Lettuce Salad with Grapes, Feta, Almonds & Celery

DSCN6320.png

I had a huge and easy salad for lunch today. I made a big bed of chopped romaine lettuce. Here’s an easy tip for cleaning your lettuce to avoid contamination. Just put the uncut leaves in a bowl of white vinegar for a bit and then shake off the vinegar, it will kill more bacteria than rinsing under cold water and unlike hot water, will not make your lettuce limp.

While the lettuce is soaking in vinegar, you can toast a handful of almonds to chop and toss on top of the salad at the end.

I cleaned 1 stalk of celery, cut it in half lengthwise and then sliced both pieces on the diagonal. I placed that on top of the lettuce. I drizzled the dressing left over from making my grapefruit and asparagus salad yesterday. It makes a dark dressing and I thought the salad would just look better if it was mixed into the lettuce and celery rather than on top of the cheese and grapes.

  • grapefruit zest
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Then I sprinkled on some feta cheese, more than I intended because I was shaking some on and it would not come and not come and not come and then a whole bunch fell out at once. But it’s not like a little too much feta will ruin anything. I then tossed some red seedless grapes on top that I also rinsed in vinegar. I usually cut them in half, but I was feeling super hungry and in a hurry. It makes no difference to the flavor.

I sprinkled on the almonds and then generously sprinkled tajín on top of the salad. Use salt and pepper or any other spice blend you might like.

It has a nice mix of flavors and textures and brings in enough indulgence with the grapes, feta and almonds to be very satisfying.

 

Grapefruit & Asparagus Salad

Grapefruit & Asparagus Salad

This was a delicious and easy salad for lunch. I started by making my dressing first, a grapefruit zest- infused balsamic vinegar and oil. I made it first because I wanted the zest to soak into the balsamic vinegar and enhance its flavor.

  • 1 grapefruit (and its zest)
  • 1/4 small yellow onion
  • 12 asparagus spears (thin)
  • 12 almonds (toasted)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cupbalsamic vinegar
  • 3 TBSP olive oil

First, zest the grapefruit until you have 2 TBSP of grapefruit zest. Add it in a small container that seals to 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. Let rest for 10 minutes or until you are done making your salad. Add 3 TBSP of olive oil, salt, and pepper. It makes enough for 3 salads, so you will want the container to seal so it can be saved.

Put a dozen almonds in  a dry pan on medium high heat so they toast. Keep an eye on them so they don’t turn too dark. You don’t want them to turn bitter.

Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin strips off the asparagus so you have a nice deep bed of asparagus strips for the base of your salad.

Cut the ends, the peel and the pith off the grapefruit and carefully remove the segments from the skin. Cut them in half, and toss on the asparagus.

Cut your onion in half lengthwise. Take half and cut it in half again. Cut off both ends and slice thinly, separating the slices into thin strips.  Toss into the salad.

Chop the almonds and toss them on top. Shake the dressing to mix the file and vinegar and toss on the salad. Mix lightly and serve.

If you want to add cheese, you could add thin strips of parmesan, but it really did not need it.

 

Fresh Asparagus Salad 2.0

DSCN6309.png

I thought it might be interesting to remake my favorite salad with Tajín instead of salt and pepper. It was a brilliant move, making an old and frequentI w favorite new again.

I was set to make a fresh asparagus salad again when I recalled a friend’s recent Facebook post sharing 23 Things You’ll Definitely Find in Every Mexican Household.  I don’t have all that many of the items, but I do have Tajín, a delicious spice blend of dried limes, Mexican chiles and sea salt. It’s delicious on fresh jicama sticks, grapefruit and watermelon. I thought it might work on this and it did. Wonderfully.

How to make the salad.

  • 6 stalks of asparagus
  • 2 tbsp of chopped toasted almonds
  • Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
  • Tan

I used 6 slender stalks of asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler, just peel and peel and peel of thin strips of the asparagus. This salad is actually easier with older, later in the season asparagus that is bigger around and less tender because it’s easier to peel. I go from the head to the root because that makes it a little easier.

While I was slicing up the asparagus, I toasted a small handful of almonds. When they were toasted, I set them aside to cool, finishing the asparagus. I chopped up the almonds. Using the same vegetable peeler, I sliced off some asiago cheese and tossed on top of the salad. I then squeezed the juice of 1/2 a lemon on the salad and sprinkled the top of it with Tajín. I did not add salt and pepper like I usually do.

The salad was fresh and light with a tangy, spicy heat. Delicious! I never would have made this if not for you, Gloria! Thanks.

Serena’s Roast Pork, Celery and Asparagus Salad with Lingonberry Vinaigrette

Serena's Roast Pork, Aspragus and Celery Salad

  • 1/3rd cup of Red Onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, cleaned and sliced diagonally
  • 2 raw asparagus spears, sliced with a peeler into thin strips
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 3 oz. Earl Grey roast pork
  • 6 toasted almonds, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon lingonberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed for juice

The apartment manager came by this morning with someone from Sherwin-Williams to see about fixing the problem with my flooring. I had a Earl Grey pork roast in the oven and the apartment smelled like a dream so I asked her to come by later for lunch. I served some Fresh Asparagus Salad with the roast pork. It was delicious, but she asked for apple sauce. I didn’t have any, so I suggest trying lingonberry preserves. They were the first she has ever had and she is already planning a trip to Ikea. Anyway, her enjoyment of the lingonberries, which she put on both the roast pork and the salad inspired me to try to come up with a lingonberry vinaigrette and salad. Of course, I named it after to Serena as she was the inspiration.

