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Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

I think salads are absolutely beautiful.  They are often full of a mix of vibrant colors, incorporating colors like pops of fuschia on a rich green background.  They are the food-lover’s version of a fresh bouquet of flowers.  Because I find them so beautiful, salads are one of my favorite parts of the meal to plate.  A good presentation can really help make other less leaf-loving people excited to try a salad out.

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I bookmarked this salad recipe simply because of the presentation.  The salad itself looked like nothing special but I sure wanted to try the crispy parmesan baskets out.  And I was not disappointed.  The baskets were easy to put together, fun to play with and made for a unique looking plate.  The parmesan was perfectly toasted crunchy, making it full of flavor.  But as suspected the salad itself was just average.  I’ll keep making these baskets and filling them full of whatever beautiful fruits and vegetables I have on hand.

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Parmesan, Walnut and Arugula Baskets
Originally from Taste of Home magazine, April/May 2009
Servings: 6

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

SALAD:

4 cups fresh arugula or spring mix salad greens
1/2 cup green grapes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cheese and 1 teaspoon walnuts over the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 seconds.
Using a spatula, carefully remove cheese mixture and immediately drape over an inverted glass with a 2-in.-diameter bottom; cool completely. Repeat with remaining cheese and walnuts, forming five more baskets.
For salad, in a large bowl, combine the arugula, grapes and walnuts. Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over arugula mixture; toss to coat. Place 1/2 cup salad in each basket.

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Zucchini can be bad, just bad.  I’ve had bad before and I’ve made bad before.  One thing I’ve learned is to always salt my zucchini and let it sit for ten minutes releasing water before blotting it with a paper towel.  Less water = tastier zucchini and better texture.  Another thing I’ve learned is that I don’t think this vegetable needs much cooking time at all.  I steer away from any recipes that have you roast for long periods, opting for barely cooked options that highlight the grill or a quick saute.  Oh and lastly I’ve learned that zucchini and lemon are like husband and wife.  Never should they be separated (in my kitchen).

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So now that I’ve told you my zucchini recipe criteria you can pretty much guess that I liked this zucchini salad.  Short cooking time?  Check.  Lemon?  Check.  Added salting and blotting step?  Check.  Extra almond crunch?  Mmmh.  And this recipe is so durn quick that I’ve only thrown it together oh about 4 times in the last month.  And anything that appears even once a month in my kitchen can be considered a staple.

Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Almonds and Parmesan
Taken from Love and Olive Oil
Makes 4 side servings

1 medium lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 lbs small zucchini, cut into lengthwise slices
1/2 cup sliced (or chopped) almonds, toasted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Zest the lemon and set aside the zest. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl. Add oil, pepper, and salt, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat until hot. Oil the grilling surface and grill zucchini slices, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Arrange the zucchini on a platter and drizzle with the reserved lemon dressing. Serve sprinkled with almonds, cheese, and lemon zest.

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It seems I skipped ahead to Fall too quickly, passing by some summer salads. That last Peach & Prosciutto salad could certainly never makes it debut in January. And neither could this salad with watermelon as the star. I’d be accused of taunting and teasing.

It took my tongue a minute to wrap itself against this flavor combination.  The bitter herbs, the salty cheese; both flavors just hearty enough to make their appearance amongst the strong watermelon flavor.   For something so full of water, you wouldn’t imagine the flavor to be so strong, but it is.  This makes the use of arugula imperative as something such as spinach would be lost completely.  But in the end I found myself a fan.

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Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad
From Ina Garten on foodnetwork.com
Serves 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/8th seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes (I believe I used less, though who can tell when watermelons are sized so differently?)
12 ounces good feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

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Three days. Just Canaan and I. Nate in Montana. Of course this meant meals were whatever I felt like. I find when I’m on my own I can easily survive with a piece of crusty bread, a little chunk of some good cheese, and a tasty, tasty salad – oh and a movie for night time. Luckily this lovely nectarine that had been sitting in my windowsill a number of days turned ripe just in time to be included in the goodness.

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And goodness it was. Just another reason to wish peaches and nectarines weren’t so touch and go in terms of quality and didn’t have such a short season. Possibly incentive enough to move to Georgia or South Carolina where all summer long we used to stop on long road trips to buy peaches from roadside stands. Peaches and Dairy Queen were frequent lunches, a perfect fix for the summer heat and a way to avoid fast-food burgers. Of course, back then all I cared about was the cookie dough blizzard but now I’d die for a roadside peach stand!

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Peaches and Prosciutto with Greens

Salad greens
Peach or nectarine, sliced
A few ounces of prosciutto, torn into pieces
Brie cheese, sliced
Walnuts, toasted

Dressing:
Apple cider vinegar (about 3 Tbs. for a salad for two)
Honey and dijon mustard(about 1 tsp. each)
Olive oil (about 1 T.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing together in bottom of serving bowl. Add greens and toss to coat. Arrange remaining ingredients over top and serve. Die happy.

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I found this salad to be a refreshing step away from the greens+fruit+nut or the greens+tomatoes+other vegetables combinations. Those ingredients are generally in my fridge so they are the easiest to come up with at 6pm. Lima beans, on the other hand, don’t show up at my house too often.

