Tag Archives: Salad

Kale Salad with Shaved Apple, Candied Almonds and Romano

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This kale salad has become a legend among my friends after a self-described non-foodie made it during a girls getaway trip. We all should have known that any gal who can whip up a Spam/Kraft Mac ‘n cheese dinner can also deliver a delicate and elegant salad made of only unprocessed ingredients.

Kale is all the rage these days, so you may be able to find shredded kale pre packaged at your local Food Lion equivalent. But it’s so much easier and cheaper, honestly, to do it yourself. Slice off the thick rib, roll the leaf into a cigar and then slice as thinly as you can.

Kale is a hearty, toothsome green that only works raw if shredded into ribbons and tossed with a tenderizing vinaigrette.

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Kale Salad With Apple and Candied Almonds

Ingredients
– 2 T extra virgin olive oil
– Zest and juice of 1 lemon
– 2 c. Thinly sliced kale, ribs removed
– 1/4 c shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
– 1/4 c chopped candied almonds (sauté whole almonds in a pat of butter and couple spoonfuls of brown sugar over medium heat until coated. Cool on wax paper)
– 1 crisp apple, thinly sliced
– pinch cayenne
– salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together oil, zest and juice in your salad bowl. Add seasonings to taste. Add apple slices and coat. Add kale, almonds and cheese. Toss to combine.

The almonds offer a crunch and candied sweetness to the tart apple and lemon mixture. The Pecorino Romano adds a nuttiness and thickens the dressing so it nicely coats the leaves. I like to shave big shards of cheese over the top for garnish.

I have made this for numerous dinner parties and thanks to the robust kale, it does well as a leftover, too.

Cheers, friends!

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Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

Seasoned to Taste - Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

I never notice pomegranates until they are gone. They appear in the grocery stores – usually on sale 2/$5 – for a couple months through the fall and winter, and then disappear the rest of the year. I wonder how I can get tomatoes all year round, but pomegranates only during select months? My point is that I save all these pomegranate recipes, forgetting to make them when I can find the fruits in season.

This recipe is very unique tasting. The pomegranate is sweet but very tart, adding a different flavor profile along with the nutty anise of the fennel and the citrus with herbs. It was fresh and had a bite, but will definitely make you stop and think, “Huh?” after the first bite. I think it’s the pomegranate seeds, which literally explode when you chew them.

Adapted from Bon Appetit:

Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4″-thick slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped (I omitted and just used a pinch red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I only had parsley – totally different)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (didn’t use)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (hate dill)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1/2 small pomegranate)
  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is just tender and lightly golden, 10–12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, cumin, and sugar; cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain; return to pan. Cover; let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork; transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Using a small sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from lemon (an orange is good here, too). Cut between membranes to release segments; discard membranes and roughly chop. Add lemon with any juices and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to quinoa; stir. Add fennel mixture, chile, and herbs. Toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer salad to a platter; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Seasoned to Taste - Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

We had this with some vegetarian tacos that a friend (Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit) made – it was a healthy little lunch!
Seasoned to Taste - Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Couscous Cakes with Artichokes, Feta and Creamy Mint Sauce

Let me begin by saying that I love anything with artichokes. Growing up, my birthday dinner always included steamed artichokes, which provided tender leaves for me to pluck off and dunk in a lemon-butter sauce.

While artichokes don’t play a prominent role in this recipe, they add a certain olfactory nostalgia when I get a bite that includes the crispy couscous cake, tender artichoke and lemony mint dressing.

This recipe is a pleasant surprise that I easily made on a weeknight with some leftover couscous – remember my risotto cakes? Yeah, using leftovers in this fashion is amazing!

You start by mixing cooked couscous with lemon zest, eggs and a puree of chickpeas, parsley and garlic. Then you press them into 1/4 cup measuring cups  and pan fry them until golden on each side. The egg holds them together quite well – I only had one cake fall apart a bit. THEN you place them on a salad of lettuce (I used bibb lettuce), tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a delicious sauce made of sour cream, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Finish with a sprinkling of feta cheese.

I think Grant was a disbeliever when he first saw me making this, but then the smells got him salivating and he ended up loving it.

Another splendid recipe from my Fine Cooking magazine that I can’t put down!

