Category Archives: Salads

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
  • Print

  • 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.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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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

2016…the year of fresh fruits and vegetables

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I began the day after Christmas.  In anticipation for the new year I pulled out my favorite water-glass.  I made a silent pledge to myself that I would drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day.  It’s a good thing for me because I try to chug an entire glass if I’m tempted to mindlessly cheat.  I can meet that minimum easily as I’m tempted often.  I had already started working out but I still needed to go through my work out apparel and weed out any old running bras and shoes.  That done I focused on my overall nourishment for the year.  That mammoth jug of Coquitos I made, rich and thick with coconut milk AND cream??  I sent James off with it to a New Years Eve party.  I actually threw out some of the chocolates given to me.  That REALLY hurt.  Most painful was this.  One and three-quarters pounds of crispy, salty paradise in the form of BBQ potato chips.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph give me strength!  But out they went, into the garbage.

I mean it! You're outta here!
I mean it. You’re outta here!

In 2016 I will celebrate, or at least try to, a milestone birthday.  I’m not particularly looking forward to it.  I know people say, “Oh, it’s just a number!”.  “Oh, shut up.” is what I think when I hear that.  However, I am committed to this as the year of kindness, acceptance and tolerance.  Not only towards others but to myself as well.  I’m not going to fret over my blog or insta numbers.  I will write and post when and what makes me happy.  Nor will I allow myself to get all twisted up when a family member sneaks a taste of something I’m cooking or baking.  Glasses left about the house?  Big deal.  Toast crumbs on the kitchen floor?  Who cares!  Dirty feet on the bed?  It’s just sand.

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This is the year of gentleness.  And happiness.  So as I approach the birthday which is on the other side of my salad days, I choose graciousness, affection and goodwill.  I will take care of my body and my soul.  And do my best to take care of those around me.  It doesn’t mean no more “cheesy-wheezies”, as my father calls any food or drink that’s bad for you.  Of course there will be cheesy-wheezies!  But as my mother used to say, “Everything in moderation including moderation”.  For me that breaks down to one small glass of wine but only if I want it.  I don’t have to have it.  So if I don’t feel like wine I’ll stick to my water and not let the vino become a habit.  I’ll still post a festive cake or decadent drink but I’ll keep those at arm’s length.  In other words, I’ll gift them to neighbors.  So far so good.  When I informed Jimmy of my aspirations he reacted without thinking, CLAPPED HIS HANDS and cried happily, “Oh boy!”.  As he often says, “It’s so nice when you’re nice.”  And it is.  Happy New Year y’all!

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This is what was for breakfast.  It’s a new day!  Bring out the goat cheese, avocado and a few thin slices of toasted whole grain bread.  A spritz of fresh lemon juice and a quick scattering of red pepper flakes along side your favorite fruit completes breakfast or lunch.  Use your imagination and be creative.  No recipe needed.

5 Star Curried Chicken Salad

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I was recently invited to help with a wedding shower for a sweet, sweet girl who also happens to be of the millennial generation.  From what I’ve been told these young men and women are more than reluctant to entertain because they just don’t know how.  I was fortunate in that my mother was all about the party and although she didn’t cook she was a great hostess, always in the know about the town’s premier caterers, florists and bartenders.  Mama made certain we, my sisters and brother, all knew how to prep the house before a party, how to lay a table and how to arrange the flowers in every room.  I am eternally thankful.  Over the years I’ve built up a stable of no-fail recipes for all manner of get-togethers.  Here in the South chicken salad is the queen of ladies luncheons, wedding and baby showers and lunch out with the girls.  This curried chicken salad recipe is outstanding in flavor, ease and portability.  It actually should be prepared one day in advance of serving thus freeing up more precious  time.  I’ve taken it to the Keys for Girl’s Weekend in a gallon size freezer bags and to friend’s houses in plastic quart containers for baby showers and funerals.  I’m telling you, it travels well.  The sweetness of the curry, pineapple and banana marry well with the savory flavors of the roasted chicken, celery and Greek yoghurt.  There is a slight departure from the Southern chicken salad rule.  In the South only white meat, the breast, is used.  Thigh meat or any dark meat in this dish is considered downright trashy but I’m here to say that’s old school!  I find solely using breast meat leaves your salad flat and lacking somewhat in flavor whereas the addition of dark meat gives an added richness and succulence.  And by all means, take advantage of grocery store rotisserie chickens.  Many a time I’ve used them and do they save time.  I use my hands to pick off every bit of skin and and fat.  If the grocery store birds are small you’ll need two.  If large, one will suffice.  Lordy, but it’s good.  Whether or not you toast the pecans is strictly up to you.  Toasted or untoasted, both yield a gorgeous flavor.  A fat dollop of chutney on top is a lovely touch and won’t be unnoticed by your guests.  I typically use whatever homemade I have on hand but on those occasions I’ve been without I use Crosse & Blackwell’s Hot Mango Chutney.  It’s not really hot; in fact it’s barely spicy and the chutney needs to have a little backbone if you are going to include it in this dish.  The salad may be plated on a bed of baby greens or as a sandwich on crunchy French bread.  Along side some sliced fresh fruit and a handful of cold, lightly steamed haricot vert you will have a luncheon to be proud of!

