Category Archives: salad

Kale and Quinoa Salad

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This salad is loosely based off of my kale and walnut pesto recipe. But with a few revisions, I’ve come up with a salad that’s light, yet hearty enough for a main course! And as always, there’s room for plenty of versions – substitute your favorite nuts and dried fruits to make it your own. You can swap out the quinoa for bulger wheat or another of your favorite grains or seeds. Just remember, the key is in the blanching of the kale which brightens up the leaf and softens its texture.

The best thing about this is it combines several “super” foods:  kale, quinoa, cranberries and walnut oil which has 1.77g of Omega 3’s per serving! So feel free to indulge!

Ingredients
6-8 cups kale leaves (roughly 2 bundles), ribs removed
2 large fresh garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped (or 2 tablespoons minced)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil (for extra walnut taste (blend olive oil with roasted walnut oil – I found some at Home Goods for $8.99!)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice (roughly 1/2 of a large lemon – squeezed)
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt (to taste)
1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts (raw is fine but toasting brings out their nuttiness)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup dried cranberries (I use Craisens Pomegranate cranberries)

Preparation
Remove ribs from kale and give it a rough chop. In a large pot, bring water to a boil with a couple of pinches of salt. Prepare a large boil of ice water and set aside. Once water in boiling, add kale for about 1 minute. Your kale will start to turn a brighter green. Remove kale from pot and immediately put in ice water. This is called blanching and is what helps give (and keep) your kale a bright green. Remove kale from ice water after 1 minute and squeeze dry.

quinoa

This is how your quinoa should look when it’s done.

Peel and roughly chop two large bulbs of garlic. If you are using pre-minced garlic, this is roughly 2 tablespoons.

If you are roasting your walnuts, place then in a dry saute pan over medium heat. Continue moving them in the pan until you begin to smell their nuttiness. It should take about 2 minutes.  Keep an eye on them – they burn

easily (which is why I don’t put them in the oven anymore – I always forget them!).

Using the water from blanching your kale, bring 1 cup to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once you see that the quinoa seeds are beginning to burst open you know they are about done. Once the water is absorbed turn off heat and fluff with a fork. The cooking process for this is similar to couscous. Add a pinch of salt and let completely cool. NOTE: Do not add quinoa to salad until cooled or it will wilt the kale.

Ready to Make?
In a food processor, add the blanched kale, garlic and Parmesan. Pulse 6-7  times while slowly, through the feed tube, drizzling the oil(s) until mixture is moistened and is well-combined. NOTE: It’s important to use the pulse feature and not let your processor run… you want to retain some of the leafy texture of the kale – you do not want it as fine as the pesto.   Remove lid and spoon into serving bowl. Zest a whole lemon directly into mixture and squeeze half of the lemon into the mixture.  Add DSC_0015dried cranberries, walnuts and cooled quinoa. Gently toss until thoroughly mixed. Add salt to taste.

The Perfect Bite
This is the perfect opportunity for the perfect bite – be sure to stack your fork with a little bit of everything! Sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, refreshing and hearty… it’s got everything!

The Perfect Pairing
One of my new favorite wines is the Cline 2012 Mourvèdre Rosé. It is crisp and refreshing, not overly sweet, and has hints of pomegranate, cherry and plum… which will pair wonderfully with the dried pomegranate cranberries and walnuts in this salad. Mourvèdre is a rare grape in California and has beautiful mouth-feel on this rosé.

The Perfect Health
Though quinoa is considered a whole grain – it is technically a seed. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.” Quinoa is gluten-free and an excellent source of protein. For more health benefits read HERE.

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Warm Red Potato Salad with Horseradish-Dijon Sauce

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One of my favorite summer side dishes… is this Warm Red Potato Salad. Usually, potato salad calls for the standard mayo & mustard mix. But while playing with an idea for a spread for a German burger idea I’m also working on… I thought this might be quite tasty mixed into a red potato salad, as well. And… I was right!

