Weekly Winner:  Pure Invigoration … and drop dead gorgeous!

Sometimes you just need a break.  As good as all the summer grilled meats, potato salads, hot dogs and ice cream treats are (and I don’t regret one of them) you need to cut through all that richness occasionally and just lighten up.  And when the salad is as beautiful as this one and makes you feel incredibly good both while eating it and afterwards, you’ve got yourself one heck of a Weekly Winner.

Rice Noodle Salad with Avocado, Mango, and Chile is that dish. It’s the one I’m going to start craving when I’ve overdone it a bit. It’s amazingly refreshing and the chile gives just the perfect kick. The recipe, which comes from Fine Cooking is so easy that literally, if you can boil water, you can make it.  So no excuses….make this dish!

Rice Noodle Salad with Avocado, Mango, and Chile

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup mirin

4 tsp Asian toasted sesame oil

2 tsp minced fresh Thai bird chile or similar

8 oz rice noodles (not vermicelli)

2 firm-ripe Hass avocados, diced

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil; more for garnish

1/3 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, mirin, sesame oil, chile and 1 tsp salt
  • Prepare the noodles according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water.
  • In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocados, mango, and basil with enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly.  In a large bowl, toss the noodles with enough of the remaining vinaigrette to moisten well.
  • Serve the noodles topped with the avocado mixture, peanuts, and basil.  Pass the lime wedges and any remaining vinaigrette at the table.
Advertisements

Weekly Winner:  Banishing the Blahs with Bountiful Buddha Bowl

Let’s face it, grain bowls can get a bit monotonous — even downright boring.  More often than not they have some sort of Asian-based dressing and your standard-issue white or brown rice or perhaps quinoa but nothing new or exciting.

That is until I discovered the Green Goddess Buddha Bowl from Epicurious.  Having always loved Green Goddess salad dressing (even the bottled, supermarket variety) this was just the ticket to breakthrough my salad/grain bowl blahs.

This bowl uses farro as a base and an herby, garlicky dressing. Everything in this bowl seems vital to the overall yumminess and with the exception of the egg and the farro, everything in this bowl is some shade of verdant green so you know you’re eating good stuff.  I found myself getting increasingly interested in the dish the more I ate of it rather than tiring of it quickly as I do with a lot of salads.  It is also easily adaptable to your preferred veggies and herbs, however I find it rather perfect just the way it is.

Green Goddess Buddha Bowl

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound broccoli florets (about 10 cups)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

4 large eggs

8 ounces sugar snap peas

1 cup whole-milk yogurt

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, and/or tarragon

4 cups cooked farro

2 mini seedless cucumbers, halved, sliced

1/2 cup baby greens

2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, sliced

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss broccoli with 2 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until charred and tender, 15–20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add eggs, cover, and cook 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water (keep cooking water boiling) and let cool. Peel eggs.
  3. Add sugar snap peas to boiling water and cook until bright green and just slightly tender, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with ice water.
  4. Purée yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, 1 cup herbs, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Toss grains, 1/2 cup dressing, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Divide among serving bowls. Wipe out large bowl, then toss broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers, baby greens, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in bowl. Divide among serving bowls. Top with avocado slices, pumpkin seeds, and remaining 2 Tbsp. herbs. Slice eggs in half and add to bowls. Serve remaining dressing alongside for drizzling.

Weekly Winner – Back in Balance…with bread!

My gluttonous moment has passed and I have put away all my gooey cheese, pasta, and pork products (temporarily, of course –everything in balance).  I am back to embracing salads and my favorite type of salad is one that includes bread.  I don’t care if its croutons or a roll on the side — I’m in.  My all-time favorite, however, is a panzanella salad.  What is better than crunchy bread brought back to life with a little dressing?  OK, yes, bacon… but we’re being virtuous this week, so work with me!!

There were a couple of things that caught my interest with this recipe for Chickpea Panzanella which I found in Cooking Light magazine.  First of course, was the chickpeas.  I adore chickpeas.  The other was the fact that this salad had artichoke hearts.  I cannot say I love artichoke hearts.  I didn’t think I hated them either.  Truth be told, with the exception of spinach artichoke dip, I just haven’t had much exposure to them.  I thought this would be an excellent time to try them out.  Everything else in this salad I know I adored so perhaps this would be the vehicle to win me over.  The salad was excellent.  The artichoke hearts?  Meh.  I can honestly say I would like the salad more without them.  Maybe next time I’ll swap them out for cucumbers or roasted peppers.  My husband can have his dislike for watercress, I apparently dislike artichoke hearts.

Chickpea Panzanella

Serves 5 – (seriously, that’s what they say!)

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) ciabatta loaf

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 (8.5-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove and discard crust from ciabatta; cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until toasted and golden.

Combine toasted bread, tomatoes, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, feta, onion, and basil in a large bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl, combine oil, vinegar, oregano, pepper, and salt. Stir with a whisk. Pour over salad; toss to combine. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

Weekly Winner:  This Salad Has Got It Going On!

Let’s face it, salads can be boring…mundane… expected.  It’s the go-to dish when you want to feel good about what you’re eating. But so often, to make them palatable you need to fill them with things that perhaps, are not so good for you. Creamy dressings, crunchy fried croutons, gooey cheeses, bacon!!! Seriously, when you get done with one of those salads, you just might as well have had a sandwich.

This is not one of those salads.  Toasted Couscous & Chard Salad is everything a salad should be.  First of all, its gorgeous. Nobody wants to eat an ugly salad.  In addition, it’s chock-full of nutritious ingredients, it has a multitude of textures going on, loads of unexpected flavors, and best of all – not an unhealthy ingredient in the entire bowl. It also just so happens to includes my most-recent total obsession:  Pomegranate Molasses. I honestly don’t know how I’ve lived so long without this stuff.  I also don’t know why I’ve gone so long without making this salad.  It is a true keeper.  Try it and see if you don’t agree. The recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine and the only change I’ve made was with the beets.  I did not have raw golden beets so I used cooked red beets and simply diced them.

