Tomato and Avocado Stack

A little taste of summer that I haven’t yet posted. This was one of my favorite dishes of the year! I ripped this recipe from a 2008 Cooking Light magazine and have stored it for ten years before trying it. That’s why, of course, I never through a huge stack of ripped magazines away, despite my inner turmoil about it.

Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Stack:

  • 1/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 T. reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 T. reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 t. grated lime rind
  • 1/4 t. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. ground cumin
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup very thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 1 cup diced peeled avocado (about 1 small)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

To prepare dressing, combine first 9 ingredients in a small food processor or blender; process 30 seconds or until pureed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Cover and chill.

To prepare salad, slice each tomato crosswise into 4 equal slices (about 1/2 inch thick). Place 1 tomato slice on each of 4 salad plates; sprinkle slices evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top each serving with a few onion pieces and about 1 tablespoon avocado. Repeat layers 3 times, ending with avocado. Drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over each serving; sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.


Candied Bacon Salad with Goat Cheese & Figs

I have such a backlog of recipes I’d like to post, so I’m plunging in today, but who knows when I’ll finish! I’m starting with a new summer favorite: this recipe is a wonderful riff on a Jamie Oliver salad from his book, Jamie’s America.  I still feel like this book is a new acquisition every time I open it, and I’m inspired every time, although I think I’ve owned it for at least six years now. At any rate, there’s plenty for me to still experiment with there.

As for the original recipe, I switched out the clementine slices and pomegranate seeds, which is what Oliver originally calls for, because I was so happy to find fresh figs at the market. So, here’s a little bit of a riff; I added the cheese to compliment the figs and also to lighten the appearance of the salad (which doesn’t have the prettiest appearance anyway, but the flavor is enough to make up for that).

I think we’ve made this salad three times this summer, and I hope to get another time or two in, but the figs may have already disappeared. I’ll have to switch to pomegranates next.

Candied Bacon Salad with Goat Cheese & Figs

For the dressing
6 T good-quality extra virgin olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
1 heaped t mustard
1 heaped T natural yoghurt
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
10 to 12 slices of smoked streaky bacon
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 slices of fresh white bread
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped t sugar
10 fresh figs
2-4 oz. goat cheese
5 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
A small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked

To make your dressing, put all the ingredients into a large serving bowl, whisk together, and season to taste. Put to one side.

Get a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the bacon slices and cook until lightly golden (but not really crispy), turning them every so often. Remove the bacon to a plate. Squash your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then turn the heat up a little and tear your bread into medium-sized chunks. Drop them into the pan so they suck up all the grease and become crispy. If your bacon didn’t release a lot of fat and you think the bread needs a little help to crisp up, simply add a lug or two of olive oil. Add a pinch of black pepper and shake the bread around until crispy and golden, then remove to the plate with your bacon.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper, then put the bacon back in with the sugar or honey and the juice of 1 clementine (or a squirt of lemon juice). Stir everything around in the pan so the syrup starts to stick to the bacon. As soon as the bacon is perfectly caramelized and sticky, use tongs to carefully move them to an oiled plate and leave to cool down for a minute. This process is quite quick so keep your eye on it, so it doesn’t burn.

Whatever shape you leave the bacon in at this point is how it will set, so give the rashers a bend or a twist.

Slice your figs and crumble the goat cheese, if needed.

Grab your bowl of dressing and add your salad leaves. Add the figs, and mint leaves, then use your hands to toss and dress everything thoroughly. Lightly toss your croutons through the salad and lay your candied bacon on top. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the whole salad.

A New Spring Salad Dressing

Turkey Celery Wide

I did something this year I’ve been wanting to do for a quite a few years. Back in March, on a particularly warm day, we prepped our garden boxes and then filled them with all sorts of cool weather seeds: lettuce, arugula, beets, radishes, spinach, onions, fennel, garlic, and peas. Every day, I’ve been watching and waiting to see if I’ve finally become a good enough gardener to get these little seeds to grow. Well, they came up, and they are beautiful. We have buttercrunch lettuce and arugula that just keeps coming and coming, so we’ve been eating salad after salad. This is a new favorite dressing for these salads that I got from the terrific cookbook called The Food Lab. It’s simply delicious, and makes a it easy to throw anything and still have great flavor, but one of my favorites has been arugula, lettuce, celery, turkey, and sunflower seeds or cooked wheatberries. 

Balsamic-Soy Vinaigrette

1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. olive oil
a small shallot, minced or grated on a microplane
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
4 t. dijon mustard
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 t. salt for me, and a few shakes of pepper)

Combine all ingredients together in a glass jar, shake well to emulsify, and then resupply yourself in three days, since you will want it every lunch and dinner! It will keep for up to three months in your fridge, if you find yourself not wanting it quite as often as I do.

Cilantro-Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

Pineapple Jicama

Salsa in the front right, photo by Melissa Gallup

I love this quick, fruity, and bright salsa. I’ve had it with chips, beans, and shrimp tacos. Great every time! Definitely try it with the Chili-rubbed Shrimp Tacos! This recipe is from McMillan’s Taco Night.

Cilantro-Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

  • 1/3 c. finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 peeled pineapple, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3 cups)
  • 1 cup jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño—stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine the red onion, lime juice, pineapple, jicama, cilantro, and jalapeño to the bowl and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Let the salsa stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve right away or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Honeyed Parsnip Salad

Honeyed Parsnip Salad.jpg

After reading through several recipes for a Christmas Eve salad, I came up with this conglomerate, that I loved! The elements blended so well for a perfect winter salad. We’ve been repeating it every week since Christmas, too.

