Archive for the ‘Arugula’ Category

I give you: Arugula, roasted brussels sprouts, bacon, and rosemary marcona almonds in a red wine vinaigrette with shallots and cracked pepper. Enjoy.

Salad teaser.

Try it. You'll like it.


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I was making curried chicken with potatoes and basmati rice for dinner, and I decided to get creative. I knew I wanted a salad with a creamy dressing to help me tolerate the heat of the spicy curry. Riffing on the idea of raita, I wanted a yogurt salad dressing with lots of cucumber and mint. My plan was to turn that into a flavor base for a rich veggie salad. I pulled out all the vegetables that seemed like they might work, and I tossed in an avocado. I grabbed the cilantro on a whim, and then turned to the spice cupboard. I wanted something to round it out, and to capture a little of the delicious complexity of actual Indian food. I sniffed every jar we had of powdered yumminess from Vik’s Chaat Corner, and finally found what I needed. Fennel powder. My secret ingredient.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Simple veggie ingredients, ready for chopping.

Salad with Kefire Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

A gorgeous green bed of romaine and arugula.

(Side salad, serves four.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
3-4 cups of arugula.
1 red bell pepper, sliced.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
6 mushrooms, quartered.
1/3 of an english cucumber, quartered and sliced.
1 small shallot, chopped.
1 large fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Tossed and ready to serve!

Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T plain kefir.
1 T rice wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1/4 tsp fennel powder.

I mixed up the dressing first, playing with it and testing it as I worked by dipping leaves into the jar and tasting. I chopped my romaine and made my bed of greens, gently finger tossing the arugula with the romaine. I sliced, quartered, and chopped all of the vegetables and herbs, adding them while monitoring the curry and listening for the rice timer.

The Verdict:
This salad was amazing. It worked perfectly with the curry. It’s obviously not even remotely authentic Indian cuisine, but it was seriously delicious. My husband was really impressed by the unusual flavors. The creamy dressing clung to the greens, and the variety of fresh vegetables was refreshing and fun alongside the simple, hearty curry. The kids all enjoyed it as well — I thought it would be too weird for them, so we barely had enough to share.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Isn't it lovely on the plate with the curried chicken and potatoes?

Make it a Meal:
I think it could work as a meal as it is, but if you need more protein, I recommend adding simple chicken or garbanzo beans.

Pack it to Go:
.As always, but the avocado in with the dressing and give it a gentle shake to coat it with the acidic vinaigrette to prevent browning. Keep the dressing in a small jar, and all the rest of the salad ingredients in a large container (I recommend glass or stainless steel with a tupperware style lid). When you’re ready to eat, shake up the jar of dressing and drizzle it over the salad. Use only what you need. Fork toss, or put the lid back on the large container and give it a few good shakes to combine. Enjoy.

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Sometimes I want my salad simple, clean, maybe even elegant. Sometimes I want a hearty, filling salad. And sometimes? Sometimes, I just want a rioting mosh pit of flavors and textures. I was definitely in the mood for some crazy flavors to explode against each other in my mouth when I made this salad.

I was inspired by a bag of lime & chile mixed nuts from Trader Joe’s, and I wanted to play with that amazing hami melon again, and I had a perfectly ripe avocado sitting on the counter… I just kept adding vegetables and ginger and herbs and garlic and more and more to the cutting board, until I was satisfied. And then I got to work.

Ingredients for Salad with Chili Lime Nuts, Winter Melon, and Avocado Citronette

Bold, colorful, and soon to be delicious.

(Serves one for lunch.)
3-4 cups of arugula and asian greens.
3 mushrooms, quartered.
5 radishes, quartered.
2 scallions, sliced.
2 T dried cranberries.
2 T lime & chile mixed nuts (from Trader Joe’s).
1 fistful cilantro, chopped.
1 fistful basil, chopped.
1/2 cup hami melon, cut into bite sized pieces.
Zest of one lemon.

