Salad Nicose; Classic Summer Supper Salad

This dish is a family favorite in those steamy summer months of ripe tomatoes and hot days which lead to evenings that feel too warm for a big heavy meal. This salad is composed of several vegetables cooked until just barely done, bathed in a simple EVOL vinaigrette and topped with oil packed tuna. Fresh, satisfying and very healthy in that trendy Mediterranean way I keep reading about. This salad is my daughter’s favorite from her teen years; she is 30; I have been making it for decades! My mother loved it too. My guy enjoys it as well. I don’t make it except in summer as the fresh produce is critical to the flavor especially the tomatoes.

First, you start with fresh ripe summer tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, tender zucchini and high-quality small potatoes, preferably red organic ones and the oil packed tuna of your choice. Do not make it with water canned pallid tuna, a total waste of time in my opinion. You can lay it on a bed of romaine leaves or leave off the lettuce, great either way. I use fancy olives sometimes, but inexpensive small canned pitted ones work really well. Please do make the homemade vinaigrette; it is very simple and very effective in creating the perfect flavor of the salad. If you hate one of the ingredients; leave it out. I do want to mention that many recipes use wedges of hard boiled eggs but my version doesn’t usually have that. Feel free to add them in!

Before I add the tuna….

Angie’s Salad Nicose

Ingredients

2 lbs of small red potatoes

2 medium peppers; one red, one green, cut into vertical strips and halved across the middle.

1 medium zucchini sliced in 1/2 inch half rounds

1/2-2/3 lb fresh green beans, tips removed, if long cut in half

2/3 of a 14 oz can of small pitted olives, drained

1 large ripe tomato cut into chunks

2 cans oil packed tuna fillet

Vinaigrette
I used one of those good Seasons vinaigrette jars to mix my dressing in; I know….terribly old fashioned but they do work well!

Fill jar with red wine vinegar to the water line (second line from bottom) (abut 1/4 cup)

Fill rest of way to oil line with EVOL (I often do half EVOL and half mild olive oil) (bout 2/3 cup)

Then add the following:

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp. French Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp sea salt; rounded

ground black pepper to taste – cap it and mix it up well

Salad directions

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and boil on high until just tender. Whie, they cook chop the individual veggies. Steam each kind individually in a pot with 1/2-inch water until just tender (3-5 min) Taste one to be sure., do not overcook them! Carefully drain each cooked veggie and dump gently into a big bowl. On top of each other. Make the vinaigrette as you do the cooking so it can stand 5-10 minutes. When the potatoes are done drain them and set on your cutting board to cool; not touching each other. Peel them and slice thickly. If they are oval, I sometimes just cut into two thin halves, cutting along the long side. Put them in the bowl you will serve the salad in. When all hot potatoes are peeled pour 1/3 of the vinaigrette over them and carefully turn with a big spoon to coat well. They should still be quite warm when you do this step. The dressing soaks into the warm potatoes; doing it warm is very important to the flavor. Put the cooked and drained veggies in there on top. Add the tomato chunks, tuna and olives. add another third of dressing and gently turn the salad to mix well. Adjust the salt/pepper and dressing amount. Serve on a plate or shallow bowl on a bed of torn up crisp romaine leaves. Enjoy!

Lemony and Refreshing Quinoa Salad; Perfect on a Hot Summer Evening

I made some lemony quinoa salad the other day, the same one I posted a few years stuffed in tomatoes.  This time I went easy and just mixed in chunks of ripe homegrown tomatoes and it was very tasty as a side dish to a meal.  Kept well in my fridge for the 2 more days it took me to finish it. So easy to make too.  You could even make it the day before; just add the tomatoes before serving. So I am posting it here so you can try it; one caveat; only use local tomatoes.  Do NOT make this with those pale imitation supermarket tomatoes. It is not possible to create something tasty if you start with poor quality ingredients and those plastic flavored “tomatoes” just will not work in this salad.

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Lemony Quinoa Salad

Makes four servings.

Ingredients:

½ cup regular quinoa, (not red or black)

1 cup water

½ a veggie bullion cube

2/3-3/4 cup small dice burpless cucumber

½ cup small dice zucchini

1/3 cup small dice red onion

2 tbsp. fresh mint or parsley, diced finely

1 lemon

3 tbsp.  EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

2 large ripe tomatoes cut in chunks

Directions

Put the quinoa in the water.  If it doesn’t say rinsed, you should put it in a strainer and rinse it for a minute to get off any coating – which can be bitter.  Add the half bouillon cube, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before continuing.

