Category Archives: Salads

Sauteed Kale Caprese

Welcome to another edition of What I’ve Been Eating for a Week Straight.  I think of this as a salad but it could easily be a side dish.  Whatever it is, I have found myself preparing this easy, delightful meal for lunch on the daily this summer.  It’s…lovely.  Light and clean and balanced.  It just makes you feel good.  Unpolluted, if you will.

We’ve been eating a lot more produce and a lot less meat lately.  It’s cheaper, which is great.  But first and foremost, after watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, we felt compelled to make some changes to our diet.  (If you have netflix you can view it on streaming.  I highly recommend it.)   Hot dogs, blocks of cheese, and pepperoni really should not be constants in the refrigerator if you know what I mean.

We have not gone vegan, nor vegetarian, and I very much doubt we ever will.  I honestly would rather take a shortened lifespan than give up dairy.  I do loves my cheese.  But we are eating a whole lot more leafy greens, vegetables in general, and plant based proteins than ever before and that is a good thing.

You can prepare this salad in about 3 minutes.

First, mince a couple cloves of garlic and chop up a plum tomato.  Or you could use a handful of cherry tomatoes if you have them on hand – even easier!

Pour a couple tablespoons olive oil in a big, deep pan and heat over Medium High.  This is my stir fry pan – it works perfectly.

When the oil just begins to faintly smoke, add in as much chopped kale as will fit in your pan.  It’s going to reduce down in volume in just a second here.  To save time, I buy the pre-chopped, pre-washed kale in the bag.  Lunch at my house is a hectic time, man.

…Blurry, sorry…  Once the kale has gotten a little bit more manageable, maybe 30 seconds in, add in the garlic and the tomatoes.  I don’t throw the garlic in first on this one because everything goes so hot and fast it’s too easy to burn it.

After about another minute, remove your greens and other loveliness to a plate and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Salt is important in this dish!  You want salt.  Salt is good.

Next, top with a couple slices of fresh mozzarella.  The heat from the greens will just start to melt the cheese… mmmm nummy.  Again – to save time – I buy the pre-sliced stuff they sell at Sam’s Club.  I normally only top with two slices… but that makes for a bad picture so you see three here.

And lastly, drizzle the whole thing with a little balsamic glaze.  You can buy balsamic glaze at the grocery store (ours stocks it with the other vinegars), or you can make your own by  reducing a 16 oz bottle of balsamic vinegar over low-medium heat down to about 1/2 a thick, syrupy cup.  (If you’re making your own, make sure to do it on a day when you can open the windows or your whole house will smell like vinegar!)

I took the photo above out on my deck with the baby running around me with a train in hand (if you look closely you can see her).  We sat outside in the beautiful sunshine and shared our good, wholesome food.  Just a simple, happy afternoon.  Hope you all get to do the same today 🙂

Enjoy!

Sauteed Kale Caprese

4 cups raw, chopped kale

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 plum tomato, chopped (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

balsamic glaze for drizzling

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan (like a wok) over Medium High heat until the oil faintly smokes.

Fill the pan with kale and, using tongs, turn it until all the kale starts to wilt, about 30 seconds.

Add in garlic and tomatoes, continuing to turn it until no raw bits of kale remain, about another 60 seconds.

Remove kale mixture to a plate and season with salt and pepper.

Top with mozzarella and balsamic glaze.

Serve immediately.

Serves 1 as a main dish, 2-4 as a side

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Arugula Salad with Peaches and Candied Bacon

This is an incredibly easy, colorful, flavorful, textural summer salad experience. I’ve eaten it two days in a row now for lunch.  And I may have it again tomorrow.  This might be a problem if it weren’t a salad.

And it all came about because I didn’t want to do dishes.

You see, the other day I was preparing some of The Pioneer Woman‘s BBQ Bacon Jalapeno Poppers.  (Sorry no recipe link – it’s only in her first cookbook)  They are to die for and have become a party staple at our house because everyone just loves them.  I could eat six of them in five minutes.  You know, I could…not that I ever did, mind you…

Anyway,  my oven safe rack was already baconed up so I thought why not make some candied bacon?!?  If you’ve never had it, candied bacon is incredibly easy to make and mind-blowingly delicious.  And what better way to consume it than over a bed of healthy baby arugula?  Score!

Here’s everything you need right here – arugula, goat cheese, peaches, and the candied bacon (we’ll get to that part in a second).   Now, I was only making salad for myself so I only have one peach here.  I’d say one peach/person would be good.  For a main dish salad anyway.  For side salads probably half a peach would work for each.

