Yesterday was uncharacteristically warm, topping off at over 60 degrees with tons of sunshine and practically no wind. Given that D.C. has been in the 20s and 30s since Inauguration weekend, this random burst of warmth was quite welcome. I wore a dress for the first time in ages and gave my wool coat a break as I opted for a vest.
Don’t get me wrong; I love cold weather. But cold winter days have a tendency to put me in a rut, both wardrobe-wise and foodwise. Not only do I pile on layer upon layer of sweaters and coats, but I also feel like I need hearty, filling food to cope with the season. The problem is that most comfort food consists of rich stews, roasted chickens, and lentil- or bean-filled chili or soup. Needless to say, one gets really sick of eating the “brown” food group most of the time, and yesterday’s weather was the perfect reason to break this habit.
I tried to stick to winter-friendly ingredients–things that you can find in plentitude during the cold season. The crunchy kale pairs well with the bold flavor of blood oranges and the sometimes sharp bites of fennel. Plus, combining blood orange juice with sherry vinaigrette produces a dressing with the perfect amount of tang. And–personal health plug–this salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Total win.
So here’s to incorporating color into your winter menu. Happy eating.
** Side note: I’ll post the promised Smitten Kitchen side dish on Friday. I just thought the weather called for a salad post!
Remember that time I had a food blog that got put on the back burner first during exams and then while I let my mother feed me over break? Yeah, I do. Sorry ’bout that. Blogger fail. BUT one of resolutions this year is to be better about blogging. That and keeping my “to do” lists organized in a Moleskine journal. Oh, and to pack my lunch more often. Don’t worry, I have already put all of these on a “to do” list.
Anyway, let’s work on two of those, shall we? Today, I bring you a tortellini salad that takes about as long to make as it does to boil some pasta. It features some colorful vegetables–which I think is what most people are hoping to add to their diet around this time of year. The best part, however, is that this salad incorporates my favorite condiment at the moment: red pesto. Made from sun-dried tomatoes, cashews, and some quality olive oil, I first fell in love with it while studying abroad and rediscovered it after picking up a jar from Eataly this past summer. My friend Amanda was kind enough to replenish my stock and to grab a jar of my favorite brand on her last trip to NYC (I have the greatest friends ever). I have yet to make my own, but something tells me that attempt is right down the road.
Prosciutto and Melon Salad, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad, Negronis
Summertime is a time for being outside and hanging out with friends and family. It is not a time for slaving over a hot stove. Who needs it to be any hotter than it already is? Luckily, summer is also a time when gardens and farmers’ markets are exploding with great produce that requires little else than a bit of chopping and a dash of salt for eating.
Brandon and I love August, because it means heirloom tomatoes and sweet stone fruits, and last summer, I shared one of our very favorite recipes using just those two ingredients. This summer, we’ve happened upon another foolproof dish using one of this season’s best ingredients, and to be honest, not one I’ve ever been fond of: melon. I’ve always found melon to be cloyingly sweet and unpleasant to eat, but when it’s drizzled in mint-infused balsamic vinegar and wrapped in prosciutto, its deliciousness cannot be denied.
Another score for no-cook summer salads: they’re easy to pack for picnics and brown bag lunches. Like Rosemary mentioned in her recipe for wild rice salad, packed lunches can get monotonous, so why not spice them up with an unexpected salad?
Lastly, these recipes are great for brunching and entertaining. Guests will be surprised that you can pair peaches with tomatoes and ham with melon. And to really kick it up a notch, serve your salads with an easy, but refreshing summer cocktail, like a Negroni—our unofficial cocktail of summer 2012. It’s bright red color and citrusy flavor is a great way to get a party started. Continue reading
So the other externs and I have been operating under the impression that our office does not have a microwave. The copy room, while equipped with a fridge and a toaster, lacks that quintessential kitchen appliance that students and workaholics alike cannot seem to live without. Consequently, we’ve been experimenting with different recipes for salads and learning about the joys of eating cold leftovers (pizza still trumps all other foods in this category). Well, turns out we’re idiots. There’s been a microwave the whole time on the basement level. In any case, I have eaten my fair share of salads over the last few weeks, and, given the descent of the summer heat, I don’t really see myself changing that pattern anytime soon–even with a microwave.
