Fig and Prosciutto Salad

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For someone who, not long ago, would gag at the suggestion of a salad for dinner, it’s slightly unsettling that this has been the Summer of Salads. In just a few short months, I’ve brought you a tuscan kale salad, a cucumber caprese salad, and a watermelon mint steak salad. And just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more salads up my sleeve? I bring you this: a blue-cheese-stuffed and prosciutto-wrapped fig salad. If you think that sounds pretty fancy for a salad, it is. But whoever said salads had to be boring?

I’d been on the lookout for figs at the farmer’s market for months now. I remember one time in May, I thought I’d seen figs in the Central Market flyer, so I went determinedly to go find some. After painstakingly browsing each fruit bin, Mr. Little Fish decided to just ask a worker where we could find them. “See those bins with the bananas? Right next to them.”  Yes! I thought, as I quickly shuffled between the crowd to get to them. Alas, upon arrival, only lowly dates sat in their place. Of course, when we went to ask again, employee-man said he thought we’d said dates, but figs, well, they didn’t have any. Sigh.

So, I waited, drooling over the fig pictures that kept popping up on my instagram. I had never even tried fresh figs before, only dried, but I had convinced myself they would be my new favorite thing. So, I went to the farmer’s market every weekend, crossing my fingers that this would be the time. Once, I happened across Confituras (find them on instagram!), a local small-batch jam maker, at the farmer’s market and bought some of her sugar fig jam, which was so good that I temporarily forgot about The Search for Figs.

But then, one Saturday, my friend M realized that she had weekends to herself again, so we decided to celebrate. I suggested going to the lobster roll truck at the farmer’s market, because when else is a great time to buy a $16 sandwich than when you’re feeling celebratory? So, off we went, with butter lobster rolls on our minds, and all thoughts of figs forgotten. But lo and behold, at the tiniest table in the whole market: baskets and baskets of fresh figs. Despite the odd looks I was getting from my friend M, I couldn’t contain my joy. I strolled right up to the vendor, said “that one!” while assertively pointing at the cute container on the corner, and handed over the cash. I was a woman on a mission. Feeling giddy with accomplishment, I asked the vendor was his favorite way to eat the figs was, and he suggested wrapping them in prosciutto and grilling them. PURE GOLD, I thought.

The idea went even further when, two stalls down, I happened across my favorite goat-cheese maker, CKC Farms. The enabler than I am, I convinced my friend M to try their plain goat cheese while I sampled there baby blue. Although I’m not typically a fan of blue cheese, I loved this one! It was very silky and smooth and had that lovely creaminess that goat cheese has. Remembering my plan for the figs, I declared that before wrapping them in prosciutto, I would first stuff them with this cheese. Meanwhile, my friend M shot darts at me with her eyes as she handed over the cash for the goat cheese she couldn’t stop herself from buying. =)

Thus, this salad was born on a weeknight after work two nights later. I paired it simply with a bed of arugula, some walnuts sprinkled over the top, and with a dash of balsamic vinegar. You can add whatever you’d like to it. You could even go fancier by reducing the balsamic vinegar with some honey until it’s a lovely, sweet syrup.  If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, this would work just as well stuffed with regular old goat cheese or, if you’re dairy-free, no cheese at all. Also, I ate this as a meal itself, but it would definitely make a great side for a steak on a date night (you’re welcome. 😉 !

Fig and Prosciutto Salad
Serves 2

IMG_7881Ingredients:

1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
3 oz prosciutto
1 small package baby blue goat cheese
4 cups baby arugula
1-2 tbsps walnuts
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling

Directions:

1.  Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don’t wanna squish them too much.
IMG_78852.  Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
IMG_78873.  Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
IMG_78884. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you’ll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
IMG_78905. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!
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Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
  • 3 oz prosciutto
  • 1 small package baby blue goat cheese
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1-2 tbsps walnuts
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling
Directions
  1. Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don't wanna squish them too much.
  2. Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
  3. Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
  4. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you'll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
  5. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute

Those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should! Check out the pictures on the sidebar to see why! @gwensfishfood) might already have been indirectly introduced to my latest obsession:

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It was Hatch Chili Fest at HEB last week, and I happened to go grocery shopping on the first day of it (totally just on accident, yup), which meant:

X ALL THE THINGS - Sample All of the things!

They had Hatch chili bread, hatch chili enchilada sauce, hatch chili salmon, hatch chili guacamole….seriously you name it, they had it. My favorites were these hatch chili and cheese sausages and, of course, this jalapeno hatch chili jam. At the store, it was served on top of cream cheese for a dip (yum!), and also served as a topping for the sausage. (Unexpected bonus: the sample ladies were feeling extra generous, so I got nearly an entire sausage as a “sample” and a whole quarter of a turkey burger.)

