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While I’m a huge mayonnaise fan, I know not everyone is. When I stumbled across this potato salad I first thought, “Yum!” then that this could be quite the crowd pleaser. Not everyone loves classic mayo-filled salads quite as much as I do. This version is so fresh and bright! And the dressing provides just the right amount of tanginess, balancing the creamy mozzarella, and slightly sweet tomatoes. We were a little short on basil leaves, so I threw in a bit of fresh parsley and oregano too. Just about any fresh herb combination would be great here.

Tomato and Mozzarella Potato Salad with Lemon Buttermilk Dressing

Tomato & Mozzarella Potato Salad with Lemon-Buttermilk Dressing
via the kitchn

3 pounds petite red or Yellow Yukon potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey, warmed
8 ounces tiny mozzarella balls
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ounces basil, roughly chopped

Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it generously with at least 1 tablespoon salt. When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are very tender but not yet falling apart. Drain cooked potatoes and return them to the pot.
While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour this dressing over the warm potatoes and toss to coat. Toss with the mozzarella balls, halved cherry tomatoes, and basil. Season generously with salt and fresh pepper (the salad will need more salt than you expect). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature.

When I see pesto listed in the ingredients list, I know it’s going to be an immediate dinner consideration. I love pesto – and parsley pesto? Amazing! I think parsley is one of the most underrated herbs. I love to put it in just about everything. I had a pulled pork sandwich from Pike Street Fish Fry this past week that had some sort of parsley sauce on it – the pork was amazing, but the pesto was what really made the sandwich. And here, the bibb lettuce (love!), asparaus (love!) and perfectly grilled chicken are the perfect accompaniment.

Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad with Parsley Pesto

Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad with Parsley Pesto
via food and wine

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded
1/3 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons water
Kosher Salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 heads Bibb lettuce (about 1 1/2 pounds in all), torn into bite size pieces

Light the grill or heat the broiler. Coat the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill or broil the chicken for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until just done, about 5 minutes more. When the chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-size pieces.
Toss the asparagus spears with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill or broil the asparagus, turning occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the width of the spears. Cut the spears into 2-inch lengths.
In a blender, combine the garlic, water, parsley, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Puree until smooth, scraping down the side of the blender with a spatula as necessary.
In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, toss the lettuce, chicken, and asparagus with half the vinaigrette. Put the salad on plates. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salads.

I love having a grill – and a husband that cooks for me when I work late! I came home to this beauty a few nights back and couldn’t have been more pleased. Fresh, bright flavor, crisp delicious ingredients with just enough bite, and perfectly grilled chicken. Paired with a Ginger flavored beer? The perfect meal to wind down with after a long day.

Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad

Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad
via menu musings

Marinade and dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (white and green parts)

Salad
1 lb Napa cabbage, very thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
3 green onions, thinly sliced and cut on the diagonal
2/3 cup freshly cut cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, dry toasted
1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted

Whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, canola oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and salt to make the marinade. Put the two chicken breasts in a gallon sized zip-top bag and add 3 Tbsp of the marinade. Squeeze the air out of the bag so that the marinade comes into contact with the meat. With a meat pounder (or heavy pan, or empty bottle), pound the breasts to a uniform thickness. This will allow them to cook more evenly and also help tenderize the meat. Allow the flattened chicken breasts to marinade 30 minutes. To the remaining marinade, add in the vinegar and green onions. Now we have the dressing.
Grill the chicken. Cook them about 4 minutes per side or until there is no signs of pink and juices run clear when pierced with a small, sharp knife. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow them to rest 15 minutes. Don’t cut them right away, all the juices will run out leaving you with dry meat! After the 15 minutes, you will cut them crosswise into 1/4″ inch thick slices.
In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro, half of the sesame seeds, and half of the almonds. Add the chicken and mix together. Add just enough of the dressing to coat the salad lightly and toss together. Distribute salad to 4 – 6 plates. Re-whisk the dressing and drizzle a little over each salad. Garnish with the remaining almonds and sesame seeds on each salad.

image via my iphone

As the nights get more summery, I feel like turning on the stove or oven less and less. This is a nice twist on a chopped salad that could be changed up a number of ways with different ingredients… although I think this mix was just perfect. Could be a nice precursor to a simple pasta dish too. I’m thinking Italian themed dinner parties are ahead!

italian chopped salad

View the full recipe here via The Cozy Apron. 

How could I forget?! My sister made this amazing salad for my birthday BBQ. Citrusy and crunchy – it was a great departure from a typical green salad. And the next morning, I loved it still! Hooray for leftovers! (Sorry sister, I ate the last 2 servings myself!) Not only was this salad the perfect addition to our BBQ classics, I can imagine as a great option for brunch too.

Parmesan Celery Salad
via 101 cookbooks

8 large celery stalks, stripped of strings (update: according to sister, stripping is optional)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, heated
3 tablespoons currants (or golden raisins)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, deeply toasted
sea salt
freshly chopped herbs (or herb flowers), or reserved celery leaves

Slice the celery stalks quite thinly – 1/8-inch or so. Then, in a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Set aside. In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive-Parmesan mixture. When well combined, add the celery, currants, and most of the almonds. Toss once more. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with herb flowers and/or celery leaves.

Ratatouille has been a favorite of mine for a while now. It’s one of of my favorite summer meals – all those bright vegetables in a fresh, filling dish. This salad turned out to be a great twist on a classic, and the balsamic vinegar added just the right amount of bite. I actually added an extra tablespoon more than the original recipe called for, I love it a little extra tang. Another great salad for my list of things to bring to a dinner party!

