Category Archives: Salads

Rainbow shredded salad with thai pesto dressing

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a pretty devoted user of the food processor. Mine is absolutely my most used electrical appliance, and I suspect the third most used tool in my kitchen overall (tools # 1 and 2 being a vegetable knife and a cast iron skillet, respectively). And my latest food processor obsession is definitely the shredded salad.

One of my finicky salad turn-offs are pieces that are too large. They’re awkward to eat and they never really feel like a “dish” so much as a jumbled crudite plate with lettuce. A grated salad is perfect for my aversion to large pieces, and by using the food processor to do the work, it’s also faster to prepare. You can keep things simple and use just a few ingredients (as with my shredded zucchini salad), or add a little of everything and create a dish with a bold, vibrant blend of colors and flavors. Today’s salad tends more towards the “little of everything” end of the spectrum and features a wide array of vegetables. A tangy, salty dressing based around my thai pesto holds it all together, and a bit of papaya provides a slightly sweet counterpoint to all the savory.

To make more of a one-bowl meal, this salad would also be wonderful bulked up with a hearty grain like farro or wheatberries. You could also add a legume like chickpeas, or some cubes of fried tofu if you prefer.

Rainbow shredded salad with thai pesto dressing
serves 4-6 as a side or starter

Ingredients
10 oz zucchini
4 oz red cabbage
1 large carrot
2-3 radishes
5 oz papaya (1/6 to 1/4 of a full fruit)
2-3 leaves curly green kale, stems removed, sliced into thin strips
1/4 c. thai pesto, thinned out with 1-2 tsp tamari and 2-4 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 c. roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
2-3 scallions, sliced

Using a food processor fitted with the grating attachement, grate the zucchini, cabbage, carrot, radishes, and papaya. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with the kale and pesto dressing. You’ll want to apply some force when mixing in the dressing so that it has a chance to work into the firmer vegetables. Garnish with scallions and peanuts and serve. For a make-ahead lunch, prep the salad, minus the dressing, the night before, then mix in dressing immediately before eating.

Shredded zucchini salad

Zucchini noodles. Soooo two thousand…well, something. Back whenever zucchini noodles first burst onto the scene, I was pretty excited about the concept. However, there was a drawback: I didn’t own a spiralizer. Still don’t. Fortunately, I do own a food processor. Enter my take on the zoodle, shredded zucchini, which can be easily made using the grater blade, and is a perfect base for showing off a delicious homemade pesto sauce. Just toss the shredded zucchini in sauce, then add cherry tomatoes and a bit of fresh basil for garnish. Every bit is pure summer. Enjoy as a starter or side, or bulk it up into a meal for one with the addition of one of my favorite (perhaps to the point of near overuse?) add-ins, chickpeas.

Shredded zucchini salad
serves 1-2

Ingredients
2 small zucchini, ends trimmed and shredded using a box grater or the grater blade on a food processor
2 tbsp classic pesto sauce
3 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c. chickpeas (optional)
3-4 fresh basil leaves, finely sliced, plus additional leaves for garnish
salt, to taste

Method

Mix together the shredded zucchini and pesto until thoroughly combined. Add cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and chickpeas (if using). Garnish with additional basil leaves.

Cucumber salad with lemon feta dressing

Yes, another salad post. It’s funny, last year I remember having to make an effort to remember to make salads for lunch, but this summer they’re my default. I credit (or blame?) the weather. Last July I was wearing wool tights to work, this morning I dared myself to go bare-legged and I did not regret it. Not exactly Mark Twain’s San Francisco.

This week’s salad is a fairly classic Greek-inspired combination, with a few twists. I’ve recently become hooked on sun-dried olives and have been picking up a small container whenever I happen to drop by the Persian grocery. These olives are pungent and salty, with a softer texture than their fresh cousins. They’re also a little messy–make this salad too far in advance and you’ll find your cucumbers stained a deep brown!

The feta based dressing is what really makes the salad. Mixing the feta with olive oil, mustard and dill makes for a creamy and tangy blend, which works well with the cool crispness of the cucumber (how’s that for alliteration?). Although I’m also a fan of simply adding chunks or crumbles of feta to salad, I do like the guarantee of feta in every mouthful that you get with this dressing.

Some notes about ingredient volumes/servings. As written, I would consider this salad more of a “side” than a main dish, but I have been enjoying it as my main meal at lunch as well by tweaking the proportions a little. If I’m doing this salad as a main dish for one, I’ll increase the chickpeas, and often add a chopped boiled egg as well. Recently I packed this salad for the office and tried mashing the egg yolk into a spoonful of dressing. Delicious!

Cucumber salad with lemon feta dressing
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the dressing
2 oz feta cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried dill

For the salad
2 large cucumbers, peeled, cut in quarters lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into ~1/2″ slices
2 c. chickpeas
1/2 c. sundried black olives, pitted and sliced into quarters

Method

1. In a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade, combine all dressing ingredients and blend thoroughly.

2. Mix together cucumber and chickpeas. Just before serving, add the olives and dressing. Toss together to ensure and even coating of dressing throughout the salad.

Sesame kale salad

I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately. Really, since January, when the market started tempting me with rock bottom prices on massive bags of mixed greens. Those went out of vogue and I moved onto un-green salads, mixing up ingredients like lentil sprouts, roasted vegetables (no need to bother with dressing!), and copious amounts of cucumber and tomato (especially as proper tomato season has started again. I ate a cherry tomato from our patio garden this week and wondered why I had let myself slip back to buying those sad, sad romas over the winter). My current love is darker greens, like today’s salad.