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Curried Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 4 large salads or 6 sandwiches
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 1/2 cups cubed roasted chicken
  • 1 1/4 cups finely diced celery
  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted or untoasted, cashews may be substituted
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced just before serving
  • 1 cup homemade or good mayonnaise, (Duke’s is my preferred)
  • 1/2 cup Greek plain yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • chutney, (optional)

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  1. In a large bowl combine roasted chicken, pineapple, celery and pecans. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, yoghurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Add curry mix to chicken and gently toss until all ingredients are completely coated.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
  5. Right before serving slice bananas and gently fold into salad until completely coated with curry dressing.
  6. Serve chutney on the side or atop each portion of chicken salad.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

Kale Salad with Sour Cherries, Frico, Toasted Pecans and Buttermilk Dressing – the last summer salad

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It is STILL summer.  In spite of Target’s back-to-school onslaught, New York city’s fall fashion blitz and the legions of Facebook women dreaming of their first sip of Autumn’s pumpkin spice coffee.  It’s 93° outside right now, with a “real feel” of 109°.  It’s hot.  Lord, it’s hot.  I don’t care how low the AC is set in the car I cannot cool off.  Water trickles down my back into my panties.  My hair hangs flat and listless no matter how much volume product I put on my roots.  But I can still power-walk outside under the gorgeous columns of palms and Florida oaks.  I can lazily float in the pool.  And I can sip rum drinks on that said float.  I can always cool off.  Not so for the cold.  But even when the asphalt is screaming hot, come August we start thinking of the cooler days ahead.  This salad is ideal with the combination of lightness in the kale and the dressing and the more substantial feel of the frico, sour cherries and toasted pecans.  It’s an easy segue to a more filling meal.  Frico is merely baked parmesan and let me tell you it’s a staple in MY kitchen.  Company drops by unannounced? Throw a tray of shredded or grated parm in the oven and minutes later you have a bangin’ hors d’oeuvre perfect to serve with cocktails.  It’s salty and savory, completely unexpected, highly distinctive.  After letting the sheet of frico cool a few minutes it can be broken into cracker sized pieces and served.  How easy is that?  Oh, you want more?  Okay.  Spread the parmesan cheese in long ovals on your parchment paper.  After baking and completely cooled carefully peel the parchment paper off the oval strips.  Use them as a crouton or bread stick jutting stylishly out of your salad or soup.  Toss a bit of allspice or freshly cracked black pepper into the unbaked cheese and then bake for an even more complex flavor.  Crush the frico into crumbs and scatter atop a lobster mac ‘n cheese or really any casserole.

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Frico.Is.Great.Stuff.  Wait, wait!  Guess what?  It lasts weeks.  The longest it’s stayed in this house is a week and a half.  Little mystery hands keep nibbling at it.  And if you store it in an air-tight container it remains as crisp as the day you pulled it out of the oven.  There are only two rules you have to keep in mind.  The unbaked cheese has to be scattered over parchment paper and the frico has to cool completely before storing in order to maintain its crispness.  But other that, easy-peasy.  Now on to this dressing.  I know some people are downright scared of buttermilk but don’t be.  Look what it does to biscuit and fried chicken.  This particular buttermilk dressing is lemony, tangy and oh so light.  I use non-fat Greek yoghurt, Duke’s Light mayonnaise and reduced fat buttermilk and it still finishes silky, cool and inviting.  It’s my new favorite salad dressing.  I make it in a mini-food processor but it can be prepared in a blender or with a stick or immersion blender.  I’ve mentioned in other posts that when making a salad with kale it pays to “massage” it with a few drops of olive oil.  After discarding the tough stems and chopping the greens into small pieces squeeze the kale as if you are kneading dough or squishing mud between your fingers. This breaks down the leaves a bit making the salad more tender.  Use both hands and rough it up for a few minutes.  When you finish you’ll see the size of salad greens has been reduced.  If you wish to use less kale you can also chop some romaine lettuce but mix it in AFTER you massage the kale.

