Tag Archives: salad

Turmeric & Jalapeno Dressing (with charred corn and bell pepper salad)

My latest obsession is fresh turmeric.  I’ve read so many things about the health benefits of turmeric so when I saw some organic Peruvian turmeric at the corner market I HAD to grab some to experiment/play with!

Now that I’ve gotten over the initial trepidation of using a new spice, I’m incorporating it into all sorts of dishes, from rice to lentils to quinoa – and now even in my salad dressing(s)!

The following salad dressing requires, in my opinion, a hearty salad with some texture and crunch to balance out the heat of the jalapeño.  I really enjoy it with the following:

Charred Corn, Cabbage and Bell Pepper Salad (serves 2)

  • 2 cups green or red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup julienned (thin strips) carrot
  • 1 cup julienned bell pepper (red, orange and/or yellow)
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup red onion, shredded
  • Garnish options:  Roasted peanuts or cashews, feta cheese, fresh cilantro, cherry tomatoes, green onion

METHOD:  (this is just a suggestion.  You don’t need to char the vegetables to have a great salad!).

  • Cut/prepare vegetables.
  • Get a non-stick pan searing hot (it should be starting to smoke).
  • Add the corn in and do not stir or move it.  DO NOT ADD OIL OR BUTTER.  THE PAN SHOULD BE DRY OR THE VEGETABLES WILL COOK INSTEAD OF CHAR.
  • Once the corn starts ‘popping’ (literally, like popcorn), give the pan a shake.
  • When the corn starts to char/blacken, remove from pan and into a large mixing bowl.
  • Repeat process with red onions and then with bell peppers.  You only want to ‘flash’ them into the hot pan to give a nice char.  You’re not trying to cook them.  A few SECONDS in the pan is plenty.

Turmeric and Jalapeno Dressing (enough for 4 servings)

NOTE:  I use a microplane for grating ginger, garlic, turmeric and all citrus zest.  It is an essential kitchen tool, in my opinion.

 

  • 1 medium sized jalapeno, seeds removed (keep a few if you want the dressing really spicy!)
  • 1 4″ piece of turmeric, peeled and grated (or 3/4 tsp ground turmeric, but use the fresh stuff if you can!)
  • 1 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic (about 1 tsp), grated
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste

METHOD:  pulse all ingredients together in a food processor or hand-held blender and toss into salad.  Season salad with salt to taste.

 

NOTE:  If you have any dressing left over it’s wonderful thrown into quinoa, rice or lentils!!

 

 

 

Thai Vegetable & Rice Salad with Warm Peanut Sauce

thai vegetable salad

Last weekend I was going for a ‘girls night’ at my friends house and I wanted to make something  interesting, fun, simple and delicious to bring for dinner.

(My friend is a vegetarian so I didn’t include meat with this recipe but some strips of pork, steak or even chicken would be great with this dish.  Prawns would also be AWESOME).

This recipe turned out REALLY well.  We all agreed it was a keeper.  It’s inexpensive to make, full of amazing flavours and textures, incredibly nutritious and satisfying enough to eat for dinner without feeling hungry half an hour later.

NOTE:  Rice, peanut sauce AND eggs can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and simply reheated when you want to serve with salad!!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

Sauce

  • 1 red Thai chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • pinch salt

Salad

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 packed cups green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup scallions/green onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup beet, shredded
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced thin on bias
  • 1/2 cup carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, sliced (red, orange and/or yellow)
  • 1 cup english cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • OPTIONAL:  1/2 cup bean sprouts and/or 1 cup mango chunks for garnish!
  • GARNISH:  1/3 cup – 1/2 cup roasted peanuts

Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Thai chile
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

METHOD

Sauce

  • Using a blender/hand-held mixer, pulse all ingredients together until blended and smooth.
  • Transfer peanut sauce to a small pot/saucepan and add 1/4 cup water.
  • Heat over low heat, whisking often, until smooth and hot.
  • Keep warm over very low heat until you’re ready to serve the salad.

Eggs

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add eggs and cook for 8 minutes.
  • Run eggs under cold water (or put into an ice bath) until cooled, then peel and set aside.

