Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kiwi Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing

This was not my usual salad, but that's the point of a salad a day -- trying something different.
I don't often have side salads -- usually I go for a main dish salad -- but I made this to round out my lunch yesterday. It was definitely green -- mixed leaves and a sliced kiwi. And it was delicious! The dressing is one I found on the Whole Foods website and I made it exactly as they suggested. I liked it. I don't usually care for thick, creamy dressings, but this one was tasty and acidic enough to counter the 'creaminess' (in quotes because there is actually no cream in it). I'll use up this dressing and will probably make it again at some point. Since it takes so long to go through a batch of salad dressing, I'll just make half next time.

Kiwi Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing*

mixed greens
sliced kiwi
Ginger Miso Dressing (from Whole Foods ) -- click here for the recipe

* Whole Foods puts ginger in the title, but it didn't taste all that gingery even though there's a big chunk of ginger in there. The tahini is more noticeable. I blended the ingredients in my VitaMix, so I didn't even need to strain out the ginger fibers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You Call That A Salad?

Why, yes. Yes I do call that a salad. I know there's no bowl or lettuce, but let's not quibble. There's lots of good salad stuff in this meal, and having a 'salad' in addition to this would be redundant. If people can call Jello salad with marshmallows a salad, then this more than qualifies.

The dip is my favorite hummus. I have been very surprised to learn that most people buy ready-made hummus, which is expensive and usually not as good as the homemade variety. It's quick and easy to make it at home and you can vary it in so many ways to suit yourself. The version below, which is lighter and fluffier than store bought hummus, is just a starting point.

Did I dip the tomatoes? Nope (though if I'd had cherry tomatoes...). I had a slice of excellent whole grain bread, which I topped with hummus and tomatoes. But instead of eating more bread, I used the other ingredients as dippers.

Easy Homemade Hummus

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 2 Tbs tahini (sesame seed paste) and/or olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 - 2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup water (approximately)

Combine all ingredients but water in a food processor. Process to mix, then gradually add water until you reach the desired consistency.

A few of many variations -- pulse in raw or cooked greens, from kale or spinach to parsley or cilantro; blend in roasted red pepper; pulse in chopped red or green onions, or blend in caramelized onions; vary the amount and proportion of tahini and olive oil -- you can even omit these altogether if you wish; use flavored olive oil (I love garlic olive oil); change the spices.

Monday, May 28, 2012

All Week Pasta Salad

Younger daughter here with my first post! I haven't been carrying my weight in the salad-making department, but today I made an extremely weighty salad, hoping to make up for some lost time: this veggie-laden pasta salad, so big I had to stir it in my largest pot because it didn't fit in any mixing bowls. (The photo here shows the salad after a few portions were put in lunch containers.)

The weather here on the east coast is hot and muggy, making it perfect salad weather, so I figured I'd make an enormous salad for my roommate and me (and a few friends) to eat for dinner tonight--and to eat for lunch all week. It's just a pound of pasta and whatever veggies caught my eye, and I plan to add things throughout the week to change it up: soy chicken or tofu, more beans, other veggies. It can also work with any dressing, though I've made a big bottle of Rolf's Mother's Chinese Dressing to use, now that my mom's post reminded me how much I like it!

Here's a list of what's in this iteration of the salad, though it's good with whatever vegetables are fresh and on hand:

  • a pound of whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • a pound of fresh broccoli, cut into small florets and tossed in with the pasta when it was almost done cooking
  • ten ounces of frozen peas, tossed in with the pasta and broccoli
  • a bag of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • two large zucchini, shredded
  • two cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • a bunch of radishes, sliced thin
  • eight ribs of celery, chopped

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Not Rolf's Mother's Chinese Chicken Salad

Years ago I had a friend whose Norwegian mother had a dynamite recipe for Chinese chicken salad. At some point I quit frying noodles to add to the salad, then I quit eating meat, switched out the iceberg lettuce for other greens, and finally added a variety of veggies. I still love Rolf's mother's salad, but it's not really her salad anymore.

All it takes for me to make this salad is greens, baked tofu cubes or soy chicken, some veggies, and the delicious salad dressing -- it's one of my favorites. Today I added the leftover Chinese asparagus from a couple days ago. If you use that, you barely need to add any additional dressing -- but don't worry, the dressing is great on all sorts of salads (even pasta salad) and keeps for a long time in the fridge.

Chinese Chix Salad

salad greens
leftover Chinese Asparagus Salad (from two days ago), or other veggies
cubed baked tofu or soy chicken (or even leftover cooked chicken meat)
Rolf's Mother's Chinese Dressing, use as needed:
   2 Tbs sugar
   1/2 tsp black pepper
   2 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
   6 Tbs rice vinegar
   2 Tbs toasted Chinese sesame oil
   1/2 cup canola oil

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl. To make dressing, mix all dressing ingredients together. Drizzle on salad as needed and store the leftovers in the fridge. Shake before using.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Salad with Muhammara Dressing

Green salads are a Saturday staple. My husband doesn't like the way greens hold up when he packs them for lunch, so it's tossed salads on the weekend. And tossed is an apt word, because whatever is in the fridge can end up tossed into the bowl with the greens -- veggies, fruits, pasta, leftover anything.