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I haven’t given amounts for the salad part because everyone has their own preference.  There is no right or wrong way to assemble it.  If you don’t like pecans use walnuts or almonds.  Just make sure you roast them in the oven for a few minutes to bring out their sweet flavor.  If you don’t care for nuts, leave them out.  Same with the dried cherries, although they are truly outstanding in this salad.  Go ahead and substitute them with dried cranberries or blueberries.  I typically get my dried berries in big bags at Costco.  Homemade spicy croutons are fabulous tossed into this dish and if you have dinner guests they’ll certainly give you thanks for that special touch.  So let’s get to it!

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Buttermilk Salad Dressing

  • Servings: approximately 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  1. Add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor and process for 1 minute.  The dressing will be smooth with small bits of lemon zest and cheese.
  2. Chill until serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Frico

  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Line a standard jelly roll pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper, one on top of the other.  It is imperative that you use parchment paper or you won’t be able to get the frico out of the pan. Parchment also gives you prettier more evenly baked  cookies and cakes so you will be using this paper often if you don’t already.  Makes clean up easy.  It is your friend.
  3. Scatter the cheese over the parchment paper in an even layer.  It’s fine if small spots of paper show through.  It’ll kind of look like lace.
  4. Bake 6 minutes or until golden.  The darker it becomes the crisper it becomes.
  5. Hold both layers of parchment and place frico, still on the paper, on a cooling rack.
  6. Allow to cool until easy to handle before breaking into pieces.  The frico will peel right off of the parchment.
  7.  Store in a tightly covered container when completely cooled.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Strawberry, Arugula and Feta Salad Drizzled with a Balsamic Vinegar Syrup

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I’ve got another Girl’s Weekend coming up the end of July so while I was in TJMaxx this morning doing errands, (I was. I was at the cobbler’s next door dropping off an alligator bag and some Lily sandals. Truth.), I thought maybe I would look for a cute, black bathing suit, one that might cover up a multitude of sins.  Big, BIG mistake.  I am a barrel.  A great, big, snowy-white barrel.  You know, you think you hit rock bottom but you really haven’t.  Not when you’re still thinking about that outrageous cupcake you so delicately scarfed down last night.  It was bad, people.  The only reason I didn’t throw myself down on the dust-bunny covered linoleum dressing room floor was that my legs still look pretty good.  Small consolation but I’ll take it.  And I thought, “That’s it.  No more.  You’re done.  You know what you have to do.”  And I do.  I was raised in an almost completely vegetarian household.  I’m perfectly aware of what I should and should not be eating.  I’ve just not been paying heed to my “little voice”.  The “little voice” that continually reminds me that I weigh AT LEAST 20 POUNDS more than MY FATHER.  Ugh.  It’s all so unfair.  So back to loads of salads and vegetables, raw and grilled fruits and lean, mean proteins.  Clean, boneless, brainless chicken breasts, preferably organic, need to be at hand at all times; either grilled or poached.  That always makes a salad better.  I’ll even make wraps with it using  romaine or leaf lettuce instead of a tortilla.  Grilled shrimp and wild salmon, none of that fatty farm raised stuff.  I told myself driving home that it was GOOD I didn’t find a bathing suit this morning.  I have two beautiful, sexy La Biancas at home and there’s not one damn thing wrong with them.  It’s me that’s got the problem.  I have to tell you after I yanked and pulled and tugged to get the TJMaxx bathing suit on I was exhausted.  I turned and looked sideways at myself in the full length mirror.  How did I get here?  My shoulders slumped down, I let my spine curve and allowed my stomach to become COMPLETELY distended.  Oh, sweet Jesus.  I looked like Fred Mertz from the “I Love Lucy” show.  Well, Fred Mertz in drag.  Not a pretty picture and no one’s fault but my own.  So.  Taking the bull by the horns I came home to a kale salad and watermelon for lunch.  This afternoon my snack will be all the Greek mountain tea my heart desires.  Right now I’m on cup number two.  Sweetened with Stevia and completely caffeine free this will jump-start my weight loss.  And dinner will be this salad –  strawberry, arugula and feta with a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction, a LIGHT scattering of toasted almond slices, a few chunks of good, Greek feta tucked in, all topped with a piece of roasted chicken.  And yes, I will rip that luscious, crispy piece of heaven off, known as the skin of roasted chicken, and lickety-split  deposit it in the garbage can underneath, I don’t know…coffee grounds or something.  I’m able to do that because this salad will satisfy me.  Aesthetically and physically.  Every girl loves shiny, scarlet berries sitting atop arugula, toasted almond slices and the rich purple of reduced balsamic vinegar.  Crown it with blackened or grilled chicken, fish or shrimp and most ladies will be quite happy especially if accompanied by a glass of wine in one hand and an enormous Tory Burch or Michael Kors shopping bag at their feet. When I finish writing today I’ll go to the market for my salad ingredients and a whole watermelon.  Tomorrow, hell, tonight, when I want to tuck into another of those smokin’ cupcakes I made I’ll have sweet, cold watermelon already cut up, protecting me from the evils of Fudgy Cupcakes with Orange Cardamom Cream Cheese Icing.  The photos have already been taken for the next post so I don’t even have to look at them.  And although I’ve succumbed to the temptation of those little cakes I’m stronger now.  Nudity will do that to you.  But in two weeks?  Look out, girls, ‘cuz I’m ‘a crunch those bathing suits!