The asparagus strips are not very substantial, so I knew I needed another vegetable to give the salad some body or the pork would overwhelm it texture-wise. I opted for celery since its flavor is mild and in the same wheelhouse as asparagus Also, the crispy texture would be a plus. I added some red onions for color and to balance the feta. I knew I wanted some cheese, but though parmesan would not be as happy with the roast pork as feta. The chopped almonds are the crack that makes all salads irresistible. I used two slices of roast pork, which I weighed out at 3.1 ounces, sliced them into small pieces and tossed them in.

In a separate small bowl, I put in 1 TBSP of lingonberry preserves, the juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon, 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 TBSP of red wine vinegar and mixed it altogether. It was tart and sweet and had a real bite to it, though tossed with the entire salad, that bite was mellowed out to a perfect tartness.

The salad was everything I had hoped for. Made one large serving

Bulgur with Celery, Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Spinach, Feta and Grapefruit Onion Vinaigrette

Couscous Salad with Grapefruit Onion Vinaigrette

I made some bulgur while I made my morning tea, adding two cups of boiling water to 1 cup of bulgur and leaving it io absorb the liquid. It was tender and ready for salad later in the day when I was making lunch.

I started by cutting the flesh from a grapefruit. To supreme a grapefruit, cut away the peel and then slice the wedges. I cut this on cutting board to capture all the grapefruit juice that gets squeezed out in the process no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I cut the wedges to avoid any skin and pith and then tossed the juice on the cutting board and the skin and grapefruit left on the skin when cutting wedges into a sauce pan to flavor a vinaigrette. I added about 3 TBSP of chopped onions and cooked them with a bit of olive oil and the grapefruit remnants. I added about 2 tsp of sugar and some white wine vinegar. The vinaigrette was tart and sweet and delicious. I removed the grapefruit bits and left the onions.

I added the grapefruit segments from the grapefruit plus thinly sliced pieces from two stalks of celery, about 1/4 cup of pomegranate, 2 cups of chopped spinach, 1 cup of chopped cilantro, 6 toasted and chopped almonds and 1/4 cup of feta. I then added the bulgur and the vinaigrette and let the flavors marry for about an hour before serving.

The bulgur have it a hearty foundation and the grapefruit and pomegranate added a nice light sourness. The vinaigrette was slightly sweet. The salad was a rich combination of flavors. The next time I make it, though, I might try added some dried cherries, too. Makes 4 servings.

Spinach, Pomegranate, Apple and Couscous Salad

Spinach, Apple, Pomegranate Couscous Salad

It was a hot day today. I went to the World’s Largest Louie Louie Sing-A-Long downtown so I was not interested in cooking or making anything difficult, but I wanted some rich and complex flavors. I kind of just started with some couscous and added what appealed until I ended up with something scrumptious.

  • 1/3 cup of couscous
  • 2/3rd cup of boiling water
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1/3rd cup chopped red onion
  • 10 toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, chopped.
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

I took 1/3 cup of couscous and poured  2/3rds cup of boiling water on top of it in a small bowl and put a lid on it. While it absorbed the boiling water, I prepped a pomegranate. I used all the seeds from half of a pomegranate.

There is a fast and easy way to prep pomegranates. Carefully cut through the skin without cutting deep, leaving the pomegranate seeds whole. Once you have cut through, give a little twist and it will separate into two halves. Take a half and pull and twist the edge a bit to loosen it, then turn it upside down in the palm of your hand and whack it hard over and over and all the seeds will fall out. I only needed half a pomegranate, but I cleaned both halves and stored half the seeds in a plastic container for another day.

I toasted some almonds in a clean dry skillet and chopped them in half after they cooled.

I cleaned and chopped a bunch of fresh spinach, chopped up some red onion and tossed them in with the pomegranates and couscous. I added some salt and pepper, the feta and toasted almonds.

I then chopped up 1/2 of a granny smith apple and tossed in some balsamic vinegar.

I put a lid on the bowl I was mixing this all up in, shook it up a bit and refrigerated for about an hour.

This was delicious and so rich in texture from the crispy apple, crunchy almonds, tender couscous and the juicy bursts of pomegranate. The flavor is grounded in the couscous, the spinach adds a nice fresh taste, the red onions a bit of heat, the apples some sweetness, the almonds some umame and the pomegranate a lovely sweet-sour tang. The feta gives a bit of richness, making it all come together in this big explosion of flavor and texture and color.

Makes two servings.

 

Couscous with Red Chard, Celery, Leeks, Tarragon, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds.

Couscous with Celery, Leeks, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds.

