Category Archives: Salads

Free-for-All Friday: Tilapia with Bacon-Edamame Succotash and Pomegranate-Goat Cheese Salad

Fall has finally presented itself in San Diego (high of 66? Brrr!) and pomegranates were a welcome addition to my kitchen this week. Unfortunately, they were just used to make a salad prettier. Bacon and edamame are the ingredients that really shine in this week’s dish.

Fish is a great protein, but it can leave something to be desired, especially if the fish is mild, like tilapia. About a year ago, I wanted to make fish, but wanted to pair bacon with it, to enhance flavor (read: salt factor) and because, really, who can argue with bacon on the plate?

I came up with a succotash that’s super simple: onions, corn, bacon and, for added protein (ahem, and color), edamame. The result was a beautiful thing. It’s my favorite “side dish” with white fish and super easy to throw together. Plus, you can keep most of the ingredients on-hand.

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Because the fish and succotash are so salty, I wanted to pair the dish with a bright salad. Enter: pomegranate seeds. They’re almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

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I threw in some goat cheese for creaminess and sweet orange pepper for added crunch and color. Forgive the photos… they were taken hastily in artificial light. I blame late-night hunger.

Tilapia with Bacon-Edamame Succotash

Serves 4

Necessities

  • Four tilapia filets
  • Seafood seasoning, to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 6 strips bacon, sliced into inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Any other seasonings you’d like (I used an all-seasoning and some seasoned salt)

The How-To

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Season the filets with the seafood rub.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the sliced bacon in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Leave the grease in the pan. (If this is too much for your heart to handle, dump the grease and add in a drizzle of EVOO.)IMG_6952
  3. Add the diced onion and cook for about 5 minutes.IMG_6954
  4. Add the frozen corn and edamame to the pan and give a quick stir. Add your spices, stir again.IMG_6931
  5. Meanwhile, in a baking dish, add the filets and 1/4 cup of water. Cover tightly with tinfoil and add the dish to the heated oven. Let cook for about 20 minutes, or until flaky, but moist.IMG_6951
  6. Continue to stir the succotash mixture as the fish cooks, letting it go the full 20-30 minutes while the fish is in the oven. This will allow for nice caramelization and color to all the ingredients.
  7. Once the fish is done, remove form the oven and plate it, piling up the succotash next to it and sprinkle the cooked bacon on top (Adding the bacon at the end allows it to stay crisp).IMG_6961
  8. Shovel unattractive amounts into your mouth at a time. Everyone will be too busy doing the same thing to notice.

Pomegranate-Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 4

Gather Them Up

  • 5-oz spring mix salad
  • 2-oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 6 small sweet orange peppers, diced
  • 4 Tbps. pomegrate seeds
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Throw Them Together

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the EVOO, balsamic vinegar, grainy mustard and salt and pepper until well-combined
  2. Evenly distribute the spring mix on four plates and top with the goat cheese, peppers and pomegranate seeds
  3. Drizzle with the balsamic dressing and serveIMG_6956

Tips and Variations

  • Don’t know how to de-seed a pomegranate? Check out my how-to here.
  • Substitute two shallots for the onion in the succotash.
  • Try it out with halibut or cod.
  • Pair the meal with some cous-cous or rice.
  • Try out your non-stick pan and fish spatula and fry the fish on the stove-top.
  • Add some roasted pecans to your salad

Meatless Monday: Heirloom Tomato Salad

It’s the end of the summer and the dog days are here (sidenote: dog days should imply long naps, cuddling with loved ones, free meals and overall sloth-like tendencies — not extreme heat.).

This only means one thing, you guys: heirloom tomato season.

I don’t need to explain heirloom tomatoes, since I trust you’ve all read my previous posts on them, but they’re among my favorite of foods. If you haven’t tried an heirloom tomato yet, then we can’t be friends  go out to your farmers market and sample. You will never, ever, ever buy store-bought tomatoes again. Taylor Swift says so.

With a heavy supply of heat and serious lack of cooling system in my apartment, dinners that don’t require an oven or lots of burners going become popular this time of the year.

