Category: Salads

Maple Balsamic Dressing

I hardly ever buy bottled salad dressing these days. I usually have a jar of Honey Mustard dressing in the fridge, or a variation that includes soy sauce and ginger, or a tomato based dressing like this one. It’s a lot less expensive to make your own dressing, and it only takes a few minutes.

So in keeping with fall themed foods this week, I made a maple balsamic dressing to use for some salads. The dressing includes 2 T olive oil, 2 T balsamic, 1 T maple syrup, and 1 T mustard. You can see the thick consistency, and it was a good blend of sweet and tangy flavors. Like I always say, give it a try!

Feta and Spinach Orzo

So I already mentioned I spent much of Sunday at the Patriot’s game, right? But I still needed to prepare some lunches for the week, so when I got home, I headed to the kitchen. Less than an hour later, the kitchen was cleaned up and I had 4 plastic containers filled with an orzo dish inspired by this recipe.

The end result was another meal that could be enjoyed hot or cold. When it was hot, the feta really stood out. And when it was cold, I tasted more of the spinach and lemon. But either way, it was really good. It is worth taking the time to grate the lemon rind, trust me.

1 c. orzo
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 T flour
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 lemon
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 c. fat free feta

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and shallot, and saute for 10 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the flour, and gently pour in the vegetable broth, whisking until blended. Grate the rind of the lemon and add it to the pan, along with the juice from half of the lemon. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.
Add spinach and cooked orzo to the pan, and stir to combine. Cook until heated throughout.

French Lentil Salad

Lentils are what I like to call a “low maintenance” bean because no soaking is required and they cook fairly quickly. While lentils are often associated with soup, they can be used in many other dishes, including salad. My friend Susan first made Lentils aux Lardons from the blog Real Food Has Curves, and the salad was amazing. The flavors were simple, based on a small amount of bacon, shallots, vinegar and mustard, but the combination worked very well. It wasn’t the nicest looking salad, but we don’t judge on that criteria.

It was suggested that French green lentils hold their shape better in salads such as these, producing a prettier final product. I was excited to find green lentils in the bulk bin at the nearby Whole Foods. I had planned to make the original version of the dish, but since I’ve been on a vegetarian cooking kick, I looked for a similar recipe, but without the bacon or a meat substitute. I found this version from Orangette, and decided to give it a try.
The salad is primarily lentils, with the addition of onion, carrot, and celery, and flavored with garlic, thyme, red wine vinegar, and mustard. I substituted dried thyme for fresh, and cut back the oil by 2 T, but the real key here is not to eat the salad on the same day that you prepare it. You can take a taste or two with a spoon, but really, it’s so much better on the second day. I found that the temperature didn’t matter a lot; I enjoyed it both warm and at room temperature. This version was different than the one with bacon of course, but I liked them both equally. The choice is yours.

Since I already showed you this week how I pack soup for lunch, I wanted to show you how I assembled this meal. I cut some celery ‘spoons’ and put them in the same container as the salad. A carton of yogurt and a kiwi round out the meal. My cube will turn into a French cafe for just a short time while I enjoy my lunch.

Fall Salad

This salad was my first real bite of fall. I even tweeted about it! I hit the produce market on Saturday morning, and filled my basket: potatoes, sweet potatoes, an eggplant, two zucchini, green leaf lettuce, butternut squash, red onions, yellow onions, carrots, a tomato, an avocado, and apples.

When I came home, I decided to make this fresh fall salad. First, I cut some of the butternut squash to create 1/2 c. of small cubes. I tossed the cubes with a drizzle of olive oil, and baked them at 400F for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I cleaned some of the lettuce, chopped half of an apple, and about 1/3 of the avocado. When the squash was cooked, I tossed that in, and drizzled a balsamic vinaigrette on the salad. It was just about perfect.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad

Do you still have some basil left? Good. This Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad has an incredible flavor. You get to keep the prettiest parts of the asparagus stalks in the salad, and the rest get blended up with basil, lemon juice, and pine nuts to make a pesto sauce. I left out the nutritional yeast and the tomatoes, although I do think adding another vegetable would be good. And some beans might work to round out the dish. My food processor has gotten a workout this week!

Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad

My cooking club theme this month was “Farmer’s Market” and I have certainly been practicing over the last few weeks, enjoying new types of produce like garlic scapes and tat soi, and old favorites like carrots and zucchini. The first dish I made for the dinner was this Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad from Real Simple, which I served over a bed of Romaine lettuce, so that it could be tossed like a more traditional salad.

The mozzarella was made by Fiore Di Nonno in Somerville, which is sold at the Copley Square Farmer’s Market. I snuck a piece while preparing the salad, and there is nothing like the taste of fresh mozzarella. Peaches, basil, and lettuce are all readily available at markets right now, and this salad comes together very quickly. It looks fancier than it is, but it tastes just like summer. Perfect!

Mediterranean Beet Salad

Can you believe this is the third post about beets this year? Here is the first, and second. For most of my life, I have avoided beets whenever possible. 2010 has definitely been a year of learning to love new foods.

After roasting one very large beet in the oven for almost an hour (yes, in this heat!) I peeled the skin and cut the beet into smaller pieces to marinate as directed in this recipe. After a few hours, I served the marinated beets on a bed of lettuce and shredded carrots, topped with a yogurt and dill dressing. The beets in the salad were good, but I think I prefer to eat them warm. Who knows what beet creation will be next!?

Spiced Couscous Salad

I liked the combination of walnuts and raisins in this dish, so I used it again and made this grain salad. I wanted to use millet since I have never tried it before, but I am really trying to use up some of the grains in my cabinet before buying any more. So I used whole wheat couscous, along with roasted eggplant, spinach, raisins, walnuts, chick peas, olive oil, and plenty of garam masala and cinnamon with a dash each of salt and red pepper. It was perfect – just a little spicy, but a filling lunch.

Sunshine Burgers

I couldn’t resist trying another veggie burger recipe. This one is from Gena at Choosing Raw. One of things I really enjoy about Gena’s site is that she is always encouraging her readers to make the choices that work for them. And in this case, she offers both a raw and cooked version of the recipe. (Scroll down a bit from the link provided to see both!)

I went with the cooked version, which contains sunflower seeds, brown rice, carrots, celery, flax, and seasoning. I needed to add more water because my food processor was groaning, so the end product was very wet. I spooned it onto a baking sheet, and the burgers crisped up beautifully as promised, but I should have baked them another 10-15 minutes or so because the insides were still a bit moist. I still think I prefer bean-based vegetable burgers, but this was a nice alternative.

Carrot, Dill, and White Bean Salad

I don’t generally put carrots on the center stage. They’re good roasted in the oven, and they’re very useful raw (as hummus shovels) but I admit that far too often, they are left forgotten at the bottom of my produce bin. But these carrots……they’re special.

This recipe comes from 101 Cookbooks, and as suggested I used a fresh bunch of tender carrots. The result was a just barely warm salad that was so good I went back for seconds. If you use canned beans as I did, this recipe doesn’t take much time. And I hear the leftovers are even better!