Thursday, September 20, 2012

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing

Yes, I got the primary ingredient for this salad, a crunchy broccoli slaw, pre-shredded at Trader Joe's. But it still gets a spot on the blog because, well, it's shredded raw broccoli, plus I added some other stuff to it (almonds and craisins! Has anyone ever thought of adding those to salads before? Guys, they're really good).

The real star of the salad, though, is a homemade honey poppy seed dressing. I always like the idea of poppy seed dressings, but when I eat them from the bottle or at a restaurant I find they're often too sweet or creamy for me (and have the nutrition facts to match). This dressing is sweetened with honey rather than sugar so it isn't cloying, and has a nice bite from the apple cider vinegar and hefty dollop of mustard. I recommend adding a few big cranks of freshly cracked pepper right at the end; I tried the dressing before and after and could really taste the difference.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Warm Zucchini and Egg "Salad"

This one isn't a salad in the traditional sense, but given its ingredients are salad classics in other forms (grated zucchini, hard boiled eggs) and it was a tasty dinner, I figured I'd stretch the definition a bit.

I sliced a zucchini into very thin half-moons and sautéed them over medium-low heat until they got a bit translucent, put them on a plate, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Then I fried an egg in the same pan, put it on top of the eggs, cut it up, and mixed the whole thing together. Viola! A warm zucchini and egg "salad" with an extremely decadent runny egg yolk dressing. (I also added a bit of truffle salt at the end--yummm.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thai Cabbage Salad

On Mackinac Island we had a delicious Thai salad -- Brian loved it and I liked everything about it except the (I thought) overly vinegary dressing. So I googled to find a Thai peanut sauce that didn't rely on either coconut milk or lots of vinegar. I found a great one on Chow. (It's actually Vietnamese, but let's not quibble.) I used the sauce for dipping tofu, broccoli and cauliflower, and we drizzled some over the sweet potato, too. Yum! I made it just like the recipe stated, but used my regular peanut butter (and so omitted the sugar) and I used more water to make it creamier.

But even though I made only half the recipe, we still had a lot of sauce left over. I decided to thin it with water to salad dressing consistency and use it for the Thai cabbage salad -- the reason I had searched for the recipe in the first place! It was delicious! You could try the dressing on any slaw, but I'll put down what I used, just FYI.

Thai Cabbage Salad

A word on chile-garlic paste: I keep it in the fridge and it seems to last forever. Normally a tiny amount will do because it's so fiery, but I used what they said here and it was not too hot. I think the peanut butter attenuates the heat. (Sometimes I add 1/4-1/2 tsp to a big pot of bean soup and it's really nice.) I've been keeping hoisin sauce in the fridge for a variety of uses, too.

(Here's the slightly adapted half sauce recipe, and I diluted about half of this for the salad dressing. You can see the full recipe at Chow, link above.)

3/8 cup peanut butter
3 Tbs water (and more for thinning to desired consistency)
1-1/2 Tbs hoisin sauce
1 Tbs lime juice
2 tsp sodium reduced soy sauce
1 tsp chili paste with garlic
1 clove garlic, mashed or minced
1 tsp roasted sesame oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together. Before serving, thin to desired consistency for a dipping sauce or a dressing.

I sliced about half a small head of cabbage (I wanted to use Napa or Savoy cabbage, but they looked pretty bad in the store, so I used a regular head) and about a quarter small head of red cabbage. This is easy if you use the slicing blade of a food processor. I also sliced some snow peas, then grated a zucchini, half a cucumber, and a couple carrots. I added some slivered almonds and chopped cilantro, then tossed it with the dressing. Before serving, I put in some pan-fried tofu cubes.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Israeli Couscous Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

I was watching the Food Network a couple weeks ago (sitting down with a bagel from the local place, a cup of coffee, and Food Network/HGTV has become a weekend morning tradition) when I saw Giada de Laurentiis prepare this recipe: Israeli couscous salad with smoked paprika dressing.
I've never been a particular Giada fan--we have disparate opinions on eating meat and frying things, among other points of culinary contention--but this recipe I absolutely had to make. I love Mediterranean salads in general, and this one made use of two of my favorite ingredients: smoked paprika and Israeli couscous, also known as ptitim.

