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Archive for March, 2011

I was making lunches early in the morning, and I knew I wanted a straightforward, no frills, very basic blue cheese dressing over a super crunchy salad. Something my grandmother would have enjoyed — familiar, simple, and tasty.

I grabbed romaine lettuce, carrots, celery for crunch, as well as italian flat leaf parsley and red onion for flavor, and I got to work.

Ingredients for Recipe for Creamy Blue Cheese Salad with Crunchy Vegetables

Ingredients, ready for action.

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
4 baby carrots, cut into wheels.
1 rib of celery, coarsely chopped.
2 slices of red onion, quartered.
1/2 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
1 fistful of fresh italian parsley.
2 T blue cheese, crumbled.
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste.

Blue Cheese Red Wine Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T red wine vinegar.
1 T sour cream.
1 T blue cheese.
1/2 clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Since I was making two salads, I doubled all of the ingredients listed above. I mixed up two jars of blue cheese red wine vinaigrette, and then I started chopping. I began by creating my beds of chopped romaine hearts, and then I added the carrots, celery, onion, and parsley. I crumbled the blue cheese and sprinkled it on top of the salad, before cracking black pepper over it all.

I nestled my husband’s salad dressing jar in the larger glass container with the salad and popped the lid on top to keep everything fresh for lunchtime. I tucked mine in the fridge for later.

Recipe for Creamy Blue Cheese Salad with Crunchy Vegetables

Packed to go!


The Verdict:
This turned out exactly as I intended. Very creamy, savory salad dressing and powerfully crunchy veggies. Celery is highly underrated — I really appreciated it’s crisp flavor with the blue cheese. I think this salad was a bit boring for my husband, but as he always says, my worst homemade salad is always far tastier than anything he can get from a quick lunch restaurant near his work.

Make it a Meal:
Done. If you want to amp up the protein, add some chicken breast, or deli meat, or kidney beans.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

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Early morning, time to make lunches. We had almost everything I needed for a couple of rocking southwestern salads, so I pulled all my ingredients out and got to work. No radishes in the house, so I used yellow bell pepper for extra crunchiness, and I went for pinto beans instead of black beans because, well, I felt like it.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Southwestern Avocado Citronette, Pinto Beans, Mandarins, and Yellow Bell Pepper

All of the ingredients, ready to go.

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
4 cups of arugula.
1/2 can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and sliced.
2 mandarins, peeled and sectioned.
2 scallions, sliced.
1 fistful of fresh cilantro.
Zest of 1/2 a lemon.

Southwestern Avocado Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T fresh lemon juice.
1/2 avocado, spooned into jar.
1/2 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp cumin.
1/4 tsp smoked paprika.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Recipe for Salad with Southwestern Avocado Citronette, Pinto Beans, Mandarins, and Yellow Bell Pepper

The finished salad, ready for the dressing to rain down and the fork to attack like lightning.


Since I was making two salads, one for me to eat at home and one for my husband to eat at work, I doubled all of the ingredients listed above. I started by laying down my lovely beds of arugula — mine in a bowl, his in a stainless steel container with a tight fitting lid. I rinsed and drained the pinto beans, setting them aside in a sieve to drain a little more while I worked. I zested the lemon over the greens, and crafted my salad dressings in twin jars. In this case, that included measuring out the ingredients, and spooning the avocado into the jars as well. I shook them up and tested them by dipping a leaf of arugula into the citronette and tasting for salt and flavor balance. I peeled and sectioned the mandarins. (Yes, they are far more beautiful when they are sliced open and the jeweled fruit is exposed, but those plain little membranes keep the citrus juices from wilting the greens.) I chopped the yellow bell pepper, the scallions, and the cilantro, and added all of my ingredients to my beds of arugula. I nestled my husband’s jar of citronette in with his salad and snapped a picture before popping the lid back on.

Salads just don’t take that long to make — twenty minutes or less of chopping and mixing, and you’ve got a deliciously nutritious meal, for now or later.

Recipe for Salad with Southwestern Avocado CItronette, Pinto Beans, Mandarins, and Yellow Bell Pepper

Here's the same salad, packed to go!


The Verdict:
You know what I thought of this. I loved it. Juicy citrus, creamy beans, crunchy bell pepper, peppery arugula… This is a can’t fail recipe for me, and, once again, it succeeded.