I’ve written about this simple tomato salad before back in 2010, when I was inept and void of a camera. I’m still inept, but the addition of a camera makes me seem otherwise.

Enjoy.

Summer Heirloom Salad With Avocado, Pine Nuts and Arugula

Serves 2

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What You Need

  • 2-4 large heirloom tomatoes, any variety (double this if they’re on the smaller size), sliced
  • 1 nabal avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Very thinly sliced red ion
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled [I love French feta]
  • 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted
  • EVOO, to taste
  • Half or a whole a lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Assemble

  1. Arrange the tomato slices on two shallow plates, followed by the avocado slices, dividing equally.
  2. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Add half a cup arugula to each plate in the middle of the arrangement.
  4. Top with sliced onions, crumbled feta, and pine nuts.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.  Top with a little more salt and pepper.

Add-ons and variations

  • Add parsley for color and freshness
  • Add green olives to compliment the creamy avocado
  • Add crushed red pepper for spice
  • Use goat cheese or blue cheese instead of feta
  • Use a sweet onion instead of red
  • Make this on a Tuesday with sliced, grilled steak to top it off

What’s your favorite heirloom tomato dish? Tell me in the comments!

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Meatless Monday: Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pears and Walnuts

Last week when I was at the grocery store picking up my mozzarella for my risotto balls, I happened to glance in Goat Cheese’s direction.

Cheese of the goat

It was just sitting there, calling out for me. Some might call it fate. And what do you do with fate?

You fry it.

Exception to the rule

Now, I know last week I said fried food wasn’t really my thang, but that doesn’t include cheese. Cheese is always the exception.

Goat cheese is a “love-or-hate-it” kinda food. I happen to love the creamy, tangy, grassy cheese. LOVE. And I was flipping through my big Bon Appetit cookbook and stumbled upon this recipe.

It’s the perfect, decadent meal for Monday, because when everything else is miserable, at least your plate of food isn’t! (I’ve got a bad case of the Mondays, can you tell?)

Feel free to play around with it. The recipe calls for endive, but I just used a mixed green salad. I love endive, though, and think it’s a wonderful addition. Use pecans instead of walnuts or apples instead of pears. Use EVOO instead of walnut oil. Use panko instead of bread crumbs (I did!).

And if you’re serving this for more than one person, well, put an extra fried goat cheese round on top of your plate. You deserve it.

Happy eating!

What You Need (Serves 4):

  • 1 1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 11 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, cut into 8 rounds
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 8 cups mixed baby greens
  • 2 heads Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

What You Do

  1. Mix breadcrumbs and thyme in glass pie dish. Season goat cheese with salt and pepper. Dip cheese into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs, coating completely. cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead.)
  2. Whisk vinegar and mustard in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine mixed greens, Belgian endive and pears in large bowl.
  3. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts and sauté until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate using slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium. Working in batches, add cheese rounds to skillet and cook until crisp and brown on outside and soft on inside, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat. Divide among 4 plates. Using metal spatula, place 2 cheese rounds in center of each salad. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Perfect Monday dinner

Free for All Friday: Grilled Shrimp, Corn and Black Bean “Tostada” Salad

I know, I know. More shrimp?! It seems to be a weekly or bi-weekly dinner item in our house. I’m sorry if you’re sick of shrimp recipes, but this one was too good to not share.

I know the title says “grilled,” but I skipped that step due to early darkness and coldness. Of course, this is southern California so by “coldness” I mean requiring-a-light-jacket. Still, I needed to take decent pictures so I used the stovetop instead of a grill. If you try this recipe out in the summer time, by all means grill the shrimp and the corn on the cob! It will give it a nice, smoky depth.

My SO has been asking for a light dinner. I made a sinful baked mac and cheese from my new Fine Cooking recipe (thanks, Deb-Mom!) and to say it weighed us down is an understatement. So the next night, I followed up the rich dinner with a light one.

First, I whisked up some olive oil with about 5 Tbsp. of fresh lime juice, then mixed in chopped jalapeno and cilantro and some cumin.

I had taken some frozen corn out of the freezer and put it in a bowl to defrost. Once that was soft, I tossed it with some of the olive oil/lime juice mixture and then let it cook up in a hot (medium high heat) pan until it got nice and “grilled.”

