Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedFor me, Spring does not officially start until the chives appear in my little backyard garden. I can’t even remember how long ago I planted them, but it has to be at least 15 years ago by now. Through every harsh winter, rain soaking spring and blistering hot summer, they not only survive, they flourish.  Some years they flourish too much, and I find myself late summer, yanking rogue plants that pop up everywhere, while uttering some choice words.

But for now, they’re precious and welcome. As is this dish, which celebrates the best of spring with new potatoes, crispy green sugar snap peas, a touch of bright lemon and of course chives.

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedIn fact, these sugar snap peas are so beautiful, I think they deserve a moment all to themselvesSugar Snap PeasPreparation is fast and incredibly simple. Just simmer some new potatoes in lightly salted waterSauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas and Chives| Dinner Is ServedA last minute saute brings everything togetherSauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedCan you imagine this served with your Easter ham? It’s also the perfect accompaniment to my Sautéed Lemony Pepper Chicken.  Or if you’re in a seafood state of mind, try it alongside my Broiled Scotch Salmon.

Spring has officially sprung here in Chicagoland my friends, and I am looking forward to many months of grilling, farmers markets and sunshine.  And a final word of advice on the chives: seriously, snip off those purple flowers and add them to your salads. They’re beautiful AND you won’t have 10,000 seedlings to pull in August.

Cheers!

Sautéed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives

1 1/2 # red new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed

10 oz. fresh sugar snap peas

2 TBS olive oil

1/4 cup fresh chopped chives

1 tsp lemon zest

Fresh coarse ground pepper and Kosher salt

  • Cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium pan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat slightly and simmer for about 15 minutes or until just barely tender. Drain and set aside.
  • While potatoes are cooking, remove strings from sugar snap peas (if necessary).
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet for about 1 minutes over medium heat. Add olive oil and sugar snap peas. Add a pinch or two of salt and saute over medium heat until just crisp tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add potatoes to skillet and saute until just heated through, about 1 minute longer.
  • Season to taste with additional Kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon zest.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Pork Medallions with Balsamic, Rosemary & Honey Glaze

 

Pork Medallions with Balsamic, Rosemary & Honey Glaze | Dinner Is ServedThis recipe dates back to the very infant stages of my food writing in the early 2000’s before blogging was a thing. In fact, it was the very first recipe I shared with my friends and personal chef clients via a monthly e-newsletter and remains one of  my favorite ways to prepare pork tenderloin. It’s an under 30 minute meal and I am not fudging with that number one bit. In fact, if this takes you longer than 30 minutes to prepare, drop me a line and I’ll personally come to your home and make it for you!

Other reasons to love this recipe: it’s low in fat, gluten free, budget friendly, and dinner-party-worthy.

The fragrant honey balsamic glaze is the key to this dish, starting with a culinary match made in heaven: garlic and rosemary Balsamic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin 1

And here is more rosemary that has been chopped (ok I just really wanted to show off this adorable measuring spoon)Balsamic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin 2

I like to use aged balsamic vinegar for this recipe and some of my favorite  Gentle Breeze Honey from just across the border in Wisconsin. You can also substitute agave nectar if you prefer.

Gentle Breeze Honey

Now it’s simply a matter of combining the glaze ingredients, pouring them over some nicely seared pork tenderloin medallions and dinner is ready in about 10 minutes!

Balsamic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin 3

I like to serve this with creamy polenta (Try Colavita’s Instant Polenta cooked according to package directions, with a little Parmesan and mascarpone cheese mixed in at the end for extra creaminess), and a simple green bean saute or cooked carrots for color.  One of those rare dishes that is perfect for a hectic weeknight and yet elegant enough to serve to company. So the next time a friend pops by unannounced  OR it’s 4:00 pm and you’ve just remembered that your spouse’s boss is coming over for dinner at 5:00, this is your go to meal.

Until we meet again, happy cooking!

 Pork Medallions with Balsamic, Rosemary & Honey Glaze

For the glaze:

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 TBS. chopped fresh rosemary

½ C. balsamic vinegar, preferably aged

3 TBS honey or agave nectar

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pork:

1 ¾ to 2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed (see Note>)

Canola or vegetable oil for searing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place all ingredients for glaze into a small, non-reactive bowl or jar and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt & pepper. (Glaze can be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate, then bring back to room temperature before using).

For the pork, slice the tenderloin(s) into 1-inch thick medallions (rounds). Season both  sides with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with a light film of oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot (a splatter screen and good ventilation are very helpful when searing any kind of meat).   Add the pork slices in one layer and sear for about 1 -2 minutes. Turn and sear for 1 more minute or so, until lightly browned. Transfer the slices in 1 layer to a shallow baking dish (or if your skillet is oven proof you may just keep the pork in the skillet, pour the glaze over and bake).

Pour the glaze over the slices and turn them to coat.

Roast for 8-12 minutes, or until cooked through and just barely pink in the middle. Remove from the oven and keep warm, loosely covered until ready to serve. To serve, place medallions on a platter and spoon some of the glaze over them. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Serves: 3-4

Note> Be sure your tenderloin has been properly trimmed and all excess fat and silver skin removed. For instructions on how to do this at home, check out this video: “Cooking Tips: How to Trim Fat from Pork Tenderloin

 

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup 1Wasn’t it just last week that I was commenting to someone how mild our winter has been thus far in the Chicago area? Well apparently I neglected to knock on wood because today we are MORE than making up for our snowfall deficit with the “Superbowl of Snowstorms.”  I have officially declared it an “all pajama day” at our house, along with getting the fireplace going and of course the game later on.

Days like this also call for hearty and comforting soups, like this Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup, a recipe passed on to me a few years back by my sister. I actually made this soup earlier last week and it’s the perfect thing to make for a crazy busy work week.  Just prep some onions/carrots/celery the night before: Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup 3

The next morning, into the slow cooker it goes with some chicken stock (I use my Smitten Kitchen Slow Cooker “Uncluttered Chicken Stock” which I always have on hand in the freezer). For a true vegetarian version simply substitute vegetable stock. Add a can of tomatoes:

IMAG0973Some beans of your choice (I used Great Northern Beans this time around) And of course the secret ingredient for any minestrone soup: a Parmesan rind.  Low and behold, look what they carry at my most awesome grocery store, Mariano’s: Parmesan rinds!

IMAG0993

Into the slow cooker it all goes and simmers away for a good 8 hours (on low)

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup| Dinner Is ServedThen about thirty minutes prior to serving, stir in some chopped zucchini, spinach and al dente ditalini pasta.Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup 2

As for my snow day today, I’ll be cooking up a big batch of my favorite Andouille Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya, enjoying the winter wonderland, some football and later, a glass or two of red wine by the fire.

Winter Wonderland 2015

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

5-6 cups homemade chicken stock (or reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth)

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can beans (either Great Northern, Cannellini, Kidney or Chick Peas), drained and rinsed

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 Parmesan cheese rind

Salt and ground black pepper

2 cups slightly undercooked (al dente)  ditalini pasta

1 medium zucchini, chopped

2 cups fresh baby spinach

Parmesan or Romano cheese for serving

  •  In a slow cooker, combine 5 cups broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, oregano, basil, thyme, Parmesan rind, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Add additional cup of chicken stock if soup is too thick. Remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

Serves 6-8

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup 4

 

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Walnuts and Feta Cheese

IMAG0980 FINAL

~ Necessity is the mother of invention ~

                                        English proverb

 I honestly think this is how most recipes are created.  The fridge is near empty, save for a mish mash of leftovers. There’s a half empty box of pasta in the pantry and a container of ricotta cheese that is approaching its expiration date.  And those two remaining semi-stale hot dog buns?  Well yes of course those can be tossed into the food processor and turned into bread crumbs!  Bottom line:  your family is starving and food must appear soon or else.

Then in one magical moment, out of chaos, these ingredients come together into something splendid and behold, a recipe is born.

And so it came to be last month when all I had in my refrigerator were some ingredients leftover from a spinach salad I had prepared for New Years Eve (spinach, toasted walnuts and feta cheese) and a box of Barilla Orzo pasta.  Keep in mind these ingredients happen to fall into that category of “things I could eat every day forever and be completely happy.”

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Walnuts, Spinach and Feta Cheese | Dinner Is Served

All it needed was a touch of garlic and a splash of lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil at the end to complete. The flavor and texture combination: amazing.   The possibilities: endless.  Serve as a hearty, meatless entree or if you’re in the mood or some protein, serve as a side with grilled chicken or top with some sauteed shrimp.  Leftovers taste great chilled for lunch.

This, to me, is what cooking is all about: working with fresh ingredients, creating, reinventing. If necessity is the mother of invention, then necessity is indeed a very good thing.

Lemon Orzo with Spinach, Walnuts and Feta Cheese | Dinner Is Served

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Walnuts and Feta Cheese

1 cup Barilla Orzo pasta

5 cups baby spinach, lightly packed

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Note>)

2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

  •  Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add Barilla orzo pasta and cook until just al dente per directions; drain pasta and set aside.
  • Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute approximately 30 seconds until fragrant. Add spinach and a pinch of salt.  Toss gently with tongs until spinach is just starting to wilt, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Return orzo to the pan.  Stir in walnuts and then feta cheese.  Add some additional salt if necessary and a few grinds of black pepper.  Toss gently to coat.  Then just before serving, drizzle a little olive oil over and sprinkle with lemon zest.  Give it one more toss then serve.

Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

Note> For the freshest nuts, try the bulk section of your grocery store. You can buy just as much as you need, save some money and chances are they are infinitely fresher than the packaged nuts in the baking section.

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Walnuts and Feta Cheese | Dinner Is Served

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year from Dinner Is Served!

Happy New Year from DInner Is Served!While many people like to look forward to the year ahead on New Years Eve,  I like to reflect on the past year.  Times spent with family and friends,  big events for the kiddos (my daughter starting college), milestones for me as well (starting a job full time). Travels were few and far between but very fun, especially exploring Kentucky and bourbon country last spring!

Then there are my food memories. SO MANY, it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, there was our epic bad winter in January-February. Look back at scenes like this makes me hope and pray we don’t get a repeat this year.  Then again, it was fun hunkering down at home with a roaring fire, good wine and wonderful soups and stews:PicMonkey Collage

Spring eventually emerged and my garden kicked into full swing. I was blessed with an abundance of fresh kale, cabbage, lettuce, herbs and tomatillos.

10653283_10205316937229167_1893379757392262430_nAnd at some point I became absolutely obsessed with potatoes, looking at my blog posts. My favorite, of course being these fantastic salt baked potatoes with rosemary and garlic. These are a MUST TRY!Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic & Rosemary | Dinner Is Served

I partnered with BelGioioso cheese in November to create a Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Salad with Garlic-Parmesan Toasts, was able to give away a big, beautiful cheese basket from them AND ended up with my most favorite photo of the year: Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

Speaking of photos, I think I’ve been doing a bit better in that department. I’ve learned the importance of natural light and composition. Looking back at my early blog days, my photos were pretty bleak, poorly lit and requiring a lot of editing.  I am gradually trying to replace the old photos whenever I remake a recipe. Just check out the difference:

Happy New Year from DISAccording to WordPress stats, my most viewed post was on February 9th, with my Rigatoni with Sweet Sausage, Escarole, Cannellini Beans and Garlic Broth.  While I still think this photo could be improved upon, I remember the recipe well and it was super delicious and I may just have to make it again this weekend (and maybe take a better pic!).

Rigatoni with Sweet Sausage, Escarole, Cannellini Beans and Garlic BrothThe recipe that I loved the most that I thought deserved more attention was my wonderful Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices. I don’t know, maybe there’s just an over abundance of squash soup recipes in the fall and this one got lost in the shuffle! I would love for you all to try it sometime.Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices | Dinner Is Served

And last, but certainly not least, I went out with a bang with these incredible Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes. I admit I’ve been totally baking averse in the past, but I’m coming around. Maybe 2015 will be the year I finally master a pie crust!

Mini Eggnog Lattee Cheesecakes | Dinner Is Served

I have no idea what 2015 has in store for me, but for sure we will have many new food adventures and hopefully I will pick up many followers along the way.  As always, I am forever grateful for the support and kind words from my readers both here on my blog and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  I wish each and every one of you a joyous, prosperous and healthy 2015.

Dinner Is Served

 

Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes

Mini Eggnog Lattee Cheesecakes | Dinner Is Served

 I am very close to my tipping point for holiday wining and dining.  Close but….not QUITE there yet.

With the end of 2014 right around the corner, I thought I’d go for broke with my last post of the year. Combining my most favorite December coffee drink: Starbucks Eggnog Latte with one of my most favorite desserts: cheesecake.  But rather than create one massive cheesecake, I decided to downsize with this adorable mini cheesecake version instead. It also gave me the perfect excuse to try out my new Norpro Mini-Cheesecake pan, a gift from a fabulous co-worker:

Norpro Mini Cheesecake Pan

My goal with my creation was to make sure there were elements of a real latte in every layer.  For the chocolate crust, that meant adding a little instant espresso powder: Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecake | Dinner Is Served

And then adding some rich and sweet eggnog to the cheesecake layer:

Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes | Dinner Is Served

Can we pause for a moment to praise the almighty workhorse in my kitchen that is my KitchenAid Stand Mixer? Mine is pushing about 25 years now. It has taken a licking and keeps on beating (and kneading, whipping, stirring, etc.)

KitchenAid Mix Master

 Ahhhh….ok now back to the cheesecake! What latte would be complete without some sweet whipped cream topping (remember this is our last hurrah so no cutting calories here). I chose to take the whipped topping one step further and add even more eggnog. The final cheesecakes get a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and a sprinkle of some festive, pearly sprinkles (or “jimmies” if you’re from Boston).

If you are lacking in the “mini cheesecake pan” department, never fear. These can be baked in lined muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.  You can also easily make a gluten-free version of this cheesecake by substituting gluten-free chocolate wafers for the crust and sweet rice flour for the batter.  And finally, if you get the urge to make these later in the year and fresh eggnog is not available, you can just substitute heavy cream in the batter and add a little eggnog syrup (available at Amazon.com) to taste.

I can’t think of any more beautiful or delicious way to end 2014. I’ll be back on New Years Eve with a look at this past year. Until then, eat, drink and be merry my friends!

IMAG0871

Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes

Crust:

1 cup crushed chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies

3 TBS unsalted butter, melted

1/2 TBS granulated sugar

2-3 tsp. instant espresso powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cheesecake:

12 oz. Philadelphia Brand® cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup eggnog (see Note 1>)

1 TBS all purpose flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

Topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 TBS granulated sugar

2 TBS eggnog

Freshly grated nutmeg

White, pearly sprinkles (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a mini cheesecake pan using non-stick spray OR insert cupcake liners into a cupcake pan and spray.
  • In a small food processor (or by hand), combine the ingredients for the crust. Place a heaping tablespoon into each cup, lightly pressing down using a spice jar wrapped in plastic wrap (see Note 2>) Bake for 5 minutes.
  • For cheesecake filling, in a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together sugar and cream cheese. Add eggnog, flour, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Mix at low-medium speed just until blended (do not over mix). Scrape down sides of bowl then add egg and beat only until combined. Spoon filling into cups, filling each about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until centers are slightly jiggly. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. Note that the centers of the cheesecakes will deflate while cooling.  Do not worry!  The whipped cream will cover any sunken parts or other imperfections! Transfer to a refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Before serving, prepare whipped topping. Chill a mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes then remove. Beat together whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.  Add eggnog and beat just until combined. Unmold cheesecakes (if using the mini cheesecake pan). Spoon or pipe whipped cream onto the top of each cheesecake. Top with freshly grated nutmeg and sprinkles and serve.
  • Yields: 12 mini cheesecakes

Note 1> If eggnog is not available, substitute 1 cup of heavy cream and flavor it with some eggnog syrup (available online)

Note 2> for an even crust, wrap some plastic wrap around the bottom of a spice jar and use it to tamp down the cookie crust layer:Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecake | Dinner Is Served

Merry Christmas 2014 from Dinner Is Served

IMAG0829Oh my what a wonderful Christmas it’s been and still is! Family is coming over this afternoon for our super duper appetizer spread. If I do say so myself, we’ve totally outdone ourselves this year with great food (and also presents as you can see). Starting last night with a simple but satisfying Christmas Eve dinner of grilled NY Strip steaks, roasted truffle potatoes and broccoli. Then up early this morning to Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Baked French Toast and fruit salad.

This afternoon we’ll have our appetizer spread featuring some family favorites: Marinated Pork Tenderloin on Rye and Dill Dip with chips and veggies. Also serving up some fresh shrimp with my Holiday Dipping Sauce

IMAG0839And of course what holiday meal would be complete with cookies. LOTS AND LOTS OF COOKIES!  We have our tried and true favorites:

Heavenly Chocolate Toffee Bars

THE Heavenly Toffee Chocolate bars (above) and (below) my grandma’s Apricot Bars

Gram's Apricot Bars

And two new favorites to add this year: Potato Chip Cookies with Toasted Pecans from Creative Culinary and these melt-in-your-mouth Peppermint Meltaways fro The Recipe Critic.

IMAG0836

Anticipating a total and complete food coma tomorrow which hopefully I will recover from by the time NYE rolls around. So until then, I am wishing you all the joys of the season and blessings for you, your family and friends.

Ann @ Dinner Is Served

 

And the winner of the cheese is…

Congratulations 2

Congratulations to Gino, winner of the BelGioioso cheese give away!  Gino is a long time Dinner Is Served fan and his favorite way to enjoy cheese over the holidays is incorporating it into the many Italian dishes his mom has taught him to make.

Thank you so much to all who entered.  Love hearing people share their holiday traditions. Also a big thanks to Bel Gioioso cheese for making this happen. Check out their website at http://www.belgioioso.com for product information and lots of great recipes. Their products are available nation wide, always fresh and of the highest quality.

Have a great weekend everyone!

THE Amazing Holiday Bel Gioioso Cheese Give Away

BelGioioso-Cheese-Giveaway-600x400 (3)Can you think of any better gift to receive this holiday season than the gift of top quality, award winning cheese from Bel Gioioso? This beautiful box with some of their finest cheeses could be yours by simply leaving a comment here or on my Facebook Dinner Is Served  page and let me know:

What is your favorite way to enjoy cheese over the holidays?

Maybe some stuffed shells with Ricotta for New Years Eve? Provolone with sausage and crackers for game day Sunday? Strawberries with whipped Mascarpone and champagne for a post tree lighting celebration? And of course my personal favorite: Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Cheese and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts.

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

Tis the season to gather and celebrate with friends and family. Whatever your occasion, look for Bel Gioioso cheese to make your meal extra special.  One winner will be selected  on Friday, December 12th.

I am so grateful to everyone who share my passion for cooking and have supported my blog.  It’s been one delicious year and believe me, there’s a lot more to come!

profile12-2014

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

How odd, yet not unlike me, to vividly remember my first experience with a wedge salad. It was 2003, our first time ever in Walt Disney World, a late night dinner after a very long day of travel. My children were running on excitement overload.

I just wanted a decent meal.

I promptly ordered the first item on the menu: an iceberg lettuce wedge salad with blue cheese dressing. I wasn’t sure how much a wedge of lettuce would thrill me but let me just say that salad..THAT SALAD! Cold and crunchy, draped in a rich creamy dressing. Forget about getting the Little Mermaid’s autograph, I had already found my magic at Disney World.

When BelGioioso asked me to create a special holiday salad using one or two of their cheeses, I knew a creamy gorgonzola dressing would take center stage. And what better way to showcase this dressing than serve it over a wedge of cold, crisp romaine lettuce.  The dressing I created features their CreamyGorg® which is a multi award winning creamy, gorgonzola cheese. Its richness provides the perfect counterpart to the chilled romaine lettuce, bright tomatoes and salty pancetta. An Italian twist on the iceberg wedge salad I first enjoyed years ago.

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

I also love a little toasty bread with my salads, but croutons don’t really work with the wedge concept. Instead, I decided on little garlic toasts featuring BelGioioso’s American Grana®. Seriously, I nearly devoured the entire batch before I could get a photo.

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

This salad is perfect for holiday entertaining.  The presentation is unique and has that “wow” factor. All the elements of the salad can be made well in advance. Just assemble and serve on chilled plates.  Also, consider making a double batch of the dressing and serving it with fresh vegetables as an appetizer.

Like Disney World for the first time, it’s pure magic.

Enjoy!

Romaine Wedge Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing and Garlic-Parmesan Toasts

Dressing

½ cup BelGioiso® CreamyGorg® Cheese (Gorgonzola Dolce), rind removed

⅓ cup mayonnaise

⅓ cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)

⅓ cup buttermilk

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tsp white wine vinegar

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

 Salad

2 medium heads of romaine lettuce

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

4 oz. diced pancetta

1 TBS finely chopped fresh chives

 Garlic Toasts

1 demi baguette (or ½ of a regular sized loaf)

4 TBS unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup grated BelGioioso® American Grana® (Extra Aged Parmesan Cheese)

1 small clove of garlic, minced

1 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

For dressing, place ⅓ cup of the gorgonzola cheese in a medium bowl (reserve remaining cheese to sprinkle on salad).  Mash with a fork until creamy. Add remaining ingredients. Using a wire whisk, blend ingredients until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For best results, let dressing chill overnight.

Brown pancetta in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.

For salad, trim the leafy ends and stem off each head of lettuce. Remove any tough outer leaves and cut each head in half, lengthwise. Rinse under cool water and thoroughly dry. Wrap in paper towels and place in gallon, zipper bags, squeezing out excess air. Refrigerate for an hour or two until well chilled (lettuce will also stay fresh if stored like this for several days).

While lettuce is chilling, prepare garlic toasts. Preheat oven to 425°. Slice baguette on the diagonal into long, thin slices. Combine butter, Parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread butter mixture onto each slice of bread. Place, butter side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until just golden, about 5-6minutes. Remove and set aside.

To assemble salad, lay romaine hearts on a chilled serving platter or individual salad plates. Top with tomatoes and onions. Pour dressing over, then top with crumbled pancetta, the remainder of the gorgonzola cheese (crumbled), and the chopped chives. Serve with garlic toasts on the side.

Serves 4

TIPS and IDEAS

  • The key to any wedge salad is to have all the ingredients well chilled and assembled just before serving. If possible, chill salad plates as well.
  • Pre-packaged romaine spears may also be used as well. Rinse and chill as described in the recipe.
  • To tame the bite of raw onions, let the slices soak in a bowl of ice water for about ten minutes. Drain and add to salad.
  • To lighten up the dressing a bit, substitute reduced fat mayonnaise and/or sour cream.
  • Dressing and salad ingredients can all be prepared ahead. For the toasts, the Garlic/Parmesan butter may be prepared up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator or frozen. Bring to room temperature before spreading on bread and baking.
  • The Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing makes a wonderful dip for fresh vegetables, crackers, chips or even Buffalo Wings. Feel free to add some fresh parsley or chives for color and even a pinch of cayenne pepper.