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Posts tagged as “salad”

Caprese salad: The best way to say farewell to summer produce

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There's something to be said about having the right tools to get a job done. I think this goes for just about anything in life, even food.

When you have nice ingredients or tools, cooking is more of a joy. It could mean a splurge on a quality olive oil or an aged balsamic vinegar, a luxury like truffles or Kobe/Wagyu beef (for meat eaters - maybe not for me ;) ), or a nice quality knife or cutting block to work with as you prepare meals.

Sometimes, it doesn't have to be expensive at all: buying produce in season, for example, when it's abundant. You're already off to a good start of making something good when you're working with fresh food that's in-season. It speaks for itself. You can do so little to it and it's still delicious.

As ready as I am for the season to change as I sit here on my porch, on the cusp of my favorite time of the year — with cool wind blowing through the windows, anticipating the turning colors of the leaves that will start any time now — I'll always take time to savor the last of the wonderful summer produce that I've grown and harvested or purchased locally at markets.

And one ingredient I always miss the most as the season turns is the tomato.

Fresh and Easy Greek Salad

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As much as I love to cook as a way to relax, we've all been there: coming home from a long day at work or school, just wanting something quick for dinner so the kitchen clean-up can be expedited and the unwinding after that can begin.

Fortunately, it doesn't take a lot of time at all to make a big main course salad—one of my go-tos for an easy dinner on a weeknight, on a hot summer night when turning on the oven is out of the question or, frankly, on any night when the last place that anyone wants to be is in the kitchen for a long period of time.

Served on a big platter for 2-4 people, salads make a complete meal with the addition of some protein or a side of bread while still being light enough not to weigh you down for the rest of the night. Cobb salad is a favorite of mine, but takes a lot of ingredients to get it all together: blue cheese, bacon, avocado... All delicious, but if you're really looking to cut down time and want to save a couple of pennies since avocados and a good blue cheese can get pricey, turn to Greek salad.

Basic Italian Dressing

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I'm willing to bet that many of us have made an Italian dressing from a packaged seasoning mix. It's a staple in many American grocery stores and a convenience food, no doubt.

Add the powder dressing mix to oil and vinegar, and in some cases shake it up in a glass bottle that comes with the seasoning mix, and you get a yellow dressing that's flecked with various red, black and green herb and pepper bits.

Sounding familiar? Bringing back some memories of either loving (or loathing) salad in years past?

I thought so... and I know I've personally poured it over plenty bowls of green salads made with romaine or Iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and sometimes black olives growing up.

Cobb Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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Confession: I have a "thing" about Cobb salad.

I've always appreciated the various tastes and textures within it—crunchy lettuce, refreshing tomatoes, crispy bacon, creamy hard boiled eggs and blue cheese—but it was ever since I tried the Green Goddess Chicken Cobb at Panera Bread, believe it or not, that I've been really hooked.

Panera's salad is a perfect combination of traditional Cobb salad ingredients with a few unexpected extras. Pickled red onions add a nice, sweet and sour tang and a herby Green Goddess dressing adds a another refreshing final layer of flavor to the salad. All-in-all, it's pretty yummy.

Big, main course salads are a perfect meal to make during the summer. They are light and refreshing, and they don't take a lot of effort or time. Just chop up ingredients—or buy pre-chopped ingredients to make assembly even quicker—and quickly assemble on a bed of lettuce arranged on a big platter, family-style, to allow everyone to help themselves.