Tag Archives: main dish salad

Italian Style Marinated Veggie Salad

Sometimes I go crazy at farmer’s market and the veggies start to take over. I went a little nuts this week and I have a ton to use up, but I ate a big green salad last night so tonight, although I wanted some sort of salad, I decided to go a different direction. This salad is all about the veggies, with a little pasta and cheese thrown in for richness and texture. I tossed it all with some fresh greens at the end but in this one, the marinated vegetables are the star. This is a great way to use up lots of vegetables that are threatening to expire.

For maximum flavor, make the vegetables at least an hour in advance (or even the day before) so they can really soak up the marinade before tossing with the other ingredients. I usually make a huge batch of the vegetables so I can have some for the next day. The vegetables will keep for several days, and will improve in flavor the longer they marinate. Toss with the greens and pasta right before serving. Not in the mood for lettuce? It’s just as good without it (and travels better if you are making it for a potluck or picnic).

This is the perfect sunny day meal. What do you cook when it’s too hot to cook?

Marinated veggies. Mmm.

Marinated veggies. Tortellini. Mmm.

Italian Style Marinated Veggie Salad

1 zucchini or globe squash, cut into thin slices
2 cups green beans, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup black olives
2 tbsp. basil pesto (buy your favorite prepared or make your own)
2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed into a paste
A pinch of crushed red pepper
Salad greens
Parmesan cheese (shaved or shredded)
1 package tortellini

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cauliflower. Cook 3 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together pesto, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Add green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, and olives. Toss to coat veggies in the marinade and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour if possible.

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Toss salad greens with marinated vegetables, parmesan cheese and tortellini until all ingredients are combined and coated with dressing. Finish with a bit of sea salt and cracked pepper if desired. Serves 4.

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CSA Week 3: Spiced Steelhead Salad with Herby Ranch

This week’s farm box brought a strange and new gift – kohlrabi! I had never tried this and didn’t have a clue as to what to do with it. A quick Facebook post yielded lots of advice. Since I had two big bulbs of it, no reason not to try it several ways. Raw, it reminds me a lot of jicama. Crisp and crunchy, somewhat radish-like, perfect for salads. I decided to use one bulb raw in salads, pickle a bit of it for rice bowls, and cook the rest with potatoes. So far, I’m a fan!

This salad used a ton of veggies and herbs I had on hand, but feel free to change it up according to your fridge’s contents.

If you don’t have steelhead available, salmon is a great substitute.

Spiced Steelhead with a Big Salad

Spiced Steelhead Salad with Herby Ranch

Spiced Steelhead Salad with Herby Ranch

Fish:
4 Steelhead or salmon fillets
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt & pepper

Salad:
Lettuce
Kohlrabi, peeled and diced
Zucchini, diced
Cherry tomatoes, halved

Dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a mixture of chives, parsley, basil & mint)
Salt & pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of paprika
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Mix dressing ingredients and put in the fridge to chill until everything is ready.

Rub fish with spice mixture. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add fish to the pan, skin side up (if there is skin on it). Cook a few minutes and then flip and cook 3-4 minutes on the other side, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

While the fish is cooking, toss together salad ingredients. Serve fish on top of salad (I removed the skin first since I don’t like to eat it), drizzle with dressing and you are good to go! Refrigerate any leftover dressing, it will keep for about a week.

CSA Box #3. The kohlrabi is that funky bulb thing with the tentacles!

CSA Box #3. The kohlrabi is that funky bulb thing with the tentacles!

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Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Lentils are misunderstood.  They get such a bad rap for being boring, or mushy, or tasteless.  But I love them .  The wonderful thing about lentils is they are so versatile.  Beautiful in soup, but light and small enough to work well in salads as well.  I think part of the problem is that people tend to overcook them.  When boiled to mush, lentils can be underwhelming.  But I cook them just long enough to soften (usually about 25 minutes), leaving them tender but firm.  They have a nice delicate flavor that is enhanced by pretty much anything you combine with it, and they work well with a variety of spices and flavors.  Add to that the health benefits of this high-fiber, high-protein, gluten-free, low cal, zero fat food and in my mind, you’ve got a winner.

