Tag Archives: Salad

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.


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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Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

I’ve been eating this salad all summer.  It’s pretty, refreshing and really, really tasty!  Especially nice for large groups and potlucks, this recipe is easy to double, triple or more.  Everything can be made ahead; simply wait until serving time to toss with the dressing for an easy, crowd-pleasing dish.  And if you don’t have a crowd, no problem!  More for you.


Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Strawberry  Poppy Seed Salad

1 head romaine lettuce
1 head red leaf lettuce (or baby spinach)
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. raw sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

In a small bowl mix onion, mayo, vinegar, sugar and milk.  Mix well and set aside.  You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate if you’d like. In a large bowl toss together lettuces and strawberries.  Toss with dressing right before serving.

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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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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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Kaleidoscope Salad

Every once in a while you hear someone say something is “just too pretty to eat.”  Are you kidding me?  I love eating pretty food.  The prettier the better.  But I have little patience for fancy food styling.  When you use food that is pretty to begin with though, there isn’t much need for that.  The colors in this salad reminded me of a kaleidoscope, bright and beautiful, turning round and round.  The fact that eating a variety of colors is a healthy thing to do and that it all tastes amazing together…well that’s just a bonus.

Kaleidoscope Salad. So pretty!

Kaleidoscope Salad

Salad (per serving):
3-4 small fresh beets
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 cup romaine lettuce, torn or chopped
1/2 cup fresh or canned mandarin oranges (drained if you are using canned)
2 tbsp. goat cheese

Dill Vinaigrette:
5 tbsp. vinegar (I used a combo of apple cider and red wine vinegar)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. minced shallots

Roast beets in the oven at 400˚ for about 30 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.  Take out and let cool.  Peel and slice.  Meanwhile, mix all vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl.  Toss about half the dressing with sliced carrots and beets.  Build your salad starting with a bed of romaine.  Add carrots and beets, surround with oranges and dot with goat cheese.  Drizzle extra dressing over the top if desired.  If you have dressing left over after that, it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.  Put it on eggs, salad, veggies or fish!

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Greek Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

One of the challenges when you go crazy at farmer’s market is using all the stuff up that you bought.  This week I not only went nuts at farmer’s market, but also at Trader Joe’s (they had a sale, who could resist?).  I came home with all my goodies, sat down and made a list of all the stuff I picked up, and then made a somewhat creative menu for the week to use it all up (beet pasta, anyone?).  So, at least one main dish salad was definitely in order.  Best of all this recipe was a good excuse to make roasted chickpeas again, and use them in place of croutons.

Greek Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Greek Salad

4-6 cups mixed greens
Kalamata olives
Cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese
Mild banana pepper rings
Roasted chickpeas (I used oregano and garlic powder for the seasonings for these)

I don’t measure anything when I make salad.  If you like tomatoes, use lots of tomatoes, and so on.  Combine all ingredients.  Toss with Herbed Vinaigrette (see below).

Herbed Vinaigrette

1/4 cup cider vinegar (or apple jalapeno vinegar!)
1/4 cup  extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tsp. dijon
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients, whisk well or shake up in a jar.  Toss with salad.

Greek Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette & Roasted Chickpeas

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Shrimp & Roasted Asparagus Salad with Apple Cumin Vinaigrette

This Saturday was the grand opening of the summer farmer’s market in the mighty metropolis of Oregon City, Oregon.  My mom and I met there to explore, taste and buy goodies and I left with my shopping bag stuffed full.  Check out this haul!

What to eat first? I bought fresh asparagus, spring onions, broccoli raab, 6 kinds of lettuce to plant, apple jalapeno vinegar, pickled green beans, homemade frankfurters, two kinds of goat cheese, and fresh baby shrimp!

For my first dinner with my tasty bounty, I put together a big salad, using the shrimp and asparagus (plus some other tidbits I had on hand already), and made a wonderful vinaigrette with my apple jalapeno vinegar.  I got the recipe with my purchase and can I just say…yum!  You could easily substitute apple cider vinegar if you’d like.

Shrimp and Roasted Asparagus Salad with Apple-Cumin Vinaigrette

Shrimp & Roasted Asparagus Salad

Baby Spinach (about 1 cup per serving)
Salad shrimp (1/2-3/4 cup per serving)
Tomato wedges
Hard-boiled eggs
Apple-cumin vinaigrette (see below for recipe)

Preheat oven to 400˚.  Spread out asparagus on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Roast for 8-10 minutes until tender.  Build your salad starting with a bed of spinach.  Add shrimp, asparagus, tomato, egg and croutons.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and dive in.

Apple-Cumin Vinaigrette

Apple-Cumin Vinaigrette
(from Blossom Vinegars)

1/3 cup apple jalapeno vinegar (you can substitute apple cider vinegar)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnut oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of dried herbes de provence
Salt & pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Using a wire whisk, combine ingredients until they are well blended and begin to emulsify.  Use at once.  Leftovers will keep in the fridge for several weeks, but it probably won’t last that long!

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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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