Posts Tagged ‘salad’

You know how it is:  you move to a new way of eating and you do your best to get the rest of your family on board.  Now, once Choo started to see the changes in my health and figure, he quickly followed suit.  Kiddo, on the other hand, has been a tough sell.  I’m starting out slowly… changing peanut butter for almond butter; having him eat eggs for breakfast instead of cereal a few times a week; making his lunchbox treats with less flour and more nut and seed meals.  One thing that’s been a challenge is replacing store-bought condiments with homemade; Kiddo isn’t fooled–he knows that’s not REAL ketchup.  I feel like I’ve been lucky to have a kid that actually does like some vegetables, but he’s been asking for “sauce” (Ranch Dressing).  Now, have you ever seen the label on a bottle of Ranch?  Yeah.  I’m not going there ever again.

I had some lebni leftover from a trip to my local Persian market, along with some fresh herbs and buttermilk, a whirl through the food processor, and I had a dressing worth putting on salads and dipping our carrots.   This was quick to put together, and once put in a clean jar, will hold for about two weeks.


Creamy Herb Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Lebni,  full-fat Greek yogurt, or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (less if wanting a thicker dressing/dip)
  1. In a food processor, add mayo, Lebni/yogurt/sour cream, lemon juice and garlic clove and pulse about 3 times to mix.
  2. Add fresh herbs, salt, and pepper and pulse until herbs are chopped.
  3. Pour in buttermilk and pulse again until combined.
  4. Store in glass jar or container.

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It’s about time I pop in and say hello!  I just had to share the salad I’ve been eating about every other day since strawberries have hit the farmer’s market in full force.  It’s really a combination of some of my favorite things in the world, all mixed together in one bowl.   There’s just such a melange of flavors and textures that it’s really satisfying–the leafy greens, the crunch from the pecans, the bite of red onion, the sweetness of the strawberries, and the acid from the balsamic vinaigrette just make this a delicious lunch.

Spring Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Grilled Chicken

Serves 2 as a small lunch dish

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 6-8 ounces grilled or broiled chicken breast, shredded
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 8 large strawberries, sliced
  • 2 ounces broken pecan halves (about a large handful)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (or you can use your favorite) to taste

Just add all of those ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss until the vinaigrette is evenly distributed.

Happy Spring, everybody!

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We’re back on the CSA Bandwagon after a break from the holidays.  Just before getting our box, my weekly newsletter from Food52 showed up advertising a Kale Salad with Apples and Hazelnuts which just sounded delightful.  I’m always looking for something new and interesting to do with kale–I usually throw it into a soup, but having it in a salad sounded really interesting.  Of course, when today rolled around and it was time to make dinner, I didn’t necessarily have everything that the original recipe called for, so I… improvised. And it was good.  So, I thank the fine people at Food52 for the excellent inspiration!  This salad worked very nicely with the broiled salmon and parmesan broccoli that were on the menu, and we knew we had something because Kiddo ate it (always a sign of success).

Kale Salad with Apples, Pistachios & Dried Cherries

  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch Lacinato Kale, washed and cut into 1″ ribbons
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Pistachios
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cherries
  1. In a large bowl, pour in vinegar and honey and whisk until incorporated; add in olive oil in a slow stream while whisking constantly until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add kale and toss until leaves are completely coated with vinaigrette.  Set aside for about 1 hour to let leaves break down slightly.
  3. Peel, core, and slice apple;  toss into greens, adding nuts and cherries.  Serve immediately.

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It’s time to admit that Summer is on its last legs;  Kiddo starts Kindergarten in a matter of days, the Valley is giving its last oven blasts of heat, and the farmer’s market is packed full of the last of the summer produce.  The peaches, my dear readers, THE PEACHES on display are amazing, and I couldn’t help but pick up a few.  They are so juicy and bright with that perfect balance of acid and sweet.  I had bought some peaches about 2 weeks ago from the supermarket (I know, I KNOW) and they were so… sad.  Mealy and flavorless, and I hated to waste them, so they ended up in our morning smoothies where I could barely taste them.

