Tag Archives: salad

Tomatoes and Cucumbers…the Fruits of the Season!

Wow, where has the time gone? I can’t believe it’s already August. And I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I’ve had a blog post. I guess vacations, cleaning up the overgrown yard of the new house, and every day life got in the way. So sorry, I’ll do better, I promise!

The warm weather and humidity continues in this area, Heat waves and thunderstorms have been a regular occurrence, it seems like since June. The only good thing is that the produce has been delicious and abundant. During this time of the summer, tomatoes and cucumbers are especially delicious, and they make the perfect summer salad.

For me, nothing says summer like cucumber and tomato salad. With the addition of some basil and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, it’s the perfect side for any meal. Not to mention, it’s great to keep the oven and stove off!

To start, use about equal parts cucumbers and tomatoes. I used 2 cucumbers and 3 large, ripe tomatoes (I know there are 4 in the picture, but I only used 3). Core the tomatoes, and slice into chunks. Add to a large bowl. Peel the cucumbers, and slice into rounds. Add to the same bowl. Finally, add fresh basil. Use 10 basil leaves, thinly sliced, and add to the same bowl.tomatoesslicedchoppedcucumberpeeledready for dressingbasilNext, grab a small bowl to make the vinaigrette. Use equal parts Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. I used about 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Whisk the two to combine. Add about 3 times the amount of olive oil. I used about 3 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk until emulsified. Add salt and pepper. ingredientsmustardbalsamicPour the vinaigrette over the vegetables and stir to combine.

My favorite way to enjoy this salad is after it’s sat for about 30 minutes, so the juices of the tomato combine with the vinaigrette. One caveat though, be sure to let the salad marinate on the counter. The salad is best at room temperature, and it really is delicious. Fresh, crunchy, and tangy…just perfect!

Enjoy this last month of summer before it’s gone. And stay cool!

Steak House Salad for Summer

It seems like summer’s been here for a while already. Even though Memorial Day weekend started off cool, we had quite the heat wave last week with high temperatures and humidity. With the high temperatures, no one really wants to spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. That’s why salads are my go to dinner option in the summer. If you’re looking for a hearty and delicious salad, give this steak house salad a try.

To start, cut 1 onion in half then thinly slice. I like to use a sweet onion like Vidalia, but any will do. Cook the onion in 2 tablespoons over medium high heat until soft and brown, probably 5-10 minutes.onionsfried onionsWhile the onions are cooking, chop 1 head romaine lettuce into bite size pieces, then add to a large bowl. Add 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half. lettucegrape tomatoeslettuce and tomatoWhen the onions are cooked, pour them over the lettuce and tomatoes. Heat a grill pan, or the pan you just used for the onions if you don’t want to dirty too many dishes, or better yet the grill, over medium high heat. Season a few steaks (I used 3) with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook just a few minutes on each side until cooked on the outside but still pink in the center. I used New York strip, but feel free to use your favorite cut of steak. Once cooked, set them on a cutting board to rest.with onionssteakrestingMake the dressing. Start with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and whisk to combine. Next add 3 tablespoons olive oil, and whisk until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.DijonbalsamicdressingPour the dressing over the salad, then top with 4 oz crumbled blue cheese. Mix to combine. To serve, slice the steak. Serve the salad in large bowls and top with slices of steak.adding dressingblue cheesemixedslicedIf you’re looking for a summer salad that’s also filling and flavorful, this is the one. The combinations of fried onions and steak are perfect together. Combine the blue cheese, and it’s just perfect. And, to top it all off, with a good amount of protein, you won’t be craving a snack in an hour, I promise! 🙂

Strawberry Chicken Salad-A Great Summer Meal!

Chopped StrawberriesOne of my favorite things to make in the summer, especially when it’s hot out, is a dinner salad.  It’s easy to make, healthy, and quick.  I especially love to add summer produce and make a sweet, summery dressing.  This recipe combines ripe strawberries, tart dried cherries, crunchy walnuts, all with a sweet honey Dijon dressing.

This salad recipe makes a big single serving for dinner for me, but probably two smaller servings for the normal eater. 🙂  Feel free to double, triple, quadruple…whateverBoston Lettuce you need.  It’s pretty flexible.  And please, substitute away.  If you’d rather have peaches and pecans, go for it.  If you don’t like dried cherries, leave them out…or substitute cranberries.  It’s easy!

To start, make the vinaigrette in the bowl you’re using.  This way, it’s easy clean up.  Just 1 bowl to deal with. Whisk together 1 teaspoon Dijon, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar until well combined.  Slowly add 2 teaspoons olive oil, and continue whisking until it’s emulsified and Viniagretteall of the oil has been combined.  Next, you’re just going to pile in the salad ingredients.

A few months ago I wrote about grilling chicken for my Italian Grilled Chicken Salad.  You can use those same instructions for this recipe or use a different recipe.  You want 1 large or 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked.  Chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add to a bowl.  Hull 1 pint strawberries, chop, and add to the bowl.  Take 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce, chop, and add Walnutsto the bowl with the chicken.  Add 1/2 cup dried cherries and 1/2 cup walnuts.