Honeyed Parsnip Salad

4 parsnips, peeled and diced small
3 semi-tart apples, cored, and chopped into bite-size pieces
4 c. baby arugula
4 c. baby spinach
1 c. roasted hazelnuts, chopped
2-4 T. honey
white balsamic vinegar (about 2 T.)
olive oil (about 1/4 c.)
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the parsnips with oil and salt and pepper and place on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, roast the parsnips until browned on the edges (about 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile, chop the apples, and rinse and dry the arugula and spinach. Place the greens in a serving bowl, then add the apples to the top. Salt and pepper the salad, then dress by splashing with the vinegar and oil.

When the parsnips are fully roasted, remove from the baking sheet to a small bowl and toss with honey. Let cool for a minute, and then scatter the parsnips on top of the apples. Lastly, add the hazelnuts and serve immediately.

Winter Chopped Salad

Winter Chopped Salad

I always feel like salads in the winter should be different than salads in the summer. Something seems incongruous to me if we’re having tomatoes and cucumbers with lettuce in the heart of winter, and though I love Martha’s baked goat cheese salad, as well as my favorite roasted pear salad, I’ve needed to expand my winter salad vocabulary this year. I found this recipe in Sustainably Delicious with a claim that it was one of Paul Newman’s favorite. Well, that’s enough to convince me to give it a whirl. Their salad, though, was decidedly a warm-weather creation, so I changed it to feel more seasonal, but like all the salads, any number of vegetables could be used to change its personality.

Winter Chopped Salad

  • 1/4 c. white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. honey
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium stalks celery, diced (1/4-inch)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced (1/4-inch)
  • 2 medium tart apples, peeled and diced (1/4-inch)
  • 2 large golden beets, roasted, peeled, and diced 1/4″
  • 4 c. baby arugula
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 c. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 c. toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  1. Whisk vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a large salad bowl until well combined.
  2. Add celery and carrots to the vinaigrette. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour (or longer, if you want a stronger pickled flavor. I did!)
  3. Add apple, beets, arugula and watercress to the bowl; toss to coat. Add almonds and toss to combine.


Watermelon Sparklers

Watermelon Sprinklers2
There’s of course so many riffs on the American flag when it comes to cakes, cookies, pies, and jello, but I felt like our 4th of July celebration needed something not so sweet. This was my favorite pinterest idea. So pretty, so festive, and one more good thing to eat. Happy Fourth! Don’t worry, there will be plenty of pies and ice cream cake to eat as well.

Balsamic Bread Salad

Tomato Bread Salad
This salad started as a riff on a date salad from the great cookbook Jerusalem, but has become a nightly addition to the dinner table for the last two weeks. My husband and I surprised ourselves by eating an entire large bowl full the first night I made it, and he told me at the end of the meal, “why don’t we just have this for dinner every night?” So, we kind-of have, at least for now. It’s simple and versatile and comes together in a matter of minutes–just how I want a green salad to be.

Balsamic Bread Salad

1 head of lettuce, either Romaine or buttercrunch work nicely
12 or so cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
about 1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese (feta works nicely)
2-3 slices of day-old country bread, or broken pitas, or whatever other bread you have
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (optional)
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
a handful of nuts (pine nuts or sliced almonds)
a handful of shredded basil leaves would be delicious, too

Wash and tear your lettuce to the size you like (I tear small because I think it’s more enjoyable to eat it that way). Place in a medium-sized bowl, adding the cherry tomatoes, and then salt and pepper it all reasonably. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high, then add the butter and oil until melted. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, then add the bread and nuts, if using, and cook, stirring continually, until browned to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Once the bread and nuts have cooled, add to the salad. Splash with balsamic vinegar and some more salt and pepper. Serve immediately, before the bread gets soggy, adding a little more oil, if desired.

Mango & Avocado Kale Salad

This salad was a serendipitous exercise in throwing everything I had in the my refrigerator produce bin together (it doesn’t always go well, but happily, it did this time!). This post is more of a shorthand note of what I remember doing, although I’m sure I have forgotten something, so if this recipe looks good to you, think of it more of a springboard to your own interesting salad variation! 

Mango & Avocado Kale Salad

2 mangoes, diced into 1/4″ chunks
2 avocados, diced into 1/4″ chunks
3-4 scallions, white and light green parts sliced
1 bunch of kale, cut into bite-size pieces
2 handfuls of roasted, salted pepita seeds

1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2/3 c. olive oil
1 t. dijon mustard
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. prepared pesto

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, sprinkling the pepita seeds on top. In a dressing jar, mix the dressing ingredients together until emulsified, and serve with the kale salad.

Sweet Watermelon and Mint Salad

I wanted to add a little more interest to a bowl of balled watermelon this weekend, so I came up with this recipe, and my brother-in-law asked me to make sure to write it down, so here it is! The juice from the salad was also great, if there are any takers. This is a simple but nice way to add a twist to all the great watermelon this summer.

Sweet Watermelon and Mint Salad

1/2 large watermelon
3 grapefruit (optional)
1/3 c. sugar (can increase or decrease depending on the ripeness and sweetness of the watermelon)
4-5 sprigs fresh mint, stems removed and leaves chopped
zest of one lemon (optional)

1. Cube (or cut) the watermelon into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl.

2. With a paring knife, cut the navel and the opposite end of the grapefruit off (so the grapefruit can sit on a flat surface), and then working around the grapefruit, remove the peel and the pith with the knife.

3. Working over the watermelon so the juices  fall into the bowl, section the grapefruit with the paring knife in between the grapefruit skins, so only the flesh falls into the bowl. Continue with the other two grapefruits, then toss the watermelon and grapefruit together. Refrigerate, if not serving immediately.