You can use any kind of lentils for this salad (I went with the typical greenish brown French lentils).  If you are in a hurry and you are lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe’s, they even sell steamed lentils in their refrigerated section that are delicious and ready to toss into whatever soup, salad or other creation you have in mind.  It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
Olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms (I used half baby bellas and half button mushrooms), cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Salt & pepper
2 cups baby spinach

Bring the water to a boil, add lentils.  Turn down to medium low and cook 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.  Drain and transfer to a salad bowl. Set aside to cool a bit.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.  Add half the mushrooms (don’t crowd the pan).  Allow to cook a couple of minutes without stirring to get some good color on them.  Stir and cook another couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and repeat with the other half of the mushrooms.  Add first batch of mushrooms back in, add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook an additional minute.  Add to lentils.  Add lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt & pepper, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  Add spinach, toss and serve.

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

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Festive Black Bean Salad

Easy, pretty and delicious.  This salad is hearty enough to eat as a main dish – I usually throw it over the top of a pile of greens in that case – or great as a side with pretty much anything.  I especially like it for BBQs and potlucks because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and tastes great at room temperature.  This will also keep in the fridge for several days so I usually double the recipe so I have yummy leftovers.  If you like it spicy, toss in a little finely diced jalapeno for an extra kick.

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

1-2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 orange (or red or yellow) bell pepper, diced
1-2 diced tomato
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Eat!

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

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Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

A fruitful (ha) trip to farmers market resulted in a whole counter full of veggies and me wondering how the heck I was going to eat them all before they went bad.  And more importantly, where the heck to put them all in the meantime.  I got a good start on solving both problems by throwing together this wonderful  main dish salad for dinner.

This time of year I’m always happy to find spring onions at the market.  I never see them at the store for some reason.  But I love them.

Spring onions.  Like scallions on steroids.  You can eat both the green and white parts.

Spring onions. Like scallions on steroids. You can eat both the green and white parts.

If you can’t find spring onions, feel free to sub red onion or scallions instead.  For the potatoes, I found tiny pebble sized potatoes but you can use bigger new potatoes if you can’t find the tiny ones.  Just half or quarter them to make bite sized pieces.

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

6-8 cups fresh spinach leaves, big stems removed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 cups baby potatoes (the smallest ones you can find, cut in half if needed to make bite size)
3 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 spring onions, divided into white and green parts
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tsp. raw sugar
1 tsp. coarse dijon mustard
3-4 tsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

In a small saucepan, cover potatoes in water and bring to a boil.  Boil 8-10 minutes until fork tender but not mushy.  Drain and set aside.

Wash spinach and pat dry, remove any large tough stems.  Put in a big serving bowl.

Yummy fresh spinach from farmer's market.

Yummy fresh spinach from farmer’s market.

In a small bowl whisk together sugar, dijon and vinegar.  Add a pinch of salt & pepper.  In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add white parts of onions and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add cabbage and green parts on onions and sauté another minute.

A quick sauté on the veggies to soften just a bit and bring out the flavor.

A quick sauté on the veggies to soften just a bit and bring out the flavor.

Add vinegar mixture and potatoes to skillet and toss to combine.  Cook and stir gently 30 seconds or so to heat through and let the vinaigrette permeate all the veggies.  Pour over the spinach and add tomatoes.  Toss everything together.  Serve warm.  Makes 4 main dish servings or 6-8 side servings.

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Shredded Pork Tostada “Salad”

Another entry in my “what to do with that giant pork roast” series, these started out as tostadas but I piled so many veggies on top that it ended up being more of a salad in my opinion.  Whatever it was, it was delicious.  Feel free to sub veggies you like for those you don’t.  Instead of salad dressing, we just used a liberal drizzle of salsa over the whole thing.  Wonderful.  And pretty too!

Shredded Pork Tostada "Salad"

Shredded Pork Tostada “Salad”

Shredded Pork Tostada “Salad”

Crunchy tostadas (I used 2 per person)
1-2 cups shredded pork (see below for the basic pork roast recipe)
Cheddar cheese
Mixed salad greens
Tomatoes, diced
Avocado, sliced or diced
Black olives, sliced
Salsa

If your pork roast is not hot, heat it up in the microwave or toss in a skillet for a few minutes to heat.  Since I typically use leftovers to make these that is what I did.

Top with cheese and pile on the other toppings to suit your tastes.  Drizzle salsa over the whole thing and eat!

Basic Pork Roast

Pork Butt or Shoulder Roast
1 onion, sliced or diced
2 cloves garlic
1 8 oz. can diced green chiles
Salt & pepper

Rinse pork roast and place fat side up in a dutch oven.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper, top with onion, chopped garlic and green chiles.  Put a lid on and roast at 350˚ for 3-4 hours, until tender and falling apart.  Pull apart with two forks to shred.

