sides and salads Archive

Shaved Apple, Fennel, and Celery Salad

I love life’s simple pleasures: the colors of autumn, sipping a great cup of coffee, putzing about the house in my crappy old blue plaid pajama pants.

In my own life, I find that I am constantly striving for simplicity. I want to take the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. And to be quite honest, I’m failing miserably.

My life isn’t simple, at all.

I’m always busy.

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ve discovered that cooking can be extremely therapeutic. When I step into the kitchen, everything feels different. I fall into a certain rhythm while chopping, slicing, and stirring. I find enjoyment and fulfillment in tweaking and adjusting, tasting and perfecting.

Maybe it’s cheesy to admit, but the kitchen is where I find my sense of simplicity. Specifically, when I cook food and share it with others, somehow everything just feels right. And sometimes, this feeling translates directly into the actual food on the plate. When life feels busy and overwhelming, I’m often compelled to make food that is remarkably simple and beautiful.

This is one of those things. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t complicated.

It’s simplicity on a plate.

It’s everything I’m striving for, and not quite achieving.

I’ll get there eventually.

SHAVED APPLE, FENNEL, AND CELERY SALAD
(Serves two.)

Note: For some reason, I really wanted a creamy dressing for this salad so I used a little mayo. But I think it would be quite nice with just oil & vinegar. Also, I tossed some dried lovage into the dressing but I didn’t include it in the recipe as it’s not a terribly common pantry item. At the last second, I tossed a few toasted pecans into salad and it was the best decision I’ve made in awhile. You should try it.

Ingredients:
1 apple (current favorite apple varietals: Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Elstar)
3 stalks of celery
1 small fennel bulb (with fronds)
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
1.5 teaspoons mayo
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste

Optional:
Dried lovage
Toasted pecans

Method:

Using a mandoline (or knife or food processor or magic!), thinly shave the fennel bulb and celery stalks (reserve the fennel fronds for the dressing). With a paring knife, cut the apple into thin matchsticks. (I like to slice the apple with the mandoline and then use a knife to julienne the apple into smaller pieces.) Gently toss the apple, celery, and fennel together in a bowl.

Mince the fennel fronds until you have roughly 1 tablespoon. Stir together the olive oil, mayo, vinegar, minced fennel fronds, salt, and pepper (and lovage, if using). Taste, and adjust the portions if necessary. (I happen to like a lot of pepper.)

Gently toss the salad with the dressing, just to coat. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with fennel fronds and toasted pecans.

Note: This salad keeps for about a day in the fridge, but it really tastes best the day you make it. Enjoy!

Pumpkin & Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing (Recipe Swap)

Last month, I wasn’t able to participate in the Recipe Swap, as I was driving across the country with my sister. In two years of swapping, this is the only post I’ve missed! I was bummed to miss out on all the recipe swap fun, but driving across the country isn’t exactly conducive to cooking. (On the contrary, driving across the country is conducive to eating a lot of crappy food and drinking gas station coffee.)

That being said, it’s good to be back.

There are times when Christianna emails the swap group our recipe for the month, and I’m completely inspired by it. This was not one of those times. This month’s recipe – “Russian Salad” is just plain nasty. It’s essentially a potato salad with veal and herring. (Yes, herring.) If I’m being truly honest, I got to the herring part of the recipe and decided to read no further. I am just not down with fish in my potato salad. So, I went in a totally and completely different direction. Really, the only thing my pumpkin kale salad has in common with Russian Salad is that they are both….salads. That’s it.

I blame this salad on Pinterest. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a bit of a ‘pumpkin craze’ on Pinterest as of late. It’s all pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cookies and pumpkin cocktails, etc, etc. I hate it! You see, I love pumpkin. I love it in curries and soups and stews. I love pumpkin in salads, gratins, and casseroles. Pumpkin is an amazingly flavorful and versatile fruit. And, sure, I love pumpkin pie as much as the next person, I just happen to believe that pumpkin does not belong in coffee. ;)

So, this is my take on the Russian salad, as well as my official submission to the great pumpkin craze. I hope you like it.

