Posts Tagged ‘Salads’

If I haven’t lost you already with that title…I PROMISE this is more delicious than it sounds! My aunt made this salad last week at a family birthday party and everyone loved it. I made it last night for dinner guests and it was a hit again. It makes a ton and keeps well so you can put it together in advance and leave it out for a while. The key to making these very healthy ingredients taste so yummy is that they are VERY finely diced. The recipe calls for small slices but my aunt used the food processor, as did I, and it not only makes quick work of reducing a massive piles of greens to a bowl, but really breaks down all the rougher parts of these raw veggies to something quite chewable. The dressing with garlic, olive oil and mustard is tangy enough to wake this up and sweet enough to keep it yummy. It’s also a very affordable salad because kale is so cheap – yesterday I got a pound and a half for $1.50!!


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Shrimp and Peanut Salad

This was a leftover night recipe – we had shrimp in the freezer, some romaine lettuce and peanut dressing. What we ate was a tasty Asian-inspired salad that included the shrimp (thawed, peeled, dried, sprinkled w/ paprika and curry powder, coated in flour and flash-fried), roasted brocoli, small diced red onions and toasted peanuts, all over romaine, tossed in a Spicy Peanut Dressing (courtesy Trader Joe’s). Michael totally doubted the brocoli, but ended up liking it, as it added a bit more heft and went right along w/ the flavors. I wish I’d had green onions instead of the red onions, as they are a bit more appropriate for this flavor group, but it was still good. So next time you have salad and shrimp to use up, you can try this to put them to good use!

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I  enjoy eating salad, but being the sort of person that really likes flavor to knock you off your chair, a regular salad with bottled dressing and tomatoes doesn’t interest me remotely. Which is a pity for our health, being that raw veggies are so good for you! We have a revamped pro-salad initiative in our house, as a predicable recovery plan from the overindulgance of the holidays. So I am trying to come up with interesting, flavorful, hearty salads as a main course. This has so far been my favorite. It is highly adaptable, so I’ll just describe what I throw into it, and you can tinker with your own preferred combination!

– Washed, chopped romaine lettuce

– Roasted butternut squash (I buy the pre-diced package at Trader Joe’s, a bit pricey but totally worth it for time-saved. Toss in olive oil, sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, ground oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for about 20 min or til edges are brown and crispy.)

– Black beans (rinsed from can)

– Toasted pepitas (the large flat pumpkin seeds)

– Small-diced feta cheese

– Dressing (2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar – I like champagne vinegar – with 1 diced chipotle pepper and some extra adobo sauce, cumin, chili powder, ground oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.)

Bon Appetit!

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Another Salmon Salad

We’ve got lots of yummy salmon in our freezer from a Costco trip and I was looking for another easy and healthy recipe for them. I’ve been meaning to try this Salmon Salad recipe from Barefoot Contessa and it was wonderful! There is the perfect amount of sweet and tangy, and crunchy and soft. Instead of grilling, which stinks up our apartment for days with the fishy smell, I baked the salmon at 350 for about 20 minutes. I did not have raspberry vinegar on hand so I used red wine vinegar with a dash of pomegranate molasses (imported by my sister who lives in Dubai) which is an extremely awesome ingredient…the berry/fruity flavor was really good so I think I would recommend the raspberry vinegar as worth it in this recipe if you don’t have the pomegranate molasses (I assume most people don’t!).

I think this recipe may tie Barefoot’s Roasted Shrimp and Orzo salad for favorite summer lunches or light dinners. Both can be made ahead and served either room temp or chilled and they have lots of flavor. The benefit to this one is even fewer ingredients and less time to prep…I hope Michael liked this well enough to eat it more often! I can imagine this being really delicious with some grilled bread or a corn muffin on the side with a fruity dessert and either a nice glass of Rose or a Kir (white wine with a splash of Cassis). Spring is calling!!!

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The Perfect {Salmon} Salad

This recipe is one I should have shared YEARS ago and I am truly sorry for holding out on you for so long. The problem is that I don’t have a ‘recipe’ per se – I have a flavor memory from a restaurant in Atlanta, GA where we were in town for a wedding and looking for food while our friends were at the rehearsal dinner. Michael and I were driving through the rain and peering, as best we could, out the windows to find a place for dinner. I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant, but one of us ordered what is easily, no-contest, hands-down the GREATEST salad in the world. I swear.

I don’t know what it is about this flavor combo but every time I make it we both go crazy all over again. It just WORKS. There are a lot of ingredients so you can be flexible if you don’t have all of them, or if you want to throw in something else that seems like it will work (tonight I used some diced dates and they were awesome). But this is the closest I can describe of the original. Whatever shortcuts you have to take to try this, take them – Eat. This. Now!

