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Archive for the ‘Mandarin’ Category

My lovely in-laws have a lovely mandarin tree. We were gifted with an enormous bag of mandarins on Sunday, so of course Monday’s lunch had to be a delicious mandarin salad. I’d already had breakfast and a snack, so I kept this one light and overflowing with perfect satsuma mandarin oranges.

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Dinner needed to be quick and simple. I was roasting some baby potatoes in the oven with extra virgin olive oil and salt, and I had chicken tenderloins ready to saute. I wanted a straightforward, kid-friendly salad to complete the meal. You know me and my kids — if I combine a light salad dressing with lots of fruit and mild, crunchy romaine, I’m almost guaranteed success.

So I gathered a hefty pile of citrus, including the last of the mandarins from my mother-in-law’s tree, and I kept the salad fresh and fruity.

Ingredients for Recipe for Lemon Citronette with Mandarin, Mint, and Avocado

Delicious raw materials for a tasty salad.

Ingredients:
(Side or lunch salad, serves however many.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
4 mandarins, peeled, halved, and then quartered.
2 scallions, sliced.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
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 fresh lemon juice.
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Recipe for Lemon Citronette with Mandarin, Mint, and Avocado

Ready to serve!


I created a nice bed of chopped romaine, and zested the lemon over the greens. I juiced the lemon, and made my citronette in a small jar. I chopped the mint and sprinkled it liberally over the greens. I peeled the mandarins, sliced them in half, then quartered them to expose the jeweled fruit, and I tossed them into the salad. I added the avocado, and when the rest of the dinner was ready, I drizzled my citronette over the salad, tossed, and served.

Plated Recipe for Lemon Citronette with Mandarin, Mint, and Avocado:

On the plate, and ready to be devoured.

The Verdict:
What could go wrong? Fresh, tree ripened, perfect mandarins. Creamy avocado. A bed of lush, crisp romaine. Zesty lemon and mint. It was just as perfect as it sounds. We ate it all.

Make it a Meal:
Pick your protein! Leftover chicken and steak both work well with this flavor palette, as do garbanzo beans.

Pack it to Go:
Pack the greens, mint, and lemon zest in a large glass or stainless steel. Make your dressing in a jar. Remember to put your avocado in your dressing jar so it doesn’t brown, or to leave it whole and slice it into your salad when you’re ready to eat. The mandarins can be peeled and sectioned by hand, so that the membranes keep the juices in the fruit segments instead of leaking onto the lettuce and wilting it. Alternatively, you can slice the mandarins as I did, and put them with the avocado in the jar of citronette, to prevent wilted lettuce. If the jar of dressing is small enough, simply tuck it into the larger salad container. Combine your dressing with your salad when you’re ready to eat it, fork toss (or pop the lid back on and give the large container a few quick shakes to combine), and enjoy.

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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 life gives you leftovers, make salad!

Leftover protein and vegetables are amazing in salads. It’s a quick, easy way to make a delicious, nutritious meal. It’s cost-effective, because the leftover ingredients go further in a salad than they would on their own, and it’s fun, because you’re not actually eating the same damn thing twice in a week.

So, I was short on time and creativity, and I had some excellent leftover chicken tenderloins and some cooked corn. I rooted around for lettuce, mandarins, fresh herbs, and other veggies, and I made the best of it.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Lime Citronette, Leftover Chicken, Mandarins, Mint, and Cilantro

The ingredients, ready to be transformed!

Ingredients:
(Serves two as a meal.)
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped.
2 scallions, chopped.
3 mandarins, peeled, cut in half, and quartered.
4 button mushrooms, quartered.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
1 red bell pepper, sliced.
2 chicken tenderloins, leftover, cooked with onion, chopped.
1/2 cup of cooked corn.
1 fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped.
Zest of one lime.

Lime Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a day or two.)
1 T lime juice.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I made a lovely bed of romaine lettuce and zested my lime over it. Then I whipped up my citronette in a small jar, and started chopping. I added the chicken, vegetables, and herbs first, saving the avocado and mandarin for last so that they would be bright and colorful. I don’t like brown avocado, and I prefer for citrus fruit to go into salads at the last minute so it doesn’t wilt the lettuce. Once all of my ingredients were properly sliced and diced, I drizzled the dressing over the top and tossed it before serving it up.

Recipe for Salad with Lime Citronette, Leftover Chicken, Mandarins, Mint, and Cilantro

Rainbow deliciousness, ready to eat!


The Verdict:
Straightforward and delicious. The mint and cilantro brighten up the salad, and the juicy mandarins work well with the creamy avocado. The simplicity of the lime citronette works well with the leftover chicken and corn, and helps bring all of the flavors together. The crunchy red bell pepper and the crisp romaine lettuce keep the salad fresh and the textures diverse. This was a perfect example of how using leftovers meat and cooked veggies in salads is a great way to streamline cooking while keeping the food fun, tasty, and interesting.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a vegan salad, swap out the chicken for garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, shelled edamame, or lightly seasoned tofu, and add a smashed and minced clove of garlic to the lime citronette for a little extra flavor.