Place the cooled quinoa in a mixing bowl.  Add in the finely chopped veggies and stir.  Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top; even fresh chives chopped pretty fine or julienned basil will work great.   Use a zester or a very fine grater and get as much zest off the lemon (wash the lemon first); you can zest right into the quinoa mixing bowl.  In a small mixing bowl put the juice of that same lemon, the EVOL and red wine vinegar.  If you have more than 3 tbsp of lemon juice add a bit more EVOL and whisk to combine; add in up to ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly grated black pepper.  Pour ¾ of it over the quinoa and veggies and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning and add the rest of the dressing if it is needed.  Chill at least 30 minutes. Add the chunked tomato and serve.

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This is a great side dish or, if you have a vegetarian visiting, it is a substantial main dish choice as quinoa has a lot of complete protein in it.

So simple but the combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar and EVOL makes a great salad dressing.  Do not cook the zucchini – if it is fresh and tender it is fantastic raw in a salad.  If you can’t get one of those European cucumbers use a small regular one and peel the skin off it before dicing. If the seeds are large do not use the center with the seeds.  Your salad will not be as pretty if there are sloppy cucumber seeds in it.

Quinoa salad will keep a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long! Try it with different fresh herbs: it just won’t taste the same without the fresh summer veggies.  I try to eat seasonally and this is definitely a summer treat!

Satisfying Winter Salad Choices

Winter is not known as the season for great salad but it could be! It has been so cold here in PA I am longing for summer fruits so these winter salads can fill that bill when you are meal planning.

I am giving you two salads for this post plus variations for each. Try your own blends but it is best not to throw everything in the fridge in it.  Try to be selective and highlight one or two ingredients.  Simple salads I like have only three – five ingredients and I use my homemade vinaigrette dressing.   They are pretty healthy and probably fairly low in calories yet high in nutritional value.  These are basic recipes which you can tweak depending on the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.

Here are two versions of my winter salad.  This is a repost from my blog three years ago. I eat these salads all winter long and think you should too. Recently I bought a few blood oranges and used them in lieu of a navel orange; totally different look but pretty much the same flavor; fun!  Another change is I use cubed papaya in lieu of the orange.  Love that one too.

Super Winter Salad (serves 1)

½ an avocado

1 celery stalk

3-4 leaves of green loose leaf lettuce

2-3 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds

Or try this yummy winter salad which shows off citrus flavor and color:

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Citrus Fennel Salad (serves 1)

1 inner stalk of celery cut in 1/3 inch rounds

1 navel orange

¼ cup fennel bulb, cut in ¼-1/3 inch slices

Peel the orange, either by hand or using a paring knife.  Cut across into rounds about ¼-1/3 inch across.  Cut again across into halves.

Fennel has a sweet crunch to it, faintly tasting of licorice, kinda sort of and it marries really well with citrus.  I also like to use blood orange or cara cara navel oranges in this recipe.  Even grapefruit slices are great.  Cara cara oranges have an interesting orange-pinkish cast to the fruit and a lovely sweet flavor.  The local Giant grocery store has them on display right now.  You can also mix two citrus in your salad; a navel and a blood orange.  Fantastic!

Finishing directions for both salads:

Place the salad ingredients in your salad dish; I have some very low sided ceramic bowls I got a long time ago that I love for salad. Then sprinkle the salad with vinaigrette which you just shook up one last time! Please don’t add too much salad dressing or you will have soggy salad, really not a good thing.

Margie’s Vinaigrette

I named this after my older sister who passed away several years ago.  She made fantastic vinaigrette.  Mine is not quite like hers but close enough to masquerade as it.  She would approve….

So, I like to use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients, use a pint jar if you like; the main thing is a tight fitting lid.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, please don’t use the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp dried oregano, a sprinkle of dried thyme, 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp sugar and [optional] one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor),. Then add extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one Tbsp. of combined olive oils).  Shake it up really well. Then shake it some more, you need to get the mayo to blend in as completely as possible. It tastes best at room temperature and plan ahead – let it rest for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep it in the refrigerator if there is any left over, lasts like a month in there. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.  If your salad is delicate and you don’t want as much olive oil flavor use only mild olive oil and skip the EVOL.  If you chill the dressing you will need to let it warm up before using it; ten seconds in the microwave can help with that process.

Note: You could up the nutritional value with a few almonds or walnuts if you like nuts in your salad.

More thoughts: I make any number of salad combos.  Two of my favorite ingredient combinations are: shredded carrot, sliced radishes, chickpeas, romaine and half rounds of European cucumber or a mixture of torn kale leaves, shredded raw Brussels sprouts, scallion rounds and julienned raw summer squash.  Both mixtures are great with this vinaigrette.  Just don’t put more than say five things in any one salad or it will have a mixed up taste.

Last thoughts: I generally avoid tomatoes in winter although some grape tomatoes are pretty tasty; use them if you feel the need for tomatoes.

So, go get your healthy green on and enjoy a fruity salad, even in the winter.

Reposted from February 2015 with minor changes.