Avocado Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Extra can be refrigerated for a day.)
1 T lemon juice.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 avocado, spooned into the jar.
2 tsp fresh grated ginger.
1 small clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I was making two salads, so I doubled all of the ingredients listed above. I started by creating my beds of greens, and I zested a lemon over each container of greens. Then I juiced the lemon and made two batches of the citronette. I chopped and sliced and chopped some more, divvying the fruit, veggies, and herbs up between the two salads. Finally, I packed both up and looked forward to the wild party my mouth would have at lunch time.

Salad with Chile Lime Nuts, Winter Melon, and Avocado Citronette

Yummy crazy flavor explosion.

The Verdict:
This worked. Completely intense, and incredibly tasty. I loved the spicy nuts with the creamy avocado citronette. And I loved the crunchy radishes with the crisp melon. The mushrooms did what they always do — soaked up the dressing and exploded. It was good. Crazy good. My anticipation and excitement were so great, I completely forgot to take a picture of it before devouring it. You’ll just have to imagine it in all it’s glossily dressed splendor.

Make it a Meal:

Salad with Chile Lime Nuts, Winter Melon, and Avocado Citronette, Packed.

Packed to go.

Pack it to Go:
Done. As usual, pack your dressing in a small jar (large enough to hold the avocado) and make your salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a good rubber lid. Add the citronette right before eating, fork-toss or put the lid back on your salad container and give it a few good shakes to help combine everything.

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We had a couple of good friends over for dinner, and an almost empty fridge. I knew I could pull a salad together, and I wanted it to have some protein so that our vegetarian friend wouldn’t feel deprived while the rest of us munched on sausages. I decided to go for the goat cheese, and I added the cranberries and olives to the salad because I adore really strong sweet and salty flavors with creamy goat cheese. Fresh herbs and balsamic vinaigrette tied it all together.

Ingredients for Salad with Goat Cheese, Cranberries, and Kalamata Olives.

Salad ingredients are ready for action!

Greens for Salad with Goat Cheese, Cranberries, and Kalamata Olives.

A gorgeous bed of mixed salad greens.

(Serves 4-6 as a side salad.)
4-6 cups of arugula and mixed baby greens.
1 cup pitted kalamata olives.
2 T goat cheese.
1 T dried, sweetened cranberries.
1 fistful of basil.
1 fistful of italian parsley.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need, refrigerate the rest for several days.)
1T balsamic vinegar.
3T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1/2 clove of garlic, crushed and minced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

This was a really easy salad to make. I mixed up my vinaigrette, and created a lush bed of greens. Then I just chopped my herbs and added everything to the greens.

We ate this with warm sourdough bread slathered with butter, chicken apple sausage wheels, and delicious mushrooms sauteed in butter with garlic.

Salad with Goat Cheese, Cranberries, and Kalamata Olives, Plated.

On the plate, ready to enjoy.

The Verdict:
The flavors here we spectacular. I broke my own rules, though, and regretted it.

Do you see what I forgot?


Salads really need crunch. The baby greens and arugula were incredibly tasty with the goat cheese and the rich flavors, but everything was a little on the soft side. It could have used some nuts, or maybe a lettuce with more crispiness (romaine, endive, you know what I mean). Nobody complained, and there was a little tussling over the last bits of salad in the bowl, but I noticed. I asked my husband what he thought, and first he gave me the raised eyebrow “are you crazy?” look, but then he conceded, that yes, crunchiness is good. So, I deem this salad delicious and worthy of improvement.

Make it a meal:
We had it as a side salad, but with the goat cheese (and toss some nuts in — candied pecans or something) I think it would be a very rich and delicious meal.

Pack it to go:
This would be easy to pack to go. Just keep the dressing separate, add it when you’re ready to munch, fork toss (or put the lid back on and give it a few quick shakes), and enjoy.

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Officially, it was lunchtime. We had just gotten back from the Berkeley Bowl, and while I unloaded bag after bag of produce, I set aside a few things that really appealed to me. I’d already nibbled on the thuringer salami with the kids in the checkout line, and I’d helped them polish off some sushi in the car on the way home, so I wasn’t wanting to make a whole meal for myself. Just a really fun, tasty side salad to fill me up with vegetable goodness. The cantaloupe-looking melon with an unusual name was my star, and the kids were happy to help me sample it. Really fresh greens, mint, a shallot, and a gorgeous lime, and I was ready to start chopping.

Winter Melon with Arugula and Mint

Ingredients, ready to go.

3 cups arugula and mixed asian greens.
1/8 hami melon, sliced into bite sized pieces (substitute with cantaloupe).
1 fistful of mint, chopped.
Zest of one lime.

(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for several days.)
1 T lime.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1/2 shallot, finely diced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I filled a glass bowl with the arugula and the mixed asian greens, then zested a lime over the greens. Once the zest was removed, I juiced the lime and measured a bit into a jar. I added the diced shallot and salt to the lime juice, and let that sit while I cut up the hami melon and chopped the mint. Then I added extra virgin olive oil and a touch of maple syrup to my citronette, shook it up, drizzled it over the salad, fork tossed, and enjoyed.

Winter Melon with Arugula and Mint

Here it is, crisp melon and tasty mint, ready to eat!

The Verdict:
This was really different. The bitter greens were perfect with the hami melon, which was incredibly light and crisp. It had a really unique texture — imagine an apple and a cantaloupe mating, and you’ll have an idea of what the hami has going for it. Perfect salad fruit. The lime and mint brought everything together, reminding me a bit of the fresh flavors of Vietnamese food. I think it would be fun to push this salad further, with some chili flakes, and to serve it with Pho.

Make it a Meal:
I liked how clean the flavors were, so I’d recommend keeping it a side salad, but if you really want to toss some protein in, I can see grilled chicken or steak working pretty well. Quinoa or shelled edamame might also work, if you need a veggie version.

Pack it to Go:
I think the hami is crisp enough to go in with the lettuce, though if it’ll be sitting in the fridge for a long time, the citronette jar might be a better place for it. As always, dressing gets its own little jar, salad ingredients go in a large glass or stainless steel container, and combine it all when you’re ready to eat. Toss it with your fork to help mix the dressing in, or do what my husband does and put the lid back on the salad container and give it a few good shakes.

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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.

(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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I love roasted vegetables. I love the caramel color. I love the mild sweetness and the salty crunch. I love the warmth. Not long ago, I made a roasted brussels sprout and roasted artichoke heart arugula salad, and it turned out so incredibly well that I’ve been dreaming about making another. While picking over the pathetic produce selection at Trader Joe’s, I noticed bags of brussels sprouts that looked decent, so I snatched them up. We also had a handful of pearl onions, so I tossed those in to roast with the brussels sprouts. I served this with roasted marble potatoes (no, not from Trader Joe’s — still on hand from my last trip to the Berkeley Bowl), and braised chicken tenderloins.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Arugula Side Salad

Brussels sprouts and pearl onions, coated in extra virgin olive oil and ready to roast.

(Serves two or three as a hearty side salad.)
5 cups of arugula.
2 pounds of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved.
10 pearl onions, peeled and halved.
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed for roasting.
Salt, as needed for roasting.

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerated extra vinaigrette will last for several days.)
1 T red wine vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 large shallot, diced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I prepped the brussels sprouts and the onions and coated them with extra virgin olive oil before spreading them out in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. I like parchment paper. I get all the yummy browning without having to scrape the vegetables out of the pan. I sprinkled salt over the brussels sprouts and pearl onions, and popped them in the oven underneath a similar pan full of potatoes. Convection roast, 400 degrees, until they were brown and delicious. I stirred them once or twice. I don’t think it took more than about twenty minutes total, though I might be underestimating. We had a lot going on that night — battles to break up, and friendships to restore. While the veggies and potatoes were roasting, I dealt with the chicken and prepared the vinaigrette. I also piled a whole lovely bunch of arugula into a bowl. Once everything had finished cooking, I let the brussels sprouts cool for a few minutes (not long at all — I like this salad with the arugula a little wilted) and then I added them to the salad bowl and drizzled the dressing over the top.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Arugula Salad

Tossed and ready to serve!

The Verdict:
Still delicious. Perfect rainy weather salad. I love the way that the shallots soften just a little when you toss the vinaigrette with the hot brussels sprouts. While the artichoke hearts from a previous salad were fancier, the onions were equally good. Either will add a little extra sweetness, and help diversify the salad. I recommend choosing one when you play, as I think both at once would take away from the elegant simplicity of this salad.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Arugula Side Salad on the Plate

Dished up and ready to eat!

Make it a Meal:
I could’ve chopped the chicken into the salad, but I like it better on the side. I’m not sure I’d want to make this one a meal. I really love its simplicity.

Pack it to Go:
If you pack it, you’re eating it cold. It’s best warm, but it actually makes great leftovers. I had it cold the day after I made it, with a piece of the same chicken, and it was very tasty. Not the same experience, and the arugula was truly, completely, irrevocably wilted, but I liked it. I think it’s important to have more roasted vegetables than arugula if you eat it leftover. I don’t save salad. I never eat leftover salad. But somehow, this one works — my exception that proves the rule.

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Pear and Candied Walnut Side Salad

Finished Pear and Candied Walnut Side Salad, dressed and ready to toss.


I needed a hearty green salad to accompany our steak, sauteed mushrooms, and creamy pasta. I wanted something a little sweet, and with a lot of flavor. I was also eager to try out the candied walnuts I’d picked up the day before at Trader Joe’s.

I settled on a hefty bed of arugula with pears and candied walnuts in a balsamic vinaigrette. I like creamy pears with crunchy nuts, and peppery arugula can definitely stand up to their sweetness. I chose the balsamic vinaigrette because it works so very well with juicy red meat, and I thought the deep flavors would help connect the fruity salad to the savory steak and mushrooms.

(serves three or four as a very generous side salad)
6 packed cups of arugula.
1 large pear, sliced.
1/2 a cup of candied walnuts.

(use what you need, there may be extra)
1 T of balsamic vinegar.
3 T of extra virgin olive oil.
1/4 tsp of maple syrup.
1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

After seasoning the steaks and slapping them into my cast iron skillet, I mixed up my vinaigrette, filled the salad bowl with arugula, and tossed a generous handful of candied walnuts over the top. I also put the pasta (leftover from a previous dinner) into the microwave and heated it up. While the steaks rested, I sliced up the pear and added it to the salad. Once the salad was tossed, the steaks were ready for eating, and the pasta was warm. This entire meal went from fridge to table in about fifteen minutes. Which was good, because we were all starving after a very long afternoon at the park with our friends.

The Verdict:
Success! My husband was particularly fond of this combination. The salad was delicious, and it definitely rounded out the plate with vibrant flavor and veggies. The nuts were perfectly crunchy, and the sweet, creamy pear worked really well with the spicy arugula and the tangy balsamic vinaigrette.

Make it a meal:
I think some steak sliced over the top would make a yummy meal. Very hearty and intense.

Pack it to go:
That’s a tricky one. Pears can be put into a larger jar with the dressing, but really ripe ones (like we enjoyed) get pretty darn mushy. In a pinch, I’d do it, but I prefer to pack other fruit. Apples would be a good substitute, though you lose the delightful creaminess of the pears. Regardless, the fruit would definitely need to be tossed in the jar with the dressing to minimize browning. A large container full of greens and walnuts. A jar with dressing and fruit. When you’re ready to eat, just combine, fork toss, and enjoy.

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