TWO DELICIOUSLY SIMPLE SALADS

With winter behind our backs (insert effervescent happy dance here), it’s time to get those big platters of salad joining us at the kitchen table. Two examples of our recent past were particularly tasty, so I share them with you today.  The first one is all about the dressing. The second brings two interesting twists. Well, at least I think they are interesting… let’s see if you agree!

BOSTON LETTUCE SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING
(inspired by Pati’s Mexican Table)

2  ripe avocados halved, pitted and meat scooped out
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or more to taste
2 heads boston lettuce leaves separated, washed, dried, and torn into pieces
grape tomatoes, halved (as many as you’d like)
1/3 cup cashew nuts, lightly toasted
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Combine the avocado, milk, cream, lime juice and salt in a blender and puree until smooth.  

Place the lettuce and tomatoes in a generous-sized serving bowl, and toss with the dressing until everything is lightly coated. Sprinkle with the toasted cashews, adjust seasoning with salt, add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper all over, and serve. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Am I the only one who finds Boston lettuce the most gorgeous green ever? I don’t think it gets the love it deserves. The leaves are smooth, delicate, and each bundle is perfect for a single serving. Nature-made portion control.

Pati’s original version is a bit more elaborate than  mine, but, even on a more austere version with only tomatoes and cashews, this dressing leaves a bright note. Creamy, almost herbal, refreshing but luscious. I had dressing leftover and next day enjoyed drizzled over… roasted carrots!  Talk about a big twist… After I polished it off, regretted not snapping a picture. But, you can use your imagination. Looked pretty nice, tasted even better!

Now, moving on to the second salad. I was watching The Kitchen on FoodTV the other day, and Sunny Anderson said that she often uses the seasoned oil left behind from grocery store marinated olives to incorporate in pesto type sauces.  I registered that idea, and then decided to use it as part of salad dressing. I had purchased a small container with olives and cubed feta, and not much was left. Olives and feta pieces became part of the salad, and the seasoned oil got whisked with some sherry vinegar. See the outcome below:

SPINACH SALAD WITH FETA, OLIVES & PROSCIUTTO CRISPS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

big bunch of baby spinach leaves
thick slices of mozzarella cheese
yellow tomatoes, cut any way you like
mixture of kalamata and feta from grocery store
seasoned oil, drained from olive mix
sherry vinegar (eye-ball, 1/3 volume of oil)
salt and pepper to taste
4 prosciutto slices

Make prosciutto crisps by laying the slices over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place in 425 F oven for a few minutes, until moisture evaporates and it gets crisp.  Flip the slices to crisp both sides.  Remove and let them cool over paper to absorb excess oil.   Reserve.

Assemble the salad with spinach leaves at the bottom of the platter, add all ingredients on top, drizzle with dressing. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Crumble pieces of cool prosciutto crisps.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  If your grocery store doesn’t sell those containers with marinated olives, move.  Just kidding. You can make the dressing yourself, just add some herbs to olive oil, such as oregano, thyme, to give it more flavor.  The prosciutto crisps are so delicious, they are actually the second interesting twist I mentioned. They offer a very nice crunch to the salad, much like nuts would do. Or those incredibly addictive crispy chow-mein goodies that are not allowed in our home. I have zero power against those. Once the can is open, it all goes downhill. Fast. Anyway, as far as indulgences go, prosciutto crisps are not that bad.  Four slices are more than enough for a salad made for two, with some bits to keep you happy while getting the salad ready.  And, by the way, speaking of indulgences, if you’d like to take this salad over the top, use burrata instead of mozzarella…

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

TWO YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

THREE YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

FIVE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

SIX YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

 

 

 

 

FORGIVE ME, FOR I HAVE SINNED

The perfect food blogger would never resort to using pre-washed greens, buying instead produce exclusively from the farmer’s market,  each leaf washed with loving care. However, I am not ashamed to confess this particular sin. Quite the contrary, the bag of organic  “mixed greens” found in most grocery stores is one of my best friends, because it makes life so much easier.  To my delight, the latest issue of Fine Cooking had an article devoted to redeeming sinners like me: it offered  several options of salad recipes that,  starting from those handy bags, turn them up into something special. I intend to try all of them, but my first choice was the one featuring a ginger-yogurt dressing and fresh cucumber. I can never resist the call of ginger.  😉

MIXED GREEN SALAD WITH CUCUMBER, ALMONDS, AND GINGER-YOGURT VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine, July 2012)

1-1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. finely chopped shallot
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
2 tsp. thinly sliced mint leaves
salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
5 oz. (5 cups) mixed baby greens
1 small English cucumber, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, ginger, mint, salt, and black pepper.  Stir in the yogurt and olive oil.

In a large bowl, season the greens and cucumbers with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and toss with enough dressing to lightly coat. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The original recipe called for sesame seeds instead of almonds, but I like to have extra crunch in my salad, and felt that the sesame seeds would more or less disappear through the mix.  I also used non-fat yogurt in place of low-fat, because that’s what we had laying around in the fridge.  The dressing turned out light, with the mint and ginger bringing a nice zing to it.   Great, simple salad, perfect way to doctor up those bags that may find their way into your grocery cart… 😉  Extra-vinaigrette keeps well for a day, the flavors intensify a bit.

Because Fine Cooking doesn’t make their recipes available online for non-subscribers, a while ago I contacted the magazine to know their thoughts on copyright issues. Here’s the deal: they don’t mind bloggers publishing any of their recipes, as long as full credit is given and a link to the magazine is included, so that’s what I’ve been doing, without guilty feelings.  Except, of course, the guilt of buying that eventual bag of salad greens. Pre-washed.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Cracked Wheat Sandwich Bread

TWO YEARS AGOAu Revoir, my Bewitching Kitchen

THREE YEARS AGO:  French Bread

A PEACHY SALAD FOR A SUNNY DAY!

The end of August makes me apprehensive, because Summer is my favorite season.   But in the Southwest the heat lingers on, so we remain in the mood for light, refreshing food.  This salad is a great example, in that it contains only 3 ingredients: chicken breasts, peaches and cucumbers, plus a tasty mix of yogurt and spices that joins them together.
ingredients

This recipe was in my “to make soon” folder for a year (shame on me!),  since I first saw it in the popular food blog Just Bento.

CHICKEN AND YOGURT SALAD WITH CUCUMBERS AND PEACH
(adapted from this recipe; receita em portugues no final do texto)

chickensalad

9 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast (2-3 halves, depending on size)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 piece ginger (about 1 inch, peeled, slightly bruised to release flavor)
1/2 tsp salt
1 T fresh Italian parsley, minced
1/2 English seedless cucumber
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup plain thick (Greek) yogurt
2 ripe peaches
salt and pepper to taste

Start by poaching the chicken. In a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer add enough water to barely cover the pieces, mix in the soy sauce, ginger, salt and parsley.   Add the chicken breasts and bring the liquid to a boil. Once it boils, immediately cover the pan and remove it from the heat, leaving it undisturbed for 15 minutes.  Remove the chicken breasts, discard the cooking liquid and allow the meat to completely cool. Cut them into chunks.

Using a mandoline, cut the cucumber into paper-thin slices.

Peel the peaches and also cut them into chunks, slightly smaller than the chicken pieces.

Combine the yogurt with the spices and mint. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste and add a little salt if needed. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy!

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