For the candied bacon – just take some bacon slices (mine were pre-cut in halves for the poppers but they don’t have to be), and toss them around in some brown sugar.

I sorta cleaned my rack for this shot.

Place them on an oven safe rack over an aluminum foil lined rimmed baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about half an hour or until done to your liking.  (You’ll want to watch them closely after that 30 minute mark as they go from wiggly to burnt in a very short amount of time.  I left mine in a couple minutes too long and they were a bit too dark for my taste.)

Don’t you just love it when your peaches are perfectly ripe and the skin just peels right off?  Nom.  Wonderful.

For the dressing I made a super quick mustardy vinaigrette.  This is everything you need right here.  I love vinaigrettes because they’re so easy to remember and freehand with whatever you’ve got lying around.  3 parts oil : 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon/lime juice) plus flavor additions.  I love how the slight sweetness of the apple cider vinegar compliments the bacon and peaches.

If you have a cruet like this one you get to go the easy route and just pour up to the lines.  If not, it’s still really quick and easy.  (And you don’t need to add water.  That’s what the “W” stands for.  I find adding even a little bit of water makes a vinaigrette too thin unless you plan on adding a ton of dry ingredients – like a packet of salad dressing mix or something.)

The peaches are sweet, tart, and succulent.  The goat cheese tangy, creamy, and smooth.  The arugula green and dry and slightly bitter.  The bacon salty, savory, sweet, and crispy.  Paired with a simple mustardy vinaigrette that brings it all together?  Perfect.

Enjoy!

Arugula Salad with Peaches and Candied Bacon

8 cups baby arugula

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

6 slices bacon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an oven safe rack over it.

Dredge bacon slices in brown sugar and lay flat on rack.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until done to your liking.  Allow to cool and crumble.

Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk (or shake, if you have a cruet) to emulsify.

Portion out arugula between 4 plates, top with goat cheese, peaches, and candied bacon.

Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Makes 4 main dish salads.

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Avocado Egg Salad

Welcome to the first installment of Foods My Husband Will Not Touch with a Ten Foot Pole.

If I were to actually continue this train of thought I could probably fill up the rest of the year with posts in this series.  There are so many foods my husband will not eat for whatever reason.  Mushrooms, peas, corn that’s not on the cob, candy of any kind, frosting, cream-based sauces, shellfish, ham, turkey, any part of the chicken besides the breast.  The list goes on and on.

“Green foods” is on that list.

There’s no Doofenshmirtzian back-story here.  He was never traumatized by a bad avocado experience or anything like that.  Apparently as a baby he wouldn’t eat green veggies and has just never gone back on it since then.  He’s kind of stubborn like that.

So yeah, vegetables…it’s like I’ve got five kids in the house I have to constantly beg, nag, and cajole to eat their food.

And avocados – not even a real vegetable.  It’s totally a fruit.  That’s full of good for you fat at that.

So where were we?  Oh yeah, egg salad, baby.

Now, normally, I do my egg salad with a mayo/dijon/horseradish dressing.  And it’s awesome.  But, I had all these Easter eggs sitting in my fridge staring at me (last month – I know – been super busy ’round here) and I got inspired.  And you know what?  I ended up making myself this egg salad for myself for breakfast every day for like a week.

Nom.

Here’s everything you need.  A mashed avocado, three chopped hard boiled eggs, two finely chopped green onions, a pinch of kosher salt, and a few dashes of hot sauce (I ❤ RedHot).  Put it all in a bowl, mash it up, you’re done.  Now, if you like your egg salad more eggy you could go four eggs instead of three.  Up to you.  This recipe easily doubles/triples/whatever you need.

Here he is being a good sport.  No pole or anything.  But check it out – wasabi is not included in the green foods ban.

“What?  I’ve gotta cover up the green.”

:Facepalm:

Enjoy!

 

 

Avocado Egg Salad

1 ripe avocado, skin removed, pitted and mashed

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

a pinch of kosher salt

a few dashes hot sauce such as RedHot

Instructions:

Combine and serve.  If not consuming right away, press plastic wrap directly onto surface of egg salad to delay the natural browning of the avocado.

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Steak Fajita Salad

So, it’s the middle of January which I’m guessing means most of you are either on a diet or a new exercise kick or both.  Sound about right?

Sigh.

I don’t get why January-March is the high season for the fitness industry and weight loss initiatives in general.  It’s January.  It’s cold and dark and we’re just trying to get through the winter until the real rebirth happens in the spring.  I mean, don’t get me wrong – as a fitness professional I’m always glad to see paying customers coming in our doors with determination on their faces and water bottles in hand.

What irks me is the annual eventishness of it. I mean, I think we all recognize this time of year as being the time we “get back on track” and join a gym and start eating healthy.  But all that enthusiasm goes hand in hand with the shrug and a laugh knowing all too well that it will be over in a few weeks and we will all go back to life as usual until next New Year’s resolutions roll around.

That being said, I’m still game for lighter entrees as long as they’re satisfying in the mental/emotional arena.  So today we have a salad – a filling, satisfying, not totally non-caloric salad.  It could be really light fare, if you really wanted it to be.  But take away the (really good for you) avocado, the (already lite) sour cream and the fried tortilla and you’ve lost the appeal of the salad.  And without the appeal you have lost the mental game entirely.  And the game IS mental.  Try to lose weight while feeling like you’re depriving yourself all the time.  It doesn’t work.

This salad is (relatively) healthy while still being completely mouth-wateringly awesome.  Can’t ask for more than that.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love a great taco salad?  No?  I didn’t think so.  This isn’t exactly taco salad.  Not what I think of as “traditional” taco salad anyway.  It’s so much better.

First we’re going to start with a marinade.  In a food processor combine 4 cloves of garlic (one of mine came from a jar – shhh!), 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (the kind you get in a can in the Latino aisle), a handful of fresh cilantro, 2 Tbsp lime juice, and 1/4 cup olive oil.

And puree.

Pour the marinade into a ziplock baggie with 1 lb of well trimmed sirloin steak.  Make sure the entire steak is covered in marinade and set in the refrigerator for  several hours or overnight.

I just had to show you.  I got a NEW KNIFE!!!  A genuine Wusthof!  This is really big exciting stuff (for me).  It’s soooo much sharper than my old knife it makes me giddy every time I use it.

Get your steak out of the fridge and let it sit while you prep your vegetables.  With your chef’s knife, chop up some green bell pepper and some onions.  I used cooking onions but Spanish Onions or any sweet onion would be awesome too.  I think I’ve got 2 peppers and 3 onions there.  I was going for equal parts of each.

Heat some oil in a large skillet over Medium-High heat.  When the oil shimmers add your vegetables and cook…

…until they look like this.  Soft and lovely.  Season with kosher salt and remove from the pan.

While the peppers and onions are cooking we can start prepping our other salad ingredients.  Roll up some romaine lettuce and slice it into thin ribbons.

Chop up some more cilantro.

And slice up an avocado.  Isn’t my avocado perfect?  I love it when I open them up on their perfect day.  To easily remove the pit, carefully whack your knife into the pit, exert a little pressure and rotate it out.  Then use a spoon to carve the avocado out of it’s skin.

Shred up some Monterrey Jack cheese.  Obviously don’t shred your cheese like this.  I need a third hand.

Add to the list some jarred salsa and lightly salted sour cream and our salad is almost ready to be assembled!

But of course we can’t forget our steak!  This is best done in a cast iron skillet if you have one.  They retain heat better than any other type of pan and are awesome for searing meats.  On Medium High heat, sear your steak for 3 minutes per side.  Turn off the heat and let it sit in the pan.  8 minutes will get you a perfect medium rare.  At least, in a cast iron pan it will.  If you’re cooking your steak on a different surface that time might need to be extended slightly.  And of course, if you prefer your steak more well done, leave it in longer.  Never cut into a steak to check for doneness, that causes all the juices to run out everywhere.  I always use the thumb test to test meat’s doneness.  Here is a video showing the technique.  Lastly, once you’re satisfied that your steak is done to your liking, leave it the heck alone!  For 10 minutes to rest that is.  Again, so all the juices don’t run out all over the place leaving you with a dry steak.

Now, while the steak is resting, grab a small pan and fill it with a puddle of oil.  I’m not sure how much I have in there.  Many several tablespoons, put it that way.  Enough to make a shallow pool.  Heat the oil over Medium High heat until shimmery.  Grab some corn tortillas and place one in the oil.  The oil should bubble excitedly when you introduce the tortilla.  If it doesn’t, the oil isn’t hot enough yet.  Fry each tortilla about 45 seconds to a side, or until it gets to be a nice golden brown.

Oops.  Don’t walk away and tend to children during this part.  It’s not difficult but you really can’t walk away for two minutes in the middle of it.

There, that’s better.

It’s been 10 minutes so I’m thinly slicing up my steak now.  Eeeee!  I left mine in for about 9 minutes and it came out somewhere between medium rare and medium.

To assemble, place some lettuce on a plate, then your fried tortilla…(or you could totally reverse these two and put the tortilla on the bottom…I just thought it looked cool this way)…

…then pile on some of the onions, the peppers, and the steak.  Eeeeeee!  Can you tell I LOVE steak?

