Okay, maybe the living is not so easy these days. But unless you're the president or a member of Congress, there's not much you can do about the economy or our troops abroad. So, sit back and try to enjoy these last summer days of 2011.
Summer came late this year but it is already beginning to make way for autumn, Labor Day and back-to-school prep. Before summer becomes a fleeting memory, try using your leftover (but still sound) fruit to create this refreshing white sangria. It's perfect for a backyard party or barbecue!
==B White Summer Sangria (serves 8)==
6 cups assorted fruit (e.g. mango, pineapple, cantaloupe), sliced or cut into pieces
1/2 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
1-11/2 cups fresh basil or mint
1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur such as Cointreau
1 bottle chilled white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1. In a pitcher or large punch bowl, combine the fruit, ginger, basil or mint and liqueur.
2. Mash ingredients gently with the back of a wooden spoon until the herbs are bruised and the fruit releases their juices.
3. Add the wine and lemon juice; stir to combine.
4. Refrigerate until fully chilled (and up to a day). To serve, add ice.
Want a quick and easy appetizer to go with the Sangria?
==B Eggplant & Mint Bruschetta (4 cups for a starter dish)==
1 large eggplant (1-1/2 pounds), cut into 1" pieces
1 medium red onion, quartered, layers separated
4 plum tomatoes, quartered and seeded
Coarse salt & Ground Pepper
3 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn
4 oz Feta, crumbled (1 cup)
Crostini of your choice
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. On two baking sheets, toss eggplant and onion with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender, 25-30 min., rotating baking sheets halfway through. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl.
3. Thinly slice tomatoes lengthwise and add to bowl, along with mint leaves. Toss with 1 Tbsp each olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
4. Top with feta. Serve with crostini.
Blackberries and raspberries have been extremely sweet this season. I tried this salad recipe for a light yet hearty dinner meal. If you've a mind to, serve it with homemade biscuits or rolls. It's a quick dish to make and will work well as a lunch meal also.
==B Grilled Chicken Salad with Raspberry Tarragon Dressing (serves 4)==
4 skinned and boned chicken breasts (~1' lb.)
Vegetable cooking spray
1 fennel bulb, cut in half
2 heads Bibb lettuce, torn
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cantaloupe, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh blackberries
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup honey-roasted sliced almonds
Raspberry-Tarragon Dressing (see below)
1. Pour 1/2 cup Raspberry-Tarragon Dressing into a large zip-lock bag. Cover and refrigerate remaining dressing.
2. Add chicken to plastic bag; seal and chill 30 min. to 2 hours. Coat cold grate of grill with cooking spray and place on grill. Preheat oven to 350-400 (medium high) heat.
3. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Grill chicken and fennel bulb halves, with grill top covered, 8-10 min. on each side or until chicken is done and fennel is tender. Let chicken stand ~10 min.
4. Divide lettuce among 4 plates. Thinly slice chicken and fennel; place on lettuce. Drizzle with remaining dressing; top with berries, cheese cantaloupe and nuts. Serve immediately.
==B Raspberry-Tarragon Dressing (makes 2 cups)==
Whisk 1-12oz bottle raspberry vinaigrette of your choice, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, and 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon together in a bowl. Use with salad as directed.
Until next time, stay cool. Keep cool too.