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Posts Tagged ‘salads’

Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Seed Dressing Hot summer days evolve into lovely summer evenings. The sun mellows in the sky and temperatures drop to a comfortable warm. It’s the perfect time of day to dine al fresco and to entertain company. Keep the evening enjoyable and effortless, by preparing a simple menu that can be made ahead. Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Seed Dressing is just such a recipe. It’s easy to prepare and it can be made earlier in the day. Plus, it’s delicious, visually appealing, and a great accompaniment to grilled meats.

Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Seed Dressing
The Loaves and Fishes Party Cookbook by Anna Pump and Sybille Pump

INGREDIENTS
4 pounds sugar snap or snow peas
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sesame seed oil
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons coarse salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Blanch the peas in a large quantity of boiling water just until they turn bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and plunge the peas into very cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain again. Transfer the peas to a mixing bowl.

2. Place the sesame seeds in a large skillet over medium heat. Tossing lightly, toast until golden brown, and add to the sugar snap peas.

3. In the same skillet, heat the sesame oil until smoking hot. Remove from heat and add the red pepper flakes. Let stand for 5 minutes.

4. Pour the oil over the peas, add the salt, and toss to blend.

5. Transfer the peas to a deep bowl or platter and serve hot.

Serves 16

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I purchase jars of pre-toasted sesame seeds at Asian markets and store them in my freezer. No need to defrost them. Just add them directly from the jar to whatever you are making. If you are toasting your own, keep an eye on them while they are in the skillet. Because they contain oil and because they are small, they can burn quickly.

2. Sesame seed oil is a thick and heavy oil. A little bit goes a long way. That being said, I felt the recipe called for too much of it. The next time I make this recipe, I will start with half the amount.

3. Stir the red pepper flakes into the hot oil and keep stirring. Some of my pepper flakes burned as they sat in the hot oil. Stirring them might have helped prevent burning.

4. Although the recipe says to serve this hot, it also says that it can be served cold. In my opinion, room temperature is best.

5. The recipe can be prepared without the red pepper flakes if you prefer, but I think the little added “kick” really makes the dish.

Enjoy!

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Sonoma Chicken Salad Too hot to cook? Make this classic chicken salad from Whole Foods Market, but keep cool by using store-bought rotisserie chickens instead of baking your own. The description of this salad in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook says it all: “The tender chicken breast, crunchy pecans, and the juicy bursting of sweet grapes with each bite are hard to top. Poppy seeds help orchestrate flavors and textures into one of the best chicken salads you will ever find.” I “Whole-heartedly” agree!

Sonoma Chicken Salad
The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

INGREDIENTS
The Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste.

The Salad:
2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS
To Prepare the Dressing:
1. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, and salt and pepper.
2. Reserve the dressing in the refrigerator.
3. This step may be done 2 days prior to preparing the salad.

To Prepare the Salad:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover the dish with foil, and bake the chicken breasts for 25 minutes, until cooked completely through.
3. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan, cool slightly at room temperature, and then completely chill, lightly covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
4. When the breasts are cold, dice them into bite-size pieces, and transfer the pieces to a large bowl.
5. Combine the chicken with the pecans, grapes, celery, and dressing.

Serves 6

LINNELL’S NOTES:
1. Toasting the pecans are a must to bring out their crunch and flavor. Avoid heating up the oven and the house just to toast small amount of nuts. I buy large bags of pecans, walnuts, and almonds at Costco and toast them in the oven all at the same time, each variety on its own tray. After they cool down, I put them in an air-tight containers and freeze them for future use.

2. I doubled the recipe and used the chicken breasts and thighs from two store-bought rotisserie chickens. Believe me, you’ll want to double the recipe, so that you don’t have to cook the next day. This salad makes tasty leftovers!

3. I served the salad on a bed of fresh lettuce greens, but according to the cookbook, it also “makes a great sandwich” and is “delicious when stuffed inside a melon half for brunch or dinner.”

ENJOY!

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Cavatappi withSpinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese

Part green salad and part pasta salad, but all parts delicious and fresh! Pair this Italian-influenced salad with rustic artisan bread for a quick and healthy meatless supper or throw it together for easy entertaining. With only nine simple ingredients, this salad is big on taste and big on convenience.

