Tag Archives: Salad

Winter Kale Salad


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!

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Wild Rice Salad

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!

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Fennel and Apple Salad

Continuing on my Spanish food kick, the second dish from dinner the other night (and hands down my favorite part of the meal) was a salad that I first had during Sam’s and my trip to Jaleo. Sam had told me about it before we went and insisted that we order the dish. As previously mentioned, I love fennel in pretty much any form. Hand me a bulb and I will eat it raw. This salad, followed closely by some delicious roasted onions, were my favorite tapas/dishes of the night (and that’s a difficult title to win at Jaleo).

The flavors in this salad are fantastic. The heartiness of the walnut and the apple were the perfect tint of winter which, combined with the fennel and chives that reminded me of early spring, made for the perfect “transition salad” between seasons. Ideally, you should probably slice your fennel and perhaps your apple on a mandolin. Being a poor law student, I don’t have one of those. That being said, slicing both really thinly with an extremely sharp knife did the trick for me. This also kept pretty well in the fridge and made for a great side salad at lunch the next day. Also, be sure to slice your apple last, as that will preserve it’s color.

On another note: my friend Sam is off to Italy for four months of culinary school and an internship. If you’d like to keep up with travels and culinary adventures, be sure to check out her blog at travelingwithmymouthfull.wordpress.com. Happy eating!

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It’s been awhile . . .

So, I’m really sorry.  Really sorry.  My last post contained Christmas cookies . . . that’s how sorry I am.

I have been busier than I have ever been ever.  I am juggling full-time graduate school, full-time teaching, and what seems to be a full-time job search.  That’s a lot of full-time.  I am also writing my Master’s thesis, so when there are two minutes for me to relax, the last thing I really want to do is more writing.  So sorry.

I had grand aspirations of my first post of 2012 being what I learned in 2011.  Can I still do that?  Am I allowed to discuss what I learned in 2011 when a quarter of 2012 has already passed by?  Well, I’ll keep it to a few points:

  1. I learned that deep-frying doesn’t need to be so scary, but . . . I also learned that it can be a bit tricky.  My first attempt at it occurred over Brandon’s birthday when I deep-fried some of Tom Keller’s delightfully insanely sweet and airy cinnamon-sugar doughnuts.  Later in the year, I tested out his fried chicken recipe and forgot to blog about it . . . sorry, again.  Also, insanely good.  Both recipes were not too hard, but the whole “temperature thing” gets me irritated every time.  Is it just me, or are deep frying thermometers the biggest pain?  I have the hardest time keeping my oil at just the right temperature!
  2. I learned that “healthy” food is not always healthy.  Just because something says “All-Natural” or “Light” it doesn’t always mean that it’s the best option.  Actually, it’s often the contrary.  If something has to say “All Natural,” isn’t that a little strange?  Apples, milk, eggs, and even butter don’t boast “All Natural;” they just are.  “Light” options often have chemicals that make them “lighter.”  Look at the ingredients.  If you see something you don’t recognize, put it down.  Step away from the margarine.  Walk by the whole wheat bread with high-fructose corn syrup.  If a food product contains ingredients you wouldn’t cook with, don’t buy it.  Just don’t.  Your body will thank you.
  3. Iced coffee.  I know this one isn’t very profound, but I discovered cold-brewed iced coffee, and it has changed my summer months.  Every morning, I am giddy to get my hands on my delicious glass of rich, not-bitter icy goodness.  What a difference from my naive days of plunking a few ice cubes into a hot cup of joe.  No longer!

Well, I can’t just babble on forever, and I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a recipe.  To be honest, it is funny I’m choosing today to finally get back to blogging, because today, I started the Blueprint Cleanse . . . and I’m hungry.  Really hungry.  But, I’m leaving Friday for a few days in the sun, so I need a little break from my recent diet of Thai take-out, Italian take-out, Peruvian take-out, Japanese take-out . . . see a pattern here?

Today’s recipe is one we go back to all of the time.  It’s a classic:  Nicoise Salad.  The best part of a Nicoise salad?  No lettuce.  At least, not in mine.  I get tired of lettuce, so this is a terrific alternative:  red potatoes, haricots verts, cherry tomatoes, capers, olives . . . delish.  To top it off, I often just open up a can of good tuna in olive oil, but last weekend, we splurged and seared off some fresh tuna.  If you’re an egg-lover, like my husband, you can also throw in a few of those as well! Continue reading

Herbed Salmon with Sweet Potato 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.

Happy eating!

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Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad

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

Healthy Zucchini Fritter and Shrimp Salad

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!

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Pasta Salad

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!

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Southwestern Chicken Salad

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

Black Bean, Corn, and Quinoa Salad

I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day! My family had a pretty chill day just hanging out and–in my little cousin Hannah’s case–basking in the glorious of the local park. Hannah’s terrified of loud noises so there were no live firework displays on our agenda. That being said, my mom lives on the 21st floor of an apartment building, so we get to see all of the local fireworks displays in our area (even a bit of the District) from our balcony. Hannah preferred to stay inside, however, and watch it on the television.

During the warmer months, I find myself craving salads and an abundance of vegetables, meaning that I have to make an extra effort to make sure that I’m getting the proper amount of protein. One of my favorite ways to get some extra protein is through quinoa. I love having it in salads, as a pilaf, or even for breakfast à la oatmeal.

Today’s recipe is my attempt at recreating a quinoa salad that my housemate Doria makes. Doria’s a vegetarian and has a solid stock of vegetarian and vegan recipes that I would gladly opt to eat over a slab of meat. This is one of her staples, and all of us housemates used to steal spoonfuls from the bowl when she wasn’t looking. This was her contribution to our house picnic at the end of the school year, and we all enjoyed eating up the leftovers. With hints of cumin and cayenne pepper, it’s a great recipe to try making for a Meatless Monday dinner.

If you want to learn more about the Meatless Monday movement, be sure to check out their website. It’s a great way to cut out saturated fat from your diet, and to add in more vegetables, all while helping out the environment. As always, happy eating!

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