I know, that sounds a little bossy, “eat more salad!” But, I really think you should. Why? Well, because my guess is that you’re not eating as many servings of fruits and vegetables as you should!
Oh, don’t get upset, I’m not mad at you, I’m just trying to bring some awareness to what you’re putting in that body of yours. The statistics back me up when I say that you’re not getting enough – to the tune of that 85% of us aren’t getting our 2 1/2-cup equivalent servings of vegetables each day! Don’t believe me? The newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans discusses our deficit and encourages us to shift to a diet that places more focus consuming vegetables.
It’s probably not too shocking to hear that I love salads. But, let me clarify, I like salads that have lots of flavor and that satisfy. So if I’m building a salad, rest assured that it will taste good, be nutritious and leave you feeling content – like a happy little rabbit. Guaranteed then, that this Spinach Salad with Macerated Strawberry dressing will leave your little white tail twitching with joy.
That’s what everyone wants right, for everything in life to be a little easier? No lines at the post office, no red lights on the way to work or perhaps someone around who can clean your house and do your laundry? Well, sure that would be fine and wonderful, but it’s just not possible. The good news though? There is one area of your life that I can assure you can be easier, and that’s meal preparation.
“How?” you ask.
Just ask my friends at the Recipe Redux. The theme this month is simplicity and simplicity to them means recipes that contain less than 7 ingredients. Brilliant! My recipe for this month is super easy. I start with French green lentils, which are earthy and delicious and hold their shape and texture well. Then, I add fresh veggies in the way of bell peppers, cucumber and spinach. I jazz it up with a little fresh parsley and feta cheese and then use simple vinaigrette-based salad dressing to put that exclamation point on EASY! And there you go, in just about 30 minutes, you’ve made an amazing lentil salad that is not only delicious, but nutritious. Bravo!
And when you’re done making this recipe, check out the recipes below for more inspiration. They’re all super delicious and nutritious, less than 7 ingredients and EASY!
And Here are the Pretty Pictures of my French Lentil Salad:
A simple, yet elegant salad made with green French lentils, fresh spinach, cucumbers, parsley and feta cheese.
1 cup green or French lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups spinach, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup seeded, diced cucumber
1 cup fresh parsley, cleaned, dried and finely chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Balsamic vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing
Place lentils in a medium-size pot and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in salt and continue to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Spread on a sheet pan to cool or, rinse in cool water.
To a large salad bowl, add the cooled lentils, spinach, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, feta cheese and cooled lentils. Drizzle dressing over the vegetables and lentils, then toss to combine. Add salt and black pepper, if desired.
And it’s time to switch things up a bit. Yes, romaine is good and so are tomatoes and all of the other “usual” salad suspects, but why not try something new? What would you say to Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette?
“That’s too fancy!” Is that perhaps your answer? I sure hope not because that’s just not true. Yes, it may sound fancy, but the ingredients are simple and the recipe is easy. See, not fancy at all!
My new salad obsession just happens to begin with my favorite green, baby arugula. There’s just something special about that little green leaf. It’s just so….spicy and interesting. And I like my food spicy and interesting! When you pair arugula with dried chopped apricots (for a little sweetness), sliced apples, pistachios, feta cheese and champagne vinaigrette, you’ve got a unique salad that is incredibly interesting (and nutritious).
So bust out that bowl and salad tongs and get mixing!
The Pretty Pictures of My Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette:
Well, it’s officially September and it’s blazing saddles here in Chicago. That means it’s time to be creative in the kitchen. Read, “how can I cook without cooking?” Luckily, Mother Nature is on our side during the warmer months, providing us with a wealth of fresh produce that requires very little preparation. How kind of Her! So, to keep the sweat at bay, I created this hearty bean salad that’s both refreshing and satisfying.
If you’ve got a can opener and a knife, you’re all set for this recipe. Just pop open a couple of cans of beans, then chop up some fresh veggies and you’ve pretty much got this dish made. Lots of beans and veggies means you know it’s good for you, which is just an added bonus, really. Then, to jazz it all up a bit, I’ve created a tangy, yet sweet vinaigrette made from fresh lime juice and zest as well as honey, mustard and olive oil. That’s it! So easy, just like I promised.
Serve up a big bowl of this tonight for dinner and save the rest to munch on during the week. This salad tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge.
P.S. – If you’re not in the mood to cook an ear of fresh corn, you can substitute thawed corn or canned corn. See, so easy!
