Tag Archives: salad

Apple & Cheddar Salad

There has been a lot of rain and gray skies this past week.  The upside: I’m welcoming the arrival of boots-and-sweater weather. The downside: It makes me want to hibernate.

More specifically, it makes me want to EAT ALL THE FOOD.  I have to keep telling myself that it’s not time for my once-a-year Fettuccine Alfredo indulgence. The idea of eating green vegetables is less than exciting, unless they are folded into a casserole of macaroni and cheese.  But vegetables must be eaten.  More exercise must take place, too, but let’s just focus on one thing for right now.


I committed myself to making a salad today for lunch. I’ve talked before about my special relationship with salads.  I’ve even admitted to being seduced by a salad.  Once again today I was struck by how the process of making a salad makes me feel.  Preparing lunch for myself is different than cooking dinner.  It’s leisurely.  There’s no concern about pleasing anyone else.  This is special Sarah time.  As I was mincing shallots and toasting sliced almonds, I felt like I was engaging in some sort of ritual to take care of myself.  You know in chick flicks when the woman recovers from heartbreak by lighting candles, pouring a glass of wine, and running a bath?  That’s oddly what this felt like.


The foundation of this salad was a mix of spring greens in my fridge that needed to be used, some apple, and good sharp Cheddar.  It didn’t need much beyond that.  I decided to throw some toasted almonds on there for some extra crunch (and fiber and protein).  When it came to the dressing, I whisked together a tiny bit of minced shallots, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar with some olive oil. Seasoned the greens with salt, tossed in the dressing, topped with the sliced apples, coarsely grated Cheddar, and almonds.


So, this is pretty much a standard fruit-nut-cheese salad formula.  You could change out the almonds for walnuts or pumpkin seeds, or the cheddar for blue cheese or Gruyere.  I used Ambrosia apples because that’s what I had on hand, but I think Pink Lady or Honeycrisp (my favorites) would work nicely, too.



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The Summer Preview Spinach Salad

Having high expectations is overrated.  At least in the kitchen.

Every so often, I’ll finally get around to trying a recipe that I’ve been looking at for months.  I make a special trip to the store, spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, and the final result is… meh.

And every so often, you don’t start thinking about dinner until 7pm, decide to throw together whatever is in the fridge, and end up with a dinner you are excited to repeat the following week.

I have a new favorite way of cooking chicken for everyday eating.  This method does not yield the prettiest or fanciest chicken, but I have tried it twice and ended up with moist chicken breasts to have on hand for quick meals during the week.  Even if you don’t think to make the chicken ahead of time, it’s hands-off enough that you can get a head start on tonight’s dinner while you’re cleaning up the kitchen from last night’s dinner. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who ever ends up in that situation.)

Easy Make-Ahead Chicken Breasts (from Dinner: A Love Story): Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts on a rimmed baking sheet and add 1/4 cup water to the pan. Tent with foil, and roast for 40 minutes.  Once cooked, let the chicken sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing it. *According to DALS, you can use this method with split bone-in chicken breasts as well. I have yet to try it, but it’s on my to-do list.

One night last week, I identified chicken and spinach as the starting point for a dinner salad, and then the rest came together pretty easily, based on what we had around. Cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, feta, and in a moment of inspiration, I remembered that we had a couple strips of bacon in the fridge.

I even added some Greek yogurt to my typical cider-Dijon salad dressing to give it just a little creaminess. I never measure ingredients for salad dressings, so these proportions are very loose. Just mess around with it until it works for you.

Creamy Cider Dijon Salad Dressing: In a small bowl, add the following: 1 part Dijon mustard, 3 parts apple cider vinegar, and just a tiny bit of maple syrup. Whisk until blended. Then add about 3 parts olive oil and 1 part plain Greek yogurt. Whisk together, and season with salt and pepper.


Oh right- are you wondering why I called this the Summer Preview Spinach Salad?  Because occasionally I would get a bite of a sweet cherry tomato with a crispy chunk of bacon, and I immediately felt like I was eating a BLT in late July.


And the longing for summer tomatoes begins.

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Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

When I was a kid, we never had the classic green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and crunchy onions on top for Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house.  No, we had its cousin- broccoli casserole, with cheese crackers crumbled on top.  I’m pretty sure it still involved cream of mushroom soup.

That broccoli casserole will always have a special place in my heart, but as a grown-up I look for the green portion of my Thanksgiving plate to be something that makes me feel less guilty about the carb party surrounding it.  As I am currently challenging myself to branch out and try different vegetables (i.e., chard and kale), this kale & Brussels sprouts salad seemed like it would be promising, especially since it has cheese.  You can always coax me to try something different if there is cheese involved.

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad (from Bon Appetit November 2011 via Epicurious)

makes 8-10 servings

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated (or pressed)

1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper

2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded and leaves thinly sliced (note: I just used what the store was selling as “green kale.”  It worked fine.  Also, the discarded stems make excellent treats for rabbits, if you have any siblings with bunnies.)

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and finely grated or shredded with a knife (or, this is a perfect excuse to pull out the mandoline!  I held onto the stem and sliced them cross-wise, starting at the top.)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (as in, separate 1 tbsp and reserve the rest)

1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and pinch of pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Toss thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes.  Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil into lemon juice mixture.  Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.  *All of these parts can be prepared 8 hours ahead.  Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill.  Cover almonds and leave at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese  to kale mixture; toss to coat.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Garnish with almonds. (Or if some members of your family have nut allergies and/or nut aversions, put nuts in a small bowl to accompany the salad around the dining table.  Obsessively watch to make sure they stay with the salad and remind people that they can sprinkle the almonds on the salad, if they would like to do so.)


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