Tag Archives: homemade salad dressing

Fruity Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Roasted Polenta

It’s that time of year again when salad becomes an every other night menu item in my house. This is partially due to the no air conditioning equals minimal cooking policy. And partly because I’m trying to fit into my summer clothes from last year.

In any case, salad doesn’t have to be boring. This one has an easy, bright vinaigrette, fresh fruit and yummy roasted polenta rounds to go with it.

The first time I bought polenta in a tube I was leery to say the least. It’s weird. It doesn’t look appetizing. And good food usually doesn’t come in a tube of any kind. BUT. Polenta is one of those weird foods that you cook and then as it cools it will form whatever shape you happen to put it in. The tubes of polenta generally are minimally processed with no extra ingredients. It’s such a wonderful convenience, especially if you are wanting to fry it up like this. Simply take it out of the tube, slice it up and bake it (or you can pan fry it instead). It’s delicious and soooo easy.

To easily get the seeds out of your pomegranate, score around the center (don’t cut all the way through), pull the two halves apart, turn one half over in your palm and beat on it with a wooden spoon. In about 10-15 seconds, you will have a bowl full of pomegranate seeds. Try not to hit your hand with the spoon. For you visual types, check out this video if you don’t believe me or need to see it before attempting. If you like pomegranates, this will change your life. Seriously.

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Salad with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette and Roasted Polenta

6-8 cups salad greens (I used 1/2 leaf lettuce and 1/2 spinach)
1-2 cups sliced purple cabbage
2 ripe pears, seeded & sliced
1/2 pomegranate
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup walnuts (I lightly toast mine in a skillet but it’s optional)

For the dressing:
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons or chopped
Salt & pepper

1 tube prepared polenta

Preheat oven to 400˚. Slice polenta in rounds about 1/4 inch thick and spread out on a cookie sheet. Very lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake 20-30 minutes until a lightly browned and a bit crispy on the edges. They will still be tender and chewy in the middle.

Polenta "croutons", disks, rounds...whatever you call them, they are crispy, chewy, wonderful good!

Polenta “croutons”, disks, rounds…whatever you call them, they are crispy, chewy, wonderful good!

In a large salad bowl, combine greens, cabbage, pears and pomegranate.

In a small bowl whisk together dijon, vinegar, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk, add olive oil very slowly, just a tiny drizzle. Stir in basil, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Whisk, whisk, whisk to get a dressing that stays together!

Whisk, whisk, whisk!

Add feta, walnuts and dressing to salad bowl and toss gently to combine. Serve with polenta rounds.

If you're going to eat salad, you should definitely eat this one!

If you’re going to eat salad, why not eat this one?

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Caesar Salad

I went to a restaurant once and thought I’d eat light and order a salad.  What came was a towering sculpture of a salad, well over a foot tall, slathered in dressing and who knows what else.  It was tasty but I just remember thinking that nobody needs to eat that much salad.  I would have been eating lighter if I had ordered the burger and fries.

This is the first time I’ve made homemade Caesar dressing and it was wonderful.  Don’t be afraid of the anchovies.  They add a depth of flavor that is surprising without tasting fishy at all.  In fact, if you didn’t know they were in there you probably wouldn’t guess.  I ate a double portion of this, making me think of the “tower of salad”.  The dressing was just so good I didn’t want to stop.  You can eat this as a main dish (I did) or add in a grilled chicken breast or salmon fillet for a more hearty meal.

Homemade Caesar Salad

Homemade Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad
(from Stirring The Pot, by Tyler Florence)

4 anchovy fillets
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Juice from 2 lemons
2 tbsp. water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed with a pinch of salt and a little olive oil
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 bunch fresh hydroponic watercress
1/4 French baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

In a blender combine the anchovies, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and water and process for 30 seconds, until smooth.  With the blender running, slowly pour in the oil.  Stir in the parmesan, a pinch of salt and some pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the salad, smear the garlic paste over the inside of a large salad bowl.  Tear the lettuce into the bowl, add watercress and toss together.   Add enough dressing to coat the salad as desired.  Toss well and garnish with additional cheese and baguette croutons.  Serves 4.

 

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Southwestern Shrimp Salad & Creamy Cilantro-Tomatillo Dressing

We all should eat more salad.  Tons of veggies, nutrients, the freshness, the crunch…yadda, yadda, yadda.  Boo.  Hiss.  Salad is diet food.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like salad.  It’s fine.  It’s even really good sometimes.  But when you get right down to what I like MOST about salad, it’s that it is a conveyance for wonderful salad dressing.  Which is not diet food. Which makes me like it more.

This salad dressing is one of the best I’ve ever had; certainly one of the best I’ve ever made.  I would swim in it, wash my hair in it, eat it with a spoon.  If I had any left, I would put it on just about anything.  I loved it so much I ate three bowls of salad just so I could have more dressing.  Now that’s love.

To give credit where credit is due, the original recipe for this salad and dressing came from another web site I came across on Pinterest, skinnytaste.com.  I did take some liberties with the salad recipe, changing it up a bit for our tastes, adding and subtracting items and adding some cooked elements to make it more dinner-like.  The shrimp is warm, flavorful, but not spicy.  The dressing I left alone for the most part, since it’s already perfect!

Southwestern Shrimp Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Tomatillo Dressing

Southwestern Shrimp Salad

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup frozen corn (or fresh corn kernels)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
Juice of 1/2 lime
6 cups romaine lettuce
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 english cucumber, diced
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, diced

Start building the salad in a large serving bowl, layering romaine lettuce, beans, cucumber, and tomatoes.  Combine raw shrimp with chili powder & salt in a small bowl.  Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat.  Add chopped onion and corn to skillet.  Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until onion is soft.  Add shrimp.  Saute until shrimp is done.  Squeeze lime over the top of the shrimp.  Pour over the top of the salad.  Top with avocado and chopped cilantro.  Serve with Creamy Cilantro-Tomatillo Dressing (recipe follows).  I drizzed a little over the top of the serving bowl and then let everyone apply more as they saw fit.

Southwestern Shrimp Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Tomatillo Dressing on the Side

Creamy Cilantro-Tomatill0 Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tomatillo
1 clove garlic
1 scallion
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp. dry parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Apply generously to Southwestern Shrimp Salad or anything else that strikes your fancy.

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