Browsing Category: salads & dressings

Spinach salad with strawberries

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Spinach salad with strawberries is my second-favorite salad of all time, a close second to quinoa and spinach salad — and no surprise there, since they contain many of the same ingredients.

I think a big part of what keeps this one at the top of my list over other green salads is that I only buy strawberries when they’re in season. (My test for whether they’re good and ripe? If there’s a box of them at table height and I can smell them when standing over them, they’re good!) And since here in Kansas, good strawberries are only available April through June, this salad is a rare treat.

(SO jealous of my niece who lives in California, and can get amazing ripened-in-the-field strawberries year-round!)

It’s good with or without chicken, and all ingredients can be adjusted to your taste.

Spinach salad with strawberries

Recipe: Spinach salad with strawberries

For each individual salad:
2.5 oz. baby spinach (or thereabouts)
sliced fresh strawberries, to your taste (maybe 1/2 a cup?)
1 – 3 T. feta cheese, seasoned or plain (leave out for Whole30)
red onion, sliced thin; amount to taste
1.4 c. pecan halves (or to taste)
half of a seasoned, cooked chicken breast (about 3 oz.) – optional
balsamic vinaigrette or onion poppyseed dressing, to taste

(or the Whole30 compliant dressing of your choice)

Combine all ingredients; toss; enjoy!
—————-
Nutrition info, according to myfitnesspal.com:
Calories: 444
Carbs: 17
Fat: 32
Protein: 24
Sodium:  780
Sugar: 9

Super-simple creamy Italian dressing

creamy Italian dressing - sugar-free option

Creamy Italian dressing is one of my husband’s favorite salad dressings. It’s getting harder to find in the grocery store, and the ones that we had tried tasted so fake and sugary — the side effect of making pretty much all your salad dressings from scratch.

Then I found this one! The original recipe is on AllRecipes, but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own; I reduced the sugar and made a few other minor tweaks. Make it without the sugar, and use homemade mayo, and you’ve got a Paleo, Whole30-compliant Italian dressing!

Tried it; loved it; it’s a keeper!

I made it as a spread/dip for homemade submarine sandwiches a couple nights ago. My husband still misses a sub that Pizza Hut used to have on the menu, which had a similar spread on it, and this recipe is a good fit. Then the next day for lunch, I had a sub-sandwich-inspired salad (shown in the photo above). Romaine lettuce with diced ham, pepperoni, and salami; mozzarella cheese, and diced tomatoes. And pickled onions — which are also a great sandwich topper.

It’s really quick and easy to make. Tastes best if you make it a few hours or a day ahead, but I’ve made some notes in the recipe about how to adapt it if you need to serve it right away.

Yay! No more store-bought creamy Italian dressing!

Creamy Italian Dressing (low or no sugar)

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/4 t. white sugar*
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds.

Combine this and all the other ingredients in a 12 – 16 oz. jar and shake well.

Refrigerate for a few hours; better overnight.

*If you will be storing it 24 hours before use, you might skip the sugar. If you are living sugar-free, you can leave it out or replace it with your favorite sweetener. If you will be serving it right away, you might want to reduce the vinegar slightly and increase the sugar to taste.

 

Quinoa and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette

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Quinoa and spinach salad
or…

The best quinoa and spinach salad EVER!

This salad is so addictive! Inspired by a salad I had at a Kansas City “wine dive,” as well as a spinach and orzo salad I used to make, I created this healthy and delicious cold quinoa salad, and it’s always a big hit at parties and potlucks. I love the contrast of all the different ingredients, as well as the sharp taste of the feta balanced by the sweet-and-sour of the vinaigrette, and the subtle spinach and nutty quinoa.

Quinoa is a healthier alternative to pasta like orzo, because it’s a complete protein in and of itself, plus it’s fairly low-glycemic for a grain. And, for those who care, it’s gluten-free.

It’s best made a few hours ahead, I think. I don’t know if it keeps longer than 24 hours, because if there are any leftovers in the fridge that night, I’m likely to I always polish them off as a midnight snack!

If I were making this just for myself, I would use the full amount of feta, but when I’m serving a crowd, I usually put in half the feta, and serve some alongside for those who would like to add more. If you’re serving a nut-sensitive crowd, you could also leave out the nuts and provide them as a garnish.

