Tag Archives: salad for dinner

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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Berry Beety Salad

Nothing says summer to me as much as blackberries.When I was a kid I would stuff my face with as much as I could find, and wore the scratches and stains with pride. Here in Oregon, it seems they are always growing everywhere, along sides of roads, in fields, in random bunches here and there, in most people’s yards. We are going to have a bumper crop in our backyard this year. I don’t know anyone who actually planted their blackberries, but everyone seems to have some. Although whatever variety of berries in my yard isn’t quite ripe yet (we counted 5 black ones today, but the rest are still green or red), farmer’s market was bursting with them. I picked up some Marion berries (a local variety of blackberry) that tasted just like sunshine.

In my farm box this week there were greens, greens and more greens. I still have some lettuce from last week too, so I’ve committed to eating some sort of lettuce based meal every day this week in hopes of using it all up. Last night I roasted beets (also in my box this week, yay!), made a simple but lovely blackberry vinaigrette and ended up with this beautiful and delicious salad. When salads taste like this it is far from a hardship to eat them every day.

Beets, berries, goat cheese, oh my!

Beets, berries, goat cheese, oh my!

Berry Beety Salad

2-3 cups leaf lettuce
1/2 cup blackberries plus a few for dressing
3-4 beets
1-2 oz. goat cheese
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
Salt & pepper

Heat oven to 400˚. Place beets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a fork goes in easily when you stab them. Let cool. Peel if desired and cut into bite size pieces.

In a small bowl crush a few blackberries with a fork. Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon and salt & pepper. Whisk together to make dressing.

Pile lettuce on a plate. Top with beets and blackberries. Drizzle with dressing and top with goat cheese. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper. Serves 1-2. I ate all this myself, so multiply recipe accordingly.

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Dreaming of Kale

My daughter had a dream. About kale. I’m not even kidding. She dreamed about a kale salad with a lemony dressing, dried cranberries and toasted nuts. She woke up craving kale and asked if we could have it for dinner. How often does that happen? Not often.

Another time she had a dream where she was a piece of celery and she was so sad because no one wanted to eat her. I couldn’t do much about that one. But this…this I can do. What can I say? I make dreams reality. I can also say this is probably the best kale salad I’ve ever made. The lemony vinaigrette is positively drool-worthy.

The other thing she’s been requesting lately is steak. I love steak but I really don’t make it much. It paired nicely with the bright salad and the wonderful, wonderful, warm crunchy/squishy croutons. Mmmm.

Want to go vegetarian? Just skip the steak.

 

Lemony Kale Salad with Polenta Croutons and Flank Steak

Lemony Kale Salad with Polenta Croutons and Flank Steak

Lemony Kale Salad with Polenta Croutons and Seared Steak

For Steak:
1 pound flank steak
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Salt & pepper

For Salad:
2 bunches lacinato kale (dinosaur kale) – remove ribs and slice into thin ribbons, you want about 8-10 cups or so.
Zest and juice from 1 big lemon or 1 1/2 small lemons
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 oz. feta, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced roasted almonds
Salt & pepper

For Polenta Croutons:
1 tube of prepared polenta, cut into cubes
3 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt

In a shallow bowl or ziplock bag, place steak and rub both sides with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Let sit and marinate for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the salad and croutons.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Let it heat up for a minute and then add the polenta cubes. Let them cook, turning the cubes every couple of minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle with sea salt.

To make the salad, in a large bowl whisk together lemon juice and zest, rice vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dijon, shallot and a pinch of salt & pepper to taste. Add kale, cranberries, feta and almonds. Gently toss until all of the kale is lightly coated (I find this easiest to do with my hands).

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add steak. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Thinly slice against the grain.

Serve a mound of salad topped with sliced steak and polenta croutons.

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Grapefruit Sesame Salad

Last night after dinner, my boyfriend came home and the first thing he says to me is “what’s so sticky all over the counter?” Oops. My grapefruit got away from me. I’ll admit to getting getting a little wild while segmenting my grapefruit all fancy like you’d see on Chopped. After that,  the the salad looked so good I just forgot about all the flying drops and dove right in. And why wouldn’t I? This thing is a sweet and savory masterpiece.