Today our salad was inspired by an early morning trip to the farmer's market. Look at this lovely kohlrabi!
I've never seen the bulbs with greens attached in the grocery store, but the the farmers were selling them still sporting their lovely curls. I'll have the leaves in an omelet for lunch later this week, but I peeled and grated the bulb for the salad. Kohlrabi is crisp and peppery, and when it's in a salad, you know it's there. That got me to wondering what kind of dressing would be up to the job. Something mustardy would work, but I'm not a big mustard fan. Luckily we had some muhammara -- thinned with water, it makes a terrific salad dressing.

What is muhammara? It's a middle eastern condiment served with rice and lentil dishes, and we also spread it on sandwiches or put a dollop on cooked veggies or roasted potatoes. It's soooo good! You probably don't have any on hand, so make some and use it with everything, including your salads.

Saturday Salad with Muhammara Dressing

Salad ingredients
mixed salad greens
shredded kohlrabi
shredded carrots
leftover Buttery Beet Salad (from two days ago)
chopped sugar snap peas
a few mixed nuts

Muhammara (roasted red pepper sauce)
I use the recipe at Epicurious -- find it here. To make a salad dressing, put a spoonful of muhammara in a cup and whisk in a little water until you get a good drizzling consistency.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chinese Asparagus Salad

About the only way I cook asparagus these days is by roasting them in the oven. They are so good that way that I hate to 'waste' them by doing anything else. But right now those lovely, thinner-than-a-pencil stalks are in the market and I can see no reason not to eat them in every way possible!

Years ago I used to make an ultra-quick asparagus salad from a recipe I found in a Chinese cookbook. After awhile I kept the same light dressing and started adding other ingredients. I decided to reprise that recipe today (sorry, I can't remember the exact source) and throw in some other ingredients for a variety of tastes and textures. Here's what I had:

I sliced and blanched the asparagus -- isn't it a lovely green?

And then made:

Chinese Asparagus Salad

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 lb.), sliced on the diagonal
several shiitake mushrooms, caps only, thinly sliced
a few radishes, halved and thinly sliced into half rounds
1 bunch green onions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp roasted Chinese sesame oil (it's a golden brown; unroasted sesame oil is light yellow)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

Blanche the asparagus in boiling water for 30-60 seconds (depending on the thickness of the asparagus), then rinse in cold water and pat dry. Put in a bowl with the shiitake mushrooms, radishes and green onions. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the veggies. Toss to coat. Eat!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Buttery Beet Salad (with no butter!)

Love, love, love the color of beets, but their taste never did much for me until the first time I tasted roasted beets -- sweet, chewy, caramelized. It was flavor worthy of the color. This salad was the first time I discovered that cooked beets can also have a silken, buttery texture when shredded and lightly cooked. Beware -- beets cooked this way are addictive!

This recipe is adapted from the Grated Beets with Shallots recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook. My version is less spicy and uses less oil, and I've made a substitution for the shallots, but the beet flavor sings. It's delicious chilled or at room temperature. When I have this salad in the fridge, I find I scoop out a bit for a snack, so make plenty. You can also toss the extra into a green salad or put it on top of hummus. I bet it would be good in a sandwich, too.

Buttery Beet Salad

1Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp whole brown or yellow mustard seeds (omit if you don't have this)
1/8 to 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into slivers
1 to 1.5 lbs. beets, peeled and grated (a food processor is great here)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs lemon or lime juice

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, put in the red onion slivers and fry for a minute, until they begin to soften and color. Add the shredded beets and stir everything together. Put in the salt and water. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer very gently for 10 min. Uncover, turn the heat up to medium,
mix in the lemon juice, and cook just long enough to be sure there's not a lot of extra liquid.

The Salad A Day Challenge

The farmer's market is open! Tender salad greens, crisp snap peas, baby radishes, garlic shoots, slender asparagus, raspberries, tiny little strawberries. Can't get enough! So I decided to challenge myself to make a different salad every day this summer. I want to try some things I haven't eaten before (black tomatoes?) and give another chance to those things that have never aroused my enthusiasm (sorry, okra).

So I started collecting recipes that appeal and enlisted my two daughters, both of whom are truly creative cooks. By the end of the summer, this blog should have quite a collection of salad recipes, and then I'll be looking for ways to come up with interesting salads through the long cold winter. Please join us!

Need a place to start? Check these out:

Mark Bittman's easy, delicious, healthful salads -- click here.

Whole Foods Market's wonderful recipe collection -- click here.

You can also try a google recipes search for a salad using your favorite ingredients, but remember that just because something is called a salad, it's not necessarily brimming with nutrition. Be sure to keep the mayo, cheese, and bacon to a minimum, and use a light hand with the dressing!