The “Eat More Vegetables” Campaign: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Mozzarella and Golden Raisins

True Confessions: I’m always looking for ways to get the Grill-Meister to eat more vegetables. I like the challenge.

The latest effort was this salad with grilled vegetables and fresh mozzarella “pearls” on a bed of romaine, tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a surprise ingredient – golden raisins. It got the Grill-Meister’s Seal of Approval, a certification that is quite difficult to attain when vegetables are involved!

Here’s how to do it.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Mozzarella and Golden Raisins

Makes 6-8 servings as a side dish, 4 as a vegetarian main course

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh zucchini, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 fresh yellow squash, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced longways, in about 1 1/2 inch widths
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds and separated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, in all
  • 1 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella “pearls”
  • 2 cups sliced or torn romaine
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • optional garnishes: 1 green onion, thinly sliced, 1 tsp chopped parsley

Cooking Instructions

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.  Toss the vegetables in a medium bowl with 1 TBSP of the olive oil, then grill for 3-4 minutes per side until the vegetables have nice grill marks but are still nicely al dente. Return the vegetables to the bowl and toss the with the remaining tbsp of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, garlic and golden raisins. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and let the vegetables rest until they are room temperature, then add in the mozzarella pearls.

Distribute the romaine across an attractive serving platter, then place the grilled vegetable / mozzarella mixture on top. Add a little more pepper and garnish with the green onions and parsley.
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The Grill-Meister was amazed that he liked this, and especially amazed that it would be good at room temperature (he was expecting the grilled vegetables to be served hot as per usual). The sweetness of the golden raisins and the balsamic vinegar are a perfect foil for the earthiness of the grilled vegetables and garlic, and the crunch of the romaine alongside the creamy mozzarella pearls provides a nice textural balance. This dish is a easy stunner.

And one more thing: you can dress it up to be a main course by adding slices of grilled chicken, or if you’re going vegetarian, slices of grilled tofu or portobello mushrooms.

In pictures:

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Get nice grill marks on the vegetables
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Put the grilled vegetables back in a bowl for tossing
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Add the vinegar, oil, raisins and garlic while the vegetables are still warm
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This salad is a beautiful side dish or vegetarian main…
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…and a healthy side for a rich pasta course like the Spaghetti Carbonara we had that night

© 2018 Glover Gardens

A Wedgeless Wedge Salad, the Glover Gardens Way

The Grill-Meister and I love wedge salads. You know, the traditional steakhouse-style that unapologetically showcases iceberg lettuce and blue (bleu) cheese, with ample garnishes of bright red tomato and crunchy bacon?

One version that we really liked (from a steakhouse, of course) added balsamic vinegar syrup. Yeah, baby! That addition took the wedge up to a whole ‘nother level.  It is really simple to make a balsamic syrup – or rather, a balsamic reduction sauce, to use proper cooking terminology.  All you have to do is use twice as much as you want to end up with and cook it in a saucepan, low and slow, ’til it reduces by half. But not longer, or else you’ll end up with balsamic caramel candy. (I know this from personal experience.) Some recipes will tell you to add brown sugar or some nonsense like that – don’t believe ’em! There is plenty of sugar in vinegar already.

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Photo from Kraft Recipes; looks good, but not enough goodies!

We’re kind of picky, and don’t really like the iceberg lettuce to be a big ol’ single wedge.  It looks great, but once you slice into it, there is a lot more lettuce than goodies and you end up wishing you could have more of everything but the lettuce. There just isn’t enough surface space for yummies add-ons with the traditional big wedge. So we split the wedge and arrange them side by side in the salad bowl, waiting to accept all of the lovely goodness this traditional salad has to offer. Photos are at the bottom of the post.

 

We had ribeyes recently, and what goes better with a ribeye than a wedge salad? Am I right? Here is our take on it, the wedgeless wedge.

