Category Archives: Salads

Roasted Sweet Potato, Parsley and Gorgonzola Salad

Anyone down here in south Florida will agree, we have morphed from the cool sweetness of spring to the sweltering heat of summer.  Now is the time I send my husband out to the grill with a tray heaped on one side with marinated flank steak, boneless chicken breasts or thick tuna steaks.  The other half of the tray is covered with skewered grape tomatoes, corn rubbed with olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper and red pepper wedges also drizzled with olive oil.  My contribution to this meal is prepared in the conditioned air comfort of my kitchen.  Roasted sweet potato, parsley and gorgonzola salad is ideal for summer dinners as it can be prepared the night before serving or in the morning when the temperature has not begun its intolerable climb.  This salad is cool and light yet has heft.  You will not feel hunger pangs an hour or two after eating it.  Oh, no.  Not with this salad.

It marries well with grilled and/or spicy flavors…especially spicy heat.  The sweet potatoes tame the flames of cayenne, harissa, serrano and scotch bonnet.  I’m crazy about the clean, lemony flavor the parsley leaves impart.  Aside from being good-looking, the green leaves cut through the richness of the sweet potatoes and gorgonzola with a cleansing, citrusy flavor.  It also travels well making it a favorite for picnics at the beach, concerts in the park or poolside dinners while we’re wrapped in cotton towels heavy with dampness and enjoy those last rays of sunlight at 8:00 at night.  Take it outside and enjoy the beginning of summer!

Roasted Sweet Potato, Parsley and Gorgonzola Salad

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 small garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to your liking
  1. Place olive oil, vinegar and garlic into a bender, magic bullet or mini food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Taste for salt and pepper and add to your liking.
  3. Chill until serving.

Salad:

  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, that’s about 5 large potatoes
  • 2 small sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 ounces Gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the onions, salt and pepper and olive oil to bowl and toss well with your hands until the potatoes and onions are completely covered with the oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the potato mixture to the baking sheet, spreading to make an even layer.
  5. Roast for 45 minutes or until fork tender.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. Chill until ready to serve.
  8. To serve add the gorgonzola cheese and parsley leaves to the salad.
  9. Drizzle 1/2 cup dressing over the salad and, very gently, toss to combine being careful not to smash the potatoes.
  10. If the salad needs more dressing, add one tablespoon at a time, gently tossing until thoroughly mixed.
  11. Taste for salt and pepper.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

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Mother’s Day Jumbo Crabmeat and Hearts of Palm Salad

Heads up, people.  This Sunday’s Mother’s Day and we have high expectations.  I’m offering some tips…consider it a guideline because if you know your Mama, and you better hope you do, this is almost common sense.  Tip number one, and this is the most important one.  Don’t mess with her.  At all.  She would never say the “F” word but you really wouldn’t want her to think it, would you?  I thought not.  Tip number two.  I’m sure there are some mommies out there who don’t care for champagne but I’ve never met them.  We love champagne, good champagne and lots of it.  Please don’t skimp here.  She’ll be thinking the “F” word and, again, we really want to avoid that.  Tip number three and the final suggestion.  Moms want to be treated to brunch with a presentation which is sumptuous, sensual and stunning.  We don’t want purple daisies from the grocery store, unless they’re pick out by your four-year old who loves them, is so proud and is positively beaming.  No.  Do something nice.  Get her some orchids.  I have to say this old mom has all her string and beer tab necklaces, plaster of paris handprints, special hand-picked rocks and construction paper cards adorned with crayon flowers and stick figures and, people, I love them all.  All!  But we REALLY, REALLY like to be treated super well and pampered.  Jus’ sayin.

This gorgeous salad pairs beautifully with sliced avocado and radishes.  It can also be served on a bed of mixed baby greens.  If it’s to be served over or with a salad of greens, go ahead and mix up another batch of dressing.  There is only enough in one recipe to dress the crabmeat.  Champagne is perfection with this crabmeat salad…the bubbly seems to bring out the sweetness.  The fresh orange sections highlight the tartness of the palm hearts and any avocado slipped on the plate rounds out the luxuriousness of this indulgence.  This salad is best assembled just before serving.

