Any Kitchen Will Do

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Archive for the category “salad”

Cold Green Bean Salad

coldgreenbeansaladAs I have mentioned many times before, we make sure there are prepared foods stocked in our refrigerator, since there are scarce convenience foods that fit our sugar free, grain free eating habits. We prepare boiled eggs, bite-sized raw vegetables, cured meats and salads of all kinds. Making salads out of staples is an easy way to keep the fridge full, like Dilly Egg Salad, Tuna Salad Saute, Don’t Have To Choose Salad, Antipasto Salad or my recently shared Cucumber Salad.

Due to the freakishly mild winter in our current climes there are already fresh green beans available, so I grabbed some and brought them together with some other ingredients for a marinated salad. The thing I like most about marinated salads is that they get better every day they sit. On day four after making this salad the acids in the dressing may have made the green beans a little less bright, but the beans also soaked up all the flavors, including the tang of the red onion, and a serving of it tastes heavenly.

I encourage you to experiment with other salad fixings too! I’ve made similar salads using slender asparagus instead of green beans, Greek olives instead of black, mushrooms along with tomatoes, and even thrown in some chopped up ham or salami. Noticing a variation on a theme? The thing I have learned making cold salads over the years is that two cups of dressing seems to be just right to coat 9-10 cups of salad, which is the case here.

Have fun in your kitchen and enjoy the bright, healthy produce of spring!

Cold Green Bean Salad

2 pounds fresh green beans
2 cups grape or small cherry tomatoes
1/4 large red onion
2 cups large black olives, drained
2 cups vinaigrette dressing (I suggest my Herby Dressing or Greek Dressing)
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes (optional)

Make your vinaigrette dressing of choice, if not already made or using store bought. Set aside.

Remove ends from green beans and slice them into bite sized pieces, about one inch. In a medium pot with steamer insert bring one inch of salty water to a boil. Add beans to steamer and lightly steam about five minutes, with the intention to soften them but retain their bright green color. Remove beans from pot, set them aside to cool and prepare remaining ingredients.

Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and place in bowl. Finely chop red onion and place in bowl. Slice black olives in half horizontally and place in bowl. Add green beans. If including red pepper flakes add them now.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients. Gently toss salad until well coated. Cover bowl and chill for at least four hours or overnight.

Remove from refrigerator and toss salad again, then taste and add salt and pepper to enhance dressing flavor (need will vary depending on dressing used). Toss one more time to incorporate salt and pepper, then serve.

Cucumber Salad

cucumbersaladAs spring springs around here I move away from warm, gooey comfort foods and head straight towards colder foods. My morning coffee is no longer a steaming hot cup from the French press, but cold brew poured over ice after chilling for a day. As I walk around in cropped pants instead of jeans and sweaters I love opening the fridge and grabbing a bowl of chilled salad for lunch, like this one!

In past years I have done themed posts leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, either by culture or color. This year all I can muster is the green from these cucumbers. This is not a bad thing, just with so much going on leading up to our move my priorities have been elsewhere, like making products for Grain Free Haven, ensuring the 40 year old Christmas ornaments are safely wrapped and packed, and the DVDs we barely ever watch anymore (but still keep the movies we love since Netflix and Amazon Prime are fickle).

If you want to explore traditional and not so traditional Irish dishes, here are a few like Colcannon, Corned Beef, Shepherd’s Pie     Dublin Coddle or a Traditional Irish Breakfast. Some green themed items can be found too, like Salsa Verde, Mushed Peas or Buttered Leeks. May the luck of the Irish be with you this week, and the wearing of the green reduce the number of pinches you get! Slainte!

Cucumber Salad

2 medium cucumbers (or one large English cucumber)
1/2 medium white or yellow onion
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons dried dill leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients except for the cucumber and onion.

Slice cucumbers into thin discs, either by hand or with a mandolin. Place slices in a large bowl. Thinly julienne slice the onion and add to the bowl with cucumber slices.

Pour dressing over vegetables and toss until well coated. Cover and chill for at least one hour and toss again right before serving.


Mustard Chicken Salad

mustardchickensaladThere are a number of dishes that are staples in our fridge. Since we do not rely on convenience foods we have to keep a steady flow of prepared dishes that can be pulled out easily to make a quick meal. Things like coleslaw, boiled eggs, carrot and celery sticks, green salad fixings, tuna salad and also chicken salad.

I especially like chicken salad, and my favorite version has walnuts. It is also a great way to use white chicken meat. Buying chicken from sustainable sources is well intentioned, but expensive. We prefer dark chicken meat, but we don’t get picky if the pricey stuff is on sale. Breasts are on sale this week for $2 less a pound? Okay, then that is what we buy. It still is not dark meat, so I like to get creative. This chicken salad is nice and savory with the onion and mustard, and keeps well in the fridge for a big meal or a quick snack. Our power bread made into buns makes for a great conduit when we are seeking out a full meal.