Glover Gardens Wedgeless Wedge Salad for 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, trimmed and cut into quarters
  • 2 thick slices of red onion, cut in half and separated
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (preferably several colors)
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • blue cheese dressing (purchased or homemade; I used this recipe from Epicurious.com – ingredients below)
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (“lite” is ok, homemade is better if you have it on hand)
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives (or green onion tops)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk (or more; this dressing is pretty thick)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and cook on medium low for 20 minutes or more until thickened and reduced by half.  Set aside. If you are making the dressing yourself, combine all of the ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Arrange the lettuce in two salad bowls so that it covers the whole surface. Distribute the tomato halves, and then arrange slivers of the red onion in a pinwheel (see below). Put a big dollop of the dressing in the middle of each salad, then drizzle the balsamic reduction around the edge of the salad bowl (don’t be stingy with it).

Sprinkle the bacon, green onions and blue cheese crumbles atop the salad, then add a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Glover Gardens "Wedge" Salad
The foundation layer, before all the goodies.
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The finished product, after the goodies and balsamic glaze.

We served the wedgeless wedge alongside grilled ribeyes, but they could truly be main course salads. You could add grilled chicken, shrimp or even tofu to amp up the protein.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

Root Vegetable Salad with 3-1-2 Balsamic Honey Dijon Dressing

I shared our recipe for the spicy-tangy-easy 3-1-1 Balsamic Honey Dijon salad dressing yesterday and one of you told me privately that you’ll be making it in the next few days. Yay! (I love this validation.)

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Yesterday’s simple salad with the 3-1-1 dressing

We had some dressing left over and here’s what we did with it today.

 

I gathered some random root vegetables that were left over from holiday meals, some toasted pecans, and about a half cup of chopped bell pepper that didn’t get used in last night’s Lobster and Shrimp Pasta Carbonara (another story!). The root vegetables were fennel, a radish, a bit of cauliflower, 1½ carrots and a clove of garlic. I knew these crunchy superstars would be great when paired with the tangy dressing – and I desperately needed a healthy, high-fiber salad to go with our creamy and decadent Lobster and Shrimp Pasta Carbonara.

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The crunch and tang of the root vegetable salad was perfect with the carbonara

I didn’t jot down the ingredients exactly, but here’s the gist of the salad. It rocked! It was a perfect compliment to the very rich main course.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of sliced fennel bulb
  • 2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 large radish, halved and sliced thinly
  • ½ cup roughly chopped bell pepper
  • ¼ cup sliced cauliflower
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp 3-1-1 dressing – or the 3-1-2 version if you want spicy
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.

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The root vegetables and leftover chopped bell pepper
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Chopped veggies, nuts and fennel fronds wait for the dressing
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This salad feeds about 4 very happy people as a side dish

While this was a throw-down salad to use what we already had, it could star in its own show by accompanying a protein like grilled or seared scallops, grilled chicken breast (drizzle more dressing over the chicken!), grilled shrimp, or even grilled tofu for a vegan meal.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

Cool Off in the Hot Summer with Salmon Louie Salad

In the late summer when the heat is getting you down, it’s time for a gigantic salad for dinner.  The Grill-Meister is partial to Crab Louie (or is it Louis?) Salad but also loves when we have plank-grilled salmon for dinner, so one night we decided to combine the two ideas and make a Salmon Louie Salad. And we threw on some grilled shrimp, too. Yum!

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Doesn’t that just look like it will cool you down on these blistering August days?

This is a super-easy one-dish meal, although you could serve a crusty french bread with it.  There isn’t really a firm recipe or amounts for the salad part, but I’ll talk you through it. Leave out the shrimp if you want; it’s good but not necessary for the meal to be glorious.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite salad greens (we like a mix)
  • Enough boiled eggs so that you won’t be fighting over them
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
  • Sliced red onions
  • Croutons
  • Grilled shrimp (1 lb peeled and cleaned shrimp, 1 tbsp olive oil, seasoning mix)
  • Plank-grilled salmon (recipe here) – see ingredients list in that recipe, and don’t forget the plank!
  • Thousand Island dressing or your favorite (no need to stick with tradition here if there’s something you like better); I like this Remoulade
  • Salt and liberal amounts of freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Start with the plank-grilled salmon recipe, because you’ll have to soak the plank for at least 30 minutes, make the spice rub and apply it to the fish, and heat up the grill.