Ratatouille Barley Salad
via sprouted kitchen

1 cup pearled barley
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
8 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 eggplant, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
about 6 zucchini, 1/2” coins
2 cups baby tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup finely chopped basil
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
grated parmesan, as desired
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed

Rinse the barley. Put it in a pot with about 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil then down to a simmer, add a few pinches of salt and cook for about 25-30 minutes until tender. Drain any excess water and transfer the grains to a big mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of salt while the grains are still hot, and stir. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, stir to coat. Set aside.
Heat a hearty drizzle of olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and a generous sprinkle of ground pepper and saute until well charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the barley bowl. Rub ground pepper and salt on all sides of the eggplant. Sear the eggplant in the pan, with a bit of olive oil. Let the eggplant cool slightly and add it to the barley bowl. Add the halved tomatoes, basil, parsley and toss everything to mix. Taste for salt (remember you’re adding parm so go easy) and pepper and maybe a bit more vinegar if you prefer.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Generously sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and another pinch of fresh herbs and fresh pepper. Serve at room temperature.

When it starts getting hot out, I’m not up for cooking often. And lately I’ve been making summer salads more often than not. My pantry is always stuffed with grains, and I’m always looking for a new way to serve up my seeming never-ending supply of quinoa.

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad
adapted from the diva dish

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
15 oz can garbanzo beans (drained & rinsed)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, diced
2 cups chopped spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup sweet onion
2 small cloves garlic

For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash of salt and pepper

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add the quinoa. Bring back to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid. Remove from heat and let stand for 1-15 minutes. In a food processor, add your spinach and cilantro. Process the greens until they are finely diced. Add the greens to a bowl, and set aside. Next finely dice your onion and garlic and add to the greens mixture. Add your chickpeas and stir until everything is combined and coated. When the quinoa is cooled, add it to the chickpea mixture. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Pour over salad, and mix until combined. Add in tomatoes and avocado and mix. Set in fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving to set the flavors.

Today was a bit of a lazy Saturday. I did go into work for a few hours this morning, but came home and just crashed. When Husband got home this afternoon, he mentioned egg salad and it sounded like a grand idea. I love a basic egg salad, just eggs, mayo & mustard, and I have a few favorite mix ins (shallots, fresh dill), but today I went all out and it ended up amazing! My favorite addition had to be the avocado (thanks Martha!), which is not only surprisingly delicious in this salad, but adds a little extra kick in the nutrition department too. I agree with Heidi from 101 cookbooks‘ sentiment – getting perfect hard boiled eggs is the most difficult part, but following her directions all of mine came out exactly as I wanted them. Next time I might try cutting out a few of the yolks, like dear old Martha recommends.

The Best Egg Salad Sandwich
adapted from 101 cookbooks

8 hard boiled eggs
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Lettuce
Bread

For perfect hard boiled eggs:
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so – long enough to stop the cooking. (Mine sat in the ice bath a bit longer, more like 5-6 minutes and they were still perfect).

Crack and peel each egg, place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, dijon, avocado and a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper, then mash with a fork. Stir in the celery, shallots, dill and chives. Taste, and adjust the seasoning – adding more salt and pepper if needed. To assemble each egg salad sandwich: place a bit of lettuce on a piece of toast, top with the egg salad mixture, and finish by creating a sandwich with a second piece of toast.

I don’t know why I ever had doubts about the flavors in this dish, but it ended up being delicious beyond imagining. It’s not often that I use sultanas/golden raisins in anything I cook, but they added the perfect balance to this light, bright medley of flavors. This might replace my mother’s classic pasta salad as my favorite side dish to bring to any summer event. Fantastic!

Summer Squash Couscous with Sultanas, Pistachios and Mint
via food52

1 tablespoon lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon honey
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/4 cup veggie stock
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup diced yellow squash
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup sultanas/golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and let them steep for about 30 minutes.
Next, bring the veggie stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the couscous, cover, and turn off the heat; allow the couscous to sit for about 5 minutes, or until it absorbs all the liquid. Toss the couscous with a fork so the grains don’t start clumping together, pour into a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
In a skillet over medium high heat, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then, add the chopped squash and zucchini, shallot, sultanas, pistachios and a pinch or two of salt. Only cook for about a minute or two — you still want the squash and zucchini to be al dente. This just ensures they aren’t too al dente, and all the flavors can marry before they hit the couscous. Set aside until everything reaches room temperature.
Once the veggies have reached room temperature, add them to the bowl with the couscous and combine. Then, remove and discard the cloves of garlic from the dressing, and toss it with the couscous (add the dressing gradually, as you may not need it all). Fold in the mint, season with additional salt and pepper if necessary and serve at room temperature.

Phew! Well, my sister’s engagement party went off yesterday without a hitch. We went for a swanky americana theme – a summer barbecue with a bit of class. I think the bloody mary bar was the biggest hit! You can’t see them all in the picture below, but we had about 10 different kinds of pickled vegetables to add, and they were all so delicious.

It was so much fun, and everyone pitched in. Husband and I made kabobs with steak, chicken and a variety of veggies – and my now famous potato salad. It’s a pretty simple salad, but with a great balance of flavors and what I call the ‘secret ingredient,’ white wine vinegar! It adds just the right amount of tang and gives the creaminess just a bit of a bite. And I add a little more celery, because I love the extra crunch.

Creamy Potato Salad with Bacon
via real simple food

3 pounds small red new potatoes (about 24)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Cut into quarters.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, the 2nd teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and celery and toss to coat. Fold in the parsley, tarragon, and bacon before serving.