French Summer Bistro Salad

Nothing says al fresco dining than a classic French bistro salad featuring a combination of leafy lettuces topped with a light tangy dressing and served with creamy poached eggs or warm quiche on the side! This beautiful and inspired summer salad features just four simple ingredients that are complex in flavor and vibrant in color and texture. Delicate frisee, peppery radicchio, thinly sliced fennel, and hints of bright fresh mint are tossed with a zesty lemon vinaigrette, making for an elegant brunch side dish or main staple for your evening picnic at the park. It pairs perfectly with assorted cheeses, sliced fruit, eggs, crusty French bread, and a clink of wine or champagne to enhance your tasteful meal that everyone is sure to devour. A votre sante!

Ingredients

  • ½ fennel bulb, stalks and base removed and slivered into very thin half moons
  • 4 cups chopped radicchio
  • 5 cups frisee (or curly endive lettuce)
  • ½ cup French mint leaves, torn into small pieces

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix salad ingredients together in large salad bowl. In a small side bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside on the counter for 1 hour prior to allow time for shallots to marinate. Toss salad well with vinaigrette when ready to serve.

Photos from a recent visit to Mackinac Island, Michigan with my mom… my first vacation in years!

Vegan Senate Bean Soup

With the recent elections and shift to crisp, fall weather, our family jumped right into hot soup season and what better dish than this hearty and healthy Senate Bean Soup!

One popular story claims the history of this dish goes back to World War II when the country was under rationing and the US government kitchen staff had to come up with creative ways to bulk up their lunch options. But another story contends it goes back at least 100 years and was simply a favorite amongst senators. Whatever the origination, it is a popular dish and has been served in the dining room of the Senate every day since, hence its name. The original recipe used a mashed potato base with ham, which I replaced with leeks and topped it off at the end with some crispy, pan-fried vegan Benevolent Bacon which added a nice smoky flavor to the soup once stirred through.

Made with just a few easy ingredients, this thick and buttery dish was scrumptious served with some toasted sourdough and was a big hit with kids and adults alike. The key elements in the prep were using dry navy beans and puréeing about 1/3 of the soup after it was all cooked down to create a thick soup base while still retaining much of the chunky beans and vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry navy beans
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and slivered
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Benevolent Bacon, diced and pan fried

Soak navy beans 6-8 hours, then drain and rinse. In large soup pot heat up olive oil then cook garlic and leeks until translucent, about 3-5minutes. Add carrots, celery, beans, thyme and vegetable broth and cook on medium for 45 minutes, stirring constantly, until beans are soft. Remove 1/3 of soup and purée in blender then add back to soup. Or use a hand blender and purée briefly enough to thicken the broth but not break down all the beans. In a separate pan, add additional 1-2 TB olive oil and fry the bacon until it starts to darken. Set aside for 1 minute to cool, then serve fresh with each serving of soup. Salt and pepper to taste.