Salmon After Spice Rub
The spice rub assembles quickly and is just the right balance of sweet and spicy

Toss the shrimp with olive oil and about 2 tsp of your favorite Southwest or Cajun spice mix (we always use my Zippy Southwest); if you don’t have a spice mix on hand, try 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).  Set aside with the fish.

Prepare the plates and start layering on the goodies, starting with a big fluffy base of greens and arranging the rest of the ingredients except the croutons all over each plate, leaving space in the middle for the salmon filet. Store the plated salads in the refrigerator until you’re ready for them.

If you’re making the remoulade, now’s the time.

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Remoulade before mixing; it goes really well with salmon

Grill the salmon according to the directions in the recipe.

Salmon in the Grill
I add a few sliced red onions and poblano peppers if there is room left on the cedar plank.

Throw the shrimp on the grill after you remove the salmon (tent foil over the salmon while it is resting and after adding the honey drizzle called for in the recipe).  The shrimp cook pretty quickly on a hot grill, about 2 minutes per side.

Add a salmon filet, some grilled shrimp and the croutons to each plate, then add a sprinkling of salt and generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Serve with the dressing of your choice; I like to serve it on the side.

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This salad goes really well with a crisp Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc, if you’re a wine drinker.

Enjoy! (And cool off.)

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Chipotle Chicken Salad

I first tasted Chipotle Chicken Salad on a multi-family road trip to the Rio Frio area of West Texas.  It was a marvelous concoction by my friend Theresa on her day to make lunch for the crowd. I never got her recipe, and she is cooking with the angels now.  I miss her every day.  But I devised my own recipe based on that taste memory, and it’s pretty darn good.  It’s also very easy, and quick. I made it recently as an appetizer for a football-watching party and aw, shucks, there was abundant praise.  This recipe is as foodie-worthy as it is appropriate for a tailgate party.  Hmmm, there’s a big game coming up…

 

Chipotle Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat, skin off, roughly chopped (one regular-sized rotisserie chicken should yield about 3 cups when deboned)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (red, white or yellow based on your preference or mood)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup jalapeño jack or jalapeño cheddar cheese
  • 1 minced chipotle chile and 1 1/2 tbsp. of the adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can of mild green chiles (4 oz.)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chile pepper (ground)
  • bread, rolls or crackers for serving, or you can put it on a bed of mixed greens
  • pepper jelly spread (optional), if you make little slider sandwiches
  • chopped cilantro for garnishing

Cooking Instructions

Combine the chicken, onion, cilantro and cheese in a medium bowl and toss.  In a small bowl, mix the chipotle and adobo sauce, yogurt, mayonnaise, green chiles, salt and ancho chile powder, then pour over the chicken combination.  Stir well to mix, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.  You can also add more mayo or yogurt if the mixture is too dry.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with crackers, slider rolls or on a bed of mixed greens.  Pepper jelly is a great condiment; I like the Inferno Sauce from Just Pure Flavors, a regular at our local farmers’ market.

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I took this batch to a football playoff party and let the guests make their own sliders
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We donated the (scant) leftovers of the first batch to the gracious party hosts, and were so sad to leave it behind that I made some more for us the very next weekend

About the Ingredients

I use a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, both the white and dark meat, which provides a broader range of taste and texture than just using chicken breast.

I go back and forth between using red, white or yellow onions – they are all good for their own reasons.  Red onions are apropos in Southwest dishes, and pretty.  Yellow onions are sweet and mellow.  White onions are crunchy, sharper and more pungent.  It’s all dependent upon your onion mood.

The Greek yogurt really gives the chicken salad a tart and tangy taste, while the mayo provides a sweet creaminess.  I like using them together for the balance.  You can use nonfat yogurt and light mayonnaise without impacting the taste, in my humble opinion.