Cavatappi With Spinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese
The Best of Cooking Light

Ingredients:
8 cups coarsely chopped spinach
4 cups hot cooked cavatappi (about 6 ounces uncooked spiral-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Directions:
Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Cavatappi is also known as cellentani, spirali or tortiglione.
2. Maybe I packed too much chopped spinach into each cup while measuring it out, but this made much more than 4 servings.
3. I thinly shaved the Asiago instead of shredding it.
4. In a side note, the recipe states, “The warm cavatappi slightly wilts the spinach and softens the cheese during tossing.”

Enjoy!

Update (6/24/13): I made this salad again, but with some substitutions and additions.  I used cavatelli instead of cavatappi and replaced the regular olive oil with Meyer lemon infused olive oil. Cherry tomatoes, fresh off the vine, were sliced in half and added to the salad along with some toasted pine nuts. Very nice!

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Java-Style Cauliflower Salad Like an artist’s blank canvas, cauliflower’s subtle flavor provides the perfect background to let dynamic flavors shine. Cauliflower is rich in nutrients, low in calories, and high in fiber, so by adding the bright and zesty flavors of coconut, lime, cilantro, and cayenne pepper, you’ve got a winning combination. In addition, this cauliflower salad can be served hot or at room temperature which makes it a great make-ahead dish.

Java-Style Cauliflower Salad
Adapted from Living Low-Carb by Fran McCollough

Salad Ingredients:
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
Half a small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons shredded coconut

Dressing Ingredients:
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut cream

Directions:
1. Drop cauliflower florets into a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Boil just a few minutes, until barely tender. Drain and dry on a kitchen towel.
2. Dice the red pepper and set aside.
3. Wash and chop the cilantro and set aside.
4. Chop garlic and put in blender.
5. Add lime juice, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and coconut cream to blender. Pulse until well-blended.
6. Pour dressing over the hot cauliflower. Toss well and transfer to a serving bowl, scattering the red pepper, cilantro, and coconut on top.
7. Toss before serving.

Serves 4

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Make sure the cauliflower florets are well-drained and reasonably dry before adding the dressing. If they still contain a lot of moisture, the dressing will become diluted and runny.
2. I had to rework the dressing recipe. The original recipe called for 1 cup of freshly-grated coconut and 4 tsp lime juice. There was just not enough liquid to make a dressing. I added some coconut cream I had in my pantry to make the dressing “flow.” The grated coconut became a topping, rather than part of the dressing.
3. Because of time constraints, I substituted shredded coconut in a bag instead of grating fresh coconut. Also, toasting the coconut first can bring out its flavor and give it more “crunch.” I will do this the next time I make this salad.
4. Adjust the seasonings to taste – more or less lime juice, sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt.
5. The cookbook author says, “Don’t be tempted to skip the tiny amount of brown sugar; it’s a secret ingredient that pulls everything together.”
6. The addition of coconut cream does not significantly raise the amount of carbohydrates in the recipe. The coconut cream has only 3 grams of carbohydrate per 1/3 cup.

Enjoy!

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coco's Special Cheese Dressing Feeling very proud of the heads of lettuce growing in two small planters in my backyard, I announced to my husband that we were having a very fresh salad for dinner. With lettuce that fresh, I wanted to serve it with a good homemade salad dressing instead of a bottled dressing. Coincidentally, earlier in the day, while flipping through the pages of a book, I found a newspaper clipping containing a recipe for a requested salad dressing from the Coco’s restaurant chain. Finding the recipe and having all the ingredients on hand, I felt destined to make it. Sometimes the moon and the stars align and everything works out perfectly!

Coco’s Special Cheese Dressing
Recipe from Kathy Shepard

Ingredients:
1/4 to 3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
4½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Combine milk, mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk. Whisk until blended.
2. Place vinegar in cup and stir in garlic salt and pepper.
3. Add to mayonnaise mixture and blend in cheese.
4. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups

Linnell’s Notes:
To keep this salad dressing on the healthier side, I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream.

Enjoy!