Refreshing, chock full of green and good vitamins, this salad is a wanted addition to a summer brunch.

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Baby Greens with Asparagus and Pistachios
Taken from The Oprah Magazine Cookbook
Serves 6

Lemon oil:

Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup canola oil
4 sprig fresh lemon thyme or thyme
1 piece (2 inches) fresh lemongrass , crushed

Lemon vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon oil
3/4 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Salad:

1 bunch asparagus , trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup fresh fava beans or frozen lima beans , thawed
8 ounces mixed baby greens
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts , coarsely chopped

To make lemon oil: In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients; heat over medium-low heat until oil is hot and small bubbles begin to appear. Transfer to a bowl; cool to room temperature. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain before using.

To make vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until blended.

To prepare salad: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in colander, rinse with cold water until cool, and then drain again. Repeat with beans, cooking about 1 minute before draining.

In a large bowl, combine greens, pistachios, asparagus and beans. Add vinaigrette and toss. Serve immediately.

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I know you’ve probably seen a few salads similar to this on my site.  It’s not the first time I’ve combined shrimp and salad, shrimp and orzo, or orzo and salad.  (Whether I ever remembered to post these recipes on the blog is altogether different so I guess it’s possible you’ve seen far fewer of these combinations than I have.)  Clearly I’m attracted to this basic mash-up.

So when the thermometer goes above 80 degrees and trolling for new dinner ideas, a refreshing salad for dinner just screams, “Make me!”  And this one passed the muster of “different enough from what we had recently …” because of those beautiful, fuschia radish wedges.  Radishes are not a part of my regular vegetable line-up.  I guess mostly because I forget about them.  But every once in a while that peppery kick wrapped in such a pretty-colored package calls to me.  Cut off the tips, a sprinkle of kosher salt and mmmh I’m good to go.

Radishes don’t work this way for my husband, but I’ll tell you what does.  Olives.  Kalamata olives.  Or any olive other than the plain black ones.  Olives always find their way off of my cutting board and into his mouth before they reach the salad.

This salad has nice flavor, it’s not overly complicated to make, and it’s filling enough without being carb top-heavy.  And if you ignore the demand for boatloads of olive oil and about twice as much dressing as you really need, it’s actually quite healthy.

Spinach-Orzo Salad with Shrimp
Originally from foodnetwork.com
Serves 4

Kosher salt
1/2 cup orzo
4 cups spinach, thinly sliced
10 medium radishes, quartered
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted oil-cured olives, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the broiler. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake dry.

Meanwhile, toss the spinach, radishes, cucumber, onion, olives, mint, parsley and 1/3 cup each lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the orzo and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Arrange on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil until slightly pink, 1 to 2 minutes. (I added a pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground lemon pepper to mine.)  Turn and broil until just cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes.

Divide the salad among plates. Top with the shrimp, sprinkle with the feta and season with pepper.

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We’ve been starting to eat some good salads this week, which makes me tres happy.  This might seem strange because we haven’t necessarily been eating real meals, but salads are something manageable.  I can start the chopping or make the vinaigrette and then leave it for hours to feed, burp, and rock the baby before returning to finish it.  Its work on a newborn time-frame and it also works to fulfill some of my need to get back in the kitchen and get my creative juices flowing.  So what that it accompanied a frozen hamburger?  Not the perfect pairing but a decadent and delicious salad anyway.

With this salad I was able to make both the vinaigrette and the goat cheese rounds ahead of time, leaving the goat cheese in the fridge once crusted.  In fact, I think returning the goat cheese to the fridge after handling it made for more successful frying when it came time to put the whole salad together.

Fried Goat Cheese and Strawberry Salad with Orange Rose-Nectar Vinaigrette
Taken from loveandoliveoil, originally adapted from My Gourmet Connection
4 servings

Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 tablespoons rose nectar or 1 1/2 tablespoons honey plus 1/2 teaspoon rose water (I skipped either rose ingredient since these aren’t something I keep on hand)
1-1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Goat Cheese:
10.5-ounce log fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water
3/4 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salad:
1 medium head red-leaf lettuce
1 medium head Boston lettuce
1-1/2 pints fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)

directions
To prepare dressing, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice and zest. Raise the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the juice-shallot mixture to a small bowl and combine with the mustard, rose nectar, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

In a small dish, combine the panko crumbs, ground almonds and salt. Place the flour, egg and panko-almond mixture in three separate shallow dishes.

Slice the goat cheese log into 12 rounds. Coat the goat cheese slices in flour, dip in the beaten egg, then coat with the panko-almond mixture. Press the cheese rounds lightly into the crumbs mixture to make sure that they adhere well and set them aside while you assemble the salads.

Wash and dry the two heads of lettuce and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Toss to combine and divide amongst four salad plates. Arrange the strawberry slices on top of the lettuce and garnish with a few sliced almonds, leaving space in the center for the fried goat cheese rounds. Set the dishes aside.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the cheese rounds in a single layer and fry until light golden-brown on the first side, about 2 minutes. Being very careful not to break the crust, turn the rounds over and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to blot any excess oil.

Arrange three of the rounds in the center of each salad plate. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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