Tag Archive | potato

Pimento Paroxysm

By definition, paroxysm means any sudden, violent outburst.  In my mind, with summer just around the corner and today being Father’s Day, it’s time to break out the summer dishes and just let the flavors explode all over the palette.  So, given that definition, I think paroxysm works well in my title!

Today I am trying two comfort food dishes that include pimentos but changing it out a little.  Pimentos are just chopped up red peppers that can be pickled and smoked.  I love the flavor they add to dishes and the color just adds a beautiful pop to any dish!  The first dish is a revamping of my favorite summer dish: potato salad.  Who doesn’t love potato salad on a hot day?  There are so many ways to make this dish, but I just kept it simple using what I had in the pantry.  The second dish is: pimento cheese spread.  Another dish that has fifty million different ways of making it, I again chose to keep it simple and the recipe is based on one from a co-worker.

 

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First step: peel and chop potatoes.  Probably the least fun part of the whole thing!  I took 5-6 large Idaho potatoes, because that’s what I had in the kitchen!  After peeling and washing them, I put them into a large bowl of water.  It’s been said that soaking them in water will help remove some of the starch.  I guess it’s true, because when I came back a little later to chop them, their texture was very different!

Second step: cook the potatoes.  In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until just softened.  You don’t want to overcook them because the potato salad will be mushy.  Once cooked, drain and rinse the potatoes.  Rinsing them helps to stop the cooking as they will continue to cook until cool.

For the sauce, you will need your favorite mayonnaise or salad dressing.  To keep it vegan, use Veganaise or another similar vegan mayo.  I had some light Miracle Whip on hand and decided to just use that.  Next add some yellow mustard, freshly ground black pepper, healthy pinch of paprika, pimentos, shallots and some Vidalia onion.

Mixing it all together, chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight so the flavors meld together.  See the recipe below!

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Cyn’s Pimento Potato Salad

5-6 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cooked until just tender

1/2 Vidalia onion, diced

1-1/2 purple shallot, diced

2-1/2 tbsp. pimentos

3 tbsp. yellow mustard

3-4 tbsp. salad dressing or mayonnaise

1 tsp paprika

freshly ground black pepper

Peel and soak potatoes in a large bowl of water for about 20-min.  While they are soaking cut the Vidalia onion, purple shallots and place in a bowl together with all the other ingredients.

One the potatoes are chopped, cook until just tender in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Drain and rinse to slow the cooking process.  Toss altogether and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight so the flavors will meld.

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Now for the second dish!  I love pimento spread, but sometimes the store-bought has so many extra ingredients in it and while I like cream cheese, using it in pimento spread makes the spread so much heavier, in my opinion.

This recipe was inspired by a co-worker who brought in her pimento spread for a birthday party luncheon that we had recently.  I basically followed what she told me, except for the choice of cheese.  She uses Velveeta process cheese and I chose sharp cheddar.

The end result is basically the same = creamy, light, flavorful.  Perfect.

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Doesn’t that close up photo just make you want to dig in?!? 

Here’s the recipe:

Cyn’s Pimento Cheese Spread

1 cup freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

2-3 tbsp. pimentos, including the juice from the jar

your favorite mayonnaise or salad dressing

(I added some freshly grated white Mexican melting cheese that I had because there was just a tiny bit of it left.  I think it came to about 1/3 cup or less)

Mix all together in a large bowl until well combined and creamy.  You may have to add more mayonnaise or salad dressing until it’s the right consistency.  Chill for at least an hour to allow the mixture to set.

Serve on bread or crackers or use as a dip with your favorite dipping chips.

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Bon Appetite!

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Vegetable Tian

What is tian, you ask?  During the summer there are plentiful tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and many other summer foods in abundance.  Provencal cooking celebrates the traditions of France’s countryside.  And a tian is a layered baked vegetable dish that originated in Provence.  Unlike a gratin, a tian does not include bread crumbs or cheese, which allows the juices of the vegetables to evaporate, thus allowing a deep concentration of the flavors.  Tian is usually served around the holiday Bastille Day during the peak of the summer when all the vegetables are readily available.

While I didn’t have all the ingredients of a traditional tian, I made my own version of it with the vegetables on hand and it was delicious!

Some tian calls eggplant, leeks, zucchini, plum tomatoes but I think you could take any of the summer vegetables that you enjoy and make this dish.  I only had summer squash, zucchini and potatoes on hand, so that along with onions and garlic is what I used.  The simplified recipe that I found follows at the end of this post, however, there are many more authentic recipes that can be found online.

First gather together the vegetables that you will want to use.  Finely chop your onion and sauté in extra virgin olive oil, adding your garlic at the end.  I pushed 2 large cloves of garlic through a press.

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While your onion and garlic sauté, spray an 8×8″-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray or lightly butter and set aside.

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Next, thinly slice all your vegetables, potatoes, whatever it is that you will be using. Since I used zucchini, summer square and potatoes, I sliced them into thin coins.  And since many vitamins and nutrients are found close to the skin, I did not peel my potatoes.  I just scrubbed them really well when washing.

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A friend of mine has an overabundance of vegetables in her garden this year and was nice enough to give me some and that is what I used in this dish.  Look at the size of the summer squash! 

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Spread the softened onion and garlic sauté into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  As you can see, the steam fogged up my baking dish!

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Now take the thinly sliced vegetable coins and neatly stack them, alternating between each veggie per row.  I stacked my vertically for a different look.  If you are using a round dish, layer in fans, working from the center.  Either way, it makes a beautiful display.

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Sprinkle with sea salt (I use Celtic Gray Sea Salt), freshly ground black pepper and thyme.  Now since I did not have any thyme, I used a little pinch of sage.  And because I like it, a nice sprinkle of paprika.

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Cover the dish with buttered parchment, or foil if you have that.  Bake in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  You can then add a sprinkling of cheese and bread crumbs if you wish, especially if you have kids or picky eaters in the house.  Traditionally this dish does not include it.

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Vegetable Tian

 

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tsp finely minced garlic – or 2 cloves pushed through a garlic press

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into coins

1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced into coins

1 medium potato, thinly sliced into coins

1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

1 sprig of Thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup shredded cheese – optional

about 2 handfuls Panko bread crumbs – optional

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit.  Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic.  Sauté both in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil until softened.

While the onion and garlic sautés, thinly slice the rest of your vegetables.

Spray your baking dish and spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish.  Arrange the vegetable slices, alternating them, in vertical rows.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and thyme.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes until tender.  Top with optional cheese and bread crumbs and bake until the cheese is golden brown.

Serve as a delightful side dish with rice or noodles and your choice of main dish.

Enjoy!