Rice

  • Add coconut oil, garlic kaffir lime leaves and whole thai chile to pot and sauté on low heat until garlic is fragrant.  About 2 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk, water and salt and bring to boil stirring often to ensure you don’t burn the coconut milk.
  • Add rice, stir, cover with lid and reduce heat to very low.
  • Cook rice for 55 minutes (or whatever the cook time for the rice you’re using reads).
  • Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Remove lid and take out the lime leaves and thai chile.
  • Taste and adjust salt as desired.

Salad

  • Prepare all the vegetables and herbs as instructed above.
  • Mix together in bowl and season generously with salt.

ASSEMBLY

  • scoop warm rice into four bowls.
  • Add the salad into the bowls on top of the rice.
  • Drizzle each salad generously with warm peanut sauce.
  • 1/2 the eggs, season with salt and pepper and add an egg to each bowl.
  • Top salad with peanuts (and mango chunks if using).
  • Put extra peanut sauce into a small bowl so everyone can add extra sauce as desired.

veggie salad with peanut sauce

 

 

Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

watermelon salad

I’ve been making this incredible salad for years now.  I first saw an even simpler version of it in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Forever Summer.  Over the years I have played around with it and in this case I have added tomato and cucumber because I love both of those ingredients and am always pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the taste of watermelon and tomatoes TOGETHER.  The olives and feta add a wonderful saltiness, the herbs add freshness and the lime juice adds the perfect amount of tang.

This salad is delicious on its own for lunch, or if I don’t feel like anything too heavy for dinner (like most nights in the summer), I just pair this salad with juicy barbecued chicken, sausage or kabobs and I have dinner ready in under 15 minutes without having to turn on the stove!

I love the simplicity of summer cooking/eating.  The prep should be quick and fuss free and the food should be satisfying without making you feel too full to move.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making this salad is the freshness and ripeness of the ingredients.  Each ingredient should be wonderful on its own.  This salad is only as good as its parts.  If you have bland tomatoes, spongy watermelon and limp, seedy cucumber, the salad will be mediocre.  Ensure your ingredients are at their best and this salad will be amazing.  This is why I only make it in the spring/summer so I can get everything locally (preferably my back yard!).

INGREDIENTS (serves 2 large or 4 small)

  • 3 – 4 cups watermelon – large bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint – chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley – chopped
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp lime juice + 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/3 cup red onion – sliced very thin
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives (you can use kalamata as well, but I prefer black)
  • 3/4 cup cucumber – sliced or diced (whatever you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes – quartered
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Garnish:  1/4 cup or more crumbled feta and drizzled olive oil

METHOD

  • Combine all ingredients except feta cheese in a bowl and toss gently to combine.
  • Taste and add more lime juice, salt and/or pepper as desired.
  • Transfer to serving bowl and top with feta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy alone or paired with your favour meat or seafood!

Mexican Charred Corn and Black Bean Salad

charred corn and black bean salad with rice and feta

charred corn and black bean salad with rice and feta

This salad has become a favourite of mine.  I love it because it’s healthy, inexpensive and SO easy to make.  The best part though is it’s versatility.  You can serve this salad as a vegetarian/vegan dish or you can top it with anything from grilled chicken to fish or prawns.  I also like to add a few spoonfuls into eggs, soups and/or on a green salad for added flavour and texture.  Lastly, I’m HUGE fan of adding this salad into wraps with some shredded chicken or turkey and a little chipotle sauce and guacamole!  If I want to turn this into more of a ‘Caribbean’ dish  I’ll add some mango and Jerk chicken to the salad.

What elevates this dish from good to great is charring/blackening the corn.  It really brings out a unique and wonderful flavour.  I also like to either grill my red onion and bell peppers on the BBQ before dicing or ‘char’ them in a hot pan with the corn.  Again, it just intensifies the flavour.  These steps aren’t a necessity, but if you have the time and patience to do them, it really does bring this recipe to the ‘next level’.

SUGGESTION: If you want to serve this salad with avocado and/or feta cheese I strongly suggest just adding those ingredients on the top as a garnish.  If you mix them into the salad, the dish becomes creamy and milky and it’s not as nice to look at that way.  Also, if you want to keep this salad in the fridge for more than 1 to 2 days, just add the tomato ‘to order’.  Tomatoes (and cucumbers) don’t last well once they’re cut up so I always leave them out until I’m serving a dish if I’m not serving it the same day (:

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup corn, thawed and patted DRY with paper towel
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup mixed bell peppers (red, orange, yellow – or combo of all!), diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup green onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup tomato (cherry, roma, or vine tomato are all fine), diced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 2 – 3 tsp lime juice, + 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • OPTION: 2 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced (if you want a little heat) or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • OPTION:  1 cup cooked rice (brown, jasmine, white, wild or whatever you like!
  • GARNISH OPTION:  Top with feta cheese!

