Broccoli Salad

This is a sweet, sour, crunchy, savory and delicious broccoli salad. Blanch the broccoli first for a minute or two in boiling water, it makes a difference - unless you like your broccoli super crunchy. If you don't have dried cherries, you can substitute dried cranberries or other dried fruit.

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Recipe

6 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked, drained, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 c. mascarpone
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and run under cold water to stop the cooking; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels, and cut into 1-inch pieces (reserve 2 tsp. of the bacon fat).

In a large bowl mix together the mascarpone, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and salt with a whisk until smooth. Add the broccoli, cherries, walnuts, bacon, 2 tsp. of the bacon fat, and gorgonzola. Toss well and serve.

— inspired by Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Frisée aux Lardons

This beautiful salad pairs perfectly with the Thai Red Curry Mussels recipe. Use frisée if you can find it. It wasn't available yesterday when I was searching, so I used escarole which was delicious. You could also substitute arugula, radicchio, or a combination of any slightly bitter green. Top with a poached egg — slightly runny yolk so it mixes with the dressed salad greens, croutons and chopped bacon. Yummmmmm!

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Recipe

1 large head frisée lettuce (or escarole, radicchio, arugula), washed, dried and cut into 3-inch pieces
8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
Baguette - cut up enough to make about 40 small squares for croutons
4 large eggs

Mustard-Garlic Dressing:
1-1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 T. sherry vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil

In a bowl large enough to hold the salad, use a whisk to combine all of the mustard-garlic dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Sauté the bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan and add the baguette croutons and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and turning over so they brown on all sides. Set aside.

Poach the eggs. I cheat and use an egg poacher, but if you're comfortable doing it in a nonstick skillet with 1-1/2 inches of water and 1 T. red wine vinegar, go for it!

To assemble, add the washed and dried greens to the bowl with the dressing in it; toss well. Divide the salad among four dinner plates, top with the poached egg and sprinkle the bacon bits and croutons over the top. Serve immediately.

— Jacques Pépin, "More Fast Food My Way"

Grape, Avocado & Arugula Salad with My Favorite Vinaigrette

This is my favorite salad, as well as my favorite vinaigrette. Change up the ingredients however you want, but the basics need to stay: grapes, avocado, toasted walnuts, crumbled goat cheese and red onion. I had a friend over for lunch and a movie and expanded the ingredients a bit by adding some baked chicken and croutons. Tangy arugula is the preferred green for this salad, but a spring mix works well too as I did here (because I forgot to pick up arugula!).

Recipe

6 cups fresh arugula or mixed spring greens, loosely packed
1 c. halved seedless grapes, red or green
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese
1/2 c. chopped toasted walnuts (or pecans)
half a small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

White Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Add the vinaigrette ingredients to a jar and shake to combine; or put in a bowl and whisk.

Add salad ingredients to a large bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette and mix well.

Oriental Chicken Cabbage Salad with Ramen Crunch

My friend Katie has been making this salad for years and it's one of my favorites. Fresh thinly sliced cabbage is combined with red pepper, green onion and cooked chicken breast, mixed with an Asian-inspired dressing using the ramen flavor packet. The ramen noodles are broken up and toasted in the oven with chopped almonds and sesame seeds for a flavorful crunch. Try it, I think you'll like it as much as I do! Simply omit the chicken for your vegan friends (and the Nissan brand Oriental Ramen is also vegan).

Recipe

1 package ramen noodles, reserve seasoning packet (I use Nissin brand Oriental ramen)
1/2 c. whole almonds, roughly chopped (or use slivered almonds)
2 T. sesame seeds
3 c. thinly sliced or shredded red or green cabbage (about half a medium head, core removed)
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces, seasoned with salt & pepper and pan fried in olive oil & butter until done and golden brown
3 thinly sliced green onions
1 red pepper, chopped
3 T. vegetable oil
2 T. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. Break up the ramen noodles into small chunks and place on a baking sheet with the almonds and sesame seeds. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes until golden. Cool. Combine cabbage, chicken, onion and pepper in a large bowl.

Make the dressing by combining the ramen seasoning packet with the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and salt & pepper. Pour over the salad. Add the toasted ramen, almonds and sesame seeds and mix well. Serves 6.
 

