Salads

Kale Salad: It’s Good For You And Tastes Great

 

Kale, that curly dark green leaf, is ubiquitous. I even saw it in Whole Foods today in the chip section… as in kale chips in savory flavors. I’ve baked and roasted it and added it to soups and sauces. But I hadn’t prepared it raw. How happy I am to report that it is delicious as a salad and is now a family favorite.

I tasted this at The Napa Valley Grill in Los Angeles and thought it would be even better with a few changes. I used currants instead of raisins and Spanish Marcona almonds instead of California almonds. I also like the idea of combining crispy sweet romaine lettuce with the slightly bitter kale. It is a happy combination of flavors.

The lemony whole-grain mustard dressing is just the ticket to dress these mixed greens. Remember that you can use this vinaigrette with any other green salad with equally satisfying results. If you can find Meyer lemons use them for an even richer citrus flavor. And tiny diced pears, peaches, nectarines, plums or even dried apricots make a colorful substitute for the currants. Serve this salad as a side dish with grilled fish or poultry or as a main course for lunch.

Cook’s Notes;

  • To cook the quinoa, rinse ¾ cup quinoa, combine quinoa with 1 ½ cups water or chicken stock and boil it for 10 minutes. Let cool.

 

  • To shred the kale and lettuce, stack leaves on top of each other, roll up tightly and then thinly slice through the leaves until you have shredded greens.

 

Shredded Kale and Romaine Salad with Quinoa, Currants and Almonds

Serves 6 as a side dish or 3 to 4 as a main dish

 

5 ounces shredded kale (½ 10 ounce bag)

1 medium head of Romaine lettuce, dark green leaves removed, shredded

1 1/2 cups cooked cooled quinoa

1/3 cup dried currants

1/3 cup toasted almonds, preferably Marcona, coarsely chopped

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

¼ cup tablespoons lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium shallot, minced

1 ½ tablespoons Dijon style whole grain mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

2    tablespoons freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

 

 

  • In a salad bowl combine the kale, lettuce, quinoa, currants and almonds together and toss.

 

  • In a food processor combine the salad dressing ingredients. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

 

  • Just before serving, toss the dressing with the salad ingredients and garnish with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise

This classic Provencal salad is said to originate in Nice, France. Many modern Nicoise-style salads include fresh grilled ahi tuna, but I prefer the imported canned variety packed in oil for a more traditional recipe.

Look for small, bright green beans for sweet tender flavor. You can also use fingerling potatoes and just cut them into thin strips. I prefer hard-boiled eggs to have a bright yellow center that offsets the other colors in the salad. The best method is to bring the eggs to a boil and then turn off the heat, cover them for 9 minutes. Cool and peel.

Nicoise olives add a briny meatiness to this zesty vegetable and tuna mixture. A classic Nicoise salad always include some anchovies so feel free to add them if your group likes them. I am fond of the Spanish white anchovies that come refrigerated and are milder and sweeter than their canned cousins.

Salad Nicoise

Serves 6 to 8

Salad:

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes

1 pound green beans, cleaned and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned (see tip)

1 small sweet red pepper, seeded and julienned

1/2 cup Nicoise olives, drained and stemmed

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced and cut into 11/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons finely basil

Freshly ground black pepper

3 5-ounce cans imported tuna packed in oil, drained and broken into chunks

Dressing:

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish:

3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered

2 small tomatoes, sliced into sixths or ½ pint yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved

Basil leaves

6 to 10 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained on paper towels (optional)

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes, depending upon their size. Drain and cool. When cool, peel and cut into julienne slices. Place in a large bowl.

2. In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Immerse the green beans and cook until tender but slightly resistant, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and place in ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, drain well and place in the bowl with the potatoes.

3. Add the carrots, red pepper, olives, red onion, capers, basil, black pepper and half of the tuna to the vegetables and toss to combine.