Jumbo Crabmeat and Hearts of Palm Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dressing:

  • 1 navel orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
  • 1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, salad cut, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Over a small bowl or jar, finely zest the navel orange.
  2. Cut the orange in half and juice one half over the orange zest.
  3. Section the remaining orange half and place the sections in a medium bowl.  Include any juices with the other orange juice.
  4. Over the juice jar or bowl, finely grate the garlic.
  5. Add the olive oil then whisk the dressing well, or cover the jar and shake well.
  6. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust seasoning and chill until ready to use.
  7. Place the cleaned crabmeat in the bowl with the sectioned orange.
  8. Cut the palm hearts into wheels 1/4 inch thick and include with crab.
  9. Add the onion, toss gently and taste for salt and pepper.
  10. Stir the dressing well and pour over the crabmeat mixture.
  11. Gently toss and serve.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Mexican Chopped Salad with a Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Being that we’re having summer weather here in south Florida we’re well into our salads.  All my friends who grew up here are salad people, obsessed with cold, crunchy, live food.  Weekends and summers found us on the beach.  Junior and senior years of high school we spent at the club, that would be Dana, Andrea and me, lounging in the pool, playing tennis or catching rays.  All our plans were created there…whether it be a date, outfit or college.  Someone in our group, never us but somebody, always had a boom box blaring with the 70’s sounds of Doobie Brothers, Earth, Wind and Fire or Stevie Wonder that made us so happy.  We all knew they were good, good days.  We loved the waves rolling in the background.  We loved the ever so slight breeze which cooled the droplets of pool water running down our flat, toned tummies and lean, tanned legs.  We took delight in the smooth coral stone under our feet after burning up on the beach.  The in our dangerously low-cut black maillots, the three of strolled about the pool and beach as though we owned the place.  It was home to us and we were always welcomed.  We charged little dinner salads for lunch and chased them down with enormous iced coffees laced with half and half and who knows how many packets of Sweet’N Low.  Late in the day we moved our lounge chairs into the shade, under clusters palm trees set in islands of grass.  They were easy days.  Pretty and safe days.  Certainly not days that would prepare us for the hard knocks and bumps of life which we’ve all felt!   But I know this trio thoroughly embraced these times.   We each cried over different boys or our parents.  We danced on the beach as though no one was watching, and quite frankly, no one was.  And laugh.  My goodness!  A laugh a minute.  Even if we had to stoop to cheap humor by grabbing one of Dana’s majestic boobs and hollerin’, “Titty!” while leaping into the pool.  None of us remember not knowing one another, that’s how long we’ve been the closest of friends.  In all those years we’ve shared umpteen sleepovers and girl’s weekends and although the iced coffees have been upgraded to tequila we still go crazy over our salads.  Crispy, ambrosial and what we want.

This is the perfect salad if you have a couple of leftover ears of grilled corn.  We throw a few extra ears on the grill so as to have this salad the following day.  The recipe for this salad is just a guideline.  Add more or less of any ingredient depending on your taste.  If you’re not up to making your own tortilla strips, merely crumble a few tortilla chips over the salad right before serving.  I also serve this salad with grilled shrimp or fish on top as well as grilled boneless chicken breasts.  It’s delicious as a wilted salad, too.  Any all ready mixed, leftover salad topped with fresh tortilla strips or chips is fabulous.  Stay cool!

Mexican Chopped Salad with a Creamy Cilantro Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups cream fresca, sour cream or Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1-ounce package original Ranch dressing, not buttermilk
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Salad:

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut into 1/8″ strips
  • 1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 7.75-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ears grilled corn on the cob, kernels sliced off
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 California avocado, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • tortilla strips for garnish
  1. Place all ingredients for salad dressing in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process until smooth.  You will have small flecks of cilantro in the dressing.
  3. Transfer to a jar and chill until ready to serve.
  4. In a large bowl place all the ingredients for the salad, except the tortilla strips, in a large bowl.
  5. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of dressing over the salad and toss lightly.  Add more if necessary and gently toss to coat all ingredients.
  6. Taste for salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish with tortilla strips.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Heirloom Tomato, Feta and Lemon Thyme Salad

I hate saying goodbye to friends.  I loathe it.  It saddens me beyond measure.  But that ‘s what I did this past Tuesday.  Over coffee my friend, Craig, and I caught up with each other after not seeing each other for a good three or four years.  We kept in touch every now and again through Facebook.  Craig is a professional chef on yachts…yachts that cater to A-list movie stars.  The opposite of that penny-ante galley position I accepted for one summer in the Abacos.  Regardless, I look at his life as one big, fat adventure.  We chuckled over adventures gone wrong, shared and  rejoiced culinary triumphs and discoveries.  Both of us had lost close friends and understood the encompassing heartache and profound loss.  He announced he’s trading palms for pines.  Turns out Craig is moving to the Pacific Northwest.  And although I don’t see him often enough and may not ever see him again, I rejoice in his leap for the good in life, his optimistic outlook towards life situations.  We’ll continue laboring to recognize goodwill, tolerance, charity and beauty in the darker corners of our personal worlds no matter the struggle.  That said, I will miss him.  He left me with happiness, a bag of his homegrown tomatoes and a fabulously simple recipe.  I share that with you.