NOTE:  I often cook some brown rice with a little onion, garlic, cumin and kaffir lime leaf  and add it into the salad once it’s cooled just to add another flavour element into the dish.  I especially like adding the rice when I’m putting the salad mix into wraps and serving it ‘fajita style’.

METHOD

NOTE ABOUT CHARRING:  Charring is basically browning something deeply (almost burning/scorching) to bring out the flavour.  This is done quickly using high heat so you don’t cook the product.  You just get the desired colour and flavour.  When the corn is put in a smoking hot pan it will pop just like popcorn!  BE CAREFUL.  I hold a pan lid a few inches above the pan to avoid corn shooting out all over the place.  You DO NOT want to put a lid right on the pan or it will create steam.

  • Get a large pan hot to the point where it’s smoking.  You need the pan to be really hot.  DO NOT ADD OIL.  The pan should be DRY.
  • Once the pan is HOT, add the corn and diced red onion.  DO NOT overcrowd the pan.  Ensure the corn and onion are spread out pretty evenly on the bottom of the pan.
  • DO NOT stir, shake or move the corn and onion.  Let it sit for around a minute or two or until corn is browned on one side.
  • NOW you can give the corn a stir.  It should be dark brown on the spots that were touching the pans surface directly.  Allow other side of corn and onion to brown for another minute then remove from heat and put in bowl.
  • NOTE:  If you would like to char your diced bell peppers, you can repeat the exact same steps as above with the peppers  (the only reason I don’t throw them in with the corn is because there isn’t enough room in my pan!).
  • Mix all other ingredients together in bowl and adjust seasoning until desired flavour is reached.

Serve alone or top with avocado, feta cheese, chicken, fish or any combination of these!

 

 

 

 

 

Whole Wheat Couscous with Peas, Tomatoes, Almonds and Feta

whole wheat couscous with peas, tomatoes, almonds, herbs and feta

whole wheat couscous with peas, tomatoes, almonds, herbs and feta

I normally eat quinoa instead of couscous because it’s healthier, but I love couscous, so when I saw a whole wheat version at the grocery store, I was all over it!

I was having people over for dinner the other night and was serving salmon.  I wanted to ensure I was spending more time socializing than cooking once people were here, so this couscous side dish was a perfect choice.  The lemon and dill salmon paired perfectly with this dish (as would any fish or seafood). I was able to make it before the guests arrived and serve it tepid (room temperature) for a truly ‘no fuss’, super quick, healthy meal that was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat.

The measurements below are guidelines only!  Feel free to throw as much of any of these ingredients in as you like.  You really can’t go wrong as long as you season properly (:

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1 1/4 cup boiling chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas – thawed (or fresh cooked peas)
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup green onion – chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint – chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley – chopped
  • OPTION:  1/3 cup fresh basil – chopped (or 1/8 cup pesto)  – I used pesto for this dish
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (more if you want the couscous to be less dry)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (large dice.  Any tomato would do as long as it’s ripe and delicious.  I used red, orange and yellow cocktail vine tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tsp or so salt
  • pepper to taste

METHOD

  • Bring chicken stock to a boil on stove.
  • In large mixing bowl add couscous, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and half the parsley (and pesto if using!).  Stir all together.
  • Pour boiling chicken stock over couscous. Quickly cover the mixture with Saran/plastic wrap.  Ensure it is on tight so no steam gets out.  The steam is what will cook the couscous.
  • Let sit for 6 – 8 minutes.
  • Remove Saran wrap and add tomatoes, green onion and peas.  Season vegetables with a little salt and pepper and add the herbs, feta and almonds.
  • Adjust the seasoning and lemon juice as desired.  NOTE:  If you find the couscous a bit dry, feel free to add a little more olive oil.

Serve by itself or with chicken, fish or seafood for a delicious, healthy, simple entree. 