If you have never used chipotle chies, it’s easy.  Just pop open the can and use the amount you need, saving the rest for later.  For this recipe, fish out a whole chipotle pepper, then mush your measuring spoon in the adobo sauce to get the 1 1/2 tbsp. you need.

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I like McCormick’s Ancho Chile Pepper for the dried spice-it-up kick.  If you can’t find it, cayenne will do, but it won’t be as multidimensional, taste-wise.

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As the “delivery device” for serving the Chipotle Chicken Salad, I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls this time, both jalapeño and regular-flavored, and of course the jalapeño ones went first – bring on the spice!  The slider-sized sandwiches are just right for a hearty party like the football-watching event we attended.  160212-jalapeno-rolls-framed-w-pkg-300x300

Wheat Thins or water crackers are also a great delivery device, more appropriate for snacking or an appetizer for a cocktail party.

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

5 Flavors Kale and Nut Butter Salad with Pineapple, Almonds and Tomatoes

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5 flavors photo from The 5 Tastes & How to Cook with Them, by Mark Weinberg

The five basic flavors – bitter, salty, sour, sweet and umami – are supposed to make our taste buds celebrate like it’s New Year’s Eve in Vegas when they are appropriately combined.  The Five Tastes and How to Cook with Them provides a high-level overview of the five flavors.  I find that concept more and more intriguing, and am thinking about the five flavors now when I create new recipes.

Why am I talking about this?  I wanted to give it a try and had it in mind to make a kale salad with the (marvelous) nut butter and honey from our local farmers’ market.  One of my favorite vendors, Just Pure Flavors, makes all kinds of great nut butters (like Bacon Jalapeño Cashew), and I’ve been itching to create a recipe that features these interesting flavors and smooth texture.  So I looked up all kinds of variations of each of the five flavors to decide how to create my 5 Flavors Kale and Nut Butter Salad with Pineapple, Almonds and Tomatoes.  It was fun picking the representatives for each of the five flavors (and a little nerve-wracking – would they work together?):

  • Bitter:  the kale
  • Salty:  the nut butter, some salt, the almonds
  • Sour:  the lemon juice
  • Sweet:  the honey, the pineapple, the tomatoes
  • Umami:  the fish sauce

Some say the sixth important flavor is…fat.  I can go with that based on the pleasure of the unctuous feel of a fat-laden bite – think about the creaminess of avocado, or the velvety glide of a hollandaise, or the glorious silkiness of Alfredo sauce, or the guilty pleasure of the bronzed turkey skin with its undercoat of fat.

811bivp2bn1l-_sx522_And beyond the 5 flavors, I know that a recipe like this needs some crunch, and some onions and garlic.  Doesn’t everything need onions and garlic?  For the crunch, because I thought this would be special dish, I chose Marcona almonds. They are Spanish almonds which are blanched and then roasted in olive oil and tossed with salt. You MUST try these almonds, even though they are on the pricey side.  And in this salad, as an important part in the symphony of flavors … wow. The onion and garlic provided their own muted back-of-your-mouth bite, balancing the 5 flavors and the crunch of the almonds.

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Nice color contrasts between the tomatoes and kale

In addition to the grape tomatoes, which provide a lovely color contrast, I used pineapple for some of the sweetness because I had a fresh pineapple on hand, but I think that almost any fruit in season would work:  strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi or star fruit, apple, pear, apricots, cherries, mango or papaya. OR – and this would make it a holiday-appropriate dish – you could use dried cranberries, cherries, golden raisins or even chopped prunes.  This shouldn’t be a salad that is relegated to spring and summer meals, because it is a really refreshing side for a heavy soup, stew, or big ol’ grilled meats.  Or that Thanksgiving turkey.  I’ve just decided to put it on the Turkey and Gratitude Day menu this year.