From this...

...to this!

I could’ve eaten a bowl of that sauteed corn by itself. It was TASTY.

Then I threw about 1 Tbsp. of chopped cilantro into a bowl (I made a total of three bowls.) I added to it 2 Tbsp. chopped red onion, 2 Tbsp. sliced scallions, 2 1/2 Tbsp. black beansTo that, I added some freshly-torn iceberg lettuce. Use your judgement as to how much to add. I filled up the rest of the bowl to the top with the lettuce, then added the sauteed corn and tossed it all.

Next, I brushed some peeled and deveined shrimp (tails left on) with the same cilantro lime juice/olive oil mixture that I used on the corn and sauteed that on high until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

I drizzed the salad with the lime oil and topped with shrimp! I served it with tortilla chips to make it a “tostada” like salad, but if you’re counting carbs you can skip out on that. I just used the chips to scoop up the good stuff on the bottom of the bowl after my lettuce was gone!

It was deliciously light and satisfied my tex-mex craving. I highly recommend making this on a night where you’re tummy is growling but you don’t want to overindulge.

I also put out some of El Tortito’s brand Cilantro Pepita Dressing to use on the salad. It was a nice addition and you only need just a little, as it packs a powerful punch when it comes to flavor. Trader Joe’s sells their own knock off of the stuff and it’s equally yummy.

 

Meatless Monday: Greek Orzo Salad

I have an affinity for Greek food. Maybe not gyros, but falafel and Greek salads are totally up my alley.

I’ve had some orzo pasta sitting around for awhile since I bought it a while ago to add to some soup.

Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that some people use in place of a arborio for risotto. It also makes a great addition to soups for rice or long noodles. I love orzo. It’s great cold, too.

In an attempt to use up some ingredients I had on hand, I made this orzo salad that’s surprisingly full of flavor, hearty and heavy on the Greek influence.

As the Greek say, καλή όρεξη! (<—That’s what Google tells me is “Bon Appetit” in Greek. Any Grecians wanna verify?)

Greek Orzo Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orzo, uncooked
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 7 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • Kalamata olives
  • Feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red Wine vinegar
  • EVOO
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Go Greek

  1. Cook the orzo according to package directions (in salted water!) and rinse thoroughly with cold water when you strain it.
  2. In a big mixing bowl, combine the cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, bellpepper and onion in a bowl. Salt and pepper them and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of EVOO and 2 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar.
  3. Add the cooked orzo to the mixture and toss to combine. Season again with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the olives and feta cheese with another drizzle of olive oil (*Note: I go to the olive bar at Vons and get the olive mixture that has kalamata and green olives with big feta chunks. This way I don’t have to add extra oil or buy feta cheese separately.)
  5. Sprinkle in the basil and toss again.
  6. Squeeze the half of lemon over the bowl and toss to completely incorporate. Taste again and season accordingly. If it doesn’t have enough tartness to it, add another splash of vinegar or another squeeze of lemon juice.
  7. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight or for 2-4 hours before serving.

Things you should most definitely add to this

  • Chickpeas. If I had a can on me, I would have most definitely add them to the salad. They’re great for protein and tasty to boot.
  • Artichoke hearts. These are just yummy and add some depth to the salad.

Psst: A near-future Meatless Monday will be another aforementioned Greek food. Get excited!

Meatless Monday: Potato Arugula Salad

I’ve posted this recipe waaay back here, but I feel like it doesn’t get any love since my readership was zero back then. I’m recycling this recipe for two reasons:

  1. It’s good and should not be overlooked.
  2. It’s the day after Christmas and I deserve a pass, right?

I made this recipe recently and turned it into a meat version for my SO and dad. I kept it original for the non-meat eater (me) and it’s so good and filling. Not to mention super easy. Have fun with it, too. If you read the original blog post about it, you’ll see that I, along with someone else, changed the recipe to turn it into a main course instead of side.

