Cold plates from around the world make a great lunch or light supper. Many require little or no cooking. In fact you can put together a delicious Cold Mediterranean Plate with all store bought ingredients like hummus, stuffed grape leaves, feta cheese, olives and some pita bread.
One of my favorite cold plates is the English “Ploughman’s Lunch.” Many years ago, my English husband introduced me to a this delicious meal along with a “Shandy” (1/2 beer and 1/2 lemonade) to wash it all down.
The great thing about a Ploughman’s lunch is that is takes less than 10 minutes to prepare!
It consists of a bit of mixed salad, crusty bread and butter, a wedge of sharp cheddar cheese, and Branston pickle, which is a sort of relish or chutney. Many Americans have never heard of Branston pickle. But if you look in the international section of the grocery store I’ll bet you’ll find it, nestled between the “mushy peas” and PG Tips tea.
Branston Pickle was first introduced in 1922 by Cross and Blackwell, in England of course. The actual recipe is still a secret! It has this really unique spicy, sweet, tangy flavor, that when combined with cheddar cheese and bread, you have yourself a little bit of heaven. You can vary proportions to your taste. Substitutes are allowed but watch out if you have any English people at your meal!
When I serve this at home, the only difference is that I usually stick to just the lemonade to wash it down. Otherwise, a siesta would be on the menu as well!
Be sure to also check out my recipe for Cold Rice Salad Plate. Everyone loves the unique blend of flavors in this recipe!
You can buy either whole pineapples or pre-cut fresh pineapples in the produce section of the grocery store. In my grocery store it costs almost $2 more to buy the precut pineapple.
The mighty pineapple is really easy to slice, as long as you have a big sharp knife.
Start by removing the top
Then the bottom
With the pineapple sitting firmly on the cutting board, start slicing off the outer layer of skin.
Then cut it into slices.
Trim out the very center as it tends to be very tough to chew.
The juicy, sweet, and tangy flavor makes it a great addition to fruit salads or fruit kabobs.
If you are making a gelatin fruit salad (Jell-O!) you have to use canned pineapple. The natural enzymes in fresh (and frozen) pineapple do not allow the gelatin to set.
Be sure to buy pineapples that have crisp green leaves and feels uniformly soft to the touch. Specific soft spots means the pineapple has started to go off.
Pineapples do not continue to ripen, or get any sweeter off the vine. Uncut, kept at room temperature, the acidity levels will decrease.
Be sure to wrap up leftovers tightly in plastic wrap. They should last about 3 days in the refrigerator.
This is a very basic (and quick!) tomato sauce that takes very little time to cook and can be made ahead of time and frozen. It can be used with any pasta dish or in lasagna.
You will need the following ingredients to make this Marinara Sauce recipe:
Be sure to get both the onion and garlic chopped before you turn on the stove.
You’ll need about 1 cup of finely chopped onions for this recipe. Two small or one medium onion should do the trick.
Peel and mince 4 cloves of garlic. That’s a lot of garlic, but it does get cooked, so it’s not going to be too strong.
Fresh basil is essential for this recipe. Nowadays, most grocery store carry fresh basil year-round. You can wash it the same way you wash lettuce. Pull the leaves off the stem and throw the stems away.
Put the basil and the canned tomatoes, with their juice, in a blender and puree everything until almost smooth. Set the tomato-basil puree aside.
(As I filled the blender I thought, YIKES, this is way too full! With my hand pressed firmly on the lid of the blender I pressed the puree button. I was very lucky that my kitchen did not end up covered in tomato sauce. Next time I would puree this mixture in two batches!)
Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
That does sound like a ton of oil, but believe me it works. It gives the sauce a full, rich flavor.
Add the onions and garlic and cook until very tender, about 12 minutes.
The onions should not get browned. This is what they should look like after 12 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and basil that you pureed in the blender and 1 teaspoon of oregano plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. (Don’t skip the sugar. It helps balance the acid in the tomatoes.)
Bring the sauce to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes.
Give the sauce a taste. You may need to add about ½ -1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.
The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. If you are storing it for future use, cool the sauce, then cover and refrigerate it. Gently re-heat sauce over medium heat before using it.
If you are going to be freezing this sauce, use small containers that would be enough for 1-2 serving.
Be sure to spray your plastic containers with cooking spray first so they don’t get stained by the tomato sauce.
(For more basic pasta sauce recipes, be sure to check out my Tomato Sauce Video or my Turkey Sausage Sauce photo-tutorial.)