Posts Tagged ‘red wine vinegar’

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.

(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:


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Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Lunch Salad, prep one

Arugula, leftover chicken, asparagus, and red wine vinaigrette.

Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Lunch Salad, prep two

Basil, scallion, mushrooms and radishes ready for slicing.

Since I was supposed to be walking out the door for a homeschooling park day when I realized I hadn’t eaten yet, speediness mattered.

I raided the fridge for leftovers and found a jar of shallot red wine vinaigrette, and some sesame chicken with asparagus. I grabbed arugula, mushrooms, basil, and a scallion to make it a meal.

Salad ingredients:
3 generous cups of arugula.
4 radishes, sliced.
3 large mushrooms, sliced.
1 scallion, sliced.
1 fistful of basil, chopped.
2 small sesame chicken tenderloins, sliced.
3 fat spears of asparagus, chopped.

Red Wine Vinegar Shallot Vinaigrette:
(Mine was leftover from a double batch I’d made the day before. If you want to replicate it at home, here are the ingredients for a single batch. Use what you need, there may be extra.)
1 T of red wine vinegar.
3 T of extra virgin olive oil.
1 small shallot, diced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I chopped fast, and dumped everything into the bowl. After drizzling the dressing over the top, I did a quick toss with my fork and then inhaled my lunch. Even when salad is quick to make, it’s never very quick to eat, but I did my best.

Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Lunch Salad

Dressed and ready to eat!

The Verdict:
Diverse flavors, many tasty bites, but the salad as a whole didn’t quite hang together. I think the basil and asparagus didn’t mesh as well as I’d hoped. If I’d had more time, I would’ve made a citronette instead, and replaced the basil with mint and lemon zest. I think a bright, citrus dressing would’ve been a better fit with the chicken and asparagus leftovers. Still, it was a decent lunch and provided me with plenty of energy for the park outing.

Make it a meal:
Already done!

Pack it to go:
This one would work well to go, just as-is, but why bother? Make a citronette instead, and use mint and lemon zest instead of basil. The ingredients are all hardy enough to handle spending the morning in the fridge. So, pack all the salad ingredients in a large container. The dressing goes in a small jar (I like jars that are little enough to nest inside the salad so you’ve just got one item to haul around). Add some dressing (start with a little so you don’t drown the salad), fork toss, and munch away.

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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 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.

(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.

(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!

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:

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!

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.

(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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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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