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.

 

Advertisements

Broiled Asparagus Salad

DSCN6315

  • 5-6 stalks of young asparagus
  • 3 thin slices of onion
  • 10 grapes cut in half
  • 2 tbsp of feta
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard
  • 1 tbsp of seasoned vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to broil and prepare the asparagus and onion.

This flavorful and zesty salad takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. The first thing for a single serving is to cut 5 or 6 asparagus stalks in half lengthwise and then in thirds. This is with young, fresh asparagus. Late season asparagus, you will want to cut in quarters lengthwise so you have nice thin stalks.

After I cut the asparagus, I cut three slices of onion crosswise, so I could separate the individual rings and drop them in a baking pan with the asparagus. I used my paella pan because I use it for everything practically. I did not add any oil or salt as I do when I roast vegetables. I wanted to broil just until they began to brown, not until they were cooked through.

When they are browned, put on a salad plate. Cut a few grapes in half and toss on top of the veggies with a couple tablespoons of feta cheese.

While the veggies were broiling, I mixed up a couple tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar with a bit of mustard (1/2 tsp) and some salt and pepper. I added that on top of everything right before serving.

The blend of flavors are delicious. The asparagus is fresh and light with a bit of sweetness from the onions and grape. The feta adds a nice bit of fat and creaminess and the mustard vinaigrette blended the flavors perfectly.

Cucumber Fruit Salad with Tarragon Yogurt Dressing

DSCN6148

Cucumber kind of works with everything. There’s cucumber soup made with potatoes, cucumber and onions, cucumber and pork, cucumber and strawberries, cucumber and watermelon, on in this case nectarines and grapes. It has a mild, but fresh,  flavor that complements nearly any flavor and its juicy composition helps it absorb flavors well making it a medium for marrying disparate flavors together.

This was an experimental salad from start to finish. First I pulled a few leaves off a tarragon sprig and dipped them in plain low-fat yogurt to see if I liked yogurt and tarragon. Yum, yes I did. Well, that settled my approach for the dressing. I took one sprig, pulled the leaves and chopped them fine and added them to 3 TBSP of plain yogurt. I added just a sprinkle of salt because it will cut the bitter flavor that yogurt can sometimes have.

I peeled half of an English cucumber, cut it in quarters lengthwise and sliced away the seeds. I snacked on them, so they were  not wasted. I then chopped up the cucumber. I added one piece to the dressing to see if I liked it and I did, so I added the rest. Then I cut one nectarine into small chunks, testing one piece in a spoon with cucumber and dressing. Yum. I tossed in the rest of the nectarine. Next I took a spoonful of the salad in the making and put a red grape on the spoon with it and took another taste test and knew this was the perfect final touch. I tossed in about 1 cup of red seedless grapes, tossed all the ingredients together lightly and had a fresh, delicious salad for lunch.

There is something about grapes and tarragon. It tastes as though you are eating wine. That fresh sweetness of the nectarines and the juicy spring flavor of cucumbers and with creamy yogurt. It was so good I wanted seconds. However, I only made one serving.

Cucumber Fruit Salad with Yogurt Tarragon Dressing

Aromatic Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad

Aromatic Brussels Sprouts Salad

This salad is an explosion of flavor and texture. It takes a bit of preparation but if you can multi-task it takes about 25 minutes from start to finish and you end up with a salad that not only looks amazing, but is layered with so many flavors that it tastes like you spent hours on it.

First you need to roast the parsnips because they will be the last thing to finish cooking. Preheat your oven to 420° F and using a vegetable peeler, shave off about 1/4 cup of parsnip shavings. Put them in an oven-safe dish or pan and sprinkle with some olive oil, salt and paprika. Use your fingers and mix it together so they are coated and put them in the oven to roast – about 20 minutes or so. You will finish the rest of the salad by the time they are done. They will be nice and brown but not blackened and will be slightly crispy.

Put a sautee pan on the stove with 1 TBSP of olive oil on medium heat. Chop up about 1/4 cup of scallions and 2 cloves of garlic and toss in. Cook until the scallions begin to caramelize. While that’s cooking, clean and quarter 1 cup of brussels sprouts (about a dozen if they are small).

Put about 12 pistachios in a dry fry pan and toast lightly while you cook the scallions and brussels sprouts. Shake the pan to keep them from burning and remove from the heat as soon as they begin to brown.

When the scallions are caramelized, toss in 1 teaspoon of anise seed and 1/4 tsp of cardamom. Let it cook, toasting the seeds. The perfume will be pretty heady and give you an idea of how tasty this salad will be. Add the brussels sprouts and let cook until they begin to toast/brown.

Meanwhile, cut about 10/12 grapes in half. The pistachios should be done, so you can remove them and cut them in half or thirds.

By now the brussels sprouts are done. Remove from the heat and toss in the grapes and pistachios. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top. Put in a bowl and remove the parsnips crisps on sprinkle on top.

What flavors are there in this salad? Sweet grapes, tart cranberries, smoky paprika parsnip crisps, bright scallions, the umami of pistachios, the fresh earthy sprouts and the rich, heady perfume flavors of anise, nutmeg and cardamom. Then there are the textures, the soft grapes, the dry raisons, the al dente sprouts, the crunch nuts, the crispy parsnip. It’s a small banquet all in one.

Makes just one serving. But you might want to double because you may want seconds.