Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart

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Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart - Colleen's Kitchen

Before I tell you all about this scrumptious Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart, I have to digress. Because the countdown is on!

In less than 3 weeks I will be soaking up invaluable information at my second International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Seattle. IFBC was my first food blogging conference ever last year, and it was a tremendous experience. I learned so much about writing, technology and photography that I was able to put into practice immediately. I can’t even tell you how many followers have noticed and complimented me on the improvement in my food photos, and I credit that entirely to the superior workshops I attended at IFBC last year.

So it is with great excitement that I’m studying the agenda for IFBC and strategically planning my time. Here’s what I have so far:

Friday – September 19th:
I’ve pre-registered for an early afternoon pre-conference excursion to the Sur La Table corporate test kitchen where we’ll learn how to create buzz and build excitement for our blog through recipe development. Doesn’t that sound right up my alley? Afterwards is the grand opening reception where we’ll fill our swag bags and enjoy fabulous food and wine from conference sponsors.

Saturday – September 20th:
This is a jam-packed day, starting with a keynote address from Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, award-winning authors of The Flavor Bible. This year I’m making sure to pack my book for an autograph opportunity. Next is Modern Editorial Photography: Scrappy Light, Hidden Props and Magic with Todd Coleman, Tasting Table’s Creative Director and Co-Founder. This is followed by a cooking demo with Chef Thierry Rautureau who will be sampling a popular dish from his new Seattle restaurant, Loulay.

In the afternoon, I’ll attend a workshop on wine tasting and writing presented by Bordeaux Wines. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that one! And finally, I’m planning on attending a writing workshop designed to help me better describe the food I create.

Sunday – September 21st:
On the last day of the conference, I’m planning on attending a session on creating compelling video content. You might have noticed that I haven’t published a video in several weeks, and that’s mostly because of the time it takes to shoot, produce and edit the video. I’m hoping to pick up some tips in this workshop that will help me get back into the game. Then, for my last workshop, I will attend a session on SEO for bloggers in the hopes of improving my search ranking and driving more traffic to my site.

How fabulous does IFBC sound? I can’t wait!

So now, let me tell you about this pretty Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart. Because aren’t heirloom tomatoes the best taste of summer?

Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart

Spoon the polenta into individual tart pans – 6 in total – and chill them in the fridge overnight.

The crust is fairly simple to make, although it does need to be prepped ahead of time. I just whip up a batch of polenta, spoon it into the tart pans, then refrigerate it overnight. Chilling the polenta firms it up so that it makes a nice solid crust for the tart.

Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart - Colleen's Kitchen

The tarts are topped and ready for the final bake.

Once chilled, I do a pre-bake on the crust to firm it up even more and give it a light crisp before then filling it with a creamy mixture of cheese, shredded zucchini and herbs. This adds a creaminess to the tart while making good use of all that zucchini from the garden.

Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart - Colleen's Kitchen

The finished tart is as delicious as it is pretty.

Finally, I top each tart with a thick slice of heirloom tomato and finely shredded parmesan cheese. The result is a bite of summer heaven.

Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart - Colleen's Kitchen

A bite of summer heaven!

How do you like to eat your heirloom tomatoes?

Heirloom Tomato Polenta Tart
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: 1 tart
  • Calories: 156.2
  • Fat: 6.0
  • Saturated fat: 3.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.4
  • Carbohydrates: 13.4
  • Sugar: 3.3
  • Sodium: 267.2
  • Fiber: 1.1
  • Protein: 10.7
  • Cholesterol: 80.3
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Juicy sweet, summer heirloom tomatoes top this cheesy tart with a light, polenta crust.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup homemade, salt-free vegetable broth
  • 1.5 oz. finely shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt (divided)
  • ½ cup dry polenta cornmeal
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 large heirloom tomato cut into 6 slices
Instructions
  1. Bring the milk, broth, ½ oz. of the parmesan cheese, and ⅛ tsp (half) of the salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Slowly stir the polenta into the liquid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until thick, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Remove from heat and spoon the polenta into 6 individual 4" tart pans. Use the spoon to push the polenta up the sides of the tart and create an indentation in the middle.
  4. Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  5. Remove the polenta lined tart pans from the refrigerator.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  7. Bake the polenta lined tart pans on the baking sheet for 15 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove and set aside.
  8. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, egg, mozzarella, basil, oregano and remaining ⅛ tsp salt. Spoon the cheese-zucchini mixture into each baked tart shell in equal amounts.
  9. Top each tart with 1 slice of tomato.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining 1 oz. of shredded parmesan cheese over each of the tarts in equal amounts.
  11. Bake the tarts, on a baking sheet, for 40 minutes or until the parmesan cheese is browned.
  12. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée “Richard Sommers”