Toasted Couscous & Chard Salad

Serves 8 [in actuality, more like 4 to 6 — no one is only going to have a cup of this salad!]

Ingredients:

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes)

6 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup Israeli couscous

1 cup grated uncooked golden beets [or 1 cup small diced cooked red beets]

1 cup lightly packed Italian parsley

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

1/4 cup mint leaves

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

8 oz rainbow chard, stemmed and thinly sliced

Procedure:

  1. In a small saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover; keep warm
  2. Meanwhile, in a very large nonstick skillet melt butter with Aleppo pepper, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper over medium-high heat. Add green onions; cook 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add couscous; cook 5 minutes until toasted.  Slowly stir in chicken broth.  Cook until all liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente.  Stir in beets; heat through.
  3. Remove skillet from heat.  Add parsley, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, mint, vinegar and molasses; toss to combine.  Toss with chard and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Weekly Winner:  An Odd (but tasty) Autumnal Salad

Things have been crazy around here with travel and work so not a lot of cooking “just for us” has happened.  However one of the highlights of my solo meals was this salad.  I’ve had the recipe from Cooking Light for quite a while and have pulled it out several times to make, but just never got around to it.  Until a few weeks ago.  Finally, it was time to try Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad.

There really is nothing to this salad — it has very few ingredients. Most of them are in the tasty nut butter-based dressing (they call for almond butter but I had cashew butter on hand). But the few parts come together for a wonderful, season-appropriate lunch salad.  I like that the sweet potatoes are served warm which makes it perfect for a cool day and helps to wilt the arugula a bit as well.

Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

4 small (4-oz.) sweet potatoes

1/4 cup creamy natural almond butter

3 1/2 tablespoons warm water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained

5 ounces baby arugula

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Procedure:

1.  Prick potatoes all over with a fork; place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave at HIGH just until tender, about 5 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.

2.  Whisk together almond butter, water, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside.

3.  Brush potato slices on 1 side with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook potato slices, oil side down, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

4.  Combine chickpeas, arugula, salt, pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Divide chickpea mixture among 4 plates; top with sweet potato slices. Drizzle with almond butter sauce.

Weekly Winner:  A Perfect Power-Packed Punch of Lunch

We all have them.  Those derailing weekends.  Weekends where you totally planned on staying on track – eating healthy and exercising.  Getting outdoors, breathing fresh air, and revitalizing yourself for the week ahead.  Then, well…there are street fairs, baseball games, barbecues, air conditioning to relax in , and chilled wine and beer in the fridge.  Monday comes along and it is time to redeem yourself.  This is the salad to do that with.  Basically, if it’s healthy for you, it’s in this salad.  But more importantly– it is delicious. This does not seem like a punishment for your over-indulging, it actually seems like a reward for surviving it all! Good for you! You made it!  Now let’s get your act back together!

I have to admit I wasn’t sure how blueberries and tomatoes would work together but with everything else going on it this salad (poppy seeds, chickpeas, avocado, sunflower seeds, etc…) it just works.  It also makes every bite a bit different.

No surprise the recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.  The article was focusing on salads you can take to work with you but since I work in the kitchen — packability isn’t a problem.  I just needed to transport it to the table. Therefore I didn’t bother layering, I just mixed it all together.  However I did pack up a bunch of this salad for a client who will take it to work.  And no doubt will love every bite!

Packable Power Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 teaspoon minced shallots

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas

1 cup cooked quinoa

4 cups packed fresh baby spinach

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup chopped heirloom tomato

2 tablespoons roasted, salted sunflower seeds

3/4 cup thinly sliced ripe peeled avocado

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Procedure:

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small jar. Cover with lid; shake well.

2. Combine chickpeas, quinoa, and 2 tablespoons dressing; toss well.

3. Arrange 1 cup spinach in each of 4 quart-size containers. Top each serving with 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup tomato, 1 1/2 teaspoons sunflower seeds, one-fourth of avocado slices, 1/2 ounce goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons mint, and 1/2 cup quinoa mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing.

Weekly Winner:  What’s better than a refreshing cool salad on a summer day? A salad with pork!

Seriously, is there anything in the culinary world that cannot be improved with the addition of some pork product?  If there is, I have not found it yet.  OK, wine. Maybe wine.  But other than that, when in doubt — add some pork! Which is just what happened for lunch this week.  Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad is a great change-up from one of my all-time favorite go-to summer salads Best-Ever Chinese Chicken Salad.

I believe I got this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.  It is super easy but gives you the satisfaction of feeling like you actually cooked since you do have to sauté the pork and peppers. The only other change I made was to use pre-shredded coleslaw mix in place of the shredded napa cabbage.

Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup low-sugar orange marmalade

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

Nonstick cooking spray

12 ounces boneless pork loin chops, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium red or yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin bite-size strips

6 cups napa cabbage, shredded

1 cup chopped cucumber

4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Procedure:

  • For dressing, in a small bowl stir together orange marmalade, soy sauce, vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and garlic. Set aside.
  • Lightly coat an unheated wok or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add pork and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add sweet pepper to the pan and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and sweet pepper is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add one-fourth of the dressing to pan; stir until well coated. Remove pan from heat.
  • In a large bowl coat cabbage with remaining dressing. On a serving platter layer cabbage, pork mixture, and cucumber. Sprinkle with green onions and almonds. Serve immediately

Previous Older Entries