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shaved fennel, white bean + tuna salad

17 Jan

shaved fennel & tuna2

The chef at the restaurant where I work makes this salad sometimes.  It’s filling and delicious and easy to make.

I love it so I’ve done my best to recreate it to share with you fine people.

And eat it.  I also made it so I can eat it.

Makes 6 side servings

shaved fennel & tuna

ingredients

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 500 ml can white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 generous handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c tuna packed in olive oil (2 small cans)*
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

*Because the salad is so simple, the tuna makes a big difference so use the best quality tuna packed in olive oil that you can find.

preparation

Cut the fennel bulb in half and use a mandolin to slice it as thinly as possible.

In a large bowl combine shaved fennel, white beans, parsley, tuna (not drained), white wine vinegar, olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Mix together with a fork until tuna is broken up into evenly distributed small pieces and everything is coated with vinegar and olive oil.

For best results let the salad sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to let the flavours meld and let the fennel soften slightly.

The salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

shaved fennel & tuna1

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grilled corn salsa + chicken salad

13 Jun

Just a nice simple summer salad… Goes well with some beer and some being outside.

Makes 4 servings

grilled corn salsa + chicken salad

ingredients

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 ears of corn (in husks)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalepeno, seeds removed and flesh finely diced
  • 6 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and flesh diced
  • 3 small or 2 large avocados, diced
  • 4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

preparation

Combine diced red onion, jalepeno, tomatoes, avocado, green onion, cilantro and garlic in a large bowl with juice of half a lime and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Mix together and set aside.

Heat grill to medium high.

Place corn, in husks, on the grill and cook until husks are charred and corn is tender –  about 12 minutes.  Peel back the husks to let the corn cool.  Once they’re not too hot to handle, cut the kernels off the cob and mix into the salsa.

Meanwhile, squeeze juice from remaining half of the lime over chicken breasts along with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Rub seasonings into both sides of breasts.

Place chicken on the grill and cook – about 5 minutes on each side… maybe more maybe less, it depends how busty your chicken is.

Slice the chicken, lay it on top of a heap of grilled corn salsa and serve with some sliced baguette or fresh corn tortillas.

root vegetable salad

20 May

Apparantly there are a whole bunch of really colourful root vegetables that I didn’t know about… I thought the little purple fingerling potatoes I bought were just purple on the outside and would be normal potato colour inside.  Wrong!  They’re purple the whole way through!

I don’t know what kind of crazy wizard did this to vegetables but I like it.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the potatoes are just potatoes, but the candy cane beets and yellow beets taste much sweeter than your average (but still lovely) red beet.

Makes 4 side servings

$2.10 per 2 servings

root vegetable salad

ingredients

  • 1 candy cane beet, peeled
  • 1 yellow beet, peeled
  • 2 handfuls of green beans, tipped and tailed
  • 8 fingerling potatoes, cut into coins
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp cider vinegar

preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut the peeled beets in half lengthwise.  Set the halves down on the flat side and cut them in half lengthwise again, cut them crosswise into thin slices.

Toss sliced beets and potatoes with salt, a generous amount of pepper, and enough olive oil to coat.

Place mixture in a shallow ovenproof dish and roast until vegetables are just tender (beets should stay a bit firm) – 25 to 30 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil and add green beans.  Boil for about 30 seconds then transfer to an ice bath or run under cold water to stop cooking.  They should be bright green and slightly tender but still crisp.

Whisk together mustard, cider vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Combine beets, potatoes and green beans in a large bowl with mustard vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

The beets and potatoes can be cooked on the barbeque in a roasting basket over medium-high heat if you don’t want to use the oven.

orzo salad

12 May

Just a quick and simple side dish.  You can cook the orzo as much as a day ahead of time, throw it together with the rest of the ingredients and have it ready in five minutes.

It goes well with just about anything… rich fish like salmon or trout, grilled sausages, portobello caps, chicken, and so forth.  Makes great leftovers too.  Miam!

Makes 4 servings

$2.45 per 2 servings

orzo salad

ingredients

  • 1 c orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heaping tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heaping tbsp capers
  • 1 c pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

preparation

Cook orzo and strain.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 20 seconds.  Add tomatoes, capers, basil, olives, salt and juice of half the lemon.  Cook until the skin begins to come off of the tomatoes – 2 minutes.  Add cooked orzo and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook until orzo is warmed through – 1 minute.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Garnish with the remaining lemon half, sliced, and basil leaves.

roasted almond + apple brussels sprouts

17 Apr

Brussels sprouts are my favourite vegetable.  I love asparagus and beets and broccoli and whatnot but I feel like brussels sprouts need my love more; they get so much undeserved scorn.

I blame the negative reaction many people have to these poor defenseless little baby cabbages improper preparation.  Too many people have had them steamed until they’re bitter mush or, even worse, boiled.

I’ve served this recipe to people who claimed unequivocally to hate brussels sprouts and they’ve enthusiastically finished every bite.  Roasted brussels sprouts get a wonderful nutty sweet flavour and with the addition of toasted almonds, crisp fresh apple and savory shallots they’re easy to love.

Stop the hate.

Serves 4 as appetizer or side dish.

$1.30 per 2 servings

roasted almond + apple brussels sprouts

ingredients

  • 4 c brussels sprouts, bottoms removed, halved lengthwise
  • 3/4 c slivered almonds, toasted
  • 4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tart red apple such as macintosh or empire

preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in the middle.

In an ovenproof pan or casserole, melt butter while oven is heating.  Toss brussels sprouts, almonds and shallots in butter along with salt and cider vinegar.

Arrange brussels sprouts in the pan so they rest cut side down in a single layer and roast 35 to 40 minutes or until outer leaves of sprouts are dark brown but not black.

Slice apple thinly.  Arrange three slices on a plate and top with roasted brussels sprout mixture.  Serve immediately.

Goes well as a side with crusted pork tenderloin.

sauteed mushroom salad

11 Apr

This salad is part rich and meaty, part light and fresh.  The mushrooms can be prepared a day ahead and warmed slightly in a pan before serving.

If you can find sunflower sprouts they’re perfect for this since they can stand up to the warm mushroom topping without wilting.  Pea sprouts or baby arugula would work just fine as well.

Goes well with french onion soup grilled cheese.

Makes 4 servings

$2.25 per 2 servings

sauteed mushroom salad

ingredients

  • 3 c (approx.) mixed mushrooms such as cremini, shiitake & portobello, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 c sunflower sprouts

preparation

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Once heated add shallot and garlic.  Cook until onion just begins to soften.  Add sliced mushrooms, sautee until soft and juices are released.

Add soy sauce, vinegar, mustard & thyme.  Cook until most but not all of the liquid has evaporated.

Serve warm over sunflower sprouts.

camembert grilled cheese + simple pear salad

4 Apr

There is a National Grilled Cheese month.  It is a real thing and guess when that month is.  It’s now!  April!

If you’re not reading this in April then you’re just going to have to wait.  Move along.  Find yourself something else to eat for lunch.  If it’s May, I’m sorry, you have a long year ahead of you.

In honour of this very special month I’m going to post a new grilled cheese recipe every week.  Maybe some other grilled cheese related items, I don’t know yet, stay tuned.

PS. Global Cheese in Kensington Market has140g wheels of camembert on sale right now, 2 for $5.

Enough chit chat, here’s this week’s grilled cheese:

Makes 2 servings

$4 per 2 servings

camembert grilled cheese + simple pear salad

ingredients

sandwich

  • 125g camembert (one small wheel)
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 5 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 4 slices rye bread

salad

  • 2 handfuls baby arugula
  • 1 bosc pear, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • pinch ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp olive oil

preparation

sandwich

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Pile the avocado, tomato, cheese and basil on the bread.

Fry the sandwich until golden on the bottom – about 2 minutes – and drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over the top of the sandwich before flipping and frying another 2 minutes.

salad

To make vinaigrette, whisk together honey, pepper, mustard, vinegar & oil.

Place pears on top of arugula and drizzle with salad dressing.

Serve alongside grilled cheese.

portobello cap salad

19 Mar

Credit for this goes to my dad who used to make this as an appetizer in the summer all the time.  I love it.  The portobello cap is rich and meaty, the chevre and tapenade are tangy and savoury, the greens are bitter and refreshing.

Don’t throw out the portobello stems, by the way.  Save them for the next morning, chop them up and sautee them; they’re one of the best things you can put in an omelette.

$9.50 for two servings.

Serves 4 as appetizer or lunch.

portobello cap salad

ingredients

  • 4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 3/4 c olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp kalamata olive tapenade
  • 100 g soft goat cheese
  • 6 c mesclun salad mix
  • 4 thick slices crusty french or italian bread
  • pinch coarse sea salt

preparation

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Place 1/2 c olive oil in a bowl and use to brush both sides of each portobello cap and both sides of bread slices.

Place portobello caps on grill, bottoms down.  Cover and cook until browned and beginning to shrink slightly (3-4 minutes).  Turn and repeat on the other side.

At the same time place oiled bread on grill and sprinkle one side with sea salt.  Cook each side until toasted golden brown (2-3 minutes).  If cooked before the portobellos are done, move to the edge of the grill to keep warm without burning.

Whisk remaining 1/4 c of olive oil with balsamic vinegar.  Put a large handful of mesclun mix on each plate and dress with balsmaic vinaigrette.  Place cooked portobello on top of salad, spread 1 tbsp kalamata olive tapenade on each mushroom and top with a slice of goat cheese.

Serve immediately.