As we transition into Fall, I’d like to share one of my all time favorite salads with you (second only to the La Grande’ salad!). I usually associate this salad with Summer, but a few modifications (and variations) cozy it up perfectly for Fall. The best part about this salad is that it is so versatile. The spinach and strawberries are light and fresh, while the blue cheese and almonds hearty and savory. So here it is, The Spinach & Strawberry with Blue Cheese Salad…
Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Blue Cheese (and poppy seed dressing)
INGREDIENTS(for the salad)
1 package of baby spinach (washed & dried)
3/4 cup sliced strawberries
**You can swap out the strawberries for cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or just about any other fruit you like
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or halves if you prefer)
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
INGREDIENTS(for the poppy seed dressing)
1/2 small onion (minced)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. poppy seed
Mix the salad ingredients in a large serving dish, set aside.
To prepare the poppy seed dressing, add all of the ingredients together in a blender and chop until dressing is blended well.
Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss. You will end up with extra dressing which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Remember when I said I had a few more great summer dishes to share before the start of Fall? Well here’s one of them today! You might recall the buffalo chicken pasta salad I shared a few weeks back; a fabulous twist on a classic dish! After sharing that recipe, I knew I had to follow it up with the delicious classic pasta salad recipe that’s been in my family for years. Fresh vegetables have always been big in my family, mostly because my mother was always making something yummy with the veggies from her garden. One of her most popular summer dishes was always her garden veggie pasta salad, a classic dish with a blend of pasta, fresh vegetables, basil, and Italian spices….
Confetti Veggie Pasta Salad
Serves 8-10 as a side
one pound of pasta ( I use a mix of wheat ziti and rotini)
two cups of colorful fresh vegetables (I use corn, red peppers, green peppers, grape tomatoes and red onion)
one cup of fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to instructions. Strain pasta, then run under cold water to keep cool, dry. Set pasta aside.
Prepare fresh basil by pulling the leaves off the stem, set leaves aside. Chop the vegetables into bite sized strips, set aside.
In a shaker, combine olive oil, garlic powder, garlic salt, celery salt, onion powder, parsley, oregano, thyme, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Shake up the mix for 10 seconds.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, fresh basil and vegetable, toss with dressing until pasta is nicely covered. Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving to allow the dressing to marinate. Add salt and pepper as needed before serving.
Pasta salad. The one simple dish that makes an appearance at just about every summer cookout, gathering etc. I know for me it’s always a great go-to dish that I can make ton of and everyone’s sure to enjoy. I’ve been making my usual pasta salad all summer, which is delicious, but I decided it was time to switch it up a bit and try something different. I searched online and came across an interesting recipe for buffalo chicken pasta salad. I went ahead and decided to give it a whirl and it turned out to be a big hit, especially served along with the refreshing Skinny Watermelon Smash summer cocktail! This pasta salad had the perfect kick of spice without being too spicy, and it looked impressive too!
Not too long ago, I visited my best friend (of more than 15 years!) on the west coast. We had an amazing time exploring, shopping, beach cruising from Venice to Malibu, and of course dining out!
My best friend Abra and I on one of our adventures!
Since I’m such a veggie freak, I thoroughly enjoyed all the fresh, healthy and innovative dishes in Los Angeles. There was however, one dish (from the M Street Kitchen restaurant) that I couldn’t not get enough of. In fact, I counldn’t leave California without getting my hands on the recipe.
Without further ado, here it is-the famous M Street Kitchen (formerly La Grande Orange) Brussels Sprout Salad…
La Grande Brussels Sprout Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
(serves 6 as a side dish)
Gather Up (for the mustard vinaigrette dressing):
2 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice with pulp
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup light olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
Whisk all of the above ingredients together in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill before using, dressing will keep for one week.
Gather Up (for the salad):
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. toasted whole almonds (I also add an extra tablespoon of almond slivers)
1 ounce of shaved Manchego cheese (you can substitute for shaved parmesan too)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Slice the brussels sprouts in half and blanch them in the boiling water just until the leaves are vibrant green (approx. 5 minutes). Strain them immediately and cool with cold water. Dry throroghly.
To toast the almonds, lay them on a piece of foil and bake them at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, they burn very quickly!
In a large bowl, mix the Brussel sprouts (you may need to pull them apart a bit if the leaves didn’t separtate enough when boiled), cranberries, nutes and just enough vinaigrette to lightly moisten.
Mound the salad on a plate and top ith the cheese shavings. Serve immediately.
Some salads taste so yummy that they are just as satisfying as a big juicy burger and fries, and there’s a reason for that- most of those salads have just as many calories Big Mac with fries!
That’s one thing you won’t find here!
This salad is SO delightful and seemingly sinful, but it is super low calorie AND packed of powerful nutrients…indulge my friends!
Healthy Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
1 can of chic peas (brushed with olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper- roasted for 30 min at 375 degrees)
1 Pound turkey meat
1 Package taco seasoning
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Package of spinach or mix field greens
1 Small bell pepper, chopped
1 Avocado, chopped
1 Cup broccoli sprouts
½ Cup chopped onion
For the dressing:
½ Cup cilantro leaves
1 Clove of garlic
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 Tablespoon Splenda, sugar, or honey
1 Tablespoon basil leaves
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ Cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare roasted chickpeas. Brown turkey meat and prepare according to the taco meat seasoning instructions.
Prepare salad by dividing lettuce mixture onto plates. Top lettuce with a little of each bell pepper, avocado, broccoli sprouts, chopped onion, and tomatoes.
