Posts Tagged ‘summer salads’

Cooking for one is tough, but cooking for one while you are on a student budget is even more challenging. To make sure my daughter is eating a healthy diet while she is away at college, I’ll occasionally ask her what she’s cooking for dinner. Last week she told me she made a pasta dish with Portobello mushrooms. Thick and “meaty” Portobello mushrooms are good nutritious alternatives to eating meat and they cost less, too. She’s a smart cook who likes good food, but can still eat healthily on a budget.

Portobello or Portabella mushrooms are one and the same and are merely large (4-6 inches) brown crimini mushrooms. According to the Self Nutrition Data site, a Portobello mushroom ” . . . is low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Zinc and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium.”

When purchasing Portobello mushrooms, look for ones that are firm and without spots or discoloration. Avoid mushrooms that are broken, shriveled, or have a wet and slippery feeling. Whole mushrooms will remain fresh for 5-7 days if stored properly. Sliced mushrooms have a shorter shelf life. To prevent loss of flavor, avoid washing Portobello mushrooms in water before cooking them. Wiping them gently with a damp cloth or brushing them lightly with a cooking brush will remove any sand or debris.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Salad
Adapted from a Gourmet Magazine recipe

Salad Ingredients:
4 large portobello mushrooms
6 oz. mixed salad greens

Sherry Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/3 C medium-dry sherry
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced shallot
1 T sugar
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C vegetable oil
3 T finely chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, basil, thyme, sage and chives

1. In a very small pot, boil sherry until reduced by about half. Let cool.
2. In a bowl whisk together sherry reduction, balsamic vinegar, garlic, shalllot, sugar, salt and pepper.
3. Add oils in a stream, whisking until emulsified.
4. Whisk in herbs.
5. Reserve 1/4 cup vinaigrette for dressing salad greens.
6. Transfer remaining vinaigrette to a large sealable plastic bag.
7. Remove and discard stems from mushrooms. Add mushrooms to bag; remove air and seal bag.
8. Marinate mushrooms in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to 2 hours while occasionally turning the bag to redistribute marinade.
9. Remove mushrooms from bag, letting the excess vinaigrette drip off.
10. Grill on hot grill for about 5 minutes on each side or until done. Let set for a few minutes and then slice.
11. In a bowl toss salad greens with reserved vinaigrette and add salt and pepper to taste. Divide among 4 plates or or place in shallow serving bowl.
12. Transfer sliced mushrooms to plates or place slices on top of greens in the shallow serving bowl.

Serves 4.

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How fortunate it is that tomatoes and basil both thrive in summer heat. When it’s too hot to cook, salads make frequent appearances on the dinner menu in my house and with the bounty of tomatoes and basil outside in the garden, who could resist not finding as many ways as possible to use these two summer favorites? It only gets better – here’s a recipe that combines tomatoes and basil with the healthy goodness of quinoa. In an earlier post Quinoa and Shrimp Salad, I explained why quinoa is a nutritional gem; these tiny seeds contain a balanced set of essential amino acids, making them complete proteins, and are a great gluten-free source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and iron.

Quinoa Salad With Tomatoes and Basil
Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Venokur-Clark

Salad Ingredients:
1 C quinoa
1/2 red onion, diced
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/3 C sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), diced
1/2 C fresh basil, chopped
1/4 C pine nuts, toasted

Dressing Ingredients:
4 garlic cloves
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
3 T white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1. Measure quinoa into a sieve and rinse with cold water. Drain. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add quinoa. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Set aside and let cool.

2. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, except for the olive oil. Pour oil in a small stream into the the bowl of dressing ingredients, whisking the whole time to form an emulsion. Set aside.

3. Toast the pine nuts in a pan until lightly browned and fragrant. While toasting, keep an eye on them and stir them occasionally so that they don’t burn. Let cool.

4. To the cooked and cooled quinoa, add diced onion, diced tomatoes, diced sun-dried tomatoes, and diced basil. Toss gently.

5. Whisk salad dressing again and pour over salad ingredients. Toss again.

6. Serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

Serves 4-6.

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Creamy potato salad is standard food fare for outdoor summer gatherings, but after consuming it, possibly the only thing gathering in your body is cholesterol. Here’s a potato salad recipe that is low in cholesterol and is easy to make. Plus, it uses sweet potatoes, which are packed with vitamins A and C, and contain almost twice as much dietary fiber than their more common counterparts – white potatoes. Utilizing the clean flavor of grapeseed oil and the fresh flavor of oranges, this sweet potato salad is bright in flavor and light in cholesterol. You won’t miss the mayonnaise, sour cream, and eggs!

Sweet Potato Salad
A Martha Stewart Recipe

* 4 medium sweet potatoes (3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces (8 cups)
* 3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
* 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
* 1 scallion, trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1/4 cup safflower or grapeseed oil
* 1/2 scallion (dark-green part only), thinly sliced diagonally for garnish

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes, and return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
2. Whisk vinegar, orange zest and juice, 1 scallion, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with pepper. Toss dressing with sweet potatoes in a large bowl, and garnish with remaining 1/2 scallion. Refrigerate until chilled, up to 1 day.

Serves 4.

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Crisp and colorful are words that easily describe this salad. Two bright colors of cabbage are combined with vibrant greens of pea pods and green onions and then topped off with the textures of Shitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, and toasted almonds. Drizzle and toss with an Asian vinaigrette and you have the perfect Asian summer salad! This is my adaptation of a recipe I received from a sister-in-law more than a decade ago. Enjoy!

Asian Coleslaw

Ingredients for Salad:
4 cups green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1 cup red cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1 cup fresh Shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup snow pea pods, sliced thinly on diagonal
1- 8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Ingredients for Asian Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2-3 teaspoons sesame oil
2-3 teaspoons minced ginger root
pinch of salt

1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients into a glass jar and set aside to allow flavors to meld.

2. Cut cabbages into quarters and slice off core. Thinly slice each quarter into very thin ribbons. Measure and put into large bowl. Note: You will have more cabbage than you will need. Reserve it for another dish or make a double batch.

3. Slice the stems off the Shitake mushrooms and discard them. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices and add to bowl. Note: if you cannot find fresh Shitake mushrooms, you can rehydrate dried Shitake mushrooms instead.

4. Slice the snow pea pods into diagonal strips and add to bowl.

5. Drain can of water chestnuts and add to bowl. Note: Even though I buy sliced water chestnuts, I sometimes slice these into strips to keep all ingredients uniform in appearance. Whether I do this or not is usually dependent on how much time I have!

6. Slice green onions and add to bowl.

7. To bring out their flavor, toast sliced almonds by spreading them out in a baking pan and toasting them at 350 degrees for about five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Cool completely before adding to salad. Note: If you don’t like almonds, you can always sprinkle the salad with toasted sesame seeds.

8. Toss salad components together. Shake jar of vinaigrette and pour a small amount on top of salad ingredients. Toss. Add more vinaigrette if necessary. Note: You will likely have leftover vinaigrette.

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