Lettuce Salad with Grapes, Feta, Almonds & Celery

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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 & Olive Salad with Feta & Tajín

DSCN6306.pngThis is a quick, easy breakfast with a complex and satisfying flavor.

So the first thing I did was supreme a grapefruit. This is simple, cut the ends off the grapefruit and then cut away the peel, with the knife slice along the inside of the segments so the grapefruit so you have as much of the grapefruit flesh as possible.

I took about 8 olives or so and sliced them in half, tossed in a bit of feta. Then I added some salt and pepper and a dash of Tajín, a delicious Mexican spice blend of chiles, dried limes and sea salt.

It makes one serving, takes less than five minutes and is a fresh, lively breakfast dish.

Red Chard, Lentil and Feta Salad

Lentils, Red Chard, Feta & Bacon Salad

This was a fairly easy dish to make. It is more of a warm salad than a casserole, but you consider it whatever you like. Whatever it is, it is tasty.

I started by making some lovely red lentils. I used about 1 TBSP of reserved bacon fat that I had saved from another mea. I put it in a small kettle on medium heat with 1/2 cup of chopped onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper. I cooked on medium heat until they were tender and the onions transparent. I then added 1 cup of red lentils and stirred a bit. Then I added 2 cups of water and brought to a slow boil. I kept it simmering, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or so. Then I took it off the heat and put a lid on it, letting it rest until all the water was absorbed.

After I took the lentils off the heat, I heated a fry pan to medium high, adding 1 cup of chopped bacon pieces. After most of the fat was rendered, I added 1/2 cup of chopped onions. salt and pepper. I cleaned the red chard, separating the stems from the leaves. I chopped the stems into 1/4 inch pieces and tossed them into the bacon and onions. I cooked for about 3 minutes so the stems became tender. Then I added 2 cups of finely chopped red chard leaves. I stirred in lightly, adding some salt and pepper. I then added 2 TBSP of red wine vinegar. I added the lentils and mixed them in with the chard. If you have no red wine vinegar, use fresh lemon. This dish needs the acid.

Then I let it all rest for about 10 minutes so it was warm, not hot. I served it in a bowl with a sprinkling of feta on top. Makes 4 servings.

The lentils are wonderfully hearty and flavorful thanks to the onion, garlic and bacon. The richness of the bacon and feta are balanced by the red wine vinegar and the chard brings a wonderful earthiness to the dish

 

Couscous with Asparagus and Garlic Scapes with Feta

couscous asparagus garlic scapes

I made a quick and easy lunch with some asparagus, garlic scapes and couscous.

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 5 asparagus
  • 4 garlic scapes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper

First, I set 1 cup of couscous in a kettle on medium heat to toast a bit. This is not a required step and you can always skip it but I like the added nuttiness you get if you toast the couscous first. In a teak kettle I heated water. I then removed the couscous from the heat. I added 1 cup of boiling water and put a lid on it and let it do its thing. In a few minutes I removed the lid and forked the couscous, lofting it so it did not get sticky.

While this was going on, I chopped 1/2 of a small onion and added it to 1 TBSP of olive oil heated to medium in a sauté pan. I added about 1 tsp of ground cumin and salt and pepper. I let the onions sauté while I cut up about 5 asparagus stalks and 4 garlic scapes. The stalks were mid-sized so I cut them in half before slicing them and the garlic scapes on a diagonal. Cutting them in half lets them cook a little more quickly and evenly. The diagonal slicing makes them look prettier in the dish. I added the asparagus and garlic scapes to the onions and let them all cook until done, tender but still toothsome. I then squeezed in the juice of one lemon and let it cook into the veggies for about a minute or so before adding the couscous and stirring it all together. This made two servings. One for a hot lunch and one for a cold salad later in the day. Sprinkling some feta on top and mixing it in added just the right amount of bite.

Red Chard, Couscous with Dried Cranberries and Feta

Red Chard Couscous

This was a fast and easy supper dish that is incredibly flavorful, filling and delicious with just minutes of cooking. Of course, anything with couscous is pretty quick and easy to make.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, dice
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 10 0z can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sm can chickpeas, drained
  • 6 red chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper
  • feta cheese

So, first I heated a tbsp of olive oil in a small kettle with a lid while I chopped 1/2 of a yellow onion and diced 1 clove of garlic. I added the onion and garlic to the oil with some salt and pepper, sautéed for a minute then added 3/4 cup of uncooked couscous and salt and pepper. I used the three-color couscous that has been colored with spinach and tomato. I toasted to couscous for about three minutes. Remember to add salt and pepper at each stage of cooking. Adding small amounts incrementally will use less in the long run and develop deeper flavors.

While the couscous was toasting, I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil  while I chopped up another clove of garlic and the stems of 6 red chard. I added the stems and garlic and salt and pepper and let them sauté while I opened and drained a small can of chick peas (garbanzo beans). After a minute or two, I added the beans. It’s now time to go back to the kettle of couscous.