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

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When I was little, and we had a big enough group of people gathered together, sometimes we went to a local ice cream parlor that had an enormous, crazy sundae called “The Kitchen Sink.” It had everything. It was the size of an actual kitchen sink, with an obscenely large number of different flavors of ice cream, covered in all the toppings they had. Every bite was different, and fun, and I ate it with a gaggle of happy friends at birthday parties, after soccer games, or after drama and dance performances.

This salad reminded me of that sundae.

I had plans for pork tonkatsu (or at least my made-up bastardized version of it) for dinner. I also had nice little brown and serve sourdough rolls from a local bakery. I wanted a big, crazy salad to complete the meal. I like sweet with pork, so I knew I’d be including some candied pecans. I was in the mood for blue cheese, so I added that to the mix. I had gorgeous baby greens, so the bed was determined. I needed some crunch, so I grabbed half a cucumber and what was left of a red bell pepper. A balsamic vinaigrette would tie it all together, and I tossed in some mushrooms to soak up the tasty salad dressing like little sponges. Mushrooms, as you know, are made to be coated in balsamic vinaigrette. It was a wild, vibrant combination. My own little kitchen sink of a salad.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Blue Cheese, Candied Pecans, and the Kitchen Sink

Ingredients, ready for their transformation!

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves 3-4.)
6 cups of mixed baby greens.
5 scallions, sliced.
1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced.
1/2 english cucumber, quartered vertically and sliced.
5 medium mushrooms, sliced.
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese.
1/2 cup candied pecans.

Greens for Salad with Blue Cheese, Candied Pecans, and the Kitchen Sink

A colorful bed of baby greens, ready for the party.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I created a lush bed of baby greens, and quickly mixed up my balsamic vinaigrette in a small jar. I quickly chopped my vegetables and gently laid them in the salad bowl. I added the nuts and cheese, and let it all sit for a moment while I dealt with the tonkatsu. Once the rolls were out of the oven and the pork was ready to eat, I drizzled my balsamic vinaigrette over the salad, tossed it, and served it up.

Salad with Blue Cheese, Candied Pecans, and the Kitchen Sink

Ready for that yummy balsamic vinaigrette!


The Verdict:
I got exactly what I wanted — crazy, strong, fun flavors. The sweet nuts worked well with the pork, the mushrooms were delicious, and the blue cheese gave it all an extra creamy flavor kick. I loved it. The kids were not impressed, but my husband gobbled it up right alongside me.
Plated Salad with Blue Cheese, Candied Pecans, and the Kitchen Sink

On the plate, ready to be devoured!


Make it a Meal:
With the nuts and the cheese, I think it would already work as an amazing meal.

Pack it to Go:
Easy. Put your salad in a glass or stainless steel container with a tight fitting lid, and your vinaigrette in a small jar, nestled in the greens. Drizzle the dressing (just as much as you want, to taste) over the salad, fork toss or put the lid back on and give it a few quick shakes to combine. Enjoy!

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Time to make lunch!

We both had busy days planned, so I made two salads, one to go and one for me to eat at home before heading out with the kids for the afternoon. I’ve been on a citrus kick, so I decided to make a lemon citronette. I added navel orange for a sweet citrus punch, as well as daikon, red onion, and lots of cilantro and mint to give it a little bit of an asian fusion feel. I’ve always loved those fresh vietnamese spring rolls, and cilantro plus mint is an easy winning flavor combo for me. The daikon and red bell bepper added necessary crunch, and leftover roasted chicken provided plenty of protein.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Citrus, Chicken, Daikon, Cilantro, and Mint

A rainbow of ingredients!

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
4 cups of mixed greens, including red leaf, mizuna, radicchio, and frisee.
1/2 roasted chicken breast, skin removed, chopped.
1 roasted chicken thigh, skin removed, meat torn into bite sized bits.
1/2 navel orange, peel sliced off, quartered, and sliced.
1 large mushroom.
1/2 red bell pepper.
1/2 persian cucumber, sliced into wheels.
8 thin slices of daikon (use a sharp cheese slicer or a mandoline), halved.
1 thin slice of red onion, quartered.
1 fistful of cilantro.
1 fistful of mint.
Zest of one lemon.

Lemon Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T lemon juice.
1small clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I doubled all of the ingredients above to make two identical salads.

As usual, I prepared a lush bed of greens and zested my lemon over the top. I mixed up two batches of citronette in small jars, and I added the navel orange to the salad dressing so that it wouldn’t wilt the greens. Then I sliced the veggies, herbs, and chicken, layering it all over the greens. For the daikon, I like peeling it with a vegetable peeler and then using a really good cheese slicer (mine were all brought over from Norway in our suitcases) to get nice thin slices quickly. Once the salads were made, I nestled my husband’s jar of dressing in his bowl and snapped a quick picture.