To prepare salad dressing place cilantro, garlic, juice, onion, Splenda, basil, Dijon, and cumin into blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and well combined. Stream in olive oil until well mixed. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
Add prepared meat and chickpeas to lettuce and veggies. Drizzle with salad dressing.
Kale is not only one of the more attractive cruciferous vegetables, it also happens to be one of the most nutritious. Here are nine enticing reasons to eat kale, and eat it often!
Kale may appear boring and bland, but there are countless ways to prepare it that are fun and delicious, I promise! See some great kale recipes at the end of this article.
Diet and Digestion One cup of kale has only 36 calories and zero grams of fat, which makes it a great diet aid. On top of that, one cup contains nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber, which promotes regular digestion, prevents constipation, lowers blood sugar and curbs overeating. One more little fun fact..kale contains the glucosinolate isothiocyanate (ITC) that fights the formation of H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori), a bacterial growth in the stomach lining that can lead to gastric cancer-who woulda thunk it?
Antioxidants-Stay looking younger longer Kale is a superstar in the arena of carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. The key flavonoids kaempferol and quercitin (not to dismiss the 45 other distinctive flavonoids in kale) have also been shown to specifically fight against the formation of cancerous cells. With the addition of high doses of well-known antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese, kale is certainly a smart choice in the battle against cellular oxidation.
Anti-Inflammatory One cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids that helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process. A megadose of vitamin K further aids to fight against excessive inflammatory-related problems, such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and asthma.
Cancer Not only do kale’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities work together to prevent and even combat cancer, a healthy diet of kale also provides glucosinolates, which have been shown to prevent colon, breast, bladder, prostate, ovarian cancers, as well as gastric cancer.
Cardiovascular Support The high fiber content of kale lowers our cholesterol by binding with bile acids that the liver produces from cholesterol for digesting fat. Because many of these bile acids are coupled with fiber, the liver is charged with producing more bile acid to digest fat, and therefore requires more cholesterol to so, ultimately lowering the amount of cholesterol within our bodies.
Detox The isothiocyanates (ITC) from glucosinolates found in kale aid in both phases I and II of the body’s detoxification process. The high sulfur content of kale has further been shown essential for phase II of detoxification.
Vitamin K Kale provides a whopping dose of vitamin K (providing 1327% of the RDA in one cup), which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Finally, vitamin K is essential for synthesizing sphingolipid, the fat needed to maintain the myelin sheath around our nerves, and therefore our nervous system as a whole.
Vitamin A- With over 192% of the RDA of vitamin A, one cup of kale is an effective antioxidant, boosts immunity, maintains healthy bones and teeth, prevents urinary stones, and is essential to our reproductive organs.
Vitamin C Vitamin C, which one cup of kale heartily provides (over 88% of our RDA), is not only a powerful antioxidant, but also lowers blood pressure, ensures a healthy immune system, and fights against age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
A FEW FUN (AND YUMMY!!) KALE RECIPES…
Easy Peasy Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
Kale Burger-makes 6 patties
1 large bunch kale, well-washed and mostly dried
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon almond butter or tahini
1/2 teaspoon garlic or 1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon coriander cayenne to taste (if you like)
heaping 1/4 cup almond meal heaping
1/4 cup flour
Goat Cheese (or feta)-optional topping
Remove stems and chop kale into very thin ribbons; sprinkle with sea salt and gently massage; let rest 15 minutes. The kale will turn a bright green and soften.
Meanwhile in a food processor or blender combine the tomato, tahini or almond butter, garlic and coriander. If your tomato is not super juicy, add a tablespoon or two of water.
In a large saucepan heat a little oil. Add the kale and saute for a minute; then add 1/2 cup or so of water and cover loosely. Let cook 5 to 8 minutes (the fresher the kale the shorter the cook time) until it’s just wilting but not totally limp. Transfer kale (leave behind any remaining water in the pan) to large bowl.
Meanwhile mix the almond meal and flour in a small bowl. If desired, you could add a little cayenne to this mix too. After it cools enough to handle, add 2/3 of the kale to the blender with the tomato mixture and blend. You don’t want it to get too smooth; maybe pulse on and off for a minute or two.
Transfer this blended mix back into the large bowl with the reserved kale and mix it all together, adding a couple of tablespoons of the flour/almond meal mix too. You should be able to make patties from this mix that hold together fairly well. If too wet, add more flour/almond meal; if too dry, drizzle in some olive oil or water. Form six burgers and coat each burger in the remaining flour/almond meal.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Cook each burger for 4 minutes on each side, adding more oil if need be.
Sesame Kale Salad – serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
1 pound of kale leaves once the tough stems & ribs are removed and roughly chopped
2 large roasted piquillo peppers or roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin, bite-sized strips
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce and vinegar until completely emulsified. Set aside at room temperature.
In a larger mixing bowl, place kale and pepper strips. Drizzle in dressing and mix the greens and dressing thoroughly – I used my hands for this. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and mix once more until evenly distributed. Cover bowl with its lid or well fitting plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours to overnight.
One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf- Serves 2-4
2 cups salted water
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1″ lengths
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, walnut oil (you can substitute olive oil if you desire), pine nuts, and goat cheese.
Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed — the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam a bit longer (adding more water if needed). When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed.
Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta- Serves 4
1/2 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1 pound gemelli pasta
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a large pot of salted water, cook the kale until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kale to a colander and rinse with cold water. Add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.
Meanwhile, squeeze the kale to remove the excess water. In a food processor, combine the kale, walnuts, garlic and Parmesan until almost smooth; season with salt and pepper. With the machine running, add the olive oil.
Add the pesto to the pasta, along with enough pasta cooking water to loosen the pesto as necessary. Serve sprinkled with more Parmesan.