I’ve mentioned Ally Phillips’ (the woman behind Ally’s Kitchen) name a few times on the blog, and it’s all thanks to our meeting at last year’s Dole Blogger Summit. We then spent time together filming her Dole Foods cooking video series, and finally there was that little Dole Cook-Off. I’ve seen her in action in the kitchen, and I’ve also tasted a few of her dishes. She’s a woman who knows how to throw down. Ally spent several months working on her first cookbook and invited several bloggers to receive a sneak peek copy. I’ve been flipping through mine for a couple of weeks now, and today, I’m going to share a winning summer salad from her cookbook.
What I enjoyed about being in Ally’s presence last year is that she’s very real and very relatable. Her Southern charm makes you comfortable, and she is always gracious with anyone she meets. Of course, there’s her interest in and knowledge of food, having been raised in the hills of Appalachia, exploring her Croatian roots, living as an adult in South Carolina and Colorado and traveling all over the world. Like me, she adores global flavors and incorporates them into dishes she creates for her blog, and now, this cookbook. Ally’s Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates is the world’s intro to Ally’s unique bohemian bold lifestyle–a term she has appropriately coined for herself. Get down and dirty with your food, experiment with new flavors, relive memories, create new memories, find the excitement and joy in making someone else’s recipe into your own and sharing that with others. That’s my kind of cooking right there.
Originally, I planned to share Ally’s recipe for spicy, blackened shrimp and crispy cucumbers, but after getting sick earlier in the week, I couldn’t fathom dealing with seafood. As I flipped through the cookbook another time, stopping to make a note of other dishes to try, I landed on a summer salad with grapes, fresh mint and tomatoes. In my condition, it was everything I needed it to be–easy, healthy, light and customizable. Ally’s all about you doing what you need to do in the kitchen to make a recipe your own, and I’m always down with that line of thinking. A few couple of substitutions worthy of the bohemian bold stamp of approval.
Now when I saw minor substitutions, I really do mean that. Instead of roma or campari tomatoes, I used a couple of packages of cabernet tomatoes. They’re a little smaller than cherry tomatoes, and their bite is sweeter too. Only green grapes were tossed into the mix to offset all of the natural sugar and add color contrast. After dicing a bit of red onion and sprinkling thinly sliced basil over the grapes and tomatoes, the rest was a breeze. This healthy salad comes together in minutes thanks to a basic vinaigrette–a drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon zest and juice, and a couple of hefty pinches of salt and pepper. Definitely take Ally’s recommendation of serving this summer salad with warm pita bread and a little cooked chicken. Before you know it, dinner is served.
- 1 1/2 cups diced roma or campari tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced purple onion
- 1 1/2 cups red and/or green grapes, sliced in halves
- 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tomato, onion, grapes, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving to combine every luscious, refreshing flavor.
Want a copy of Ally’s book? Enter this giveaway for a chance to win one of the three copies up for grabs (continental U.S. and Canada only).
You can also order Ally’s Kitchen online or grab a copy tomorrow in bookstores. Check out the full cookbook trailer, and make sure to hop on the blog tour page to see all of the other food bloggers who have tried one of Ally’s recipes.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Ally’s Kitchen. All opinions are my own.