Category Archives: Salad

Ditch the Boring Chicken Recipes

Break out of your chicken rut.  This is an easy one-dish meal that is cool and refreshing for those hot summer nights.  Combine simply grilled chicken breasts with a bag of crunchy coleslaw mix and liven it up with a pleasantly spicy, sweet, and salty dressing.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Salad
Serves 4

Modified from Fine Cooking

3 – 4 green onions
1 jalapeno, chopped (seed, if you want less spice)
1 Tbsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
about 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pounded thin, 1/4 tp 1/2-inch thick)
kosher salt
10 oz package coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Coarsely chop green onions.

 With a mortar and pestle, pound the green onions, jalapeno, sugar, and about 1/8 tsp pepper until the onions are soft and liquid is released.

Transfer to a large serving bowl, and stir in vinegar and fish sauce.

Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through.  Probably about 2 minutes for each side.

Let the chicken cool and then shred with your fingers or slice into long thin strips.

Toss the coleslaw mix into the vinegar mixture.

Add the chicken, mint, and cilantro, and combine well.

Serve at room temperature.

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Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed

Are you lucky enough to get some weekend cookout invitations this summer?  Oh, good.  Let’s make sure you get invited back.

How’s that work, you ask?  Well, I always find that bringing food to the party is a good start.

It doesn’t need to be fancy.  In fact, simpler is usually better with a dish that has to travel.  And, you don’t want to be on your feet all morning just before you leave for the party.  Here’s something that might just fit the bill.

Basic Coleslaw
Serves plenty

1 large head of cabbage
1 – 2 carrots
1 cup of mayonnaise (low-fat is okay)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp ground coriander
salt, to taste

Shred cabbage and carrots.  Or, use a bag of coleslaw mix, if you must.

Whisk together mayo (I use a mix of full-fat and low-fat), sugar, vinegars, and oil.

Add spices, and whisk smooth.

Pour over vegetables.

Stir gently to combine and fully coat the vegetables.

Store covered in refrigerator.  When ready to serve, stir again to bring up any dressing from the bottom of the container.

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Side Dish Success

Continuing the theme of casual, outdoor entertaining…this is a standard side-dish for me whether I am hosting a cookout or bringing a dish as a guest.  It is easy to mix up, can be prepared in advance, and is widely enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad
Makes 8 servings

2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (2 – 3 ears, fresh) (frozen okay)
1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced or 1 bag frozen mango cubes
1 15 1/2 oz can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 small canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in a cast iron (or nonstick) skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, less than 10 minutes.

Transfer corn mixture to a large bowl.  Stir in mango, beans, onion, bell pepper, lime juice,  chipotle, cumin, and salt.

Sprinkle with cilantro before serving, if using.  Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

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Green Goodness

I love avocados.  I could eat them just about every day.  In fact, when I lived in Texas, I very nearly did.  They were a tasty part of any meal.  The avocado tree is native to Mexico and while they are easily trucked into Texas, they are also cultivated there, too.  So, the fruit was pretty widely available to me and pretty cheap, as well.  Not so much here in Washington, DC.

I saw some Dominican avocados in the store today, and they looked a bit worse for wear from their long journey…

We start to see domestic avocados here in the Spring,and I am anxiously awaiting their arrival…

Salad with Grilled Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado
Makes 4 servings 

For Salad:

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 slices bacon
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 large avocado, or 2 small avocados
2 to 3 green onions
1 bell pepper (any color)
10 oz. salad greens (variety is your preference)

First, you need to marinate the chicken.  I always use gallon-sized zip-top plastic bags for my marinades, but a large bowl covered with plastic wrap will work, too.  Combine chicken, garlic, salt and pepper, lime juice, and olive oil in plastic zip-top bag.

After sealing, use hands to distribute liquids and spices over chicken.  Keep in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Heat grill to medium high.  Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.  Grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side.

Remove from grill and let rest a few minutes.  Slice into strips and set aside.

