Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

April 18, 2013

The April book club meeting provided a little interruption in taco week.  Tacos don’t travel that well so I opted for a salad instead.  I needed a main dish salad so something with protein and substance to it.  I bought some pearled barley ages ago and never got around to making the barley and mushroom soup for which it was intended so it became my salad.  And it’s a pretty good salad.

Pearled Barley Salad

Of course I made a few changes to the recipe.  I added some rotisserie chicken to give it a little bulk.  I left out the basil because fresh basil and feta don’t excite me when you put them together.  I made the dressing mostly as instructed, but with slightly less oil.  Next time I’d probably replace the feta with mozzarella.  The tang of the feta kind of fights with the honey vinegar dressing.  This would be good too without the chicken, but with a bunch of summer vegetables added in – peppers, squash, snow peas.  A little extra sweetness and crunch would be a nice addition.

An important note if you decide to make this.  Read the recipe all the way to the end.  It comes together really quickly and easily, but if you’ve never made pearled barley before you might not know how much time to allow for that.  You have to soak it an hour before you start to cook it.  And then it cooks about 20 minutes.  And then it has to cool to room temperature.  It’s a process.  I’d do that part the day before if you can.  Another note – you’ll almost never hear me say this, but use commercial stock.  You cook barley like pasta in that once it’s done you drain it.  Don’t use stock that you’d hate to pour down the sink.

Book club did a fine job making their way through this. I had enough leftover for a good lunch today.  This is a salad with a lot of possibilities.  The barley is chewy and nutty and good.  The dressing is light and sweet and tangy.  The tomatoes add a nice fresh flavor and the green onions add a little sharpness.  I have a feeling that some variation on this theme will be making an appearance at summer cookouts this year!

Good? Good.
Easy? Easy. But a little long.
Good for company? Worked for book club!
Special shopping? Nope.

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

Ingredients

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups barley
2 C diced rotisserie chicken
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped green onions

Directions

Rinse barley, and place in a small bowl. Cover with water by about two inches, and let soak for about an hour. Drain.

Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce heat, cover, and boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool.

Mix tomatoes, chicken, feta, and green onions into barley. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve at room temperature.

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Zesty Honey-Lemon Dressing

March 10, 2013

March potluck this weekend.  Since potluck was Friday night and I had a feeling that work might get a little hairy I signed up to make salad.  I made it as easy as possible without completely bailing on making something.  I make most of my salad dressings from scratch and I decided that counted as “making something.”

The main dish for potluck this month was a pasta dish so I did a green salad with tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives.  That’s a lot of briny goodness so I needed a dressing with something sweet to balance it out.  This is a good one.  The honey and lemon come out really nicely.  The zesty is a little more subtle.  If you want more zest just add more dijon.  I left out the fresh parsley because I didn’t have any.  Probably a nice addition, but not critical.  I made it with the immersion blender because I’m too lazy to whisk enough to get a good emulsion.  Most of the time when I whisk by hand the dressing separates and has to be shaken before serving.  If I use the stick blender I don’t have that issue.  A regular blender will do too.

Not much else to say about this one.  It’s a keeper.  I’ll be using it throughout the Spring on early vegetables and greens.  Yum!

Good? Good.
Easy? Easy.
Good for company? Sure.
Special shopping? Nope.

Zesty Honey-Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

Blend all ingredients until completely combined. Keeps up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Wild Greens with Lardo

January 28, 2013

Here’s the first recipe from this year’s No Football Sunday Dinner.  It’s hard to call a salad a recipe, but I have to tell you how good this is.  The original recipe in La Cucina calls for a wild green not widely available in the US.  They do offer arugula as a substitute.  When I went to the store the arugula looked horrible.  I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it.  I opted for a big clamshell container of Baby Spring Mix instead.  It’s a nice combination of lettuces, spinach, radicchio and arugula so you get a little sweet and a little bitter.  You want at least some bitter in this.  It’s a nice balance for the salt.