Toss the salad together, making sure everything has some of the dressing, and serve.  I prefer this salad at room temperature, but leftovers do well in the fridge.  Also, as I said before, feel free to substitute and experiment.  You can also add your favorite cheese to the salad.  The possibilities are endless.Salad

An Italian Grilled Chicken Salad…a Quick and Easy Lunch

For the last several months, I’ve been working for a new company, and, because the company is based in Boston, I’m working from home.  I was originally nervous about the prospect of working from home full-time, but I’m loving it.  One of the best perks is having access to the kitchen all day.  I can run downstairs and grab a snack, or take a quick break to start dinner, or, and this is my favorite, actually make my lunch everyday.  I’ll admit, when I was going into an office, I was never on top of lunch. I usually had to run out.  But now, I’m making lunches, and one of my favorites, that is also quick and delicious, is an Italian grilled chicken salad.

ChickenIn my effort to eat healthier, I’m trying to have more vegetables, and I find a hearty salad is a great way to do this.  For this salad, I grill a chicken breast I’ve pounded thin, which cooks quick and is a great addition, making the salad a meal.

To start, prepare the chicken.  Just take 1 chicken breast and remove any chunks of fat.  Place the cleaned chicken breast on a cutting board that’s covered with a piece of wax paper big enough to be folded to cover the chicken.  The wax paper helps you not make Poundinga huge mess when you’re pounding, but also makes clean up a breeze.  Take a sharp knife and cut partially through some of the thick parts of the breast to make it as flat as possible.  Then cover the top with the other side of the wax paper.  Take a meat cleaver, or something you can pound with, like a saucepan.  Use the smooth side, and just pound that chicken breast until it’s all the same size.  You’ll end up with a nice cutlet.  You could always buy the cutlets at the store and skip this step, but I usually don’t have them at home, and with the wax paper, it’s a Grilled Chickenpretty easy step.

Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook the chicken over medium heat.  I use a non-stick grill pan to do this.  I have the Cuisinart 12″ Non-Stick Round Grill Pan, but you don’t need it.  If you don’t have one, you can use a saute pan.  I like to use the non-stick so I don’t have to use any fat, but you could use a regular stainless pan, just spray it with some non-stick cooking spray.  After just a few minutes, you’ll see the top portion of the chicken start to cook around the edges.  Turn the cutlet at this point to cook the other Dijon and Balsamicside.  If the chicken resists at all when you try to turn it, give it more time.  It will release when it’s cooked.  The other side should take about another minute or two, and then, your chicken is done.  Because you pounded that chicken so thin, it really does cook quick.

While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the salad.  I make a simple vinaigrette in a bowl big enough to hold the dressing.  I just use about 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and whisk those two together until combined.  Then add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Whisk until everything is Emulsifiedemulsified, and taste to see how it is.  You can always add a little more of this or that to adjust the flavors.  For the lettuce, I use hearts of romaine, just chopped and added to the bowl.  I also use 1 roasted red pepper.  You could always roast these yourself, but you can also get them jarred at the grocery store, and the jarred ones are good.  If you’re going for speed here, definitely get the jarred.  Add those to the bowl with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and toss everything together.  I don’t add salt, but I do add pepper.  I find the dressing has enough salt for me, but you can add it if you’d like.Roasted PeppersTo serve, I put the chicken on a plate and top with the salad.  You can sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top if you prefer, and dig in!Romaine and Roasted Peppers

A Winter Salad with Figs and a Port Wine Reduction

Figs are one of my favorite fruits.  They are so juicy and delicate, with a firm skin and soft, sweet interior.  If you haven’t had a fresh fig, when they are available in your grocery store, definitely give it a try.  They are more than just the filling of the Fig Newtons…trust me.  I absolutely love them, but here in the northeast, their season is short.  Whenever possible, I love to incorporate dried figs into recipes.  They certainly aren’t quite the same as a juicy, fresh fig, but they are a close second.  And here is one of the ways I like to cook them, reconstituting them in a port wine reduction which becomes a sweet, tangy salad dressing.

Cut FigsFor this recipe, you want to make the dressing early, so it has time to cool off.  Take 7 oz of dried mission figs and quarter them.  You may also need to cut off a small, hard stem that is often times attached.  If you feel a hard piece at the small end of the figs, just cut that off before quartering.  Add the quartered figs to a small saucepan with 2/3 cup of port wine, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Mix everything together, and cook over a high heat until it comes to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until the figs become plump and the sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat, and, when cooled a bit, stir in 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

The DressingThat’s really it for the dressing…and the salad for that matter.  I like to toast half a cup of walnuts or pecans and toss it all with arugula.  The peppery arugula works well with the sweet dressing.  And if you like your dressing more tangy, add a bit more balsamic.  Just adjust to make it your own.  You could also add some cheese to this salad, maybe a salty ricotta salata or some crumbled Gorgonzola.  You could even add some roasted chicken and make a meal out of it.  Great, now I’m making myself hungry!

Now if only we could fast forward to the spring or summer and get fresh arugula from the garden, that would make the salad even better!  But with a foot of snow on the ground, that seems pretty far off!