Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts

30 August 2018

Mom's Coleslaw

My most recent CSA farm share included a very large "Gunma" cabbage. This variety of cabbage is, I am told, highly sought after because it is a tender and sweet cabbage with a large flat shape that makes it perfect for stuffing. Well, while I love to eat stuffed cabbage, I have never made stuffed cabbage before and am unlikely to start soon.

So far, I've thrown an eighth of the cabbage in a minestrone soup, roasted a quarter of it with onions, and used another quarter to make my Mom's coleslaw. This is a very basic slaw, but it was served at every childhood Easter and family picnic and I retain a certain nostalgia for it.


The recipe is just an estimation. It is totally up to you how much milk or mayonnaise or seasoning you use. For me, I like a slightly dry, garlicky slaw so I used a half cup of mayonnaise and two tablespoons milk. As for garlic, I sprinkled the roasted garlic powder on until it looked like too much and knew that was exactly the right amount.


Mom's Coleslaw

Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about ½ a medium head)
  • 1 carrot, grated coarsely
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, & dried parsley as desired
  • Mayonnaise, as needed
  • Milk, as needed

Instructions

  1. Combine cabbage, carrot, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and milk until you like the thickness.
  3. Pour over cabbage and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (overnight is best).
  5. Adjust seasonings as needed before serving.

09 August 2018

Summery Bean & Chopped Vegetable Salad

This summer, my garden seems very reluctant to give me any tomatoes. So far, I've harvested a double handful when I'd usually be up to my eyeballs in delicious cherry and currant tomatoes by now. Garden tomatoes have very much become an supplementary rather than key ingredient in many salads and packed lunches.

This is a kind of "clear out the kitchen salad" which makes good use of stuff you probably already have hanging around. The corn is usually leftover roast corn, but thawed frozen or drained can will work just as well. If you don't have Penzeys Florida seasoning blend, use salt-free lemon-black pepper, garlic, and onion powder to taste.


Bean & Vegetable Salad

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup lime-infused olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp Penzeys Florida seasoning blend
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup diced seeded cucumber
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, seasoning blend, garlic, and cilantro. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated.
  3. For best results cover and refrigerate overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Adjust seasoning as needed.

19 July 2018

Not-Too-Creamy Coleslaw

Late last week, Dad texted me to say he'd finally made up his mind about what he'd like for Father's Day. Yes, I know Father's Day was in June and you're all scratching your heads about why I'm talking about Father's Day picnics now. Well, Dad's birthday is the week before FD so we move one or the other so he still gets two separate, special days. The same happens with Mom's birthday and Mother's Day. Anyway, he wanted to come up for a picnic of burgers and salads. Easy enough, I thought, but which salads would he like? Oh, any kind. Whatever I liked. Cook's choice.

So. I made potato salad, bean salad, and coleslaw. Unlike potato and bean salad, while I've eaten a lot of slaw in my life, I don't have a lot of experience making it. When I do, I usually fiddle with Mom's recipe until I have something that seems about right ...


Not-too-creamy coleslaw

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 14-oz bag coleslaw mix
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, bell pepper, and scallion.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour mayonnaise mixture over coleslaw mix and stir until combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Adjust seasonings as desired before serving.

Everyone (Dad most importantly) seemed to like this coleslaw. It was very colorful with good flavor -- tangy and herby, with just the right amount of creaminess and crunch. While we initially ate it as a side dish, it later made a very good burger topping.

05 July 2018

Snap Pea, Green Bean, & Radish Salad

Today, I breakfasted on peas. Stood in the vegetable garden, splitting the monstrous snap pea pods open with my thumb, and then gobbled up all the green peas like so much candy. The trouble with snap peas is that there are always a few that manage to hide from me and grow monstrously large. Large pea pods are bad, I feel, because the pods have gone hard and are not pleasant to eat even when cooked.

