Salade Nicoise

salade-nicoiseA really refreshing change from warm (albeit) comforting casseroles, try this lovely French salad, with its elements in heaps, rather than tossed together.

It’s basically an herby vinaigrette on a very hearty salad – with potatoes, tomatoes, tuna and hard-boiled eggs, meant to be served warm or at room temperature. I love it because it’s also a very forgiving recipe. As long as you’ve got some form of potato, tomato, lettuce and green beans it will be delicious!

It was perfect for a summer evening’s meal, after a good brisk walk.

INGREDIENTS

Vinaigrette

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Thai basil (could use any basil or 2 tsp dried basil)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
3/4 tsp kosher Salt and
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Salad

1 can albacore tun in olive oil, removed and lightly drained
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise
1 lb small young red potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 container butter lettuce (or any nice lettuce), torn into bite-sized pieces
15 or so grape tomatoes, cut in half, or 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1/2 yellow or small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound green beans, stems broken off
1/4 cup olives (I used Castelvetrano but Nicoise olives are also recommended.)
2 Tbsp capers, drained

Make vinaigrette: In a jar, place the oil, vinegar, garlic powder, herbs, mustard and fish sauce if using. Cover with a lid and shake until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Marinate onion slices in a couple spoons of the vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Bring a pot of water to boil, add 1 Tbsp of salt and add the potatoes and eggs. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork soft. Remove the potatoes, immediately cut in half and toss in a bowl with a little more vinaigrette.

Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook 3-5 minutes. Remove and rinse with cold water. Peel and quarter the hard-boiled eggs.

On each plate, lay a bed of lettuce. Heap some of the tuna in the middle. Sprinkle the onions and tomatoes around the tuna.

Arrange the potatoes and green beans in mounds at the edge of the lettuce.
Arrange hard boiled eggs and olives in mounds on the lettuce bed.

Drizzle everything with the remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle with capers if using.

Can also be served without tuna as a vegetarian option.

Kale, Apple, Cabbage, Carrot and Goat Cheese Salad

This is based on a recipe from the Pioneer Woman and Natalie Perry, but features substitutions based on what I had in my pantry. It’s a really substantial and flavorful salad that was very satisfying as a main dish. Lots of bright flavors and colors!

Salad ingredients:
6 oz. baby kale
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 ounces grated cabbage and carrots – about 3 cups? Can also use brussel sprouts
2 medium apples, cored and diced
1 cup candied pecans (see note #1)
4 oz. goat cheese
1 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash or baked sweet potatoes (see note #2)
handful craisins

Dressing:
1/2 red wine vinegar
4 tsp whole grain mustard
4 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 olive oil

In a large salad bowl, add kale, lemon juice and first Tbsp of Olive Oil. Gently massage the kale for a minute until it has softened a bit and started to turn a little darker green.

Add the shredded veggies, chopped apples and candied pecans.

Make the dressing in a mason jar, shaking vigorously for 30 seconds until well combined. Add to the bowl, and mix gently until everything is coated.

Drop goat cheese, sweet potato (or butternut squash) and craisins on top and serve.

Note #1: To make candied pecans, in a small frying pan add pecans, 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has dried up. Be careful – it burns easily!

Note #2: peel and dice butternut squash into 1″ squares, toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Or, do the same for sweet potatoes. Roast at 425 until browned and soft about 15-20 minutes. Poke with a fork to make sure they’re done. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Ina’s Iceberg Salad with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

blue-cheese

Beautiful Blue Cheese by PDPhotos on Pixabay.

I made this for Christmas Morning brunch and it was delicious. Maybe my favorite blue cheese dressing ever.

For the dressing:

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup good mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

4 tender inside celery stalks, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
6 radishes, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
5 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts sliced

1 large head iceberg lettuce, wilted outer leaves removed and sliced into 1″ layers
4 to 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Fleur de sel

Buzz the dressing ingredients with a buzzwand (sorry, immersion blender) in a medium pitcher until creamy and smooth.

Mix the celery, radishes and scallions in a small bowl.

For each serving, lay a slice of iceberg lettuce on a salad plate. Top with the celery mixture and pour dressing over. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles and a bit of fleur de sel.

Serve immediately. The radishes and scallions add a lovely spicy bite to the creamy, fresh salad.  You might want to halve the slices if your family are not big salad eaters.

Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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Butternut Squash Image by Nick Collins on Pixabay.

I’ve made this salad from Ina Garten a dozen times and it is so good there’s never any left.  It’s a perfect fall salad with all the gorgeous colors of the squash, arugula and walnuts.  Thank you Ina for another wonderful recipe!

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp real maple syrup (you can substitute honey if you want to)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp Craisins

For the warm cider vinaigrette:
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice (I use Martinelli’s Apple Juice in the little apple bottle if we don’t have cider on hand. It’s so good – you should keep some in your pantry.)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 oz baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  (use Vegan Parmesan if you wish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp olive oil, maple syrup, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place squash on a sheet pan and pour mix over. Toss with your hands until well coated.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender, turning squash over after 10 minutes. Add Craisins for last 5 minutes. When you add the Craisins, add a small baking pan with the walnuts and let toast for 5 minutes. Watch that the walnuts don’t burn!

Let squash sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes while you make the vinaigrette.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 6-8 minutes until about 1/4 cup is left. Take off heat and whisk in mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Pour 2/3 of the vinaigrette over and toss well.  (We don’t like our salad dripping with dressing but if you do – be bold and toss it all in.)

Serve immediately while the dressing and squash are warm. So good!

Panzanella Salad

Ina Garten shared a recipe for the 4th of July that we ended up loving – Panzanella Salad.  It is fresh, easy and hearty enough to be a main dish for lunch.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 loaf of French Bread, cut into 1″ cubes (ends up being 6 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes cut into 1″ cubes

1 cucumber, unpeeled, halved and seeded, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers, drained

Vinaigrette
1 tsp crushed garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar (Ina uses Champagne vinegar but I didn’t have any)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients

In a nice large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, basil and capers. Toss with vinaigrette, and then add bread cubes and toss again. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Can serve right away or after a half hour.

Delish.  Thanks for another fabulous recipe, Ina!

Tangy Fruit Salad

Another great recipe from Ree Drummond, that’s both pretty and delicious.  I ended up halving Ree’s original recipe, which serves 12, and still had more than enough for the 6 of us, with plenty left over for nibbling later.

The Orange Vanilla sauce adds just enough sweetness and tanginess to brighten everything up without being too sweet.  We loved it and had leftover fruit and syrup on vanilla ice cream the next day.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
2 pints blueberries
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup green grapes, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the sugar, water, orange juice and orange zest into a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 to thicken slightly. Set aside to cool, then stir in vanilla. Store in the fridge until cold.

Mix together all the fruit in a large bowl and refrigerate.  Just before serving, pour the syrup over the fruit, tossing gently to coat.

 

Ina’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

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Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer on Unsplash

We are pretty lowkey on Christmas Day:  gifts and stocking with the kids in the morning  with lots of good coffee.  But I do like to make a good Christmas Lunch.  This year I made Roasted Carrot Salad, a Pork Tenderloin and Maya’s request: Baked Apple Pancakes.

This recipe is outstanding – from Ina Garten’s “Cooking for Jeffrey.” You can easily roast the carrots and soak the cranberries the day before and then assemble the salad in minutes.

Ingredients

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut in diagonal slices 1″ wide and 2″ long
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2/3 cup Craisins
2/3 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar (Ina uses sherry, but I didn’t have any.)
2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane, or 1 tsp crushed garlic
6 oz. baby arugula
6 oz. feta cheese crumbles (Ina uses goat cheese, medium-diced)
2/3 cup roasted salted whole almonds (Ina uses Marcona almonds)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss carrots, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Dump everything onto a big sheet pan, and roast for 20 minutes. (Use two sheet pans if needed.) Toss after 10 minutes so they brown nicely all over. Remove from oven, drizzle with maple syrup, toss again and and roast for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Combine cranberries and orange juice in a small pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk in 3 Tbsp olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss together carrots, arugulas, craisins with all liquid, feta, vinaigrette and almonds.

Serve on a white platter. So good!

To make ahead, cook the carrots, soak the cranberries in orange juice, and make the vinaigrette in a small mason jar. Take everything out an hour before serving, so it can warm to room temperature and put salad together.  

Sanibel Summer Salad

sanibel-summer-salad

Just before adding dressing and sesame crackers.  So good!

I first had this salad at Over Easy Cafe in Sanibel, and it’s so delicious I recreated it at home, with a few minor changes. (The original recipe includes mandarin oranges, diced red onions and chow mein noodles.) It’s become one of our favorite salads and always reminds me of sitting on the patio at Over Easy.

Ingredients

1 bag of mixed baby greens or 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved (Optional)
1/4 cup pecans (can used candied, but I like plain)
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup Craisins
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Sesame Crackers (Trader Joe’s has great Sesame Crackers.)
4 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and halved lengthwise

Vinaigrette
1 tsp crushed garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To make vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a mason jar, close with lid and shake like crazy until well blended.

Place greens in a large bowl. Top with everything but the crackers, eggs and vinagrette. Just before serving, toss the crackers over, add halved eggs and drizzle with vinaigrette. Delish!

Ina Garten’s Green Goddess Dressing Recipe

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home

Every year at our big family potluck Christmas Eve, we choose a country and everyone brings food and drink from that country.  This year my very clever brother Ron and his wife Lisa suggested that instead of a country, we choose a time and so our focus this year was Betty Crocker.

Our Mom cooked a lot from the Betty Crocker picture cookbook, so we all grew up loving many of those recipes.  I remember being fascinated with name and story of Green Goddess Salad dressing, so that’s what I brought.  Ina has a wonderful recipe in her  cookbook and it was of course, delicious!!!

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped green onions (scallions), white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Asian Fish Sauce (Ina uses 2 tsp anchovy paste, but that’s something I’ve never used. Asian Fish sauce is basically anchovy sauce, and works pretty well, too.)
1 cup sour cream

Add all to a food processor and buzz just until blended.  It does make a lot of dressing, so you can easily halve the recipe.

It really needs nothing more than to be tossed with nice salad greens and halved grape or cherry tomatoes, but would also be great on a iceberg lettuce wedge salad.
Ina also uses it on asparagus and broccoli – which I’ve never tried but plan to do so.

Chicken, Avocado and Bread Salad

chicken avocado and bread saladCame home late from work and hadn’t really planned supper.  We had lots of great ingredients, but I just didn’t feel like cooking.  However, I pulled together an easy salad that was frankly delicious – and one I’d be glad to eat again!  I may try to find a copycat recipe for Trader Joe’s dressing, since we totally love it.  Or maybe not – it’s so easy to just pick it up.

For each serving:

Baby salad greens (or whatever lettuce or salad leaves you have on hand)
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chicken meat chunks, cooked (I buy Costco roasted chicken. Click here to see how I use it all.)
1 slice bread (I used the heel of a hearty peasant loaf, cut into 1″ pieces.)
Trader Joe’s Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette

Add a generous handful of salad greens to a bowl. Top with avocado, chicken, and bread cubes. Drizzle with Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette.

That’s it. Ridiculous, no? And yet truly delicious.