For the most part, I made the salad as written--but I couldn't help making a few little changes:
  • more spinach (and as you can see, the salad still isn't all that green)
  • fewer cherry tomatoes (just not crazy about them)
  • half as much cheese (it's a salad, after all)
  • a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans (for extra protein and tastiness)
  • whole wheat couscous rather than white (since I had some on hand, and since I prefer the flavor)

The finished product was wonderful, savory and smoky and sweet. I think the salad could use a little kick to balance out the two types of sweet pepper (roasted and paprika), so next time I'll add a pinch of cayenne, or maybe some Aleppo pepper, but there will definitely be a next time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Easy Quinoa Salad

**Edit** -- Got an email yesterday from Brian saying his lunch was really good, but the salad was particularly tasty. Yes, this salad! Try it!

This salad is as basic as it comes -- quinoa, veggies, simple dressing -- and is open to infinite variation. It's quite tasty! The original version comes from the Savvy Vegetarian site and I've made only a few modifications.

For one thing, I like my veggies cut in finer pieces. I sliced the carrot in fourths lengthwise almost to the top, then cut thin pieces off.

I love the look of snap peas cut on the diagonal. Crisp and crunchy, they add wonderful texture to the salad.

By the way, I omitted the nuts because I tend to have a few for a snack and didn't want to overdo it, but I bet they'd be great in the salad.

Simple Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cups cold water
1/4 tsp salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups mixed raw or nuked veggies (snow peas, celery, green beans, corn)
2 small carrots, peeled, sliced in thin rounds (or half or quarter rounds)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, chopped (seed or peel if necessary)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or basil (if using basil, add tomatoes to salad)
1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds (optional)

2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
optional: a little other herb or spice (garlic, cumin, ginger, thyme, etc.)

1.     Prepare quinoa by rinsing thoroughly in cold water, draining well, then bringing to a boil with the cold water and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 min. Cool to at least lukewarm.
2.     Combine quinoa with veggies and optional nuts or seeds in a large bowl.
3.     Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Asian Slaw

This recipe is a work in progress, but we both really liked it as is, too. I just think it could be even better -- have a little more oomph, perhaps? Please give suggestions! I wanted to make a slaw that did not have a mayo-based dressing, and I found this highly rated recipe for Asian Style Slaw. But I had a head of cabbage, not bags of mix, and of course I always tinker.

First I shredded the cabbage in the food processor. I learned NOT to use the shredder blade, but to use the slicing blade, or you just get mush. You can see the tiny bits of cabbage on the side in the photo below from my failed shredding attempt. And I shredded -- this time shredding was ok -- some yellow squash and carrots, too.

Somehow I neglected to take a photo of the finished salad, so I'll add that when I make it again. Here's what I ended up doing:

Asian Slaw

1/2 medium head green cabbage, shredded (thinly sliced in food processor)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (I forgot this, but will try it next time)
1 medium yellow squash, shredded
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
2 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger*
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs roasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup slivered almonds (for nutrition and crunch)
chopped cilantro (I meant to add this, but forgot)

Prepare the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients (soy sauce through pepper) and pour over the vegetables. Toss well to mix. Add the almonds and cilantro; mix again.

* I coarsely chopped a chunk of ginger and then dropped the pieces into the food processor with the mixing blade running to get fine pieces. This recipe is easy with a food processor -- it uses 3 different blades, but you only have to wash the bowl once!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bruschetta is just tomato salad on toast

Remember the classic question philosophers ask -- What is a man? The more you think about it, the harder it is to answer, even though you 'know' what a man is. On a more mundane level, we all 'know' what a salad is -- but define it, please. Toss bread and tomatoes and you have panzanella (a salad), but put the tomatoes on top of bread and you have bruschetta. Eat your pasta warm and call it dinner, but chill it and it's suddenly salad. Perhaps vegetarians really do eat nothing but salad ... 

Enough. I'm going to blog whatever recipe I want to use whatever definition feels right to me at a given moment. Today, bruschetta is a salad. Tomatoes are in season and we are eating lots of bruschetta. Yesterday we had Parmesan Pepper bread from Zingerman's, recently arrived from the bread club Kim and Craig gave us for Christmas, and it made a great base.

Classic Bruschetta

ripe, juicy, wonderfully tasty tomatoes
finely chopped red onion
pesto (homemade or from a jar)
a wee bit of crumbled feta or freshly grated Parmesan
pressed garlic (optional -- there's already garlic in the pesto)
a little olive oil (optional, occasionally I add a dab of garlic olive oil)
good bread, sliced and toasted (rubbed with oil and garlic if you wish, not necessary)

Combine everything but the bread, then heap the juicy tomato mixture onto the toast just before serving.