Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has a flair for making delicious-looking and healthy dishes. And he hopes to inspire more people to follow his lead when his Big Rig Mobile Kitchen Classroom comes to The Big Fresno Fair next week.
The custom-built trailer will be parked on the fairgrounds from Oct. 10 to 13, providing tours, nutritional information and food demonstrations. Oliver is not appearing, but his staff will be on hand.
The fair and its many fried-food offerings may seem like an odd place for an exhibit from the guru of healthy eating, but it makes perfect sense to Scott Bottemer, operations manager for the mobile kitchen classroom.
"Our philosophy is about balance," Bottemer says. "We think it is okay to take your family to the fair once a year and eat every fried thing that there is. Go ahead, do that. But don't do it everyday."
Bottemer and chef Henry Perez say Oliver's cooking philosophy is relatively simple: use fresh ingredients when at all possible and make cooking fun and easy.
As part of the mobile kitchen's visit, which is sponsored by the California Endowment, Perez will demonstrate four simple salad recipes, including a non-mayonnaise potato salad. The trick is using plain yogurt instead of the fat-laden mayo.
Perez says non-fat Greek-styled yogurt also works well in a fruit salad without sacrificing any flavor.
"You put a few teaspoons on fresh, cut up fruit, mix that up and it will taste like your grandmother's Ambrosia salad," Perez says.
Another quick recipe that can easily be expanded is the Evolution Tomato Salad. The base of the salad starts with cherry, vine or regular tomatoes, salt and pepper, olive oil, basil and red wine vinegar.
You can stop there and enjoy your fresh salad, or you can add olives, tuna fish, chunks of chicken or steak.
"The idea is that you can make an endless array of recipes from just a few simple ingredients," Perez says.
One more way to trim the calories out of your meals is to cut the amount of sugar in your recipes, Perez says. Try just half of the amount called for, or substitute honey or agave syrup.
Along with making stops at several county fairs, the big rig also is hosting several free cooking classes.
Ariana Hamilton of Fresno, who recently attended one of the cooking classes on the mobile kitchen, was impressed with the simplicity of the recipes.
"With just a handful of wholesome, natural ingredients, you can make food that is simple, affordable and healthy," Hamilton says.
For more information about the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and the cooking classes go to jamiesfoodrevolution.com/bigrig
Evolution tomato salad
3/4 pound of ripe grape or cherry, vine, and regular tomatoes
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut the larger tomatoes into wedges, halve the grape or cherry tomatoes, and leave the smaller ones whole. Put them into a bowl with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Toss well to coat all the tomatoes with the dressing.
Pick the leaves off the basil and scatter them over the salad. Season with salt and pepper.
You can supplement the salad with several items including, 1/4 cup black olives, a 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, or small can or jar of light tuna packed in water.
Evolution potato salad
1 3/4 pounds baby potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus an additional 1/2 teaspoon for salting the water
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Peel the potatoes and chop any larger ones in half, leaving the smaller ones whole. When the water is boiling, add the potatoes to the pan and bring back to a boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. Test them with the point of a knife to make sure they're cooked through.
As soon as they're ready, drain them well in a colander and put them into a bowl. The trick is to dress the potatoes while they're still hot. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Season with the salt and pepper and stir well. Toss the hot potatoes in the dressing.
Serve right away, or you can add several steps, including adding 1/4 cup of finely chopped chives and sprinkle over the potatoes. Toss well before serving.
You can also toss the dressed potato salad and chives with the zest of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup plain yogurt.
Crunchy carrot pitas
6 medium carrots
A small bunch of fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
6 whole wheat pita breads
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrots. Pick and finely chop the cilantro leaves onto a board, discarding the stalks.
Place a small nonstick frying pan on a medium heat, add the seeds and leave them to toast for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly golden, tossing regularly. Tip them into a salad bowl.
On a cutting board, coarsely grate the carrots using a box grater, then add the cilantro leaves to the salad bowl followed by the grated carrot.
Pop the pitas onto a baking sheet and into the oven for a few minutes to warm through.
To make the dressing, use a microplane to finely grate the zest of the orange, then add it to a small mixing bowl. Cut the orange in half and squeeze in the juice, catching any seeds with your hand.
Cut the lemons in half and squeeze in the juice from 11/2 lemons, catching any seeds with your hand, then add 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, then mix well with a fork.
Pour the dressing into the salad bowl and toss everything together well, adding a squeeze more lemon juice if you think it needs it.
Use oven mitts to remove the pitas from the oven, then serve with the zingy salad, and some hummus, and let everyone stuff and build their own pitas.
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