So, naturally, I bought both the sausage and the jam (and this hatch bean dip that was ah-mazing). I still had a bunch of kale leftover from making this kale salad on repeat for about 2 weeks, so the next morning, before work no less, when I realized I didn’t have leftovers for lunch (see: eating too many samples and not being hungry for dinner the night before), I threw together a quick sort-of stir fry. The kale worked out perfectly because it was able to withstand the heat of the sautéed sausage and onion and was just perfectly wilted by the time I ate lunch. But, since then, I’ve thrown this same stir fry on spinach and arugula and both were delicious. And, like any stir fry, you can mix and match the veggies to suit whatever you have on hand! If I add other veggies, I usually saute the onion for a little while by itself, and then I’ve thrown in things like broccoli and mushrooms for extra flavor. The nice thing about this is that, once you add the hatch jam, the sugar in it helps everything caramelize. The other nice thing is that it takes all of 10 minutes! Happy hatch season to you!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
Serves 1
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Ingredients:

1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
1/2 tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms

Directions:

1.  In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
IMG_78142.  Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn’t stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
IMG_78173. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
IMG_78194. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!
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Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
  • 1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
  • ½ tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
  • Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn't stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
  2. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn't stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
  4. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!

Tuscan Kale Salad

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I had originally planned on posting a delicious and summery cucumber caprese salad, which you may have seen if you follow me on instagram. But, then, I realized that I’d been eating the same side all week, and I decided that I should post this kale salad instead. It’s very rare that I eat the same thing every single day, but this salad is just so darn easy and so flavorful that I’ve had with my pulled pork, with my tuna cakes, and with whatever cold cuts I could find in the fridge.

Now, I have to admit something: I’ve only had kale once before. Yes, it’s this hugely popular superfood in the health world in general and in the paleo world in particular. Yes, it’s loaded with a ton of great nutrients for very little calories. And, yes, it seems like really no one can get enough of it. But, sometimes, when something is all over the place at all times, I get a little hipster. I don’t participate on principle. And when/if I do, I don’t tell anybody about it. Weird, I know.

And what do you know, the one time I tried kale (and nobody knew) was Snap Kitchen‘s version of this salad. They ‘re where I got the idea to make this at home when I saw organic chopped kale at HEB earlier this week. While I initially just picked up the salad as a perfect, low-risk way to try this supposedly amazing green, it really blew me away: it was beautiful in its simplicity. So, when I brought my very own bag of kale home with me, I knew I would try to mimic the flavors. With only six ingredients, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to get it right.

And I nailed it! Spicy, citrusy, and salty. The best part is that this takes all of 5 minutes to make. Then, because kale is such a sturdy green, it can stay good for 2-3 days without wilting and getting gross (in fact, I thought the salad was even better the next day!). So, with summer around and everyone trying to spend more time outdoors rather than in, I decided I couldn’t keep this from you!

Tuscan Kale Salad
Serves 1

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Ingredients:

3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

1. In a small bowl with a lid, add the kale and squeeze the lemon:
sthe garlic:
IMG_7695The red pepper flakes:
IMG_7698And the olive oil, salt, and few grinds of pepper:
IMG_77012. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
4. Serve, and enjoy!
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Tuscan Kale Salad
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  1. In a small bowl with a lid, add all the ingredients.
  2. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
  3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
  4. Serve, and enjoy!

Shrimp a la Vindell

Growing up, my parents had a pretty clear division of labor when it came to cooking in our household.  My mom, living most of her formative years in Missouri with her large extended family, was more of the holiday chef, cooking recipes that my grandma made at home, likely passed on to her from her mother before her.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always remember my mom getting out this little green recipe box, full of carefully handwritten but well-worn recipes. We would always get a few of the classic dishes from there, although my mom would also put her own spin on things. She runs a tight ship on the holidays, and the comforting and delicious smells and tastes we get every year always remind me that I clearly get my meal-planning skills from her.

My dad was the more day-to-day chef, making the easy and fast weeknight meals. My dad is always experimenting in the kitchen, drawing on his familiarity with Nicaraguan and Mexican food, recalling the time during his hippy days (he came to the US in the 70s) when he “went vegetarian,” and reminding us, often, of his experience working as a cook in a pancake house in Missouri. He is one of those people for whom cooking comes naturally: he always seems to be able to just throw something together–a pinch of this, a dash of that–and have a finished product that is successful.  It’s a skill I have learned to cultivate to some degree, but I envy how it’s a skill that just is for him.

This recipe is one such dish that he just threw together one night years ago, thus why I have called it Shrimp a la Vindell. It’s fast, easy, and healthy.  It’s also versatile–throw it into tacos, eat it with rice or veggies on the side, or wrap it in some lettuce and quinoa for lettuce wraps. From my family to yours on Easter weekend!