One of the challenges with packing a salad is keeping the greens from getting soggy, slimy, and generally unappetizing. The common trick is, of course, to keep your greens dry: invest in a salad spinner, and don’t add dressing until you are ready to eat. Another option is going with a sturdier green. Kale is a great base for a lunch salad–you can massage the dressing into the greens and assemble the salad completely the night before, then pack it up and add a piece of fruit for a perfect grab and go lunch the next morning:


You can see I like to add a boiled egg sometimes also to make it more of a stand-alone meal.

Earlier this year, there was a lot in the news about kale being a goitrogenic food. The goitrogenic properties of kale are particularly high when kale is raw, so I will add the caveat that I’m not planning on eating this salad daily all summer (delicious as it is, I’m sure I’d tire of it eventually at that frequency!). I will also add that you can make a very nice warm salad with lightly cooked (and thus presumably less goitrogenic) kale by mixing everything except the onion and microwaving for 30-60 seconds. Then add the onion back in.

If you are going to make this recipe as a salad for packed lunches, my suggestion is to prep all the ingredients on Sunday afternoon: make the dressing, chop and measure everything else. Then assemble individual salads as needed. I’ve put the amount of ingredients needed for the full four servings below, but also included the amount needed for a single serving in parentheses, to facilitate night-by-night assembly.

Sesame Kale Salad
Serves 4

For the dressing
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp tamari sauce
splash of balsamic vinegar

For the salad
1 batch (2 tbsp) sesame dressing
1 lb (4 oz) kale, sliced into thin strips
1/2 (a few slices) red onion, sliced thin
3 c. (3/4 c.) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. (1 tbsp) chopped walnuts
4 (1) tsp. sesame seeds
Optional: 4 (1) hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1. Mix dressing ingredients together in a bottle or jar and shake to combine.

2. Place kale in a bowl and add dressing. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. You want to really squeeze and soften the kale, don’t be timid.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, toss, and serve. Salad can be refrigerated overnight if needed.

Tahini lemon dressing

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There’s something about having a 4lb jar of tahini in your fridge. You just start wanting to add it to everything. Hummus (no surprise there), cookies (a little less typical), and today, salad dressing.

Normally I’m not a huge salads-in-winter person, but when the produce market keeps putting 3lbs for $3 bags of salad greens front and center at the entrance, well…habits can change.

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This dressing is a riff on a recipe that I first saw in my old standby, Vegan with A Vengeance, but I’ve played around with the preparation and simplified things by using the microwave rather than the stovetop to “cook” the garlic. All you purists out there, use the stovetop, but I like the speed and ease that the microwave provides.

Tahini lemon dressing
makes ~1/2c. of dressing

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
3 tbsp tahini
1/4 c. water

Method
1. In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the oil on high power for 30 seconds. Add the garlic (be careful handling the bowl, it may get very hot), and microwave for 20 seconds more. Allow to cool for at least 1 minute.

2. Add the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and tahini to the oil and garlic. Stir together, the tahini will initially seize up and become stiff, continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add 2 tbsp of water and stir until smooth again. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of water if needed (this will depend upon your preferred dressing consistency).

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Add to salad and enjoy!

This dressing will keep in the fridge for several days, you may need to thin it out with a little more water or olive oil if it stiffens up after refrigeration.

Kale, Coconut and Chickpea Salad (Super Natural Every Day)

Coconut Kale salad

After having it on my mental “find a copy” list for ages, I finally got my hands on a copy of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it was well worth the (entirely self-imposed by busy-ness/laziness) wait.   Continue reading Kale, Coconut and Chickpea Salad (Super Natural Every Day)

Recipe: Quinoa Garden Salad

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I recently realized how dependent I had become on hot lunches when our office microwave decided to stop working. It was replaced the next day, but I had already started to panic and think about cold lunch possibilities. Desperate to avoid a boring sandwich (or, more likely, a container of plain carrots and a handful of nuts–aka, recipe for afternoon hunger pangs), I came up with this quinoa salad and went microwave free for most of the next week.
 
With a mix of protein, good fats, and fiber, this salad makes a full meal on its own, so it was easy and compact to bring into the office. It’s also tasty enough that when we unexpectedly had a catered lunch at work, I opted to go ahead and eat my salad instead because it really is was that good.
 
The pesto dressing for this salad is intended to be fairly light and subtle. I’ve never been a huge dressing person, but if you feel you need a little more coating, feel free to add an extra teaspoon of oil.
 
Finally, while I designed this salad to be eaten cold or at room temperature, I discovered that zapping it for thirty seconds or a minute in the microwave so that it’s just warm is really tasty. So much for curing my hot lunch dependence.
 
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Summer Quinoa Salad
makes 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
2 c. cooked quinoa (about 1 c. dry, I cooked mine using 1 c. of water and 1 c. of vegetable broth for extra flavor)
6 oz. green beans, ends removed and cut into approximately 1″ sections
6 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. feta cheese, cut into approx 1/2″ chunks
 
For the pesto dressing:
1/2 c. fresh basil
1/4 c. walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
 
Method
1. Blanch the green beans as follows: Bring a pot filled with 2″ of water to a boil, add green beans, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. While beans cook, fill a bowl or second pot with very cold water (ice water is best). When the 3 minutes are up, drain the hot water from the green beans and immediately transfer beans to the cold water bath.
 
2. Make the pesto dressing: in a food processor, combine the walnuts, basil, and olive oil, and process together until a paste-like consistency has been achieved.
 
3. Place the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Add the pesto dressing and stir to combine.
 
4. Add the tomatoes, green beans, and feta. Stir again to combine.
 
Can be eaten immediately, or stored in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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