Figgy Salad

983D3402-BB56-4CBD-A5FE-8FBF39114F6EFigs in my salad? Yes, please! Just throw together a simple salad and add a few fresh figs cit in chunks. Delicious.

FiggySalad – for one

slice a dozen rounds of European burpless cucumber

1/2 cup fennel, thinly sliced

6 cherry or grape tomatoes

3-4 ripe brown turkey figs

a handful of fresh salad greens like arugula, frisse or butter gteens

Place the greens on salad plates. Top with cucumber slices, fennel slices, tomatoes and figs cut in halves or quarters depending on size.

Then sprinkle with your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing. Delightful!

 

 

 

 

 

Caesar Supper Salad Spectacular

Summertime is salad time at my house.  Salads that are full of fresh seasonal veggies and have the crunch factor.  There is a salad I eat only on special occasions but I don’t know why I don’t make it more often.  It is that good. I have it every year for my birthday party entrée. This recipe is a Drake family holiday tradition started by my parents long ago. The Full Caesar. It is a variation on the Caesar salad found in The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker, page 96, my copy of which is well used…slightly stained with tomato juice and other salad ingredients… A salad that is legendary in how much we each consume. Long ago, my dad used to like to experiment with his recipe and I shudder to think of the weird things he added sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of ingredients in this salad but I draw the line at blue cheese or even worse, cheddar cheese!  Blah!  I am the one who puts it together when we gather and there is never any cheese but real Parmesan cheese in our caesar salad.

Anyway, this salad is a meal in itself. If you are lazy you can buy a Caesar dressing; check for gf on the label. I always make it from scratch but I leave that choice to you.  The coddled eggs blends in with the lemon juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar to make an authentic dressing.  I am not a big anchovy fan but it really adds a special under flavor; you can’t really tell it’s in there but it adds a lot of authenticity to the dressing.  I bake my own French bread and we have a loaf with a meal and the next day the leftover bread becomes the croutons for this salad.  Use any gf white bread you like. Don’t use bought croutons; they are so so much more delicious when you make them fresh.

This is a show stopper salad that is always put together table side when we have it. Some of my siblings make it too and they do it very similarly to this recipe. It is a delightful treasure hunt for the various additions we have grown to love in our Caesar. Manga!

 

Real Caesar  Salad – for six

½ cup good olive oil

1 clove garlic

2 big heads of romaine lettuce

6 slices bacon

1 Tsp. salt

½ Tsp. dry mustard

½ Tsp. freshly ground pepper (only fresh will do!)

2-3 fillets of anchovy mashed to a paste or 1-2 tsp. anchovy paste

½ Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

A lemon

3 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese

7 eggs

2-3 Tbsp. tiny capers

1 14 oz. can hearts of palm

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts

A pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

Half a loaf of gf French bread

Preparation the night before; put the peeled garlic clove in the olive oil to stand for at least 4 to 12 hours. Boil six of the eggs and chill, in shell.

Salad Day:  chop the bacon into ½ inch chunks and fry until crisp; drain on paper towel.

Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice into about 5-6 rounds each, set aside.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. You can use any kind of tomato; the riper the better. Just cut into bite sized pieces. Wash and tear the romaine into 1-2 inch squares; be sure to dry it in the salad spinner.  Put it all in a big bag and chill in the fridge. Slice the hearts of palm into 1/3 inch rounds, cut the artichoke hearts in halves or quarters.

Cut the French bread into cubes, heat 2 tbsp. of the garlicky olive oil in a large frying pan and add the bread cubes, cook on medium heat tossing often until they are browned some and crisp. Set aside until time to assemble the salad.

The Big Assembly:

Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl; even a big stainless steel pot or wok will work.  Add the salt, pepper, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and the anchovy paste. Toss.

In a small pot; heat water to boil; add one egg and cook for 90 seconds.  This is the coddled egg, necessary for the dressing.

Start adding in the good stuff; the sliced hard boiled eggs, capers, the hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, tomato halves, fried bacon.  Stir gently.  Add red wine vinegar, the remaining 5-6 tbsp. of olive oil, the coddled egg which you broke in half with a knife and scooped out with a spoon right into the salad. It will totally disappear into the dressing. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add the fresh parmesan you just grated as well as the freshly fried croutons. Note: Do NOT use pre-grated cheese!  Heresy…   Stir gently and thoroughly to spread the dressing around well and mix the ingredients. Taste it and add more salt and pepper if needed plus add more vinegar and olive oil if there isn’t enough dressing.  We always discuss whether there is the right amount of dressing and have been known to add more to it tasting to be sure to balance the flavors so it is perfect.

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Serve on a big dinner plate. Enjoy!

I have been known to eat any leftovers the next day for lunch; still delicious even if the croutons get soggy.