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Archive for the category “salad”

Greek Salad Dressing

greek salad dressing_edited-1This post is the beginning of a short Greek-themed series resulting from a feast Big D and I made recently. It is all Big D’s fault. He brought home some beautiful lamb chops one evening and it started us talking about how good they would be marinated in some olive oil, lemon juice and mint. That conversation reminded us about how much we like tzatziki and dipping dolmas in it. Besides grumbling tummies we also reminisced about John the Greek’s Dressing from a restaurant of the same name we like in San Antonio, Texas. The restauruant dressing is great, and I think we figured out a pretty good version. This dressing is tangy with oregano, thyme and lemon dancing around together in my mouth! Not exactly like the stuff by John, but so much better, in my opinion, than Italian dressing, which tends to be sweeter, or straight oil and vinegar. I am still deprived of actually having a salad in Greece, much less experience the dressings used  there, so I am relying on my experiences with family-owned Greek restaurants I have frequented in the U.S. Whenever I come across one I duck in for a good meal. This dressing really stands up to a salad full of strong flavors like roasted peppers, feta and olives. The dressing also works well as a meat marinade.

Greek Salad Dressing

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white or red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
½ tsp fresh dill
½ – ¾ tsp sea salt
2 pinches freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients except oil into a glass jar with at least a two cup capacity. Stir with a fork or whisk until well combined. Continue stirring while adding oil in a thin stream. Stir a bit more after all the oil is added. Let sit overnight in the fridge before using. About ten minutes before serving pull it out to warm up a bit, since the oil may have formed solids. Shake and serve.

Dragon Fruit Frenzy

dragon fruit salad

Dragon Fruit is the funkiest fruit I know. It is bright and crazy on the outside and and a neutral black, white and mild on the inside. It kinda tastes like kiwi fruit, but unlike the skin of the kiwi, you should shy away from eating the thick pink skin of the dragon fruit. With the single dragon fruit I got from the market I made two simple recipes – a fruit salad for Little B and a rather odd looking cocktail for myself. The meat of the dragon fruit can be sliced or cubed and looks really pretty with brightly colored fruit – in this case, strawberries. dragon fruit margaritaFor my cocktail I did a margarita-type drink (I know, blasphemy for the margarita purist), and sipped it while having a nice green salad with shrimp. The whole meal felt kind of summery, which felt odd, since it is December, but very refreshing after some of the heavier foods we are eating lately. With my eyes closed the cocktail was soft and lovely. With my eyes open it looked like a gray sludge that tasted soft and lovely. I don’t know what to do about the color, but it tastes wonderful.

Dragon Fruit Frenzy

Strawberry Dragon Fruit Salad

½ dragon fruit, meat only, cubed
¾ cup strawberries, chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice

Combine dragon fruit cubes and strawberries. Drizzle juice over fruit and gently toss. Serve immediately or chill before serving.

Dragon Fruit Cocktail

½ dragon fruit, meat only
¼ – 1/3 cup tequila
½ lime, juiced
1 – 2 tsp truvia
6 cubes ice

Add 1 tsp truvia and remaining ingredients to blender. Blend on high until ice is broken up. The sweetness of the fruit can vary, so taste the cocktail and add more truvia to preferred sweetness. Serve immediately.

Another End of Summer Salad

Okay, so I had a little of this and a little of that in the fridge (some of which was left over from making pizza (add link)) and thought they would make a wonderful end of summer salad. Again. It is a bit different from my other End of Summer Salad (add link), but I am really trying to squeeze in the summer produce, so I decided to post it. I know it was recently, like, right below, but this one has a totally different taste. I have to say right now that I absolutely adore my daughter and love how her fine motor skills are improving exponentially while helping me in the kitchen. Now I must also say that I really enjoyed making this salad all by myself – not having to lean over a footstool, without a helper who is learning to use a knife, or a munchkin putting a little too much parsley in the bowl or an imp who insists on measuring and pouring the olive oil from the huge bottle on her own and spilling about half a cup on the counter. While she watched the last bit of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 version, thank you very much) I snuck in the kitchen and whipped up the salad. I liked doing it by myself as much as I will like the next time she helps break a dozen eggs for a frittata – its just a different way of cooking. Here she comes!

