Category Archives: Salad

Asparugus with Sauce Gribiche

Asparagus Lobster & Gribiche

What began as a quest for Chicken Chili ingredients last Sunday, turned into a lobster feast for two. I guess you could say that Brian and I celebrated Valentine’s Day a few days early this year. I have the scars to prove it. I managed to burn my hand on scalding water (my fault) and I also pierced my finger with one of the claws on our large lobster (the lobster’s fault). Breaking apart a lobster is a messy business, there’s no way around it. The sweet meat inside however, is worth the labor.

Asparagus with Gribiche

Thankfully, I managed to cook our asparagus without any unfortunate bodily harm. We served our asparagus with sauce gribiche. Sauce gribiche is possibly one of my favorite sauces of all time, although it is really more like a vinaigrette. It is a classic French sauce that is traditionally made with chopped eggs, cornichons, herbs, and capers.

Hard Boiled Eggs Gribiche

I first had sauce gribiche on our trip to France a few years ago at a well-known bistro in the 11th Arrondissement, Bistro Paul Bert. The sauce was served on beautifully steamed Spring Asparagus and I instantly fell in love. It’s tangy and lively, and it’s so simple to make at the last minute because you probably have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator or cupboard already.

The method is simple.  Whisk together shallot, vinegar (red, white, or sherry vinegar), good extra virgin olive oil, a touch of Dijon mustard, plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper (seasoning is key to a good vinaigrette). Then add chopped hard-boiled eggs and herbs (I enjoy parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil in this sauce). I did not use cornichons or capers in this version, but you could add those as well. And that’s it! I typically serve asparagus with sauce gribiche as a starter, but it can also be a simple side dish. And don’t stop there, because this sauce also goes well with fish and grilled meat.





Happy Cooking,

Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche
Serves 4

  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I probably used at least a 1/2 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt)
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 pounds of fresh asparagus, woody ends cut off at the bottom

For the sauce:

  1. Place the shallot, vinegars, mustard and olive oil in a small mixing bowl and whisk well until the mixture is emulsified.
  2. Add salt and pepper and season to taste.
  3. Add the hard boiled egg and parsley and whisk lightly.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop, or refrigerate and use within 2 days. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

For the steamed asparagus:

  1. Please a steamer basket in a large, wide saucepan filled with about 1 inch of water. Cover and bring the water to a boil.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, place the asparagus in the steamer basket, cover with a lid and cook for approximately 4 to 7 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender but retains a bit of crispness. Take the pot off the heat and remove the lid.
  3. Remove the asparagus from the steamer basket and serve on a plate drizzled with gribiche sauce.

Pasta Salad for Hurricane Irene

This weekend, as the East Coast waited for Hurricane Irene to arrive, I whipped together this pasta salad.  I was in the Philadelphia area this weekend, away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, and happy that I had access to a backyard and a grill.  Friday’s weather was gorgeous, so I made the most of the brief hours that remained before the rain came pouring down to grill some chicken and make this side dish.

I am not the biggest fan of traditional pasta salad, mainly because I dislike mayonnaise in almost anything except for tuna salad.  This pasta salad is still creamy, due to the incorporation of goat’s milk cheese, but it is lighter, and in my opinion, more befitting of a nice summer evening.  My favorite thing about this pasta is the way that the raw corn bursts in your mouth as you take a bite.  It’s also easy to prepare, and can be made in the time that it takes to heat the grill and cook some chicken or steak.  I will definitely be making this again, although hopefully not on the eve of another hurricane!

Happy Cooking,

Summer Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese, Sweet Corn, and Scallions

Serves 5


  • 1-pound box of macaroni-shaped pasta
  • 1  bunch of scallions (green parts only), sliced thinly
  • Kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn (or 1.5 cups of frozen corn)
  • 4oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the box.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, slice the scallions, crumble the goat cheese, and remove the kernels from the 2 ears of corn.
  3. When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta in a colander and add it to a large mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Add the scallions, goat cheese, and raw corn to the pasta and toss everything together.  Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve immediately or allow the pasta to cool and serve at room temperature.

