Vegetable availability is really starting to hit it’s stride, the options out there are crazy exciting …especially if you look to farmer’s markets and specialty stores. I have a couple of tips for fruit and vegetable cooking that you may find helpful. First off the nothing is more refreshing than the fresh cut fruit salad, I keep mine to a minimal dressing…no whip cream, coconut, or marsh mellow please! Just fresh fruit and a sprinkle of some Grand Marnier, this is a French Orange & Cognac Liqueur that helps to take some of the acid bite off of fresh fruit, and when allowed to sit for a few hours or overnight really brings the salad together, almost like a rug. Grand Marnier can be expensive, so if you’re not making top shelf margaritas often (although you should), try purchasing an airplane mini bottle just to accommodate your salad.
Secondly lets talk Pasta Salads, great for that item you need to take on the road to a Grill Out invitation or Pot Luck. My suggestion for a quick and easy Pasta Salad is pick your noodle shape, cook your noodles and drain them… then while they are warm add your favorite salad dressing wether it be Newman’s Own or your personal creation. Toss the warm noodles with the dressing and allow to cool to room temperature. The warm pasta will soak up a ton of dressing and really help to set the flavor of your salad. Next add vegetables, recently I’ve been trending a higher ratio of vegetable to pasta, back in the old days it seemed salads were mostly pasta, some kind of creamy mayo sauce, and a couple tid bits of celery or pepper. I prefer a pasta salad where the pasta is about 1/4-1/3 the total salad volume, I’m adding greens like Spinach, and Arugula, and all sorts of vegetables… some roasted and cooled, others raw. Don’t be afraid to mix in some fresh berries either, be BOLD! The point is to feel free to “Garden Up” your pasta salad and make it a stand out at the next event or meal you attend.
Thirdly lets talk about roasting vegetables, I love a grilled or roasted Veg… this is a great place to experiment with flavors, marinades, and rubs. On the grill some softer vegetables like a milder heat so the don’t stick to the grill, others like Zukes or Cauliflower like a good hot grill for a short amount of time. Below are pictures of a whole head of cauliflower cut into sections with pesto pressed into each section, then reassembled to roast. Notice I used a string on the whole heads to keep them bundled up.
I hope you find this helpful, and remember the most important ingredient to any meal is the company you keep!