4. To make the dressing, combine the garlic, mustard, basil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until thoroughly combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. When ready to serve, use just enough dressing to moisten the salad. Toss carefully to combine, making sure not to break up the capers. Taste for seasoning. Mound the salad high in a large, shallow serving bowl. Place the remaining tuna (and anchovies, if desired) on the top of the salad. Spoon a little dressing on the tuna. Alternate the egg wedges and tomatoes around the outside edge. Garnish with basil leaves and serve. Serve extra dressing on the side.

Tip: To julienne a vegetable, cut it into a rectangle and then cut into thin slices one way and then cut into thin slices the other way creating long, thin strips that look pretty in the salad.

Advance Preparation: This may be prepared through Step 4 up to one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate the dressing and the salad.

 

A fresh take on caprese salad

Italian Caprese Salad is made for the summer season. This classic dish alternates vibrant red tomato spokes with slices of creamy mozzarella and fragrant bright green basil leaves. It kind of reminds you of the color of the Italian flag.

You don’t even need a recipe for this well-loved salad. Pick the freshest, ripe tomatoes as the star component. Alternate tomato slices with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh green basil leaves and you are good to go. All you need for garnishing is some fruity olive oil and salt and pepper.

Sometimes I like to freshen up the idea and give it a new look. Years ago I enjoyed a tomato and watermelon salad in East Hampton and thought it would be the basis of a good alternative to the classic Caprese Salad.

Beautiful on a buffet table, this variation s a welcome surprise. Here, large red, ripe tomatoes are sliced and overlapped on a platter. The refreshing and texturally pleasing watermelon, cucumber and feta relish is dolloped on top of each tomato. Make sure to have a couple of large spoons for ease in serving.

 

 

Summer Caprese Salad with Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Relish

Serves 6 to 8

Relish

1 1/2 cups ½-inch diced seedless yellow or red watermelon

1 ½ cups ½-inch diced European cucumber

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

 

Dressing

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

2 cups mixed greens like spring greens or arugula or mache

6 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes

 

 

  1. Combine all of the relish ingredients in a medium bowl carefully, making sure to not break the watermelon into smaller pieces. Reserve.

 

  1. In a small bowl, add the red wine vinegar. While whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Add the chives and season with salt and pepper.

 

  1. Just before serving. Arrange the mixed greens in the center of a large circular platter. Cut the tomatoes into 1 ½- inch slices and arrange on a platter in a circular pattern overlapping.
  2. Pour about half of the dressing over the relish and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning. Place a dollop of relish on each tomato slice. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve immediately.

 

Advance Preparation: Relish and dressing may be made up to 2 hours ahead, covered and kept at room temperature. It is best to finish this just before serving.

 

The Clever Cook Could:

 

  • Substitute diced or tiny balls of fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese for the feta cheese.

 

  • This can be doubled. Use a very large platter or 2 platters.

 

  • You can make these into towers. Place a slice of tomato on the bottom of a salad plate and then a dollop of relish. Repeat 1 more time.

With summer on the horizon, it’s time to think about potato salad

Make sure to keep the potato salad refrigerated until serving.

Make sure to keep the potato salad refrigerated until serving.

At a national potato salad contest I judged last summer, every entrant claimed to have the “best” recipe. After sampling more varieties than I can remember, I came to the obvious conclusion that taste is truly a matter of personal opinion.

I couldn’t enter either of my potato salads into that contest but I still think either of these “coulda been a contender.” One has all the components of classic American potato salad with a little pizzazz. The secret ingredient is celery seed. This salad is creamy, mustardy and even includes chopped hard-boiled eggs. Make sure to keep the salad chilled at all times to avoid any health problems.

My other recipe is a zesty, tomato-vinaigrette-dressed potato salad that has no dairy in it, so you can serve it at an outside gathering without worrying about leaving it in the sun. It is also perfect for those allergic to dairy. Much of the flavor comes from the sun-dried tomato pesto, balsamic vinegar and capers.

I prefer unpeeled potatoes for potato salad because they add color (not to mention it saves time in the kitchen). Scrub them well since there can be dirt on them.