You have some options for cooking the bacon…You can pull out your cast-iron skillet and cook the bacon over medium heat for 20 or 30 minutes until crisp.  Or, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and line a broiler pan with aluminum foil.

Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer and bake them for about 15 minutes or until crisp.

Cool and drain on paper towels.

Dice tomatoes, bell pepper, avocados, and green onions.

I like to prepare one large salad, but you may want to plate individual salads for each of your guests.

In a large serving bowl, add salad greens.  Toss with tomatoes, peppers, avocado, and onion.

Crumble cooked and cooled bacon on top.

Add grilled chicken.

Serve with dressing.

For Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended, or pour all ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake until emulsified.

Tip for keeping your avocados green: Try rinsing or submerging the sliced fruit in cold water to prevent browning.  How does that work?  I’ve not seen a clear explanation, but some food scientists think that the cold water rinse removes phenolic compounds that cause browning.

Avocados are not just delicious…they are also beneficial to your health.

  1. Healthy Eyes – Avocados have more carotenoid lutein than any other fruit.  This antioxident protects against macular degeneration and cataracts.
  2. Lower Cholesterol – Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance that has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  3. Lower Blood Pressure – Avocados are a great source of potassium, which contributes to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke.  Avocados contain even more potassium containing than bananas!
  4. Great Source of Vitamin E – Avocados are the greatest fruit source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health.
  5. Skin Moisturizer – Avocado butter and oil, two deep-conditioning emollients, will soften skin, eliminate dry patches, and restore your skin’s elasticity.  High in vitamins A, C, and E, avocado oil conditions skin without leaving behind an oily residue.

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Golden Corn Salad

I’m trying to convince my husband to do something that he is not so sure he wants to do.  So, I put together this salad of some of his favorite things.  I thought about calling it Suck-up Salad, but decided on something more lyrical…

This would be a great salad to take to a tailgate party or potluck.  Another bonus – it becomes more flavorful the longer it sits, so it is a perfect dish to make in advance.

Golden Corn Salad
Serves 4

4 ears of sweet fresh corn
1 golden bell pepper
1 serrano pepper
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
white pepper and salt, to taste

Shuck ears of corn and cook them in boiling water for about three minutes.

Drain well and rinse with cold water to cool.  Once they are cool enough to handle, cut off the kernels and place in a bowl.

I already had my broiler going so I tossed in the bell pepper and serrano pepper to roast them.  I think it would be good if you used them raw, too.  But, if you want to roast them, you can broil the bell pepper for 7 or 8 minutes until it starts to char and the small serrano just needs about 2 minutes.  Let them cool and peel off the skin.  Chop them finely, and add to the corn.

Add chopped green onions to the bowl and blend.

In a saucepan, stir cider, sugar, and salt.  Continue stirring over medium low heat until the sugar and salt dissolve completely.

Bring liquid to a boil.  Turn off heat, and pour over vegetable mixture.  Stir, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Keep in a sealed container in your refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

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Orzo Salad is Best Served Cold. Like Revenge.

While our grilled London broil was quite tasty with a side of LeBron revenge, we also enjoyed it with a cold orzo salad.  My mother-in-law makes a very delicious orzo salad, and she served as my inspiration when I whipped this up over the weekend.

Orzo is Italian for barley.  Also known as risoni (big rice), it is a form of pasta in the shape of a grain of rice.  I like orzo because it is a versatile pasta that can be served hot or cold, with a sauce, in a soup, casserole, pilaf, or salad, like I mentioned.  While it was originally made from barley, orzo is now made with durum semolina wheat, as especially hard variety of wheat.   Pasta made with durum wheat is more resilient through the cooking process, and won’t easily become mushy, even after being baked or simmered in broth.  I used a plain variety of orzo, but you can also find varieties colored or flavored with vegetables, like spinach.

I don’t think I tasted orzo until adulthood.  It wasn’t unfamiliar to me, but I just cannot recall ever eating it until my twenties.  Too bad for me.

I encourage you not to wait too long before trying it out for yourself.

Orzo Salad
Serves plenty

1 lb dried orzo (plain or flavored will work)
1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
4 – 8 oz feta cheese (depending on your preference)

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and mix with chopped veggies and herbs.

Whisk together lemon juice, salt and pepper, dried oregano, and olive oil to create dressing.  Drizzle it over pasta and vegetables and lightly mix.

Add feta cheese and lightly mix.


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Homemade Cole Slaw

As a side for the smoked chicken, my husband wanted to make some cole slaw.  I convinced him to make the dressing himself and not buy something ready made.  We were all very grateful.

Old-Fashioned Cole Slaw

1 head of cabbage, shredded finely
1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne, optional
4 Tbsp flour
2 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup white vinegar

Finely shred cabbage.  We used our Oneida Polished Black Mandolin Interchangable Slicer, which is a very useful kitchen tool.

Add chopped green onions and carrots.

Into a double boiler or heavy-bottomed saucepan, add salt, dry mustard, sugar, cayenne, and flour.

Start heating and slowly stir in eggs, cream, and vinegar.

Stir and cook over boiling water or over low heat until slightly thick.

Let the dressing cool and then drizzle over vegetable mixture, stirring well.

Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  My husband prefers the slaw after a few hours, so it is an easy side dish to make well before your guests arrive.  Please believe me when I say it is worth the trouble to make the dressing yourself and not just open a jar and pour.

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Beat the Heat with Some Cool Cucumbers

We’ve had a long string of pretty hot days here in DC this summer so my husband and I were grateful we were invited to a poolside party this weekend.  Another guest was grilling so I wanted to bring a side dish that was cool and wouldn’t be too filling in the heat.  A refreshing cucumber salad fit the bill.  Mix in some grape tomatoes and fresh mint and you have yourself a easy summer dish.

Cucumber Salad with Tomatoes and Mint

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 large cucumbers, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Stir in cucumbers.  Add onion, tomatoes, and mint.

Then, gently toss with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Dill – A Sign of Warmer Weather

Dill is my favorite herb. I just love it. I not only like the flavor, but I enjoy its association to me with warm weather. I add fresh dill to many dishes during the spring and summer. The most popular is my potato salad. I’ll make it for Easter with ham and cheddar biscuits. And, I make it for nearly every cookout over the summer.

I already purchased the ingredients for my Easter meal, including the fresh dill, but I need to keep it from wilting between now and Sunday. To help, I wrap it in a damp towel and then place it in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator.
So, here’s my favorite potato salad recipe…
1/4 cup canola oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (use more or less, depending on your taste)
4 pounds of new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp of chopped fresh dill (more to taste)
2/3 to 1 cup of mayonnaise (to taste)
2 small bunches green onions, chopped
Combine oil and garlic in a bowl; set aside. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender; probably 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl.
Whisk vinegar and next three ingredients into oil mixture. Pour this over warm potatoes, tossing to coat. Cover and chill for about 8 hours.
Combine potato mixture, mayonnaise, and green onions, tossing gently. I sometimes sprinkle in just a bit more chopped dill before serving.
Alterations to the recipe – You can use any fresh or dried herb, that you like. I just happen to be fond of dill. I also change up the potatoes I use, depending on my mood or what is available. My favorite is probably new red potatoes. As the cook, you can also decide whether to peel the potatoes. Folks don’t seem to mind either way.
You can also mix it up by using different varieties of vinegar. Don’t feel limited to just plain white vinegar. If you don’t like green onions, you can try something else to give the salad some color and a bit of texture, like carrots or celery. I don’t like a heavy amount of mayonnaise, but you may, so make it to your taste.
A word of caution: I use whole-fat or low-fat mayonnaise for this salad. I’ve tried it with no-fat and it tasted horrible and didn’t have the consistency that folks crave. If you must cut the fat, I suggest using less low-fat mayo or trying a blend of mayo and sour cream to help improve the texture and flavor.

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