Longing for Panzanella Salad

Every summer I look forward to that brief window of time during which tomatoes are at their peak, fully-ripened by the sun, juicy and flavorful.  The ones that I am talking about ooze when you slice into them, releasing their flavorful juices all over your cutting board. Summer tomatoes are nothing like their winter counterparts, who are deceptively red yet have little to no flavor.  Growing up, my favorite way to enjoy summer tomatoes was with fresh mozzarella and basil from the garden. Now, I eagerly anticipate the day that I can make my first Panzanella salad of the summer.

Panzanella salad is a traditional Tuscan peasant dish that employs leftover bread and fresh tomatoes as its base.  In my version, I marinade tomatoes in garlic, torn basil, chopped garlic, thin slivers of red onion, good extra-virgin olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a generous amount of salt and fresh ground black pepper.  I let the tomatoes marinade for at least 30 minutes, and sometimes longer, allowing the tomatoes to macerate and the garlic and basil flavors to fully develop.  The remaining ingredients are at the discretion of the cook, but I typically add baby arugula, slices of cucumber, and a generous handful of shaved ricotta salata cheese.  All of these ingredients, along with toasted/stale bread, and some more olive oil and vinegar, is added at the end, about 10-15 minutes before sitting down to eat.  Although it sounds like a homey salad, it tastes revelatory.  The tomato juices and olive oil bleed into the cubes of bread, softening them just slightly so that they are at the same time both soft and crunchy in your mouth.  The sweetness of the tomatoes is counteracted by the saltiness of the ricotta salata and the peppery arugula, and the flavors of the garlic and basil linger in your mouth at the end.  It makes me salivate just writing about it.

Funnily enough, I was recently in Charleston, South Carolina for a wedding and was lucky enough to score a table at Husk restaurant (recently named by Bon Apetit magazine as the Best New Restaurant in America).  The menu changes nightly, and on the night that we went, the chef was making “Fried Cornbread “Panzanella” Salad with Grilled VA Lamb Heart and Sungold Tomato Puree“.  It was surprising and delicious, and I loved the chef’s use of leftover cornbread. It reminded me that there are so many ways to play with Panzanella—you could add artichokes, shaved fennel, fresh shell beans, or even grilled shrimp.

QuestionHave you ever made Panzanella salad, or ordered it at a restaurant? If so, what are your favorite ingredients to include?

Happy Cooking,

Summer Panzanella Salad
Serves 5

The key to making a good Panzanella salad is to allow the tomatoes enough time to marinade (always at room temperature, not in the fridge!) and to restrain yourself from adding the bread too early, so as to avoid soggy bread. Ricotta salata is a dry Italian, sheep’s-milk cheese that is tangy and salty. Its flavor is somewhat similar to feta, but I recommend using shaved Parmesan cheese as an alternative if you can’t find ricotta salata)


  • 1 1b. tomatoes (heirloom or vine-ripened), cut into 1-inch cubes, juices reserved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 loaf of country-style bread or baguette cut in cubes (either allowed to sit out to dry, or toasted in the oven at 300F until hard but not colored, approx. 10-15 minutes)
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (this is the time to break out the good stuff!)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices
  • 12oz. baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup shaved ricotta salata cheese (if you can’t find ricotta salata, use shaved Parmesan cheese)


  1. Combine the tomatoes and their juices, the garlic, basil, red onion, olive oil, and vinegar in a large bowl and toss everything together.
  2. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the tomatoes to marinade for approximately 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  3. 10-15 minutes before serving the salad, add the bread, arugula, cucumber, and cheese to the bowl and toss everything together, adding a few more splashes of olive and vinegar as necessary. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Let stand for 10-14 minutes and serve.