Sprinkle on some of the cheese.

And top with a couple slices of avocado, a dollop  of sour cream and salsa, and some cilantro (if you’re not a zombie like me and forget to put it on).  An alternative to the sour cream and salsa is to mix the two and use that as your dressing.  Or mix ranch and salsa to make a southwest dressing.  All good options.  Mmm.  Just writing about this makes me want to fix it for dinner again tomorrow night!  Soooooo ridiculously yummy.  The garlic/chipotle/lime/cilantro marinade packs a punch and puts the whole thing over the top.

Enjoy!

Steak Fajita Salad

For the steak:

1 lb Sirlion Steak, well trimmed

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp lime juice

4 cloves garlic

1 handful fresh cilantro

2 chipotle peppers in adobo

For the salad:

1 Romaine heart, sliced into thin ribbons

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 green bell peppers, sliced (about 2 cups)

3 cooking onions, sliced (about 2 cups)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

1 cup jarred salsa

4 corn tortillas

Oil for frying

Instructions:

In a food processor puree garlic, chipotle peppers, the handful of fresh cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil until smooth.  Pour into a ziplock baggie and add sirloin.  Put in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Remove steak from refrigerator and set out while you prep your other ingredients.

Prepare onions and peppers.  In a cast iron pan, heat oil over Medium-High heat until the oil shimmers.  If it begins to smoke the oil is too hot.  Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 5 minutes).  Season with salt and set aside.  Wipe out pan.

On Medium-High heat, add steak to pan and sear on each side for 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave steak in the pan 8 minutes longer for medium rare.  About 10 minutes for medium.  Use the thumb test to check for doneness.  Don’t cut into it yet!  When steak is done to your liking, remove it from the pan to a plate and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the lettuce, cilantro, cheese, avocado, salsa, and sour cream.  You can mix the sour cream and salsa to make a dressing or just leave them separate.  Add a sprinkle of kosher salt to the sour cream (optional).

Heat a shallow pool of oil in a small pan over Medium-High heat.  When the oil shimmers, place a corn tortilla in the oil.  There should be just enough oil in the pan for the tortilla to float and the oil should bubble excitedly when you introduce the tortilla into it.  If it doesn’t get excited it’s not hot enough.  If you notice that your tortilla is getting very dark very quickly or you’re getting smoke the oil is too hot.    Cook for about 45 seconds on each side or until tortilla is a nice golden brown.  Repeat with the other 3 tortillas.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Slice up your steak thinly.

Assemble salad.  Lettuce, tortilla, peppers and onions, steak, cheese, avocado, and cilantro to garnish.  Serve dressing or salsa and sour cream on the side.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 main dish salads.

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Harvest Salad

AKA My New Favorite Salad.

I’m gonna tell you right off the bat here my basic formula for a great salad.  Mixed Greens + Fruit + Cheese + Nuts + Dressing.  Other vegetables usually not necessary.  Sometimes I’ll add chicken or some other kind of meat.  I have lots of favorite salads but almost all of them follow this basic formula.

What makes this my new favorite salad is the dressing.  I make my own dressing a lot of the time.  The ratio for a basic vinaigrette is easy to remember – 3:1.  3 parts oil to 1 part acid.  The acid is usually vinegar but it can also be lemon juice or something else that’s similarly sour.  In this case we’re going to make cranberry vinegar for our acid.

In one easy step we get cranberry infused vinegar and plump, juicy cranberries for our salad.  Simply put 1/3 cup Craisins in a small, microwave safe bowl and pour 3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Tbsp water over them.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and nuke on high for 1 minute.  The craisins will absorb some of the liquid and the remaining vinegar will be nice and rosy pink and cranberry…y.   Super yummy on our salad with Honeycrisp apples, pecans, and freshly crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese.  Enjoy!

Harvest Salad

6 cups Mixed Greens, rinsed and dried

1 Honeycrisp Apple, sliced

1/3 cup Pecans, chopped

1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled (buy the wedge – not the pre-crumbled stuff – it’s much better and lasts longer)

1/3 cup Craisins

3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbsp Water

2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

2 Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard

3/4 cup Olive Oil

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

Combine craisins, vinegar, and water in a small, microwave safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for one minute.  Allow to cool for a couple minutes.

Remove craisins from remaining liquid.

Combine greens, apple slices, pecans, gorgonzola, and craisins.

Add mustard and lemon juice to cranberry vinegar.  Drizzle in olive oil while whisking to get dressing emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 side salads or 2 main dish salads.  Also great with grilled chicken breast.

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