Archive for the 'Make Ahead Side Dishes' Category

Carrot Salad with Cumin and Garlic

Today’s recipe – Carrot Salad with Cumin and Garlic – has been in heavy rotation since I first discovered it back in August of last year. In its original context, it’s supposed to serve as part of an appetizer course for a Moroccan meal. I’ve been serving it alongside Roasted Beet Salad with Cinnamon and pan-seared chicken (occasionally with a green salad as well) for a perfect, easy, mostly make-ahead meal.

Carrot Salad with Cumin and Garlic
Serves 4

Ingredients:
5 large carrots (about 1 1/4 pounds)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (can cut to 2 tablespoons, if desired)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Peel or wash and scrape the carrots and trim off the tops and tails. Cut them in quarters lengthwise and then cut each quarter in half to produce sticks. Boil in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender but not too soft, then drain.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and put in the carrots, garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper. Sauté on a medium-high heat, stirring and turning the carrots over, until the garlic just begins to color.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve cold.

Source: Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

Carrot Salad with Cumin and Garlic

This is one of those “so simple but so good” recipes. I love the tender carrots mixed with cumin, lemon, and lots of garlicky goodness. While this isn’t first-date food (unless your date is into garlic!), this dish is perfect as part of a make-ahead meal or a picnic because it can be prepared days ahead and is meant to be served cold or at room temperature.

Speaking of garlic, I’ve done a fair amount of experimenting with the garlic in this recipe because I wasn’t initially sure what “crushed” garlic was. This time, I smashed whole cloves with the side of my santoku knife and stirred them in whole. That produces a milder garlic flavor. I’ve used jarred minced garlic in a pinch (works fine), but my favorite preparation in terms of flavor and texture is coarsely chopped garlic. The only less-than-great result I got was when I used my garlic press; with four cloves, the garlic flavor was totally overwhelming. If you want to press your garlic, I’d recommend cutting it back from four cloves to two.

Roasted Beet Salad with Cinnamon

Today’s recipe is one where you might take a look at the ingredient list and wonder if the elements can possibly work together. Beets and cinnamon? Really?

REALLY.

I’m a beet lover to begin with, but the marinade in this recipe takes them to another level. I first made this dish for a Moroccan-themed gourmet club meeting back in July (it was a hit!), and I’ve been making it a couple of times a month since. I served these beets to my mom during her last visit, and she said she could eat them every day (and then went home and made them for herself because she loved them so much).  The baking time is long but prep is really minimal, plus this is one of those dishes you can make a couple of days ahead for less stressful cooking and entertaining.  Give it a try – I’m sure you’ll love it!

Roasted Beet Salad with Cinnamon
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound beets (3 to 4)
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch of ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt to taste

Method:
Rinse and thoroughly dry the beets, being careful not to break their skins. Cut off the tops, leaving about 1 1/2 inches.

Tightly wrap the beets, with the salt, in foil or parchment paper and set in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 325°F for 2 hours. To check for tenderness, open one end of the packet and test a beet with the tip of a knife to see if the flesh has softened.

Peel the beets, cut into bite-sized pieces, and put in a bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients, pour over the beets, and let marinate for 1 hour before serving.  Serve at room temperature.

Source: The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert

roasted_beet_salad_w_cinnamon

This is one of my favorite salads, hands down. The beets are perfectly tender, slightly sweet, and bright from the lemon and parsley. The hint of warmth from the cinnamon really elevates the dish as well.  I like to serve this with grilled pork chops, a Moroccan carrot salad (I’ll blog one soon!), and a green salad for a nicely balanced meal.

TIPS: You read that right: two tablespoons of salt. The thing is, in order to use that amount of salt, you absolutely must not puncture the skin of the beets. The “top” of the beet is the stalks of the beet greens, not the beet itself.  If the beet flesh is exposed, that amount of salt will render your dish inedible. (I know this from experience!) If this makes you nervous, just put about a teaspoon of salt into the foil packet with your beets, and then pay special attention when seasoning the marinade later.

Also, I often double this recipe so we have more on hand for snacking. I’ve had success with doubling the amount of beets and using a single portion of the marinade.

Tzatziki Potato Salad

Is there anything better than entertaining out on the deck or patio in the summer? I just love sharing a meal outside with friends while we sip, nibble, and chat until the sun goes down. For me, though, an essential element of this experience is being able to do most of the dinner work long before any guests arrive. That’s where today’s dish – Tzatziki Potato Salad – comes in. It’s delicious, it pairs beautifully with several of my favorite grilling recipes (including Grilled Greek Chicken Kebabs with Mint-Feta Sauce and Greek-Style Pork Chops), and it can be made up to two days ahead.

Tzatziki Potato Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup Greek-style, plain, fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
3 Kirby cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook over high heat until tender, about 9 minutes. Drain, gently shaking out the excess water. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for about 10 minutes, just until no longer warm.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the mayonnaise until smooth. Add the cucumbers, chile, mint and dill. Fold in the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Source: Grace Parisi, Food & Wine

Tzatziki Potato Salad

I just love the flavors in this salad, particularly the freshness of the mint and the mild heat of the serrano chile. The cucumbers add coolness and crunch, and the yogurt and mayonnaise lend just the right amount of creaminess. This salad is the perfect accompaniment to any Greek-themed menu, but it would be right at home next to burgers, brats, or whatever else you’re grilling up this summer. Give it a try!

TIPS: Depending on how accurately sized your potato cubes are, you may need a few more minutes of cooking time. Just make sure the potatoes are tender before you drain them. Also, if you can’t find Kirby cucumbers, substitute a medium English cucumber (and feel free to skip the peeling and seeding, since English cukes have thin, tender skin and their seeds are less bitter).

Recipe link: Tzatziki Potato Salad

Beet and Tomato Salad

I got two pounds of gorgeous tomatoes in my CSA share this past week, so I think it’s time to share what has been one of my favorite salads this summer: Beet and Tomato Salad from the September 2010 issue of Everyday Food.  It’s colorful, fresh, and delicious, and it makes a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats (especially pork chops – our favorite!).

I’ve made this salad four of five times this summer, and I have to admit that I initially struggled to find the perfect roasting time for the beets.  The recipe says to roast them for 45 minutes to an hour.  This works fine for very small beets, but in my experience, average-sized beets need at least 75 minutes to become tender.  After the initial roasting time, poke them with a fork or knife to make sure they’re tender; if not, put ’em back in.

Beet and Tomato Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 medium beets (about 1 pound total), scrubbed
2 teaspoons plus 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 medium beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place beets on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Top with 2 teaspoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold foil around beets and crimp ends to form a packet.  Roast beets on sheet until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove beets from foil and let cool, then peel and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 teaspoons oil, shallot, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.  On a large platter, arrange beets and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves.

Source: Everyday Food, September 2010

Beet and Tomato Salad

This is sooooo good.  I suspect this salad could be a game changer for people who think they don’t like beets (especially if they’re used to canned beets at the salad bar).  The combination of fresh tomato and beet slices, simple but flavorful dressing, and fresh herbs is seriously out of this world.  (I must admit, though, that I’ve put a dash of dried oregano in the dressing when I didn’t have fresh oregano to sprinkle on top.  I like the fresh herbs better, but the salad was still amazing.)

Since I’m all about entertaining, I love that this salad is easy to make ahead as well. Roast and slice the beets, slice the tomatoes, and make the dressing earlier in the day.  Arrange the beet and tomato slices on a platter and store the dressing and the platter in the refrigerator.  Right before serving, add the dressing and the oregano to the beets and tomatoes.  If you prep the salad ahead and round out the meal with grilled pork chops or chicken, you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes flat.

Recipe link: Beet and Tomato Salad

Basic Potato Salad

I had one of my most glorious summer nights ever at the end of June.  Some dear friends and I packed ourselves (and our picnics) into a car.  Our destination? Venetucci Farm in Colorado Springs to see Gregory Alan Isakov (one of our local favorites) play al fresco.  It was an evening of great friends (including one I hadn’t seen in nine years!), perfect weather, wonderful music, and (of course) tasty food.

Since my friend handled the concert tickets and the wine, I volunteered to take care of the picnic.  I settled on Pampered Chef’s Italian Muffuletta (I need to make it again because it must be blogged), Martha Stewart’s Basic Potato Salad, grapes, and Coconut-Apricot Macaroons.  Everything was so delicious and so able to be made ahead (a picnic must).  Here’s the recipe for the potato salad:

Basic Potato Salad
Serves 8

Ingredients:
3 pounds waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold or new), scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
4 scallions, white part minced, green part thinly sliced
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
3/4 cup light mayonnaise

Method:
Set a steamer basket in a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), and add enough salted water to come just below the basket; bring to a boil.

Place potatoes in basket, cover pot, and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Steam potatoes, gently tossing occasionally, until tender, 15 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine vinegar, scallion whites, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add hot potatoes to vinegar mixture; toss to combine.  Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour.

Add mayonnaise and scallion greens to cooled potatoes; mix gently to combine. Serve, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Source: Everyday Food, June 2007

Basic Potato Salad

Now I am all for eating complicated potato salads with long lists of ingredients (particularly if that list includes bacon and/or sour cream), but making them can be a pain.  This salad is super simple with minimal hands-on time, but it’s seriously tasty (though liking vinegar is a must).  It’s tangy and creamy, with the slightest bite from the scallions.  YUM.  I’m going to make this one again when my parents come to visit next month.

TIPS: Next time, I’ll be sure put my scallion whites and greens in separate little bowls while I make this.  I wasn’t really paying all that much attention to the recipe, and I put my whites and greens in the vinegar with the hot potatoes.  The result? Sad, wilted, washed-out-looking scallion greens.  I solved the problem by snipping some of my CSA chives over the top, but next time, I’ll just do it right the first time.

Recipe link: Basic Potato Salad

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad

As promised, here’s the recipe for Southwestern Two-Bean Salad that completes my grilling menu from the other weekend.  I chose this salad to go with the Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken and the Hill Country Coleslaw because it’s hearty, generally crowd-pleasing, and it contained the one ingredient that tied all three dishes together: cilantro.  Its fresh summer flavor would make it right at home on just about any picnic or barbecue buffet, though; I’ve served it with pulled pork sandwiches and burgers as well.

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad
Serves 12

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad ingredients:
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (1/4 – 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro

Method:
For the dressing, whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

For the salad, drain and rinse beans.  Place beans in a large bowl.  Drain corn. Chop bell pepper and add corn and bell pepper to beans.

Chop onion and jalapeno peppers.  Snip cilantro using kitchen shears (or chop it). Add onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and dressing to bean mixture.  Mix gently. Cover and refrigerate 2 – 3 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Source: Pampered Chef’s Casual Cooking

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad

I just love this salad.  It’s light and fresh, and I like the way the tender texture of the beans contrasts with the crunch of the peppers and the corn.  Plus, it’s inexpensive to make, it keeps wonderfully, and it adapts well for a variety of menus. Give it a try!

TIPS:  Since it’s summer and fresh corn is readily available, I substituted fresh corn for the canned.  I cut the kernels off of two cobs, placed the corn in a colander, poured boiling water over it, and drained it before adding it to the salad.

Also, since my mom recently fell victim to “jalapeno eyes,” a note about working with jalapenos: After handling jalapenos, always (!) make sure you wash your hands (or wear gloves).  If you have jalapeno oil on your hands and you touch your skin (or heaven forbid, your eyes), it will burn.  I accidentally touched the corner of my mouth recently with jalapeno hands, and while it wasn’t excruciating, I could definitely feel the heat.  If you’re generally cautious about spicy food, though, don’t let this scare you out of using jalapenos in the salad.  Removing the seeds and membranes tones them down considerably.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food, and I could barely taste them.

Spinach and Berries Salad with Dill

I’m pretty particular about my grocery shopping.  I usually plan a menu for the week, write a store list (divided by areas of the grocery store since I’m a bit crazy like that), and stick to it.  It’s good for the budget, and it I rarely throw anything away since I only buy what I plan to use.  During my last trip to Costco, though, I noticed a killer deal on blueberries and just couldn’t pass ’em up.  So this time I had to work backwards and figure out what to make from what I’d bought.

I have Colorado Colore (a Junior League cookbook) on loan from my local library and the cover recipe is this gorgeous salad that incorporates – drumroll, please – blueberries!  I knew it would be perfect with the leftover burgers I had in my freezer, so I put it on the menu.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Spinach and Berries Salad with Dill
Serves 8 to 10

Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup slivered almonds
1 pound baby spinach leaves
1 pound baby butterhead lettuce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill weed

Method:
For the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, dry mustard and onion powder in a jar (or airtight container) with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to mix.  Chill until serving time.

For the salad, spread the almonds on a baking sheet.  Toast at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring after 3 to 4 minutes.  Let stand until cool. Toss the almonds, spinach, lettuce, green onions, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and dill weed in a large salad bowl.  Add the vinaigrette just before serving and toss to coat.

Source: Colorado Colore

Spinach and Berries Salad with Dill

(Those of you who are really paying attention might notice that my salad is missing raspberries.  I accidentally used all of my stash on some trifles earlier in the day, but I’ll be sure to include them next time.)

This salad is incredibly delicious!  There are so many different flavors, but they really work together: sweetness from the berries, a hint of heat from the scallions, smokiness from the almonds, the herbaceous quality of the dill.  I really loved the texture of the toasted almonds and the berries with the lettuce, and the dressing was pure tangy, garlicky goodness.  Mmmmm.  Add the fact that it’s visually stunning, and we have a winner.  I’m not ready to rank it above my favorite summer salad of all time, but it’s definitely going into summer recipe rotation.

A word of warning: This recipe makes a HUGE salad.  (Gigantic!  Enormous!)  I made a quarter recipe, and I swear we had enough salad for four people.  Good thing it was fantastic!




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