Lamb Meatballs with Heirloom Tomato Farro Salad

I have to start by pointing out that these are some of the best meatballs that I have ever tasted, let alone made from scratch.  It all started with some lamb that had been taunting me in my freezer every time that I went out to buy groceries.  I knew that I should use it, but I still wasn’t quite ready to eat lamb. You see, in April, while I was still in culinary school, there were two consecutive days where I single handedly broke down and trimmed approximately 50 pounds of fresh lamb.  In addition to butchering lamb, I had been eating lamb in every shape and form over the past few weeks—braised, grilled, sous vide, ground into sausages—the list goes on.  I was at my saturation point when we were asked by the chefs if we wanted to take some leftover meat home to cook.  I immediately balked at the thought.  However, after debating the merits of taking or leaving the lamb, I cautiously accepted a small piece of top round (which comes from the leg and is very tender), hoping that my hunger for lamb might come back in the future weeks or months.

It is now August and I finally pulled that forgotten piece of lamb out of my freezer this weekend.  After considering a number of different recipes, I settled upon making meatballs.  My first order of business was grating an onion.  I wanted the flavor of the onion, but I didn’t want to find any pesky, uncooked pieces of onion in my finished meatballs.  I conjured up some mint (leftover from this recipe), parsley, feta, and a number of dried spices and herbs.  I knew that I needed something to bind the mixture, so I looked up the meatball ratio that I had been given in school (1 pound of meat to 1 egg to a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs).  After grinding my lamb in the food processor (which works very well, I recommend it), I put everything into a large bowl and dug in with my hands.

I very nearly skipped the next step in this recipe, the testing step.  I may love to spend hours in the kitchen, but I am also, regrettably, impatient.  There is no way to test meatballs for seasoning while the mixture is raw (well, there is a way but the health risks deter me from attempting it), so you must cook a small portion of the mixture before you form meatballs.  I could imagine the chefs at culinary school reprimanding me for not properly tasting my food, so I conceded, and cooked a small spoonful in a skillet.  It turned out that the mixture was perfectly seasoned. I also discovered that miniature meatballs make a perfect mid-recipe snack.

When it comes to cooking meatballs, you have a few options. You can pan fry them in oil in a saute pan, bake them with or without a sauce in the oven, or do a combination of both. I chose the latter.  I first browned the meatballs in a very small amount of oil to achieve caramelization and a boost of flavor, and then placed them in the oven to finish cooking.  The result?  A tender and incredibly satisfying meatball.  The sweet and savory flavor of the lamb hits you first, followed by the smokiness of the cumin and saltiness of the feta, and at the end, you detect the subtle flavors of the mint and parsley.  Paired with some yogurt sauce and the farro salad below, these meatballs are the perfect late summer meal.  And if you stop yourself from eating the whole batch in one sitting, you can make yourself a delicious pita sandwich for lunch later in the week.

Happy Cooking,


Lamb Meatballs with Warm Heirloom Tomato Farro Salad

(Serves 6)

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko, but any type is fine)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, grated on a cheese grater
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of kosher salt (if using table salt, reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for searing the meatballs)

Instructions for the meatballs:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and using your hands mix everything together until all of the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  2. Form a small meatball using 1 tablespoon of the mixture and cook the meatball in a small skillet over medium-high heat in olive oil until fully cooked. This step is important, as it allows you to test the meatball and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  3. Shape the remaining meat mixture into 2-inch wide meatballs.  You should get about 25 meatballs total.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F and brush or spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan and over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sear the meatballs on all sides, working in batches.
  6. Place the seared meatballs on the baking sheet and place them in the oven for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Ingredients for the farro salad:

  • 1½ cups semi-pearled farro
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions for the farro salad:

  1. Cook farro according to the instructions on the package.
  2. While the farro is cooking, combine the tomato, parsley, red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. When the farro is cooked, drain it and add it to the tomato mixture.
  4. Combine all of the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve warm or cold.