Wednesday, February 13, 2013

{Quick & Easy}: Soup and Salad

If you're like me, you encounter times when you want to cook, but you're short on time or energy or both.  When that happens, my mind usually goes into overdrive and begins thinking of what quick, but nonetheless delicious, dish I can muster to satisfy my desire for a home-cooked bite, without a lot of fuss.  

Almost without question, soup and salad (served together or as individual meals) always meet the challenge.  And I'm excited to share two recipes that offer the best in these easy, quick and delectable eats.  You can enjoy them for lunch, dinner, on their own (as I did), or combined to form a two-course "combo" meal. :)

So here's to home-cooking, even when it seems like a tall order, ...and always to Happy Eating!

Seared Tuna Salad
This salad delivers oodles of delicious flavor--and wow appeal--and comes together in a matter of minutes
Seared Tuna Salad

Tuna steak, preferably sushi grade
Coarse salt
Freshly cracked pepper
Olive oil
Mixed salad greens 

Pre-heat non-stick skillet over high heat.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over tuna and massage onto one side.  Season liberally with salt and pepper and place tuna seasoned side down in hot skillet.  Sear for two minutes and flip and sear for another minute on the other side. (Cook's Note: While tuna is searing on the first side, season the second side with the olive oil, salt and pepper before flipping.)  Remove tuna from skillet and allow to rest for at least five minutes or so.  Slice and serve over salad greens dressed with the vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham
This soup recipe heralds from Ina Garten and couldn't be easier to pull together for a satisfying and tasty slightly sweet soup paired with the salty bite of the ham.

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham
Good olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large shallots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 pounds frozen peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thin slices Spanish Serrano ham or Italian prosciutto

In a deep (8 x 5-inch) heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed. (I allow it to retain some texture, so it's not totally smooth.) Alternatively, use a blender to puree the soup 1 cup at a time. Pour the soup back into the pot and season to taste. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, you may want to add up to another teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to give the soup a very bright flavor.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ham in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp.

Reheat the soup and serve in shallow bowls with a slice of crispy ham on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve hot.  Enjoy!


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