I have a thing for nutty grains. Quinoa, farro, barley–I love their texture in a salad. One grain of which I am particularly fond is wild rice. Nuttier and far healthier than the average white grain, wild rice is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. It makes for a great alternative to pasta in salads as well. As per usual, this salad was the result of using the contents of my fridge/pantry.
So here’s to eating more wholesome grains and staying cool in the blazing heat! Happy eating!
I know. I know. This is not a recipe. Apologies. I swear I cook. I made a pretty kickass chicken noodle soup Sunday night that I intend to share with y’all this weekend (post-exams). In the meantime, please put up with me raving like a madwoman about things I adore.
Today, I bring you the greatest salad dressing to cross my path in a really long time. For those of you who know me well, you are probably aware that I’m not much of a salad dressing person. That’s right folks. Yours truly can eat an undressed salad. I just feel like a lot of dressings detract from the taste of the vegetables. I have been told this makes me more similar to a cow than the average human, but I don’t like my salad to taste “heavy.” When I do dress my salads (which, admittedly, I do more now than I did a year or two ago), I tend to make my own vinaigrette and use just enough to coat the leaves.
But every so often, I want a Caesar salad. The problem is that most Caesar dressings tend to weigh down the greens. Plus, if you check out the ingredients list and nutrition panel on most of those things…well, you might as well not eat the salad.
My friend Sarah suggested Bolthouse Farm’s Caesar Parmigiano Salad Dressing to me a while back, and I finally decided to try it a couple of weeks ago. I am OBSESSED. Here’s why:
- It’s made with yogurt.
- What does this mean for us salad-eaters? Lower calories! There are only 45! In 2 tbsp!!!!!!! That goes a LONG way.
- It’s tangy! The slightly “sour” flavor of the yogurt cuts through the density of a traditional Caesar and pairs really well with the crisp Romaine.
- It works as a great marinade for chicken (life lesson from my mother: marinating chicken in yogurt makes it extra soft and juicy when cooked).
- Most salad haters like the taste of Caesar dressing–so it’s good for a crowd.
- It has parm in it–so you don’t need to add any extra (though, if you are me, you’ll throw in half a tablespoon for the heck of it).
- Did I mention that it’s 45 calories?
Anyway, that’s my rave. Also, consider putting fresh thyme in your salads. My friend Caroline suggested this. Tried it once, never gone back.
The end. Happy law school finals week everyone!!!!
P.S. As per usual, reviews are not endorsed. This is just the result of me, hopped up on finals, enjoying a salad.
I’ve found that the hardest part about living by myself is the fact that I am incapable of cooking for just one person. My mom often complained about this same problem once Liz and I went to college, but I never thought it would be that difficult. I was wrong. As you can see from my last post, I tend to make recipes that feed a crowd. That’s great if you are living with a bunch of people, but not so good when you live by yourself and find sanity in cooking something different several times a week.
For dinner today, I decided to tackle my problem head on using a 3-oz fillet of fish, some salad greens, and a sweet potato. This dish happens to combine a lot of staples in my kitchen. In my family, if we don’t think we’ll use all of the salmon right away, we always cut it into portions, wrap them individually, and pop them in the freezer. This makes cooking for one much easier, as I just have to pop a fillet in the fridge on the morning that I intend to eat fish for dinner. The great thing about salads is that it’s easy to make only one serving, making them the perfect accompaniment for your main dish. While I suggest you roast an entire sweet potato at once, you can save half and re-crisp the pieces under the broiler for five minutes later in the week–you’ll save an extra step in a future meal. Same goes for lemon zest- you can always zest a whole lemon and save the rest of the zest in the freezer or in the fridge for future use.
Hurry! You must get to your farmers’ market quick. With the beginning of fall creeping in, we are officially nearing the end of both tomato and peach seasons. If you are thinking, “Who cares?,” then you have never had the joy of slicing up a densely-flavorful heirloom tomato or biting into a perfectly juicy and sweet peach.
Others of you might think, “Heirloom tomatoes? You mean those ugly, cracked, overpriced things?” Yes, I do.
Heirloom tomatoes are not your everyday tomatoes. They come in many shapes and sizes—ranging from red to yellow to striped green to purple—and can range in flavor from slightly peppery to candy-sweet. Their flesh seems to pack so much more flavor than your normal hybrid breed, and they are rarely mealy or watery like many tomatoes. Many farmers say that the uglier the heirloom, the better. Don’t pass one by for having a small crack on its side. It is probably a gem. Hung up on the price tag? Let me ask you, how many bad, mealy tomatoes have you wasted your money on over the years? I promise you, these babies are worth the extra $1 per pound.
