Tag Archives: salad

BLT Salad with Avocado and Grilled Croutons

BLT salad view

Bacon-ends: contemplate that. I spied a bag of bacon ends at the farmers market and had to examine. The bag was hefty, lumpy, and thick with triangular hunks of bacon mounded in vacuum packed togetherness. Bacon indeed, but not the typical neatly fanned skinny slices. You see, when those tidy OCD sliced packages are created, all irregular knobs and ends are discarded in order to produce supermarket packaged perfection. I am here to tell you that you want those ends. They are veritable chunks of heaven for bacon lovers, evoking food craving delirium. Of course I bought them.

BLT saladBLT Salad with Bacon Ends, Avocado and Croutons
Serves 4 as a main course salad

1 1/2 to 2 pounds bacon ends, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups coarsely torn bite-size pieces of levain or ciabbata bread
Salt

Dressing:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
1 large head red leaf lettuce, leaves washed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 small vine ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
Corn kernels cut from one ear of corn
1 large hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. Prepare the grill for indirect medium heat (about 400°F for a gas grill). Trim any excess fat from the bacon ends. Cut the ends into 1-inch chunks and arrange  on a grill rack (or grate) set over a grill pan to capture the rendered fat. Grill until the fat is rendered and the ends are crispy golden, about 25 minutes. (You can do this in the oven with a broiler pan, if you like.) Transfer the ends to a plate.
2. Toss the bread in the rendered fat and lightly season with salt. Spread the bread on a grill pan or the grates and grill until golden and crisp, turning as needed. Set aside.
3. Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.
4. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Scatter the bacon and croutons over the salad and drizzle with additional dressing to taste. Serve immediately.

Greek Tabbouleh Salad

Greek Tabbouleh Salad TasteFoodWhen it’s super hot outside (like now), who wants to cook? (Not me!) In the heat of summer, dinner prep should be low maintenance with oodles of fresh ingredients. I like to make all kinds of salads brimming with crispy garden vegetables, often including a grain or legume and not-so-much heavy meat protein. These salads can stand in for a light dinner, or accompany anything fresh off the grill. Tabbouleh salad is a favorite of mine, a Middle Eastern mixture of bulgur wheat, handfuls of fresh herbs, peppers and spice. It’s light yet substantial with a kick of heat to wake up any lazy tastebuds enjoying a siesta.

Greek Tabbouleh Salad
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 cups bulgur
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup crumbled feta

Combine the bulgur, water, and lemon juice in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let stand until the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the oil, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. If the bulgur is too dry, add additional olive oil to achieve your desired consistency. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve as is, or add to pita pockets with spoonfuls of tsatsiki and harissa.

 

5 Salads for your Memorial Day Grill Menu

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which not only is the gate to summer, but an excuse to get outside and grill. Here are 5 fresh salads to see you through the upcoming BBQ season, perfect to accompany any grill menu.

pepper potatoes tastefood

No -Mayo Peppery Potato Salad – hard to believe there’s no mayonnaise in this creamy salad, chock-a-block full of peppers, chiles and onion.

fava green saladMixed Greens with Fava Beans and Mint – the essence of late spring on a plate.

Corn Tomato SaladCorn and Tomato Salad – this classic summer salad is sweet, juicy and fresh with the kick of poblano chiles and crisp red onion.

mustard blue potato tastefoodBlue Potato and Mustard Salad – another no-mayo potato salad, napped with olive oil and spiked with fresh mustard leaves. Use blue potatoes if you can find them for color value. Otherwise, yellow potatoes will work too.

fattoush salad tastefoodFattoush Salad – a hearty and fresh Middle Eastern salad fragrant with mint and coriander, composed of crisp greens, crumbled feta and grilled pita bread.

 

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Egg

Asparagus salad tastefood

I made this salad for an Easter brunch last weekend. It’s a lovely way to serve asparagus; and prosciutto; and egg. There is not much else you need to add to this trio except a squeeze of lemon and a good splash of olive oil. If you can get your hands on a bunch of baby greens, then use them as a bed for the asparagus to absorb the oil and lemon.

