Arugula Salad with Pickled Beets and Preserved-Lemon Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad

The holidays are great, and simply over abundant with food! I like to cut the heaviness of a meal by adding a fresh vegetable to the mix, often in the way of a salad. This one has the added bonus of having beets, which are one of the symbolic foods that we eat. In Hebrew, the word for Beet is סלקא, is closely related to סלק —meaning to depart. So we partake of beets, so that our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us shall depart. This recipe will serve up to 8 guests, and they will depart with nothing but good feelings for the chef! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the pickled beets:
2 large red beets (about 6 ounces each), scrubbed
2 large yellow beets (about 6 ounces each), scrubbed
2 cups rice-wine vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water

For the spiced pistachios:
2 egg whites
1 cup shelled raw pistachios
1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning

For the preserved-lemon vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped*
2 pinches salt

For the salad:
10 ounces (16 cups) arugula*
¼ cup good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

*Click here to learn how to clean thyme and arugula

Directions:

To make the pickled beets:
Place each type of beet in its own small pot, cover with water, and simmer until a paring knife can easily pierce the beets, about 30 minutes. Cool the beets, peel, and slice into thin half-moons. Reserve each beet in a separate bowl to ensure that the red beet slices don’t stain the yellow ones. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, and 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and divide the hot brine among the beets. Then let the beets sit at room temperature until pickled, 3 to 4 hours.

To make the pistachios:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy, then add the pistachios and spices, tossing to coat. Spread the nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Nuts will crisp as they cool.

To make the preserved-lemon vinaigrette:
In a medium bowl, mix together the preserved lemon, lemon juice, red pepper flakes (if using), thyme and salt. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Whisk until fully combined.

To assemble the salad:
Arrange the pickled beets on a serving platter. Toss the arugula in the preserved-lemon vinaigrette and place on top of the beets. Sprinkle with the spiced pistachios, drizzle with balsamic, and top with fresh black pepper. Serve immediately.

Pan Fried Fish with Mango Salsa

Fried fish with mango salsaWhen I was thinking about Fish Week, I knew I wanted to do some type of fried fish, and immediately thought of the classic fish and chips. These days, most people tend to stay away from a heavy battered piece of fish, deep fried served alongside deep fried starchy french fries. Can you blame them? I still wanted something with a crunch though, I thought a lightly breaded pan-fried tilapia fit the bill! Served along side the refreshing sweet and spicy mango salsa, you can get your fried fix without feeling too guilty. I’d even throw in some oven-baked sweet potato “fries” to go along with this meal. The recipe below will serve six. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Fish:
1 ½ pounds tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 egg
½ cup milk
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons blackened or Cajun/Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground sea salt, or to taste
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Salsa:
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced fine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro*
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean herbs.

Directions:

Prepare the mango salsa by combining the mango, red bell pepper, red onion, parsley/cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and lemon juice, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To prepare the fish, beat the egg with milk in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, onion flakes, garlic, blackened seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and sea salt.

Dip a tilapia fillet into the egg mixture, then press gently into the crumb mixture on both sides; set the coated fillet onto a plate. Repeat with remaining fillets; refrigerate the coated fillets for about 15 minutes to help set the crumbs.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Lay the fillets into the skillet, and pan-fry until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. The fish should be opaque and flaky underneath the coating. Remove and drain fillets on paper towels. Serve warm, topped with salsa.