Archive for ‘Salads’

July 11, 2011

Pesto Pasta Salad

(NOTE: since the publishing of this post, it was accepted to Tastespotting, Foodgawker is still pending. I get so frustrated with those sites sometimes, but it sure is satisfaction when they accept my photos – a challenge!)

During the summer the easy no fuss side dishes are a must-have! Nobody wants to turn on the stove or oven and heat up the house in the middle of summer. A foodie included! While a friend and I were roaming the Farmer’s Market this past weekend, she recalled one of the vendors who made a pasta salad with pesto and toasted pine nuts. She said she sometimes that salad was her only reason for going to the Market. However, there was no sign of the pesto and toasted pine nut salad in sight; so we decided to make our own version.

There was a cheese in the salad that after making this version with mozzarella, we realized the salad at the Market probably had Ricotta Salata. So, maybe that would be a good addition to this salad. We’ll try it out next time.

 

1lb pasta (Campenelli used in the photo above, pesto clings best to textured pastas – getting in all the nooks and crannies)

8oz fresh bocconcini mozzarella (fresh mozzarella)

1 cup pesto (homemade or your favorite store bought)

1 cup sliced grape tomatoes

1/2 very finely sliced red onion

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to directions on the box, making sure to season the water generously with salt. (think sea water. While the pasta is cooking is the only opportunity to infuse the pasta with flavor).

While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts, thinly slice the onions and cut up the tomatoes. I like to quarter the tomatoes and the larger tomatoes I will cut the quarters in half.

For the cheese, I pull pieces off the ball of cheese rather than cutting it, that gives the pieces a “rustic” feel and the chucks of cheese wrap around the pasta.

Once the pasta is done cooking, strain it and rinse it immediately with cold water. Add the pesto and stir until all the pasta is coated. Then add the onion, tomatoes and cheese and toss.

Sprinkle the top with toasted pine nuts and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

20110709-IMG_8879

Advertisements
May 30, 2011

Braised Artichokes (a little How-to)

This week grocery shopping, I decided to part with my usual organized self and go without a list. I know, right? Scary.  I am not abandoning my usually weekly menu planning, I am just doing it a little backwards. I decided to go to the store and pick out the things that looked good, were in season or, in some cases, more affordable (let’s admit that has to be considered more and more these days).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to make a new artichoke dish, and lucky for me artichokes are in season and they looked good. Making artichokes usually means bringing a pot of water to a boil, then cooking the artichokes for 45 minutes to an hour.  Not this dish.  Braising artichokes does not require boiling water or cooking for a long period of time.  Braising brings out amazing flavor that puts the artichokes over the top. Butter and mayonnaise, no need! Save those calories and grams of fat but get a punch of flavor.

First, how to prepare an artichoke… (on my blog I have some step-by-step photos and my wonderful friend Tara helped me – thank you!).

Collages

1. Cut about 1/3 off the top of the artichoke.

2. Cut the stem leaving about 1/2 inch or so on the bottom.

3. Peel off the tough outer leaves. Peel the leaf bending it back and the good part at the bottom of the leaf will stay on while the inedible part will come right off.

4. Snip off the tip of the remaining leaves, to remove the thistles.

5. With a pairing knife trim off the outer portions of the stem and the tough/stringy green part left by the leaves you peeled.

Collages1

6. Now turn the artichoke on its top and quarter the artichoke.

7. On the heart is a line where the little hairs start to form. Following that line cut toward the leaves and cut out all the hairs along with the bloom in the center. (that inner part will bloom into a thistle flower if left on the bush).

8. Place the quartered artichokes in a bowl of lemon water to help stop the browning while you cut the rest of your artichokes

To prepare an artichoke whole, stop at Step 5 and steam or boil your artichokes.  Also you could use a spoon to dig out the middle bloom and hairs, then stuff the artichoke with a cheese bread crumb mixture, or a mixture of your favorite herbs and butter.

BRAISED ARTICHOKES

4 artichokes (1 per person)

2 scallions, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper

(add-ins: chopped kalamata olives, herbs de Provence, capers, tomatoes, a mixture of your favorite herbs, thyme, basil, oregano.)

Prepare your artichokes, and quarter them.

In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until translucent.

Add the quartered artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to Medium-low and add the wine and water. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the artichokes are soft and a leaf pulls off easily. I like to brown the artichokes up a bit at this point.

I like to serve this with crusty basil-garlic bread or as a side dish to grilled pork chops or chicken.

IMG_8604-46 -2

April 25, 2011

Caesar Dressing–on a lighter note

IMG_8233-6 -2

You have heard me gush about him before, and I fear I may have a crush, but I love Jamie Oliver and his recipes never disappoint!

This is a recipe that I have been looking to find for a long time. A Caesar dressing that tastes like something you would get from a great restaurant – by that I mean a high class restaurant that clearly makes homemade kick-ass Caesar dressing.

Let me also preface that I usually do not opt for salad dressings or most savory recipes that use yogurt, but because it was Jamie I decided it was worth a try. Boy am I glad I tried!

This recipe has the graininess of the grated parmesan, the saltiness of the anchovies, and the classic garlic flavor that a great Caesar has! All on a lighter note because it’s made with yogurt and no eggs. You will be super impressed how good this recipe.

1/3 cup greek yogurt (lowfat or nonfat)

2 anchovy fillets, mashed

1 garlic clove (I used 2)

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

Salt and pepper

(Note: parmigiano-reggiano is what REAL authentic Italian parmesan is called, everything else is not authentic but still damn good).

Now I realize some of you may have an aversion to anchovies, even if you are well aware that it is in your Caesar dressing, maybe you just have a tough time handling the anchovies. If this is you, you should get over it because you are really missing out on anchovies. I know, I’ve been you before, but I pushed through my fear and jumped and I won’t go back. Anyway, in the event you just can’t do it, you can use 1 Tablespoon of capers and whatever brine you scoop up with the Tablespoon of capers from the jar instead.

Now, I roughly chop the garlic and mash the anchovy, but then I put it all in a blender and let the blender run a few minutes. If you don’t have a blender then finely mince your garlic (or even mash it) and then mash the anchovy (to mash (garlic or anchovy): sprinkle a little salt on it and use the side of your knife and mash it into the cutting board).

If you don’t have a blender: Whisk yogurt, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, and Worcestershire. Then whisk in the olive oil and cheese.

Toss the dressing with romaine lettuce, chicken is a yummy addition, and some homemade croutons. Top with shredded parm and some freshly ground pepper.

IMG_7830-84

January 19, 2011

Apple Goat Cheese Salad

IMG_6427-22

This is one of my favorites – I use it all the time for a dinner side salad.

1/2 apple
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
cucumber
tomato
1/4 cup goat cheese

Clean, dry then chop lettuce. Slice cucumbers into half-moons. Slice tomatoes into strips and apples into matchsticks. Sprinkle goat cheese. When ready to serve, toss the salad and dressing.

Vinaigrette

(I don’t measure the ingredients so these are estimates)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

December 12, 2010

Waldorf Salad

IMG_5607-48

With the holiday season in full force, many of us start to see an increase of the scales! OH NO! To counteract all the season treats I like to eat, I try to make my daily meals on the lighter side. It’s the holiday season after all and I want to enjoy all the goodies that you only get once a year. Most of my meals include fruits and veggies and low fat meats (chicken and pork) and then I get to have fun at parties and family dinners.  Here is a very simple recipe and it helped me use up the rest of the rotisserie chicken I bought to make chicken noodle soup.  Instead of mayonnaise I used 2% plain greek yogurt and I was surprised that I liked it because I don’t usually like the yogurt substitution. (Maybe I will start trying it more often). Enjoy!

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

1/2 apple (I used Fuji for the sweet/tartness with a crispy texture)

1/2 cup red grapes, halved

1 celery, sliced thin

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup slivered almonds (pecans or walnuts work too)

2T blue cheese

1/2 cup 2% plain greek style yogurt (you can use mayonnaise as well)

1T red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)

1tsp kosher salt

  1. Dice the chicken and apples. Slice the grapes in half. Slice the celery and green onion. Toss it all in a bowl with slivered almonds and blue cheese.
  2. Mix together the yogurt, vinegar and salt. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss.
  3. Serve with whole lettuce leaves. Spread chicken mixture over a lettuce leaf, roll up and eat!

IMG_5595-36

July 11, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Salad

My friend Kim made this for me once I think it was from a Rachael Ray cookbook, but I couldn’t remember what all was it in so I made up my own recipe with as much as I could remember was in it (maybe she’ll correct me if I missed anything!). This salad is so simple and one of my favorite side dishes. Very flavorful and addicting…enjoy!