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Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée "Richard Sommers" - Colleen's Kitchen

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been exploring a lot of wines of the Pacific Northwest this summer. It’s been delightful getting to know the wines and winemakers in my backyard!

This week I’m introducing you to an area that I have not yet featured on my blog: Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Situated in southwestern Oregon, the Umpqua Valley produces some delicious yet oft-overlooked wines.

I actually spent my childhood very near this area, in a remote corner between Coquille and Myrtle Point, not too far of a drive from Roseburg, which is where HillCrest Winery is located. HillCrest makes wines for very limited distribution, but fortunately for us they also have a secondary label, Heydon Road, that is distributed in retail outlets.

HillCrest was founded by Richard Sommers in 1961 with the help of Adolph Doerner, whose family first planted grapes in the Umpqua Valley in 1888. HillCrest has the distinction of having the first Pinot Noir plantings in Oregon as well as being Oregon’s oldest estate winery. Richard Sommers released their first Pinot Noir with the 1967 vintage.

Since 2003, the winery has been expertly run by husband and wife Dyson and Susan DeMara. While embracing the legacy of founder Richard Sommers, the two have brought a renewed energy and passion to the winery, and it definitely shows in the wine.

HillCrest’s Heydon Road label is produced specifically for retail consumption, and at very attractive prices. Their Pinot Noir in particular is an excellent value for the quality.

The Pinot Noir first grabbed my attention with it’s ultra-dark yet crystalline ruby red color. This isn’t the light red of your typical Oregon Pinot. With flavors of red cherries and herbs, it’s airy and fruit-forward, making it a perfect pairing for a light summer meal.

Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée "Richard Sommers" - Colleen's Kitchen

I selected the Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée “Richard Sommers” to serve with my Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad for that very reason. The wine is light enough that it lets the food shine through while the fruit flavors enhance the sweetness of the beets and cherry tomatoes. It makes for a deliciously light summer dinner on the patio.

Get the recipe for Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad here.

Buy a bottle of Heydon Road 2009 Pinot Noir Cuvée “Richard Sommers” here.

Always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad

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Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

I am a lucky girl.

Recently Lucini Italia contacted me and invited me to participate in their olive oil taste test challenge. “Sure!” I said. After all, you might have noticed that I use olive oil a lot in my cooking. Like, a lot. Just take a look at all the recipes on here that contain olive oil if you don’t believe me.

Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

The Lucini Italia Olive Oil Taste Challenge Line-up: Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The rep told me she would put together a care package for me to sample, so I was expecting some little samples of olive oil and some informational swag. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found 4 gorgeous bottles waiting for me! They sent me full-size bottles of their Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Trentino Apple Balsamic Vinegar to taste as well as some recipe suggestions.

Yes, it does not suck to be me.

Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad

I’m ready to taste some olive oil!

As you can imagine, I’m more skilled at tasting wine than olive oil, but I always take a challenge seriously. I got out some shot glasses and filled each with a little oil then settled in. The Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil is smooth, grassy, and pleasantly bitter with a slight peppery finish. I can see myself using it in many more dishes to come. I really loved the citrus bite in the Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in fact I brushed some on a couple of ears of fresh corn that I then grilled up and served just sprinkled with a little sea salt. Yum!