I don’t include specific amounts of ingredients in this salad as it can be made as small or as large as you wish.  As with all simple recipes the quality of your ingredients is paramount.  If you try to cut corners or even leave out a component, the recipe will be compromised.  When the outcome is less than perfect or an utter disappointment you’ll know why.  French thyme, whether fresh or dried, will not yield the same results.  It must be lemon thyme.  If you can’t find it in the produce department at the grocery store most likely you can pick up a pot at your nursery or gardening center.  It’s well worth the trip!  This salad is best served at room temperature.  Any bits left over are fabulous the following day tucked into an omelette.  And the dressing is like liquid sunshine drizzled over a mixed green salad, boiled new potatoes, asparagus or roasted chicken.  Imagine it on grilled shrimp or mahi.  The possibilities are without end.  Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato, Feta and Lemon Thyme Salad

  • Servings: amount made
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Meyer lemons or regular lemons if Meyers are not available in your area
  • good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • heirloom tomatoes
  • Greek feta cheese
  • fresh lemon thyme
  1. Pour equal amounts of fresh lemon juice and olive oil into a glass jar with a lid.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover tightly with the lid and shake vigorously.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Slice tomatoes and arrange on serving dish.
  5. Crumble the feta cheese by hand and scatter generously over the tomato slices.
  6. Sprinkle fresh lemon thyme leaves over salad.  Garnish with a few sprigs of the lemon thyme.
  7. Shake salad dressing to mix well then spoon over salad.
  8. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Meyer Lemon, White Bean and Mint Salad

It’s the season of Lent and, for those of you who don’t know, that means no meat in our house.  For a total of 40 days and 40 nights.  It wasn’t easy when my husband and son decided to abstain but over the years we’ve kind of gotten into the rhythm of it to the point we now feel perfectly comfortable kidding around about the dish we truly miss.  It goes something like, “Oh, my gosh.  You know what I really craved today? A burger.  A great big, juicy burger with lettuce and tomato and pickles and mustard, ketchup and mayo.  With a big pile of crispy fries.”  Then the other person replies, “I know.  I’d totally kill for a chicken wing.  Super hot and covered with sauce.  I couldn’t stop thinking about them.”  Every year it’s the same song and dance.  This salad, however, alleviates some of the pain.  I won’t lie and say it’ll take the place of meat but it does fill the hole.  It’s wonderful topped with a warm fillet of fish just off the grill.  I scoop it onto bruschetta followed by a slow drizzle of olive oil for a tempting and pretty hors d’oeuvre.   White beans will never take the place of crispy, spicy sopressata on a pizza, comforting spaghetti and meat balls or a savory, homemade chicken salad sandwich but for right now, they’ll do.  They’ll do just fine.

One of the finer points of this salad is that it requires no marination time.  Once it’s prepared it can be served.  That said, it can also be put together a few hours prior to serving and it’s still fantastic.  The recipe is easily halved or doubled with perfect results.  The salad travels well to parties and picnics, feeds a crowd and is pretty inexpensive to make.  Meyer lemons are much sweeter and not as sour as regular lemons but if Meyers are not available in your area, no worries.  Regular lemons are just fine and no one will know the difference.  This bean salad can be served as a main dish or as a side.