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Egg
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ounces prosciutto
2 hard cooked eggs
3 ounces mixed baby greens (such as kale, arugula, mizuna, spinach)

Heat the oven to 375°F. Spread the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus and turn to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the asparagus are bright green and crisp tender, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of the stalks. They should be crisp tender and not too floppy (unless you like them that way; then cook a bit longer). Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool. Keep the oven on.

Arrange the prosciutto on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until shriveled and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to the touch. The prosciutto will continue to harden as it cools. When cool enough to handle, break into shards.

Spread the greens on a serving platter. Arrange the asparagus over the greens. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the asparagus and greens. Grate the egg over the asparagus, then sprinkle the prosciutto shards over the salad. Garnish with black pepper.

Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

quinoa kale tabbouleh tastefood
Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

I call this salad tabbouleh, although most of the ingredients are not what you will find in a typical Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad. Tabbouleh traditionally consists of bulgur or couscous, chopped tomatoes, onions, and gads of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, and cilantro. While the grains are a main ingredient in tabbouleh, the salad is usually dominated by the fresh herbs, creating a hearty, satisfying, and decidedly fresh vegetarian meal or side dish.

This recipe switches out the bulgur for quinoa, which adds plenty of protein and a universally pleasing gluten-free option. In addition to handfuls of parsley and cilantro, I add a bunch of shredded tuscan kale – readily found in the markets during the winter. First I rub the kale with oil and lemon to slightly soften the sturdy leaves so that they yield more to the salad, while never becoming too soggy once folded into the salad.

For the vegetables I add poblano and jalapeño chile peppers for their heat and flavor in addition to red bell pepper for sweetness and color. This recipe can be prepared in advance and will remain fresh for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you prefer, add the chopped herbs slightly before serving to prevent wilting.

The key to making this salad is to taste as you build it. There should be a balance of citrus, fragrance, heat, and spice – as well as a balance of textures. Quinoa requires a good deal of seasoning for good flavor, so season the quinoa before adding it to the salad. You will also find that the flavors of the tabbouleh will meld the longer is sits in the refrigerator, so taste again before serving.

Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Quinoa:
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Kale:
1 bunch tuscan kale (6 to 8 leaves)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Salad: 
6 to 8 thin scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large poblano chile pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve under cold running water for 30 seconds, then drain. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the quinoa is tender and releases its germ (the white tail), about 20 minutes. Drain the quinoa and transfer to a bowl. Add the oil, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Stir to combine, then cool to room temperature.

Remove the stems and tough ribs from the kale leaves. Roll up the leaves and thinly slice in chiffonade (narrow ribbons). Place the kale in a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Toss with your hands, while rubbing the oil and lemon into the leaves, for about 15 seconds.

Combine the quinoa, kale, peppers, and garlic in a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the parsley and cilantro. Stir well to thoroughly coat the ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Fold in the parsley and cilantro and taste for seasoning again., If desired, add more oil or lemon juice if the tabbouleh is too dry. Cover and refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

Winter Greens and Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette

beet salad Lynda BalslevMarinated Beets, Arugula, Spinach, Pistachios, Feta, Mint

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have a salad. In fact, winter is a great time to eat a bowl of healthy greens – chock full of vitamins, nutrients and fiber, a sure-fire way to keep the doctor away. While summer salads are often light and ethereal, winter salads have heft, laden with all sorts of goodies like nuts, cheese, and dried fruit.

winter greens

Winter Greens and Baby Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This recipe is brimming with baby kale, spinach, radicchio, and chard, sprinkled with nuts and seeds, and sweetened with roasted beets. A rich and potent vinaigrette naps the leaves, taming and binding the bitter, nutty, earthy flavors. I make a dressing, with rich, sweet and viscous balsamic, and slightly thicken it with Dijon mustard, so the dressing is sure to cling to the leaves. Mix and match your favorite greens from what’s available in the farmers market. Be sure to include a combination of bitter and mild flavors as well as a variety of color and texture. For this salad I used spinach, chard, baby kale, radicchio, and arugula, and flowering broccolini as a garnish.

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
1/2 pound baby or small beets, roasted, peeled, cooled
8 cups assorted greens
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon pepitas

Whisk the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.