This delightfully healthy dish comes together fast and it not only looks beautiful, but tastes great too.
For the salad
1 ear of fresh corn, shucked and cleaned (or about 1 cup corn kernels)
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or any other bean will work here too)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and diced
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
For the dressing
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt, to taste
To prepare the salad
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and return to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse the corn under cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and when cool enough to touch, cut kernels from the cob and add to a large serving or mixing bowl.
To the same bowl with the corn, add the beans, peppers, onion, cilantro and jalapeño, if you’re using it. Toss to combine.
For the dressing
In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, lime zest, lime juice and honey. Whisk in the olive oil.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to evenly coat the beans and vegetables. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Toss again before serving.
This recipe makes between 7 1/2 and 8 cups salad.
You don’t have to let this salad sit in the fridge before digging in, but it does taste so much better when you do!
July is an amazing time of year in Chicago. The parks are bursting with activity, the pools are packed with every kid in the neighborhood and it seems like everyone is outside, enjoying every ray of sunshine. It’s a magical time of year here, and I love it. That energy always inspires me in the kitchen. I’ve long forgotten about those hearty winter dishes because my “palette” has been replaced with fresh, beautiful, summer produce.
That brings me to this month’s Recipe Redux theme, which is simply, use the beautiful produce that surrounds you to create a delicious dish. Challenge accepted! Seeing as I love a good salad, I turned my sights to one of my favorite greens, kale. Not just any kale though, dark green, dinosaur or lacinato kale. I love this type of kale, not just because it’s nutritious (that dark green color means it’s laden with good-for-you antioxidants!), but because it’s a bit sweeter and a little more tender than it’s conventional counterpart. It also makes a lovely salad when sliced into fun, thin little ribbons.
Kale is a good start, but then, what should I top it with? Well, of course more gorgeous produce! How about a bell pepper and oh, what about a delicious, ripe, juicy peach? And for a little crunch (and to get some healthy fats in there), how about some walnuts? Then, to keep things simple, a vinaigrette made with only five ingredients, all of which are kitchen staples. Success! (I forgot to mention the goat cheese, a definite necessity, don’t leave it out!)
Enjoy this lacinato kale salad with peaches and maple vinaigrette as a meal by topping it with grilled chicken or tofu. Or scoop it into bowls and serve it on the side with any summer meal. It can make a great appetizer too, a perfect starter that’s refreshing and just happens to be nutritious too!
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and shallot. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil, mixing until combined.
To make the salad: Remove the stems from the kale and reserve for another use (slice and use in a soup, for example). Thinly slice the kale leaves and place them in a large mixing bowl. Give the kale leaves a good massage with your hands to help soften them. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Let sit for about 10 minutes then add the peach slices, walnuts, shallot, pepper, goat cheese, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the remaining dressing and carefully toss everything together. Serve immediately.
Summer!!! It’s finally here! I can, at last, look out my window and see leaves on the trees and grass on the ground. This makes me so incredibly happy! Besides the nicer, warmer weather, I’m also very excited about the plethora of amazing fresh produce practically spilling out of the bins at the supermarket and farmer’s markets. It’s like Christmas every day for me! To honor that excitement, one of my most recent posts on the Cutting Board Blog is for a Green Bean and Corn Salad. It’s a simple salad that highlights the beauty of summer produce. So enjoy and hey, why not bring it your July 4th party? It’s perfect for picnics and potlucks.
A grilled salad recipe that easily serves a crowd.
For the dressing
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
For the grilled vegetables and croutons
1 large whole wheat baguette, sliced in half length-wise
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4 “ slices
2 large assorted bell peppers, seeded, cut into large planks
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
5 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
3/4 cup Spanish olives, chopped
To prepare the dressing: whisk together the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the chopped parsley, garlic and Manchego.
Pre-heat the grill to medium. Lightly brush the bread halves, red onion slices and bell peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the grill is hot, add the vegetables and grill until tender, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
Place the bread on the grill cut side down and cook until light brown in color and slightly crunchy, about 4-5 minutes. Turn occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the bread into large bite-sized pieces. Place the chopped bread, onions and peppers into a large bowl.
Toss the bread and vegetables with the dressing, tomatoes and olives. Let stand at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
Add a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans or cannellini beans to make this salad a complete meal!
Raining or snowing? No problem, just make the recipe inside using a grill pan. Instead of cutting the bread lengthwise, cut horizontally into 12 pieces, slicing on the bias, brush with olive oil, then grill.