My favorite though was the Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The infusion of basil gives it an herbal quality with that strong peppery flavor that basil is famous for. This little bottle of delight has become a must-drizzle on slices of sun-warmed heirloom tomatoes freshly picked from the garden. Now that is a little slice of heaven!

Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

I love that the beets turn the quinoa a lovely purple color in this salad.

Coincidentally, I was also working on this recipe for Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad when I tasted these lovelies, and I immediately knew I had to pull the two together. I brushed the beets with the Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil before grilling them and then made a very simple vinaigrette of it and the Trentino Apple Balsamic Vinegar to dress the salad. The olive oil enhanced the flavor of the fresh basil in the salad while the vinegar complemented the sweetness of the grilled beets and cherry tomatoes. The result was pure deliciousness.

Do you cook with olive oil? What’s your favorite recipe to use it in?

 

Grilled Beet Tomato and Quinoa Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Calories: 261.4
  • Fat: 18.2
  • Saturated fat: 2.4
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.1
  • Carbohydrates: 21.7
  • Sugar: 9.2
  • Sodium: 217.0
  • Fiber: 5.3
  • Protein: 3.6
  • Cholesterol: 0.0
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Sweet summer beets are brushed with basil olive oil, grilled and tossed with fresh cherry tomatoes and tender quinoa for a perfect, light summer salad.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup dry white quinoa
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp basil extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 3 fresh beets, about 2" in diameter, peeled and sliced into ¼" slices
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ haas avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh colander or sieve and rinse well with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the rinsed quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  3. Spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet in a single layer and set aside to cool.
  4. Brush each side of the beet slices with 2 tsp of the olive oil. Grill on a pre-heated propane grill on low flame for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through and tender.
  5. Coarsely chop the grilled beets and place in a salad bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, avocado, cooked quinoa, and basil and toss to combine.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat.
  7. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes
The beets also grill up very well in a cast iron grill pan. Preheat the grill pan over medium-high heat, lightly coat with olive oil, and grill the beets for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through.

 

Cana’s Feast 2013 Rosato

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Cana's Feast 2013 Rosato

It is hard to believe summer is almost over. That means saying goodbye to warm summer days and refreshing rosés for another year. So I best enjoy them while I can.

This week I’m introducing you to the 2013 Rosato from Cana’s Feast, a small Willamette Valley winery that specializes in old world European varietals. Cana’s Feast prides itself on making small lot, low input, high quality wines. That means that when you find a wine you like you’d better stock up because there’s not a lot to go around.

The rosato is a light, very slightly sweet blend of a whopping 13 varietals, including Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Primitivo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Counoise & Pinot Noir. It has notes of juicy plum and a hint of citrus, making it so refreshing on a hot summer day.

Cana's Feast 2013 Rosato - Colleen's Kitchen

Try the Cana’s Feast 2013 Rosato with my Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad for a delicious end of summer meal.

I served the Cana’s Feast Rosato with my Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad to pair the plum notes in the wine with the sweet grilled peaches and nectarines in the salad. Of course it was perfect. Would I ever steer you wrong? So do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle of this delicious rosé before summer escapes for another season.

Get the recipe for Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad here.

Buy a bottle of Cana’s Feast 2013 Rosato here. (Portland locals – look for Cana’s Feast at New Seasons.)

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad

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Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad

People often ask me where I get inspiration for my recipes. My answer? “I don’t know!”

Things just come to me. Sometimes I get ideas from other recipes that I see online or in books. Sometimes I’ll have an abundance of a particular vegetable in season that necessitates some creative usage. Sometimes I have a “what if” idea of combining different ingredients just to see what the result tastes like.

Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

Nectarine, peach and red onion are grilled to sweet perfection.

This Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad falls into the latter category. Peaches and nectarines are in abundance at the farmer’s market right now and I wanted to use them in a non-traditional savory dish. I knew right away I wanted to pair them with pasta, and I latched onto the idea of a small, delicate pasta like orzo from the outset. However, it took me a while to get the rest of the ingredients right.