In addition to the monstrous peas, I picked a bowlful of regular-sized snap peas and another of bush green beans. This week's CSA share included an overly generous bunch of radishes I didn't quite know what to do with, so I decided to make a salad of the three.



Snap Pea, Green Bean, & Radish Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ lb green beans, trimmed
  • ½ lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 6 large radishes, halved & thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp garlic-infused white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Penzeys Sunny Paris (or similar salt-free blend)
  • Sea salt & coarsely ground black pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add beans, cover pan, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add sugar snap peas, cover, and continue to simmer until beans and peas are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more.
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain vegetables and plunge them into the ice water bath. Remove and pat dry.
  4. In a large serving bowl, whisk together vinegar and seasoning blend. Add beans, peas, and radishes to the serving bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt and peppers, as desired. Serve immediately.

We ate this with grilled steaks and I thought it was quite tasty, but The Husband found the beans too firm and was just generally displeased with the entire combination of vegetables and flavors. As I have been known to eat leftover green beans straight from the fridge, you should probably take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Also, be aware this salad will not keep. I made enough salad for four, expecting to take the leftovers for lunch, but the salad was decidedly the worse for wear for having been refrigerated.

28 June 2018

Cucumber & Tomato Salad With Cheese & Olives

I often serve a simple chopped cucumber and tomato salad as my go-to weeknight side dish, but that can, admittedly, get a little samey-samey from week to week. Happily, the addition of a little fresh soft cheese and olives is a great way to dress it up and make it taste more interesting.

The recipe listed below is just an example. All of the amounts are quite approximate and should be adjusted to suit your own taste/appetite. I seed the tomatoes if I'm using a full-sized one, because otherwise the salad can be bit, well, seedy. However, I don't bother to peel or seed the cucumber because I prefer the added texture. As always, feel free to do your own thing.

Yes, those are fish sticks in the background. No, I have no shame. They were delicious.


Cucumber & Tomato Salad With Cheese & Olives

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 oz chopped tomatoes
  • 5 oz chopped cucumber
  • 3 oz crumbled feta cheese or fresh goat cheese or perlini mozzarella
  • 1½ oz chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, parsley, or Mediterranean oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients together in a serving bowl. Allow to rest on the kitchen side (so the flavors can marry) while you grill your chicken, bake your fish fingers, or whathaveyou.

14 June 2018

#ImprovCooking: Red, White, & Blue

June's Improv Cooking Challenge theme was red, white, and blue. This would have been the perfect opportunity to trot out a patriotic Battenberg cake, but I just didn't have that kind of time. (Do you know how many years a Battenberg has sat at the top of my "to bake" list? Too. Darn. Many. Someday, Battenberg, someday.) So here's a bright, seasonal salad full of fresh berries and all the right colors. It is simply dressed to taste with a mixture of olive oil and lemon-infused white balsamic vinegar, as I didn't want to overwhelm the berries.

Red: Strawberries
Reddish: Red Onions
White: Jicama
Whitish: Chicken
Blue: Blueberries
Blueish: Blue Cheese


I used canapé cutters to stamp out blossom-shaped pieces of jicama for the "white" in this salad, because I was trying for maximum pretty. Small cubes would work, too, and a Granny Smith apple or Asian pear would be fine substitute if you can't find jicama at your local market. My local grocery stores keeps jicama in two places -- either (already peeled and chopped) next to diced cantaloupe and watermelon or (whole) next to the plantains and coconut.

But what is jicama, you ask? Jicama is as squat roundish root vegetable covered in a rough, bark-like brown skin which should be peeled before eating or cooking. The flesh is white and crunchy with a slightly sweet flavor -- it's kind-of like eating water chestnut or an under ripe pear.