 

The Perfect Caesar Salad Dressing From Scratch

caesar salad

caesar salad

I have a lot of condiments I use often so I have to choose carefully when deciding what I want to take up space in the fridge door!  I once bought one of those huge bottles of caesar dressing from Costco and it lasted forever and annoyed me every time I needed extra room and didn’t have it because of that giant damn bottle.  After I finally finished it (it felt like years….) I vowed not to bother buying caesar dressing anymore.  (I’m not a huge fan of the bottled stuff anyway).

Make your own dressing for a truly delicious, next level caesar salad!  This dressing is awesome.  It’s so good you just want to keep licking it off the spoon; and it literally takes a few minutes to make.  It’s SOOOO worth the extra effort.  I promise.

caesar dressing mise en place

caesar dressing mise en place

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 anchovies
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk (make sure you’re not using any of the whites!)
  • 2 – 3 dashes of hot sauce (I used Frank’s but Tabasco or whatever you have would work)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Worchesterchire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling on top of the salad (obviously the higher quality the better)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  • In a mini food processor (I just used my mini hand processor) mix together all the ingredients except the oil, cheese and salt & pepper.  Buzz for a minute until everything is very smooth and combined.
  • THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART: You want to EMULSIFY the oil into the dressing.  If you don’t do this properly, the dressing will split and you’ll have an oily separated mess.
  • NOTE:  You’re supposed to sloooooowly drizzle in the oil while the processor is on high speed but I don’t have the kind of processor that allows me to do this.  The top is either on or off.  SO, I start with a tiny bit of oil and mix on high.  Once it’s mixed well, I add a tiny bit more oil and continue to repeat the process until all the oil has been used up.  If the mix ends up too thick, just add a teaspoon of water to thin it out.  The mix should come out creamy and smooth.
  • Now add your cheese, salt and pepper and mix one last time.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice, if desired.
caesar dressing in hand held blender

caesar dressing in hand held blender

IMPORTANT NOTE:  a trick I learned from working in restaurants is to always season your greens with salt and a little pepper BEFORE you add the dressing!  The greens should taste good without dressing.  The dressing is just to add more flavour and bring everything together,  not cover up the taste of whatever you’re putting it on!  If you season first, you should be able to use just a little bit of dressing and the salad will still taste great.  You never want to drown your greens in dressing.  This will lead to a heavy, soggy salad and that’s just gross.

  • Gently toss the romaine lettuce in the dressing, starting off with less than you think you’ll need (you can always add more).  Now finish with whatever you like on/in your salad (bacon bits, croutons, extra parmesan.  I add cucumbers because I love cucumbers.  There’s no rules other than to make a salad you love!)

 

 

Tuna Salad Sandwiches

I’m lucky.  My boys LOVE fish.  Breaded, sauteed, canned, you name it.  I have started making tuna salad and/or salmon salad sandwiches for my 6 year old for school and he loves them – and so do I.  I usually make this tuna salad on Sunday and have it in the fridge for the rest of the week.  It’s great for sandwiches and especially for little wraps.  When I don’t want to eat a lot of fat, I put 1/2 the mayo in this recipe and then just add more ‘to order’ for the boys (I don’t mind mine a little bit dry.  I’ll just add some tomato slices or avocado!)

We’re also a family of egg eaters so I make egg salad at the same time as most of the ingredients are the same!  Just don’t add the pickle or lemon to the egg.  Maybe add a little paprika, if that’s your thing (:

THERE!  Now I have egg salad and tuna/salmon salad for the week for quick breakfasts (on toast, English muffin, bagel, wrap…) and/or lunches!  My kids love them with slices of cheddar, provolone, havarti or whatever cheese you have in the fridge.

RECIPE

  • I can tuna (chunk or flaked in water)
  • 1/4 shallot (or white onion but shallot is better!)
  • Mayo to consistency (you can use lite mayo or even substitute some of it with fat free greek yogurt for a healthier version!)
  • 1T dijon mustard
  • 1/4 finely diced celery
  • 1 baby dill pickle – diced
  • 1 – 2 t fresh lemon juice plus a little lemon zest
  • OPTION:  green/spring onion (I throw green onion or chives into just about EVERYTHING when I have them on hand – and I almost always do!)
  • salt and pepper to taste