Strawberry, Arugula and Feta Salad drizzled with a Balsamic Syrup

  • Servings: 2 dinner servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 5-ounce box baby arugula
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, each in 4 slices
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, PLEASE don’t buy that already crumbled stuff!  Buy a chunk of good quality feta and crumble it yourself.  Makes a world of difference.
  • 1 handful almond slices, lightly toasted
  • 4-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar syrup, recipe follows, dress salad to your taste
  • shrimp, chicken or fish served along side is optional, a warm, crunchy whole grain roll is great with this also.
  1. Place arugula in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over it.  Toss so all the leaves are coated with the olive oil.
  2. Mound arugula on two dinner plates.  Divide berries in half and place them evenly through out the greens.
  3. Divide the cheese as well between the two plates of salad.
  4. Scatter half the almonds over each salad.
  5. Lightly drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar syrup over each salad and serve.

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Balsamic Syrup

  • Servings: approximately 1/3 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. Pour vinegar and honey into a small saucepan and mix until honey is completely incorporated into the vinegar.
  2. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, but keep your eye on it so it doesn’t cook down too far and burn.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.  Syrup will thicken further as it cools.
  4. When completely cool, store in a clean glass jar and refrigerate.
  5. You can change up the dressing by adding a few fresh bay leaves, smashed garlic cloves or cinnamon sticks to the saucepan while you’re simmering it.  Strain the dressing before serving or storing.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

 