Salad season is upon us, as evidenced by the wonderful spring lettuces now available at most farmer’s markets. I picked up a giant head of butter lettuce last week and some of it found its way into this salad. For variety (and because it was there) I also added some baby spinach. You can use whatever kind of greens you like or have lying around. If you are short on time or energy for taking apart messy grapefruit, you can buy segments in a jar in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for one that doesn’t have added sugar.

I don’t remember which magazine I was reading when I found this dressing. It sounds so simple but the combo of grapefruit juice and sesame oil is just wonderful. All it needs is a little salt and pepper to give it a little punch. The goat cheese adds some creaminess and tang and oh my, it’s all so good. I know it sounds weird, but next time you have a pile of greens staring at you, give this one a go. So simple. So yummy.

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

3-4 cups mixed salad greens (I used half spinach and half butter lettuce)
1 pink grapefruit (or grapefruit segments in a jar if you prefer)
2 oz. goat cheese
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed
1 tsp. sesame oil
Salt & pepper

Place greens and chickpeas in a bowl.

Over a small bowl, segment grapefruit, reserving liquid. I do this by cutting the peel off and then using a knife to get the segments out. Squeeze the leftover membranes over the bowl to get the rest of the juice out. You’ll probably have at least 2-3 tablespoons. Add the grapefruit segments to the greens. Add sesame oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to the small bowl of grapefruit juice. Whisk to combine.

Toss the greens and chickpeas with the dressing. Top plates of salad with crumbled goat cheese. This makes enough for 2 people, or one super hungry salad machine.

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I Pickled Some Beets and Made Many Salads

Many beets came my way this month. I’m not complaining. I’m a fan of the humble beet, although I know there are many who don’t agree. To use a number of these all at once, and to spare the beet haters in my household from having to eat them, I decided to pickle some.

I have not really ventured into the canning realm, so for me, a quick-pickle was the perfect solution. This was a really simple preparation and made a small batch (although it’s easy to double or triple as needed). Plus the added benefit – they are ready to eat in just a few days!

These two salads are pretty typical in my house. I like sweet and sour and salty together and for me, a salad is only dinner if it is not boring. These are far from that. You can make either with simple roasted beets (or even raw ones sliced thinly) but I really enjoy the pickled beets for some extra zip. They pair well with the sweet pears and salty feta for a very satisfying and balanced bite. Since these are pretty strong flavors on their own, opt for a simple dressing of oil and vinegar to bring out the flavor of the ingredients.

Pickled Beets
(adapted slightly from Alton Brown’s recipe)

2 pounds beets, scrubbed
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

On a large piece of foil, put beets in the center. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, drizzle with olive oil and wrap up. Bake at 400˚ for 40 minutes until tender. Remove from oven, let cool, peel and dice or slice. Fill mason jars (I filled two with the beets I had).

In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Boil one minute. Pour liquid over beets in jars. Put lids on and put in the fridge. Let them pickle for 3-7 days before eating. They will last about a month in the fridge.

Beet, Pear and Feta Salad

Beet, Pear and Feta Salad

Beet, Pear and Feta Salad

Mixed salad greens
1 fresh pear
1/2 cup pickled or roasted beets
1-2 oz. feta or goat cheese
2 tbsp. walnuts, toasted
Drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

Layer ingredients on a plate, drizzle with oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dig in!

Or change it up ever so slightly for a more hearty dinner version:

Fall salad with mushrooms, beets and pears.

Fall salad with mushrooms, beets and pears.

Fall Salad with Mushrooms, Beets and Pears

Mixed salad greens
1 fresh pear
1/2 cup pickled or roasted beets
1-2 oz. feta or goat cheese
1/2 cup mushrooms (I used shiitake mushrooms but any kind will work)
A few green or black olives
Drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper.

In a small sauté pan, cook the mushrooms in just a tiny bit of olive oil until slightly softened and warm. Layer the other ingredients on a plate. Top with mushrooms. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yum.

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CSA Week 8: Spiralized Cucumber and Beet Salad

Week eight brought many goodies, including corn, zucchini, summer squash, green beans (including a weird flat variety that was a little fuzzy), tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, potatoes, eggplant, and lemon cucumbers.