Alternatively you can do this in the crock pot (mine was too big this time, so I did it in the oven instead).  When I cook it in the crock pot, I turn it on high for the first hour, then down to low to cook the rest of the day.

Ready to pop into the oven or crock pot.

Ready to pop into the oven or crock pot.

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Blackened Chicken Salad

I’ve been doing a fair amount of yoga lately.  Which is a wonderful thing.  It feels great and it’s good for me.  My mind and body and spirit are all thanking me.  But that also means I’m spending a lot of time looking in large mirrors at myself in yoga clothes.  And that leads me to this post, which is about eating MORE SALAD!

But this is not just any salad.  If you are going to eat salad, it should be a magnificent salad.  This qualifies.  The chicken has so much flavor it’s practically jumping off the plate and the homemade dressing is simply divine.  Full of flavor (and easier on the waistline than the stuff out of a bottle) and has a cooling effect on the heat of the spices on the chicken.  All together, it just works beautifully.  You won’t even notice you’re eating something healthy.

Blackened Chicken Salad.  Incredible!

Blackened Chicken Salad. Incredible!

Blackened Chicken Salad
(from canyoustayfordinner.com)

2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pound chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2″ cutlets
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
8 cups mixed salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and whatever else you like)

Buttermilk Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you can sub light sour cream in a pinch)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. fresh chives
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. dill
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
3/4 – 1 cup low fat buttermilk

Combine the first 6 ingredients (seasonings through salt) in a small bowl.  Rub all over chicken cutlets on both sides.

Spice mix to "blacken" the chicken.  I would rub this on just about anything.

Spice mix to “blacken” the chicken. I would rub this on just about anything.

Add 2 tsp. olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the cutlets to the pan.  Cook cutlets for 5 minutes on each side.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the other 2 tsp. olive oil and the other half of the cutlets.

If this looks freaking fantastic, just wait until you taste it!

If this looks freaking fantastic, just wait until you taste it!

While cutlets are cooking, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, garlic powder, chives, parsley, dill, salt & pepper.  Whisk in vinegar, then 3/4 cup buttermilk, add a bit more buttermilk until it’s the consistency you like. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Lighter buttermilk ranch dressing.  So much better than the stuff in a bottle.

Lighter buttermilk ranch dressing. So much better than the stuff in a bottle.  And isn’t that the cutest little pig whisk you’ve ever seen?

Combine salad ingredients and divide among 4 plates.  Slice chicken cutlets and add to the top of each salad.  Drizzle with dressing and serve more on the side.

Where's my fork?

Where’s my fork?

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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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Summery Salad

I know, I know.  It’s fall and here I am posting something about a summery salad.  So sue me.  I’m holding on to the last of summer with all I’ve got and that means eating all the summer food I can find at farmer’s market before it is all gone.  So hold your horses…posts about apples and beets and potatoes will all be coming soon.  For now, let’s all close our eyes and taste the bittersweet end of summer.

Strawberry Arugula Salad

Strawberry & Arugula Salad
(adapted from Food Network Magazine)

8-10 cups baby arugula
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup snap peas
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a large bowl toss together arugula, strawberries, snap peas and feta.  In a small bowl, whisk together dijon, sugar, lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt & pepper until sugar is dissolved.  Toss a bit of the dressing with the salad, and serve the rest on the side.

I loved this salad, but didn’t really think it was hearty enough for a dinner on its own unless you are a pretty light eater.  I suggest cooking up a protein of your choice to serve with it.  We went with Italian marinated chicken breasts and it was a tasty partnership.

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Italian Chicken Breast

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Thai Steak Salad

I love Thai food with its complex flavors and fresh ingredients.  A little sweet, a little tangy, a bit of salty, and a zip of heat.  But sometimes I only think about curries and noodles and forget about Thai salads.  This salad is as tasty as it is pretty and comes together in a snap.

Thai Steak Salad

Thai Steak Salad
(from Cooking Light)

1 flank steak (or substitute sirloin or flatiron steak if not available)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 1/4 cups fresh bean sprouts
3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Heat large grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle steak with salt & pepper.  Add steak to pan and cook 6 minutes on each side or to desired doneness.  Remove steak from pan and let stand 5 minutes.  Cut across grain into thin slices.

Combine lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic and Sriracha in a small bowl.  Stir well with whisk.  In a large bowl combine cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and herbs.  Add two tablespoons sauce to beef and toss.  Add remaining sauce to the cabbage mixture and toss well.  Toss steak and cabbage and eat!  Serves 4.

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