Al Fresco Dining: 3 Great Summer Recipes PLUS a GIVEAWAY

Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Fish, Meats, potatoes, Salads | 17 comments

Kick Ass Kebabs, Potato Salad w Sun Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Caramelized Leeks & Ramps by Jill Mant

Last night was one of those fabulous spring evenings I long for over the cold winter months. The temperatures had neared the 90 degree mark during the day, yet strong breezes made it palatable to enjoy a walk to the park and a good laugh as we watched the dog run from shade spot to shade spot. I must admit that laugh was accompanied by a tinge of guilt as poor Mack would really enjoy a trip to the groomers to be shorn of his shaggy coat which I find adorable and he obviously finds oppressive in this weather.

It was Memorial Day weekend and I had invited Anshie of SpiceRoots and her husband, Darshak, for dinner. I had been the lucky recipient of an beautiful spread of delectable Indian dishes for a lunch at her house a few weeks back, and I wanted to make an equally impressive meal yet I also wanted to enjoy their company.

I had decided to serve the Dates stuffed with Marscapone and Lemon as soon as I had put the first bite in my mouth earlier in the week. This is going to become one of my go-to recipes for appetizers as they are quick and easy to make and the flavor and texture combos can not be beat. The salty prosciutto is such a compliment to the sweetness of the date and filling. The soft melted cheese oozes into your mouth as soon as you bite through the chewy date. They can also be prepared mostly ahead of time. I stuffed and wrapped the dates and as soon as our guests pulled up I seared one side of the little morsels, flipped them over, threw the skillet in the oven and they were done in two minutes flat. Doesn’t get much simpler than that!

I had fallen in love with the sound of the marinade from Jeanette’s Healthy Living’s ChaCha Bowl that she had posted for our Friday blogging group. I often use citrus in my marinades, but had never tried pineapple and I loved the combination of the uber-sweet tropical fruit mixed with Mexican chilli peppers. Rather than duplicating her bowl, however, I decided to make steak and shrimp kebobs, with red and orange peppers, baby bella mushrooms and onions.The meat went into the marinade a full 24 hours ahead of cooking, but since shrimp soak up flavor rather quickly, I threw them in the marinade about an hour before making my skewers, which I know many might argue was still too long, but all of our taste buds begged to differ!

Kathy from BakeAwayWithMe had posted a salad which intrigued me for our blogging group last Friday too. This salad featured tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber and avocado and I loved the idea of mixing fruits and vegetables, so much in fact that I added a mango to the mix. For better or worse, I made this salad up ahead of time, which, although the flavor and the textures were not compromised, the avocado didn’t look quite as pretty as it had when I first assembled my salad. This is an easy fix: in the future I would just add the avocado right before serving.

Friday turned out to be a big day for me, culinarily speaking! (I’m not really certain that “culinarily” is a legitimate word, but you know what I mean, right?) Upon returning home Friday afternoon I was thrilled to find a box at my front door. It was from Mooney Farms and it was what I would call an everything tomato box. Upon opening it I found a jar of Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Julienne Cut Tomatoes in Olive Oil and Italian Herbs, a jar of their Tomato Pesto with Whole Pine Nuts, a super yummy Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta and a package of their Sun Dried Tomatoes with Italian Basil and Zesty Peppers. Christmas in May; I love it!!

I decided to make a potato salad using the julienned tomatoes in olive oil and herbs. They added such a rich flavor when merged with kalamata olives, caramelized leeks and ramps and soft red potatoes. I hope you will try my potato salad because it really is a delicious side for any picnic or barbeque, but if you want to try all of the products I received from Mooney Farms, we are joining forces to help you do so. Just click here and go to our contest page to find out how you can win your box. You’ll love the rich sweet tomato flavor in all of these products and the million and a half dishes you can make with these tender morsels of explosive flavor.

No Al Fresco Dinner worth it’s salt would be complete without desert and ours culminated with Joanne from EatsWellWithOthers amazing Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream. Because I am a sucker for soft ice cream, I made the recipe ahead of time, but didn’t put it into the ice cream maker until after we had eaten. This gave us a nice interlude of twenty minutes between dinner and dessert and I scooped the soft ice cream right from the machine into serving dishes and we gobbled it up in all of it’s deliciousness.

What I loved about this dinner was not just the fact that everything was prepared in advance so I could enjoy my company. I love the community that put this meal together, the stories that have been shared with each recipe, the history and recipes shared on Mooney Farms website and of course, the tales we shared at dinner. We all come from different backgrounds and diverse places: the Brit and Darshak compared the educational systems of Britain and India, Anshie detailed what it was like growing up with all of the turmoil and violence in Kashmir and this native New Yorker listened in awe. The guys discussed cricket and Darshak told Colin where he could go online to find some coverage of the sport he misses living here in Colorado. We all engaged in a lively discussion of the advancement of media and Ansh captivated me by recalling the stories she and her family gathered around the radio to hear growing up in India.

Yes, it is this intersection of food and community that I love. This is what drives this blog and propels me into the kitchen.

 SaucyCooks –Mooney Farms/Bella Sun Luci TOMATO-PALOOZA GIVEAWAY:

SaucyCooks and Mooney Farms want you to experience the delectable package that I did, shipped right to your door. Sadly, this offer is open only to US residents.


Mooney Farms has graciously offered to send each of  two readers the following Prize Package:

* Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Halves and Julienne Cut in 100% Pure Olive Oil & Italian Herbs

* Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Whole Pine Nuts

* New! Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta-sun ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, premium olive oil, and Italian herbs to create a truly “homemade” flavor.

