Tag Archives: Sweet Baby Bell Peppers

A Chilled Soup To Beat The Heat: Gazpacho

Here is another inspiration from our cruise a few weeks ago: Gazpacho, a delicious chilled soup that is refreshing and requires no cooking! Even at our 7,500 foot elevation, we have seen temperatures in the 90’s and the daytime temperature inside the house has reached 85 degrees! We don’t have air-conditioning so as soon as the sun wanes we open all our doors and windows to capture some of the cool air. This is the perfect recipe to help cool things off. Gazpacho hails from Spain and is made with uncooked tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, bell pepper, garlic and cilantro. Tomatoes are the star ingredient, a great use for the delicious summer bounty from your garden or farmer’s market. Out of season, my favorite go-to is the vine-ripened variety. This is a super easy recipe that can be made with many variations: for example, if you don’t have cherry tomatoes add some of your favorite Bloody Mary mix!

I like my gazpacho more pureed and smooth rather than chunky, and then I add a chopped vegetable garnish at the end for a little crunch.  And I like to peel the cucumbers because they make the soup darker, which you can see from the photo because I forgot to do that!  The garnish has scallions, radishes, habanero and mint, which adds a bright, fresh flavor. The soup also tastes better if made one or two days ahead of time because it allows the flavors to develop and mingle. Another delicious idea: serve the gazpacho in a shot glass for a mini appetizer – top it with some vegetable garnish and add some chopped, cooked shrimp or some diced avocado to finish it off.

If you want to go for a snazzy presentation to impress your honey (or guests), transfer the soup to a fancy pitcher, add one tablespoon of the garnish to the bottom of each cup or bowl and pour the gazpacho table-side.  You’ll look like a pro!

Eat well and share the love!

Gazpacho (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Refrigerate: 4 to 24 hours / Total cooking time: 24 hours
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:
Soup
10 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (Campari), or 3 large, good quality tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes (about 15)
½ cucumber, peeled and chopped
¼ cup chopped sweet onion
3 baby bell peppers (or ½ of one red, yellow or orange bell pepper), seeds removed and chopped
½ small garlic clove
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon lime zest
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion (about ¾ of a scallion)
1 radish, grated
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon finely diced habanero or jalapeno
3 tablespoons finely diced cucumber (peeled)
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzle)

Directions:
Soup: Cut the tomatoes (except the cherry tomatoes) in half and remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon; discard seeds and pulp. Chop the tomatoes into large pieces.

Add all the soup ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and finely chopped, about 1 minute.  If you like your soup more chunky, blend for less time.

Transfer soup to a bowl or large measuring cup and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. 
Gazpacho is best the next day; if possible make one day ahead to let the flavors develop fully.

Garnish: Add the scallions, radishes, habanero, cucumber, mint, salt, pepper and olive oil to a small bowl and mix well.

Assemble: Serve soup cold – In a small coffee cup or bowl add about 3/4 cup of soup, top with 1 tablespoon of garnish mixture and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

A photo memory from the cruise a few weeks ago…..After the zipline in Jamaica, in Chakka Park and enjoying authentic Jerk chicken for lunch.  The male peacock, with his wings spread, tried his best to get the female’s attention while we watched from the picnic bench. 

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Pan-Seared Ono with Black Bean Salad

We recently enjoyed this light and healthy fish dinner at home – I had some ono fish filets and all the ingredients for the black bean salad on hand, so it made dinner preparation a breeze.  To help make dinners different from the usual fare (like this), I like to keep frozen shrink-wrapped fish filets in my freezer.  If I want to make fish sticks (tilapia or cod) or seafood chowder at the last-minute, my pantry is usually stocked for it.  Ono is similar to swordfish in texture and taste, with a lightly sweet, firm texture.  This dish would also be fantastic made with halibut or sea bass.   Typically I serve wilted spinach or roasted potatoes with fish – the black bean salad is a colorful alternative that adds bright, fresh flavors to the meal.  I like my fish to have a crispy sear on the outside and the ono had just enough fat to do that (the tiny dab of butter at the end gave it added richness).  The filets cooked in about 6 minutes so this is a meal you can have on the table without any fuss.  As a guideline for cooking ono, you can estimate 3 minutes per side for every ½ inch thickness of filet.

I haven’t made the black bean salad in a while and forgot how good it is!  It’s simple and quick to make with canned black beans, baby spinach, red onion, sweet baby bell peppers, Italian parsley, lemon juice and zest, a bit of garlic and extra virgin olive oil.  The salad is also quite versatile: for a Mexican twist you can substitute cilantro, Poblano peppers and lime for the spinach, Italian parsley and lemon.  Stored in the refrigerator it will keep for up to two days; the beans start to break down a bit from the citrus but it still tastes just as good.

Courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

Please check out my earlier post for more about farm-raised fish versus wild-caught fish.  And if you’re looking for a great resource on sustainable and healthy ways to enjoy fish, please visit the Monterrey Bay website (ono is on their “good alternative” list) where you can search by seafood and download pocket-size fish guides for your purse or wallet. 
Eat well and share the love!

Pan-Seared Ono with Black Bean Salad
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

Ingredients:
Salad
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed well (no
salt added)
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
3 mini sweet bell peppers, finely diced (or half of one
red, yellow or orange bell pepper)
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ small garlic clove, finely minced
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Fish
2 filets of ono fish (or halibut or sea bass)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Garnish
2 lemon wedges
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Directions:
Salad:
Add the black beans, red onion, bell pepper, spinach, lemon zest and juice, parsley, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to a medium bowl and gently stir together so the beans don’t break up.

Sear the fish:
Add a light drizzle of olive oil to both sides of the fish filets and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, enough to form an even light coating.  When the oil just starts to develop ripples, lay the fish filets in the skillet (meat side down if skin is on) and cover with a splatter screen.  Tip:  when you lay the filets down, place them away from you to avoid getting splattered with hot oil.

Cook without touching or moving the filets for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness.  Gently move the pan back and forth to distribute the oil around the filets every few minutes.  When the fish is ready to be turned it will easily release from the pan.  Using a spatula gently turn filets over, add a drizzle of olive oil around the inside edge of the skillet.  Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Fish is done when it flakes and meat is opaque in the center. When done add ¼ tablespoon of butter to each filet and let melt.
Cooking guide: cook 3 minutes per side for every ½ inch thickness.

Assemble:
Place a ½ cup of the black bean salad on the bottom of a plate and top with a seared filet of ono.  Repeat for other serving and garnish both with a lemon wedge, some chopped parsley and a bit of the black bean salad.