Ingredients
(serves 10 people)
Salad:
3-4 lbs Red Potatoes
5 hard-boiled eggs
1 bunch green onions
5-6 stalks of celery
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sauce:
2 tablespoons Horseradish
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Mayonnaise (for a healthier option, I use Hellman’s With Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch powdered Cayenne pepper

Preparation
Wash & dice potatoes into small 1/2 inch pieces. Do not peel. Red potato skins are not as grainy as russet and you’re adding about 2 grams of fiber per serving if you leave the skins on. Plus, they add color and texture to your dish.
Dice potatoes into 1/4″-1/2″ pieces. Boil until tender and drain. Roughly 15-20 minutes on medium heat.
Wash green onions, chop off ends and discard. Slice remaining stalks finely.
Wash and trim celery stalks. Save leafy pieces for garnishing later. Slice each stalk length-wise into 3-4 strips, then dice.
Chop boiled eggs (including yolks) into 1/2 inch pieces.
While potatoes and eggs are still warm, add all above ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

To make sauce get a small mixing bowl and add the mayo, horseradish, sour cream, mustard, salt & pepper. Mix well until completely blended.

Pour about half the sauce over your bowl of potato mixture and stir until well covered. Continue to add sauce until completely covered. If you have any remaining sauce, be sure to save it! You’ll be amazed at all the things it can be used for…

Final step: Use leafy pieces from celery to garnish edge of bowl or plate. The leftover ends from scallions work well, too. Enjoy!

The Perfect Bite
Of course, you know what I’m going to say… stack your fork with a bite of potato, egg, and a little onion. And there you have it… the Perfect Bite.

The Perfect Pairing
Since this is a side dish… I want to suggest a perfect main dish pairing, as well as a beverage pairing. The subtle tangy-ness of this salad beautifully compliments a hearty meat course like polska kilbasa or bratwurst on the grill. You can even the sausages to the salad and turn it into a main course. Just butterfly the links and throw them on the grill.

The perfect beverage to go with this salad is a wheaty summer brew like Yazoo’s Hefeweizen. Yazoo is a local Nashville Brewery with some of my favorite beers (and one of my favorite photography sites). If you’re in the Nashville area, be sure to stop by for a tasting and pick up a half-gallon “growler” of your favorite ale!

Did You Know?
Horseradish contains significant amounts of glucosinolates, compounds that have been shown to increase the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens and may suppress the growth of cancerous tumors. Horseradish is also said to aid digestion and it also contains compounds known to fight against pathogens in food, such as listeria, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

The Backyard Salad

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I love a big salad. A leafy bowl of green goodness, garnished with bright fresh veggies, crunchy nuts, earthy avocado chunks, tangy crumbled cheese and of course , topped with my favorite part of the salad: Good Seasons All Natural Italian Dressing.

This recipe is quite simple and you may be thinking, “Deb, why do I need a recipe for salad? I mean, come on… it’s just salad!” But this particular “recipe” is packed full of proteins (which aren’t normally found in your average side salad) and is hearty enough to be a complete meal in itself. Even for the burliest hungry-man (he may protest initially, but he’ll find himself perfectly satisfied by the time he reaches the bottom of the bowl), and it’s tasty enough for even the pickiest of kids. Also, it’s a great source of filling protein for your die-hard vegetarians. I made this for my friend Cara and I last night. She’s a self-proclaimed “Veg-Head” who was completely full after one plate.

History of the Backyard Salad Name
Kids love this salad and you’ll finally get them to eat spinach without a fuss! When my niece Katelyn was 8 years old (she’s now 11), she took one look at the salad and said, “Aunt Debbie, did you just pick these leaves off the tree in the backyard?” I simply smiled and said, “Maybe…”. She laughed and said, “Cool!” And dug right in. She calls it my Backyard Salad.

So take the challenge and tell me if you finally got your kids to eat spinach. And tell me if you’re still left hungry after polishing off a big bowl of Backyard Salad!


Ingredients

(serves 3-4)
1 large bag of baby spinach leaves (much better for you than iceberg or lighter leaf lettuces & doesn’t turn brown when air hits it)
1 large avocado
2-3 med tomatoes-on-the-vine
1 large cucumber
1 package of your favorite croûtons
1/2 cup of roasted sliced almonds (I use Almond Accents Original when I don’t have time to roast my own)


1/2 cup of crumbled feta, goat or blue cheese depending on your preference.
optionalfor you meat-lovers:
1-1/2 cups grilled or sautéed chicken tenders (sauté in Good Seasons Dressing to maintain consistent flavor)

Preparation:

If adding meat to the recipe, sauté the chicken while chopping the veggies – that way it’ll have time to cool before adding to the salad.

