Saturday, August 24, 2013

Grilled Onion Vinaigrette for Green Salad

grilled onions added to vinaigrette for a tasty dressing
Here's a quick and easy way to use leftover grilled onions: add them to a vinaigrette for a tasty salad dressing! This one is so simple it doesn't warrant an ingredient list; I'll just give you the basic idea. Start with a basic combination of extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. For a salad to serve 2 to 3 people, I use 3 tbsp olive, 1 1/2 tbps balsamic vinegar. Stir vigorously to combine, add some salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of chopped fresh herbs if you have some on hand. I used oregano from our prolific plant.

Take your leftover grilled onions* out of the fridge, heat for 10 seconds or so in the microwave so they are about room temperature. Combine the onions with the oil and vinegar, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld. I used one heaping tablespoon of the onions. I like to toss the dressing with the salad to get it to consistently cover the lettuce leaves. I used a nice head of local red leaf lettuce. All it needed in addition to the dressing was a bit of toasted nuts and parmesan cheese and, voila! Great example of how one can add a flavorful twist to an every day salad, and make it a real treat.

salad grilled onions dressing
*Note: In case your not in the habit of grilling onions, a few words on that. I chop an onion in thin slices, toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I put the onions in a grill pan, which keeps it from sliding the the grates of the grill into the fire. I put the pan about half on direct heat, half on indirect, and stir occasional. It takes about 15 minutes to get them nicely caramelized. Great flavor boost to burgers and other grilled items.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Tavola: An Italian Take on Fresh, Local Food

Not sure why it took me so long to try A Tavola restaurant in Winchester center. It's just a couple of miles from my house, has a good reputation and a strong commitment to fresh, local food. Plus, they have an innovative food education program for children called Seed to Plate. Oh well, glad I had the chance to finally get there last weekend for a dinner with my sister and her husband, who are fairly regular there.

burrata to the left, prosciutto on the right
They have a nice selection of "piattini", small plates for the table. We started by sharing duck prosciutto with foie gras and balsamic, Maple Brook Farm Burrata with Shaved Mushrooms and Pea Tendrils, and an arugula salad with pickled ramps (photo on top of post). I definitely had to try some salad when I saw they grow their own greens, and I wasn't disappointed with its peppery freshness. The burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, was especially tasty.

what's under here?
Pork seems to be a specialty of the restaurant, so I ordered the lightly smoked pork roast for my entree. It was presented with some flare, coming to the table with a cover that was dramatically lifted to let hot steam pour out. There were a couple different cuts of the pork on the plate. The larger piece was soft and tend, prepared with an herb blend of some sort. Then there was also what seemed to be a smaller chop. Very savory, and the grilled polenta side I ordered with it was a nice touch. It was also served over some well cooked kale, which soaked up the pork flavor well.

A Tavola has a pretty good wine list, primarily Italian, which certainly makes sense given their menu. My one critique of the experience was the red wine that we ordered was served warm, like it had been sitting around the kitchen. I certainly run into this issue at plenty of places, but one would like to see a restaurant which overall provides high quality food and service more aware of how to properly store and serve their wines.

Overall, A Tavola shows a strong commitment to well-prepared fresh foods. The menu offers a nice array of choices with the small plates, pasta dishes and meat/fish entrees. I look forward to a return visit!
The tasty pork roast was revealed!