Category: Salad


I’ve got such a backlog of posts for you, from some thoughts on Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Caesar Salad (it’s delicious!) to a quite tasty red pepper pasta dish I made up the other night, so let’s dive right in!

Part I: Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Caesar Salad

Let me start by saying that I don’t like Caesar salad.  But this was delicious!  The homemade croutons are easily the best part, but everything just works so well together, and the dressing is lemony and fresh as opposed to being heavy and gross like most salad dressings.  I did make a few changes (mostly out of necessity) when I made it though.  First, instead of using chicken legs or thighs, I had to use chicken breast because I couldn’t find any legs that weren’t attached to a whole chicken.  (And as the only carnivore in the house, I really have no use for a whole chicken).  But legs would definitely be better because they don’t dry out the way breasts are sometimes prone to.  I substituted prosciutto for the pancetta that the recipe calls for since I can’t for the life of me find a store that sells pancetta, but the prosciutto worked fine and added a nice salty flavor.  I also added asparagus (just tossed it in with the chicken and croutons when I added the prosciutto) and I think that you should all definitely add asparagus if you happen to be making this salad in the springtime!

Yum!

Part II: Red Pepper Pasta

This meal came out of one of those “I’m starving but I don’t want to go to the store and surely we have enough food around here to throw together a pasta dish” type of days.  And sure enough, we did have enough ingredients and this actually turned out to be one of my best experiments.

Ingredients

The inspiration was the jar of red and yellow peppers I found in my cupboard.  I don’t remember why I bought them in the first place–probably I had seen some recipe that I had wanted to try but subsequently forgot about–but they really turned out to be the star of the dish.  I also had a few stray mushrooms left over from the pea shoot recipe, half a red onion left over from something or another, two lonely cloves of garlic, and a bit of fresh rosemary left over from the chicken Caesar salad.

So of course, these ingredients say to me: stir fry!

Stir fry!

I put the mushrooms, onions, and rosemary in first, along with a dried chili pepper, since they take a little longer to cook.  Then I added the red peppers and garlic, salt and pepper, and finally stirred in the pasta:

Red Pepper Pasta

The roasted red peppers from the jar add a really nice sweetness to this dish, while the dried red chili adds just a hint of a kick.  Top it off with a little Parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy meal!

Red Pepper Pasta
(serves 2) 

  • 1-2 roasted red peppers (from a jar, or you can roast them yourself), sliced into matchsticks
  • 3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • leaves from 2 stalks of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 110g pasta of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Start a pot of water boiling on the stove for the pasta.  Meanwhile, chop all of your ingredients except the red chili pepper.  Put a good splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms, onion, chili pepper, and rosemary.  Stir or toss occasionally until the mushrooms start to brown.  Then add in the red peppers and garlic, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.  Once the pasta is done, drain it and it to the skillet.  Once everything is mixed, taste again and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Beets like citrus.  This is a general rule of thumb, and is quite useful for throwing together a quick salad.  But today I discovered that beets love kumquats!  The combination of flavors–sour from the juice of the kumquats, sweet from their rinds, and earthy from the beets is incredible.  You definitely want to try this one.

Beets and Kumquats

Beet and Kumquat Salad

  •  1 beet (cooked til soft, peeled and cooled)
  • 2 handfuls of kumquats

Dice the beet and put it in a bowl.  Wash the kumquats and cut them in half (thirds if they’re big).  Toss them together with the beets, pouring any juice that you lose while halving the kumquats over the mix.  You want about equal parts beet pieces and kumquat halves.  Toss together and enjoy!

Serves 1-2

Note: This would probably also be good with a dark, leafy green like kale.

Another note written after eating this salad for dinner:  The sourness of the kumquats builds up, not unlike how the burning from spicy peppers builds up.  I would not advise eating large quantities of this all at once.  Also, if your kumquats are particularly sour, you might consider either adding a bit of sugar, some sweet fruits, or more beets.  That said, it’s still a good flavor combo!

And just like that a month goes by and it’s April.  Apologies again for the lack of posts–especially after I had promised you all new posts!  I do have one dish that I made during that week after my last post that I’ll write about later (it was a Thai-inspired curry dish), but it’s a new month and for now I’d rather write about something new!

I went to the grocery store this week at about quarter after 9 on Tuesday morning.  On the one hand, this is an utterly ideal time to go to the grocery store because (at least by this store’s standards), it is empty. No fighting people to get your cart through the aisles…heck, there are actually carts available! The downside, though, is that clearly their shipments of produce must arrive on Wednesday or Thursday because there was not a whole lot to choose from, and a lot of what was there was pretty sad.  I quickly had to scrap plans to get some kale, or my second choice of spinach.  I did find the last good bunch of big organic beets, so I do have beet greens to work with, and then I found some watercress.

I’ve never bought watercress before.  I’ve had it a few times, mostly in foreign countries.  But it was one of the few greens they had that weren’t completely wilted and pathetic looking.  So I decided on the spur of the moment that I was going to make a watercress salad.  Which is weird for me since normally I don’t consider salads to be meals.  But I’ve had this for dinner the past two nights and it’s actually turned out to be quite good and filling.

But what else to put with the watercress?  I had bought pancetta for another recipe (I’m on a bit of a Jamie Oliver kick lately–more on that later), so that was definitely going to go in there.  I also wanted something sweet, but there’s not much in season right now in the fruit department (and the stuff from Chile is all coated in a thick layer of wax that’s impossible to remove!), so I decided to grate up a carrot, which worked out nicely.  I also added a couple green onions, just to get another flavor in there, and to tie it all together I made a dressing with lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Finally, I topped the salad off with some grated Parmesan cheese.  All in all?  Definitely a recipe worth repeating!

watercress

pancetta

lemon dressing

watercress salad

 

Watercress and Pancetta Salad

Salad

  • 1 bunch watercress, washed and picked over
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • approx. 6 slices of pancetta or bacon (more or less to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Dressing

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • olive oil (equal to lemon juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and pick over the watercress, throwing away any bad leaves, tear it into bite sized pieces, and put it in a big bowl.  Grate the carrot and add it to the bowl with the watercress.  Chop the onions and do the same.  Cook the pancetta in a nonstick pan until nicely golden and crispy.  Tear it up and add it to the bowl.

To make the dressing, zest the lemon using a grater or microplane*.  Only get the yellow part of the zest–not the white part.  Put the zest in a bowl or 2 cup measure.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice in with the zest, being careful not to lose any seeds.  Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk it all together.  When you’re ready to eat, drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with a good amount of Parmesan cheese.

 

*Be VERY careful to keep your thumb away from the microplane.  Seriously.