This was a fast and easy salad to make. In the morning when I made tea, I poured 2/3 cup of boiling water on 1/3 cup of couscous (tri-color couscous) and sealed the container it was in, letting it rest on the counter until I was ready to make the salad. I also toasted about a dozen almonds in a dry pan and let them cool off on the counter for later.

I got out my mandoline for fine slicing. I sliced two stalks of celery and 1/4 cup of leeks. I tossed them in with the couscous along with a  handful of dried cranberries. I cleaned two stalks of red chard and rolled them up so I could cut them into thin slices. Then I chopped them the other direction for small pieces.  I removed the leave from 1 bunch of tarragon and chopped the leaves up. I chopped the almonds in half and tossed them in. Then I added some salt and pepper and about 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I put the lid back on and shook it all up and let it rest in the fridge so the flavors could marry.

This made about 1.5 pints of salad, 4 servings.

There is a nice bite from the leeks, a bit of tang from the tarragon, earthiness from the chard and zingy sweetness from the dried cranberries. The balsamic blends the flavors perfectly.

Couscous with Carrot, Red Chard, Scallion, Dried Apricots, Almonds and Feta

Couscous almosds chard carrots scalions dried apricots feta

This is an easy salad. I knew when I was making coffee this morning that I would make a couscous salad this afternoon, so after I heated my water to press some coffee, I put 1/3 cup of couscous in a container, added 2/3rds cup of my hot water and put a lid on it and let it sit. In 15 minutes, I stuck it in the fridge so it would be cold when I made the salad later in the day.

I put about 10 almonds in a dry pan on the stove o medium high heat and let them toast while I was prepping the salad. As son as they were toasted, I removed them from the heat.

I sliced and diced 1 TBSP of fresh scallions and diced on small clove of garlic and put them in a bowl with 2 tsps of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of buckwheat honey, 1/2 tsp of mustard and the juice of 1 small fresh lemon. I mixed this all up. Buckwheat honey is thick so it takes a lot of stirring to mix it all in.

I removed the stem from 1 stalk of red chard and put it back in the crisper to use in another meal. I chopped the red chard up finely and mixed it into the dressing. There is just enough dressing to coat all the chard. Then I stirred in the couscous and mixed it thoroughly.

Next I peeled and cut up one small carrot into small matchstick. I also cut up 3 dried apricots, slicing them as thin as matchsticks and then slicing them in the other direction so they were diced small. I tired in the apricots and carrots and shock a couple tablespoons of feta on top. I chopped up the almonds and tossed them in and then put a lid on the container and shook the ingredients together, mixing them up well.

I put it in the fridge for a few hours, letting the dressing flavor everything. It is important to let it rest because when it is first made, the mustard flavor is a bit strong, but it mellows as it merges with the sweetness of the dried apricots and the richness of the feta. I made only a small amount of dressing, so it did not soften the feta, but its flavors still came through. This is a delicious salad and actual prep time was very short. It made one pint, two small servings or one large one.

Couscous almosds chard carrots scalions dried apricots feta

Cucumber, Pea Shoots, Grapefruit Salad

Pea Shoots, Cucumbers & Grapefruit

Is there anything better than a big bunch of pea shoots in the spring? This one bunch has been enough for seven meals. Four salads, two meals of soup and I have some left for salad tomorrow. Yum!

For today, I chopped up the tops of the pea shoots (I used all the bottoms in the soup yesterday) and scattered them on a plate. I put some almonds in a dry pan on high heat and let them toast while I prepared the rest of the salad. Then I peeled half a cucumber and after it was peeled, continued with the peeler to slice off thin slice after slice and scattered them on the pea shoots. Then I supremed one grapefruit and spread it around the outside. I chopped the toasted almonds and tossed them on top. Adding some salt and pepper, I sprinkled some balsamic vinegar on top as well as a bit of walnut oil and served.

I love the mix of hearty toasted almonds, the light cucumber, the tangy sweet grapefruit and the hearty pea shoots all harmonized by the balsamic vinegar and oil. It was a delicious and light supper for a hot day.

 

Kale Grapefruit Salad with Toasted Almonds and Parmesan

DSCN5334

Another ten minute salad, more or less, that is delicious and lovely to look at. Cut about 6 to 8 almonds in half and toast them in a dry skillet on medium high. With luck, you will be done with the rest of the salad by the time they are toasted in 8 minutes or so.

Supreme a grapefruit and reserve half the segments for use another time since you will only use half the grapefruit. Using your knife sweep the juice on your cutting board into a bowl. That’s about as much citrus as you need for the dressing. Clean and remove the ribs from 4 leaves of kale and slice thinly before chopping into small pieces. Add to the bowl with 1 tsp of walnut oil and about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Massage thoroughly. You really don’t need much oil since you are working it through the kale to soften every piece. When it is softened, place the grapefruit segments on top. The almonds are probably done, just tip them from the pan onto the top of the salad. Add a few slivers of parmesan on top, some fresh ground pepper and you’re done.

Sometimes I think you could put toasted almonds and parmesan on a 2 by 4 and it would taste good. But with fresh, hearty kale and juicy, sweet-tart grapefruit, it’s heavenly.