I first used sliced green onions and a mild crumbled goat cheese in the dish, but the flavor combination wasn’t quite right. The goat cheese enhanced the sweetness of the grilled fruit rather than toning it down to a more savory dish. So I substituted a light feta cheese, which added a great salty taste to the dish and played perfectly against the sweetness of the stone fruit.

Grilled Stonefruit Pasta Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

This Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad is not only delicious, it’s a delight of vibrant colors on the plate.

But I wasn’t done. While the green onions added a nice pop of flavor and crunchy texture, it was a little too overpowering. I wanted something that would add visual interest and a light crunch but not overwhelm the sweet fruit and nutty whole wheat pasta. The solution? Grilling half of a red onion with the fruit. Grilling brings out the sweetness in the red onion, but it still retains enough bite to counter the sweetness of the grilled stone fruit.

What do you think? Did I get the dish right?

 

Grilled Stone Fruit Pasta Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Calories: 398.9
  • Fat: 14.4
  • Saturated fat: 2.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4
  • Carbohydrates: 60.7
  • Sugar: 12.8
  • Sodium: 296.3
  • Fiber: 8.9
  • Protein: 10.1
  • Cholesterol: 2.5
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dry whole wheat orzo, cooked according to package directions, drained, rinsed and cooled
  • ½ red onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 nectarine, halved and pitted
  • 1 peach, halved and pitted
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup loosely packed chopped basil
  • 1 oz. light feta cheese, crumbled
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your propane grill then reduce flame to low.
  2. Brush both sides of the red onion slices and nectarine and peach halves with 2 tsp of the olive oil.
  3. Place the red onion slices on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until tender and cooked through.
  4. Place the peach and nectarine halves face down on the grill for 2 minutes then turn over and grill on the other side for 1-2 minutes until the fruit is warm and slightly soft.
  5. Remove the red onion and stonefruit from the grill and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  6. Coarsely chop the grilled red onion then cut the grilled peach and nectarine halves into slices.
  7. In a medium bowl, combine the orzo, grilled onion and stonefruit pieces, basil and feta.
  8. Whisk together the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Drizzle over the fruit pasta mixture and toss to coat.
  9. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 2 as an entree or 4-6 as a side!

 

Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

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Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

I had the very distinct pleasure of visiting the Eola Hills Winery in Rickreall, Oregon, a few weeks ago at the invitation of owner, Tom Huggins. Located just outside of Oregon’s capitol, Salem, Eola Hills Winery and flagship tasting room is inviting and friendly. Tom guided my friends and I through a tasting of several of their varieties as he talked about his business and wine philosophy.

Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel - Colleen's Kitchen

Eola Hills Winery is located in Rickreall, just ouside Salem, Oregon.

I was particularly struck by the Reserve Zinfandel. It seems Tom is an avid cyclist, Eola Hills is a key sponsor of Cycle Oregon, and during one of these events he happened to meet a fellow winemaker from Lodi, an area in California that produces some outstanding Zinfandel varietals. The two hit it off over their love of cycling and wine, and decided to swap some Oregon Pinot Noir grapes for California Zinfandel grapes. And thus the Eola Hills Zinfandel was born.

Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel - Colleen's Kitchen

The tasting room at the winery is lovely, with a large event space that hosts a regular Sunday brunch.

But wait – there is Eola Hills Zinfandel and Eola Hills Reserve Zinfandel. What’s the difference?

A key thing to know about Zinfandel wines is that the grapes on a cluster ripen at different rates. Mass producers of Zinfandel wine will pick the clusters all at once and crush all of the grapes, from those that are still unripe to those that are rotting. This makes for an inferior Zinfandel, and an easy giveaway of these is the price point. If it’s a cheap Zin, chances are the grapes were not selectively harvested.

Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel - Colleen's Kitchen

One of the areas at Legacy Vineyard already developed, Tom plans on building out an amphitheater here.

