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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.