Meyer Lemon, White Bean and Mint Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 bunches of flat leaf parsley, rinsed and dried
  • 2 bunches fresh mint leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 small red onion, chopped and all tough skins discarded
  • 1 large Meyer lemon or 2 regular lemons
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop the parsley and mint leaves and place in a large bowl.
  2. Zest the lemon then juice it, adding both to the bowl with the parsley.
  3. Add the olive oil to the parsley mixture and stir well until all the ingredients are completely combined.
  4. Add the beans to the parsley mixture and gently toss so as not to break up the beans but to completely coat the beans with the parsley mint mixture.
  5. Taste for salt and pepper.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Blue Ribbon Broccoli Salad

I have always hated broccoli.  The smell of it cooking made me gag.  My older sister, Cynthia, felt exactly the same and to this day we both run at the mere sight of broccoli on the stove.  As little girls we sometimes fought like cats and dogs but, regarding broccoli, we were always in agreement.  It did not go unnoticed by the two of us that Puerto Ricans didn’t embrace vegetables; red beans and rice, sliced tomatoes and avocados were the only vegetables to grace our grandparents’ dining room table.  Our summers on the island were stress free and complete indulgence.  It was during one of our summer sojourns our neighbors, Don Juan and Dona Angelita Orta, issued an invitation to dine with them that evening.  It was understood the summons was for Cynthia; I was not included.  I believe we were around the ages of eight and six and, regrettably, I was sassy, impulsive, unconcerned with hygiene and may have had a slight tendency to lie.  It goes without saying, Cynthia was the golden grandchild and I was the disgraced, six year old ne’er-do-well.  And Cynthia took full advantage.  She made certain I overheard her discussing which of our matching dresses she should wear.  Seething with impotent anger and pea green with jealousy I retreated to our bedroom.  I’d rather loll on my bed, stare at the ceiling and let the mosquitos bite me than endure her smug and simpering side eyes.  Late in the afternoon she was bathed, her hair brushed until it shone like mahogany and she  was dressed in one of her many party dresses.  I remained on my bed…most certainly smelling like a child who had spent the morning playing outside in the heat of the day and most definitely with the attitude of a defiant, petulant schoolgirl.  The time came for her to leave and while she ran a hairbrush one last time through her hair and told me goodbye, I replied with a hateful hiss, “I hope they serve you broccoli! Lots of it.”  She blanched at my comment knowing if they did, she would be obliged to eat it.  And eat it with a smile on her face.  Good manners are everything.  I didn’t look at her nor did I say goodbye as she left the house escorted by one of my aunts.  My nasty outburst had been heard by my family but seeing how dejected I looked and how low I felt, they said not a word and left me alone.  I stayed on that bed sulking, allowing the occasional mosquito to whine past my ear before finishing it off with a fast slap of my hand, for once not feeling satisfaction after the kill.  The phone rang in the other room and, after a moment or two, quick footsteps were heard.  “Alicia, levantate!” “Alicia, get up!” “The invitation was for both of you!”  My heart soared…then quickly filled with fear and apprehension.  “Titi, do you think they’ll serve us broccoli?”, I asked as I was hastily bathed.   I didn’t want to go next door where I knew, in my heart of hearts, we would be served a gleaming platter of emerald-green nasty.  Off I went dressed to match Cynthia, little white socks and Mary Janes on, not ready to face my comeuppance or eat humble pie in the shape of, gag me, the dreaded cruciferous known as broccoli.  The Orta’s housekeeper, Tata, whom I adored, answered the door.  I was welcomed with unconditional love from all.  And broccoli was not served.  I learned my lesson, though.  Hence forth I have tried to wish others well and, yes, over the years there have been many, many lapses in my thoughts and behavior but I will keep on trying!

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I only eat broccoli raw but I love it and this is one of my favorite ways to have it.  This salad is both sweet and savory; the carrots and dried cherries lend sweetness, the bacon and scallions are savory and while the toasted almonds provide a flavor link.  It needs no time to marinate, however, is equally delicious served the following day.  Cranberries may be substituted for the dried cherries although I feel the cherries bring much more flavor to the dish.  I cook my bacon in the oven.  The oven baked method is time-saving and clean up is a snap.  I rough chop almonds, cut about into thirds, then roast them in the oven.  I find I scorch too many nuts pan roasting them.    This salad may be served as a side dish or entrée but, regardless how it’s served, it will make a broccoli lover out of all!

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Blue Ribbon Broccoli Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup mayonnaise, I use reduced fat
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 bunches of broccoli, there are typically 2-3 heads per bunch
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 5 scallions
  • 3 carrots
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seed and salt and whisk until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in refrigerator to chill.
  2. Cut broccoli into bite size florets and put in a large bowl.
  3. Cook bacon, drain well and chop or crumble.  Add to broccoli.
  4. Finely slice the scallions using all of the white and pale green.  Discard any tough, dark green ends. Add the scallions to the broccoli bowl.
  5. Using the large holes of a grater, grate the carrots into the bowl of broccoli.
  6. Rough chop the almonds, toast them, either in the oven or stove top, and add to broccoli.
  7. Rough chop the cherries then add to broccoli.
  8. Drizzle the mayonnaise dressing over the salad and toss well to completely combine.  Make certain all ingredients are covered with dressing.
  9. Serve each plate with a fresh grind of black pepper.