The Eola Hills Reserve Zinfandel, though, is a second harvest. That is, the grapes are carefully hand harvested with the ripe ones being plucked first and then a second harvest of the remaining grapes is conducted after they have matured. The second harvest is often the best as the grapes have had longer to ripen in the sunshine, increasing their sugar content which makes for a bolder, more flavorful wine.

And the Reserve Zinfandel is certainly that. It’s big and juicy with flavors of dark cherry, pomegranate, and a hint of cedar and black pepper on the finish. It is perfect with summer barbecue fare, which is exactly why I chose to pair it with my Bourbon  Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw.

Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

The big, fruity Eola HIlls 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel is perfect with my sweet yet spicy and juicy Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw.

I love the big fruit-forward flavor of the Reserve Zinfandel with the sweetness of the grilled pork tenderloin in the slider and the juicy apple slaw that tops it. Plus, the hint of spice from the Thai basil and red chili pepper flakes in the slaw is perfect with the peppery finish of the wine.

After we finished our tasting at the winery, we drove out to Eola Hills newest property, Legacy Vineyard. We had a lovely, leisurely lunch in the vineyard before climbing in Tom’s SUV and driving around the estate. I was impressed with his ambitious vision for the property: multiple tasting rooms at various levels to take advantage of the stunning views, an amphitheater for outdoor concerts in the summer, and a campground and cabins for visitors. The property is beautiful and you can see the promise of Tom’s dreams in some of the areas already developed or in process. I simply cannot wait to see the reality when it is completed, it has tremendous potential to be the destination winery in the area.

Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel - Colleen's Kitchen

A wonderful day, well spent with good friends and great wine!

Legacy Vineyard also has a tasting room, and the terraced patio adjacent is perfect for do-it-yourself picnic lunches. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to stop by, sample some wines, and see Tom’s vision for yourself. If you do, make sure to let them know I sent you!

Get the recipe for Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw here.

Buy a bottle of Eola Hills 2011 Reserve Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel here.

Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw

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Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw - Colleen's Kitchen

I love it when experiments go right. I had a nugget of an idea for this recipe for Bourbon Pork Slider with Asian Apple Slaw, and on my very first attempt it was exactly everything I had been hoping for.

I set out to create a burger that was juicy and slightly sweet with a bit of a Thai influence. I decided to use pork tenderloin because I thought it would caramelize up in bourbon beautifully, and boy was I right! Marinating the pork overnight in a mixture of bourbon, brown sugar, and just a touch of soy sauce makes for incredibly tender meat that also turns a gorgeous caramel brown on the grill.

Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw - Colleen's Kitchen

Pork tenderloin, sliced into medallions and marinated overnight in bourbon, brown sugar and a little soy sauce, turns a beautiful caramel brown on the grill.

For the bourbon, it is absolutely imperative to use a quality bourbon that will impart a great flavor to the pork. I selected Burnside Bourbon from a local (to me) distillery, Eastside Distilling. I love Eastside’s products because they are very particular about sourcing quality ingredients from local growers and crafting a consistent, delicious product. For more of their product, just check out the Cherry Whiskey Turkey Burger that I did last summer using Eastside’s Cherry Whiskey, crafted from locally sourced Hood River cherries.

Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw - Colleen's Kitchen

I slice the cheeks of an apple into thin slices then cut them into sticks for the slaw.

But the caramelized bourbon pork medallions that form the base of these sliders is just the beginning. For a topper, I created a juicy slaw using gravenstein apples from the tree in my backyard. The ingredient that really makes the slaw, though, is a handful of Thai basil. This variety of basil has a slightly spicy kick, very different from it’s common Genovese cousin.

Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw - Colleen's Kitchen

Tender, slightly sweet grilled tenderloin is topped by a juicy, slightly spicy slaw.

