Panzanella Verde — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, In Season, July 5th, 2013

Panzanella VerdeEach summer I choose a salad that will become my go-to barbecue and party contribution for the season. One year I spent three months making variations of potato salads (my husband really liked that year). The next time around, I declared that it was to be the summer of slaw and ended up shredding cabbage, carrots, beets and kohlrabi well into the fall. The year I got married, I was all about quinoa salads.

I find that I really appreciate having a particular genre of salad to work with each year, as it gives me some structure (always a good thing in a busy life), but also allows me to explore the many different varieties that each kind of salad embodies. There’s a great deal of pleasure in trying on different combinations and seeing how the various flavors mix and marry.

Recently I decided that the summer of 2013 is going to be all about panzanella. This is a traditional Italian salad that stars cubes of toasted stale bread and often features tomatoes and a variety of other crunchy, savory things. It can be made with grilled vegetables, sweet potatoes and even chicken or tofu (I do love a salad that can become a full meal).

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Best 5 Pesto Recipes

by in Recipes, July 4th, 2013

Basil PestoWhile some Italian sauces, like Bolognese, marinara and puttanesca, are best enjoyed after hours of slow and low cooking on the stove, pesto can be made in mere minutes, and, in fact, requires no cooking at all. Most traditional recipes call for just a handful of fresh basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil, but the variations on classic pesto are endless and can made by swapping in other herbs and nuts. After blending together your favorite mix of ingredients in a food processor, spoon the vibrant mixture over pasta, spread it onto pizza or drizzle it atop grilled meats to turn everyday dishes into dressed-up meals. For a deliciously easy dip, try serving pesto instead of ranch dressing alongside a platter of vegetables, or smear it onto sandwiches in place of mayonnaise or mustard. Check out Food Network’s top-five pesto recipes below from Bobby, Ina, Giada and more chefs to find five-star takes on this summertime staple.

5. Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza — Bobby opts for a duo of fragrant cilantro and parsley to form the base of his pesto, spread onto homemade pizza dough and topped with creamy mozzarella and tender shrimp before the entire pie is grilled.

4. Pesto Pork with PolentaFood Network Magazine lets pesto do triple duty in its all-in-one meal: as the rub for the lean pork tenderloin, the boost of flavor in the side of spinach and the finishing sauce alongside the roasted meat.

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Food, Family and the Fourth

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, July 4th, 2013

Melissa d'Arabian's 4th of JulyIt’s the 4th of July! My community goes all out: huge hometown parade of marching bands, meticulously made floats carrying with local kids and war veterans, fun runs, open-air concerts, barbecues and picnics, and of course, fireworks. It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year, so this suits me perfectly. Quite frankly though, I haven’t always been such a 4th-o-phile (I just made that up). For years, I enjoyed Independence Day as much as any other barbecue with friends — with the added bonus of a wink to my status as an American — a relatively small blip on my special-event radar.

Then I moved out of the country. The first 4th of July I spent living away from the United States, I was in Greece (did you think I would say France?). I was 21 and was working on a Greek cruise ship for my first job out of college. Afloat in the Mediterranean, I was the only American member of the cruise staff (ask me some day about my gig dancing the Sirtaki to the bouzouki in the Greek folkloric show and then posing in full costume with passengers while cruise photographers snapped souvenir photos; if you took a Mediterranean cruise in the early ’90s, check your photo albums for a blonde wearing a festive outfit made primarily of gold coins).

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Garlicky Grilled Romaine

by , July 4th, 2013

Grilling for Fourth of July? Add grilled romaine to your BBQ menu; it’s a quick and easy recipe that takes only a few minutes to prepare and can be jazzed up with a variety of flavors. I added garlic powder and balsamic vinegar to this recipe ...

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A Laid-Back 4th — Easy Recipes Ready in No Time

by in Holidays, July 3rd, 2013

Giada's Berry LemonadeThe Fourth of July is less than 24 hours away, but no need to panic about spending all day in the kitchen over last-minute dishes. These easy recipes will be ready in no time — 30 minutes or less.