Red, White, & Blue Spinach Salad

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 oz sliced strawberries
  • 3 oz blueberries
  • 1 oz thinly sliced red onion
  • 4 oz jicama cut into blossoms or small cubes
  • 4 oz chopped cooked chicken
  • 3 oz baby spinach
  • 3 Tbsp lemon-infused white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • Salt and pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. For the salad: in a large bowl, toss together strawberries, blueberries, onion, jicama, chicken, and spinach. Set aside.
  2. For the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and cheese. Season, as desired, with salt and ground black pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad and gently toss until well distributed.
  3. To serve: Arrange salad on a large serving platter. Garnish with extra cheese, if desired.


The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.You can also read more about the event on our our home page.

If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.




07 June 2018

Creamy Cucumber & Tomato Salad

This creamy cucumber and tomato salad is one of those panicky "oh, my god, why do I have so many X in my fridge?" throw-together recipes. I honestly don't know how I managed to end up with so many cucumbers in my house -- we like cucumbers, certainly, and eat them nearly every day on sandwiches or in salads or just as snacks with a little fancy salt -- but still. I blame the general cuteness of mini cucumbers. They look so small, so twee that it's easy to not think about just how much cucumber is crammed in one of those handy grab-and-go sacks.


Happily, this throw-together recipe worked out really well! But then how can you go wrong with cucumbers, dill, and sour cream? It's a classic combination.

I cut the sour cream with a little mayonnaise, because that seemed like a good idea at the time, but you could omit it if you are not a mayonnaise-lover -- the salad will just be a bit more tart, of course. I used Hellmann's Majonez Babuni ("Granma's Mayonnaise"), which is I buy from one of the Polish grocers. It's a little sweeter and more velvety than regular Hellmann's, but not nearly as sweet or cloying as Miracle Whip. In retrospect I think, maybe, I was unconsciously trying to make a sauce that was texturally similar to salad cream?


Creamy Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill weed
  • 1 cup seeded, chopped tomato
  • ½ shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups halved sliced cucumber
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a serving bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried dill.
  2. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, and shallot to bowl. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust other seasonings as necessary. Serve.

24 May 2018

Exploring Mexican Made Easy for Cookbook Club


For May's library cookbook club, I made "Maria Cookie & Lime Cream Trifle" from Marcela Valladolid's Mexican Made Easy. When I hear "trifle" I think of the English dessert made with fruit, sherry-soaked sponge, and custard. Well, this trifle is nothing like that, but it's still fabulous -- a creamy, sweet-tart no-bake treat that goes together in minutes, keeps well, and can go straight from fridge to table.

Maria cookies are a very mild, slightly sweetened cookie more similar to a British rich tea biscuit than a traditional American "cookie." They're usually easy to find in the "ethnic" aisle of most grocery stores although Valladolid writes graham crackers can be substituted for the Maria biscuits, if you prefer. I stuck with Maria cookies, because the recipe only uses four ingredients and so substituting one just seemed wrong.

I tried my best to make the recipe exactly as instructed, but ended up doubling the number of layers as I still had a lot of biscuit and cream left after following the instructions (it was either that or make two trifles ... which, in hindsight, I realize might have been a grand idea as I would have had my own private trifle). Proportionally, to get the number of layers Valladolid calls for, I think you'd need to halve the amount of ingredients.

The recipe says it makes six to eight servings, but I would say closer to ten to twelve. No-one stinted in their servings, but there was still plenty left for my coworkers. Honestly, it's a very bright, zesty pud -- rather like deconstructed key lime pie -- and I'm not going to complain about having had too much of it!

When I whizzed the milks and lime juice in my stand mixer, the liquids did thicken up a bit but were still worryingly soupy. However, when I went to serve the trifle seven hours later, the liquid had set into a thick pudding. The biscuits had softened up considerably, but still retained their shape and enough firmness to add a pleasing texture to the trifle.

In addition to the trifle, I've made two other recipes from Mexican Made Easy -- "Red and White Kidney Salad" and "Corn and Zucchini Sauté" -- and they were both easy and flavorful. While I imagine the sauté will be even better with in-season ingredients, it was still very satisfying as it was. The crunchy bacon added a delicious smoky savoriness to the dish that pushed the salad from very nice to "I'm going to eat the whole pan on my own."