That brings us to the lardo.  This is also something you can’t exactly find here.  At least not in a regular grocery store.  It is, at least in part, the rump fat of a pig cured and seasoned.  I found something that said that fat back is a reasonable substitute.  I think that’s probably true, but I’m guessing it lacks a depth of flavor.  That said, I used fat back, rendered, and it was awesome.  Essentially you’re using the melted fat instead of oil as your salad dressing.  A few tablespoons of vinegar and some fresh pepper.  Done.  No other vegetables.  No other spice.  No need.  This is seriously good stuff.  Not that I recommend that you start using pork fat as the base for all of your salad dressings.  Certainly not.  But once in a while it’s worth it!

One note.  Eat the whole salad the first day.  The leftovers are disgusting.

Good? Much better than I dared imagine.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Mine certainly enjoyed it.
Special shopping? I have no idea if grocery stores outside the South routinely carry fatback, but around here it’s easy to find.

Wild Greens with Lardo

Ingredients

1 clamshell or bag of bitter salad greens
6 ounces fat back, rendered (melted into liquid)
2-3 T white vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Toss greens with fat back until the leaves begin to wilt. Toss with vinegar and pepper.

Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad

January 8, 2013

Finding time to make dinner isn’t easy.  Finding something new isn’t easy.  Hitting the right balance between ‘healthy’ and ‘tastes good’ isn’t always easy either.  This recipe solves all three problems.  It’s quick and new (at least to me) and lands squarely in the sweet spot between healthy and yummy.  This one’s a keeper.

Butternut and Black Bean Salad

I followed the basics of this recipe.  Here’s where I strayed:  no adobo sauce, no arugula, no walnuts and no goat cheese.  Instead:  smoked paprika and tomato paste, fresh spinach, no walnuts and no goat cheese.  I hate walnuts and just didn’t see the need to add the fat and calories with the cheese.  The original recipe also calls for seven teaspoons of olive oil.  I don’t know that you need all that.  Maybe half that much.  The key to this whole thing is the dressing.  It’s a smoky, tomato-y, tangy, honey-mustard type dressing.  It’s thick enough that it sticks to the spinach, but not nearly so heavy as a creamy dressing.  It’s good stuff.  Would be great on chicken or pork too.

It took about 35 minutes to pull this together, but some of that time is just waiting for the squash to finish.  If you want to shorten it even more do the squash and the dressing ahead of time.  You reheat the squash when you heat the beans anyway.  You’ll probably want to bring the dressing to room temperature as well.  Or, if you’d like the spinach to wilt slightly then warm the dressing before you put it on.

You end up with a hearty vegetarian main dish salad.  Orange vegetables, leafy greens, vegetarian protein and just enough dressing to make it interesting.  I’m pretty excited to be having it for lunch tomorrow too!

Good? Very good.
Easy? Very easy.
Good for company? For family. Or to take to a pot luck.
Special shopping? Nope.

Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (9-ounce) package baby spinach

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Arrange squash on a jelly-roll pan coated with 2 t olive oil. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, paprika and tomato paste in a bowl; stir with a whisk.
4. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add squash, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, pepper, and beans; cook 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons dressing; toss to coat.
5. Combine remaining dressing and spinach; toss to coat. Divide spinach mixture evenly among 4 plates; top with bean mixture.

Salad with Basil Pesto Dressing

September 17, 2012

I bet y’all had just about given up on me.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking at all (though it has been substantially less than usual), it’s that I was on vacation and since I returned I’ve been working like a crazy person.  My work days have been even longer than that last sentence!  Tonight I’m going to try to catch up just a little.

My first cooking assignment post-vacay was to bring a salad to the monthly potluck.  I hate making salad.  It’s boring.  This was to be a side salad so not a lot of opportunity for creativity.  Still, I wanted to bring something worthy of the potluck girls.  Two things that made this salad a little special:  roasted vegetables and homemade dressing.  I diced the peppers and a red onion and put them under the broiler sprinkled with a little salt.  Twenty minutes under the broiler and the vegetables were a little tender and sweet enough to balance the dressing.  My garden is still churning out tomatoes so I threw in a few of those and a little cucumber to round things out.  It’s awfully pretty!

