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

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:


27 May 2015

Pasta Salad Season Is Here, Hurrah

Sunday, I prepped a bunch of food for the week including a vegetable soup, egg salad, and this macaroni salad. Like the soup, it helps clear out the crisper of neglected vegetables. Unlike the soup, it's definitely a dish The Husband will eat. Usually I make my creamy pasta salads with light mayonnaise that has been thinned with a little milk or Italian vinaigrette, but this time I decided to be "fancy" and thin the milk the fat-free peppercorn ranch and then jazz it up with shredded parmesan.

Love this speckled lettuce -- makes every salad fancy.

I tried to dice all the vegetables small -- pea-sized, actually -- for a bite-sized delicousness. Who wants to fork up some salad, get a tiny pea and a big chunk of celery? Eh.

Very Veggie Tuna Macaroni Salad

Yield: 4 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked whole grain elbow macaroni
  • 5 oz can water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
  • ⅔ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ⅔ cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup diced radishes
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise [Hellmann's]
  • ½ cup light peppercorn ranch dressing
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Greek seasoning blend [Penzeys]
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, combine tuna, vegetables, and parsley in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Pour frozen peas into the bottom of a colander. Drain macaroni over peas and rinse in cold water; add to tuna mixture.
  4. Whisk together mayonnaise, dressing, cheese, and seasoning blend in a small mixing bowl. Season to taste with pepper.
  5. Pour mayonnaise mixture into pasta bowl and stir to coat. Refrigerate macaroni salad for a few hours before serving.

20 May 2015

Fried Pork Chops & White Bean Salad

Sometimes, I have reasonably good idea about what main dish I'll serve for supper, but don't really plan on a side dish, because I'll just microwave some frozen vegetables or something and call it done. But then it comes time to cook and I realize I'm not really in the mood for microwaved frozen anything ...

Pan-fried thin-cut pork chops and white bean salad. Yum.
Beans to the rescue! Jazz them up with diced vegetables and a quick vinaigrette and there's a bean salad to be (reasonably) proud of.

White Bean Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup finely diced seeded cucumber
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp garlic vinegar
  • Penzeys Tuscan Sunset
  • Parsley
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients, seasoning to taste.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.

13 May 2015

Greek Chicken Salad

While it's only the second week of May, it feels like summer at my house and I'm thisclose to turning on the air conditioner. Unseasonably sweaty workdays call for cool, relaxing suppers and salad's just the thing.


I marinated the chicken using the gyro marinade recipe on the Penzeys Greek seasoning packet -- Mix 1 Tbsp seasoning in 1 Tbsp water. Let stand 5 minutes, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Combine with 1 lb chicken tenderloins. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

When we were ready to eat, I broiled the chicken for 5 minutes each side on a foil-lined baking tray. When the chicken was done (165°F), I set it aside to cool for about ten minutes -- just long enough to make two supper-sized salads.

For the salad, I tossed 1½ hearts of romaine (sliced into thin ribbons) with chopped cucumber, red onion, grape tomatoes, feta, kalamata olives, and garbanzo beans. Then I sliced the cooled chicken (there was leftover chicken for future salads) and arranged it atop the salads.

It wasn't really "Greek," I know, but was good! Next time, I'll add roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts.

18 September 2014

Improv Challenge: Milk & Honey

Every time I sat down with my notepad to think up interesting combinations of milk and honey for September's Improv Challenge, I ended up with lists of cakes and puddings. Which would be fine ... if I hadn't recklessly decided to stop eating (as many) cakes and puddings. Every autumn and winter, I gain weight. Every spring and summer, I struggle to lose that gain. It's annoying. It's boring. I'm tired of it.


Long story short, I made a salad for September's Improv Challenge. And it is tangy-sweet delicious. And pretty healthy.

Salmon Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
Serves 2

Ingredients
For the salmon:
2 6 oz portions skinned boneless salmon fillet
olive oil
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

For the dressing:
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard [Maille]
2 Tbsp honey
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

For the salad:
spring mix with herbs [Nature's Promise Organic]
chopped, peeled, seeded cucumber
small slivers of red onion

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Place the salmon fillets in a baking dish. Brush the tops lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake 12-15 minutes, depending on how well done you like your salmon.