The bean salad was also pretty wow. Bright and refreshing with just the right about of zip. A lot of bean salads I've made go the "more ingredients are better" route, but this simple combination of ingredients reminded me that more isn't always better. While I made a significant attempt to eat all the tasty beans the first night, there were leftovers and they kept very nicely in the fridge until the next day when I let them come to room temperature before tossing them with baby spinach and eating them as a main.


Overall, I'm very pleased with my experience cooking from Marcela Valladolid's Mexican Made Easy and look forward to trying out her other cookbooks soon.

14 September 2017

Improv Cooking Challenge: Apples & Honey

September's Improv Challenge Cooking ingredients were apples and honey. Classic fall flavors, they'd usually inspire me to bake some variety of yumptious bundt cake, but ... it's still in the 80s here and very humid, making baking very much a NOPE.

So here's a simple, yet tasty, autumnal-ish salad. Featuring lots of whole grains, protein, healthy fats, and whatnot, it's rather healthy and you can feel righteous while you eat it (if that's your thing).


This salad is delicious as written, but I can see that it would also make a very good base for all sorts of variations, depending on what's in the pantry and fridge. For example, I think a combination of dried cranberries, hazelnuts, and chopped kale could be quite tasty!

Quinoa Apple Salad

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 oz cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 2 oz baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 oz walnuts, chopped
  • 1 oz dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 3 oz cored, chopped Granny Smith apple
  • ½ oz shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp runny apple blossom honey [or your favorite variety]
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine cooked quinoa, spinach, walnuts, cherries, apple, and shallot in a large serving bowl.
  2. Whisk together oil, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour dressing mixture over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  4. Best if allowed to rest for 20 minutes before serving. (If refrigerating, allow to come to room temperature before serving.)

While this makes a lovely light vegetarian lunch all on its own, feel free to add crumbled feta cheese (and/or sliced grilled chicken breast if you do meat) to make it more filling for larger appetites. One serving on its own at lunch kept me going until supper, but then I found I did need to add a little chicken to keep me going through the evening shift.


For anyone new to my blog, the Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the second Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.




16 March 2017

Improv Cooking Challenge: Potatoes & Chives

I was really excited about March's Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients -- potatoes and chives -- because we'd been having such a mild winter that the chive plants in my sheltered back bed never properly died back and I've had fresh chives on hand all winter! Or ... most of the winter. As soon as I made this potato salad, dark clouds massed on the horizon and BLAM! a foot of snow buried everything. Happily, chive plants are hardy as weeds and I'll be knee-deep in chives in another month or so.

This salad would look really attractive garnished with chive blossoms, but SNOW ...

While Potato salad isn't particularly exciting or adventurous, it is one of my favorite foods and I love to tinker with it, trying new variations of dressings, etc. With this salad, I've tossed the hot potatoes with a mixture of oil, vinegar, and mustard -- the potatoes absorb the mixture as it cools and, I feel, the becomes much more flavorful this way. If you are part of the no-mayonnaise-in-my-potato-salad brigade, you could easily omit the mayo ... although you would be missing out on the marvelous combination that is potato and mayonnaise and I would judge you. I used ready-made garlic mayonnaise in this recipe, but you could make your own by combining crushed garlic or garlic paste with mayonnaise until it tasted garlicky enough for you.

Yes, the mayonnaise was expired. Yes, I took it back to the shopped for an unexpired one.

Tangy Potato & Chive Salad

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs red potatoes, halved or quartered into bite-size pieces
  • 4 scallions
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp zippy yellow mustard
  • ¾ cup garlic mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife.
  2. While potatoes cook, chop all the white and light green parts of the scallions and set aside.
  3. Whisk the oil, vinegar, and mustard together and set aside.
  4. Drain the potatoes. While the potatoes are still hot and steamy, gently toss them with the mustard mixture and the scallions. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Gently fold in the mayonaisse and chives. Chill the salad until ready to serve.
  6. When ready to serve, season with salt and pepper and, if desired, garnish with additional chives and scallions.