The dressing is the key piece of this.  My basil plants did really well this year.  I have plenty of dried basil to get me to next summer and now enough fresh basil pesto to last a while.  Pesto is a very versatile condiment.  You can add it to cream cheese and spread it on crackers.  You can mix it with a little Duke’s mayonnaise and make fantastic chicken salad.  Of course you can eat it on pasta.  Turns out you can also stir in some vinegar and make a salad dressing with it.  Add equal parts pesto and red wine or white balsamic vinegar.  I used 3 tablespoons of each to make enough for this large salad bowl.

My only tip about salad is to keep the dressing on the side.  There’s always salad left over at the end of dinner.  If you’ve tossed the dressing with the whole bowl your salad will be slimy and gross when you try to have it for lunch the next day.  If you let everyone dress their own salad folks will be happier and your lunch won’t be so wilty.  I had two lunches from the leftovers of this salad.  I added chicken one day and shrimp the next.  Thumbs up to both.

Good? Yep.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Sure.
Special shopping? No way.

Salad with Basil Pesto Dressing

Ingredients

Green leaf lettuce, chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4-6 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 red pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced

3 T fresh basil pesto
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T white balsamic vinegar

Directions

Put peppers and red onion in a shallow pan and broil 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and sweet. Toss with lettuce and green onions.

Whisk together pesto and vinegar. Serve with salad.

Shrimp and Shiitake Salad with Maple Dressing

August 6, 2012

It’s meatless Monday!  And it’s a great day to use some of my haul from the Saturday farmers’ market – including shrimp, shiitakes, green onions and arugula.  This is a perfectly nice little salad.  The original recipe suggests this as a side salad, but I was too tired to come up with a main dish so a little shrimp for protein and there’s dinner.

Let’s start with the mechanics.  This is wicked easy to put together.  Whisk together a little dressing; slice and saute mushrooms; slice green onions; chop a little cilantro.  Toss together.  Done.  Two recipe alterations tonight.  I used shiitake instead of button mushrooms because I like them a lot better and that’s what they had at the market.  I used toasted sesame oil to saute the mushrooms, again because I like it better.  A definite thumbs up on the sesame oil.

It’s a little hard to write about this dish because I don’t have strong feelings about it.  It was fine.  I love shrimp and I love shiitake mushrooms so as long as it was edible that was going to be okay with me.  The dressing is a little sweet and a little flat for me.  That was a surprise because maple and lime sounded like a fantastic combo.  And it would be – on banana bread.  There’s not enough sesame oil or soy sauce in here to balance the maple and lime.  I added extra of both to add a little bit of salty and nutty, but it just didn’t get there.  I didn’t want to add a lot because I didn’t want to have a bunch leftover.  Honestly I used 3 teaspoons on my salad and dumped the rest down the drain.  On the up-side I have some shrimp and mushrooms leftover that I can eat with just a little soy and ginger and be happy as a clam.

Good? Eh.  Fine, but I can’t commit to good.
Easy? You bet – 5 stars on the easy scale.
Good for company? Definitely not.
Special shopping? Nope.

Shrimp and Shiitake Salad with Maple Dressing

Ingredients

2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 C sliced shiitake mushrooms
8 oz cooked, peeled shrimp
4 cups gourmet salad greens
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, including 1/2 t sesame oil, and stir well with a whisk.
Heat 1 1/2 t sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté for 6 minutes or until tender. After 4 minutes add shrimp to pan along with 2 T water. Cover. Heat 2 more minutes or until shrimp are warm through. Remove from heat; add maple mixture, tossing to coat. Combine greens, onions, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add mushroom mixture, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

Arugula Tabbouli

July 1, 2012

Tabbouli (or tabbouleh) has been my go to summer salad for a couple of years.  I always keep it in the fridge and then pull out a little and add whatever I feel like to complete it for that meal.  This time I decided to try changing up the tabbouli.  Usually it’s made with a few cups of parsley  I had about 1/2 a bag of arugula left so I decided to use that.  Yum!  Peppery tabbouli.

 

I did use a little parsley because I had about 1/3 of a bunch left in the fridge.  It ended up being about 1 part parsley to 6 parts arugula.  And then the standard cucumbers, green onions, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  It’s really simple.  I’ll add a few chopped tomatoes when I get ready to eat it, but I try to avoid refrigerating fresh tomatoes.  I might add some chicken, shrimp or fish to make it a one dish meal.  Lots of possibilities.

