the basic ingredients of a traditional taco are the seasoned ground beef, cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. So that’s what I included, except for the lettuce, of course, which I wouldn’t put in a frittata.

For the tomatoes, I find Roma tomatoes are firm and work well for cutting up for a frittata. And for the cheese, I used half sharp cheddar and half Monterey jack, as I had both in the refrigerator. You can obviously vary this. Shredded cheese mixtures specifically for Mexican food would be another possibility.

Taco frittata

1/4 pound ground beef
taco or other southwestern seasoning

1/2 cup tomatoes cut into small cubes
1/2 cup shredded cheese

3 eggs

Heat a bit of oil in a pan. Brown the ground beef, adding a very generous amount of the taco or other seasoning.

Clean out the pan. Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the ground beef, tomatoes, and cheese into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate. Serve with salsa.

Crab Caprese salad

Crab Caprese salad

Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil are a classic Italian combination, as in Margherita pizza (and my Margherita frittata) and in Caprese salad. This is my take on that salad.

I wanted to add some meat or seafood and went with crab. My market sells, in the seafood case, cooked crab leg clusters that have crab legs about 8 to 10 inches long. I decided to go with those rather than getting fresh or canned crab meat in order to get actual pieces of crab leg to put on the salad. I only added about 2 ounces of crab (maybe even a little less) as the mozzarella provided plenty of additional substance for the salad. You could use crab meat instead.

For tomatoes, Trader Joe’s has those nice mini heirloom tomatoes which I used here, cut in half. Larger tomatoes, sliced, as typically used for Caprese salad would be an equally good option.

The standard Caprese salad does not include lettuce. I like lettuce. Also, larger tomatoe slices can be nicely arranged on the plate, while putting the small tomatoes down on the plain plate would look a little bare.

Then came the question of how to dress the salad. When I first had the idea of doing this salad with crab, I immediately thought about a lemon vinaigrette, as lemon juice always complements seafood nicely. But in looking at recipes online for Caprese salad, a common instruction was to only use olive oil, as vinegar would not go with the mozzarella (though there were several Caprese salad recipes featuring a balsamic reduction). I came up with a two-step compromise. I composed the salad with everything but the mozzarella. I made a vinaigrette using half the lemon juice I would normally use (1 teaspoon of lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of oil rather than 2 teaspoons, the standard 3-to–1 ratio). I put this on the salad and it gave a very subtle lemon flavor without being acidic. I then added the mozzarella and some whole basil leaves and spooned a little more olive oil over those. I think this worked well and accomplished what I had set out to do.

Crab Caprese salad

baby lettuce
mozzarella cheese
basil, torn into pieces with some whole leaves for the top

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Arrange lettuce, tomatoes, crab, and the torn basil pieces on the plate. Whisk or shake in a small jar 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour over the salad. Put the mozzarella and whole basil leaves on the salad. Spoon the remaining olive oil on the mozzarella and the basil leaves.

Zucchini and tomato frittata

Zucchini and tomato frittata

This is an attractive frittata. But the tomatoes weren’t put on the top for appearance. It was done for flavor. Let me explain.

I started out wanting to make a frittata with zucchini. Zucchini is a mild vegetable, so I needed something to complement it. Tomatoes seemed the obvious choice–think ratatouille. But I though if I cut up the tomatoes and mixed them in the frittata, they would overwhelm the zucchini. Also, given the nature of a frittata, only so much can be mixed in, so including the tomatoes would reduce the amount of zucchini, further limiting the zucchini flavor. That’s when I had the idea of slicing the tomatoes thinly and using them to cover the top. The zucchini could be the star in the body of the frittata, to be complemented by the tomatoes on the top.

If you’ve looked at any of my other frittata recipies, you have seen that I like to finish the cooking of the frittata under the broiler. I made an exception for this one, baking it in the oven instead, because I didn’t want to brown the tomatoes.

Zucchini and tomato frittata

1 cup zucchini cut into matchsticks, about 3/16-inch (1 good-sized zucchini)
1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or finely shredded
2–3 Roma tomatoes, sliced very thin, enough to cover the frittata
fresh ground pepper

3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the shallot in olive oil about 2 minutes over low heat until it starts to get soft. Add the zucchini and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini just starts to soften. Don’t overcook, and remember that it will cook some more in the frittata.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. If needed, add a bit more oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the zucchini and shallots and the Parmesan into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Place the tomato slices on top, covering the frittata. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the tomatoes. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Put the frittata in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the egg next to the tomatoes just starts to brown.

Remove from the oven, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.