Mmm ... potatoes! One of nature's perfect foods.

For anyone new to my blog, the Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.





09 March 2017

Refreshing Mint & Melon Salad

The weather may have turned bitterly cold and windy, but there are tiny irises blooming in my back garden and my whole being sings out for spring. Thus, an unseasonable fruit salad is born!

The melon and strawberries are actually leftover from a party tray ... after three days, the melon was just on the edge of overripeness and the strawberries, a bit watery and blah to begin with, were now decidedly meh. Combine them with lime, mint, and a little agave, and suddenly they're splendid!

Hooray! No wasted fruit and I can cuddle up under my fleecy blanket with a big bowl of this and pretend it is spring.


Refreshing Mint & Melon Salad

Yield: 1-3, depending on greed

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quartered strawberries
  • 2 cups diced honeydew melon
  • 1 Tbsp chiffonade of mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Zest of ½ a lime
  • 1 tsp light agave or runny honey

Instructions

  1. Add strawberries, melon, mint to a medium serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, zest, and agave.
  3. Pour lime mixture over fruit and gently toss to combine.

15 December 2016

Improv Challenge: Cinnamon & Honey

I know, for many cooks, this time of year is all about baking and December's Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients (cinnamon and honey) certainly lend themselves to baking, but I wanted something ... healthy and savory. So I made a salad! Hooray! I know salad in cold, dark December doesn't sound fabulous, but I promise you that this one is totally yum.

There are many versions of carrot and raisin salad in the world, but I strove to be An Original and made up my own. Cinnamon and honey, obviously, go into my salad, but so does cumin because I've been experimenting with "Moroccan" flavors and cinnamon + cumin seemed like a natural combination. Also, black currants instead of raisins, because black currants are brilliant. No mayonnaise, because carrots + mayonnaise = NOPE.

I have used the handful, an entirely unscientific unit of measurement, in my recipe. If you want to be more precise, use a ⅓ or ½ cup. Mostly, it's all about what flavors YOU like and how many currants or almonds YOU want to eat. Me, I love dried currants and almonds + carrots = ❤️ so I was generous with my handfuls. If you hate currants (but WHY?), feel free to use raisins.



Carrot & Currant Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped fine
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Handful of dried currants
  • Handful of sliced almonds
  • Handful of dried parsley
  • Salt and black pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to marry. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Best served at room temperature.

Personally, I love this salad. It's bright and sweet and ... carroty. Very aromatic with lots of tongue-pleasing textures. The blackcurrants plump up a bit as they sit overnight and become a like little chewy flavor bombs. While I ate it with salmon, it would also be good with roast or grilled chicken or pork. Or rolled up in rice paper with a bit of cilantro and pickled onion? Hmmm.

For anyone new to my blog, Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.

improv cooking challenge logo (aqua rolling pin, spatula, fork, whisk suspended from rack)



20 October 2016

Improv Challenge: Carrots & Curry

I wanted to make something really fabulous with October's Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients (carrots and curry), but I left everything to the last minute (again) and so you're getting a simple salad. It's pretty, easy to assemble, keeps well, and tastes good -- both sweet and tangy with a gently kick from the sweet curry powder -- but I am still not 100% certain it is worthy of the challenge. Especially since I didn't even grate my own carrots, but bought a bag of pre-shredded rainbow carrots.


I used a medley of raisins in this salad -- Jumbo Golden, Crimson, Thompson, Flame, and Golden Flame raisins -- but the yellow ones kind-of disappear into the salad when you're looking at it, so next time I might stick with just dark Thompson and Crimson. Or maybe currants? Hmm.

Soaking the raisins helps them plump up a bit, making them tender and even more delicious than usual. The cider vinegar makes them a bit tangy, yes, but that works well with the honey and sweet curry flavors. Why sweet curry? I wanted something very fragrant and flavorful, but with only a little heat.