The arugula gives it a nice peppery kick that’s a terrific balance to the bright citrus of the lemon juice and the sharp greenness of the green onions.  The olive oil adds the perfect buttery smoothness.  So, so good.  Let it sit in the fridge a few hours before serving it if you can. It just gets better as it sits.  And with no mayonnaise it’s a fantastic picnic salad!

If you want to see my last take on this yummy salad check the post from last Spring.

Good? One of my favorites.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Sure, a healthy side for lots of things.
Special shopping? Not really, though sometimes I have difficulty finding bulghur. Check the bulk foods and international sections of your grocery store.

Arugula Tabbouli

Ingredients

1/2 C uncooked bulghur
1 C vegetable stock

3 C chopped arugula
1/2 C chopped parsley
2 green onions, whites and greens, chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
juice of 1 large lemon, plus more to taste
1/8-1/4 C good quality olive oil
salt
black or red pepper to taste

Directions

Bring the stock to a boil. Add the bulghur to the stock. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered 40-45 minutes.
Fluff bulghur with a fork and put in a large bowl. Toss with remaining ingredients.
Refigerate until ready to serve.

Wild Mushroom and Greens Salad

May 20, 2012

Yesterday was farmers’ market day and tonight was pot luck night.  I volunteered to make “something green.”  Pretty easy when there’s beautiful swiss chard and shiitakes at the market and lovely arugula at a friend’s house.  I should also mention that yesterday was a yard sale day and I picked up for 50 cents the amazing 1000 page Gourmet Today cookbook edited by Ruth Reichl, retail price $40 – score!  I was reading it last night – yes, I read my cookbooks – and came across this lovely side salad.  You can also find it on epicurious.com.  It’s well worth a look.

The recipe calls for only arugula, but I bought two big bunches of swiss chard so I needed to work some in.  I cut out the stems and sliced the chard into ribbons to make it fine enough to eat raw.  I also substituted white wine vinegar for champagne vinegar and finely chopped sweet onions for shallots, both because that’s what I had in the house.  I used a combination of shiitake, portabello, crimini and oyster mushrooms.  I sauteed them instead of grilling because it was easier.  And believe it or not I completely forgot to add the parmesan.  That’s not like me at all – any excuse to eat cheese – but I was trying to get out the door to pot luck and just forgot.  You know, this was really good without the cheese.

There aren’t a lot of ingredients and there’s not a lot of cooking so this is an easy one.  Swiss chard is a little bit tough when it’s raw so I added a little dressing to the greens right before I left home, maybe 3 tablespoons.  That allowed the dressing to wilt the greens just a little.  When I got to our hostess’ house I added the still warm mushrooms and another 1/4 C of the dressing. I covered the whole bowl in plastic wrap and let the greens wilt for another 20 minutes or so before we started dinner.

That’s all there is to it.  Chop some greens and mushrooms.  Saute the mushrooms.  Make the dressing.  Toss.  Wait.  Serve.  Yum!  This dish is fresh and green and earthy and bright and virtually fat free.  The only fat is the olive oil in the dressing and I only used half the dressing for the entire bowl of greens and mushrooms.  It’s vegetarian.  Without the cheese it’s vegan.  By any measure it’s a lovely and sophisticated side dish.  I’m always looking for new ways to serve swiss chard and other greens.  This is a keeper!

Good? Very.
Easy? You bet.
Good for company? It was a hit at potluck.
Special shopping? As with any very simple dish, quality ingredients count.

Wild Mushroom and Greens Salad

Ingredients

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1-1 1/2 T honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound whole fresh portabella mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced
1/2 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed, sliced
1/2 pound fresh oyster mushrooms, trimmed, sliced
2 C baby arugula, or regular arugula torn into bite-size pieces
1 large bunch swiss chard, stemmed and sliced into ribbons
2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings (made with a vegetable peeler from a 2-oz piece) (optional)

Directions

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and shallots in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until combined. Transfer mushrooms to another bowl with a slotted spoon, discarding marinade.