Pack it to Go:
As usual, the avocado and citrus fruit go in the jar with the salad dressing (this keeps the avocado from browning and the mandarin juices from wilting the lettuce). Everything else goes in a large glass or stainless steel container with a lid. Combine when you’re ready to fork toss and enjoy!

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That little jar of unused dressing from before was sitting in the fridge, calling to me. With a fresh supply of romaine, and a hungry friend that adores Thai food, I decided to try again. I’d already eaten lunch, so I was making this just for my friend.

I pulled out the romaine and the mushrooms, and a lot of mandarins. I remembered how very delicious the mandarins were with the first batch (the one redeeming combination, actually) and I wanted to make sure at least one part of it worked. I also added an extra scallion to punch up the flavor. I would’ve put more basil in, and thai basil instead of regular basil, but sometimes I’ve just got to make do with the dregs of the fridge. The chicken tenderloins were leftover from a previous dinner, and were necessary to make it a meal for my hungry friend. I think it would work quite well as a side salad without the meat.

Thai Black Pepper Sauce Salad, Take Two, Prep

The ingredients, ready to face the knife and dive into the bowl.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 mushrooms, sliced.
3 mandarins, peeled, sliced in half, and cut into eighths.
2 scallions, sliced.
2 chicken tenderloins, sliced.
4-6 basil leaves, sliced.
1 fistful of mint, sliced.

Black Pepper Sauce Vinaigrette:
(Use what you need, refrigerated leftovers are good for several days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
2 tsp thai black pepper sauce.
1 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I chopped the lettuce, and layered it with herbs, mandarins, and veggies. Then I snipped the chicken into bite sized pieces with a pair of kitchen shears, and drizzled the dressing over it all before gently fork tossing it. I wasn’t sure there would be enough vinaigrette, but the powerful flavors really shone, and it was actually just right.

Thai Black Pepper Sauce Salad, Take Two

Deliciousness. Success!

The Verdict:
Success! The romaine was perfect for this dressing. Crisp and crunchy, the mild flavor of the lettuce really let the vinaigrette shine. The mint added a delicious punch, and the mandarins were juicy and good. The chicken fit right in. My friend was pleased. Very pleased.

Make it a Meal:
Done. I think tofu would also work really well with this salad, since the vinaigrette has so much flavor. Grilled shrimp would also be very tasty.

Pack it to Go:
That’s easy for this one — just peel and section the mandarins instead of slicing them. You lose the bejeweled beauty, but you keep your lettuce crispy. The dressing stays in a small jar, and the salad goes in a large container, preferable glass or stainless steel, with enough space to easily fork-toss.

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Thai Pepper Sauce Salad with Mandarins and Arugula Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the salad, ready to be taken apart and tossed together.

After a long, hectic day, including several hours at the Lawrence Hall of Science, and a trip with all three kids to Trader Joe’s, I was exhausted. Dinner needed to be quick. The kids had packed our shopping cart with more frozen food than our freezer can hold, so we were definitely having a lovely bag of teriyaki chicken for dinner. I didn’t need to read the back of the package to know that I wanted the Trader Joe’s component to be a small part of my meal, so while I cooked rice I dug in the fridge for salad ideas. Being really experimental rarely works when I am super tired, but I keep trying anyway. That’s a warning. See if you can spot my mistakes.

I pulled out a brand new bottle of Trader Joe’s Thai Black Pepper Sauce, thinking I could riff on the Asian theme and go fusion — Japanese teriyaki chicken and a Thai inspired salad. I tasted the sauce, and knew I needed some sweetness to balance the peppery savory flavors. So I grabbed a couple of mandarins, some scallions, and a few very large mushrooms. I debated over the romaine hearts and the arugula I had in the fridge. (I am very ready for a trip to a store other than Trader Joe’s — I need more interesting greens, NOW!) After a previous slimy Trader Joe’s arugula experience, I decided to save the romaine for later and use the wild greens while they were still fresh. Peppery arugula with the black pepper sauce sounded like a good match.

Ingredients:
(Serves two to three as a hearty side salad.)
5 cups arugula.
3 large mushrooms, sliced.
2 scallions, sliced.
2 mandarins, peeled, sliced in half, and then sliced into eighths, taking care to avoid separating the sections, and instead to slice through the fruit and expose as much of the glistening orange as possible.

Thai Black Pepper Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need, refrigerate extra dressing and use within a few days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
2 tsp thai black pepper sauce.
1 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I mixed up the dressing, adding more maple syrup than I usually use in order to balance out the spicy pepper sauce, and made the salad while the rice cooked, pausing long enough to microwave the teriyaki chicken and toss it in a bowl with it’s prepackaged sauce. The whole meal took as long to make as basmati rice takes to cook, and it was easy to stick the dirty dishes into the dishwasher along the way.

 

Thai Pepper Sauce Salad

Here is the finished salad, ready to serve.

The Verdict:
Did you spot the mistakes?

