5 Ingredient Pineapple Salsa

pineappleDo you have a trick to choosing a ripe pineapple? My grandfather was a grocer and passed along some of his tricks of the trade. Picking a pineapple is one of them. First, look for one that’s a little more yellow and light green than dark green on the outside. Pull on a stem from the very center of the leafy top of the fruit. If it comes out easily – i.e., no effort – proceed. If you have to give it a hard tug or it truly resists, put it back and move onto another. Finally, flip the pineapple over and smell the “butt” end of it. If you can smell the sugar inside, that baby is ripe and ready to eat! I happen to really love pineapple – it’s my favorite fruit – and I also love that I think of my Zadie (and hisΒ heavy Boston accent on the word sugar — “shug-ah”) every single time I walk by those babies in the store.

We had fish tacos for dinner. I seasoned some fresh tilapia with cumin and smoked paprika and it came out amazing. But the real winner was this incredibly simple, 5-ingredient salsa with fresh pineapple as the centerpiece. It was so light and springy/summery – and offered the perfect amount of crunch and acidity, but also sugary sweetness, to balance out the seasoning and soft, silkiness of the fish. It would also be delicious as a salad on its own (My Tiny Sous Chef put it on her tacos AND on the side to scoop up in big spoonfuls), or with chips, or on top of grilled fish or shrimp… etc. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* a big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
* 3 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal, dark and light green parts (but not whites)
* 1/2 an English seedless cucumber (or a couple of smaller Persian cukes), diced
* 1/4 of a ripe pineapple, cored and diced
* juice of 1/2 a lemon

WHAT TO DO
Prep the cilantro, green onions, cucumber, and pineapple and toss together in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the top and mix again. Taste and add more lemon if you think it needs it — and try not to just eat heaping spoonfuls before serving. Enjoy!

pinesalsa

Cucumber, Avocado, and Feta Salad

It sure doesn’t feel like May around here. It’s been dreary and rainy and cold forever. I’m pretty sure my Vitamin D has reached severely deficient levels thanks to these last 3 months or so of where-are-you-sunshine? But I know it’s coming. I just know it. A glimpse here and there, no matter how brief, has me completely reassured that a good gross-hot summer is just around the corner. I don’t know where that corner is, or how to get myself there more quickly, but when I get there, and I get around it, I’m going to need to change my clothes three times a day. I just know it. And I’m preparing for it by reintroducing summer-feeling foods into our meals. Like this very simple, happy, bright, light, fresh salad. Just a few basic ingredients and you’re good to go. I didn’t, but add in some fresh herbs (dill or parsley would be perfect) and it’ll be even better. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 English (seedless) cucumber, diced
* 1 ripe avocado, diced
* crumbled feta cheese (as much as you like)
* juice of half a lemon
* 1T olive oil
* lemon pepper, to taste

WHAT TO DO
Prepare your cucumber and avocado and add them to a bowl. Top with feta. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil on top. Finish with a little lemon pepper (regular black pepper will work just fine, too). Toss carefully to mix. Serve. Preferably with a tall, cool mojito (amiright?!).

cafsal

The Best (and easiest) Tuna Salad

Two important notes: 1) People either love tuna salad or they hate it, right? I mean, I don’t know anyone who falls in the “it’s okay” category on this one. Do you? 2) This recipe is for the salad itself, but the photos are from the tuna melts I made with them, which are really the best vehicle ever for tuna salad. Critical to a perfect tuna melt, besides this tuna salad are good rye bread and good sharp cheddar slices. That’s not up for debate. That’s the key. The end. Anyway, here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2 cans GOOD chunk light tuna in water (don’t skimp on brands with canned tuna. ew. also, don’t get it in oil. fish has so many good oils in it already, this is just unnecessary and messy, IMHO)
* 2T light mayonnaise
* 1/2t salt
* 1/4t pepper
* 3/4t garlic powder
* 1/4t celery seeds (these are the secret ingredient that take this recipe up a notch!)

WHAT TO DO
Drain the tuna and then empty the cans into a bowl. Add mayonnaise, starting with one tablespoon at first, mixing, and then adding the second if you need it. If you like your tuna salad really mayonnaise-y, add more, but just a teaspoon at a time, or it can really mess things up. Mix the mayo and tuna well.

Add the seasonings and mix through until fully combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. BOOM.

Are you pro- or anti- when it comes to tuna salad?

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Combining Recipes: Grilled Garlic Lemon Chicken Pitas w/Sweet Potato Cashew Cream Sauce

When the temps hit mid-to-upper 60s in February in Chicago, you make sure your grill is gassed up and ready to go! Get outside, man!

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t a new one, but I did combine a few recipes into one meal. I knew I wanted to take advantage of this likely-too-brief grillin’ weather, so I planned to make these ridiculously easy and ridiculously yumm-a-licious grilled garlic lemon chicken skewers. I decided to serve them with warm pita wraps and a salad of arugula, spinach, and sliced Roma tomatoes, tossed in olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Which would have been perfectly delightful all on its own.

But then last night’s dinner left us with a decent amount of leftover sweet potato cashew cream sauce (which packs a powerful garlicky punch!) and I could not let it go to waste. And that’s where the magic happened.

I warmed the pitas up, then spread a scoop of the cream sauce down the middle, added a pile of the arugula/spinach salad, and a couple slices of tomato, and finally topped it with a few pieces of delicious grilled chicken. Wrapped that baby up, and yeah, buddy!

If you read back in that grilled chicken recipe post, that marinade is CRAZY good. It can hold its own. But this sweet potato cashew cream sauce is unreal. I could eat it with a spoon. Put those two together and YOWZA.