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Archive for July 7th, 2010

Cooking in someone else’s kitchen can be a real challenge.  You can’t find the salt, you don’t have your favorite knife, their oven is not like yours.  Fortunately, my most recent experience was easy and fun.  And, even better, the food turned out well!

This kitchen was at the home of my friend A, someone I have known, we calculated, for about 40 years.  His kitchen is a work of art — a room he designed in a house he has built (is technically still building) in the hills above Oakland, CA.

The occasion was a fourth of July barbeque.  Everyone was bringing something, and I decided to contribute two small salads — one with roasted sweet potatoes and one with watermelon — variations of traditional fourth of July potato salad and fresh watermelon.

The dishes are both easy to make (I hesitate to even call what follows recipes, they are so simple) and can be pulled together in less than an hour, including the time needed to peel, dice and roast the sweet potatoes.  Next time you are cooking in a friend’s kitchen — or even your own — you might want to give them a try.

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Parmesan, Basil and Mint

1 small seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small bunch basil, sliced very thinly
1 small bunch mint, sliced very thinly
Juice of one lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toss watermelon cubes in a generously sized mixing bowl with Feta, Parmesan, basil and mint.
Add lime juice and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Let the salad sit for about 15 minutes and then transfer it to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon (there will be a lot of “juice” in the bottom of the bowl; I prefer to serve the salad with only a little of it).
Serve at room temperature or cooled in the refrigerator.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ (or less, to taste) cup finely chopped sweet onion (like Vidalia)
Juice of one lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss diced sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet.  If your baking sheets are small, use two so that the potatoes are not touching.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
Transfer the roasted sweet potatoes to a medium sized serving bowl and toss with the remaining olive oil, diced onion and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like a lot of black pepper with this salad).  Serve at room temperature.

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