Shrimp a la Vindell
Serves 4

IMG_6928Ingredients:

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 box button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 Serrano pepper, diced small
3 green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Optional: one shot of tequila
Salt, pepper, and more garlic powder, to taste

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the shrimp, mushrooms, Serrano, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the pan. Cook until the shrimp are pink (the pan I used was a little too small, so the shrimp were crowded. Thus, I used a lid to help keep the steam in to cook them, but it’s not necessary.)

2. Once the shrimp turn pink, add in the tequila shot if you are using it.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
IMG_69313. Serve in lettuce wraps on top of quinoa or with veggies on the side!

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Shrimp a la Vindell
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 box button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 Serrano pepper, diced small
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Optional: one shot of tequila
  • Salt, pepper, and more garlic powder, to taste
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the shrimp, mushrooms, pepper, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the pan. Cook until the shrimp are pink, about 3-5 minutes (the pan I used was a little too small, so the shrimp were crowded. Thus, I used a lid to help keep the steam in to cook them, but it's not necessary.)
  2. Once the shrimp turn pink, add in the tequila shot if you are using it.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Serve in lettuce wraps on top of quinoa or with veggies on the side!

Pan-toasted Gnocchi with Bacon

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Good news: I have officially completed my first week of P90X3 (yes, 3!)! I work out in spurts. Do you? I’ll go full throttle for a month or two and then do absolutely nothing for the next few months. To be fair, working out is hard. Like, not the actual working out itself (which most definitely can be), but the making time and sticking to it. For a while I was taking barre classes, which I actually do love, but, all told, it takes up about 1.5 hours of my day to drive there, work out, and drive home. That was really difficult to fit into my schedule, so when I heard that P90X3, unlike it’s 1.5 hour-long older siblings, is only 30 minutes a day, at home, and with minimal equipment, I was sold. For my first week, I woke up 45 minutes earlier before work to exercise, and this week I’ll be trying out the evenings to see which schedule I prefer. But either way, I’m already feeling pretty great! I can actually do like 20 normal pushups! And like a bajillion girl pushups.  

Anywho, let’s talk bacon. Unlike most people on the Paleo train, Mr. Little Fish and I are regular-eaters of turkey bacon, so I kinda feel like we already have our go-to breakfast protein.  But every once in a while we decide to “splurge” and get normal bacon, and every time, I remember how good bacon is.  Particularly now that I’ve taken to cooking it in the oven.  350 degrees + 15 minutes=perfectly and evenly crispy bacon.  Plus, my arms and clothes get to remain bacon grease and burn free!

For this recipe, though, it’s worth risking (life and) limbs to cook the bacon on the stovetop. Because doesn’t every one want more bacon outside of breakfast time?  Especially when you get to combine it with the wonderful spring colors of wilted spinach and juicy just-popped cherry tomatoes? And gnocchi?? This meal is both a comfort food and a wonderful summer dish.  And since gnocchi is made from potato, you can make it totally gluten-free, like I did here.

Pan-toasted Gnocchi with Bacon
Adapted from Simply Scratch
Serves 4

Gluten free gnocchi

Gluten free gnocchi

Ingredients:

4 strips bacon, diced
1 pound gnocchi, gluten-free if desired
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for gnocchi. Once the water boils, drop in the gnocchi and cook according to the package, or until the gnocchi start to float to the top. Drain the gnocchi once done and set aside to be added to the veggies.
2.  While the water is boiling, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.

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3. Once crispy, remove the bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon and onto a plate lined with paper towels.
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4. In the skillet with the bacon fat, add in the diced onions and cook until they start to get soft.  Add in the wilted spinach, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until just wilted. Remove the veggies to the plate with the bacon on it, after you throw away the paper towels.
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5. Drizzle the olive oil into the skillet, and add the drained gnocchi to it. Cook them for a few minutes, stirring them around, until you start to see some brown color on the gnocchi.
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6.  Add back in the cooked spinach, onion, and bacon.  Add in the sliced cherry tomatoes and some black pepper.  Cook until the cherry tomatoes are just starting to pop.
IMG_69457. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top!
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Pan-toasted Gnocchi with Bacon
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 strips of uncured bacon, diced
  • 1 pound gnocchi, gluten-free if desired
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for topping
Directions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for gnocchi. Once the water boils, drop in the gnocchi and cook according to the package, or until the gnocchi start to float to the top. Drain the gnocchi once done and set aside to be added to the veggies.
  2. While the water is boiling, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.
  3. Once crispy, remove the bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon and onto a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. In the skillet with the bacon fat, add in the diced onions and cook until they start to get soft.  Add in the wilted spinach, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until just wilted. Remove the veggies to the plate with the bacon on it, after you throw away the paper towels.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil into the skillet, and add the drained gnocchi to it. Cook them for a few minutes, stirring them around, until you start to see some brown color on the gnocchi.
  6. Add back in the cooked spinach, onion, and bacon.  Add in the sliced cherry tomatoes and some black pepper.  Cook until the  the cherry tomatoes are just starting to pop.
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top!