PUMPKIN & KALE SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING
Makes 6-8 servings

Salad ingredients:
1 small heirloom pumpkin (or 1/2 of a large pumpkin)
2 heaping cups of chopped lacinato kale
2 heaping cups of roughly chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup candied pecans*
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Tahini dressing:
2 tablespoons sesame tahini paste
2 small cloves of garlic
the juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon water (more, if needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper

*You could easily make your own spiced or candied pecans, or use plain pecans. I happened upon some candied pecans at Trader Joe’s that I thought were quite tasty in this salad.

Method:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat.

Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then cut each half in 2 or 3 pieces (whatever is easiest to handle). Using your knife, carefully remove the pumpkin skin from each segment. Once the skin is removed, chop the pumpkin into 1″ cubes. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to coat. Spread the pumpkin pieces into an even layer on the baking sheet, and roast until fork tender, but firm (about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

While the pumpkin is cooling, mix the dressing together. Stir together tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. The mixture will thicken and turn a lighter shade. Begin adding water, a little at a time. Stir until the mixture is light and creamy, and the desired thickness. Stir in yogurt and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the chopped lettuce and kale. Toss with tahini dressing, and gently mix in the pumpkin cubes, pecans, and minced parsley. Toss with a bit more tahini dressing, until coated. Taste, and season with extra salt & pepper, if needed.



The Prettiest Watermelon Salad (with Cucumber, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella)

So, I just recently learned that watermelon is super good for you. It’s chock-full of vitamins, antioxidants, and other great things.

Who knew?

It’s just so funny to me. In my mind, watermelon was always just a pretty pink fruit, consisting of nothing but water and sugar (and annoying black seeds). Turns out, I was quite wrong about watermelon. And for that, I apologize.

It’s not that I’ve ever shied away from watermelon. On the contrary, I’ve been known to gobble down slices of watermelon at many a BBQ and family picnic. I love watermelon. But now that I’m armed with the knowledge of the health benefits of watermelon, I can truly relish each bite. It’s a rare blessing, this combination of nutrition and taste.

I saw this pretty little salad recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and I was dead set on making my own version. I was in love with the presentation (a circular slab of watermelon, on a plate! amazing!). So, I went the the farmer’s market and procured myself a watermelon. I came straight home and made a watermelon salad for one. I sat at my dining room table, and I savored every bite. It was perfect.

Just the other day, while I was editing photos from my trip to Minneapolis, I realized that I completely forgot to post this recipe. In the midst of all of my travels and the general craziness of life, this post fell through the cracks. Whoops.

Don’t fret, however, because watermelon is still very much in season.

But get it while you can, folks. It won’t last long. This salad is a great way to celebrate the end of summer, and to savor some watermelon while you can.

Watermelon, Cucumber & Basil Salad
(Adapted from The Forest Feast)
Serves 4

1 small or medium sized watermelon
1/2 red onion
1 small cucumber
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry.
1 package of fresh mozzarella cheese
Good quality sea salt (such as Jacobsen’s)
Freshly ground black pepper
Good quality olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Optional: Fresh parsley or mint, minced

First, slice off four thick rounds of watermelon (starting from the center). Lay the slices flat on a cutting board, and using a small paring knife, remove the rind from the melon. Place each circle of watermelon on it’s own plate. Sprinkle a little sea salt over each piece of watermelon.

Using a mandoline (or very sharp knife), slice the cucumber and red onion very thinly. Slice the mozzarella into thin circles.

Arrange a layer of cucumber slices atop each piece of watermelon. Place a layer of mozzarella slices on top of the cucumbers. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the mozzarella, and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with thinly sliced red onion and basil leaves. If using other herbs (such as parsley or mint), sprinkle them on top of the basil. Drizzle just a touch more olive oil and balsamic over the salad. Serve immediately.

Red Cabbage Slaw with Creamy Avocado Dressing: Recipe Swap

The recipes from our Recipe Swap never cease to surprise me. They’re always odd, or old-fashioned. Sometimes they’re just plain gross.

