Tuna Salad

May 31, 2007

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The kids in my neighborhood used to call this ‘tuna fish salad.’ It’s a perfect hot weather meal that begs for potato chips. You can serve it as a real salad on lettuce or vinegar-based slaw. But with fresh bread and lots of creamy mayonnaise, tuna fish salad sandwiches are one of the joys of summer. SAM

2 (6-ounce) cans white albacore water-packed tuna, drained
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 medium center rib celery with leaves, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus additional for sandwiches
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Lettuce, tomato, avocado
Sandwich bread
Potato chips

In a medium bowl, flake the tuna with a fork and stir in the onion, celery, relish, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve on lettuce with tomato and/or chopped avocado, or in sandwiches.
Makes 2 cups or 4 servings.


Egg Salad

May 30, 2007

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Invite someone to breakfast on a hot, summer morning and serve egg salad … The fresher the eggs, the better they hard-cook. But you can’t go wrong with this plan: Submerge the eggs in cold water in a sauce pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs sit, still covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer them to cold water, and when they’re cool enough to handle, peel them. SAM

1 dozen hard-cooked eggs, quartered
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Paprika

In a large bowl, chop the eggs coarsely with a pastry blender. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper, stirring until just mixed. Sprinkle with paprika. Make sandwiches or serve as a salad.
Makes 2 cups or 4 servings.


Spinach Dip

May 29, 2007

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The secret to this one is a really good pepper sauce—that and the spinach. Frozen leaf spinach is generally better quality than chopped. It doesn’t need cooking, but you have to get the moisture out. Some people use a dishtowel, but it works just as well to squeeze it by hand. If you love salt, add some. But there’s plenty of salt in the mayonnaise and Worcestershire and hot-pepper sauces. SAM

2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and wrung dry by hand
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, quartered
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 dashes hot-pepper sauce or to taste
Sea salt to taste
1 small green onion, finely chopped

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the garlic 3 or 4 times until finely chopped. Add the spinach, cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, hot-pepper sauce, and salt, processing until smooth. Remove from the processor bowl and stir in the onion by hand. Cover and chill. Serve with vegetables or chips or as a sandwich spread.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.


Clam Dip

May 28, 2007

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Here’s another last-minute appetizer you can make with your emergency stash of cream cheese. It’s so quick you’ll have it on the table by the time your friends get in the door. You can gussie it up with a pinch of curry powder or a few drops of lemon juice. But, really, it doesn’t need a thing. SAM

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (6.5-ounce) can smoked clams
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground white pepper

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the cream cheese, clams, parsley, and pepper until smooth. Serve with toasted pita, chips, or vegetables.
Makes 1 3/4 cups.


Steak Salad Pita

May 27, 2007

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In 1762, so the story goes, James Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, had his cook stuff meat and cheese between two slices of bread so he wouldn’t have to leave the gaming table. It was one of those Eureka moments in history. It’s always seemed curious to me, though, that a notorious 18th century English gambler had to invent the sandwich. Everyone knows cooks in the mid-East had been stuffing food inside bread since at least the Pharaohs. One day when you’re on a roll, try this handy pita lunch. But grab some extra napkins. You wouldn’t want to drip on the cards. SAM

1 (1 to 1 1/2-pound) flank steak
2 medium red onions, finely chopped (1 cup)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 pita rounds
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into thin wedges
4 Romaine lettuce leaves, shredded

Broil the steak 3 inches from the heat until done (5 to 6 minutes per side for rare). Cut in half lengthwise, then across the grain into very thin, slanting slices. Cool briefly and combine with the onion, oil, sour cream, horseradish, salt, and pepper. Cover and chill 2 to 3 hours. Roughly mash the avocado with the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add the capers and parsley, stirring until just blended. To serve, cut the pita rounds in half and fill each with 1/8 of the steak mixture, avocado mixture, tomato, and lettuce.
Makes 4 servings.


Corn-Lima Bean Pasta

May 26, 2007

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If you’re on one of those dreary no-carb diets, don’t even bother to read this recipe. It’s carbohydrate heaven, and it’s divine! Use a good quality frozen corn and tiny baby limas, not those big, starchy things. Trust me on this one. You wouldn’t think that with corn and lima beans you’d need pasta—but you would be wrong. SAM

1 (16-ounce) package frozen sweet white corn
1 (16-ounce) package frozen tiny baby lima beans
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 medium sweet onion, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
12 ounces linguine
Yogurt or sour cream for garnish

Steam the corn and lima beans according to the directions on the packages, being careful not to overcook. Drain well, set aside, and keep warm. In a large salad bowl, combine 4 tablespoons oil, the feta, onion, olives, mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, dill, and parsley. Add the corn and limas, stirring gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and dress with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Make a bed of pasta on each plate and fill with Corn-Lima Bean Salad topped with yogurt or sour cream.
Makes 6 servings.


Baba Ghanouj

May 25, 2007

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A young friend of mine told me awhile back she had never bought an eggplant because she didn’t know what to do with it. Well, here’s what you do with it. SAM

PS For an additional microwaving tip, click here.

1 large globe eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin, or more to taste
Sea salt to taste

Cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in a glass baking dish. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap leaving one corner open, and microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes or until the skin is slightly wrinkled and begins to collapse. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. Still under the plastic, cool for half an hour, then gently squeeze out any excess juice and scrap the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. Beat with a pastry fork until light. Add the garlic, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt. Beat until well blended. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve with pita bread.
Makes 2 cups.