Mustard Chicken Salad

3 large chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
3 boiled eggs, chopped
3 dill pickles, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sea salt, plus extra for chicken
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tsp garlic powder, plus extra for chicken
1 tsp ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line shallow baking dish with aluminum foil. Liberally season both sides of breasts with salt and garlic powder. Bake skin side up for 30 minutes on the top shelf of the oven. If you are using boneless skinless breasts cooking time may need to be reduced by five to ten minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Separate bones and skin from breasts. Cut meat into bite-sized cubes.

In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, mustard, salt, parsley, oregano, garlic powder and black pepper (optional). Add the onion, egg and chicken. Fold in the dressing with the other ingredients until everything is evenly coated. Chill for about 30 minutes to ensure the chicken is cold. Serve with some power bread or fresh vegetables.

Savory Watermelon Salad

IMG_9048As kids my brother and I spent summer afternoons outside a lot. We were able to cavort around our neighborhood bicycling, rollerskating, swimming, playing soccer and other things kids did in the 80’s ‘on the streets’. One of the snacks we ate was messy, juicy, sweet watermelon. Mom would cut it up and bring a bowl out to the back yard. We would take a break from gardening or playing in the sprinkler to feast on it, sprinkling each wedge with a bit of salt and letting the juices run down our chins. After we were done we often had seed spitting contents. The watermelons we  had were always riddled with slippery black seeds. We would save them up as we ate, then would have the contest. There were occasional arguments about whether seed bounces counted in spitting distance, or whether one of us stepped over the spitting line when getting a running start on a spit. To this day I am surprised there weren’t more watermelon plants growing rogue in the yard. This may be the oddest sounding salad I have ever made, but it was curiously satisfying. On a warm summer day in Texas I was looking for something other than a green side salad at dinner. We don’t eat much watermelon, considering the higher carbohydrate count for the fruit, but I am glad I plunged in with this salad. Very refreshing, and quite a different slant compared to the spiked Whiskey Watermelon I made a few years ago…different type of satisfying…

Savory Watermelon Salad

1 small seedless watermelon
1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced with meat retained
1 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Prepare about 8 cups of watermelon in bite-sized pieces by cutting it into 1-inch cubes or using a melon baller. In a medium bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Whisk until combined. Add the feta, olives and onion. Stir to coat with the dressing. Add mixture to watermelon and gently toss, trying not to crush the watermelon pieces.  Sprinkle mint and more salt to taste on top. Serve immediately or chill until served.

Note: as you can see from the picture the watermelon juices will mix with the dressing build up as the salad sits. It is recommended that a slotted spoon is used to serve, to reduce the soupiness of the salad when plated.

Antipasto Salad

antipasto salad

During the past few years I have posted Irish themed dished leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Things like colcannon, shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage (which I must mention is not actually Irish), and even a traditional Irish breakfast! This year I did not quite ramp up to the day in such a thematic day. I did do some bright, green leeks recently, but that is far as it went. This year we are enjoying some of my past creations instead of new ones. I guess in a way I am reaching back part of the roots of Ireland’s history, just not the most recent – the Gauls! Their influence spread across not only Ireland, but France, Swithzerland, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Greece. Yes, I am stretching it, but it is fun! In spite of the name, antipasto does not mean it does not like pasta, or that it is after pasta, but it HAS no pasta, and it comes BEFORE pasta. Just the way we like it. We recently had a Greek kick and did some dishes I posted a few year ago, including dolmas, tzatziki and some Greek burgers. We needed a salad to go along with it, because there was a gap on the plate. Hoping that the Greeks and Italians would cooperate, we mixed up some traditionally Italian non-pasta, savory elements, with some Greek, and boy did they go well! The leftovers were great, too, after hanging out in the dressing. I think the Gauls would enjoy it.

Antipasto Salad

1 cup mixed green, black and kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup pepperocini peppers, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup marinated artichoke  hearts, diced
3 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1/4 yellow or white onion, finely diced
4 ounces thin sliced salami, diced
1/3 cup Greek salad dressing or other vinaigrette

Roughly chop olives so they are of similar size. Place olives in medium bowl. Add peppers, cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onion and salami. Lightly toss. Add dressing and stir until well coated. Let sit for about 15 minutes then toss again and serve. The salad can also be made a day in advance and chilled until time to serve.