This month, Christianna from Burwell General Store asked a group of us to re-interpret a recipe for “Coleslaw – Oregon Style.

I was instantly intrigued by this recipe, as I am an Oregonian. And I happen to love Oregon, a lot. I assumed that an Oregon-style coleslaw would be awesome.

I was quite wrong.

When I looked closely at the recipe, I realized that this coleslaw recipe calls for exactly one cup of sugar. ONE CUP OF SUGAR FOR 2 POUNDS OF CABBAGE. That’s a lot of sugar. It just seems so un-Oregon?

So, my goal for this recipe swap was to help set the record straight. I set out to make an Oregon-style coleslaw that reflects what I know and love about Oregon. I made a coleslaw that’s healthy and light. It’s unique. It’s green (Literally green. The dressing is made out of an avocado and green onions). It doesn’t have any sugar in it whatsoever.

This is my version of Oregon-style coleslaw. If I may say so myself, I think Oregon would be proud.



RED CABBAGE SLAW WITH CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING

(Adapted from Blackberries and Blood Oranges)

1 small head of red cabbage (or 1/2 of a large head of cabbage)
1 bunch of green onions
1 avocado
1-2 carrots, julienned
1-2 serrano chilies
1/2 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons lime juice
Salt & pepper, to taste
Optional: Extra avocado for garnish

In a blender or food processor, blend green onions (reserve a few to toss into the slaw), vinegar, chilies, olive oil, lime juice, cumin, avocado and half of the cilantro. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. (The dressing will be rather thick at this point, so feel free to add extra oil, vinegar, or water until it reaches desired consistency.)

Using a knife or mandoline, slice the cabbage thinly. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, sliced carrots, and the rest of the cilantro and green onions.

Gently toss the cabbage mixture with the avocado dressing, until coated. Chill for 15 minutes before serving. Prior to serving, squeeze a little extra fresh lime juice over the slaw.

Note: this slaw does not keep well. It is best consumed on the day you make it. However, if you have extra dressing leftover, it can be stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few days.

+++++++

Asparagus & Arugula Salad with Feta and Mint

I took a week off from everything.

It’s been wonderful.

I slept in (which I never do). I went to the gym. I spent time with friends and family.

I cooked, I baked. I concocted fun summer cocktails.

I watched a lot of Breaking Bad.

I went off the grid.

It was just what the doctor ordered.

And now, I’m starting my new job with Plate & Pitchfork. Our summer dinners start next weekend and I honestly can’t wait. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s the work I want to be doing. It’s what I love.

Oh, and I suppose I should say something about this asparagus salad. That’s what you’re here for, right?

The salad is remarkably simple. It’s bright and summery and wonderful. The asparagus is crisp, with just a hint of delicious char. Since we are nearing the end of asparagus season, I’m imploring you to snatch up as much as you can. Get it while it’s hot.

ASPARAGUS & ARUGULA SALAD WITH FETA & MINT
Note: While I call for roasted asparagus in this recipe, you could also grill, steam, or sauteé the asparagus. Really, it’s up to you! I prefer roasting or grilling, as I think the char on the asparagus tastes particularly good in this salad.

1 bunch of asparagus (approx. 1 lb)
1.5 cups arugula
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Drizzle of good quality olive oil (1 tablespoon, plus more for roasting)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the woody ends off the asparagus. Toss asparagus with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the oven is hot, roast asparagus in the oven for 8-12 minutes, or until asparagus is roasted. I prefer my asparagus to be slightly undercooked, so it’s still crisp (but cooked).

Remove asparagus to a plate (or bowl) to cool.

Once the asparagus is fully cooled, toss the asparagus with the arugula. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture, and toss with vinegar and lemon juice. Gently toss in the feta cheese and mint. Season with salt & pepper. Add more olive oil or lemon juice, if needed.

Serve immediately. (Note: this salad doesn’t keep particularly well. It is best if you eat it the same day you make it.)

Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette

First off, I’d like to thank you all for your support, kind words, and encouragement! I’m so excited to start my new job at Plate & Pitchfork, and your support means a lot.