Salad with Citrus, Chicken, Daikon, Cilantro and Mint Ready to Go

Two salads, one packed to go and one ready to stay home.

The Verdict:
Great meal salad. The chicken works well with the citronette, and the diverse veggies and herbs added color, crunch, and flavor.

Salad with Chicken, Daikon, Cilantro and Mint

Ready to eat!

Straightforward and tasty, but not elegant or refined. This is a fun, hearty meal. Enjoy!

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

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I perfected this salad over the holidays — the lovely red and green worked well for our family feasts. Since then, I’ve been tinkering with the recipe and enjoying it just because it is so quick and easy, and it tastes so beguilingly delicious. This salad works particularly well with pork roasts and turkey. The last time I made it was to share with fellow unschoolers at a potluck lunch, and it held it’s own alongside tortilla soup, a gorgeous spread of bread and cheese, and piles of fruit.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Romaine, Mint, Dried Cranberries, Candied Walnuts, and Gorgonzola

All the ingredients, ready to assemble.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves 4-6.)
2 hearts of romaine, chopped.
1/2 cup candied walnuts.
1/2 cup dried cranberries.
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola.
1 large fistful of fresh mint, chopped.

Rice Wine Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T rice wine vinegar.
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I started by mixing up my vinaigrette in a small jar. Then I built my bed of romaine and chopped my mint. I sprinkled the nuts, cranberries, and gorgonzola over the crispy greens. Finally, I drizzled the light vinaigrette over it all, tossed, and served.

Recipe for Salad with Romaine, Mint, Dried Cranberries, Candied Walnuts, and Gorgonzola

Doesn't that look tasty?


The Verdict:
The rice wine vinaigrette is subtle, and it blends perfectly with the tangy cheese. The cranberries add tart sweetness, and candied walnuts provide a lovely crunch. Mint livens the salad up, and gives it a unique twist. This is a straightforward, easy to make, and very impressive salad. It’s just that good..

Make it a Meal:
I’ve eaten it as a meal, though it’s a tad sweet for me without something more savory beside it.

Pack it to Go:
It packs to go very easily — a great potluck salad. Just keep the vinaigrette separate, in a small jar, and drizzle it over the top when you’re ready to serve..

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Juicy skillet steaks. Wild mushroom cream sauce. Fresh sourdough bread slathered with butter. All I needed was a very simple side salad, light and refreshing, to complete the meal. I decided to go with a lemon-lime citronette, with mint and scallions to deepen the flavors.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Arugula, Romaine, Lemon Lime Citronette, Mint and Scallions

Simple ingredients, ready to prep.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves four.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
4 cups of arugula.
2 scallions, chopped.
1 fistful of fresh mint.
Zest of one lemon.
Zest of one lime.

Vinaigrette or Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T fresh lemon and lime juice.
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Plated Salad with Arugula, Romaine, Lemon Lime Citronette, Mint and Scallions

Plated and ready to eat!


I chose crunchy romaine and peppery arugula to build my verdant bed of salad greens. I zested one lemon and one lime over the greens, then juiced the citrus and prepared my citronette. I used my favorite wide knife to smash the garlic, and then I minced it and added it to my jar of lemon and lime juice. I added maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, and salt, shaking it up and dipping a leaf of romaine or arugula in to taste it as I went. Once the dressing had the right balance of flavors, I chopped my mint and scallions and added them to the salad bowl.

I plated the food, and served it up.

Child's Serving of Salad with Arugula, Romaine, Lemon Lime Citronette, Mint and Scallions

Here's one of our kid's plates, with sliced steak and the food clearly not touching.


The Verdict:
This is one of those salads that just works. It’s so easy, and so good. A really tasty citronette. A good fistful of fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, tarragon, thyme, and savory are all good substitutions). A sprinkle of scallions. A bed of lush salad greens. That’s really all you need. Perfect side salad. We ate it all.

Make it a Meal:
This is a very adaptable combination — add any leftover meat, or tofu, or garbanzo beans, and some extra fruit (citrus, berries, melon) and veggies (radishes, cucumber, mushrooms, peppers), and you’re good to go.

Pack it to Go:
It couldn’t be easier. Put your salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a tight fitting rubber lid, and your citronette in a small jar. Tuck the dressing jar in to the larger container. When you’re ready to eat, shake up the citronette and drizzle as much as you need over your salad, then fork toss and enjoy.

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