Curried Carrot & Raisin Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sweet curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah]
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 lb grated carrots
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl bowl, soak raisins in vinegar for 20 minutes. Drain vinegar into another small mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together vinegar, curry powder, and oil until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine raisins and carrots. Pour vinegar mixture over and toss well. Season with salt and pepper as desired.


For anyone new to my blog, Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.

improv cooking challenge logo (aqua rolling pin, spatula, fork, whisk suspended from rack)




03 June 2016

Chipotle Salmon & Beans

Threw together this simple and easy baked salmon and bean salad for supper earlier this week. Took no more than 20 minutes from fridge to table, was extremely flavorful, and looked like a lovely bit of summer on a plate. Which is exactly what I needed! The smoky chipotle puree lends the dish a mild, mellow heat and the lime makes it very bright and zesty. The bean salad is quite delicious as is, but I bet it will be even better in late summer with garden fresh tomatoes and corn! (Not that I'll be gardening this summer, but there's always the farm stand).


The bean salad makes more than you need for two portions of salmon, but will keep fine in the fridge for a few days and pairs well with grilled marinated chicken or shrimp. Or you could double the salmon and serve four people, leaving no leftovers. We're a household of two and I like (a manageable amount of) leftovers.

Chipotle Salmon & Beans

Yield: 2 plus leftover beans

Ingredients

  • 2 6-oz salmon fillet portions
  • 1 Tbsp pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 15.5 oz can cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 7 oz can corn, drained
  • 4 oz chopped grape tomatoes
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper, as desired
  • 2 lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Brush a pie plate or baking dish with olive oil.
  3. Pat the salmon portions dry with a paper towel and place on the pie plate. If your salmon has a thin end, fold it under for even cooking.
  4. Brush with chipotle puree and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp cilantro.
  5. Bake 10 minutes or until fish reaches 145°F and flakes easily with a fork.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together the beans, corn, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice and zest, and remaining 1 Tbsp cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Mound some of the bean mixture in the center of two plates. Top with salmon and serve lime wedges.
I use pie plates for everything now ... except pies. Can't remember the last time I baked a pie.

17 December 2015

Improv Challenge: Cranberry & Orange

The deli near my work occasionally sells this really yummy couscous salad that's studded with cranberries, spinach, and chunks of dried apricots. It's very flavorful and I love the texture so, when I saw December's Improv Challenge ingredients were cranberry and orange, I immediately thought about cloning that deli salad. I know a salad in December might not sound quite like the thing, but we can't live on cookies and cake all month ... can we? I kinda think, given enough cups of tea, I could live on cookies and cake?


While this recipe is good either at room temperature or chilled, I think it works best at room temperature and recommend that's what you serve it at. Obviously, we're a household of two, so there was leftovers -- the following day I just left it on the side for 15 minutes or so to warm a bit while I reheated the rest of my lunch.


I used pearl (sometimes called Israeli) couscous in this recipe, because that's what the deli uses, but you could probably use another small pasta like pastina or acini di pepe. Obviously, you'll need to ignore my preparation instructions and make it according to the packet.

Cranberry-Orange Couscous Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 1¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup diced dried apricots
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the spinach in a large serving bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add couscous, and return to a boil. Immediately cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all of the broth. Fluff couscous and dump over spinach so that the residual heat from the couscous wilts the spinach. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together orange juice, zest, oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey in a small bowl.
  4. Gently mix the almonds, cranberries, apricots, and spinach into the couscous. Pour dressing over couscous mixture and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately for tastiest results.





08 July 2015

Basilicious Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

I made this simple corn salad for a coworker's picnic using leftover roasted corn and basil from my garden. Since there's nothing in this salad that requires refrigeration, I feel it's fine left out on the counter for a good while, but I understand food safety folks may not agree so ymmv.


