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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Arugula

Veggie Sliders

Marc J. Sievers

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This is a two-parter!  First, the Fresh Thyme Mayo was something I created back in 2011 for a TV show Ryan and I competed on for Food Network called Bobby’s Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago where three teams of two people cooked for Bobby Flay (he was in my kitchen!) and other judges for the title of Best Home Cook of Chicago.  This Mayo was a huge hit and ultimately helped us win!  Second, Ryan and I absolutely adore hotel bars — a favorite spot of ours is Gibson’s Chicago where Ryan orders the filet mignon sliders and a vodka martini (shaken, of course).  I am always a bit envious since I have yet to come across a vegetarian version in any bar.  But now I can re-create a similar atmosphere at home, vodka martini included!

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INGREDIENTS (Makes 6 sliders)

Fresh Thyme mayo:

  • Mayonnaise – ¼ cup

  • Dijon Mustard – 1 teaspoon

  • Thyme – ½ teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon

  • Lemon Juice – 1 tablespoon, freshly squeezed

  • Sea Salt – 1/8 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1/8 teaspoon, freshly cracked

INGREDIENTS

Veggie Sliders:

  • Cannellini Beans –1 can (15 ounces), drained and rinsed

  • Basil – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Parsley – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh, Italian flat-leaf variety recommended

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Red Onion – 1 small, ¼-inch diced

  • Thyme – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Rosemary – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Oregano – ¾ teaspoon, dried, lightly crushed

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Red Pepper Flakes – ¼ teaspoon

  • Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced

  • Dried Bread Crumbs - ⅓ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, plain variety

  • Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – 1 tablespoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – 3 tablespoons, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Pretzel Slider Buns – 6, split

  • Gruyere Cheese – ¾ cup, freshly grated, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Fresh Thyme Mayo:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix until incorporated.

Veggie Sliders:

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.  Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl.  Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a small food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the drained beans, basil, and parsley.  Pulse until the beans are almost smooth, but still have a bit of texture.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

  3.  In a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter.  Once hot, add the red onions, thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally.

  4. Next, add the garlic and cook for another 60 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic. 

  5. Scrap the onion mixture and any remaining olive oil into the bean mixture.  Add the breadcrumbs, egg, half n half, and Parmesan cheese to the same bowl.  Using a fork, combine all of the ingredients being careful not to compact the mixture. 

  6. Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, form 6 balls by lightly rolling the mixture between the palms of your hands.  Place each ball onto the prepared half sheet pan.

  7.  Bake for 10 minutes, then using a spatula, gently flatten each ball into a patty about 1 ½-inches thick.  Then brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the split buns, cut side down, onto the same sheet pan to toast as the patties finish baking. 

  8.  Return the half sheet pan to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  

  9.  Assemble each slider with as much grated Gruyere and Fresh Thyme Mayo as desired, and serve hot. 

Tip: Aside from topping these with Gruyere cheese and my Fresh Thyme Mayo, they can be topped with caramelized onions and Roquefort cheese, Fontina and marinara sauce, or really almost any combination!  Just remember, this recipe does have heavy Italian-inspired flavors, so make sure to play up on that!

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Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad

Marc J. Sievers

There is something so satisfying about making a big batch of really good pasta salad.  It can be so simple, just a few tosses of fresh ingredients while the pasta is hot, and you have an easy and incredibly flavorful dish.  I will admit that pasta salads were not my favorite as a kid—they always seemed to taste bland, and like the refrigerator.  No good!  But I have since solved the flavor challenge.

This recipe actually came about from a recent trip to Hawaii.  Ryan and I were visiting our best friends for a milestone birthday.  But, the day we were flying back to Chicago, they both got stuck at work.  Before we let ourselves out of their apartment to go to the airport, knowing that they were going to be home very late, I wanted to leave them a surprise dinner in their refrigerator!

After a few minutes, I found everything I needed to create a Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad.  Best of all, it only took 15 minutes and we were out the door and our friends had an easy and delicious dinner waiting for them.  Needless to say, they were very happy to come home after a very long day to a ready-made meal that kept perfectly well!  This is easy summer “cooking”, at its best!

Watch: Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad


Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad

Ingredients (serve 4-6)

  • Fusilli – 1 pound, cooked al dente

  • Pesto – 7 ounces, store-bought

  • Grape Tomatoes – 2 pints, halved

  • Parmesan Cheese – 1 cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Baby Arugula – 2 cups, washed and dried

  • Green Onions – ½ cup, thinly sliced

  • Basil – ⅓ cup, rough chopped, fresh

  • Parsley - ⅓ cup, rough chopped, fresh, Italian Flat-Leaf variety recommended

  • Red Pepper Flakes – ½ teaspoon

  • Lemon Zest – 1 small lemon, zested

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. After the pasta has been cooked and drained, and while it is hot, place it into a large bowl.

  2. Immediately add all of the ingredients to the hot pasta and toss until evenly mixed.

  3. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Tip: You can make this in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Before you serve it, check to see if it needs more salt, pepper, and even another handful of fresh arugula or basil mixed in.  I have noticed that as food sits in a cold temperature, some of the flavor “disappears”.  After all, who wants bland food?! 

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Fig & Stilton Salad

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever fresh figs are in season and available at farmers markets, I always get so excited for the endless possibilities for cheese plates, salads, and desserts!  My Fig & Stilton Salad combines a unique flavor combination of Black Mission Figs, Stilton, and dark chocolate all dressed with an orange vinaigrette.  This is the perfect salad with a glass of champagne or Sauvignon Blanc while dining al fresco during the last few weeks of summer.  Just add a fresh baguette and some honey butter and voila, you have a chic and delicious salad for your guests.


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Orange Zest – 1 tablespoon

  • Orange Juice – 1/3 cup, freshly squeezed

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – 3/4 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 3/4 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 3/4 cup

  • Arugula – 5 ounces, washed & drained well

  • Black Mission Figs – 8, quartered

  • Pecans – 1 cup, halved

  • Stilton – 3/4 cup, crumbled

  • Dark Chocolate – 4 tables, freshly grated

  • Fleur de Sel – for garnish

Directions

For the Orange Vinaigrette:

  1. Combine the juice, zest, honey, sea salt, and black pepper into a glass bowl. Mix until well incorporated.

  2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

  3. Set aside.

For the salad:

  1. Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and arrange on a large serving platter or bowl.

  2. Evenly distribute the figs, pecans, Stilton and dark chocolate over the dressed arugula.

  3. Garnish with Fleur de Sel.

  4. Serve immediately.

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