Killer Summer Kale Salad with Miso, Pepitas and Peaches

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Sometimes the salad gods look down upon you and give you cool, crisp inspiration.  Recently I had an exceptionally good kale salad at a restaurant in Boston which made me fall in love with kale all over again.  Crispy, dried edamame topped the dish while tender bits of poached chicken breast added heft.  The sweet miso dressing lightly tossed with crunchy kale was welcome on a hot day spent walking through the city.  Everyday after I queued up outside that restaurant with downtown workers, young mom’s with their babies in strollers, millennial women in tank tops and yoga pants their colorful mats rolled up tightly under their arms waiting patiently to place their order for salads.  Apparently this place was the best.  Some days, shoot most days, that line snaked down Boylston Street but it moved quickly, all the salads were phenomenal and the bowls were huge.  Well, now we’re back in Fort Lauderdale and I still crave my salads.  I set about finding a recipe for miso dressing.  Unfortunately every recipe I found featured strong flavors such as sesame or peanut that completely overshadowed the sweet, sweet flavor of white miso.  And all the recipes which promised snappy, crumbly roasted edamame were recipes for mushy, mealy pellets…all had to be thrown out.  I took a deep breath and accepted I could only tackle one portion of the dish at a time.  I focused on the dressing.  I broke down the components of what makes a great creamy dressing.  I’m fully aware that there is no such thing as yoghurt in Japan but that’s how I make many dressings smooth and velvety and I’m not about to change that right now.  Greek yoghurt is like a blank slate in that it adds a touch of tartness but no other flavor and enhances texture.  I always go with 0% fat-free and I’m sticking with it.  I hadn’t really ever worked with miso except to sometimes throw it on top of baked potatoes with some added sprouts so I didn’t know…I didn’t know.  My little brother, Tommy, loves to cook Asian so I gave him a call as I stood in front of the refrigerated case at Whole Foods completely mystified.  He hadn’t had his coffee yet, in fact it was so early I woke him up.  In a gravelly voice he repeatedly asked me to read off the selection.  “Okay.  There’s yellow miso, red miso, brown rice miso..” He interrupted, “That’s it.  That’s what you want.  The brown rice.  It’s what I use for all my stir fries.  That’s what you want.”  “You sure?” I asked, “I don’t want to drive back here.”  “Yeah, yeah!”, he replied “That’s what you want.  I’m tellin’ ya.”  Well, I’m here to tell YOU it DIDN’T work.  The brown rice miso was way too salty. I wanted it to “bloom” in my mouth; I wanted sweet and creamy.  That wasn’t it.  So back to Whole Foods.  I just guessed and decided on sweet white.  For all I knew it could be too sweet; for desserts and sweets.  But no…it was perfect.  I was thrilled!  I added a little rice vinegar for some bite and a tiny bit of low-sodium soy sauce just to give it another layer of flavor.  A quick drizzle of honey softened the dressing and some chopped ginger was added because it marries so well with miso.  I nixed fresh garlic completely as it was altogether too strong for the dressing and overpowered it.  My final step was to thin it out a bit.  Miso dressing is traditionally smooth and creamy but surprisingly runny.  I looked about my kitchen to see what I could use; water would be my last resort.  The dressing still needed something to round it out.  I had some tamarind pulp in the freezer leftover from a marathon frozen drink binge in the pool.  That made it too sharp, too tart.  I take almond milk in my coffee in the morning.  Let’s try that.  Bleah.  Too dull.  Jeez.  There’s got to be something around here.  I spied two navel oranges on the counter I needed for a cream cheese icing I was playing around with.  Quickly juicing one I added 1/4 cup to the dressing.  Wow.  It was good. Another quarter cup made it even better.  The juice played beautifully with the dressing and I’m thinking carrot juice could easily be another way to go.  With the dressing finished I moved on to the actual salad.  All my attempt with roasting edamame were disappointments.  I still haven’t figured that out but in the meantime I had some store-bought, dried edamame and some roasted pepitas, the seeds of the Spanish pumpkin, calabaza.  You get them at the grocery store.  Anyway, the edamame were fine but the salad then became a little too earthy and had a musty taste.  The pepitas, on the other hand, were perfection!  Crunchy and salty, I was happy.  Next on my list of demands was the cool-sweet-wet factor.  I love mixing savory with sweet.  Back to the grocery store for a quick chat with Anthony, my produce man.  We talked pears and I’ll admit I bought one but I knew I wasn’t going to use it.  All because of peaches.  I thought, “Could it work?  Will peaches give me the sweetness I want and the pop of juicy?”  I think you know the answer.  And I grabbed a handful of corn on the cob on my way out.  You never know.  Corn’s sweet.  Maybe it’ll work.  And it did.  Heaven on earth.  Even Jimmy liked the combination and he is NOT a salad man.  Anyway, this salad is wonderful for lunch or dinner with a glass of wine or even a cold lemonade.  Summer’s here.  Hope you like it!

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In working towards the end result of this salad I discovered a few tips that help make it even better.  Lacinato kale, that’s the flat leaf kale, is a slightly more tender than curly kale.  If all you have is curly then by all means use it with good faith.  But if you have a choice I suggest Lacinato.  I strongly suggest “working” the kale before dressing and serving it.  Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil and a quick grind of salt over the washed, drained and cut greens then, with both hands, toss and squeeze the greens using a large bowl.  I do this for two or three minutes and I time myself because I really to skip this and move on.  You’ll see almost immediately a huge difference in the texture.  The kale doesn’t wilt but is tenderized and kale can sometimes be a little tough.  Trust me.  The two-minute investment is well worth it.  Obviously you want to use the ripest peaches you can get your hands on.  I use one small peach or 1/2 large one per person.  I might take an extra one, chopped up, and scatter it on top just to gild the lily.  On those nights you’re having corn on the cob for dinner throw a couple of extra ears on the grill or in the pot.  Wrap the extras individually in plastic wrap and use them through the week for salads, cornbread, soup or even a snack.  Just slice the kernels off the cobs as needed.  This salad can be served with or without chicken so what I do is once a week poach three or four boneless, skinless, halved chicken breasts and have them on hand for salads, sandwiches, chicken parm…whatever.  I slice or chop them as called for.  And don’t throw out that poaching liquid!  Strain it and freeze it for soups or any other later use.

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Sweet Miso Dressing

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/2 cup sweet white miso paste
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or carrot juice
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yoghurt, I use 0% fat
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, I use low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, on the international aisle at the grocery store
  • 2 rounded teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  1. Drop all ingredients in mini food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Chill until serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

”Summer

  • Servings: ”4
  • Difficulty: ”easy”</p>
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