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Caprese

Rare is the night where I’m dining alone, making it home before the sun to usher in the night with a feast. However, due to scheduling and conscious effort, I had a moment and meal to myself.  I wanted to celebrate the last gasps of summer with all of the fresh salad ingredients and the beautiful ripe juicy tomatoes that come to us in plenty during the summer.

Fresh basil, black Corinth table grapes (aka currants or champagne grapes), peas from their pods, plums, slivered almonds, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, string beans, dates, I pulled no punches. These are not just ingredients thrown together in a bowl. Each ingredient adds a new, complex layer. Oil, vinegar and a touch of spice add unfathomable dimension to the salad and depth to the dishes. Simple, yet elegant. Knowing that these gifts from nature are available to me, possessing the awareness to appreciate them and feeling the acute desire (and enough leftovers) to share it with the people I love humbled me with the recognition of the incredible fortuitousness of their existence…and mine…and that of the people I love. This is the power of a moment and a meal alone.

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Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1/2 lb baby arugula
  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • a few handfuls of Corinth table grapes (but any grapes will do, halved)
  • a few handfuls slivered almonds
  • 3 dates, chopped
  • 1 plum chopped
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

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Directions:

Toss together all of the ingredients and enjoy.

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Ingredients:

Caprese

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • 8oz ball fresh mozzerella, thickly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar (black)
  • olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Arrange one slice of basil, over one slice of cheese over one slice of tomato. Drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt.

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Ingredients:

Herb Crusted Mustard Salmon (I learned this recipe from my days as a fish monger and have taught it to my mom, my uncle and anyone who will listen. I’ve written about versions of it a few times here)

  • 1 lb salmon
  • 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • bunch of dill
  • bunch of cilantro

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Generously apply mustard to salmon. Spread dill and cilantro evenly over the salmon, enough so that it’s pretty much covered and so that you don’t see much pink.

Bake in oven for 35 minutes.

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Baked String Beans with Ras el hanout and Slivered Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz string beans
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Arrange string beans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with ras el hanout, drizzle with sliced almonds and olive oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tender.

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