I really want you to read the original blog post to get the recipe for this, but a quick overview:

  • I roasted baby potatoes at 400 degrees on parchment paper until they were nice and crispy, about an hour. I seasoned them well with just salt, pepper and EVOO.
  • I tossed some baby arugula with some crumbled blue cheese and sliced sweet onions.
  • I made a dijon vinaigrette and tossed the salad with it once I added the roasted potatoes.
  • For a meat variation, I rubbed some chicken breasts with some spices (I think I used cayenne, oregano, cumin and some chili powder and salt, pepper.)

Top it with Chicken for meat eaters

That’s all there really is to it. It’s simple and delicious, which is totally my bag, baby. I highly recommend arugula, but I mixed my most recent variation of this with some spring mix for the picky eaters in my family. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

I hate most bottled dressings. For the past five years or so I’ve been dressing my salad with my self-proclaimed “Best-Dressed Salad” Dressing. It’s light, flavorful and I know exactly what is in it. (P.S. Anyone here know what calcium disodium edta is? If you’ve got trouble pronouncing it, or red squiggly lines show up underneath it in a word document, you probably shouldn’t put it in your body.)

One dressing that I almost never tire of is Caesar dressing. I’ve had my fair share of bad Caesar dressings (an awful “lite” one during our diabetic cleanse, one that was deemed “too fishy” at Sammy’s Wood Fired Pizza, etc) but there’s also plenty out there that are awesome (I’m looking at you, Flemings!)

This past week I scheduled Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner (and grilled some extra chicken for the next night for chicken loaded nachos.) I marinated the boneless skinless chicken breasts in the same marinade I made for some grilled salmon way back yonder. Then sliced it and loaded it up on top of freshly torn romaine leaves with sliced hard-boiled eggs and Texas toast croutons. The only problem? We had no Caesar dressing.

Please ignore that horrifying grey ring around the eggs---NOT my doing!

So I made my own. Very simple to make and convenient because most people will have all ingredients on hand. If I had some anchovy paste, I certainly would’ve added some, so feel free to add some paste to your taste :D

Homemade Caesar Dressing

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (I added more in the end, though. So tweak as you find necessary. This also helps give it a little bit of “fish” flavor for those not using anchovy paste.)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (use dry mustard if you’re out of Dijon)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Shake it up

  1. In a food processor (or blender), blend the garlic cloves and olive oil.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until well-combined.
  3. Pour in a thin line over salad bowl and toss, adding more if necessary.

Light on the dressing, heavy on the flavor

Tips to Remember:

  • *Please note that consuming raw eggs may result in salmonella contamination. Always use fresh eggs.
  • It’s ok to cheat and use Kraft parmesan in this recipe—in fact, I recommend it!
  • If the idea of consuming a raw egg doesn’t sit well with you, simply omit it. Just make the dressing in the morning and let it sit in the fridge to thicken up a little
  • If you’re not a garlicky person, I’d recommend using 1/2-1 clove.
  • Can keep in the fridge for a day or two.
  • Between this and the best-dressed salad, you will never buy bottled dressing again.

Almost-Famous Cabbage Salad

Each month, in Food Network Magazine, there’s a recipe for an “Almost-famous ____________.”  They’ve done almost-famous onion blossom (Chilis/Outback), almost-famous cheese biscuits (Red Lobster), almost-famous broccoli cheddar soup (Panera). You get it.

Well, if you’re fortunate enough to live in Southern California (too snotty?), you’ve probably visited a Clearmans restaurant–more specifically, their Northwood’s Inn establishment.

Northwood’s Inn is a steakhouse that keeps the floor textured with peanut shells, the lighting low, and the food abundant and delicious. They’re famous for a couple of things:

1) Their cheese bread. This stuff is to die for. You can buy the spread at the supermarket and make your own. I highly recommend this, though I take no responsibility for your imminent addiction to it.

Cheesy (taken from Clearman's website 'cause my camera is on the fritz)

2) Their cabbage salad. It’s hard to believe something as simple as cabbage salad could be such a big deal, but it is. And after making it, you’ll understand why.