* New! Bella Sun Luci Julienne Cut Sun Dried Tomatoes with Italian Basil and Julienne Cut with Zesty Peppers. Both of these products are fat free, sugar free, and no salt added!

Leave one comment below telling us how you think you might use these delicious artisan products?   Maybe you will just slather that Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Pesto over a piece of fish and toss it in the oven.  Maybe you have a link to a favorite recipe using Sun Dried Tomatoes in that you’d like to tell us about.  Or maybe you have a crazy unique idea to use one of the products for.  I want to hear about it!  Feel free to leave links and business names and of course don’t forget to enter a valid email address so we can contact the winners and get your address to give to the folks at Mooney Farms.

Mooney Farms is hoping you’ll Friend Mooney Farms on Facebook so they can keep you updated on other contests they are offering, as well as offer you some great recipes.

NOTE: COMMENTS MUST BE LEFT HERE ON THIS BLOG POST TO BE VALID! Comments left on SaucyCooks Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest page, sent by email, or anywhere else will NOT count and will not be entered in this giveaway.  We will be using to choose winning entry(ies).  The number next to your comment here on this post is your entry number.  If the comment(s) with those chosen number(s) are valid and follow all rules, they win, if not, new number(s) will be chosen.

You must be 18 years or older and a United States Resident to enter. Prizes will be mailed to U.S. addresses only and can not be mailed to P.O. Boxes. Contest is void where prohibited by law. Giveaway is free to enter and no purchase is necessary. All entries must be received by Monday June 18th, 2012, 11:59pm EST.

SaucyCooks will choose winners using based on the number of valid entries on or around June 19th, 2012. One prize per person. Winners will be notified by email and have 3 days to respond with their address before an alternate winner will be chosen and notified. Prize(s) will be sent by sponsor of this giveaway.

And now for my soon to be famous Red Potato Salad with Caramelized Leeks, Ramps and Bella Sun Luci  Sun Dried Tomatoes :

Potato Salad w Sun Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Caramelized Leeks & Ramps
5.0 from 2 reviews
Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish
Author: Jill Mant~a SaucyCook
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 8
New red potatoes, rich sun dried tomatoes in olive oil & Italian Herbs, kalamata olives and caramelized leeks with ramps are all tossed in a light balsamic and oil dressing for a light yet flavorful summer side.
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 bunch of ramps
  • 2 pounds small/medium red potatoes, boiled w skin on
  • 1 Tbsp EVO
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 8.5 ounce jar of Bella San Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes with Olive Oil and Italian Herbs
  • 3 ounces Kalamata olive pieces
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup EVO
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Clean and chop leeks, trimming only the bottom root end and about 1 1/2 inches of the top.
  2. Clean and chop ramps.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon EVO in a large skillet over low/medium flame.
  4. Add chopped leeks and ramps, sprinkling with sea salt and sugar. Stir to combine and then stir often to prevent burning.
  5. Cook leeks and ramps until caramel in color and wilted, about 15 minutes.
  6. Chop cooked potatoes into quarters or eights to make bite sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
  7. Top with cooked leeks and ramps, sun dried tomatoes and olives and toss to combine.
  8. Add Balsamic and EVO, toss again, seasoning to taste with S&P.



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  1. 5-29-2012

    I would put the pesto on my whole wheat angel hair pasta

    • 5-29-2012

      That would be a quick and tasty meal; just add salad!

  2. 5-29-2012

    It was an incredible evening and we loved every dish you had made. How much we loved them? We are going to be making all of them soon for company. That’s how much :)

    Can I enter the giveaway too? considering I have already been treated to a wonderful meal ?
    Liked the Mooney Farms on Fb. Their products are divine tasting.

    • 5-29-2012

      And I know what I am going to make. A drunken goat. Goat meat marinated in beer and cooked in sundried tomato sauce.

      • 5-29-2012


      • 5-30-2012

        Invite us! I’ve never tried goat meat.

    • 5-29-2012

      Of course you can and consider yourself “entered”! We loved the company Ansh~xxx000xxx

  3. 5-29-2012

    Woo hoo, love the name of the recipe. I wonder why? Kick A Marketing Group. I used to use sun dried tomatoes in everything. But haven’t recently and I certainly need to start as they are so delicious.

    I would add the new julienne cut sun dried tomatoes with basil and peppers to my salad along with pine nuts, avocados and goat cheese. Then add some aged balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of virgin olive oil. Keep on rocking, Jill. Great posts. I’m hungry.

    • 5-29-2012

      Thanks Jo and I am available most days for lunch…ha!!!

  4. 5-29-2012

    Beautiful recipe Jill. How nice for a late spring evening. In my humble opinion, sun dried tomato pesto is best slathered on warm freshly baked foccacia.

    • 5-29-2012

      I know! I’ve been thinking about that loaf in the freezer! Thanks Karen!

  5. 5-30-2012

    Sundried tomatoes and homemade pasta sounds very tasty to me…

    • 5-31-2012

      Ya me too! Thanks for entering Marina!

  6. 6-3-2012

    I will make a goat cheese pizza with the Mooney Farms tomatoes I win :)

    • 6-3-2012

      Do you deliver?

  7. 6-5-2012

    I would use the sun dried tomatoes in my lentil/brown rice/spinach stew to kick it up a notch, as they say! Thanks for the opportunity to win such a great prize!

    • 6-5-2012

      And thanks for stopping by, entering the contest and leaving such a savory tip Sheila!

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