-Wash bagged spinach leaves and put in large bowl.
-Peel and cut cucumber lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/4″ slices.
-Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and then into quarters.
-Cut avocado in half, remove pit, then slice halves into 4 sections lengthwise. The skin will peel off much easier this way. Then cut your 8 slices into 1″ chunks. A too ripe avocado will turn into mush. Look for fruit that is semi-firm to the touch.
-Add cut veggies and remainder of ingredients (except chicken) to the salad and toss.
-Add 4-5 tablespoons of salad dressing and toss again. It covers a lot but add more if desired. Be careful to not add too much before tossing, or salad can end up soggy.
-If including chicken, add this ingredient last and after it’s cooled down some, or it will melt the cheese.
-Serve in large individual bowls and enjoy!

(If you reserve a handful of spinach leaves and croûtons, you can add them to your leftovers (if you have any) the next day, re-toss and it will revive your somewhat soggy salad. You probably don’t need to add any more dressing of tossed well.)

The Perfect Bite
I like to stack on my fork a piece of chicken, avocado and tomato with a big spinach leaf… then swirl it around to pick up bits of the crumbled cheese and almonds.

The Perfect Pairing
I’m not a fan of fresh fruit in my salad, though some people like to add pears, strawberries or mandarin oranges. Instead, I prefer to pair The Backyard Salad with a crisp, fruity fermented beverage. Monterey’s Bogle Chardonnay adds the perfect touch of green apple and ripe pear. All the fruit I need with this meal!


Did You Know?
A new little handy item I’ve recently discovered is the Hefty Fresh Extend zip-lock baggies. These one gallon gems literally extend the life of fruits and vegetables in the fridge. I like to stock up at the Farmer’s Market… but my fresh goods usually get tossed from rotting before I can consume them all (especially with my travel schedule). The Hefty Fresh Extend baggies have saved me from throwing away food and money.

Insalata Caprese

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An eye-catching, palate-pleasing quick & light lunch… if you must add a carb-fix, include slices of toasted sour dough and use them as scoops for your salad bites.

This is also a no-cooking, no-brainer easy way to utilize your surplus of Good Seasons Italian Dressing. And it makes for a light and nutritious meal or a colorful appetizer.

Ingredients:
Fresh Mozzarella
Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh Basil (or in this case, pesto)
Good Seasons Italian Dressing

I use fresh mozzarella. I purchase it at Trader Joe’s, but you can make your own if you feel brave. My friend Stephie did – here’s her recipe. I also get the heirloom cheery tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. I’m pretty sure they have *fresh basil too… so it’s almost a one-stop-shop if you already have the dressing in your pantry or fridge. *If you’re having a hard time finding basil – as I did in this case, use a store bought pesto.

Preparation:
Slice the tomatoes in 1/4 dials – leave whole or cut in half depending on preference. I like using heirloom tomatoes. They’re so colorful and vary in sweetness. But any tomato works well here. Tear large basil leaves into pieces. Slice mozzarella into 1/4 inch dials – mimicking the tomatoes (i.e., making them the same size and shape). On to plate. alternate the tomato and cheese. If you are using fresh basil, tuck a leaf in between each slice.  If using pesto… drizzle across the top of your stacks or rows. Finally, sprinkle with Good Seasons Italian Dressing. Use sparingly – a little goes a long way.

The Perfect Bite:
Stack a slice of tomato, basil leaf and mozzarella wedge on your fork and make sure to swirl in the dressing… it’s an oh-so-good and perfect bite!

The Perfect Paring:
Try a glass of Cline Pinot Gris . I was able to try this little gem at the Cline Vineyards during a wine-tasting tour in Sonoma Valley last year. It’s light and crisp and a perfect pairing that won’t overwhelm the sweet & tangy taste of the Caprese Salad. Roughly $12 a bottle.

Did you Know?
A large consumption of tomatoes can help improve your skin texture and color. There are a ton of health benefits to eating tomatoes! Read more here.