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Citrus and Coconut Vinaigrette, your new favorite summer salad dressing

This is the summer of counting my blessings.  It’s a stay-at-home kind of summer.  And that’s okay!  I recently found myself thinking, “I wish we could go someplace a little bit cooler.  Eat buckets of rich food and wash it down with gallons of local wine.  Maybe do a bit of shopping after seeing the sights…”.  There were loud notes of complaint in that daydream and I had to remind myself that I am darn fortunate exactly where I am.  Even if it’s not the most exciting place.  Mama taught me that lesson a very long time ago; a lesson she learned when she was a little girl in Puerto Rico.  My mother’s family lived in a town called Fajardo, pronounced fah-HAR-do, on an enormous piece of land my grandfather inherited from his father who, in turn, inherited it from his father, etcetera, etcetera.  Mama had four sisters and five brothers and her mother ran a smooth household.  My grandfather, whom we affectionately called “Papa Pepe”, tolerated no misbehavior from my uncles although they all had near fatal adventures never known to him.  The boys all had their own horses and rode through the fields and stream on their land.  They chased animals, had races, swam, played Zorro and indulged in all usual hijinks of young boys.

My uncle, Tio Hector, playing Zorro. He was 17 at the time.
My uncle, Tio Hector, playing Zorro. He was 17 at the time.

The girls, on the other hand, were almost housebound.  My mother and aunts could read and do needlework.  They played with china dolls, sang songs and made up skits under the shade of mahogany trees.  One day my mother found herself standing alone in the house, looking out of a large window onto a splendid meadow.  Mama said the sun was shining, the grasses were green and there were butterflies.  Under the butterflies was a little boy, dancing and skipping, the happiest ever.  It was Miguelito, the youngest of Pedro, my grandfather’s driver, and Angelina, who helped my grandmother with the children.  My mother was  entranced….such freedom…such happiness!  Standing at the window she thought, “Oh, how I wish I was Miguelito!”.  She stayed looking out of the window until long after he was gone.  When suddenly came Miguelito’s mother, Angelina flying around the corner of the house, leather belt in hand, all the while roaring, “Miguelito! Ven aca!  Te voy a dar!  Miguelito!”, “Get over here! You’re gonna get it!”.  Crystal clear was the realization Mama had at exactly that moment that you never know what life has for you or anyone at any given moment.  Life can change on a dime.  She was practically limp with relief that she wasn’t, and never would be, that little boy, Miguelito,  whose happiness would end as soon as the leather belt his mother was waving around struck his scrawny legs.  This was what I told myself when I started grousing about not going away for the summer.  This was what I told myself when I whined about not being in Greece or France or England.  I quickly reminded myself of the beautiful neighborhood I live in and see every morning when I workout.  I thought of afternoon dips in our pool, wearing flip-flops every waking moment of the day, summer hours with girlfriends and cool drinks and foods we savor day in and day out.  No.  I’m blessed beyond belief that I have all this and more.  I’m happy to munch on mountains of cold, crisp salads, refreshing myself with tervis tumbler after tervis tumbler packed with ice and coconut water and doing this in my beautiful home.  Because life is very, very good.

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This salad dressing is a marvel.  Whether it’s plain field greens you are dressing or the combination of arugula and shaved fennel, this dressing will be a summer favorite.  The coconut oil will solidify as it is kept  in the refrigerator so I portion out the amount I’ll be using when I want it.  I allow it to come to room temperature on the counter or gently zap it in the microwave to liquify the coconut oil.  The dressing may be prepared with fresh orange and lemon juice or with just fresh lemon juice.  It is extremely thin and runny but somehow works really well.  The citrus is like a tonic and the coconut  oil gives the dressing a sweet smoothness like no other oil.  Every night I heap this salad on my dinner plate and I am happy, happy.  Hope you like it!

Citrus and Coconut Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 navel oranges, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, can be found at the grocery store
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste for any needed salt or pepper and adjust as needed.
  3. Bring to room temperature to liquify coconut oil before serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com