I sliced the apples into sticks, tossed them with shredded cabbage, carrots and the Thai basil then dressed them with an Asian-influenced dressing of sesame oil, rice vinegar and a hint of red chile pepper flakes. A bit of black sesame seeds add visual interest and a little crunch to the slaw.

The final result is little bit of heaven: tender, slightly sweet grilled tenderloin topped by a juicy, slightly spicy slaw. This may just be my favorite “burger” creation yet.

Bourbon Pork Sliders with Asian Apple Slaw
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 5
  • Serving size: 2 sliders per person
  • Calories: 244.8
  • Fat: 8.9
  • Saturated fat: 1.9
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.7
  • Carbohydrates: 17.9
  • Sugar: 12.4
  • Sodium: 172.3
  • Fiber: 3.2
  • Protein: 21.1
  • Cholesterol: 53.8
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Pork
Tender, slightly sweet, bourbon infused pork tenderloin is topped by a juicy, slightly spicy, Asian-influenced apple slaw.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 lb. boneless pork tenderloin, sliced into ¾" thick medallions
  • 2 medium green apples (Gravenstein or Granny Smith recommended), sliced into sticks
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • ¼ cup chopped Thai basil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp red chile pepper flakes
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the bourbon, brown sugar and soy sauce.
  2. Cover the pork medallions with the bourbon mixture in either a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate overnight.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the apples, carrots, cabbage and basil.
  4. Whisk the sesame oil, rice vinegar, chile pepper flakes, and salt together in a small bowl. Pour over the apple mixture and toss well to coat. Set aside.
  5. Preheat your grill then reduce the flame to low. Grill the pork medallions for about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through.
  6. Serve each pork medallion on a slider bun topped by a scoop of the slaw.
Notes
* I have reduced the nutritional value of the marinade by 75% since most of it is discarded.
* I have not included the nutritional value of the slider bun in this recipe as it varies widely by brand. Make sure to include that in your final count.

 

La Yunta Torrontes 2013

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La Yunta Torrontes 2013 - Colleen's Kitchen

For those of you that are still in your early exploration of the world of wine, today I want to introduce you Torrontes. A white varietal from Argentina, Torrontes was first brought to that country in the late 1800s by Spanish immigrants. Torrontes from the La Rioja appellation in Argentina is particularly good as it is a bit drier than most. This offering from La Yunta is no exception.

Aromas of green melon entice the palate, while in the mouth it bursts with soft flavors of lemon zest, herbs and a touch of French oak. A crisp finish lingers on the tastebud, making it perfect with seafood or light vegetarian dishes.

La Yunta Torrontes 2013 - Colleen's Kitchen

The herbal and citrus notes of the La Yunta Torrontes are perfect with my Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad.

I picked the La Yunta Torrontes to pair with my Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad for this very reason. The herbal notes in the wine pair perfectly with the oregano in the salad while the crisp citrus flavors complement the salty feta cheese. It is a lovely, refreshing summer meal. And at around $10 a bottle, it is an absolute steal!

Get the recipe for Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad here.

Buy a bottle of La Yunta Torrontes 2013 here.

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad

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Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

I love my summer vegetable garden. Yes gardening is a lot of work, but it’s an excellent stress reliever, decent workout, and you get delicious homegrown tomatoes in the end. What’s not to love?

Right now my summer squash is coming on: zucchini, romesco zucchini, yellow zucchini, crookneck squash, and pattypan squash. These are especially good brushed with a little olive oil and thrown on the grill. Grilling brings an entirely new flavor to summer squash, something that can’t be replicated on the stovetop or in the oven.

Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

Pattypan squash from the garden is brushed with olive oil and grilled up.

For this recipe, I wanted to create a light summer salad that was also hearty and filling enough for a stand alone meal. Mission accomplished!

And the dish is so easy to make that it takes almost no effort to throw it together after a busy day at work. There’s a little prep work involved with the wheat berries, but once those are cooked I simply grill up the squash and throw everything together in a bowl. What’s easier than that?

Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

The colors, taste and texture make this an unforgettable summer meal!