I’ve seen versions of this salad hitting the rounds in magazines and food blogs, and I knew I had to make this for today’s lunch.  A bed of mesculun, a few heirloom tomatoes, red onion sliced paper-thin, juicy wedges of ripe peach, and a nice drizzle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette make this a fantastic, easy summertime lunch.  If you were feeling sassy, this would be nice with a sprinkling of feta or chevre, or if serving this for dinner, a piece of grilled fish would be a great match.  We had this with a glass of Casa Nuestra 2009 Riesling which was just right–any crisp and fruity white would be an excellent accompaniment.

Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

  • 6 cups Mesculun or any mixed salad greens or arugula
  • 3-4 heirloom tomatoes (depending on size), sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large peach, sliced into 12 wedges
  • Balsamic Dressing as needed

On a platter, layer salad greens, tomato slices, onion and peach.  Drizzle with balsamic dressing and serve.

(How hard was that?  Now go make it!)

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I wanted to bring a salad to the party last night, but I just didn’t want to bring some greens tossed in viniagrette–I mean, that’s good, too, but I was looking for something a little more substantial, perhaps served warm and using seasonal vegetables.  A search through Epicurious.com (one of my favorite recipe sites), I came across what sounded like a perfect recipe:  Yukon Gold potatoes roasted in olive oil, parmesan and garlic, then thinly sliced kale gets tossed in with the hot potatoes and dressed in a lemon-tahini sauce. 

This was delicious;  the kale wilted nicely (although I was making a double batch, and after tossing it around with the potatoes, I needed to pop it in the oven for 2 minutes to help break the kale down a little more), and it’s really the dressing that makes this dish work.  It’s tart and nutty and it lightens up what could be very heavy on the palate.  This will definitely go into into a regular rotation here at home, and it would complement fish or chicken, but it’s also hearty enough to be a vegetarian main dish. 

Wilted Kale and Roasted-Potato Winter Salad

by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez for Gourmet, December 2008

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves (3 thinly sliced and 1 minced)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves very thinly sliced crosswise
  • Accompaniment: lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in upper third.

Toss potatoes with oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large 4-sided sheet pan, then spread evenly. Roast, stirring once, 10 minutes. Stir in sliced garlic and roast 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with cheese and roast until cheese is melted and golden in spots, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, purée tahini, water, lemon juice, minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. (Add a bit of water if sauce is too thick.)

Toss kale with hot potatoes and any garlic and oil remaining in pan, then toss with tahini sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

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Some foodie might come across and wag his finger at me for being so pedestrian.

It’s the salad that has shown up on menus all over the place with a few variations;  it’s become the other salad you can order on the menu if you’re not in the mood for a Caesar Salad or a wedge of Iceburg.

But, you know what?  I don’t care.  I love this salad.  The fresh bitterness in the greens; the creamy acidity of the chevre, the crunch of the nuts, and the sweetness provided by the dried fruit and vinaigrette–it’s a perfect salad to me.  There’s also something really satisfying about eating greens that aren’t even 24 hours out of the farm;  I had spent part of my morning at the farmer’s market, choosing the salad greens and deciding on his Mesculun mix (which did contain a few leaves of frisee–not my favorite of all the greens).

Market Greens Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

serves 4 as a first/salad course

6 ounces of Mesculun (a mix of baby salad leaves)

2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

1 1/2 ounces fresh chevre, crumbled

1/2 cup candied pecans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit

In a large mixing bowl, pour the balsamic vinaigrette into the bottom, and add salad greens.  Toss with tongs until leaves are fully coated with the dressing.  Pile greens onto plate and sprinkle with the chevre, pecans, and cranberries.