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whitebean, shrimp, and arugula salad

In my best “Fretalian,” my own blend of French and Italian, I asked my waiter “Scuzi, qu’est-ce que c’est?” as I pointed to the menu. He obviously did not understand “Fretalian,” because he looked at me questioningly. While traveling through Italy, I noticed an oft-appearing item on menus and I wanted to find out what it was. I tried again, this time in English. “What is rocket?” The young Italian waiter continued to give me a puzzling look, so I tried gesturing. I pointed to the menu and then shrugged my shoulders with my palms facing up to the ceiling. “Ah,” he said and motioned for me to wait and then ran off to the kitchen. A minute later he came out with a green leaf in his hand. I looked at the leaf and smiled as I nodded my head in recognition. “Rocket,” the mysterious menu item, was none other than arugula. “Grazie,” I said to him as I placed my dinner order. This little story came to my mind, while I was preparing this low fat and impressively nutritious salad. The arugula or “rocket” adds a nice peppery punch to the salad and it texturally balances the other ingredients.

White Bean, Shrimp, and Arugula Salad
From the Essential Low Fat Cookbook by Antony Worrall Thompson

1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans, drained
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 mild long red chili, seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, mashed to a paste with a little sea salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 stick celery, thinly sliced
6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
16 cooked jumbo shrimp, peeled
2 handfuls of arugula leaves

Directions:
1. Heat beans with a little salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and then tip into a bowl.

2. While they are still warm, combine beans with olive oil, lemon juice and zest, honey, pepper, and chili.

3. Allow to cool and then combine with remaining ingredients.

Serves 4

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Instead of using a mild long red chili, I chopped up half a red jalapeno to give the recipe a little kick.

2. Not being a big fan of raw onions, I used less than half of a red onion and found this amount to be perfect for my taste.

3. I used large shrimp that came de-veined.  I cooked them in water and Old Bay seasoning, drained them, and then peeled off their shells. Do not overcook the shrimp or else they will be dry and tough.

4. You might have noticed in the photograph, that there are no mushrooms. I had a mental “blip” and totally forgot to add them. It’s too bad because the mushrooms would have been delicious in this salad, not to mention the added nutrients they would have supplied!

Enjoy!

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Fall Fruit Salad

“Healthy” and “holiday” are words rarely used together, especially when describing food. Trying to plan healthy meals during the holidays can be quite a struggle, right? Well, not necessarily. This past Thanksgiving, I served my family a visually appealing, texturally satisfying, and heart-healthy salad. Not only did this salad splendidly highlight fall fruit, such as persimmons, Asian pears, pomegranates, and ruby grapefruit, it was served with a delicate, FAT-FREE, slightly sweet and slightly tart salad dressing! This salad has it all: gorgeous to look at, easy to prepare, and a delight to eat!

Fall Fruit Salad
Recipe from November 1995 issue of Sunset Magazine

Ingredients:
1 to 2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons (1/2 lb. each)
2 ruby grapefruit (1 lb. each)
1 Asian pear (about 3/4 lb.)
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 to 3 cups frisée, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup pomegranate seed
Salt

Directions:
1. In a 6- to 8-inch frying pan over medium heat, frequently stir pine nuts until pale gold, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour from pan.

2. Rinse persimmons, then trim off and discard leaf tops. Slice persimmons crosswise into thin rounds.

3. With a knife, cut peel and white membrane from grapefruit. Holding fruit over a bowl, cut between segments and inner membrane to release fruit into bowl. Also squeeze juice from membrane into bowl, then discard membrane.

4. Rinse pear and discard stem. Cut fruit crosswise into thin rounds, right through center seeds. Coat pear slices with grapefruit juice.

5. Mix 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice (reserve remainder for other uses) with lime juice, rice vinegar, and honey.

6. Line a salad bowl or individual plates with the frisée. Arrange pieces of persimmon, pear, grapefruit on the greens; sprinkle fruit with pomegranate seed and pine nuts, then moisten with the grapefruit-lime dressing. Add salt to taste.

Serves 6

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Fuyu persimmons are the round, squat persimmons that can be eaten while they are firm, unlike the elongated and pointed Hachiya persimmons, which must be eaten only after the fruit has ripened to a soft and somewhat squishy state.

2. Besides a light sprinkling of salt, I also sprinkled some fresh ground pepper on each plated salad.

3. Keep an eye on the pine nuts while toasting them. They contain a high level of oil, so they will burn quickly!

4. My family is not a big fan of frisée, so I substituted fresh green curly-leafed lettuce.

5. It is easier to peel the grapefruit, if you first cut off the top and the bottom peel. This will give you a flat surface when you stand the grapefruit on the cutting board.

ENJOY!

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