2T. butter
1t garlic powder
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1- 11 oz package frozen corn
1 – 15oz can of black beans, rinsed
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 lime, juiced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1t cumin
S & P
Heat sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Sauté onion and jalapeno in butter, until onion is translucent. Bump the heat up to medium –high heat and add frozen corn and cook 4 minutes, until corn is thawed. Add black beans and sauté for 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth and garlic powder, reduce heat and allow to simmer until the broth is all absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper.

June 16, 2010

Fairy Flower Salad

If you have kids, you know the novelty of the food they eat is probably more important to kids than what they are eating! Thanks to a co-worker (thanks Tarah) I came up with this salad for my daughter and neice…I’m sure eating flowers would be fun for boys too, for those of you with boys let me know if you come up with a name to appeal to the boys.

Most of these ingredients I got at the Farmer’s Market. Including the edible flowers. The strawberries and cucumbers were from the Market as well. I could have purchased greens from the Market, but I was too late and it was all sold out. So the lettuce is organic mixed baby greens from TJs and goat cheese was from TJs too.

Fairy Flower Salad

You could grow your own edible flowers and as long as you are careful not to get chemicals on them.

To make enough for 4 people:
1/2 bag of mixed baby greens (or 3 cups or so of your favorite lettuce)
1/2 cup of edible flowers (I got mine at the Farmer’s Market last weekend)
1/2 cup of diced cucumber
5 or 6 strawberries thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese
Strawberry Vinaigrette

Cut large pieces of lettuce in bite-sized pieces. Wash lettuce and flowers individually and then lay on a paper towel to dry off. Dice cucumbers and slice the strawberries. Place lettuce in a bowl toss with the vinaigrette dressing. Top with flowers and spread the cucumbers and strawberries over the salad. Top with feta cheese (or goat cheese is a good contrast to the sweet dressing).

Isn’t it the prettiest salad ever! What girl wouldn’t eat that!!!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
5 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1/4c olive oil (Grapeseed oil is nice and clean tasting and would work really well)
1T Honey
1/4c balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Place the strawberries in a blender and coarsely chop. Add honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pulse the blender until mixed. Then with the blender running add the oil until the dressing is emulsified. Toss the dressing with the greens then top with the rest of your ingredients. (This dressing was really good with a salad with apples and goat cheese too!)

 

May 12, 2010

Couscous Salad with Chicken

Roasted Chicken and Couscous Salad

Quick Healthy Weeknight dinner. While writing this post I realized I have not posted a roasted chicken recipe! How can that be! One of my favorite dishes and not one post! Unbelievable! So I’ll get on it!

I used a rotisserie chicken from the store for this recipe to make it “quick.”

2 c. cooked couscous
2 scallions
1/4 of a seedless cucumber
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 lemon
1T olive oil
salt and pepper
Roasted Chicken

Cook the couscous according to the directions. Chop the scallions, tomatoes, and slice cucumbers into half moons. Mix the couscous and vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the lemons over the salad, salt and pepper then toss. (Next time I will add some feta cheese!)

Serve with sliced roasted chicken.

April 24, 2010

BLT (and then some) Salad

A Friday night dinner after my daughter’s dance. I love BLTs so I thought it would make a great salad, but I had to add avocado and blue cheese because those go so well with tomatoes and bacon!

Iceberg lettuce (I used red leaf in the photo but iceberg is good BLT lettuce)
4 slices chopped cooked bacon
1/2 cup left over roasted chicken
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2c. chopped tomatoes
pine nuts
homemade croutons
sea salt
1c. Ranch dressing (your favorite or homemade)
1 green onion finely chopped
1/4c. blue cheese

Up close

Mix dressing, green onion and blue cheese.

Arrange lettuce on plate. Top with chicken, tomatoes, avocado, pine nuts, and bacon.

Top with dressing and a little coarse sea salt and croutons.

April 24, 2010

Homemade Croutons

Croutons

When I buy bread for garlic bread I never seem to be able to use it up as fast as it starts getting hard so now I turn that bread into something! Croutons. We can always use croutons for our salads and now I don’t have to waste bread or buy croutons!

The rest of a loaf of bread going stale
olive oil
salt
1t. garlic powder (or use garlic infused olive oil)
I have also used the Johnny’s Garlic Spread seasoning and it came out really good.

Tear or cut the bread into cubes. Let it get dry out over night (or you can skip this step and it will take a little longer to toast the bread).

Drizzle oil over croutons and toss. Add your seasoning or salt and garlic powder and toss again.

Toast the croutons until they brown – 5 minutes or so. turn and toast the other side for another 5 minutes or so. Or until the croutons are to your toastiness!