Tag Archives: tomatoes

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.

Mexican salad

Mexican salad

This is my take on a very common type of salad. Salads like this are often called taco salads, but I reserve that name for salads in a tortilla bowl, or at least with some form of tortilla along with the salad.

Use the seasoning of your choice with the ground beef. I use Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, which is salt-free. But whatever you choose, use plenty of seasoning, as the very well-seasoned ground beef gives the character to the salad.

Mexican salad

1/4–1/3 pound ground beef
taco or other southwestern-style seasoning

romaine lettuce
red and green bell pepper
black olives, sliced
red onion, sliced thin

ranch dressing
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salsa or pico de gallo
sour cream

Cook the ground beef with a generous amount of the seasoning.
Start the salad with a generous amount of romaine lettuce. Add the avocado, tomato, red and green pepper, olives, and onion. Place the ground beef in the middle. Add modest amount of ranch dressing. Top with the shredded cheese. Add dollops of salsa and sour cream.

Greek salad

Greek salad

With feta cheese and Kalamata olives, I think I can call this a Greek salad.

The idea to include tuna comes from salade Nicoise, from another location on the Mediterranean. And the Mediterranean theme is continued with the seasonings for the vinaigrette.

On the tuna, assuming you’re not going fancy, it will likely be tuna from a can. For a salad such as this, I would definitely recommend tuna packed in olive oil rather than water. I just think that goes better on a salad, especially with the olive oil in the vinaigrette. In addition, I prefer the yellowfin tuna in olive oil. I think this has a fuller flavor than albacore tuna when the tuna is standing alone. Of course the choice of tuna is yours. But if you haven’t had the yellowfin tuna in olive oil on a salad, I would encourage you to give it a try.

Greek salad

tuna in olive oil (I suggest yellowfin tuna)
leaf lettuce
1/6 red bell pepper, cut into strips
10 Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
about 6 grape or cherry tomatoes (depending on size), cut in half
red onion, thinly sliced
feta cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (less if an especially large clove)
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
fresh ground pepper

Put all of the ingredients except the feta cheese on the lettuce, with the tuna in the middle. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, and other ingredients for the vinaigrette and add to salad. Top with the crumbled feta cheese.

Margherita frittata

Margherita frittata

Another pizza-inspired frittata. Margherita pizza is a classic, just mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil. This certainly will work for a frittata as well.

Looking at recipes for Margherita pizza online, I found ones that used tomato sauce, whole canned tomatoes, and fresh tomatoes (and even a combination). For a frittata, mixing tomato sauce in with the eggs doesn’t seem to be a good idea so I use fresh tomatoes. (I suppose you could just put tomato sauce on the top…hmm…maybe that’s an idea for something in the future.) I like to use the small Roma tomatoes. They are easy to slice and cut up into pieces that are a good size for the frittata.

The standard Margherita pizza uses just mozzarella as the cheese. I like to include some freshly grated Parmesan to give the frittata more flavor. I don’t measure, I just grate some into the measuring cup, maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons of Parmeasan, and then fill the rest with the shredded mozzarella. If you’re buying a bag of already shredded cheese, another option is an Italian cheese mix with multiple cheeses that is often available.

Margherita frittata

3/4 cup Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-in slices and quartered (about 2 small Roma tomatoes)
5–6 basil leaves, cut into thin strips, more or less, depending on size
1/2 cup grated mozzarella and Parmesan plus a little more for the top

3 eggs
olive oil

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 egg to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the tomatoes, cheese, and most of the basil into the eggs and pour the egg 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, sprinkle a bit more of the cheeses on the top. Place the 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, especially because you don’t want the pieces of tomato on the top browning.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate. Put the remaining basil on top before serving.