Simply sliced with a drizzle of good olive oil, heirloom tomatoes will steal the meal, but in my opinion, the best way to showcase these bad boys is with another seasonal item: the humble peach. The combination might seem a bit strange, but trust me, the tomatoes and peaches bring out the best in each other. For me, this salad is the highlight of summer. Continue reading
So I officially start law school next week. I’m terrified–partially for the classes and the whole finding new friends bit, but more for the large amounts of stress that stereotypically characterize 1L year. One good thing, however, is that I’ve finally signed a lease on an apartment and am slowly moving all my stuff from my mother’s house to my tiny new place in Virginia. On the plus side, I’ve gotten to pick out a new shower curtain and other odds and ends for my apartment (I love decorating). On the downside, I’m essentially oozing money as I search for new furniture–including a new dining table to supplement my microscopic kitchen (I have no counter space). If anyone has any suggestions for good places to go furniture shopping, let me know!
Tonight, I was craving something fresh but comforting for dinner. As I’m sure most of you know, summer is the perfect time of year for a lot of vegetables, but one vegetable in particular seems to run rampant during this time of year: zucchini. It’s difficult to imagine a time this summer when we have not had at least 2 pounds of zucchini or yellow squash in the vegetable drawer.
Now, I love zucchini and squash, so I’m not complaining, but I know plenty of people who find it bland. I found this recipe online the other day, and I’ve been eager to try it. The “fritters” are incredibly flavorful, but they are also good for you. They are very light and chock full of zucchini. I used these in a salad, along with some shrimp that my mom and I made in the grill pan. This was a great, light dinner that I am sure will be made again after school starts!
Also, I apologize for today’s pictures. I got caught up in cooking, then in eating, and kind of failed on the photo front. Woops. As always, happy eating!
D.C. is back to 100-degree days. It seems like this summer is much hotter than last, and I am avoiding warm food whenever possible. If you’re ever in the District, I highly recommend stopping by one of the many Sweetgreen locations if you are in need of something cool. Their salads are always delicious and fresh, and I love experimenting with their locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients and inventing new salads. The best part about Sweetgreen, however, may be the fact that you can treat yourself to some fat free froyo with fresh fruit after having a nutritious salad. It’s the perfect lunch during heat waves!
In my mother’s house, there is one pasta salad that everyone wants during the summer. Actually, I’d be pretty content to eat it year round, but my mom always makes it for us to take for lunch in the summer. It’s got everything you need: protein, carbs, a healthy dose of vegetables, plus fresh herbs and the zing of red wine vinaigrette. This has become a staple in my own kitchen, and I love knowing that I have leftovers of this salad in my fridge.
Once you chop your vegetables, this comes together very quickly. You can either make your own vinaigrette (2 parts red wine vinegar to 1 part olive oil, a dash of lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste) or use a store bought one (my mother swears by the one made by Wishbone). Try serving it over a bed of baby spinach leaves to get in an extra serving of vegetables. Happy eating!
I don’t love salads. I wish I did. I know I need to eat more vegetables, but I tend to like warm meals more than cold ones. However, on a day like today—nearly 100 degrees—I needed something cold for dinner. After a trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, I was more than happy to eat something cold and light, so I made this lovely southwestern chicken salad.
This salad is not just any old, boring salad. It is spicy, sweet, and chock full of yummy toppings. This time around, I topped my romaine with grape tomatoes, avocado, banana peppers, cotija cheese, and chicken. But in the past, I’ve made it with corn, shredded cheddar cheese, skirt steak . . . whatever I’ve had on hand or what looked good in the grocery. Ooh, crushed tortilla chips would be great too!
The best part of this salad, and what makes it sweet and spicy, is the dressing. It is made up of lime juice, honey, EVOO, and . . . chipotle peppers in adobo. These peppers, which can be found in small cans in your grocer’s “international aisle,” add both spice and smokiness to this otherwise fairly traditional salad. If you are sensitive to spice, start out by just adding half a pepper. If you love spice, like I do, add two or three. The peppers, with the addition of the sweet honey and tart lime juice, make the most delicious dressing. To be honest, I make this salad as a vessel for the dressing. It is addictive. Continue reading