A Vegetable Salad

Last Sunday we picked up a raw vegetable salad at a local market. It was really good and after a close look I realized how easy it would be to make! Tonight I tried to recreate it without following an actual recipe and its pretty much the exact same thing we bought last weekend.

This is basically a relish tray as a salad, with a quinoa like quality. Its a great way to use up the vegetables in the bottom of the refrigerator at the end of the week! I’d recommend using broccoli or cauliflower as a base and then whatever else you’d like. You’ll also need some sort of dressing, again, whatever you would normally prefer on a relish tray or in a salad would be perfect. The one we bought in the store came with ranch, tonight we used sesame ginger vinaigrette.

I used broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, onion, and leftover grilled corn kernels. All you have to do is throw it all in the food processor. The green onions I just sliced and threw in, the corn, I also just threw in.

Here is the texture you will be going for, my broccoli base:

All Done!

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Raspberries have been on sale in the markets for 3 weeks now. Its the end of summer surplus, so why not take advantage of these fruits along with the newly in season apples and soon to be pears? There is no better way than a fresh salad, mixed greens, lots of fruit, a great dressing and add pork chops or chicken breasts to create a complete meal. Soon, it will be soup weather (it probably already is for you East coasters!) and there is nothing better than hot soup, fresh salad, and home made bread.

There is no reason to ever buy an expensive bottle of salad dressing. It seems like the less expensive brands are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, sodium and other unhealthy additives, and to avoid those ingredients, you can easily pay $6-7 for a little bottle. I have many dressings up my sleeve and have already shared several. Here is one more, and my crystal ball is telling me there will probably be more in the future of this blog!

  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder (use 1/4 tsp if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 black pepper
  • 3/8 cup olive oil (canola oil would work, too)

In a blender, combine all ingredients except for oil. Blend at medium speed for 1 minute. With blender at medium speed, pour oil in very slowly.

Toss with whatever you want! I went with apples, raspberries, red onion, glazed walnuts and pork chops over mixed greens.

Spinach Salad with Pears, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

This dressing is incredible! It takes about 10 minutes to make this salad and it makes the perfect side to any meal. If the pears aren’t ripe and ready in your area, strawberries, melon, or apple would be a great substitute. I omitted the pecans in my salad but it was still great. Play around with your favorite fruits and nuts to create your own perfect salad!

  • 1/2 cup of pecans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 large red or green pears quartered, cored, and cut into thin slices
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 bag of prewashed baby spinach
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese

Toast the pecans in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside and let cool.

Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper in a bowl.

Whisk in onions.

Then pears and raisins.

Add spinach and toss to coat. Divide salad onto 4 plates top each with pecans and goat cheese.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Pistachios and Feta

I talk a lot about how I don’t create any of these recipes on my own but collect and test them. I suppose the closest I have come to doing it on my own is be trying to recreate something I had in a restaurant. That’s how I came up with my Turkey Pesto Sandwiches and also this salad. There is nothing to cook here besides the chicken but the combination of ingredients in this salad is so good, I have to share. I am on the lookout for the perfect low-cal balsamic vinaigrette recipe, until I find it, I just use a jar of whatever is on sale.

  • mixed baby greens
  • cooked chicken (a great way to utilize leftovers, or just grill up enough for your salad)
  • sliced strawberries
  • feta cheese
  • chopped pistachios
  • dried cranberries
  • balsamic vinaigrette

I guess the rest is obvious, combine it all in a large bowl and toss. This makes a very easy dinner or refreshing lunch, with strawberries on sale everywhere, you should try it today!

Grilled Steak with Baby Arugula and Parmesan Salad

All I can say about this recipe is this: If you only ever try one recipe that I recommend on my blog, let it be this one. Usually I find arugula a little too bitter for my tastes, but the citrus counters any bitterness, the juice from the grilled lemon is divine, top it with a perfectly grilled, perfectly seasoned steak and you have an amazing, simple, fast and absolutely delicious dinner.

  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 (4 oz) flat iron steaks
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby arugula
  • 1/4 shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat a grill to med-high heat. Rub thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper over steaks. Add steaks to pan, cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Remove steaks from pan. Add lemon halves, cut sides down cook 3 minutes.

Cut steaks across the grain into thin slices.

Combine remaining 1/4 tsp pepper, chives, oil, lemon juice, mustard and 1/8 tsp kosher salt, whisk together.

Drizzle over arugula, toss to coat. Arrange 1 steak, 1 cup of arugula and 1 lemon half over each plate. Top each salad with 1 tbsp cheese. Yield 4 servings.

Pasta Salad

Pasta salads always look so darn good but more often than not, they are bland and simply don’t taste nearly as great as they look. One reason is the dressing. If you choose the wrong dressing it sinks to the bottom of the bowl leaving the pasta dry and boring. Other dressings can be completely absorbed by the pasta, sometimes this is good but not always. The best way to avoid these problems is to choose a creamy dressing that will coat the pasta and retain flavor.  Its also a good idea to avoid balsamic vinegar, which tastes great but can turn the pasta brown and unappealing. The dressing recipe I posted here works perfectly for pasta salads. I have also tried this one but found the dijon to be overpowering, but if you really like mustard you’ll probably like it.

You can put whatever you want in a pasta salad. Today, I put salt, pepper, green onions, carrots, peas, olives, lemon zest, basil and Parmesan cheese and this dressing in my salad.

Let’s Get Started

Everyone loves a fresh green salad. Here is one of my favorite vinaigrette dressings. I stumbled upon this recipe some time ago when looking to re-create a salad from Bouchon in Yountville, CA. My reoccurring theme is fresh and simple and this delicious recipe created by Thomas Keller fits my tastes perfectly. I love a little zing so I add minced shallots and kosher salt to taste. Here I have it tossed with baby greens, topped with warm goat cheese and chopped walnuts.

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 15 seconds. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don’t be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup oil. (The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.)