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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

Another weird one, this time with the pasta pesto and mini chicken apple sausage’s one of my kid’s made for dinner piled on top of a bed of mixed greens. Let’s see if I can do better next week…

anotherweirdone

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dayfivelunchsalad

Yummy. Arugula, tomato, mozzarella, basil, shallots, avocado, balsamic vinaigrette.

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I was hungry. Really hungry. And I wanted something familiar, homey. And I felt brazen. So I made a fried egg salad. It sounded yummy. Comfortable and weird. What the heck, food is food.

I grabbed greens, eggs, all the random veggies I had that made sense, and ingredients for a yummy honey mustard vinaigrette. I wanted tang and sweet — sharp cheddar, salty egg, delicious greens. It all sounded good. So I slapped it all together.

Recipe for Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and Fried Egg

Basic ingredients, ready for action. Egg and butter not depicted.

Ingredients:
(Lunch salad, serves one.)
4 cups of mixed baby greens.
15 baby carrots, cut into thirds.
1 tomato, chopped.
1 fistful of fresh italian parsley, chopped.
1 fistful of fresh chives, chopped.
2 T grated extra sharp cheddar.
2 large eggs.
1 tsp butter.
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste.

Vinaigrette or Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T red wine vinegar.
1 tsp mustard.
1 tsp honey.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I made my bed of greens, and I chopped the carrots and tomatoes that would lie in it. I added my herbs. I mixed up my vinaigrette. And I put the butter in my ancient cast iron pan, and fried my egg, over medium, just like I like it. Cook the whites, leave the yolk super juicy. I tossed the egg on top of the salad, drizzled the dressing over it all, mixed it up with my fork, and gobbled it up.

Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette with Fried Egg

Here it is, dressing drizzled over the egg, all juicy and delicious and ready to be busted open.


The Verdict:
I loved this. So much. So much, it’s been hard to think of anything interesting enough to follow it up with. The cheese got a little melty with the hot egg. The chives added that delicious hint of oniony heaven. The egg… The juicy, delicious, amazing egg. The yolk mixed with the dressing and coated the leaves. The crispy edges of the egg whites added this beguiling crunch. The carrots helped crunchify it even more, while the tomato juices blended with the egg yolk and the honey mustard vinaigrette perfectly.

Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and Fried Egg, Ready to Eat

Time to devour it!

This salad? This is exactly why I play in the kitchen. When it works, it works. And I don’t just mean that the recipe is perfect, I mean that what you really want, what you crave, is exactly what you create, and you get to eat it, and it is just, well, right. It was just right. This salad, it was exactly what my weird brain craved, and my mouth was happy, and my tummy was full, and it was perfect.

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Not going to happen. Sorry, but unless it’s easy for you to pack a raw egg and fry it at work (or wherever you eat your packed lunch) this one isn’t going to go anywhere. Eat it at home, where you have your fully functioning kitchen, and enjoy it.

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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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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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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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This is an easy classic salad. I usually make it as a side dish for a special dinner, but it was lunchtime, and I wanted something light but extra tasty.

Ingredients for Salad with Blue Cheese, Apple, and Candied Pecans

Simple ingredients, ready to be transformed.

Ingredients:
(Lunch salad, serves one as a meal.)
1 hearts of romaine, chopped.
1/4 cup of candied pecans.
1/2 apple, quartered, cored, and chopped.
1 scallions, chopped.
1 1/2 T blue cheese, crumbled.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1 T blue cheese.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I was feeding two of us, so I gathered doubled the ingredients above. I like this salad lightly dressed, so I didn’t bother making two batches of dressing — one jar worked perfectly for two salads.

I mixed up the vinaigrette first, so the flavors would meld, and then I chopped my salad ingredients. First, I built a crispy bed of romaine, and sprinkled the nuts and cheese over the top. I put crumbled blue cheese into the salad as well as in the vinaigrette because I love the creaminess it adds to the dressing, but I don’t want to sacrifice the tasty clumps that you get when you put it directly into the salad. It’s a win-win to have it both places. Then I chopped the scallions and the apple and added them to the salad. I drizzled the vinaigrette, tossed, and enjoyed.

Salad with Blue Cheese, Apple, and Candied Pecans

Luscious. Delicious. Ready to be devoured.

The Verdict:
I always love this salad. Sometimes I use pear instead of apple. Sometimes I use arugula. Sometimes I go for the mixed greens. Regardless, the crunchy nuts and the clean fruit work perfectly with the creamy, tangy blue cheese. I really enjoyed the super crunch of this one, with the crispy apple and the fresh romaine. I tossed the scallions in on a whim, and decided they were irrelevant. They didn’t detract or add, they were just there. I probably won’t bother with them next time, but if you really love a little extra onion crunch, go for it.

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
The apple needs to be packed in the jar with the dressing so that it doesn’t brown. Keep the rest of the salad ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel container, and combine the dressing with the salad when you’re ready to fork toss and eat.

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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.

Ingredients:
(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?

Crunch!

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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I bought a jar of grilled cipolline onions in oil recently, just because they were next to the cocktail onions that were on my grocery list, and I was hungry, and they looked intriguing. The cipolline onions are very tasty, but other than randomly nibbling on them, I haven’t been quite sure how to use them.

While trying to plan a lunch salad, the cipolline onions and a carton of hard boiled eggs caught my eye, and I got an idea. I wanted strong, strong flavors — the intensity of a Nicoise salad, but with a different palette. I pulled out the parmigiano-reggiano, and some vegetables, and got to work. I knew this salad would need some serious crunch to measure up to the soft egg and the slippery onions, so I chose romaine and carrots to diversify the textures.

Cipolline Onion and Egg Ingredients

All the ingredients for two salads.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 scallions, chopped.
1/2 carrot, quartered lengthwise and chopped.
1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced.
1 hard boiled egg, cut into wedges.
1 fistful of basil, chopped.
1 T – 1/4 cup of fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano, to taste.
Cracked pepper, to taste.

Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need; refrigerate extra for several days.)
1T red wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
5 grilled cipolline onions, in oil.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Cipolline Onion and Egg

Two salads, side by side.

I doubled all of the ingredients listed above, and prepared two lunches at the same time — one packed up to go to work with my husband, the other for me to enjoy later in the day. I started by making a nice hearty bed of romaine, and then I chopped up the vegetables and added them. I dusted it all with parmigiano-reggiano and black pepper, and then placed the sliced egg on top. I quickly mixed up my vinaigrette, nestling one jar in my husband’s packed lunch, and leaving the other on the counter for me.

Cipolline Onion and Egg, Eat

Ready to eat!

Verdict:
Powerful flavors. This salad was really delicious. I loved the egg and onion with the parmigiano. The carrot and romaine definitely played a key part. I’m not totally sure about the basil and the orange bell pepper — I think I could’ve omitted both, or maybe just added less of them. I’d like to try this salad again — it was really striking.

Cipolline Onion and Egg, Packed

Packed to go!

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Done. Just keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat, then add only as much as you need, fork toss (or put the lid back on and give it a few quick shakes), and enjoy.

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Once upon a time, my husband and I would spend hours hiking through wet forests in search of elusive, fragrant, delicious fungi.

I love wild mushrooms. These days, our hikes don’t take us very far, even when they last for hours, because we walk with people who have short legs and even shorter attention spans. We still try, and our kids are beginning to get as excited as we are about foraging for wild food. I wish I’d made this salad entirely with chanterelles that I’d found in the woods. Someday, I will. This time? I couldn’t resist the chanterelles at the Berkeley Bowl. They weren’t as big and beautiful as those we’ve discovered on our own, but they were right there in front of me, and I went for it. I couldn’t bring myself to buy as many chanterelles as I wanted (it’s so hard to pay a lot for something when you know you could find better for free), so I cheated and added in some button mushrooms.

The kids were having pasta, so this was a side salad for my husband and I, but my plan was for it to be the main dish. The pasta was the real side for the adults enjoying this meal.

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Romaine, Ingredients

Delicious mushrooms, ready for chopping!

Ingredients:
1 large romaine heart, chopped.
1/2 head garlic, coarsely chopped.
4-6 cups of chanterelles and button mushrooms, coarsely chopped.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 stick of butter.
3/4 large shallot, finely diced.
Pinch of salt, to taste.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated over the salad.

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Romaine, Shallots

Chopped shallots, about to be added to the pan with the mushrooms.

Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate the remainder for several days.)
1 T red wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/4 large shallot, finely diced.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I started by chopping my mountain of mushrooms and smashing the garlic. I put the oil and butter in a wide, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. I added the garlic, stirred until it was just golden, then added all the mushrooms. While the mushrooms cooked, I chopped the shallot and mixed up my vinaigrette. Once the mushrooms softened and smelled amazing, I added salt and tasted for tenderness. When the texture was just right, I tossed the shallots in and sauteed them until they were translucent. I removed the pan from the heat, and set it aside.

I coated the greens with dressing (very lightly!!!) and served the salad with a mound of mushrooms nestled in the greens, and a dusting of parmigiano reggiano. This dressing has less oil because the greens end up coated with the rich, buttery, sauce from the delicious mushrooms.

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Romaine, Plated

Our mushroom salad, with a side of pasta.

The Verdict:
Yummy. I think I would’ve appreciated more diverse greens — some peppery arugula, a little radicchio, frisee, baby beet greens… You know what I mean. I did like the crunch of the romaine, I just wanted a little more flavor from the greens. I recommend replacing some of the romaine with mixed greens.

Make it a Meal:
I like red meat and wild salmon with chanterelles. It would’ve worked to lay a grilled salmon fillet over the mushrooms, or slice some steak on top. Of course, the mushrooms are rich and buttery enough to be very, very filling all on their own.

Pack it to Go:
The only way I can see that working is if you’ve got your greens in one container, your dressing in a small jar, and your cooked mushrooms in a glass container that you can heat up before tossing it all together. The mushrooms need to be warm, and you’ll destroy the greens if you heat them up. But if you keep it all separate, and combine it when you’re ready to eat, it should work out fine.

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