Spinach and quinoa salad with balsamic vinaigrette

2 c. thoroughly rinsed quinoa  (a 12-oz. package of pre-rinsed)
2 T. butter
3 c. chicken stock
1/2 of a medium red onion, finely diced
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 T. rice vinegar, or a mix
1 – 2 T. maple syrup
1/2 c. olive oil
5 – 6 oz. baby spinach, chopped
2 – 4 T. crumbled feta cheese, to taste
1-1/3 c. craisins, chopped apple, or a combination
2 – 3 T. fresh basil (optional)
pecan and/or walnut pieces, to taste – maybe 1/2 cup

Make sure your quinoa is thoroughly rinsed, until the water runs clean. If not, it will be bitter. More info here.

Melt butter in a large skillet, and saute the quinoa till it just starts turning golden brown. (This step is optional. If you’re pressed for time, feel free to skip it.)

Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and let it sit — still covered — for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, dice the red onion and put it in the bottom of a large mixing/serving bowl. Combine the vinegar, sweetener and olive oil in a small jar and shake to combine. Set aside.

Once the quinoa is done, and if there’s any excess liquid, drain that off. Pour the quinoa over the onions and place that mixture in the fridge to cool off. The reason: subjecting the onions to the heat of the cooked quinoa will mellow them a bit, and start them releasing their flavors into the mixture.

Once the quinoa is cooled, pour the vinegar mixture over the salad. Stir gently till well combined. If you have more than 2 hours to serving time, cover and place back in the fridge.

An hour or two before serving, add the spinach, feta, and craisins or apple. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed. More feta for a sharper taste; more Splenda and/or fruit for a sweeter taste.

Add the fresh basil and nuts just before serving.

Serves 10-12

Nutrition data from myfitnesspal.com:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 12.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 400
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25 g 38 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 24 %
Monounsaturated Fat 9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 9 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 12 g 4 %
Sodium 188 mg 8 %
Potassium 428 mg 12 %
Total Carbohydrate 39 g 13 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 16 %
Sugars 13 g
Protein 9 g 18 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 12 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 112 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Quick and easy avocado salad

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This is a repost, but it’s worth it. This is the recipe I turn to every summer when tomatoes are ripe, and I need a quick, easy side dish. Also, my version has evolved, both in ingredients and method, so I’m including my up-to-date version in this post.

Looking for a quick, easy dish to take to a Fourth of July party today? This is it! You can whip it up in about 10 minutes, and although it might taste better if it sits for a bit, you can serve it right away. And because it has no mayo, you don’t need to worry about it sitting at room temp for a few hours. Perfect for a potluck, barbeque or picnic! Plus, it’s just chock full of healthy stuff, and has no sugar in the dressing! Just a minimal bit of honey — which you could leave out, if you want.
The original recipe is from Ina Garten, although she calls it “Guacamole Salad”.
I do make a few minor tweaks. Being the spice wimp I am, I leave out the jalapeno and cut back on the cayenne. But I also add in some chopped cilantro, and as I said, I’ve altered the method.

Avocado Salad

    2 limes
    1/2 t. honey
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    1/4 cup good olive oil
    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 1 lb. large tomatoes, chopped*)
    1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/4-inch diced
    1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1/2 cup diced red onion  
    2 (or more) ripe Hass avocados,  diced at the last minute
    chopped cilantro, to taste
    additional salt and pepper, to taste, if needed

Grate the zest of the two limes (just the green part!) into the large bowl you’ll be using for your salad; set aside. 

Juice the limes and measure 1/4 cup of the juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the measured lime juice, honey, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper; then add the olive oil and set aside.

Place the tomatoes*, yellow pepper, black beans, and red onion into the large bowl with the lime zest. Re-whisk the dressing and pour it over the vegetables. Toss well, and store till ready to serve. Keep at room temp if you will be serving within an hour or so; refrigerate for longer storage. If refrigerating, remove about 30 minutes before serving time.

Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, dice the avocados and chop the cilantro, and fold them both into the salad. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

*If using large tomatoes rather than grape tomatoes, don’t include them at the beginning; add them with the avocado. You may chop the tomatoes ahead of time and store at room temperature.

Quinoa salad recipes to try

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Here are a half-dozen, beautiful, easy, healthy quinoa salads to try this summer…

Quinoa and chickpea salad, “inspired by the flavors of tabbouleh, a classic Mediterranean salad.” From Ask Georgie.
Quinoa salad with zucchini and feta, from Nutrition Facts Info.
Zesty quinoa salad, with Mexican flavors; can be served hot or cold. Via All Recipes.
Quinoa with currants, dill, and zucchini, from 101 Cookbooks. The recipe is for serving hot, but I think it would be great cold, too.

Recipe Roundup: 12 Things to Do With Avocado

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Just rounding up a few avocado recipes. Because they’re so good for you!
Here are a few of my own, followed by others by trusted sources.
Ina Garten’s Guacamole Salad, with my variations. 
(Note: it’s not the texture of guacamole; just the ingredients.)
Turkey-Bacon-Avocado Sandwich. The photo is from Pioneer Woman, and her recipe includes some fancyin’-up, like pesto, but really, I think a simple sandwich of turkey, bacon, avocado, Swiss or provolone cheese, tomato if you like, and a bit of mayo on some crusty whole-wheat toast doesn’t need a recipe — and is just the best sandwich ever! 
Hint: When eating at Jason’s Deli, order the California Club on whole wheat toast (instead of the standard croissant). Order it with steamed veggies on the side, and that is one guilt-free lunch!
And here are some others I’ve found around the web…
Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Chopped Salad (Can you tell I love avocado with bacon?) This looks so amazing! And inspired by a dish from a Salina, KS restaurant — Go, Kansas!
Avocado-Tomato-Mango Salsa, from AllRecipes: 5 stars and almost 700 reviews! This sounds like it would be great on fish, pork — or chips!
Kiwi Salsa from Simply Recipes
The top-rated Avocado Smoothie from AllRecipes.
Avocado Ranch Dressing, also via AllRecipes. (I like that site because you’re getting the opinion of not just one person, but hundreds.)
Avocado Egg Salad, from Pioneer Woman. (I’ve been meaning to try this forever. Gotta make it happen soon.)
And to finish off our avocado buffet: Chocolate (Avocado) Pudding, anyone? from HowSweetEats.

Seven simple salad dressing recipes

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One of the easiest and most delicious things you can do to put healthier food into your body is to learn some recipes for homemade salad dressings. Once you start, you’ll probably never buy the bottled stuff again! Homemade dressings just taste so much fresher.
Plus, they’re so much healthier! Most “Lite” salad dressings you buy in the store are low fat, but that just means a higher percentage of the product is carbs, and almost always sugary ones. When you make your own, you can be sure there’s no corn syrup or {insert evil sweetener of your choice here} in it! I usually use Splenda, but use whatever you want.
Update: I rarely use Splenda any more; usually stevia. I’ve found that one small scoop of stevia extract powder equals one packet of Splenda, but every brand is different, so you might need to experiment.

Here are seven of my favorite homemade salad dressing recipes I’ve posted here in the past. For a healthy body, and happy taste buds!

Buttermilk Ranch (made with Greek yogurt)

simple salad dressing recipes - ranch
 

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe

Tex-Mex Dressing (just three ingredients!)

simple salad dressing recipes - Tex-Mex

Ginger-peanut Salad Dressing 

simple salad dressing recipes - ginger sesame

 Almost-Panera’s Asian Chicken Salad Dressing

simple salad dressing recipes - Asian salad dressing

Lemon (or Citrus) Poppyseed Dressing

easy citrus poppyseed dressing recipe

 Caesar Salad Dressing

Easy Caesar salad dressing recipe

 

Update: bonus recipe…

Creamy Italian Dressing

antipasto salad

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing recipe (no coddling needed!)

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Genuine Caesar dressing involves codding an egg; that is, cooking it till the white is just cooked and the yolk is slightly thickened but still runny. While delicious, that’s a little fussy for my taste. Also, there is the risk of salmonella.
I discovered this Caesar Salad Dressing recipe in a Good Housekeeping mag a few years ago. (And just now tracked it down online, here.) It uses mayo (light or egg-free, if you want; better yet, homemade), in place of the usual eggs. It’s a great base, but I love a garlicky ‘Caesar, so I’ve added some fresh garlic and tweaked a few other ingredients.
Here it is: super easy to throw together, but it ranks up there with good restaurant salads. It also makes a nice dip for veggies.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe

1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T (or more?) olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, crushed (1 large or 2 medium)
optional – 1/4 to 1/2 t. Dijon mustard
optional – fresh ground pepper to taste

First a tip: I grate the Parmesan first. To avoid a mess on the counter or an extra dirty dish, I place the 1/4 measuring cup in the bottom of my mixing bowl and grate right into that. Sure, some extra will spill into the mixing bowl, but this is a case where exact proportions of ingredients aren’t crucial. And a little extra Parm? Never a bad thing!

Then, after dumping and removing the measuring cup, I scoot the grated cheese aside and place all the other ingredients in the void. Whisk those ingredients together, then stir in the cheese. chill for an hour.

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. If it’s too bland, add more garlic or parmesan. If it’s too sharp, add more olive oil.

Here is the nutrition data from Good Housekeeping; it includes romaine and croutons:
4 g. protein
13 g. carbs (w/ croutons; it would be far less without, for those doing low carb)
8 g. fat

photo credit: Tara Donne, via GH