I’ll break it down for you. The black pepper sauce salad did not, at all, work with the teriyaki chicken. Too much sweetness, and the flavors were just too different. Don’t get me wrong, we ate every bite, but it was jarring to have them side by side. Not ideal.

The vinaigrette seemed like a winner, but not with the arugula. The combination was ridiculously peppery. There wasn’t enough variety in the salad, though the mandarin bites did redeem it a bit. If the flavor of the chicken melded with the dressing, it would’ve been much more palatable, since the chicken is sweet enough to be classified as candy, at least according to my mouth. But I couldn’t combine the two. I ate this dinner like I did as a kid… In batches, trying not to let my food touch.

I used just over half of the dressing, so I decided this will definitely be a do-over in a few days, with romaine or a milder, crunchier lettuce. The dressing had a lot of promise, especially with the mandarins, but it did not work with the arugula or the teriyaki chicken.

 

Thai Pepper Sauce Salad, Plated

It looks prettier on the plate than it tasted to the tongue.

Sometimes, food is just food, and you eat it for the nutrients. That’s what this meal was. At least we ate a lot of leafy greens with our prefab chicken.

Make it a meal:
I’ll do that later in the week, I promise. My plan is romaine lettuce, more mandarin, and chicken sliced over the top. We’ll see how that goes.

Pack it to go:
The mandarins need to be peeled and sectioned instead of sliced, so that their juices don’t wilt the lettuce. Otherwise, it works as described. Except for all the problems I’ve already outlined.So don’t pack this to go. Play with some of the ideas, and pack your own invention instead.

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There is a taqueria I adore that makes this absolutely amazing citrus dressing. It’s simple, fresh, and just plain good. It is the reason I started playing with citronette recipes, though I’ve branched out quite a lot over the years. Still, I love the flavors of Mexican, or Southwestern, or Cal-Mex, or whatever you want to call food with heavy handed cilantro, zesty citrus, pale green avocado and fresh crunchy lettuce.

I really wanted a vegetarian salad for lunch. A can of black beans in our cupboard and a bright yellow lemon decided it for me. I pulled out romaine lettuce, scallions, avocado, mandarins, a cucumber, mushrooms, cilantro, garlic, and spices, and started chopping. I really wished for some radishes — I just love them with these flavors — but my fridge disappointed me.

I added more cucumber than I normally would in order to help make up for the absence of radish crunch, which was necessary to balance out all the creaminess from the beans and avocado. There is no substitute for radish deliciousness. I added smoked paprika to the citronette for the first time, I think just because it was red like a radish and right next to the cumin in our spice cupboard. It also smelled really good.

Southwestern Salad with Black Beans, Avocado, Mandarin, and More - Ingredients

Here are the delicious components for the salad.


Ingredients:
(Serves two as a hearty lunch salad.)
2 hearts of romaine, chopped.
3 scallions, chopped.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
3/4 can of black beans, rinsed and drained.
3 mushrooms, sliced.
3 mandarins, peeled then sliced in half and into eighths.
1/2 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
1 handful of cilantro, chopped.
Zest of 1 lemon.

Southwestern Citronette:
(Use only what you need, refrigerated leftover citronette will be good for several days.)
1 T lemon juice.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika.
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.


I made this for my husband and myself, and since we were actually both home at lunchtime I just tossed it all in one big bowl and we ate it snuggled up on the couch with two forks. Halve the recipe if you’re just feeding one person.

Southwestern Salad with Black Beans, Avocado, Mandarin, and More - Ready to Toss

The salad is ready for dressing and tossing...

I rinsed the black beans first, leaving them in a strainer so they could drain while I put the salad together. After making a mountain of lettuce in the salad bowl, I zested the lemon over the romaine, and then I made the citronette. I let the dressing sit (to give the garlic and spices time to steep) while I chopped veggies. I scooped the vegetables into the bowl, added the drained black beans, drizzled the citronette over the top, tossed it, and, well, YUM.

Southwestern Salad with Black Beans, Avocado, Mandarin, and More - Ready to Eat

And now we raise our forks and dig in!

The Verdict:
Amazing.

Yes, it would’ve been better with radishes. But that’s like saying a gorgeous, crisp, sunny day in Tilden would be better with butterflies. I didn’t notice they were missing, though I would’ve enjoyed them if they’d been there.

I loved the last minute addition of the smoked paprika — it gave the citronette an intense depth of flavor, and it added such pretty color. My husband was equally impressed. He knew there was something different, but he couldn’t quite place it…

Make it a Meal:
Done. Pinto beans would also work, or grilled chicken, steak, pork, or shrimp.

Pack it to Go:
If you’re making this for one, remember to halve the salad ingredients, and dress it to taste — a little at a time until it pleases you. Avocado needs to go in the dressing or stay in its skin when you pack it to go. Mandarins should be peeled and sectioned, instead of cut, so that the juices don’t wilt the lettuce. Everything else is great as described above — just keep the dressing in a jar with the avocado, and the rest of the salad in a container with a little extra space for fork-tossing.

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