Another End of Summer Salad

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt*
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
Dash of dried red pepper flakes
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, rough chopped
½ large cucumber, rough chopped
1 cup artichoke hearts, rough chopped
½ cup chopped black olives
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack, Feta or Parmesan cheese

Add first seven ingredients in small bowl. While whisking the vinegar mixture gradually add olive oil until well combined. In medium bowl add tomatoes, cucumber, artichoke hearts, olives and cheese. Drizzle dressing over vegetables and stir until evenly distributed. Chill for at least 20 minutes. Toss again before serving.

*If you use Feta or Parmesan cheese you may need less than 1 tsp of sea salt, since they tend to be stronger flavored cheeses.

Japanese Eggplant Tomato Salad

The summer heat has made itself at home in Maryland, for now. I was hopeful that the triple digit temperatures had moved on earlier this week, since the highs dropped into the 80s, but alas, it was not so. They shot right back up. I know it is August, but a girl can hope! I am very much an Autumn/Winter kind of girl – wearing sweaters and pretty scarves, taking brisk walks to get the blood flowing without sweat raining off my brow. Cooler weather will come eventually – it always does – so for now I will trudge on in the heat and make some summer salads. I found some Japanese eggplant at the store this week and grabbed a few. The are longer and more narrow than the typical eggplant, and in my opinion sweeter and more tender. Maybe I need to work with it more, but the short, fat eggplant tends to be tough and lacking flavor when I have prepared it in the past. The Japanese eggplant is more appealing, but also more elusive. I wanted a cold side dish to accompany some spicy tacos for dinner, and this is what I came up with, adapted from the recipe here.

Japanese Eggplant Salad

¼ cup white vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Japanese eggplants
1 large tomato

Cut off ends of eggplants, cut each lengthwise into six pieces, then cross cut into cubes. Sprinkle cubes lightly with salt and let sit for about ten minutes. While waiting for the eggplant make the dressing. Combine the first five ingredients and whisk together until combined. Slowly add oil while you continue whisking until it is all added. Set aside the dressing. Heat dry skillet over medium high heat. Add eggplant and about one Tablespoon of dressing, then saute until tender, about five minutes. Transfer cubes to paper towel and let cool to room temperature, or chill until ready to serve. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out seeds, leaving as much flesh as possible, then cube the tomatoes so they are about the same size as the cooked eggplant pieces. Combine the tomato and eggplant cubes. Drizzle with dressing and toss lightly to coat. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Walnut Chicken Salad

If you have ever been to Washington DC for work you probably noticed in almost every government and office building there is a little cafe on the bottom floor. These little cafes can be addicting. They usually have delicious breakfast and lunch bars that are sold by the pound, and are extremely convenient. Before going upstairs to do your business you get your little to go container and pick bits and pieces from the display of food. A little pasta salad, a bit of roast chicken, a spoonful of sauteed green beans, a pile of fruit and a couple pieces of sushi. What usually happens for me is my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I end up eating my selections for lunch over two days. Since there are little food bars in so many places they have to compete with each other, so keeping the selections flavorful and offering daily specials make you want to come back for more. This week I have meetings away from my office and for lunch I scooped up some chicken salad at one of the cafes. I expected it to be pleasant, like most food bar choices tend to be, but boy was I surprised. The light brown bits mixed with the chicken weren’t pieces of fruit like I expected, but walnuts! The sweet fruity taste I expected ended up being a nutty, savory flavor that blended wonderfully with the dressing and chicken. I don’t know what was actually in the salad, but I ate the rest of it slowly, savoring each bite and trying to figure out what else was in with the chicken. I think I figured out a pretty good replica of my lunchtime discovery, which is a good thing, because starting next week I will be back in my regular section of the metro area partaking from a completely different food bar. I may never have a chance to experience the surprising salad ever again. That is, unless I keep making it for myself.

Walnut Chicken Salad

4 – 6 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1 – 2 Tbsp broth retained from cooking the chicken*
¾ – 1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
Salt to taste

In mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, cumin and walnuts. Add some of the broth to thin out the mixture to the consistency of thick salad dressing. Add chicken and toss with dressing. Chill overnight before serving.

*If you use the express route and dice up a quick grocery store roasted chicken, just scoop up some juice from the container, as long as it is watery and will help thin out the dressing.