While the salmon bakes, dump all the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whiz with an immersion blender until smooth and uniformly blended. A regular blender or bowl-and-whisk combo will work, too, obviously. Makes about 6 ounces of dressing.

Toss lettuce blend with cucumber and onion. Divide between two plates.

Gently remove the salmon fillets the tray and place atop the salads. Drizzle with the honey mustard dressing. Serve.

You could also omit the olive oil and brush the salmon with some of the dressing before baking it. Of course, this would mean assembling the dressing first! Also, the recipe makes more dressing than you'll need for two salads, but it will keep in the fridge for a few days (can't exactly say how long since I tend to eat it all within 3 days).

The dressing is a bit runny, but I don't know how to fix that without changing how it tastes and it will thicken up a bit if you refrigerate it (well, the first batch thickened up ... but the second didn't).

I used linden honey in this recipe, but any mild-tasting honey would work just fine.




23 July 2014

More Beanz!

My bush green beans are quite ... prolific ... this year and I'm having a little trouble keeping up! Usually, by the middle of July, the plants have fallen prey to some hungry critter or been crispified by drought and bean production is over. This summer ... well, I'm pretty sure my cats have zeroed out my neighborhood's rabbit population and, thanks to cooler than normal temps and some decent rain, my bean and chard bed is a dense jungle! I'm not bothered that the chard is getting monstrous (it will be good whenever I harvest it) but leave beans too long and they go all woody and "untasty."

Over the weekend, I made a bean and tuna salad using one of Plated's recipes but subbed with my own green beans instead of their haricot vert as those were brownish and unappetizing looking. Anyway, the salad was dead easy to throw together -- just blanched beans, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, dill, shallot, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, dijon, sea salt, and black pepper -- and I'll definitely make it again with more garden beans and cherry tomatoes (if, by happy coincidence the beans are still bearing when the tomatoes ripen).


The bean salad was meant to be served with oil-poached tuna, but I chose to poach my tuna in low-sodium fat-free chicken broth because the Plated recipe called for poaching the tuna in 1½ cup extra virgin olive oil and my parsimonious brain was like "Dude! That's $7 worth of oil! Duuuude! And you only keep two tablespoons! The rest gets thrown away?! WTF?" Anyway, the salad was fine served with broth-poached tuna as I ended up flaking the tuna and tossing everything together to make two meals for work.


I also made an easy minestrone with green beans, garden basil, canned tomatoes, and a farmers market zucchini I had kind-of forgotten about in the back of the crisper. It came out pretty well for something that was just "Well, I'll saute some onion and garlic and carrots and celery and then add some chopped green beans and broth and herbs and zucchini and tomatoes and salt and pepper and just keep fiddling until it tastes right."

09 July 2014

Picnic Season! Hooray!

We had our Independence Day picnic on Saturday which turned out to be The Best Idea Ever as it rained (and thundered and lightning-ed) most of Friday. I hung out around the house, making food for Saturday, and catching up on my Giant Pile of Library Books. (If I'm not "supposed to" put twenty books on hold, then the system shouldn't let me put twenty items on hold ... it's not as if I am capable of practicing restraint in the presence of free books, after all).


When I was planning the menu for our picnic, I knew I wanted old-fashioned, traditional picnic foods. No yogurt for mayonnaise. No quinoa for pasta. So I made three salads that, if they weren't quite my aunts' or grandmothers' picnic salads, were pretty darn close. And it only took 1½ jars of Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise to accomplish this. And I thought "Oh, my cake, we have no green vegetables! I should marinate some cucumbers or something!" and then I thought about all the things I could be doing if I stopped cooking ... and I went off and did them and there were no green vegetables.

Wait! We had sliced cucumbers and peppers with onion dip! Those are vegetables! And cucumbers are green! Huzzah!


The potato and pasta salad recipes I used were both from Mr. Food because I still have a soft spot for the man, having spent many childhood summers watching his short cooking segments during the noon news, and his picnic salad recipes are pretty darn traditional.