The verdict for this recipe-in-the-mind transformed into a Glover Gardens kitchen reality? It turned out all right! I mean it was really, really good, so good that the vegetable and greens-averse Grill-Meister even liked it.  I felt like I just won Chopped.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

  • bacon-jalapeno-jam
    Just Pure Flavors makes great nut butters and jams which are front-seat ingredients in many of my recipes

    1/2 tsp. fish sauce

  • 1 tbsp. good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. local honey (from your farmers’ market!)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. nut butter (I use Just Pure Flavors’ Bacon Jalapeño Cashew Butter)
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 10 grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh or canned pineapple
  • 1/2 cup Marcona almonds
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Several grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 small bunch of kale, about 4 cups, chopped

Combine all ingredients except for the kale and stir until well mixed.  Put the kale in a medium bowl, add the dressing, and mix. Transfer to a clean bowl and serve.

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Gathering ingredients
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The “dressing” is chunky with the tomatoes, onions and almonds
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Chop the kale in in large bites before adding the dressing
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This salad is really, really tasty

Note:  Marcona almonds are expensive!  So if you are not in the mood to splurge, use cashews, or toasted pecans, or even peanuts.

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Warm and Yummy First Course: Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

We love fresh goat cheese (chèvre) here at Glover Gardens.  Its tangy, creamy, tart goodness compliments just about anything you can think of to pair it with, but it is good without much doctoring, too. And we love goats, too.  They are so friendly!  We found a marvelous goat cheese farm in Buena Vista, CO, that we like to visit when we travel to our cabin, Little House in the Rockies.  The goats’ milk at Jumpin’ Good Goats makes  incredibly good cheeses ranging from very soft Creme de la Chèvre to goat feta to goat cheddar.  We sampled like there was no tomorrow ever gonna come, and brought back a full ice chest of goat cheese to Glover Gardens.  Good times.

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The picture  (below) of this goat cheese salad that I created after looking at lots of other recipes was one of the first that I uploaded when I started the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog last year (on the About page), but I never shared the recipe.  It’s time now that the leaves are beginning to fall – doesn’t warm goat cheese in a savory Panko crust on a bed of greens dressed with very good olive oil and balsamic vinegar sound good?  So good you want to eat it right now??

Baked Goat Cheese Salad
Baked Goat Cheese Salad

I’ll admit it – there are other good recipes out there with warm, Panko- or something-crusted goat cheese on a salad, but most of them are more complex than this one (dip the goat cheese in egg before coating, marinate the goat cheese, make a creamy dressing, etc.).  I like this recipe because it is simple and jusssst right.  The goat cheese with its golden brown and savory crust is the star of the show, and greens don’t need nothin’ but high-class olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The first time we made it, this salad was the first course in advance of a lovely, garlic-studded pork tenderloin (I need to post that recipe, too!), and we were a little full by the time we got to the pork.  So beware…and maybe, if you’re serving a robust main course, just serve one goat cheese round per plate.  That would stretch this recipe to serve 8.  The goat cheese salad is also a really, really good luncheon dish, paired with a soup.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 celery stalk, sliced slanted / crosswise in 1/4 inch slices to form pretty slivers
  • 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 1/4 slices red onion, quartered
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup Panko or toasted breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. dried, plus extra leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 8 oz. goat cheese log, sliced into 8 rounds (put the goat cheese back in the refrigerator after you slice it if you’re not going to crust it right away)
  • High-quality balsamic vinegar

Cooking Instructions

Preheat over to 375. In a small bowl, combine Panko, oregano, red pepper, garlic, pepper and salt and stir to mix. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and stir until evenly distributed. This mixture will form the crust for the goat cheese.  Spread 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a small rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the goat cheese rounds, then use your hands to coat each one on all sides with the Panko mixture and arrange on the baking sheet. Put in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown (don’t be shy about turning on the broiler for a moment if you need to).

While the goat cheese is baking, arrange greens on four salad plates, then add celery, tomatoes and onions. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the salads. Remove goat cheese from oven and place two on each salad, then add freshly ground pepper to taste and garnish with oregano leaves or a small amount of dried oregano.