Start the holiday afternoon off with simple Red, White and Blue Cocktails. Turn any red summer drink or cocktail into a firecracker by coating the glass rims with blue Pop Rocks. For a fruity, kid-friendly beverage, blend up Giada’s Berry Lemonade (pictured above). In a mere five minutes, the lemonade will be ready to chill in the refrigerator until the festivities tomorrow or can be served over ice immediately.

For an easy main dish that will serve a crowd, try these Open-Faced Tomato Grilled Cheese sandwiches. Grilled baguettes are topped with ripe sliced tomatoes and melted cheese, making an elegant, no-fuss dish. Bring some New England flair to your barbecue with Aaron McCargo Jr.’s Loaded Lobster Rolls. Aaron uses fresh lobster, but you can find precooked lobster at your seafood counter or grocery store to save a little time. Whip up Gina’s Orzo Salad in just 20 minutes for a summery side dish. Red and yellow cherry tomatoes add color, fresh basil and mint lend aromatic seasoning, and crumbled feta gives a salty bite. Need something for your crowd to nibble on? Try Mama’s Cornmeal Hushpuppies. Trisha Yearwood’s jalapeno bites are a classic Southern appetizer fit for any summer holiday.

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Off the Cob Salads — Summer Fest

by in In Season, July 3rd, 2013

Ina's Fresh Corn SaladNibbling corn on the cob has its perks, but you already knew that. This hand-held side is as easy as boiling water, smearing butter and going in for a bite. If you ask FN Dish, corn is a cornerstone of the great American barbecue, and it need not be fiddled with.

But as it turns out, things get a lot more interesting when the corn is shaved right of that cob, and Food Network’s fleet of killer summer corn salads are proof.

For a true summery flavor, kick up the grill. Bobby Flay’s Grilled Corn Salad with Lime, Red Chile and Cotija marries charred, sweet kernels with the most aromatic ingredients around. In this Grilled Corn and Chipotle Pepper Salad, all that’s left to do is combine all the ingredients after the corn finishes grilling. Plate these salads next to Tyler Florence’s Carne Asada for a grill-reliant, outdoor meal.

Ina Garten’s Fresh Corn Salad (pictured above) places corn on a pedestal, bringing it together with nothing more than an effortless vinaigrette, diced red onion and fresh basil leaves.

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Making Meatballs Cuter: Spaghetti Just Got Even More Popular

by in Family, July 3rd, 2013

Making Meatballs Cuter: Spaghetti Just Got Even More PopularWe have an almost 4-year-old in our house and that means it matters when things are “cute” now. In fact, one recent spaghetti dinner became an even bigger hit when we did just a few easy things. To make pasta even more popular (and sometimes a bit healthier) in your home, try these tips:

— Use a whole-wheat blend of pasta instead of regular white bread.

— Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to the cooking water; the flavor gets in as the pasta cooks.

— Reduce the cooking time 2 minutes less than whatever the box says and let the noodles finish cooking in the sauce on the stove.

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Sunday’s Star Menu: A Finalist-Inspired Barbecue Feast

by , July 3rd, 2013

Memphis-Style Hickory-Smoked Beef and Pork RibsAs Sunday afternoons turn to evenings and the hours until the next episode of Food Network Star tick away, how do you settle in to watch the latest premiere? No matter who you’re with or where you’re watching from, you surely have on hand a spread of eats and drinks to last you through the episode, right? Here at Star Talk, we want to see what you’re munching on. Every Wednesday, check back for a themed menu to get you ready for the episode ahead, and on Sunday nights, snap photos of your spread and share them with @FoodNetwork via Twitter and Instagram using #FoodNetworkStar.

Just as you may host weekly viewing parties to take in the latest happenings in the Star Kitchen, so, too, do this season’s contestants, throwing food-focused bashes with their families and friends to catch themselves on television. Last weekend, rivals and friends Rodney and Chad came together to watch the 4th of July Live challenge (see the photo below), and they told Star Talk that true to the styles of the Pie Man and Barbecue Guy, their menu was a hearty one. At each of his three Dangerously Delicious Pies shops, Rodney offers a selection of classic dessert-style pies, plus savory options with chicken, pulled pork and potatoes. He brought a few kinds of both varieties to the party, while Chad stayed true to his point of view, providing the ultimate barbecue feast: Memphis-inspired ribs, traditional barbecue sauce and spicy coleslaw.

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