Hot Bacon Dressing

hot bacon dressing

I am sure I have previously discussed my love for spinach. As a child I was a fan of Popeye and never understood the scrunched up faces of other kids facing the green stuff on their plates. As I got older I craved salads with deep green spinach over the pale, watery nature of iceberg or other lettuces. The term ‘hot’ used for this recipe can mean two things – spicy hot and temperature hot. Other versions of the dressing can be heated up much more so as to clearly wilt the spinach as it is poured. This version, since it relies on egg as a thickener instead of flour or other powders, cannot be made so hot. I rely on the spicy version of the word hot here instead. The tang of the vinegar along with the heat of the horseradish and mustard make it so. It will probably not wilt the spinach, but will still leave a mark on your palate. The picture shows the dressing being used simply on raw baby spinach as a side dish. If I have the salad as a main course I will add onion and soft boiled eggs, and other veggies as I please. Here, it was a way to quickly boost the veggie/protein ratio at dinner one night. The dressing can also go on top of other side dishes, for it has a tang that would compliment broccoli, squash, asparagus, and so forth. If you heat it up leftovers do it gradually in the microwave at half power or low on the stove so as not to create scrambled eggs.

Hot Bacon Dressing

4 slices bacon
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. Apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Stevita granulated sweetener
1 Tbsp horseradish mustard (or 2 tsp yellow mustard and 1 tsp raw grated horseradish)
1 egg
Pinch salt
(Optional) 1/4 red onion, jullienne
(Optional) 4 soft boiled eggs (6 minute eggs)

Cook the bacon over medium high heat in small pan until crisp. Crumble bacon and set aside. Turn temperature to low under bacon grease and let cool to the lower temperature. Add water, vinegar, sweetener and mustard, stirring until combined. Whisk in egg and continue stirring constantly so the egg does not cook firm. When the egg is fully incorporated add crumbled bacon, continuing to cook and stir under heated through. Taste and add salt if needed. Turn heat up to medium, continuing to stir, and heat until steam rises from the dressing, about two minutes. Serve immediately over raw baby spinach, optionally including onion slices and soft boiled eggs sliced in half.

Chef Salad

chef salad

I am avoiding a serious subject. A hot oven. I try to avoid it as much as possible in the Takoma Kitchen.  For one, it is an electric oven, which heats up very differently than gas, and regardless of electric or gas, it also makes our little place pretty warm. Here is one of the concoctions I do that does not take much stove or oven heat. The original chef salad is very American, originating in Pennsylvania or New York, depending on which claims you believe, first created in the 1930s or ’40s. Throw a few types of meat and cheese on a plate with a boiled egg and dressing and there you have it, a salad with a bunch of stuff on it so you don’t have to make a bunch of choices. I like the approach on a hot summer evening, and the reduced exposure to even more heat is a plus. Technically, the bacon and eggs require heat to prepare, but they are often left over and already in the fridge. That, or I send a heads up message to Big D and he takes a break from work and cooks up a pan of rashers while boiling some eggs ‘the way grandma did them’, with the shells practically falling off in the pan. Dinner can be custom made on each plate and put together pretty quickly – Little B gets eggs, bacon, cucumber and tomato, while Big D gets an extra pile of meat with ranch dressing, and I get a little bit of everything, especially the pepper jack cheese.

Chef Salad

6 ounces thin cut roast beef
6 ounces thin cut roast turkey
6 ounces thin cut virginia baked ham
4 ounces sliced swiss cheese
4 ounces sliced medium cheddar cheese
4 ounces sliced pepper jack cheese
8 ounces grape tomatoes
2 ounces baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
2 mini cucumbers, sliced into coins
2 – 4 medium boiled eggs, sliced in half
6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
8 ounces raw baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
4 – 6 ounces salad dressing (traditionally French or Thousand Islands)

On two large dinner plates divide the spinach and spread evenly. Slice cheese into ¼ inch wide strips. Roll each slice of meat individually. Alternate cheese strips and meat rolls in a circle on top of the spinach bed.  Arrange the mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumber coins between the cheese and meat. In the center of the salad place the egg halves. Sprinkle bacon over top of salad. Serve immediately after drizzling with preferred dressing.

Caprese Salad


Basil always reminds me of Italy. In 2004 Big D and I explored Rome and Tuscany with another couple. There were, as always, some ups and downs during the trip. Big D’s luggage was not found until halfway through the trip, the pool at our villa was too darned cold for midnight skinny dipping, and cheap grappa is nasty when imbibed warm and straight. The luggage was finally found and took forever because the villa was not easy to find and the local washer/dryer machine was not really a dryer. No solution about the pool, except for some teeth chattering. The grappa was resolved with ice and mixing it with Coke Light (Italy’s version of Diet Coke). Very potent. The reminder basil gives me relates to the week we spent at the little villa. It had three bedrooms upstairs, a dining area and living area downstairs. There was also a lovely, large kitchen. Right outside the kitchen was an herb garden. Even being early summer, it overflowed with rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley and of course basil. Most nights Big D and I would walk to the co-op in the nearby village, pick out fresh beef and vegetables, walk home, pick a collection of herbs and cook cook cook! The couple we traveled with often went out to eat at one restaurant or another, so we had the place to ourselves for the night. It was a wonderful, quiet time of day after exploring Siena, Pisa, Florence, Rome…. When I smell basil I think of the quiet evenings, fresh steaks and veal, and another, funny and memorable element – frogs croaking in the pond below our bedroom window all night. Believe it or not it was like an elixer, lulling us to sleep. On to the salad. I almost called it insalata caprese, but decided not to because of the – dum dum dum – basalmic vinegar. I loved salad when made with fresh ingredients and high quality olive oil, but never recall seeing the basalmic vinegar offered in Italy, only in the US. My research was consistent. Insalata caprese is typically seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Caprese Salad

1 large red tomato
1 ball fresh mozzarella
1 large stem fresh basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Aged Basalmic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice tomato and mozzarella into slices of equal thickness. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Layer slices with leaves of basil. Sprinkle salad with olive oil and basalmic vinegar. Serve immediately.


Cucumber Goat Cheese Bites

cucumber goat cheese bites

I always love goat cheese, but somehow missed eating it lately. I recently tried to remember the first time I had it – the tart, smooth experience flirting with my tongue. I think it was in Golden, Colorado, while lunching in a little cafe in the historic downtown area. For the life of me I cannot remember the name. I would know it if I saw it again, but since I am Maryland at the moment, such an ability is not very helpful. It was spread on a chicken sandwich, in lieu of mustard or other condiments. I remember leaning on the table with my eyes closed, staring at it, wondering where the cheese had been all my life. Granted, I was only 25 or so, but it seemed such a long time to have been without goat cheese! I may have eaten it before, but passed it off as some other ingredient. Since that chicken sandwich I scour menus for it and grab packages now and then from the store. I get unreasonably excited when a restaurant offers a dollop on top of an otherwise basic green salad, or includes it in a cheesy dippy appetizer. My friend over at What’s For Dinner started on a goat cheese kick recently and, inspired, I now eagerly follow suit. On top of the goat cheesiness hankering, the warmer weather is upon us and I am looking to make some cold dishes. Here is a simple cold appetizer, or green salad substitute, that combines flavors my family and I love. The black olives are especially for Little B, who has adored them ever since Great Aunt Debby stuck them on her chubby little one-year-old fingertips.

Cucumber Goat Cheese Bites

1 English cucumber, washed with peel on
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1 tsp dried parsley leaves
½ tsp dried basil leaves
½ tsp garlic powder
5 – 8 extra large black olives, drained and patted dry
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut cucumber on the perpendicular, to create 1/3 to ½ inch thick slices. Scoop out an indentation about ¼ inch deep on one side of each slice, allowing for the cheese filling to anchor itself. You can use a small melon baller or 1/2 teaspoon scoop. Stir together cheese, parsley, basil and garlic. Sprinkle indentation and top of cucumber slices with salt and pepper. Using a spoon place some goat cheese mixture on top of each slice, filling the indentation and creating a smooth mound on top. Slice olives in half lengthwise, then place a half on top of each cucumber slice. Chill until served.

Don’t Have To Choose Salad


My food hankering today was conflicting. Do I want egg salad, tuna salad or guacamole? To take full advantage of my indecisiveness I decided to combine them all. I have never combined the three dishes before, so why not now? I wanted the flavor of all three to be present and also work together. I think I did a pretty good job, and it was a great way to use up the last avocado sitting on the counter – not enough for guacamole, or for topping a batch of chicken, but such a delicious thing shouldn’t go to waste. Tuna is a great way to add protein to a dish, even if there is already protein eking out of the avocado and egg. This salad was delicious sitting atop toasted Julian’s paleo bread. Reminded me of egg salad sandwiches on Lenten Fridays when I was a kid. We would have macaroni and cheese, salmon patties, tuna or egg salad. I understand the symbolism of no meat on Fridays, but feeling less lust or anger in the absence of meat on my part was not actually achieved. Feeling an excess of either was not an issue when I was a child, but one day a week is not what I consider an actual test. To get away from the nostalgic and dogmatic reasons for making the salad, it met my hankering and indecisive needs.

Don’t Have To Choose Salad

1 large ripe avocado
8 – 10 hard boiled eggs
1 5-ounce can tuna packed in water, drained
½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp stone ground mustard
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
Sprinkle of ground black pepper

In a large bowl mix yogurt, juice, mustard, salt, cumin, chili powder and pepper. Roughly chop eggs and avocado into pieces about the same size. Gently mix the tuna, avocado and eggs with the dressing, trying not to smash much of it. Chill for about an hour before serving.


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