Tuna Salad Sautee

To me summer means eating cool salads. Whether they are cobb, chef, walnut, chicken or tuna, the cool salad always makes me feel happy as the temperatures rise. The word sautee to me sounds like a hot dish, but after the sautee portion of this salad cools off and is chilled, you won’t think of sautee the same again. The sweet of the onion and garlic works really well with the tuna and egg. The bite added by the mustard makes you want to alternate salad bites with those of some chocolate zebra heirloom tomatoes you picked up at the farmers’ market. Oh, that is me. But if you come across some, grab them! They are dark red and purple and green and smell marvelous. The market in Silver Spring was exploding with vegetables, and we could not pass up these tomatoes, which actually taste like a soft red wine to me…kind of a pinot noir or shiraz. They were delish, and went well with my tuna salad sautee creation. Happy summer!!!

Tuna Salad Sautee

4 small cans tuna in water
4 boiled eggs
1 tsp olive oil
½ small sweet onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp horseradish mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in small pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sautee until browned and beginning to caramelize. Set aside to cool while the rest of the salad is prepared. Drain water from tuna into small bowl. Place tuna in mixing bowl and serve tuna liquid to eager cats. Roughly chop eggs and add them to the tuna. Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper to tuna. Stir ingredients until mixed. Add onion and garlic and stir some more until all the dark pieces are pretty evenly distributed. Chill for at least an hour before serving.


Dilly Egg Salad

Yes. Another rather unoriginal use for all those Easter eggs that were dyed, hid and hunted (we won’t talk about what happens to the ones that stay hidden, forever. Yech!) After you send everyone home with as many eggs as you can talk them into, there will undoubtedly be some left. Make egg salad! I know this is a very simple recipe that almost everyone can do without direction, but it is still nice to write it down, put together and enjoy the results. I couldn’t help myself after making deviled eggs last week. I even measured everything, because usually I just toss in this and that. It is pretty good, but I just have to remember to brush my teeth before going anywhere. Those garlic and onion powders are really potent! Happy Easter to you and your families!

Dilly Egg Salad

12 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 Tbsp dried dill weed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder

Mash eggs with a pastry blender or potato masher. Make them chunky or finely mashed as you like. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Greek Salad On A Stick

I will start by saying these toothpick-mounted wonders are the closest I got to making football shaped food this year. I actually watched quite a bit of the Super Bowl today. Good game, considering I did not feel strongly about one team or the other winning. I don’t watch much professional American Football these days; mostly because I don’t have a TV at home, but even more because any attempt I make to do something for hours at a time is frequently interrupted by a lively 2 1/2 year old daughter. When I weigh time with Little B against watching football, Little B always wins.

Greek salads are things I can just eat and eat, especially with some hot grilled kebabs on top. My favorite of all time is at Papouli’s in San Antonio – they have a killer dressing. The tanginess of the dressing, olives and feta just pull me in, and are much less bad for me health-wise than my other salad love, blue cheese dressing. Yes, I know blue cheese dressing is not a salad – I need the lettuce and tomato and cucumber to hold the dressing – but the calorie and fat load of blue cheese dressing can wreak havoc on almost any diet.

I saw this idea somewhere last year but for the life of me cannot remember where. I think it was here, but it was a while back. I tried to give credit where it is due, so I get kudos for trying, right? I have made these wonderful little appetizers a number of times and love the juiciness with the dressing added. The whole stick of salad can fit in one bite. Whoa! Heaven! I sometimes include onion, but usually not because some of my nearest and dearest have a hard time with raw onion, so I present the recipe without. I most recently served these along with my smorgastarta and they were a great compliment.

Greek Salad On A Stick

24 toothpicks

1 block feta cheese, cut into 24 cubes

24 grape tomatoes

24 kalamata olives, pitted

1 English cucumber or 3 mini cucumbers

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

Whisk together the last six ingredients. Set aside. Slice cucumbers into thick slices, about ½ inch in length, then again in half or quarters, depending on cucumber size. I have found that all four elements fitting on the toothpicks is directly related to the size of the cucumber pieces (or the squishiness of the olives, but that can only go so far), so do a test ‘pick before cutting up all the cucumber. Start with putting on toothpicks the tomato, followed by an olive and cucumber, ending with the feta. Place all the filled toothpicks in a deep plate or bowl that will just hold the completed ‘picks. Drizzle dressing over the ‘picks. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Before serving move the ‘picks to a serving dish and again drizzle the dressing over the ‘picks. If you use fancy decorated ‘picks, the top of which won’t look good slimed with dressing, you may need to spoon the dressing over them with a spoon.