Diane’s Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

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Serves 6-8

3 pounds medium red rose or bliss, tan-skinned or yellow (Yukon Gold) potatoes

Dressing

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 celery stalks, finely diced

2 tablespoons chopped scallions

2 teaspoons celery seed

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon grainy mustard

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Wash and scrub off any dirt on the potatoes.
2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool. Do not peel. Cut into 2-inch chunks and place in a medium bowl.

3. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, celery, scallions, celery seed, parsley, chopped egg, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.

4. Pour mixture over potatoes and mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to one day ahead.

5. To serve, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve cold.

Advance preparation: Can be made one day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Taste for seasoning before serving.

Potato Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Caper Vinaigrette

Serves 6 to 8

Vinaigrette

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons store-bought Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

2 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

3 pounds small potatoes such as creamers or fingerlings, unpeeled

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for the garnish

1. In a small bowl, combine vinegars, mustard, tomato pesto, capers, salt, pepper and parsley. Whisk well to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil, while whisking until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Set aside.

2. Wash and scrub off any dirt on the potatoes.

3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook potatoes about 20 to 25 minutes or until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool slightly. Cut into bite-sized chunks and place in a medium bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the potatoes and mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning.

4. Transfer into a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours. Take out of the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Advance preparation: This can be made one day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Make sure to remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Taste for seasoning.

Chef’s Salad

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Ingredients

  • 2 heads of butter lettuce, pale inner leaves only, washed and dried
  • 13 pound honey-baked ham, cut into julienne
  • 13 pound smoked chicken or roast turkey, cut into julienne
  • 8 ounces Monterey jack or Swiss cheese, cut into julienne
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large salad serving bowl, arrange the leaves of the butter lettuce, tearing the larger leaves into bite-size pieces. Arrange the ham, smoked chicken and cheese on top of the lettuce. You can keep each ingredient separate from the others or jumble them all together. The julienne strips could radiate outward from the center of the salad like the spokes of a wheel. Place the wedges of cherry tomato and hard-boiled egg among the main ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, shallot, and salt and pepper until well-blended. While continuously whisking the dressing, drizzle in the oil, and continue whisking for another 10 to 20 seconds until emulsified.
  3. The salad should be served with the dressing on the side, then dressed and tossed at the table.

Makes 4 servings.

Picnic Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • Water, for boiling
  • 3 pounds medium red, tan-skin or yellow (Yukon Gold) potatoes

For the dressing:

  • 34 cup sour cream
  • 34 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 14 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Coleman’s dried mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Parsley sprigs, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool. Do not peel. When cool, cut into 112-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, celery, green onions, celery seed, parsley, chopped egg, dried mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Pour the mixture over potatoes and mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
  4. To serve, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve cold.

Advance Preparation

Can be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Taste for seasoning before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Summer Chopped Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

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Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 12 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 cup packed, coarsely chopped basil leaves

For the salad:

  • 12 pound of fresh mixed salad greens, finely chopped
  • 1 large ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jar (14.5 ounces) hearts of palm, rinsed and sliced
  • 14 European cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh ear of white or sweet yellow corn, husked and kernels cut off (see note)
  • 14 cup shelled and chopped pistachio nuts, toasted (see note)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To prepare the dressing: In a food processor, combine the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard, and process to combine. Slowly add the oil, whisking to incorporate. Add the salt, pepper and basil, and pulse until well-blended. Taste for seasoning.
  2. To prepare the salad: Combine all the salad ingredients into a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss until all the vegetables are well-coated. Transfer to serving plates and garnish with avocado slices. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper on the salad if desired, and serve.
  3. Note: To remove the corn kernels from the cob, break the husked corncob in two. Hold each half vertically, resting it on the blunt end for stability, and slide a chef’s knife down the sides, releasing the corn kernels.
  4. To toast the pistachios, place them on a baking sheet in 350-degree oven and toast for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool.

Tips

  • Some other flavor additions or substitutions you might consider include sweet red or orange bell peppers, cucumbers, provolone, feta cheese or even olives. Another favorite of mine is to chop up chilled, grilled vegetables and top with some goat cheese. For a more substantial main-course salad, add cooked chicken or seafood.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.