SummerĀ =Ā Salads!

I have to be honest. I don’t love salads. When it comes to eating them, I’m very persnickety. I’m not embarrassed to admit it, even though I should be. I guess. I have all sorts of rules and regulations when it comes to the green stuff. It has to be ice-cold. The lettuce can’t have any brown spots. Those tomatoes better be plump. It goes on and on.

Salads to me have always seemed like a chore. A chore only rewarded by your doctor, and who really wants to hang out with that guy? I know, I know. I have issues, but they’re fun in my head. Anyway. Rather than be completely irresponsible, I’ve opted to make salads a tad more appealing. Staying away from the traditional lettuce, tomato, cucumber and replacing those with veggies I like.

And so, here we are. A tomato, ASPARAGUS (cuz I love me some spears) and, yes, a bit of lettuce salad. The second most crucial bit on salads I like, is the dressing. Let’s face it, that ‘s the real reason I eat the darn things šŸ™‚ For this one, I got a bit inspired by some overly ripen tomatoes and used them as the base for the dressing. You know what? This salad was much yum! Yep. Uh huh. It was mighty good! Check, check it out.

Tomato & Asparagus Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:
Ripe tomatoes, seeded
Balsamic vinegar
Sugar
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small saucepan, add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften. Add 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, about 1 tsp of sugar and about 1/2 cp of water. Allow it to simmer until the tomatoes break down completely, about 10-15 minutes. Allow it to cool.

Place the tomato puree in the blender and puree. Add a bit more balsamic and about 1/4 cp of olive oil. Check the seasoning again and put in the fridge to cool.

For the salad:
Blanched asparagus*
Firm tomato, cubed
Lettuce

*To blanch the asparagus, trim the ends and cut the spears in half or thirds, depending on the size. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and dump the asparagus in for a couple of minutes. Just long enough for the green to become very vibrant. Remove the asparagus and dunk them in a bowl of ice water for a couple of minutes.

Drain the asparagus and pat dry them, placing them in a salad bowl. Add the tomatoes and lettuce. Drizzle the tomato dressing over the top.

Enjoy!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

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How to peel a pineapple…, if you’re Panamanian

Just before we get into that business, why is it called a pineapple? It looks nothing like an apple, thought I guess it is pokey like a pine cone… OK, that’s over, back to the fruit at hand.

With Summer heating things up, the grocers and markets are filled with delicious fruits, particularly those from more tropical climates. Pineapple happens to be one of my favorite fruits. Love, love, love IT! Love it! Believe me, once you’ve had a taste of fresh pineapple, you’ll snicker at the canned stuff. I want to make sure you eat as many of these fresh babies as possible, so I’ll give you some pointers to help you break it down.

Picking Pineapples: Put your senses to work.

See:Ā It should be a bright yellow, maybe a bit of green here and there. As with any other fruit, make sure there are no visible blemishes–brown or black spots. If youĀ can only findĀ them with very green peel, then take it home and allow the sugars to mature over a few days.

Touch: It should be firm to the touch, but not hard. It should give a little

Smell: Go ahead, put your nose to it. Pay special attention to the bottom, it’ll be the most fragrant area. It shouldĀ smell sweet with a hint of tartness.

Pineapples can be prickly, if you have sensitive hands, you may want to use something to protect them. Now for the fun part, this is how we breakdown a pineapple in Panama.

Remove both ends. You can break off the leafy top or just use a knife to cut about 1/2-inch off the top and bottom of the pineapple. This serves 2 purposes: it will stabilize the fruit and make it easier when removing the peel with a knife.

Stand the pineapple on one end (use a cutting board) and with the knife, beginĀ cutting off the peel of the pineapple. MoveĀ in a downward motion, always away from you.Ā  Give it a clockwise turn and repeat until you have removed all of the peel.

Remove the eyes. Cut the flesh in a shallow diagonal cuts on either sides of each row–you’ll probably be able to cut across 3-4 at a time. Remove the cut outs and repeat.

The pineapple will end up looking like a spiral. Kinda cool!

Now it is ready to slice and eat. One last thing, though. You want to make sure not to eat the core, it tends to be tough and it has an enzyme that causes your tongue to feel stiff and weird. It makes my lips feel itchy. Just stay clear of it.

Eating fresh chunks of pineapple is great, but check out this cocktail. That’s what I’m talking about!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris