Salad Spree Round-Up

Woo Hoo! Spring is here and everybody is eating salad again. As I was pulling up an old salad recipe from my blog, I realized that with so many of you new to the Lean.Green.Kitchen site, you may not have seen all the salad recipes posted a year ago. So I’ve gone ahead and linked them all up into this Salad Spree Round-Up. May they give us ideas now that the days are getting warmer!

Mexican Caesar Salad Mexican Caesar Salad recipe

Spring Pearl Couscous Spring Pearl Couscous Salad recipe

Beet Orange Stack-Ups Beet Orange Salad recipe

The Simplest Salad The Simplest Salad recipe

Confetti Pasta Salad Confetti Pasta Salad recipe

Cherry Chicken Curry Salad Chicken Curry Salad recipe

Red, White and Blue Quinoa Salad Red White and Blue Quinoa Salad recipe

Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint recipe Do you have a favorite??

Looking forward to posting some more salad recipes soon!

Mexican Caesar Salad

Mexican Caesar Salad

It is April and about time to roll back the soups and dial in the salads! Here is our first salad recipe of 2014 and it is a beautiful colorful one that will serve you well all spring and summer. This Mexican Caesar Salad is a twist on the original Caesar Salad, with bright colors and flavors – such as diced red, yellow and orange bell peppers, crumbled blue corn chips, and a green cilantro dressing. To pile on the nutrients, the dressing uses pro-biotic-packed kefir and pumpkin seeds for the creamy base. Plus romaine lettuce is a powerhouse all on its own!

Enjoy!

Mexican Caesar Salad

Recipe: Mexican Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 head of romaine, chopped in bite sized pieces
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers (a variety of red, orange or yellow), small dice
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup blue corn chips, crumbled
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • fresh ground pepper (for topping)
  • minced cilantro (for topping)
  • a few blue corn chips crumbled (for topping)

For Cilantro-Kefir dressing (makes a little more than you will need):

  • 1/2 small can of diced mild chiles
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (raw or roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cloves garlic (roasted for a smoother flavor)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 3 T Cotija cheese
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro (I used leaves and stems)
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened kefir (can sub with mayo if you must)
  • water to thin if needed

Instructions

  1. Toss all salad ingredients together.
  2. For the dressing, blend all ingredients except the cilantro and kefir until smooth. Then add cilantro and kefir and blend again until smooth. Taste and add salt for more sparkle and water for thinning if necessary.
  3. Toss salad with dressing. Crank a little fresh ground black pepper over the salad and sprinkle a little minced cilantro and blue corn chip crumbles over the top for presentation points.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

 

Okay, I can’t help it. I’ve got to share this beautiful colorful fruit salad too. It’s so easy and makes a great addition to any fiesta!

Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint

 Recipe: Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint

Ingredients

  • 2 mangoes, cubed
  • 1 basket strawberries, sliced
  • 2 oranges, cubed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 5 mint leaves, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Toss the cut fruit with the lime juice and mint and serve. Tastes even better if you let it hang out together in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to serving.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Looking for more salad ideas? Here are a few:

Confetti Pasta Salad with text  Confetti Pasta Salad

Pearl Couscous  Spring Pearl Couscous

Beet Orange Salad  Beet Orange Stack-Ups

Simplest Salad  The Simplest Salad

Salad Spree: Cherry Chicken Curry Salad

Chicken Curry Salad

It’s our final week of May’s Salad Spree! But not to worry, I love salads and won’t be able to contain myself from posting salad recipes throughout the summer.

This week’s salad is for my chicken loving friends. It brings together the beautiful flavors of dried cherries and curry and uses gut friendly Greek yogurt instead of the commonly used mayo. I highly recommend using organic chicken (this is an excellent use for leftover meat after roasting a whole chicken.) Enjoy it on lightly toasted whole grain bread or over a bed of greens with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

Recipe: Cherry Chicken Curry Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Organic Chicken (cooked, cubed or shredded)
  • 2T Red Onion (minced)
  • 1 Green Onion (green parts chopped small)
  • 1/2 cup Dried Cherries (rough chop)
  • 2 stalks Celery (chopped small)
  • Handful of Spinach (chopped tiny)
  • 2T Parsley (chopped tiny)
  • 1/4 cup Organic Greek Yogurt
  • 1t Curry Powder
  • 1t Dijon Mustard
  • 1t Sea Salt
  • Juice of a Lemon
  • A few cranks of Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix first six ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a little bowl mix the yogurt, curry powder, Dijon mustard, and sea salt.
  3. Toss the yogurt mixture in with the chicken mixture.
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture.
  5. Crank the black pepper over the top to taste.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Did you enjoy our Salad Spree? Which salads did you try? I’d love to hear all about it!

Salad Spree: Spring Pearl Couscous

Pearl Couscous

It’s Salad Spree Wednesday! Every Wednesday in May we are adding a salad to our summer salad arsenal.  This week’s recipe is a Spring Pearl Couscous Salad that makes a lovely side dish or a base for a light dinner if you add some protein on top. This is definitely one of those recipes where you can mix and match whatever produce you have on hand.

Pearl Couscous (also known as Israeli Couscous) is made of baked wheat and tastes a little like orzo pasta. It is different from classic couscous, including different preparation methods, so you can’t just substitute one for the other. Pearl Couscous can be found in the grain bins at most stores (including Whole Foods).

Here’s the recipe:

Recipe: Spring Pearl Couscous Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Pearl Couscous
  • 2 cup Broth (veggie or chicken)
  • 1 Spring Onion (minced)
  • 1/2 cup Spring Peas
  • 1 small to medium Zucchini (small dice)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2t – 1t Jalapeño pepper (minced)
  • 1/2 cup Kale (chopped tiny)
  • 1 Lemon (juiced)
  • 2T EVOO
  • 2T Parsley (chopped tiny)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Goat Cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring the Broth to a simmer.
  2. Pour in the Pearl Couscous and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Before turning off the heat, add the Spring Onion, Spring Peas, Zucchini, Garlic, Jalapeño (amount determined by how much kicked you’d like in the dish), and Kale and stir for a minute or so to incorporate and soften.
  4. Turn off the heat and toss the mixture into a serving bowl.
  5. Stir in Lemon Juice, EVOO and Salt and Pepper. Don’t be stingy with the salt and pepper! Depending on the saltiness of the broth you may need lots or a little.
  6. Before serving, mix in the Parsley and top with the Goat Cheese.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

One more week for our Salad Spree!  I’ve got some ideas for our final salad… what would you like to see?

Weekly Tip: Use Fresh Herbs {Cilantro}

Cilantro

Any meal can be elevated with the addition of a chopped fresh herb. We have enjoyed a bunch of cilantro in our weekly farm box for the past few weeks and I was recently reminded of what a powerhouse herb it is. Cilantro is a known detoxifying herb, due to its ability to “chelate” (a fancy word for remove) heavy metals from the system (such as mercury, aluminum and lead). It is also packed with antioxidants (more concentrated than fruits and vegetables for the most part) and is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

All of this and it tastes great too! EXCEPT to some people who belong to the I Hate Cilantro Club.  Have you heard of this? Some people taste soap when they taste cilantro and can’t figure out why the rest of us love it. Julia Childs was a soapy cilantro person, so in my book that makes this affliction legit.  My apologies to those of you with this issue – we’ll pick another herb in the weeks to come!

For my cilantro lovers, here’s a tasty fresh salsa that includes the peaches that recently appeared at the farmers markets. It’s holding me over until the tomatoes are ready!

Salsa

Recipe: Peach Cilantro Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 Peach (small dice)
  • 2T Cilantro (chopped tiny)
  • 1/2 Spring Onion (minced)
  • 1 squeeze of Lime (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Optional: 1T Jalapeño (minced)

Instructions

  1. Mix it all together.
  2. A little time in the refrigerator helps the flavors meld together. Good luck waiting that long!
  3. Serve over tacos, with chips and/or guacamole, on bruschetta — whatever works!

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Cilantro is also wonderful blended in a pesto. Or soaked in chilled water with melon for a vitamin water. Or chopped up and used to top meats, beans, salads, humus, Mexican specialities, and Thai soups, to name a few. Cilantro also aids digestion, so chewing a stalk with a few leaves (or pouring hot water over the stalks to make a quick tea) at the end of the meal can do a body good.

So let’s hear it… how many of you are in the I Hate Cilantro Club?

Do they have a club for us Cilantro Lovers?

Salad Spree: The Simplest Salad

Simplest Salad

Welcome back to May’s Salad Spree, where each week we will be adding a salad to our salad arsenal.  Last week’s Confetti Pasta Salad was delicious and quite a bit of prep work.  Today’s salad could not be simpler, but there is a twist… you must find (or grow) beautiful fresh greens.  Because they are beyond highlighted here – they are honored!

Terroir is our foodie vocab word for today: The official definition is something like, “Terroir is a French word meaning ‘a sense of place,’ which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.” This means that foods from the earth (tomatoes, coffee beans, tea, cocoa, and most notably wine) contain flavors that are unique to where they have grown. Greens definitely have terroir.

This salad will connect you to the terroir where your greens were grown.  So you want them fresh as can be.  For those of you who receive CSA boxes, this is the salad you make the day you pick-up your box.  The salad you make for lunch right after visiting the farmers market.  The salad you make after picking your own beautiful greens from your garden. In my humble opinion, use the greens within three days for optimal results.

Here it is… enjoy!

Recipe: The Simplest Salad

Ingredients

  • The freshest, highest quality lettuce greens you can get your hands on (such as: Mixed Spring Greens, Romaine, Arugula or Spinach)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use the good stuff for this one)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper (fresh ground is best)

Add ons (totally and completely optional):

  • Candied Walnuts
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Bleu Cheese (or other favorite crumbly cheese)
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Peeled Orange Segments

Instructions

  1. Clean greens really well. Dry greens really well.
  2. Chop greens to desired bite size and place in mixing bowl.
  3. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over greens. Not too much!
  4. Lightly sprinkle Balsamic vinegar over greens. Not too much!
  5. Toss lightly.
  6. Pile greens on a serving tray. Give it some height so it looks all professional and awesome.
  7. Pinch a bit of sea salt and LIGHTLY sprinkle over the greens.
  8. Crank just a few cranks of pepper over the top.
  9. Add-ons: Plate the extras on the side all fancy like.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

If you set the table, use the lovely linens, and place a basket of warmed bake goods out, you can charge $8-$12 for this salad to start your meal! Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Bon Appetit!

This post is linked to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays!

SALAD SPREE Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad

Confetti Pasta Salad with text

Here in Northern California it is getting hot! And that means it is time to stop making so many soups and start making big salads. To kick-off salad season here at the Lean.Green.Kitchen, we are having a SALAD SPREE during the month of May. Each week we’ll be putting together a salad recipe to add to your salad arsenal for the upcoming months.

No better way to start off our SALAD SPREE then with a party salad.  This one is all about celebrating whatever you have in those veggie drawers in the fridge and in the pantry and making it work. This Confetti Pasta Salad could also be called Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad or Rainbow Dare Pasta Salad because it has a lot going on and a lot of flexibility.  The recipe below shows what I put into mine today.  Note: Salad clean-up is much easier than actual confetti.

Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 10oz of smallish whole wheat pasta (or any smaller pasta, including gluten free)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use your good stuff here!)
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed preferred)
  • 2 T Honey (warm it until it is pretty runny)
  • 1t Dried Oregano
  • 1T Dijon Mustard
  • 2 pinches Sea Salt
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper
  • 2 cloves Garlic

Confetti Add-Ins

  • 1 Bell Pepper (small dice)
  • 6 Baby Carrots (or 1-2 Big Carrots) (thin rounds)
  • 1 med Cucumber (small dice)
  • 1-2 Spring Onion (minced)
  • 1 stalk Green Garlic (thin half-rounds of white and green)
  • 2 handfuls Sugar Snap Peas (chopped)
  • 1/2 med Zucchini (small dice)
  • 12 Basil Leaves (chopped fine)
  • 1 can Artichoke Hearts (drained and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Olives (sliced)
  • 8oz Garbanzo Beans (drained)
  • 1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes (juilenned)
  • 4 Kale Leaves (chopped fine) *This is a great place for hiding those leafy greens!
  • 1T Parsley (chopped fine for topper)

*You can choose whatever veggies, beans, and herbs sound good to you. The Rainbow Dare is a challenge to have as many colors of the rainbow represented in your add-in choices! Shredded chicken and feta cheese are also nice.

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. Blend dressing ingredients together. I recommend using a blender for this to really incorporate the honey.
  3. Prep all the add-ins.
  4. Combine the pasta, the dressing and the add-ins. Toss gently and if you can stand it, let the salad chill in the refrigerator for a little while.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

This salad is my take on a recipe that I found on the internet over two years ago.  After much searching I found the original, so I could give proper due to Danica (who luckily named her pasta salad “Danica’s Pasta Salad” thus helping me find her!  Her original recipe is here: http://danicasdaily.com/vegan-pasta-salad/

Let the SALAD SPREE begin!

Recipe: Spring Veggie Polenta Pizza

IMG_3763

I love pizza. I really love eating pizza when it’s guilt free and crammed with lots of veggies. It’s an added bonus when I see my kids chowing down delicious, healthy, clean food. So goodbye refined flour crust and hello herbed polenta. Here’s how to whip yours up.

Recipe: Spring Veggie Polenta Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
  • 1.5 cup milk (I use organic whole milk, but you can use any kind, including soy or rice or coconut milk)
  • 1.5 cup stock (veggie or chicken) or water
  • 1 T butter or olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 t Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup pesto or pizza sauce (your personal preference)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Toppings (your choice of course, but here’s a spring option):

  • 4-6 asparagus spears, chopped in 1.5 inch pieces and sliced in half
  • 1 leek, cleaned well and sliced in very thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped in thin ribbons
  • 3 mushrooms, chopped
  • small handful of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shredded

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan heat milk, stock (or water), butter/olive oil and a pinch of salt just to boiling.
  2. Turn heat to low and add polenta and spices while stirring constantly to thoroughly mix.
  3. Once it begins to thicken (takes less than a minute), turn off heat and pour into a greased pan of your choice. I use an 11′ round stone pie dish, but any casserole dish or cake pan will work (the depth of the polenta will vary depending on the size of your dish).
  4. Preheat oven for 450 degrees
  5. Place the polenta in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Brush polenta top with a little olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Take out of the oven and top the pizza: sauce, cheese, selected toppings.
  8. Bake for 8-10 more minutes.
  9. Top with a little Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

IMG_3746  Polenta “Crust” IMG_3739  Spring Toppers IMG_3806  Piece of Pie!

This recipe is so versatile.  You can adapt the pizza to whatever you have available for toppings.  If you are looking for a lovely vegan version, check out www.sweetnsavorylife.com, where the inspiration for this recipe originated.

Farmers Market Find: Asparagus

Asparagus is one of those signature spring finds at the Farmers Market here in Northern California.  It shows up sometime in March and hangs out for a few months at its peak. Around our house, we celebrate its arrival and then try to keep up with the quantities we receive in our weekly farm boxes for the rest of the spring!  We sauté it, roast it, puree it, broil it, wrap it, chop it, stir fry it, egg it.. you get the picture.  Asparagus is so fresh and full of flavor, it really doesn’t need much.  Here’s a recipe to turn asparagus into a veggie side dish or a salad topper in just minutes — a true fast food!  Grab some today and jazz up your spring meals instantly.

Recipe: Delightful and Quick Broiled Asparagus

Ingredients

  • One bunch asparagus (in season and local if possible)
  • 2-3 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1-2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • Several “grinds” of pepper (or two pinches)
  • Chopped parsley and/or shredded Parmesan cheese for toppers

Instructions

  1. Now we aren’t baking bread here, so think of this as an art project more than a science project.
  2. Trim the bottoms of your asparagus (usually about an inch, but give your asparagus a once over and decide if the ends look green and edible or grey and fibrous.)
  3. Lay the asparagus out on a baking sheet and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You’re the artist so you decide how much drizzle makes you happy.
  4. Dust the asparagus with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  5. Broil on high for 5-12 minutes. This is quite a time range, because as the artist you need to decide what you’d like your masterpiece to look like. If you have skinny asparagus, they’ll be finished near the early end of the time frame and the big guys need longer. If you like super soft asparagus, they take the extra minutes.
  6. Once they are done, plate and top with parsley and/or shredded Parmesan. Enjoy right away or chill for a salad topper.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5-12 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

IMG_3616  Prepped. IMG_3617  Drizzled. IMG_3636 About to be noshed!