My go-to roasted corn recipe is to place the ears, trimmed but still in their husks, straight onto the rack of a 400°F oven and cook them for about 20 minutes or until they look pretty brown and the kitchen smells like corn. (Time really depends on number and size of ears, so you do have to keep an eye on them).

As a time saver, you can find bags of frozen roasted corn at most grocery stores and thaw them for use in this salad. Also, I used garlic vinegar (because GARLIC), but you could probably use white wine vinegar with equally good results.


Basilicious Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups roasted corn (about 4 ears)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • 3 oz mini farfalle (tiny bow tie) noodles, cooked as directed for al dente
  • Generous palmful of basil, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp garlic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, gently tossing to coat well. Cover and let rest for about an hour or refrigerate until ready to serve.

While the little bit of leftovers was still pretty tasty the next day, I wouldn't recommend making this too far ahead because it simply tasted best the day of. If you are going to make this hours ahead, stir the basil in just before serving, because otherwise it wilt and lose its bright color.

03 July 2015

Repurposed Picnic Leftovers or "Hide It In Salad"

Is there anything sadder looking than a picked over vegetable tray the day after a picnic? Usually, I chop up whatever remains and throw it into a "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" tossed salad for lunch, but it was still the weekend and The Husband needed feeding, too, and salad is not really his favorite kind of supper. Happily, I had a box of Betty Crocker's "Classic" Suddenly Salad and knew he'd go for that ... appropriately amended with picnic leftovers.


I prepared the salad according to the directions on the box, then stirred in leftover grilled chicken, guacamole, salsa, lime juice, cilantro, chopped peppers, grape tomatoes, and onion. When I served it, I topped each portion with shredded cheddar, crushed tortilla chips, and more salsa.

Overall, I'd say it was a pretty good salad for something that started out as a box mix, but I think it could have benefited from the addition of black beans and corn.

17 June 2015

Quick White Bean Salad

I first made this bean salad for our Memorial Day picnic, because I knew we were going to stuff ourselves with burgers and deviled eggs so should probably pack a healthy side. Also, I wanted something mayonnaise-free that could sit on out on a warm picnic table in the woods for a bit without becoming intestinally exciting.


Anyway, it was so good that I've made it several times since. It's a very simple recipe and works well with other herbs, so feel free to use whatever you have too much of in the garden! I especially like it with fresh dill.

Quick White Bean Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 15-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • Generous handful finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Small palmful finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp garlic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine beans, onion, celery, parlsey, and rosemary in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over bean mixture, tossing to coat. Cover and chill for several hours.

12 June 2015

Burger Salad Bowl

I have no proper recipe for this burger salad bowl -- although you can find lots of variations on Pinterest -- just take the toppings you usually love on a burger and put them on your salad. I used chopped pickles, red onion, and tomatoes on a mix of sweet butter and red leaf lettuce. I was craving "special sauce," but was too lazy to make it from scratch so I dressed the salad with its bastard cousin, low-calorie thousand island dressing.

Delicious with Little Penguin cabernet sauvignon.
Frankly, this salad was pretty fabulous and I look forward to making another one soon. Maybe with a little bacon and homemade "special sauce" spiked with sriracha?

05 June 2015

Pasta Salad Season Continues

I threw this quick pasta salad together Sunday night so we'd have something quick and cool to eat after a long, hot Monday. It's not particularly fancy -- more of a "garbage" salad than anything else -- but it came out pretty well and I'll definitely be using the mayonnaise-milk-lemon-mustard combination again.

Mom always served pasta salad with pickled beets ... so I do, too. Tradition!

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 6 oz whole grain elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 5 oz can albacore tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup chopped radishes
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup 1% milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large serving bowl, combine macaroni, tuna, onion, peas, and radishes.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice, mustard, dill, and black pepper.
  3. Pour mayonnaise mixture over pasta and toss to coat.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

I took the leftover pasta salad and pickled beets (not-too-rigorously drained canned beets tossed with garlic vinegar and refrigerated overnight) to work with garlic Triscuits: