Posts Tagged 'Salad'



Tabbouleh Salad

Whether I’m having company or not, there’s just something in me that wants to do as much meal work as possible ahead of time.  If the work is done and the mess is already cleaned up, there’s little to do besides eat and relax when dinnertime rolls around, right?  That’s one of the reason I love tabbouleh as a dinner side…  It actually tastes better the longer it sits in the refrigerator (to a certain extent, of course!).  Plus, the cooking part is almost non-existant.  If you can chop vegetables and boil water, you have all the skills you need to throw this one together.

The original recipe makes 8 cups (!), which is way too much tabbouleh for just Dr. O and me, so I cut the recipe in half.

To start, I combined 3/4 cup of uncooked bulgur and 3/4 cup of boiling water in a large bowl.  I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I diced 3/4 cup of English cucumber and 1/2 cup of tomato and chopped 1/2 cup of fresh parsley and 2 tablespoons of scallions.  In a small bowl, I combined 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 4 minced garlic cloves (from the jar, yes, I’m lazy).

When the bulgur’s 30 minutes were up, I stirred in the vegetables and lemon-oil mixture, covered the salad, and stashed it in the refrigerator.  I chilled mine for about 8 hours before serving it; make sure you give it at least an hour in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.

Tabbouleh Salad

I can’t say this is my absolute favorite tabbouleh salad recipe (that would be Ina Garten’s, at least at this point) but this recipe has two things on hers: lots of garlic (love it!) and a much lower calorie count.  This recipe is originally from the October 2005 issue of Cooking Light, so I’m sure it’s meant to be a lighter alternative to traditional tabbouleh.  It’s definitely fresh, which makes it perfect for spring and summer; I just love the cucumber and tomato.  The slightly chewy, nutty bulgur adds a hearty element too.  In terms of flavor, I would make two small changes: I would increase the lemon juice (probably by 1 tablespoon for the half recipe) and I would increase the salt (by just a pinch).  As always, taste and adjust your seasonings before serving!

TIPS: I used Bob’s Red Mill bulgur to make the salad.  I was initially concerned about only letting the bulgur stand for 30 minutes because the package said 60 minutes. However, the package didn’t say anything about covering the bulgur while it stood. I think the act of covering it trapped that heat and moisture and sped up the process.

Recipe link: Tabbouleh Salad

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White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

This all started with the second batch of slow cooker pork I’ve made in one week’s time.

See, I’m trying to come up with some solid taco meat that I can make ahead in the slow cooker for my fiesta next month.  Last week, I made Everyday Food‘s Spicy Pulled Pork, which is good enough that I’ll probably write it up soon.  It was way too saucy to be taco meat, though.  Yesterday, I made a batch of carnitas in my slow cooker using a recipe from AllRecipes.com.  The meat was really tender and moist, but it didn’t taste like much (despite a spice rub and a chicken broth bath). Needless to say, Dr. O and I have been eating massive quantities of Mexican-style pork, and it’s getting a bit old.

So tonight I’m deviating from the menu plan – rebel, rebel! – and spicing up the leftovers.  With a little barbecue sauce and a skillet, the carnitas will become pulled pork sandwiches.  I wanted some kind of barbecue-style salad to go on the side to round things out, and I just happened to have everything for Everyday Food‘s White Bean-and-Tomato Salad.  I hate to do too much work on leftovers night, so thankfully, the salad only took 5 minutes to throw together.

In a large bowl, I combined 1 (19-ounce) can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), 1 pint of quartered cherry tomatoes, 4 scallions (thinly sliced), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  The recipe says to season with salt and pepper but doesn’t specify quantities; I used about 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  I tossed everything together and stashed it in the refrigerator until dinnertime.  (The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead.)  That’s it!

White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Despite the use of canned beans, this salad tastes really fresh.  The acid from the tomatoes and the lemon juice really brightens things up, and the scallions add a bit of zip.  I love the texture play between the beans and the fresh tomatoes as well. This salad would be right at home on any barbecue buffet or in any picnic basket; I anticipate using this recipe over and over again this summer.

TIPS:  This is definitely one of those recipes that will be horribly bland if you don’t season it correctly.  Start with my recommended seasonings (or a bit less); you can always add more.  Always, always, always taste food and adjust seasonings to your liking before serving!  🙂

Update 4/18/10: I’ve found that seasonings typically fade a bit when I refrigerate salads, and this one was no exception.  After tasting it, I stirred in another pinch of salt before it hit the dinner table.

Recipe link: White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Italian Chopped Salad

I know this is totally abnormal and not a very “foodie” thing to admit, but I’ve had a love-hate relationship with salad my whole life.  I just wasn’t a kid who enjoyed vegetables (regardless of how drenched they were in cheese sauce or Dorothy Lynch dressing), and lettuce was at the bottom of my list.  I can’t put my finger on the source of the dislike, except that maybe I came to equate “salad” with “iceberg lettuce.”  Iceberg lettuce has its place, but I think it’s better as an edible garnish on a plate of Mexican food than it is as a base for a great salad.

As an adult who now loves vegetables, my relationship with salad has improved.  Where I get into trouble now is that I just can’t think of it as a meal.  I’ve tried to have a salad with protein and dressing on the side as a restaurant meal when the healthy menu options are lacking, but an hour later, my body is wondering when the real meal is coming.  It’s just never satisfying enough.

I made a salad last night, though, that was incredibly delicious and filling: Italian Chopped Salad from the Colorado Classique cookbook.  (Side note: I love this cookbook so much that I bought it for my mom for Christmas.  We’re going to cook through it together!)  The salad is a terrific combination of hearty, flavorful ingredients like roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes, sliced meats, cheese, and pine nuts.  The base is romaine (great crunch!) and it’s topped with homemade balsamic dressing.  I made the salad to go with a batch of Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup, but I was so satiated after the salad that I hardly had room for the next course.  Give this one a try as a lunch or dinner salad, or serve smaller portions as a salad course.

Since the recipe isn’t available online, I’ve written it up below.  First, though, I’ll give you a list of my deviations:

  • I toasted the pine nuts for 5 minutes on a baking sheet at 350F instead of toasting them on the stove.
  • I’m not a huge fan of Gorgonzola cheese, so I used Fontina instead.
  • I didn’t use my food processor to make the dressing.  I just combined all the ingredients in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and shook the heck out of them.  If you use this method, be sure to shake the dressing well right before serving the salad since the ingredients will separate as they sit.

Full disclosure: I took this photo of the salad before I dressed it.  Nothing ruins a food photo faster than brown liquid!

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad
Serves 6
Prep: Less than 30 minutes | Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 – 2 red bell peppers
1 pound finely julienned romaine lettuce and field greens
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup red grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers, drained
10 thin slices Soppressata hard salami, sliced in strips
10 thin slices prosciutto ham, sliced in strips

Method:
In a blender or food processor, blend vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.  With the motor running, slowly add oil and blend until smooth.  Set dressing aside.

To prepare salad, toast pine nuts in a pan until lightly browned; cool.  Char bell peppers over an open flame or under a broiler until blackened on all sides.  Transfer peppers to large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand 15 minutes.  Peel and seed peppers and cut into strips to yield 1/2 cup.

Just before serving, toss pine nuts and roasted peppers with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, capers, salami, and ham in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat.

Source: Colorado Classique

TIPS: Go to the deli counter and have them slice some prosciutto for this recipe.  (Make sure you get the prosciutto di Parma if they have it.  It’s pricey by the pound, but you don’t need much and it’s totally worth it.)  I was in a hurry at the grocery store and decided to try the packaged stuff  for the first time.  It’s gross!

Seven-Layer Salad

Does anyone else have a Costco cookbook problem?  I should just avoid the book section altogether, really, but the pull is always there.  I’ve gotten better at checking cookbooks out from the library to give them a spin, but it always seems like cookbooks at Costco are such a good deal.  (Sigh.)  Inevitably, my cookbook collection grows.

Anyway, my most recent Costco cookbook acquisition is the Cooking Light‘s Cook Smart Eat Well cookbook.  I usually don’t buy cookbooks that are collections of recipes that were already published in a magazine, but my Cooking Light subscription is pretty new still.  I’ve missed a lot.  And I know I could find most of the recipes online, but I just really like having a book in my hands instead of piles of printed recipes.

As I was flipping through the pages of my new book, I spotted the Creamy Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese recipe.  It looked really yummy and much healthier than most homemade mac and cheese, so I decided to give it a go.  One thing that I really like about Cooking Light is that they often give suggestions for rounding out your menu; one of the suggested accompaniments for the pasta was Seven-Layer Salad, which looked ridiculously easy and chock-full of tasty ingredients.

Long story short: We loved the salad and the macaroni and cheese was just OK.  I didn’t really care for the Dijon and Worcestershire flavors in the sauce (I wanted to taste cheese), and the pasta congealed way too quickly.  As a mac and cheese connoisseur, I suppose I should realize that it’s a rare “healthy” version that can stand up to gourmet versions, but you never know until you try, right?

Back to the salad: It tastes great, it’s colorful, there’s plenty of dressing (thanks to a great sour cream trick!), and I think kids would like it.  Plus, it only takes 10 minutes to put together, although you can assemble it up to a day ahead, cover it, and stash it in the refrigerator if you want.  Here’s how I made it.

In a large bowl, I layered 6 cups of torn iceberg lettuce, 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cups of diced tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes), 1 cup of diced cucumbers, and 1 cup of julienne-cut carrots.  In a separate small bowl, I combined 1/2 cup of reduced-fat sour cream with 1/2 cup of light ranch dressing.  I spread the sour cream mixture over the carrot layer and then topped it with 1/2 cup (2 ounces) of shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese.

That’s it!

Seven-Layer Salad

This certainly isn’t a gourmet salad with a complex flavor profile, but it was really good.  You get some crunch from the romaine, cucumbers, and carrots, and I love the addition of beans for protein.  Mixing the sour cream and ranch together really stretches the dressing without adding a ton of calories; for someone who is normally a “fork dipper” when it comes to dressing, being able to enjoy a bit more was a nice change.  Plus, since this isn’t a tossed salad, you really can make it ahead (or enjoy leftovers the next day) without worrying about things getting soggy.  This was especially nice for Dr. O and me because the full recipe salad is HUGE; next time I’ll cut things in half if it’s just the two of us.

TIPS:  The recipe actually called for fat-free sour cream, but I refuse to use fat-free versions of ingredients that really should have some fat in them.  I find that the texture and flavor are usually off with the fat-free options, so it’s not worth it in my book.

Recipe link: Seven-Layer Salad

Baby Spinach Salad with Tuna

Since I’m temporarily at home while we get our new place put together, I’ve had a little more time to think about what I want to eat for lunch.  I decided to step away from the Lean Cuisine (a rare occasion, for better or for worse!) and try the Baby Spinach Salad with Tuna recipe from the May 2006 issue of Everyday Food.  If you leave out the red onion (which I did, since there are few things in this world worse than raw red onion breath), the assembly time for this recipe is about the length of time it would take to heat up a frozen entree anyway.  Plus, it’s totally portable if you want to assemble it the night before and take it to work (or wherever).

To make the dressing, I whisked together 2 tablespoons of plain, low-fat yogurt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a small bowl.  (Use a small airtight container or a resealable plastic bag if it’s a “to go” salad.)  I seasoned the dressing with salt and pepper and set it aside.

Next, I placed 3 cups of loosely-packed baby spinach and 1/2 cup of seedless red grapes (halved lengthwise) in a separate bowl.  To finish the salad, I drained 3 ounces of tuna, added it to the salad, and topped the salad with the dressing.  That was it!

This salad was a nice change of pace…  I loved the lemony dressing and the bit of sweetness from the grapes.  (I think red grapes tend to be less sweet than green; green might have been too much for the salad. Plus, we would miss out on the gorgeous color of the red grapes.)  To really make this sing, I would add drained oil-packed tuna instead of water-packed tuna and toasted pecans.  (Candied pecans might be even better.)  If you want to keep it light, though, stick with the original plan.

TIPS:  The recipe calls for 3 ounces of tuna, but I was only able to find 6-ounce tins.  Keep this in mind when you’re shopping for ingredients.  I ended up adding an extra bit of tuna to my salad, and then I made Miss Mia a *very* happy cat.

Recipe link: Baby Spinach Salad with Tuna




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