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Archive for the ‘Mint’ 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.

mandarinseason

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Just trying to settle my upset stomach…

upsettummy

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Romaine lettuce, cucumber, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, mint, and lime zest with a lime citronette. Delicious. The bright lime worked so well with the crunchy romaine and the mint–very light and fresh.

lightlimelunch

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dayfourteensteak

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Ah, this was good. My first citronette since starting this challenge. This salad is much lighter than some of my meals–perfect dinner since I had a burger with the kids for lunch…I love mint and lemon. I love grapes and walnuts. Toss some mushrooms in as delightful flavor sponges, and pile the bowl high with mixed baby greens–really perfect.

daytendinner

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Cheap strawberries. It must be spring.

What more can I say? I bought a lot, with this vague strawberry balsamic vinaigrette salad idea. The kids were devouring the strawberries, and fast, so I knew I needed to try my experiment or I’d miss my chance. Dinner was going to be corn chicken chowder with bacon and chives, and I thought the sweet strawberry salad would be refreshing with the thick, savory chowder.

I’d never made the chowder before — it was a dish one of the kids requested when we were sorting through cooking magazines and looking for ideas. Remember that. Never made the soup before. Inventing the salad on the fly. Improv dinner — my favorite way to cook. When it works, it’s a magical victory. When it works…

I grabbed the ingredients that appealed to me — lots of crunchy jicama and radish, fresh herbs — and started playing.

Ingredients for Recipe for Spring Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Avocado, Jicama, and Radishes

Ingredients, ready to go!

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves six.)
6 cups of mixed baby greens.
1 large avocado, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
6 radishes, sliced.
1 cup diced jicama.
1 fistful of fresh mint, chopped.
1 fistful of fresh basil, chopped.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
6 large strawberries, sliced.
1 T sugar.
1 T balsamic vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Recipe for Spring Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Avocado, Jicama, and Radishes

Pretty colors.


I decided to macerate the strawberries in sugar and vinegar — my goal was a heavily infused salad dressing, so that the strawberry flavor would really permeate the salad. I started by slicing the strawberries and putting them in a large jar. I added the sugar, closed the lid and tossed the strawberries to really coat them with the sugar. I let that sit for a moment, then added the balsamic vinegar and tossed them again. While the strawberries released their juices, I began to work. I created a bed of baby greens, and chopped the jicama and the radishes. Then I added the herbs. I paused here to tend to the soup. You’ll want to let the strawberries macerate for at least twenty minutes, so plan your cooking accordingly. When the chowder was ready to dish up, I sliced open the avocado, added the oil and salt to the salad dressing, and combined it all.

Recipe for Spring Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Avocado, Jicama, and Radishes

It looks so good...

The Verdict:
My core idea was solid. The macerated strawberries made a truly amazing salad dressing. Basil and mint were perfect herbs to pair with the vinaigrette, and the jicama and radish worked really well.

But… It was too mushy! The combination of the tender baby greens, macerated strawberries, and that enormous avocado was just not right. Even with the jicama and radish, it was too soft and squishy. I think I should have left the avocado out. Or started with a crunchier green — romaine, or endive — and used less of the avocado. I think really good endives and just a little avocado would make this a classy, well balanced salad.

But my real error was my meal planning, or lack thereof. Corn chowder. Remember that? I honed in on the salty bacon, and thought my sweet strawberry salad would be perfect with the savory soup. But the salty bacon? It was balancing all that sweet corn! This soup and salad combination was essentially dessert for dinner.

The strawberry salad really needs to be eaten alongside something strong and savory. Smoky dry rub barbecue, or a really good pork roast, or a hefty veggie burger. Not sweet corn soup.

So, play with the vinaigrette. It really is good. But keep your crunch ratio strong, and choose your main course wisely.

Make it a Meal:
Don’t bother — too much to fix. But if you’re doing the fixing (hearty romaine or endives, skip the avocado) I’d add some crispy crunchy protein — salty nuts, or sliced up fried chicken, or leftover pork chop.

Pack it to Go:
Again, don’t bother. Of course, if you’ve fixed the flaws, then pack your salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a well fitting lid, and your dressing (including the strawberries, of course) in a large jar. If you dare to include avocado, put it in with the dressing to prevent browning. When you’re ready to eat, shake your dressing well, and drizzle it over the salad. Use a fork to fish out all of the strawberries. Use only as much dressing as you want. Fork toss, and enjoy.

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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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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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