Cabbage Salad (taken from bobsrecipe.com 'cause my camera is on the fritz)

Northwood’s Inn serves this cabbage salad with their blue cheese salad. They’re absolutely stellar when mixed together, but they can each hold their own. The best thing about this salad, aside from bud-exploding taste, is how cheap and simple it is. Most of you will have all the ingredients on hand except for the head of cabbage—and if you DO have a head of cabbage on hand……why??

Northwood’s Inn Cabbage Salad (can easily be doubled)

  • 1/2 head of red/purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Two-Step Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients except cabbage. Whisk together until well-combined.
  2. Pour over the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and let soak for 24 hours, tossing once. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Day four of soaking is when it gets reallly good.

Enjoy a little piece of Southern California! Eat this with a blue cheese salad, a side to hamburgers or to accompany your tostadas. Also, if you think you don’t like cabbage, this salad will prove you wrong. Promise.

Have you ever tried this before? Ever heard of Northwood’s Inn?

Twice Baked Potatoes with Greek Salad

I’m back with a recipe (Finally!!)

Following a nationwide trend, it’s Meatless Mondays at our house every Monday (dur).

A couple weeks ago I  pulled a souffle out of my hat and paired it with a Greek salad. Sometimes we’ll just do plain baked potatoes, there’s the spicy fried rice, and so many more options.

But this Monday, we did twice baked potatoes (is your tummy growling yet??)

Twice-Baked Potatoes

We don’t make these very often, as we might weigh 700 big ones if we did, but they’re so good and so simple and extremely filling.

We’ve also been on a Greek salad kick for a while and it doesn’t look like we’ll be off of it anytime soon. Those damn Greeks and their good food.

Here’s the recipe for the twice baked taters:

What you need (Serves 4; half a stuffed potato per person):

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 dollop of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • Chives, to taste, plus more for topping
  • 2 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)

Mix ‘Em All Together

  1. Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for about 1 hour and 30 minutes (ovens vary, so check after an hour. Don’t wrap in tinfoil, just throw them on the rack and let em bake)
  2. Let the potatoes cool for about 5-10 minutes before cutting in half and scooping out the flesh (careful to leave a little inside the kin to help it maintain its shape!) into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the butter, sour cream and whipping cream and mix on low in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) until creamy.
  4. Add in the salt and pepper, cayenne, cheese and chives. Mix again on low until well combined.
  5. Scoop back onto the potato skins, or scoop into a plastic bag and cut off a bottom corner and squeeze into the skins. (Of course, for all you fancy and experienced chefs out there, you’ll use a pastry bag. hmph.)
  6. Top with shredded cheese and return to oven. Cook until filling is hot again and cheese has melted
  7. Once out of the oven, top with snipped chives and sprinkle with bacon (if using)
  8. Be gluttonous

Mixing them all together

Piping beauty

I stuffed turkey bacon in between layers of filling for my dad

Vegetarian Tater

Mmmmmm

And now for the salad:

Caught this picture AFTER we dug in

Greek Salad

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, wash, rinse, dried, and ripped
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • Kalamata olives (I buy a mixed Greek blend at Vons at their little olive bar by the deli. It comes with kalamata and green olives marinated in spices and tossed with feta cheese, thus reducing my need to buy feta cheese separately)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Quartered tomato slices
  • Pepperoncinis (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. Whisk together all ingredients for the salad dressing
  2. Toss together all the ingredients for the salad.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until evenly distributed
  4. Add croutons, if you fancy them. (Click here for a recipe for homemade croutons!)

Homemade Croutons

It’s been a salad week for us, here at home.  We’ve had steak salad, arugula and potato salad, chicken salad, and more.  And what’s the first thing that people think of when they hear salad?

CROUTONS!

I, personally, am a big fan of the crunchy little accomodations to salad.  I could sit and eat a whole bag of them.  But I often find them to be a little overpriced and usually don’t buy them.  For some reason, it never occurred to me until this past week to make my own.

We had some old french rolls that were on their way to being hockey pucks, so instead of throwing them out, I decided to cube them up and throw them into a hot pan with a some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic salt.

The result??

They are absolutely delicious.  10 times better than store-bought ones.  They’re full of flavor and melt in your mouth.  Who would’ve guessed stale bread could produce something absolutely delectable??

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