In addition to this I still have a ton of cucumbers and beets from the previous week. In a stroke of serendipity, as I was pondering this dilemma, I came across this recipe from Skinny Taste. I used it more for inspiration than anything else, but it was a great idea, with a little Greek flair, and it gave me a reason to pull out my seldom-used spiralizer.

My spiralizer. A strange little contraption that is pretty simple. Stick the veggie on the little peg, crank the handle and end up with curly veggie ribbons.

My spiralizer. A strange little contraption that is pretty simple. Stick the veggie on the little peg, crank the handle and end up with curly veggie ribbons.

A spiralizer is a fun little machine that turns veggies into curly little ribbons. If you don’t have one, this recipe works just fine if you just dice the veggies or cut into julienne strips instead. I enjoy using this thing, although looking at Gina’s photos made me think perhaps I should have bought the kind she has instead. Mine is not bad, but it works much better on firmer veggies. My beets made perfect little ribbons, but since my cucumbers were a week old, they were a little soft, so I struggled a bit getting good spirals, but in the end it worked fine.

Spiralized salad, before mixing.

Spiralized salad, before mixing.

Spiralized Cucumber and Beet Salad

2-3 cucumbers
2-3 beets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved
Juice of half a big lemon or a whole small one
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dry or fresh oregano
1/2 cup feta cheese

Trip ends from cucumbers and beets and spiralize, dice or julienne. I peeled the beets but not the cucumbers. Add to salad bowl. Keep in mind that once you mix this all together it will all turn pink because of the beets so for a pretty presentation, you can keep the elements separate in the bowl and then mix right before serving.

Add tomatoes and olives. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over the veggies. Add seasonings and give it all a quick toss. Top with feta if desired.

And now it's all pink! But delicious!

And now it’s all pink! But delicious!

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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.

basilvinaigrettesalad3

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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BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

In one of my many flashes of brilliance, I decided to turn one of my favorite sandwiches into a pasta salad.  And I just have to say, it was incredible!

The greens make for a lighter than usual pasta dish and the bottled dressing make it quick to throw together (and your waistline will thank you for skipping the mayo!).  I used a Champagne Vinaigrette I found at Trader Joe’s that is one of my current favorites, but feel free to use a different brand or even a different vinaigrette if there’s one you love.

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

4-5 strips of bacon
12 ounces rotini pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 big handfuls of mixed salad greens
1/2 cup black olives, halved
1/2 cup feta
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Champagne Vinaigrette dressing
Salt & pepper

Heat water to boiling.  Boil pasta until it is tender.  Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.  Drain well.

Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove from skillet and let drain and cool on paper towels while you assemble the salad.

In a large serving bowl combine tomatoes, greens, olives, green onions and feta.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Add pasta and bacon and toss to combine.  Add salad dressing, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more as needed to lightly dress the pasta.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can't find this one.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can’t find this one.

Taste and add salt & pepper or more dressing if needed.  Toss and serve immediately.

 

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Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

I have been absolutely loving farmer’s market this year!  This week I bought red and golden beets, blueberries, pears and goat cheese.  Since I couldn’t decide what to eat first, I decided to throw it all together into a yummy salad, perfect for a warm summer evening.

My first big bunch of basil was ready to harvest so I whipped up a batch of pesto this week.  It made the perfect vinaigrette to complement a summery salad. Along with the goat cheese and walnuts, it balances the flavors and keeps it all from being too sweet.

Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

*Note: adjust the quantities of the ingredients for your own tastes.  I used one pear and 2-3 beets for each salad.

Beets – red or golden or a mixture of both
Pears, peeled and sliced
Blueberries
Walnuts
Goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400˚.  Scrub beets and place on a roasting pan.  Roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender (this will depend on the size of your beets, check them after 20).  Peel and slice beets.  Layer beets and pears.  Sprinkle blueberries, walnuts and goat cheese over the top of the salad.  Serve with pesto vinaigrette (see below).

Pesto Vinaigrette:

1 tbsp. basil pesto
2 tbsp. minced red onion
2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper

Whisk together all ingredients.

Pesto Vinaigrette.  Drizzle over the top of the salad (or on anything!) or serve on the side.

Pesto Vinaigrette. Drizzle over the top of the salad (or on anything!) or serve on the side.

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