Couscous Cakes with Artichokes, Feta and Creamy Mint Sauce

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

For the dressing –

  • 2 T fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 T low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp finely chopped mint leaves (it grows like a weed around here)
  • 5 T EVOO
  • Salt and pepper

For the couscous cakes –

  • 3/4 c. couscous
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic glove, peeled
  • 1/4 c. packed Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 14-oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 T canola oil

For the salad –

  • Lettuce of your choice (spinach works well, or Romaine or bibb)
  • 14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and sliced (I used Trader Joe’s frozen artichoke quarters and just thawed them and drained them)
  • 1 c. chopped fresh tomato (or cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, sour cream and mint. Slowly whisk in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Bring chicken stock to boil, then add 1 tsp salt and couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool (or make ahead!)

In a food processor, add garlic and parsley, pulsing until chopped. Add chickpeas and 1 tsp salt and pulse until blended together.

In a medium bowl, mix together the chickpea mixture, couscous, eggs and lemon zest. Press mixture into 1/4-cup measure and invert to release the cake. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat 1 1/2 T oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add enough cakes to fit, flattening them with a spatula a bit. Cook, flipping once, until browned on each side, then remove to a paper-towel lined plate to cool. Repeat with remaining cakes, adding more oil as necessary.

To assemble the salad, place lettuce on a plate, then tomatoes, artichokes and cakes. Drizzle with creamy mint sauce and finish with a sprinkling of feta.

So good! Just right for a warm night – eating outside or in front of the TV for the season finale of Mad Men (eeeek!).


Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

There is something significant about the aroma that occurs when you cook onions with bacon fat. I remember growing up, and mom would make this brussels sprouts dish that started with rendering bacon, then adding onion to the drippings, then the other vegetables, and adding a dash of vinegar at the end.

I never tried the brussels sprouts, but I loved that smell coming out of the kitchen and I can remember it to this day.

This salad is a classic, and I love making it as a starter because it’s not quite enough to be a hearty entree for two people. The spinach wilts under the warmth of the bacon vinaigrette, but holds up enough to add some crunch along with the salty bacon bits and boiled egg on top.

A perfect balance. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • 6 oz. baby spinach (one store-bought container’s worth)
  • 3 T cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped medium
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt until sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Fry bacon in medium skillet, until crisp, 10 min. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving bacon fat in another container. Return 3 T bacon fat in the skillet. Add onion and cook over medium, until slightly softened, 3 min. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 15 seconds. Add vinegar mixture, then remove skillet from heat.

Place spinach in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette mixture over it, tossing gently to get the spinach slightly wilted. Add the bacon and toss to combine.

To serve, plate spinach on serving plates, then top with egg quarters and extra cracked pepper, if necessary.

And dig in! Enjoy, friends xoxo

Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Cumin-Paprika Vinaigrette

I’ve been trying to accept the fact that quinoa is the “in” grain of the moment. The most recent Bon Appetit even has a whole section devoted to quinoa salads, and quinoa is constantly on  my Pinterest feed, so I know the populace has caught on.

I suppose I initially resisted quinoa for the same reason I resisted tabbouleh – weird hippie food they sell at the natural foods store. But recipes like this, and my baked quinoa recipe, show how versatile this extremely healthy little food is.

Boiled until the grain pearls turn translucent and a delicate thread appears, you toss the quinoa with ripe chunks of avocado, plump golden raisins and currants, crisp scallions and a vinaigrette made of lemon, cumin, coriander, paprika and olive oil. For extra crunch, toasted chopped almonds are sprinkled on top.

I mean, wow, this was surprisingly good! And vegan … right? I made it on a week night and topped it with some leftover rotisserie chicken we happened to have in the fridge. Delicious! The creamy avocado, sweet fruit, hot bite of green onions and nutty crunch from the almonds … it’s really a winning combination. I encourage all of you to try it immediately.

Adapted from the amazing Cook Fresh magazine (best of Fine Cooking).

Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Cumin-Paprika Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 3 T golden raisins
  • 2 T dried currants
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 T EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika (not smoked)
  • 2 medium firm-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into medium chunks (do this at the last moment so they don’t turn brown)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 T coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • Black pepper

In a medium bowl, soak raisins and currants in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 c. water, quinoa and 1/2 tsp salt to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is translucent and tender, 10-15 min (the germ rings will remain chewy and white, like little squiggles). Immediately fluff quinoa with a fork and turn out on baking sheet to cool to room temperature.

Zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl and whisk in olive oil, spices and 1/4 tsp salt. In a large bowl, gently mix with avocado, then toss with quinoa, fruit, scallions and almonds.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with extra almonds and scallions, if you have them.

See? Easy! And so surprisingly flavorful. I shall be making this one again.

Enjoy friends! xoxo

Tabbouleh

One wedding-related detail I hadn’t anticipated is the stress of hosting out-of-town guests. Honestly, it has probably troubled me more than the big event – keeping the cat-hair level down, vacuuming the rugs every day, tidying the bathrooms, etc. And feeding all the extra mouths around.

To minimize my stress, I’ve been relying on easy one-off dishes that can be snacks or meals, depending on the person. That way, I can feed someone who just landed from a 5-hour flight, someone who just stopped by for a snack or someone who wants a light meal.

Salmon and lox are great; so is brie cheese with an assortment of crackers and jellies. I recently made tabbouleh salad for some house guests and it is the perfect, healthy and flavorful salad to make and just keep in the fridge – it only gets better with time!

I used to think tabbouleh was gross hippie food, but now I find it to be a wonderful cool, crunchy salad for spring and summer. Grant asks for it literally all the time.

Adapted from Ina Garten (she uses way too much salt in this!)

Tabbouleh

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup bulghur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, basil, cucumber, tomatoes, salt and the pepper to taste; mix well. Serve or cover and refrigerate.

I sprinkle a little extra sea salt over the top to finish. Scrumptious. This is definitely my new potluck go-to dish.

This will be last blog post before my wedding, and in case you miss me, here’s a picture from my bachelorette party/wine tour (which was perfect for me because it included a wine-branch wreath-making party!). I don’t know where my friend Caitlin found these Mickey Mouse ears, but I wore them with pride.

See you soon, friends! xoxo

Chicken Caesar Salad, Deconstructed

Who hasn’t ordered the chicken Caesar salad at The Olive Garden? Or pretty  much any other restaurant, regardless of cuisine, over the years? Typically, it consists of romaine lettuce dripping with creamy “Caesar” dressing, with cold chicken on top, along with more Parmesan cheese and stale croutons.

This is my new spin on chicken Caesar salad, inspired by a recent Bon Appetit recipe. But instead of piling everything high on a smudged plate, the diner gets a unique salad-eating experience with a deconstructed restaurant staple.

The panko-Parmesan-crusted chicken is lovely along with the seared romaine flecked with garlic and minced anchovies. I love the whole seared-lettuce thing. Really changes the flavors.

I highly recommend adding this dish to your summer menu – a wonderful entree for dining al fresco, if you can.

Deconstructed Chicken Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 7-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 large hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise
  • 4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained, minced
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
Preheat oven to 450°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place on prepared sheet. Combine cheese, panko, 2 Tbsp. oil, parsley, and 1 garlic clove in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Pat panko mixture onto breasts. Roast chicken until crumbs begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes.
Drizzle romaine with 1 Tbsp. oil and sprinkle with remaining 1 chopped garlic clove and anchovies. Season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet from oven; place romaine around chicken.
Roast until chicken is cooked through and lettuce is browned at edges, about 5 minutes (mine was even less).

Divide among plates. Garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Doesn’t that look yummy? Also good as sack-lunch leftovers – just reheat the chicken and serve with the cold romaine and squeeze a lemon wedge over.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Green Goddess Dressing with Basil

Green goddess dressing combines every delicious dressing flavor into one creamy sauce. I made this last month for my birthday party – served with a bunch of fresh vegetables for dipping. However, it really should be treated like a salad dressing, not a dip – served over hearty greens such as spinach, romaine or bibb lettuce.

It’s like a caesar dressing with the addition of basil – amazing. Scallions, anchovies, lemon garlic – your guests will at first be concerned for the state of their breath, but then forget all that once they taste it. I had numerous people ask, “What is IN that?”

Once basil is in season again, I will definitely keep this as a refrigerator staple for my summer salads, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

Here, I just drizzled it over veggies.