"Basic Macaroni Salad" -- elbow macaroni, hard-cooked eggs, celery, red onion, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, black pepper. The pasta salad was fine. Just your basic no-frills deli pasta salad. Utterly innocous. I would probably make it again, as it kept well in the fridge, but would add some flaked canned tuna and thawed frozen peas and serve it over shredded lettuce as a light lunch or supper.

"Presto Potato Salad" -- potatoes, mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, red onion, celery, prepared yellow mustard, salt, black pepper, white vinegar, sweet relish, paprika. I bought a bottle of French's Classic Yellow Mustard specifically for this recipe as we don't usually consume yellow mustard. I did not expect the mustard to pack much of a kick and thus was completely taken aback by The Husband's reaction to his first forkful. As he said, the mustard's heat it was "a bit of a surprise!" But it was also delicious and he ate quite a lot of potato salad over the following days, so I take that as a sign to make this potato salad again.


The cole slaw I made -- my very first mayonnaise-based slaw, by the way -- was a hodgepodge of recipes I cobbled together based on memories of my mother's coleslaw and my own taste preferences:
1 cup light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp ground celery seed [Penzeys Ground Indian Celery Seed]
1 tsp ground mustard [Penzeys Regular Canadian Mustard Powder]
½ tsp paprika [Penzeys Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika]
1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp pepper
14 oz bag shredded coleslaw mix
It was a bit spicy! Perhaps, too spicy? My mother, who generally enjoys spicy dishes, actually had to stop eating it for a bit and switch over to the potato salad! And that in itself was amusing, because the potato salad had a bit of a kick! Not really sure about the coleslaw -- beside being too spicy for my mother, it was a little too mayonnaise-y for me. Reducing the mayonnaise and cutting it with some buttermilk might fix that.

22 June 2014

Cool, Crisp, Refreshing ... Radishes

I've had Kalyn's recipe for "Cucumber and Radish Salad with Feta, Red Wine Vinegar, and Buttermilk Dressing" pinned since last spring when I had a tremendous radish harvest and not a lot of good ideas for what to do with them. While I never got around to making the salad last spring, it was the first thing I thought of when I harvested this spring's massive radish crop. Seriously, we're a two person household and only one of us really likes radishes so why do I keep planting so many? Because they're pretty! And easy! And I never think that so many will many to survive the weather, cats, chipmunks, and bunnies.

"Easter Egg" Radishes

Kalyn's recipe calls for one teaspoon fresh thyme, but I used a handful of fresh dill as my dill plants are growing like weeds and will soon get out of hand if I don't start using them more. Fresh oregano would probably also work well with the cucumber-feta combination.

This salad is a cool and refreshing summer side dish that would be perfect with Greek marinated grilled chicken breasts or shrimp skewers. Or just by itself with in a lettuce cup with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh cracked pepper on top. If you're not that keen on radishes, there's no reason why you couldn't make this without, adding a little red onion or shallot in for kick. (And when I make this again, I will probably halve the amount of radishes, because The Husband picked most of his radishes out).


We ate ours with grilled chicken kabobs (from Whole Foods, because I couldn't be arsed) and it was the perfect lunch for the Second Day of Summer.

01 June 2014

Picnic Time: Pasta Salad

While trying to push beyond our comfort zone and learn to socialize like "real adults do," we recently attended a picnic thrown by one of my coworkers. Because I didn't feel comfortable showing up empty-handed, I asked if I could bring a pasta salad (it turned out everyone felt the same way, anyway, and also brought something). Since I wasn't sure how hot it would be that day or what the food storage situation would be like (didn't want to poison anyone), I made "Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables" from The Best Light Recipe by the detail-driven folk at Cook's Illustrated.


This is a flavorful mayonnaise-free pasta salad I've made several times now. Every time I make it, I mean to experiment and try one of the variations provided, but I always end up sticking with the tried-and-true. The basic version is delicious, so why mess with a sure thing?

Ingredients: penne, green beans, cherry tomatoes, carrot, red onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, basil, parsley, Dijon, red pepper flakes, Parmesan, salt, black pepper.

I used Ronzoni SmartTaste penne to keep the salad looking "normal" while somewhat improving its nutritional values. Not that it's an unhealthy salad to begin with, what with all those beans and tomatoes!