Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2 Dill-Avocado Dip with Fresh Tarragon & Chives

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I made this very versatile dip earlier tonight to serve with crudités. It's SO quick and easy to make! This recipe is great for when you need to whip up some last minute snacks for guests or impromptu get-togethers. It's very zesty and flavorful, and would also taste great with baked chips, etc. It'd also make a tasty and out-of-the-ordinary sandwich spread. Or use it to spackle a green-colored wall. Lol. OK, only kidding about that last suggestion; just wanted to see if you were paying attention. :) And just in case you were wondering, no, I've never actually tested out that last idea. :-D

Dill-Avocado Dip with Fresh Tarragon & Chives

3/4 c. ripe Haas avocado, diced (about 1 medium-sized Haas avocado)
1 c. nonfat plain Greek yoghurt
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
1/4 c. scallions, white and green parts, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 4 large scallions)
1/4 c. fresh chives, chopped and densely packed
1/3 c. fresh dill (or to taste), roughly chopped and densely packed
2 Tbsp. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped and densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, roughly chopped and densely packed
3/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions: Place 2 Tbsp. of the chives in a small custard dish to reserve for later use (i.e., to be mixed before serving). Set aside. Then place all the rest of the ingredients into a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth and ingredients have been evenly distributed throughout, about 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer mixture to a container with a tight-fitting, sealable lid, cover, and chill for at least a half hour before serving. Just before serving, remove from refrigerator and mix one more time. Can be made up to a day in advance. Serve & enjoy!

Yield: About 2 c.

Friday, January 13, 2012

0 Recipe #301: Tomato & Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Fresh Dill & Tarragon

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OK, I'll admit it. I'm feeling rather lazy tired tonight. I just came back from a full day's work followed by a hard workout, so excuuuuuse me if feel like slummin' it in the kitchen for one single, freakin' night. Hahaha. Admittedly, you won't hear that too often from me, as making an effort's not usually a limiting factor for me, but I've bet you've occasionally felt the same after a busy day's work. :)

Of course, I'm not so lazy as to resort to using pre-made mixes or phoning it in, i.e., by which I mean delivery. ;) I'm still going to cook something, just something simpler and faster that takes a lot less effort. :)

It just so happens that tonight's recipe is also inexpensive, and thus, perfectly fits into the ongoing "Resourceful Recipes" series that I've been contributing to over the last several weeks. Easy, inexpensive, fresh, and delicious. And, a continuation on a theme. :) Maybe, in honor of hard-working folks everywhere, who feel just like I do tonight, I should perhaps retitle this recipe series, "Slothful Shortcuts." Hahaha. OK, maybe not. :) It was either that, or my second choice, "Sustenance for Slackers." Pretty catchy, eh?! ;)

Now some of you might peruse the below list and think, "Wait, goat cheese. Isn't that an expensive ingredient?" Well, it depends where you buy it. If you buy it at a generic grocery store, (versus an over-priced gourmet market ;) ), it's usually fairly reasonable. In fact, the 8 oz. package I used for tonight's recipe was a much better deal than the 4 oz. package! It cost a mere $5.49, but since only half of that tube will be used for tonight's recipe, the cost per use is only $2.75. :) And since this recipe serves four, this ingredient's cost per person is only $0.69! Of course, value is also a consideration when factoring in cost, so when you calculate expenditures on a cost per use basis, it's really not a big expenditure at all. :-D

[Also, it's probably a good thing that the recipe calls for only half of the package, which works out to be 1 oz. per person. :) Chèvre has such an intensely rich and creamy flavor, so a little bit goes a long way. Also, this way, you can treat yourself to its wonderfully smooth and delectable flavor without feeling like you're going to moo afterward. Haha!]

Of course, goat cheese is just one out of several ingredients in this recipe, almost all of which are super inexpensive: pasta, tomatoes, scallions, fresh herbs, etc. To prove my point, tonight's meal for four totaled roughly $9, or only $2.25 per person! [Of course, the total grocery bill was a bit higher, but that's only because the recipe only called for about half of what I bought, especially in the case of bundled items (like fresh herbs and scallions) or boxed items (like pasta). So, don't be surprised, if, in future, you might see more quick and easy recipes made with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and goat cheese, as these fresh ingredients need to be made use of fairly soon. :) ]

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that none of the ingredients in this pasta salad, save the pasta, need to be cooked. And at that, the pasta takes only 8 minutes to cook. How quick and easy is that?! Ahhhh, just perfect. :) In fact, this recipe is so quick and easy to make, that if you were to stop reading the recipe intro and instead start making the recipe right this second, you'd probably be done in the same amount of time it'd take to read the rest of this intro. In fact, the preamble to the recipe is actually longer than the recipe itself. Lol.

In keeping with tonight's zero-effort theme, Erik and I will also be kicking back and catching up on the DVR backlog after dinner. :) OK, have a good one! Later....


Tomato & Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Fresh Dill & Tarragon

Salad Ingredients:
2 c. (i.e., 4 servings) dried rotini (or other fun pasta shape)
5-6 c. lightly salted water, seasoned with a drop of extra virgin olive oil (to keep pasta from sticking together)
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
2 c. (i.e., 1 dry pint) fresh grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. (4 oz.) chèvre (goat cheese)
1/4 c. (or more) scallions (about 4 large scallions)
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped and densely packed
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely minced and densely packed

Directions: Bring medium-sized pot of lightly salted water (seasoned with a drop of olive oil) to a rolling boil, about 8 minutes. While you're waiting for the water to boil, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, whisking together until emulsified. Add goat cheese and mix until well combined. Set aside.

Cook pasta until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. (Boil with the lid on to speed up the process.) Remove from heat and drain. Transfer to colander, shock with cold water, and drain once more. Transfer to the bowl with the goat cheese mixture. Immediately coat pasta with the goat cheese mixture, so that the cheese melts ever-so-slightly, and toss thoroughly under well-combined. Then add tomatoes, scallions, and fresh herbs. Toss once more to combine, divide pasta into 4 equal portions, transfer to bowls, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.

Chef's Notes: This dish can be served hot or cold. It keeps fairly well in the fridge, so it can be made a day or two in advance. In fact, this dish tastes even better the next day, as the flavors have been given more time to meld. Just be sure to leave out the tomatoes until you are ready to serve, which will ensure that the dish stays fresh for as long as possible.

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