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Posts Tagged ‘side’

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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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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Soup and salad. One of my favorite meals. I had the lentil soup bubbling on the stove, I just needed a salad to go along with it. I opted for a straightforward, assertive balsamic vinaigrette. I like extra crunchy salads to go with soup, so I grabbed the romaine lettuce and a really crisp bell pepper. I added lots of mushrooms to soak up the vinaigrette and help deepen the flavors of the salad. Parsley for fun, and I was ready to chop.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Orange Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, and Parsley

Simple ingredients, ready to be transformed into a delicious salad.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves 4-6.)
2 heart of romaine.
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced.
5 medium mushrooms, sliced.
1 fistful of fresh parsley, chopped.

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

As usual, I started with the balsamic vinaigrette. I like making that first so that the garlic has time to mellow and infuse the salad dressing with yumminess. Once my vinaigrette ingredients were in the small jar I had on hand, I built my bed of romaine lettuce. I sliced up my bell pepper and mushrooms, and tossed them over the greens, and then I chopped the parsley and sprinkled it on top.

Once the soup was dished up and ready to eat, I drizzled my vinaigrette over my salad, tossed it, and served it up.

Recipe for Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Orange Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, and Parsley

Dive in!

The Verdict:
Delicious, straightforward, hearty salad. It was perfect with the lentil soup. The flavors complemented each other, and we devoured it all. I really like parsley with a good balsamic vinaigrette — it’s a remarkably simple herb with a flavor that blends well.

Make it a Meal:
Kidney beans work particularly well with balsamic vinaigrette, bell pepper, and mushrooms, so that’s my first choice. Leftover dinner meat, like roast chicken or sliced steak, would also work well.

Pack it to Go:
This one is easy to pack — put all of the salad ingredients into a nice large glass or stainless steel container with a good sealing rubber lid. The Ssalad dressing remains in it’s jar until you’re ready to eat. If you have a small jar for the dressing, just nestle it in with the salad ingredients. When lunchtime hits, simply drizzle as much dressing as you want over your salad, fork toss, and enjoy.

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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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