Thursday, September 19, 2013

Basil Caesar Salad with Little Gem Lettuce

A few weeks ago Alex and I were at an impasse.  We have been too busy to cook and when we do cook, we cook the same things over and over again because they are easy.  But I picked up some little gem lettuce and we had a huge basil plant from the farmers' market and I wanted to do something fun with them.  So we made this salad.  My original plan was to pick up a rotisserie chicken from Citarella and throw it on top, but they were sold out by the time I made it to the store.  So we ended up making this salad along with an heirloom tomato and fresh mozzerella salad with even more of the fresh basil.  As far as this salad went, I wished the dressing had a little more umph to it.  It was good.  I liked it.  And I always like homemade croutons.  But I wanted a little more rich, nutty flavor from the anchovy and more basil flavor.  Also, in the future I will probably stem and hand tear my little gem lettuce.  We left the cute little heads of lettuce mostly whole here, which meant that the dressing didn't really penetrate into the heart of each head of little gem.  The next time I get my hands on little gem lettuce there is a Nancy Silverton recipe I want to try in her Mozza cookbook.  But lord only knows when I will find more little gem lettuce at Fairway as well as the free time to cook, so it could be some time before we get around to it...

Recipe after the jump!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stacked Veggie Enchiladas

I have been trying to come up with a really good recipe to break my blogging fast, but we haven't been cooking much recently.  I've been busy with work and we have been a little lazy of late - when we do cook, we tend to stick with easy riffs on dishes we have made in the past.  I just don't have the energy to make elaborate meals when I am this busy.  Alex has also been pretty busy with school so he hasn't had the time to cook either so the blog has just been kind of hanging out there all alone.  Sorry blog - I just don't have time for you like I used to.  And I can't see that changing anytime in the near future.  I salute anyone who works full time and still manages to post several times a week, but I don't think I can do it anymore.  Anyway, I kept trying to come up with something really amazing for the blog (rather than the random salads and such we have been making recently), but I finally decided that I needed to just post the next thing I made that was new.

I'm not sure why or how I started thinking about making enchiladas, but this dish has been a few weeks in the making.  It's the end of the summer and a lot of my favorite vegetables (like corn) are about to disappear from the farmers' market so I wanted to take advantage of them while I can for this dish.  I was originally going to make chicken and zucchini enchiladas with salsa verde, but I changed my mind once I saw fresh corn at the market.  I also abandoned the idea of salsa verde once I realized that I had everything I needed at the apartment to make a quasi-traditional red enchilada sauce.  I used a recipe from Homesick Texan for the sauce and then started playing around.  I threw onions, zucchini (also from the farmers' market) and corn in the enchilada filling.  I also added some cilantro stems, which is a recent thing that I secretly love doing.  It's my new little thing.  I didn't feel like going through the process of rolling my enchiladas so I stacked them instead (kind of like a Mexican lasagna with corn tortillas instead of noodles).  And then I threw it all in the oven and baked it.

All things considered, I think this was pretty successful.  We have only made enchiladas once or twice before (and never stacked enchiladas) and I'm always pretty happy with myself when we are winging it on something this new and it turns out.  I would probably play with the recipe a bit in the future to make it perfect, but it was pretty good.  The sauce had good flavor - nice and smoky, with some heat without being bitter or gritty.  The vegetables had good flavor too (although you could swap out the veggies we used for whatever was in season).  I had originally worried that the vegetable filling wouldn't be filling enough without some black beans or another zucchini, but I think we ended up with just the right amount (and it was plenty filling).  One thing we did mess up on - we forgot to cover the enchiladas with tin foil for the first 20 minutes, which would have helped the enchiladas stay moister/saucier.  Oops.  That was both Alex's and my chief complaint - that the enchiladas dried out a bit.  I would definitely cover them in the future. 

Recipe after the jump!