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Marcona Almonds and Pecorino

A friend of mine went to Bottega for lunch in San Francisco and raved about the brussels sprouts salad. I've been wanting to make it ever since, so it was about time! What a citrusy-fresh, crunchy, all around yummy salad - why did I wait so long?

I cheated a bit on the prep: the original recipe calls for shaving six dozen brussels sprouts with a mandoline to get about 8-9 cups, but instead I bought two 10-ounce packages of them already shaved at Trader Joe, as well as Truffle Marcona Almonds which are delicious! This recipe generously serves 6.

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Recipe

2 lemons, unpeeled, cut in quarters
1/2 naval orange, peeled
1 large shallot, peeled
1-1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
10 hard boiled eggs, peeled
(2) 10-ounce packages shaved brussels sprouts
3/4 c. Marcona almonds, finely chopped
1/2 c. grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

For the vinaigrette use an electric juicer to extract the juice from the lemons, orange and shallot. Pour the juice in a medium bowl and vigorously whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed, and whisk again. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to three days).

Sieve the eggs. I used a ricer and squished three eggs at a time. Put in a bowl. If preparing the salad later, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. All of your ingredients should be nice and cold (except the almonds of course).

When ready to serve, put the shaved brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Add the sieved eggs and chopped almonds (reserving a few tablespoons of the almonds to sprinkle on top) and toss. I find it's best to use your hands for mixing. Pour on about 1 cup of the vinaigrette and toss again. Spoon into individual, preferably chilled bowls, sprinkle on some of the reserved chopped almonds, and top with the grated pecorino. Spoon on a little more of the vinaigrette and serve.

– "Michael Chiarello's Bottega"

Salmon Niçoise Salad

A take on Julia Child's composed Salad Niçoise, this dish includes baked salmon instead of tuna. A perfect do-ahead dinner served at room temperature, it was particularly perfect for today's unseasonably hot, 85-degree day! It can easily accommodate your vegan guests by eliminating the salmon and hard boiled egg. Serves 4 (adjust quantities for number of diners). 

Recipe

(4) 4-5 oz. salmon fillets, skin on
1 lb. baby potatoes, red or white (3-4 per person)
1 T. finely minced shallot
2-3 T. each white wine and water
1 head Boston lettuce, washed, separated into leaves, spun or blotted dry and chilled
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or 4 ripe tomatoes, quartered)
1/2 lb. fresh string beans, trimmed, blanched and chilled
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/2 c. niçoise olives
2-3 T. capers
3 T. chopped fresh parsley

FOR VINAIGRETTE:
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. each lemon juice and wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2/3 c. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 T. fresh basil, chopped

If serving this salad later, make the vinaigrette, hard boil the eggs, bake the salmon, blanch the green beans, steam the potatoes, and wash/dry the lettuce earlier in the day and assemble right before eating.

For the vinaigrette, mash the pressed garlic and salt in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, wine vinegar, and mustard and whisk to incorporate. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Add a grind of pepper and the chopped basil. Alternately you could put all ingredients in a jar and shake for 30 seconds to blend.

For the salmon, preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and put the salmon skin side down. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on each fillet and spread to cover with your hand; let sit for 15 minutes. Put in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Use a metal spatula to separate the skin from the fillets; discard the skin. Put on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the green beans, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the beans, bring back to a boil, and cook for 8 minutes (4 minutes for a crunchier bean). Drain well and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Spread the beans on paper towels and blot with more paper towels to dry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the potatoes, steam whole for about 20 minutes. While still warm slice in half, then into 3/8-inch slices and put into a large bowl; immediately mix in the minced shallot, 1/4 tsp. salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Add the wine and water and toss gently; let sit for 5 minutes, tossing twice more, allowing the potatoes to absorb as much liquid as they will. Then fold gently with 1/4 c. of the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

When ready to assemble the salad you can put everything on a large platter for people to help themselves, or create an artful arrangement on each guest's plate. Put the lettuce leaves around the edge of the plate; put the salmon on one side. Place some potato salad in the middle. Arrange groups of tomatoes around the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and droplets of the dressing. Mix the green beans with a spoonful of the dressing plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste and put on the plate. Distribute the eggs, yellow side up, and drizzle with some dressing; add the olives and the capers to fill in. Sprinkle some dressing over the salmon and the rest of the plate and garnish all with chopped parsley.