Green Goddess Dressing with Basil

Ingredients (makes roughly 2 cups):

  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or equivalent anchovy fillets
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
Add everything except the sour cream to a blender and process until smooth. Add sour cream and blend completely.
Serve with your favorite veggies or drizzle over salad – you will not believe how robust the flavors are. And don’t worry about the anchovies, they are hidden among the other ingredients so as to not overpower.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

The latest edition of Bon Appetit is all about The South, declaring this region as the next big food trend. Well, duh, everyone says. Whether it means black-eye peas, fish fried with cornmeal or country ham, it appears the masses are turning their heads to low-country cuisine.

One ingredient I surely never saw at the Safeways of the Pacific Northwest is country ham. The super-salty cured pork steak that is so sodium-soaked that it almost burns. In fact, the packages aren’t even refrigerated!

I typically enjoy country ham added to cooking beans or something that allows the salt and strong porkiness to distribute. But this Bon Appetit recipe uses it as a little crouton (my title) on top of a salad made from thick kale, tart apple, sweet squash and a simple vinaigrette. Oh, and buttermilk drizzled over the top. Just for effect … and more.

I must admit that I am trying so hard to like squash, and I simply don’t. Still, you can see why roasted butternut squash is great in this medley – the acid of the lemon vinaigrette, the heartiness of the kale, the saltiness of the ham, the crunch of the apple and the creamy tang of the buttermilk. It all works and is full of good vitamins and minerals.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, which used mustard greens and a few other details I changed.

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 10 c. fresh kale, stems and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 cups 1″ cubes peeled butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham, chopped
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
Method:
  • Gently rub greens with 2 Tbsp. salt in a large bowl. Let stand, checking often, until the greens begin to release water and soften, about 15 minutes. Rinse in two changes of cold water. Squeeze greens dry and pat with a kitchen towel; transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. olive oil on prepared sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ham and cook until crisp, 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Add squash, apple, shallot, lemon juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to greens.
  • Toss to combine; season to taste with salt. Divide evenly among plates. Drizzle with buttermilk. Arrange fried ham over. Season with cracked pepper.

Bon Appetit tells me that one whole salad contains less than 300 calories and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. Nevermind the sodium. 🙂

I’ve never had kale like this before and I think I had trouble getting used to its tough texture. But a bite that consisted of ham, the apple, the kale and the squash had a really sophisticated balance to it.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Sauteed Lettuces with Salami and Shallots

I get the sense that lettuce is becoming a food trend. Seems that more and more food shows are incorporating plain old salad greens – from iceberg to romaine and arugula – into soups, sautees and other dishes. I believe the Brits are used to having peas with lettuce, which seemed strange to me until the doe-eyed Nigella Lawson demonstrated how delicious the combination can be.

Or maybe I’m just extra alert to green-food trends now that I’m trying to eat more of them. Anyway, I saw an interesting recipe in Bon Appetit for which lettuces are sauteed with spicy salami, garlic and ginger and served over brown rice, with fried shallots up top. It looked quite good and relatively healthy, so I decided to give it a try.

Both Grant and I loved it! He favors anything with a strong ginger element, and I loved the cured meat mixed with the just-wilting lettuces and crispy shallot. My goodness, what can’t be improved with crispy shallots on top?

I adapted this a little, but not too much.

Sauteed Lettuces with Salami and Shallots

Ingredients:

  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/2 c. chopped salami slices
  • 2 T thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 1/2 T minced peeled ginger
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Half a head of iceberg lettuce, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 c. arugula leaves
  • Cooked brown Basmati rice (enough to feed everybody you are serving)

Get the Basmati rice cooking while you prep all your ingredients.

Heat oil in nonstick skillet over low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until golden brown – 12 min. Remove to paper towels to drain and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add salami, then garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Stir until everything starts to sizzle and add 1/4 c. water. Increase heat to medium-high, add lettuces and saute until just wilted, 1-2 min. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon lettuce mixture over brown rice and top with crispy shallots. I also added some green onions and parsley, just because I had them on hand.

This recipe makes me want to try more with wilting lettuce into dishes – yum! They retain a little bit of crunch, but lose any bitterness. And it filled us up just fine.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo