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Posts Tagged ‘side dish’

I love a good ranch salad dressing, and I don’t have go-to recipe for it like I do with vinaigrettes and citronettes. You’ve seen my experiment with buttermilk ranch vinaigrette. This time, some leftover homemade sour cream veggie dip* looked like the perfect addition to the pseudo-chef’s salad I was planning for lunch.

I bemoaned the absence of romaine or green leaf lettuce because I love their crunch with creamy dressings and deli meat. Instead, I made do with some mixed baby greens I had on hand. Then I grabbed the ham, turkey, cucumber, radishes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and scallions — all ingredients that work really well for me with ranch dressing. I added tarragon and savory for extra flavor. And I got to chopping.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Sour Cream Ranch Dressing, Deli Meat, Cucumber, Radishes, and Cherry Tomatoes

The ingredients, ready for action!

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
4 cups of mixed baby greens.
1/4 cucumber, quartered and sliced.
2 large mushrooms, halved and sliced.
3 baby carrots, sliced.
3 radishes, quartered.
3 cherry tomatoes, left whole. If serving instantly, slice in half.
1 scallion, sliced.
3 thin slices of red onion, quartered.
2 slices of honey ham, sliced.
2 slices of turkey, crumbled.
2 sprigs of tarragon, chopped.
2 savory leaves, chopped.

Sour Cream Ranch Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
2 T sour cream ranch veggie dip.*
1 T rice wine vinegar.
1/2 clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
A pinch of salt, to taste.

I was making two salads for lunch, so I doubled all of the ingredients listed above, including the salad dressing. I mixed the ranch dressing in a small jar, tasting as I went to make sure I liked the flavors. It looked like a lot of dressing (I thought it would easily work for three salads), so I put some of my husband’s serving into my jar, which would be staying at home in our fridge. I thought we could enjoy it later.

With the sour cream ranch dressing mixed up, I started chopping veggies and adding them to the two beds of lush baby greens I’d built. The bowls filled up fast! I left the cherry tomatoes whole so that they would travel well. I nestled the dressing jar in the glass container for my husband before popping the red rubber lid on it. Mine just went into the fridge for lunch time.

Recipe for Salad with Sour Cream Ranch Dressing, Deli Meat, Cucuber, Radishes, and Cherry Tomatoes

Two salads, prepped and ready to eat. All they need is that delicious dressing drizzled over them...


The Verdict:
Yummy! This was the creamiest dressing I’ve ever made, and due to the inclusion of the sour cream dip, it had a really nice depth of flavor. I used every drop of the dressing I set aside for myself. (Remember, I thought I had enough for two salads? Wrong.) My poor husband texted me at lunch time to tell me that he loved it, and he’d never worked so hard to get every drop of dressing out of the jar before… Moral of the story? Really thick, creamy dressings don’t spread as well as light vinaigrettes. Or we just both adore lots of good, sour cream ranch deliciousness with our crunchy cucumber, radish, and carrot bites.

This salad was really filling. I didn’t mind the softness of the baby greens as much as I thought I might, though I still think romaine or green leaf lettuce or even a very fresh iceberg would be a better match for the creamy salad dressing. It was still tasty, and I ate every bite. In fact, I was so hungry and it was so good that I didn’t realized I’d failed to snap a picture of it fully dressed until after I’d devoured every last bit. Oops… I will have to continue experimenting with ranch so you get more pictures of creamy delectability.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a veggie version, skip the deli meat and toss in your favorite beans or some cheddar cheese.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

*Ingredients for Sour Cream Veggie Dip
1 cup sour cream.
1 sprig of tarragon, finely chopped.
1 scallion, very finely chopped.
Dash of rice wine vinegar.
Pinch of garlic powder, to taste.
Pinch of smoked paprika, to taste.
Pinch of Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute, to taste.
Pinch of salt, to taste.
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.

My husband whipped this up on the fly. Combine and sample and tinker with the ingredients until it pleases you. We went heavy on the garlic powder and light on the smoked paprika.

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When life gives you leftovers, make salad!

Leftover protein and vegetables are amazing in salads. It’s a quick, easy way to make a delicious, nutritious meal. It’s cost-effective, because the leftover ingredients go further in a salad than they would on their own, and it’s fun, because you’re not actually eating the same damn thing twice in a week.

So, I was short on time and creativity, and I had some excellent leftover chicken tenderloins and some cooked corn. I rooted around for lettuce, mandarins, fresh herbs, and other veggies, and I made the best of it.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Lime Citronette, Leftover Chicken, Mandarins, Mint, and Cilantro

The ingredients, ready to be transformed!

Ingredients:
(Serves two as a meal.)
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped.
2 scallions, chopped.
3 mandarins, peeled, cut in half, and quartered.
4 button mushrooms, quartered.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
1 red bell pepper, sliced.
2 chicken tenderloins, leftover, cooked with onion, chopped.
1/2 cup of cooked corn.
1 fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped.
Zest of one lime.

Lime Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a day or two.)
1 T lime juice.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I made a lovely bed of romaine lettuce and zested my lime over it. Then I whipped up my citronette in a small jar, and started chopping. I added the chicken, vegetables, and herbs first, saving the avocado and mandarin for last so that they would be bright and colorful. I don’t like brown avocado, and I prefer for citrus fruit to go into salads at the last minute so it doesn’t wilt the lettuce. Once all of my ingredients were properly sliced and diced, I drizzled the dressing over the top and tossed it before serving it up.

Recipe for Salad with Lime Citronette, Leftover Chicken, Mandarins, Mint, and Cilantro

Rainbow deliciousness, ready to eat!


The Verdict:
Straightforward and delicious. The mint and cilantro brighten up the salad, and the juicy mandarins work well with the creamy avocado. The simplicity of the lime citronette works well with the leftover chicken and corn, and helps bring all of the flavors together. The crunchy red bell pepper and the crisp romaine lettuce keep the salad fresh and the textures diverse. This was a perfect example of how using leftovers meat and cooked veggies in salads is a great way to streamline cooking while keeping the food fun, tasty, and interesting.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a vegan salad, swap out the chicken for garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, shelled edamame, or lightly seasoned tofu, and add a smashed and minced clove of garlic to the lime citronette for a little extra flavor.

Pack it to Go:
As usual, the avocado and citrus fruit go in the jar with the salad dressing (this keeps the avocado from browning and the mandarin juices from wilting the lettuce). Everything else goes in a large glass or stainless steel container with a lid. Combine when you’re ready to fork toss and enjoy!

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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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Improvising for dinner again, I needed a kid-friendly salad to accompany the chicken tacos they wanted. I went for a southwestern citronette, happy for a chance to play with the ingredients for one of my favorite salads.

I pulled a heart of romaine and some arugula out of the fridge, and grabbed a yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, a cucumber, cilantro, scallions, and of course some citrus fruits. Impressed by the beautiful colors, I snapped a picture and got to work.

Ingredients and Recipe for Salad with Sweet Southwestern Citronette, Arugula, Avocado, and Navel Orange

Here are the ingredients, ready to chop.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves 4-6.)
1 heart of romaine.
2-4 cups of arugula.
1 fistful of cilantro.
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced.
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
5 mushrooms, quartered.
1/4 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
3 scallions, sliced.
1 navel orange, skin sliced off, quartered and sliced.
Zest of one navel orange.
Zest of one lemon.

Southwestern Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T lemon juice.
1 tsp maple syrup.
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp cumin.
1/4 tsp smoked paprika.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Recipe for Salad with Sweet Southwestern Citronette, Arugula, Avocado, and Navel Orange

Tossed and ready to serve!


While the chicken for the tacos cooked, and my husband crisped the corn tortillas, I created a gorgeous bed of salad greens and zested the citrus fruit over the top. Then I juiced the lemon and prepared my citronette in a small jar. I doubled the maple syrup this time (from my typical half of a teaspoon for this type of salad to a full teaspoon). I’m not sure why I did that — in part to appeal to the kids, but it also just tasted right to have a sweeter dressing with the spicy arugula.

With the citronette made and mellowing, I started chopping and adding vegetables to my bowl. I saved the avocado and the navel orange for last so that the avocado would be lusciously green and the citrus juice wouldn’t wilt the lettuce.

Recipe for Salad with Sweet Southwestern Citronette with Arugula, Avocado, and Navel Orange: Plated

On the plate and ready to enjoy!

The Verdict:
The salad was delicious. It worked really well with the tacos, and was devoured by everyone at the table. Complete success!

Make it a Meal:
Easy enough — add pinto beans, black beans, leftover chicken, steak, carnitas, or shrimp, and then sprinkle some corn chips over it for extra crouton-style crunch.

Pack it to Go:
Avocado and orange need to be packed in a jar with the salad dressing. The rest of the salad is fine in a nice large glass or stainless steel container with a good rubber lid. Nestle the jar in the salad container and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, simply shake the dressing and pour it over the salad. Use only what you need (use a fork to pull the yummy fruit out of the jar without getting more citronette than you want). Fork toss your salad, or put the lid back on the salad container and give it a few good shakes to combine. Enjoy!

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Time for a simple lunch salad, just for me. I wanted to see if beets would work with one of my favorite salad combinations — creamy pears, crunchy candied pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad with Golden Beet, Pear, Cranberries, and Candied Pecans

Ingredients, ready for action.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
3-4 cups of mache and mixed greens, including radicchio and frisee.
1/2 a pear, quartered, cored, and sliced.
1/4 cup of candied pecans.
1/4 cup of dried, sweetened cranberries.
1/4 cup of grated golden beets.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Salad with Golden Beet, Pear, Cranberries, and Candied Pecans

Ready for the vinaigrette!

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T balsamic vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

First I prepared my salad dressing in a small jar, giving the garlic time to mellow and infuse the vinaigrette. I created a nice bed of greens, chopped my pear, and added everything to the salad bowl. I gave it a good dusting of pepper before drizzling the vinaigrette over it and tossing it.

Salad with Golden Beet, Pear, Cranberries, and Candied Pecans

A dessert of a salad, ready to eat.


The Verdict:
The beets weren’t that noticeable, honestly, and the salad was a little sweet for me. I love these flavors as a side salad, but I don’t recommend it as a lunch salad unless you’ve got a pretty serious sweet tooth. (Bear in mind that my husband thinks I’ve got a genetic mutation that disables the normal human appreciation for sugary goodness, so if this sounds amazing to you, go for it. There’s a good chance I’m the weirdo, not you.) Regardless, I would have loved this salad if it shared a plate with a really good pork chop and some roasted potatoes.

Make it a Meal:
Done, but not recommended. Serve it on the side with something delectably savory instead.

Pack it to Go:
Apples go in with the dressing to prevent browning. If it’s sitting for a long time, the beets will also brown, so bear that in mind and plan accordingly. As always, add your dressing at the last minute, only as much as you need, fork toss, 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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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.

Ingredients:
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.

Citronette:
(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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