In all the excitement of preparing for the new job (and training my replacement at the old job), I’ve not had a lot of time to cook. Honestly, I’ve not had a lot of time to do anything (Laundry, housecleaning, etc.). It’s just a busy season in life.

But, I bought a few pints of strawberries at the Montavilla Farmer’s Market last weekend and they sort of forced my hand. I used up some of the strawberries to make Minted Strawberry Shortcakes with Lemony Whipped Cream.

But I was over-zealous in my strawberry purchasing (they looked so good!) and I had a lot of strawberries leftover. They were just sitting in the fridge, begging me to use them. I noticed that a couple of the strawberries were beginning to brown, and I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t let them go to waste!

So I roasted the strawberries and then blended them with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices. I transformed the last of my strawberries into a vinaigrette (and a darn good one, at that).

I saved the strawberries and got a delicious salad dressing out of the deal.

It’s a win-win situation.

ROASTED STRAWBERRY VINAIGRETTE
(Slightly Adapted from Glow Kitchen)
Makes 1.5 cups (or so) of vinaigrette.

Ingredients:
1 pint of ripe strawberries (2 cups)
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
14 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper, to taste

Method:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, de-stem the strawberries and slice them in half. Line a baking pan with tinfoil and place the strawberries on the lined baking pan. Bake, until the strawberries are roasted and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Remove strawberries from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, blend the strawberries together with the rest of the ingredients, using a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Depending on your preference you can add more olive oil (or water) if the dressing is too thick.

Store the vinaigrette in an airtight container in the fridge. The dressing will keep for a week (or more).

Curried Potato Salad

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe.

(I’m not sure what my problem was, since this potato salad is really damn delicious.)

It’s just that potato salad is a funny thing. It’s not a particularly sexy dish, it’s a bit kitschy and old fashioned, and it certainly doesn’t look good in photographs. But good grief, it sure tastes great. But it doesn’t matter how Stepford-wife I feel when I show up to a BBQ with a bowl full of potato salad, it always gets eaten. Every last bite.

My girlfriends all implored me to post this recipe on the blog, despite the fact that it photographs like an ugly, yellow bowl of mush. (It doesn’t taste like an ugly bowl of mush, I promise.) I’ve always loved the combination of curry and potatoes, and it works just as well in this context. This potato salad somehow still tastes like the one you remember from your childhood, but with more adult flavors: curry, cilantro, and cumin.

Since Memorial Day is right around the corner, it does seem like an appropriate time to post a recipe for the ultimate BBQ side dish. Funny enough, I’m actually making this potato salad for my family’s Memorial Day BBQ, which means I’ll make this recipe 3 times in one week. Thankfully, I happen to really like this salad. And I kind of can’t wait to eat it again.

If you’re looking for something to eat alongside a giant bowl of potato salad on Memorial Day, check out my “What to Eat: Grill Edition” over at Plate & Pitchfork’s blog. I posted a little bit of everything – grilled kebabs, pizzas, veggies, meats, and more!

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

CURRIED POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:
6-10 small Yukon Gold potatoes (or other small waxy potato), cut into 1″ or 2″ cubes (skins left on)
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
1.5 Tablespoons mayo (I used Kewpie mayo)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 small shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Method:
Bring a medium-large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the cubed potatoes to the water and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and cooked all the way through. (I test them with a fork or knife tip after 15 minutes).

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the hot water using a colander or strainer. Rinse the potatoes with cold water and set aside to continue cooling. (Optional: I like to sprinkle a bit of red wine vinegar over the potatoes at this time, as it absorbs into the potatoes and gives them an extra tang.)

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, mayo, red wine vinegar, curry powder, coriander, cumin, and salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside.

Once the potatoes have cooled to room temperature, gently toss them with the diced shallots and celery. Gently stir in the yogurt mixture, to coat. Once the potatoes are coated in the yogurt mixture, gently stir in the chopped cilantro. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour before serving. Just prior to serving, garnish with more fresh cilantro and a dash of curry powder.