This balsamic vinaigrette comes from my catering days–I made a batch of this every 2 weeks for over 2 years.  I haven’t a clue where it originally came from.  It’s a dressing that seems to always get complements when I serve it–it has the right balance of sweetness and acidity.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 large garlic clove

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a blender or a food processor, add vinegar, honey, and garlic.  Start blender, and begin to add olive oil, drop by drop at first, then a slow stream until the vinaigrette has thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and pulse blender again for a moment to mix in.  Store in a jar or air tight container.

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Today was the hopefully the last of the year’s triple-digit weather, and we spent a good part of our day running errands in the heat.  There are grand plans in the works for next weekend, as it will be My Birthday Observed, where Choo and I will have two of our favorite people over, and there will be cooking, eating, and drinking;  I decided to shop for some new table linens and to replace some chipped plates.  Hauling bags around in the heat made us weary and hungry, and by the time we got home, we needed a fast lunch, and we had everything we needed from our Saturday morning trip from the Calabasas Farmer’s Market for this:


Sure, an Insalata Caprese can be an elegant thing, but it doesn’t have to be–in fact, I like it simple and stripped down to the basic elements:  good fresh tomatoes (homegrown or farmer’s market), mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

It’s one of the things that I love about summer, and when June rolls around, I’m waiting for the first great tomatoes to show up at the farmer’s market.  This will more than likely be our last Caprese of the season–any tomatoes in our possession are being turned into sauce and canned/frozen.  I’m not sad, since all the wonderful fall produce is starting to show up (hello, Acorn Squash, I’m looking forward to roasting and stuffing you), and I know come next year, I’ll be ready for a summer full of tomatoes and basil.

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I have found myself addicted to Foodgawker these days–if you’re not familiar, go on, take a look.  I’ll wait.

Is that not just Food Porn Central?  I probably check that site about three times a day to see what goes up.  I’ve attempted an entry, but my picture wasn’t good enough (not bitter about it–I welcome constructive criticism, and it’s made me focus on trying to take better pictures with my little camera).  Some things don’t quite spin my salad, such as anything that puts the two words Vegan and Chocolate together;  bless your little organic cotton socks, Vegans, but I’m just not going there.  Sometimes, I find a recipe that catches my interest and I think with a few of my own personal tweaks, it would make a fine meal.

For Sunday lunch, I did just that.  I went with shrimp instead of chicken, since, well, Choo and I do love shrimp, and I felt it would fit this better for us personally.  I dropped the fish sauce (not a big fan) and went with soy sauce,  just went with the juice of one lime, and skipped the sugar.  As for the vegetables, I halved the amount of red onion and substituted the other half with thinly sliced radishes.  Instead of that crazy amount of mint, I reduced the mint to 1/4 cup, and replaced the other 1/2 cup with chopped cilantro.  I sprinkled the salad with about 3 tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar, with salt and pepper to taste.  Of course, once all was said and done, it was an entirely different recipe, and absolutely perfect for a lunch on warm Sunday afternoon.

Spicy Shrimp, Cucumber & Radish Salad

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound of large shrimp, shell-on,  deveined, defrosted

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to taste)

juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon soy sauce

In a very hot skillet or wok, add your oil, then toss in your shrimp, stirring often.  When the shrimp shells start turning pink (about 2 minutes), add in garlic, pepper flakes, lime juice and soy sauce, and stir until the shrimp have finished cooking, approximately 2-4 minutes more.  Put shrimp into a bowl and set aside to cool.


Mmmm, garlicky sea bugs.

While your shrimp cool, prepare the salad:

1 English “hothouse” cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 small bunch radishes (about 8), thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste

If you have a mandolin, this is the time to break it out, as having everything thinly sliced is what makes this salad special.

Toss the sliced vegetables and herbs with the vinegar, salt and pepper.


Let the salad sit for a few minutes to marinate while you peel the shrimp.

Toss in shrimp.


Eat with relish; fight over seconds.