And if you’re as into goat cheese as we are, here’s another really good goat cheese recipe:  Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread .  More to come, I promise…

 

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Zucchini Salad

Well gee, I didn’t know this was a thing.  Zucchini ribbons tossed with olive oil and other goodies, in a salad.  La Traviata in Austin, you taught me something.

As described on the menu: “Zucchini ribbons, green olives, fresh mint, parsley and shaved Pecorino Toscana”.  I was intrigued.

Well gee, it was delightful!  The soft and mild zucchini with its unctuous coating of  olive oil was offset by the tartness of the green olives and fresh and bright flavors of the mint and parsley.  The pecorino cheese provided a salty textural balance.  It was a perfect dish.

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I will be experimenting with zucchini ribbons soon.  Expect a few recipes in the near future.

 

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Lemony and Super-Quick Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

 

Sometimes, you just need a quick salad, something that’s bright and fresh but still lets the main course be the star of the meal.

This happens a lot on Sandwich Wednesday, the night when the Glover Gardens Grill-Meister becomes the Panini-Maker.  I highly recommend Sandwich Wednesday for every household; it makes the mid-week dinner something to look forward to.  Read all about our Sandwich Wednesday, including the appliance and cookbooks that power it.

I was motivated to make this salad because when I arrived home on a recent Wednesday, the Grill-Meister had all of the ingredients ready for a wonderful Steak and Bacon Panini (recipe later, I promise) and I was in the mood to play a supporting role in the kitchen.  Thus, the super-quick, lemony goodness that follows.  The recipe serves 8, and I usually half it because we are a small household – and getting smaller with the youngest heading to college next month.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced (peel a few strips with a peeler to make it pretty if you like)
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large ripe avocado or two small ones, roughly chopped

Dressing

  • Juice of two small lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil or other fresh herb of your choice (oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro), or 1 tsp. dried basil or other herb
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork.  Pour over the salad and stir gently, being careful not to mash the avocado.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.


The Grill-Meister was very complimentary about this salad.  “There’s something about the rich combination of the avocado and the olive oil, balanced by the tartness of the lemon…”  And I agree with him, there’s definitely something about this combination.  It’s really important to use high-quality olive oil for any fresh salad dressing – it has a huge impact on the flavor.  I like to buy local and get my artisan olive oil for all our favorite dishes from Olivero Farms at our local farmer’s market.  

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The salad before the dressing is poured on; this is a half recipe for our small household
Avocado Salad
It looks beautiful in a white serving dish
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The perfect poolside accompaniment to the Grill-Meister’s Steak and Bacon Paninis

Throw-Down Side: Quick and Easy Black Bean Salad

Sometimes we need a super-quick, super-easy side dish.  Here’s one you can make in 5 minutes, if you have Pico de Gallo on hand.  I make it when I’m serving a meal that already requires the brightness of fresh Pico.  The Grill-Meister says that Pico de Gallo is one of my signature dishes, and you know, I have to agree with him.  It makes this side salad.  We served it alongside our Faux-Fajitas and it rocked.

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans; I always use Bush Brothers (they are the BEST beans); click here for info
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Tabasco to taste (I use ten shakes)
  • 1/4 cup already-prepared Pico de Gallo (use store-bought or make your own using my recipe)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese

Cooking Instructions

Drain and rinse the black beans, then put them in a bowl and add the salt, cumin and Tabasco.  Stir to mix.  Add the Pico de Gallo and stir again, then add the shredded cheese and stir a final time.

Serve as a side for grilled meats, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or as part of a vegetarian meal.  You can also serve it as a condiment or dip with tortilla chips.

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I always use Bush’s beans – they’re the best, and I know people who run their learning and knowledge management department – like I said, they’re the best
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Add the salt, cumin and Tabasco to the rinsed and drained beans
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Add the Pico de Gallo and stir
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Add the cheese and stir a final time
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This quick and easy salad is a great side for fajitas or tacos