Perfect Salmon Salad

Makes 2 entrée salads

Assemble from the bottom of each bowl up:

  • Salad greens (I like spinach because it’s super healthy and can stand up to this hearty salad, but any kind will work)
  • A sweet, mild dressing – this one from Briana’s, which you can find at most grocery stores, is my favorite
  • A handful of blanched asparagus spears (I make half a bunch for 2 salads)
  • A smattering of some sort of amazing balsamic vinegar-fig-onion compote (this is the hardest part to describe – I usually brown onions in a pan, toss in some balsamic vinegar at the end, and then mix with fig preserves. It becomes a sweet, gooey mess that you spoon over the salad and you’ll want a little taste of it in each bite. Alternatively you might find some kind of ‘compote’ with fig at a specialty foods store that will work. This sounds complicated, but the sweet figgy flavor is an absolutely essential component!)
  • 2 portions of salmon filets, cooked and then crumbled, warm, over the salads
  • Chopped walnuts
  • A generous amount of shaved/sliced manchego cheese (ideally, this melts slightly over the warm salmon. This is the other must-have ingredient – manchego works absolutely perfectly in this salad. You’ll love it.)

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Chinese Noodle Salad

This is a super flavorful, easy recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that we recently made – she calls it Szechuan Noodles but I think it’s a little easier to call it Chinese Noodle Salad.  I’ve made the sauce a few times – it’s absolutely wonderfully delicious and can be used really in any stir-fry or as a dip or anything else you can think of.  But it’s especially good on these noodles!

I used whole wheat noodles to be a little healthier – since there’s so much flavor in this salad I promise you would never, ever know the difference!  You make the sauce with lots of flavorful fresh ingredients, whirled around in the food processor.  Then you chop up a bunch of veggies and finally toss the noodles, sauce and veggies together then serve.  It can be served warm or chilled, though I do think it’s best when it’s just warmed from the noodles.  This makes a LOT of salad and isn’t quite as good leftover (though still good!) so for just two people I’d definitely cut it in half.  I also added broccoli because I wanted a bit more vegetables in this.  In fact, I think the recipe could hold a lot more veggies or protein – next time I might saute some tofu and toss that in as well to add some protein!  The broccoli, which I quickly blanched in boiling water for a few minutes to cook it just a little, was a wonderful addition.  You could really add almost anything else to this, though – julienned carrots would also be delicious!

We have a new ‘toy’ at our house – a new camera for my husband, who is an awesome amateur photographer, to use for the baby.  As a side perk, it takes pretty fabulous pictures of food too!  I happened to be making this recipe the day the camera came in the mail, so below is a fun series of photos he took to try it out while I was cooking.  Enjoy!

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Cornbread Panzanella

I have been enjoying a wonderful new (to me) cookbook called Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster.  Some of you may be familiar with Sara Foster…I first heard of her because she used to write the food column in one of my favorite magazines (now defunct), Cottage Living.  I noticed the name because I always thought the food she wrote about looked very good, and all the recipes I tried were great.  Then, come to find out, her restaurant (more like a cafe-type thing) is an institution in the Triangle.  Their Chapel Hill location was where Michael took me for breakfast our first morning we moved to the area.  I was totally tickled to be in her restaurant after liking her recipes for so long.

So you may wonder why it took me TWO YEARS to finally get a hold of one of her cookbooks, and that is a great question.  I think every time I looked at the books I just thought they looked so similiar to Barefoot Contessa’s type of foods that I didn’t need yet another one when I was already plenty obsessed with one great chef.  But our friends the Reules gradually convinced me…saying that her stuff was faster than Barefoot Contessa recipes and more adaptable for weeknights.  I read this cookbook from cover to cover while we were at the beach with them over Memorial Day and decided I had to have a copy.  The recipes are broken into logical sections (salads, sides, meat mains, pasta, breakfast, dessert) and her approach is that the recipes can all be adapted based on what you have on hand and based on seasonal ingredients.  She gives lots of useful tips on prep work and on what dishes would go best with other recipes.

I’ve tried a few of the recipes already and this one is definitely my favorite.  I can’t get enough of tomatoes in the summer…or anytime, for that matter, but most especially when they are in season.  I love panzanella salads (italian bread salad) because the texture of the bread with the tomatoes is so yummy.  There are a lot of good recipes for panzanella but this one, with cornbread instead of the usual white bread, is scrumptious!  Because the bread gets soaked in the dressing, it is not great leftover.  I cut this recipe in half to serve as salad for four, with no leftovers, so I’d recommend halving it unless you are serving a large group.  I found a particularly good prepared cornbread from a grocery store that seemed really most with some of it’s own grease, so I didn’t coat it in any additional olive oil – you can decide whether you think yours needs the extra coat before toasting or not.  Also, we didn’t make this with avocado – I just didn’t think it was needed.  I bet it would be good, but I’d consider it optional.


Cornbread Panzanella

From Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster

Serves 6, can be halved

4 cups cornbread in 1/2 – inch cubes, preferably day-old

½ cup olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 beefsteak or large heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound)

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup red wine vinegar

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1 avocado , halved, pit removed, and cut into ½ – inch cubes

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Place the cornbread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss with 3 Tbs of the olive oil and the salt and pepper.  Spread the cornbread in a single even layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted and golden, about 15 minutes.  Let the cornbread cool slightly.
  3. Return the cornbread to the bowl you tossed it in.  Add the tomatoes, onion, and salt and pepper.  Whisk the remaining olive oil with the vinegar and drizzle over the salad.  Add the basil and the avocado cubes and toss gently, taking care not to mash the avocado.  Serve immediately.

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