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Archive for the ‘8) Condiments’ 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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Homemade tzatziki, a hefty bed of arugula, a quartered tomato, garbanzo beans, sliced mushrooms, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and more of those toasted pine nuts. Not bad!

tzatzikiarugula

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dayfifteen

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Current guidelines for this time around are that there will be no weekend posts and any meal in a bowl on a bed of raw greens counts as a salad.

So, today I put my stir fry dinner in a bowl over a huge bed of raw spinach. The rest of the family is having brown rice, but I wanted to make sure to get my salad in for the day!

stirfrysalad

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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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My husband loves spicy food. I can handle it, in small doses. He also recently requested “crazier” salads. I aim to please.

I bought opal basil and young ginger at the Berkeley Bowl recently, as well as daikon and mixed asian greens. I wasn’t sure exactly how the salad would come together, but I knew I wanted to play with some slightly more unusual ingredients. We both had busy days planned, so I made two matching lunch salads, packed to go. This was a perfect opportunity to really spice up his salad, and I did. Mine stayed mild enough for me to enjoy, and I made his salad hot hot HOT.

Recipe for Salad with Spicy Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts, Daikon, Young Ginger, and Opal Basil

Here are the ingredients, ready to face the blade.

Ingredients:
(Lunch salad, serves one.)
4 cups of mixed asian greens, including mizuna, tatsoi, baby mustard greens, and baby romaine.
1 fistful of opal basil, chopped.
4-5 cherry tomatoes, whole.
2 large mushrooms, sliced.
2 scallions, sliced.
1/2 cup candied walnuts.
1 knob of young ginger, peeled, sliced, and cut into small matchsticks.
9 slices of peeled daikon, halved. (Use a mandoline or a good cheese slicer to get thin slices.)
1/4 leftover roast chicken breast, cubed.
1/2 leftover roast chicken drumstick, shredded.

Spicy Sesame Oil Balsamic Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T dark sesame oil.
1 T balsamic vinegar.
1 small shallot, diced.
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1-3 hefty pinches of red chili flakes, to taste.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Twin Salads with Spicy Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts, Daikon, Young Ginger, and Opal Basil

Twin salads ready to go!


I doubled all of the ingredients above and made two matching salads, complete with vinaigrette. I began by mixing up the vinaigrettes in little jars, giving him three big pinches of red chili flakes to my one very small pinch. I tasted my dressing, and just hoped for the best for him. Then I created a lush bed of greens for each of us, and layered all of my other ingredients in two glass bowls. I chopped and sliced and sliced and chopped, putting my knife down only to use a spoon to peel the ginger and to use a fine Norwegian cheese slicer to quickly slice the daikon into perfect, thin circles. Finally, both glass bowls were full of a colorful, hearty salad. I nestled the salad dressing jars in the larger containers, popped the lids on, and we each went off for the day.

Recipe for Salad with Spicy Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts, Daikon, Young Ginger, and Opal Basil Ready to Eat

Quick snapshot taken with my phone of the glossy beauty before I devoured it.


The Verdict:
This was really amazing. Like nothing I’ve tried before, at home or in a restaurant. Full of strong, punchy flavors that worked very well together. I liked the balsamic vinegar with the sesame oil, and the bits of ginger really sparkled. The walnuts and the daikon added crunchy joy, and the sweetness of the nuts and the tomatoes worked well with the spicy dressing and the peppery greens. It was crazy, in a good way. My husband loved the chili heat, and the explosive flavor. This is one that I’m sure I’ll revisit.

Recipe for Salad with Spicy Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts, Daikon, Young Ginger, and Opal Basil, To Go!

Notice the dressing jar nestled cozily in with the salad.


Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

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We were all starving. Quick dinner time. I tossed a pot of rice on the stove, and pulled out what I needed for stir fried sesame chicken with shitake mushrooms and celery. I wanted a salad that would work with the stir fry, and a jar of hoisin sauce sitting in the door of the fridge caught my eye. I grabbed mint, daikon, scallions, mushrooms, and my hand picked mixed greens, which included a hefty amount of mizuna.

Recipe: Ingredients for Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette, Mizuna, Daikon, and Mint

The ingredients, ready to be transformed.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves four.)
6 cups of mixed greens, including mizuna, red leaf lettuce, radicchio, and frisee.
4 inch piece of daikon, sliced.
3-4 scallions, sliced.
2 large mushrooms, halved and sliced.
1 generous fistful of fresh mint, chopped.

Recipe: Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette, Mizuna, Daikon, and Mint, tossed

Up close look at all the beautiful colors.

Hoisin Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Ginger:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T hoisin sauce.
1 T rice wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
2 inch knob of young ginger, chopped.
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt.

I mixed up the vinaigrette right away, tasting it as I went to make sure the flavors were working together. Then I prepared a bed of greens. I chopped all the vegetables and added them to the bowl. When the rice and stir fry were done cooking, my salad was ready to be dressed and tossed.

Recipe: Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette, Mizuna, Daikon, and Mint, plated

On the plate and ready to eat!

The Verdict:
This was incredible. It helps that I absolutely adore hoisin sauce with mint. The daikon added perfect crunch and that yummy peppery flavor, and the mushrooms soaked up the vinaigrette like the tasty little sponges that they are. It was a little too weird for the kids, but my husband and I ate every bit of it. Absolutely perfect.

Make it a Meal:
Add your protein of choice — I highly recommend leftover steak, sliced over the top of the salad. Beef and hoisin and mint together are mouth wateringly delicious. Simple chicken or grilled shrimp will also work well. For vegetarian options, I think tofu would be a great addition, or shelled edamame, or green beans, or snow peas.

Pack it to Go:
This one is easy. Salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a tupperware-style lid, vinaigrette in a small jar. Shake vinaigrette, drizzle only as much as you need on the salad, and then fork toss or put the lid back on the large container and give it a few good shakes to combine. Eat 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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