For the dressing, I only make a very small amount because the squash and cherry tomatoes (also from my garden!) have so much flavor that the salad doesn’t need a lot of dressing. Of course the fresh oregano and salty feta also help.

What’s growing in your garden?

Grilled Summer Squash Wheat Berry Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Calories: 314.0
  • Fat: 13.3
  • Saturated fat: 2.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.8
  • Carbohydrates: 40.7
  • Sugar: 2.6
  • Sodium: 355.6
  • Fiber: 9.0
  • Protein: 11.4
  • Cholesterol: 2.5
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Fresh summer squash is grilled and mixed with crunchy wheat berries into a light yet hearty summer salad for a delicious taste of summer's garden bounty.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dry hard wheat berries
  • 4 cups water (divided)
  • 1 medium summer squash (zucchini, crookneck squash, or pattypan squash), sliced into ¼" thick slices
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 3 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 oz. crumbled light feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place the wheat berries in a medium container and cover with 2 cups of the water. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the wheat berries. Bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pan. Stir in the wheat berries, cover and reduce to low. Cook for 50-60 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain the cooked wheat berries of any remaining water and rinse in cold water. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat your propane grill then reduce the flame to low and lightly oil the grate.
  5. Lightly brush each side of the squash slices with 2 tsp of the olive oil then grill for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and set aside.
  6. In a medium salad bowl, mix together the cooked wheat berries, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, oregano and feta cheese. Chop the grilled squash slices and stir them into the salad.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tsp olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to combine.
  8. Serve immediately.
Notes
The wheat berries can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days before using!

 

Syncline Subduction Red 2012

by
Syncline Subduction Red 2012 - Colleen's Kitchen

I have been having so much fun touring local wineries this summer. I started over Memorial Day weekend with a number of wineries in the Columbia Gorge. I think my favorite was Syncline Winery, located on the Washington side of the Columbia River near Lyle, Washington. They specialize in Rhône varietals, which is where many of my favorite wines hail from, so perhaps that was why I was so enamored with them. Or maybe it was lying in one of their hammocks outside the tasting room in the toasty sunshine, sipping wine. Perfection!

Syncline Subduction Red 2012 - Colleen's Kitchen

Lying in the hammock outside Syncline’s tasting room, sipping wine, makes for a perfect day!

Founded by husband and wife team, James and Poppie Mantone, Syncline takes its inspiration from Burgundy and Rhône varietals. Their first vintage in 1999 consisted of just 79 cases, but even today production is kept to under 6000 cases to ensure consistency, quality, and intimacy with the wine.

For our tasting, we were very fortunate to be served by winemaker James Mantone himself. His youngest daughter, Naomi, perched precociously on the stool next to him as he doled out each tasting. I studiously quizzed him on the wine and his style, he never knowing that I fully intended to include their gem of a winery in a future blog post.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the wines I tasted that day. The Grenache Blanc and Rose were absolutely delightful on a warm summer day. The Syrah was sheer perfection with flavors of dark fruit and coffee. But the one that stuck with me the most was this Subduction Red.

A blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Counoise, Carignan, and Cinsault, the Subduction Red holds its own against classic Rhône blends. Flavors of cherry and raspberry permeate the mouth with a bright, peppery finish. And it’s light enough to complement light summer meals, such as my Grilled Greek Salad.

Syncline Subduction Red 2012 - Colleen's Kitchen

Syncline’s Subduction Red with my Grilled Greek Salad makes for an amazing and easy summer meal!

The fresh fruity flavors of the wine are perfect with the fresh, slightly smoky flavor of the grilled vegetables and tart red wine vinegar used in the dressing. And the spices in the wine are lovely juxtaposed with the briny feta cheese in the salad. The two together are perhaps as perfect as lying in the hammock outside Syncline’s tasting room, sipping a glass of their lovely wine.

Get the recipe for Grilled Greek Salad here.

Buy a bottle of Syncline Subduction Red 2012 here.

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.