Potato Leek Salad

I am on a quest to eat food I love while reducing the fat and calories of said food. It is difficult because I love bread and butter and beef and pasta and cheese. Oh the cheese! I understand the concept of moderation, and practice it as much as possible, but when food is good it is so easy to be bad. Where potato salad is concerned I like the kind dressed with mayonnaise and mustard, complimenting a pile of smoked brisket or ribs. The other night I could not sleep and craved the not-so-good-for-me potato salad my dad made in big batches for years. He would smoke meats for hours and hours. When the meat was a few hours from being done he would make the potato salad so it could chill and allow the flavors to meet each other. I say he made the salad, but it was actually a group effort. My mom and I would boil the potatoes and eggs, chop the onions, bell pepper, celery and herbs. Dad would inspect our work and let us know if the chop size and quantities were just right, or we needed to work on them a little more. He would pull out the huge green glass bowl from the cabinet and put all the ingredients together, taste testing to see if it needed a little more of this, a little more of that. When he was done with his part it was again time for mom and I to swoop in and decorate the top with bell pepper and egg slices, finishing with sprinkle of paprika. I loved my dad’s potato salad, but it was far from healthy. In my desire to eat healthier and not fade away from complications of diabetes, which took his life last year, I offer the following dish. It appeases my potato salad craving without as much in the way of fat and calories. Enjoy!

Potato Leek Salad

5 lbs red potatoes*
2 leeks
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
14 oz nonfat Greek yogurt
¼ cup parsley, chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 ounces mushrooms, diced
2 tsp dried tarragon

Cook red potatoes in gently boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes, depending on their size. Drain out the water, letting the potatoes cool and dry out (in the refrigerator for faster results). Separate white and green portions of the leeks, discarding the tough outer and upper dark green potions. Thinly slice white/light green sections to form rings. Heat large sauté pan to medium high. Add oil. When oil is hot add leeks. Stir regularly to prevent burning, but not so much that the leeks are prevented from browning. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking. After about 10 minutes add the mushrooms and cook for 5 – 10 more minutes. Set aside to cool. Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. In a large bowl combine yogurt, juice, garlic, tarragon, parsley and a dash of salt. If the dressing tastes a little salty do not worry – it will be spread among the potatoes which will absorb it. Add leeks and mushrooms to the dressing. Toss potatoes with dressing until coated. Refrigerate until chilled through before serving, at least two hours.

*I prefer to leave the skin on red potatoes for this recipe, but of course if you prefer they can be peeled without significantly affecting the final product. Go ahead – reject the most nutritious part of our root friends. I’m sure they won’t mind…


Impure Tabbouleh Salad

I love tabbouleh. It is tangy and filling, emphasizing the simple nuttiness of bulgur wheat. Big D hates what wheat does to his digestive system. How oh how can the two meet in a pleasant, yummy way? Rice! Brown rice. I call it impure tabbouleh. As a dish made in many different regions of the world and often consisting of local products, tabbouleh by its very nature varies from kitchen to kitchen. I decided to embrace the nature of the dish and make it ricey. A happy hubby tummy is a good thing, and I like it, too! I make a big batch and we eat on it for a week. Even our little girl digs into it when she is in the mood. The later in the week it gets the limey-er the salad gets.

Impure Tabbouleh Salad

4 cloves garlic, diced

2 medium limes, juiced with meat

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 english cucumber, diced

4 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced

5 spring onions, diced

1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 2 loose cups when prepared)

¼ cup mint, chopped

7 ½ cups cooked brown rice (about 3 cups uncooked)

Black olives (optional as garnish)

Combine garlic, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Set aside. Mix together all other ingredients except for rice. Pour dressing over mixture until veggies are covered. Add mixture to rice, making sure dressing and veggies are well combined with the rice. Although the salad is immediately ready to eat, letting it sit for a few hours in the refrigerator allows the flavors to blend. Serve as a meal itself or as a side dish with grilled or roasted meats.





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