Cut the beets into quarters or halves, depending on the size. Place the greens in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to thoroughly coat. Scatter the beets, pistachios, and pepitas over the salad. Drizzle with the remaining dressing to taste.

Warm Cauliflower Couscous with Lemon and Chiles

Cauliflower couscous tfCauliflower Couscous – Posted by Lynda Balslev

The secret to this fabulous side dish is cauliflower – not as an addition to a salad of couscous grains, but as a replacement. That’s right – it’s all cauliflower, finely chopped to the size of couscous or rice grains, then tumbled with lemon, chiles and fresh herbs. Cauliflower holds its texture beautifully, either raw or, in this case, sautéed, providing a mild, nutty flavor and firm bite that will likely leave your dinner guests stymied and then pleasantly surprised. And not only is it a healthy ingredient, it provides a great gluten-free option to a grain side dish.

Warm Cauliflower Couscous with Lemon and Chiles
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

1 small head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 thin scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 gypsy sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the leaves and core of the cauliflower. Coarsely chop the florets and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the florets until they are finely chopped, 10 to 12 times.
2. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and salt and sauté until beginning to color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, red chili flakes, paprika, and cumin. Continue to cook until the cauliflower is tender but not mushy, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Southwestern Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh

quinoa tabbouleh tastefood

This recipe is a clash of civilizations. Traditional tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern bulgur salad, packed with fresh herbs, garlic and chopped vegetables and coated with lemon and olive oil. This version wanders south of the American border with a rendition that substitutes quinoa for the bulgur and adds corn, red pepper, and cilantro. Shredded kale joins in the fun adding flavor and healthy heft. This salad makes a great light main course and a substantial side that goes well with grilled meat, chicken and fish. For a complete vegetarian option, substitute the chicken stock for water, and taste to adjust for additional seasoning.

Southwestern Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 corn cob, husked
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups shredded kale leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoona extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or ground cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain. Place in a medium saucepan with the chicken stock (or water) and the salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the quinoa releases it’s tail (germ) and the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
Cut the kernels off of the corn and add to the quinoa. Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Watermelon, Feta and Bulgur Salad

Watermelon fetaPosted by Lynda Balslev

Watermelon is a staple in the heat of summer. Juicy, refreshing, nourishing and thirst quenching, it satisfies on many levels without filling you up. It’s served for breakfast in the Mediterranean climates and is a great addition to salads. It’s mellow sweetness is perfectly complemented by salty feta. This salad is a mini-meal with the addition of bulgur, and a perfect lunch stop on a hot summer day. It’s also a great addition to a barbecue.

Watermelon, Feta and Bulgur Salad
This recipe provides for a large salad. Feel free to halve the bulgur and use the extra ingredients to your taste. Serves 4

1 cup bulgur
Salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small seedless watermelon, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch cubes, about 3 cups
2 handfuls sugar snap peas, stemmed, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulgur in a bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand until bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any excess water and fluff with a fork.
Whisk the oil, lemon juice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the bulgur and stir to combine. Taste and add a little more dressing if desired (the rest will be drizzled over the salad).
Transfer the bulgur to a serving platter. Scatter the watermelon, snap peas and red onion over the bulgur. Top with the feta and parsley. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.

Lemony Mixed Greens with Fava Beans and Mint

fava green saladIt was tempting to fiddle with this salad, but I am happy I didn’t. The beauty of this plate of greens is its simplicity. Bright fava beans, mint, spring greens and napped with lemon and olive oil. Favas are a bit of work to prepare, but well worth the effort. A good idea is to prep more than you need, then freeze the leftovers for easy use later. Feel free to mix the greens to your liking. Peppery arugula is a must, on its own or combined with mizuna, baby spinach, watercress – they all work. If you can get your hands on fresh chervil, that will add nice flavor as well.

Lemony Mixed Greens with Fava Beans and Mint
Serves 3 to 4

1 pound fava beans in the pod
5 ounces (about 5 cups) mixed greens
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Shuck the fava beans. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the beans and blanch until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the shells.
2. Whisk the olive oil,  lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl.
3. Combine the fava beans, greens and mint in the salad bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing to taste. Scatter the cheese over the salad and garnish with freshly ground black pepper.