Then I opened a 10 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and added it to couscous along with 1/2 cup of water. I turned the heat up and as soon as the liquid began to simmer, I put the lid on and removed from the heat. I left the lid on for a few minutes until the liquid absorbed (3 minutes or so). By then the chard was done, but if you’re cooking a bit more slowly, just remove the lid and fork the couscous a bit to lift it so it doesn’t get soggy.

Turning back the the sauce pan with the stems and garbanzo beans. I chopped the red chard leaves very fine and added them to the stems. I added 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and let everything cook until tender. As soon as the chard stems and leaves were tender, I added the couscous and stirred it all together. This made four large servings or eight small ones. The nice thing is that this is delicious hot or cold.

When I served it, I sprinkled feta on top to add a bit of richness, but it is delicious without the feta, too. Without the feta, it is a nice vegan main dish. The chard gives it an earthy depth that is offset by the heat of the diced tomatoes and chiles and the sweet cranberries. The couscous is light and airy while the chickpeas add substance. The feta adds a nice bit of salt and fat that make it more filling and satisfying.

Shakshouka

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I was inspired to try this Middle Eastern egg dish for a mid-morning brunch thanks to friends on my timeline. I am so glad I did. I did not have fresh tomatoes to make it from scratch and used a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. It was still delicious and incredibly easy.

I put a tablespoon of olive oil in an iron skillet and brought the heat up to medium. I added 1/4 tsp of cumin and 1/4 tsp of cardamom and let them simmer in the oil until the rich aromatics scented the room. Meanwhile, I diced a small yellow onion and 2 garlic cloves.  I added the onion, salt and pepper and let sauté and then added the garlic along with 1 cup of finely chopped fresh kale. The kale is not usually found in Shakshouka but I don’t care. It was what I had on hand and added a delicious grounded earthiness to the flavor.

I then added a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and some salt and pepper. I filled the can about 1/3 full and added water and let it come to a nice simmer. Then I cracked 6 eggs on top and let them cook. I wanted the yolk a little more done than recommended, so I put the lid on towards the end. I continued to let them poach until completely done.

This made 3 servings You could, if you like, reserve the sauce and poach just 2 eggs at a time. It’s rich, spicy and very filling.

I sprinkled some feta on top but that could easily be left off because with the spicy tomatoes, it was superfluous.

I heated the leftovers for another meal – using very low power so they eggs didn’t freak out and this time, I sprinkled a bit of sumac on top and that seemed to marry the flavors even better.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

I roasted some brussels sprouts and onion for dinner the other night. I really had to roast all my brussels sprouts because I had forgotten I had them and they were too close to turning. Cooking them would stop the process and give them a reset. So I roasted all of them with some onions, making far more than could be eaten in one meal. I stored in them in container in the fridge and made a salad the next day.  It was still a pretty big salad, making three servings in all.

I had about 2 cups of roasted brussels sprouts and bits of roasted onion. I cut the brussels sprouts in half or quarters depending on how big they were. Then I cut up an apple. I used a Gala, but any reasonably crisp and tart apple will do. I added about 1/4 cup of feta cheese and some salt and pepper. Then I added about 1/2 TBSP of white wine vinegar. I presumed that the olive oil used in roasting the brussels sprouts would be more than enough oil to balance the vinegar and i was right.

The salad was delicious. There’s a smokey sweetness to the roasted sprouts and onion and the apple adds its own tart sweetness. The feta adds an earthy tang and sour note that balances the sweetness perfectly, especially when brightened up by a bit of white wine vinegar.

 

Grape Watermelon Salad

Watermelon and Grape Salad

 

This is a simple summer salad. I added 1 cup of chopped watermelon chunks and 1/2 cup of green grapes cut in half. I tossed in 2 tbsp of crumbled feta cheese, 12 tsp of mango nectar and a pinch of sumac. This has a lovely blend of sweet from the fruit, salt richness from the feta and high tart notes from the sumac. It takes 2 to 3 minutes to make and serves one.

Red Cabbage, Apples, Radishes and Feta Salad

Apple & Red Cabbage Salad

 

This was a quick and easy salad to top some lettuce rather than using a salad dressing. I laid a bed of romaine lettuce. In another bowl, I added about 1/2 cup of shredded red cabbage, 1 apple cored and sliced, 2 radishes sliced thin and 1 celery stalk chopped. I also added about 1 TBSP of chopped red onion. I sprinkled a bit of feta cheese, ! tsp of walnut oil and balsamic vinegar on it and mixed. I tossed this on top of the lettuce and ate mixed together.

The vegetables had lots of crunch with the onions and radishes adding some bite while the apple added sweetness. The tang of the feta was a nice contrast with the balsamic. Together the flavors balanced each other beautifully

 

Cucumber, Radish and Feta Salad

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I chopped 1/2 of a cucumber, 2 radishes, about 2 tbsp red onion and mixed with 1/2 cup of feta cheese. Adding about 6 leaves of fresh mint chopped up fine, I added 2 TBSP of vinegar and mixed it altogether for a quick and easy salad.

This is a fresh, light salad with a bit of zing from the mint and the radish and lots of creaminess from the feta. This made 4 small servings.