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This stuff, this super grain, is all over the place and for good reason:  it’s high in protein (in fact, it’s considered a complete protein since it contains a good balance of all eight essential amino acids) , low on the glycemic index, gluten-free, and it’s as easy as rice to cook.  On top of all that, it’s pretty tasty.  It’s a staple in our house, and I’ll make a quinoa dish at least a few times a month.

I had a pile of leftover grilled vegetables from Labor Day.  I had picked up a mess of zucchini at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and along with a quartered red onion,  tossed everything in olive oil, plenty of salt and pepper, and Nomu Veggie Rub (which is also fantastic on chicken and fish).


I made a huge amount of this salad–I was cleaning out the fridge, using up all the vegetables and herbs I had left from the farmer’s market.  This is easily 10-12 side dish servings, 6-8 servings as a main. Guess what we’re having for lunch for the next 3 days?

Grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

2 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly (you HAVE to rinse it–quinoa naturally has a coating of saponin, which is bitter)

4 cups vegetable stock (homemade or low-sodium)

3 cups of cold grilled vegetables, chopped.  I had green and yellow zucchini and red onion, but other grilled vegetables such as bell peppers or eggplant would work nicely, too.

1 cup of Tomato Confit, chopped or fresh raw tomato, if that’s what you have.

4 green onions, chopped

1 batch of Herb Vinaigrette

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and vegetable stock over medium-high heat, and bring to a full boil.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and let cook for 15-18 minutes, when all liquid is absorbed.  Put cooked quinoa in a large bowl, and spread out slightly to make it easier for the quinoa to cool faster.  Cool to room temperature.


While quinoa cools, make vinaigrette:

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove

1/2 bunch fresh parsley

6 large leaves basil

8 sprigs thyme with woody stems removed

1 sprig mint, about 6-8 leaves

2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2/3 to 3/4 cup olive oil

In a blender, add vinegar, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and start on a low setting.   While blender whirls, add olive oil in a slow drizzle until all the herbs are incorporated and you have a somewhat thick but easily pourable dressing.

Toss in chopped vegetables and vinaigrette into cooled quinoa, and store in covered container for a few hours to let the flavors develop.


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One of the things that Choo and I love to do during the summer is to go to the Hollywood Bowl.  There’s something about sitting outside to see a great show, and it seems that no matter how hot the day has been, once the sun sets behind the hills, the air cools just enough to want you to snuggle up with your sweetie.  Besides, half the fun is being able to pack a picnic basket loaded with goodies and wine (one of my favorite summertime wines:  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc).

This was one of the items I’ve made for a Hollywood Bowl picnic, and yes, it was just one of those things that I pulled a bunch of stuff out of the fridge and threw it together.  And, it’s a great dish to make when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen–it’s just a few minutes of boiling water to cook the pasta, and that’s it.


It looks fancy, but it’s so much easier than you think.

Tortellini Salad, serves 2 as a light main dish

1 9 ounce package fresh Cheese Tortellini

1/2 cup Marinated Artichoke Heart quarters, cut in half (don’t rinse!)

1/4 cup Kalamata Olives (or any other olives that you like will do just fine)

1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, preferrably Sun Gold or Sweet 100, cut in half

2 Green Onions, sliced finely

1/4 cup fresh Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme, leaves removed from any woody stems

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, as desired

Cook tortellini to package directions (boiling water, about 3 minutes), drain, rinse, and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, toss together artichoke hearts, olives, cherry tomatoes, green onions, parsley, and thyme; squeeze juice of 1/2 a lemon over the vegetables.  Add tortellini, and drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil–just enough to coat everything lightly–season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss again.  It can be eaten right away, but it’s best if it sits in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

This is particularly good served with grilled chicken, or if you’re looking to make this a more substantial dish, chopped salami and/or fresh mozzarella can be added.  Fire-roasted red bell peppers or grilled asparagus would also be delicious and pretty tossed in, if you’re looking for more vegetables to add.

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