Heat lightly oiled heavy skillet. Add 1/2 mixed mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms are soft. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining mushrooms. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Put greens in a large bowl. Toss in 3-4 T of dressing. Let sit 10 minutes. Toss in warm mushrooms. Add 1/4 C of dressing. Let sit another 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Top with cheese if desired.

Orange and Olive Salad

March 26, 2012

Tonight was a leftovers night.  I invited two friends over to help me make my way through the Carolina Fish Muddle.  Since I had guests I felt like I needed to add a little something to make it feel more like a dinner party.  Salad is always a welcome addition.  The is a nice light salad with a little sweet and a little salty and a little citrus.  It would be good with just about any main dish.

I followed the recipe except that I left out the fennel.  I don’t like fennel.  And I used romaine hearts instead of Bibb lettuce.  I find that romaine hearts last the longest in the fridge so I’d rather keep those around than throw away a bunch of wilty lettuce after a couple of days.  The worst part of this salad is sectioning the oranges.  I always remove all of the membrane which is inevitably a tedious and messy job.  If you can buy oranges already sectioned, do it.  The best part is the dressing.  The recipe only makes a tiny bit of dressing, but it’s enough. The oranges add some juice too.  The olives keep the salad from being overly sweet.  A little shout out to Faith Farms for supplying the raw honey.  Yum.

Good? Really good.  Light and lovely.
Easy? Easy peasy.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Nope.

Orange and Olive Salad

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups torn Bibb lettuce
1 cup fresh orange sections

Directions

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients; toss gently.

Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad

March 14, 2012

Another gorgeous day in Central Virginia – sunny and warm.  This is the kind of day that begs you to eat something light out on the patio for dinner.  I mostly managed the eating light thing, but by the time I got around to having dinner it was dark so no patio dinner for me.  I had two cups of roasted, diced chicken left from what I thawed to make the Chicken Tortilla Bake so the challenge was using that and not making soup!  This is an excellent twist on chicken salad.

Of course I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  I left out the celery because I didn’t have any.  I left out the apples because I don’t like apples in savory dishes.  I added some cucumber to replace the apples.  I meant to add some diced red bell pepper, but I forgot.  Of course, when you’re making a salad the key is pretty much always the dressing.  This is a nice light one.  It has enough substance to stand up to the chunky chicken without being so heavy that it buries everything.  I used both peanut butter and tahini.  I substituted green onions for chives because that’s what I had.  I added some fresh ginger for a little bite.  I didn’t have any sesame oil or peanuts.  I think both would have been nice additions.  Oh, and I added some rice noodles – just because I love them.  So, I guess in the end this salad only kind of resembled the dish I started out to make, but I’m very pleased with the results.

I made the recommended amount of dressing, but used an extra 1/2 C chicken and added about 2 oz of rice noodles so my salad was more lightly dressed than the original recipe would be.  I think that’s a good thing.  It doesn’t really need more.  (Oddly enough the picture that accompanies the original recipe looks like they left off the dressing completely).  I think this can be a pretty versatile dish.  It’s intended to be chicken salad served on lettuce.  That would be good.  You could also stir fry the chicken, rice noodles and vegetables in the sauce.  That would be yummy.  I’d probably leave the cucumber out if I was serving it as a warm dish.  Without the rice noodles you could absolutely serve this in pita as a sandwich as well.  Lots of good things.

I give this a thumbs up.  And I better after it’s chilled overnight and the flavors have a chance to soak in it’ll get two thumbs up tomorrow!

Good? Very good.
Easy? Yep, if you leave out the rice noodles there’s no cooking at all.
Good for company? With the rice noodles it’s a little hard to eat with any grace at all, but without them it would make a lovely luncheon plate.
Special shopping? Nope. You can get everything in the Asian section of nearly any grocery store.

Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad

Ingredients

2 C diced cooked chicken
1 small can water chestnuts, chopped
1 C matchstick carrots
1 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced
2 green onions, chopped
2 oz rice noodles, cooked al dente

Dressing
1/2 T peanut butter (I use Jif Natural)
1/2 T tahini
1 T rice vinegar
1 T low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 T mayonnaise
1 t fresh ginger, minced

Directions

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix.
In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad ingredients. Toss to coat.