Leafy Salads

Mar 152017
 

Basil Pesto

 

 

Let’s just get one thing out of the way now. Fresh basil pesto will always be superior to the variety you buy in jars at the supermarket both in taste and in nutrients. The ingenious combination of six simple ingredients comes together to make a vibrant flavour that jarred pestos can only dream of having. And need I mention the intoxicating smell in your kitchen? Traditionally, pesto was made using a pestle and mortar but using a food processor works very well too. Making pesto at home is probably one of the easiest ways to get your kids to help out in the kitchen and contribute to a meal.

 

Basil Pesto is delicious tossed with freshly boiled pasta, spread in a sandwich, used as a dip for vegetables, or mixed into a salad dressing to add some vibrancy to it.

 

 

BASIL PESTO

(makes approximately 1 cup)

 

Ingredients:

100g fresh basil leaves (I usually get this from two standard sized basil plants in the supermarket)

1 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped (you can use 2 garlic cloves if your garlic is not very strong)

50g pine kernels

50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated (do not just throw a block of parmesan into your food processor as it is too hard for the blade to process well)

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (start with 4 Tbsp and then add more as necessary)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt (or according to taste)

 

Directions:

  1. You will need a food processor to make this recipe. If you have the option, I recommend using a smaller bowl (I use the 1.2L mini bowl in my Magimix food processor).
  2. Pluck the basil leaves from the stalks (this is where little fingers come in handy!). Rinse the basil leaves and dry them on a tea towel.
  3. Grate your parmesan cheese and roughly chop your peeled garlic clove.
  4. In your food processor, add the chopped garlic and pine kernels. Pulse a few times to break them up.
  5. Add the basil leaves and pulse a few times.
  6. Add the parmesan cheese, olive oil and sea salt. Run the food processor for 10 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. This is when you might want to add a bit more olive oil to make the consistency smoother.
  7. Process until the pesto comes together evenly.
  8. Taste once more and add more salt if necessary.
  9. Serve straightaway or refrigerate for upto 5 days.

 

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Jan 252017
 

Grilled Endive, Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Salad

 

 

Growing up on both sides of the Atlantic, I have always vacillated between whether to use American spellings (ie. flavor) or British spellings (ie. flavour). I am certainly guilty of mixing it up here on my blog.

 

I have spent more time than I need to trying to decide which type of spelling to follow. And my final decision is that I can’t decide. My formative education was in the US (and American spellings are just so simple for everyone to follow) but I went to University and worked in the UK (and British spellings are just so elegant). Either way, I feel like I am betraying one side of the pond.

 

It gets even more complicated when it comes to names of food. An ‘aubergine’ in the UK is an ‘eggplant’ in the US. A ‘courgette’ in the UK is a ‘zucchini’ in the US. And don’t even get me started on ‘rocket’ versus ‘rucola’ versus ‘arugula’.

 

I am having the same issue with the ‘endives’ in this recipe, which can also be called ‘escarole’ or ‘chicory’. In the case of endives, it is not just the name but the variety which is also causing some confusion. Endives can be loose frizzy heads of lettuce but they can also be submarine-shaped tightly packed firm leaves. For this recipe, make sure that the endives (or escarole or chicory) that you get are the tightly-packed submarine-shaped ones. Choose red or white according to what you have available.

 

Endives are slightly bitter, but bitter foods are supposed to be good for you because when your tastebuds sense bitterness, they send signals to your body to start producing more digestive juices. The increase in digestive juices means that your body is able to absorb more nutrients from your food. So, a bitter salad is a great way to start a meal.

 

You can eat endives raw, but I find that if you grill them it enhances their flavour (or should it be flavor?).

 

 

GRILLED ENDIVE, BLUE CHEESE, PEAR AND WALNUT SALAD

(Serves 4 as a starter or side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp honey (optional – it is not necessary but it will help balance some of the bitterness in the endives)

 

Salad Ingredients:

4 heads of endive (room temperature)

A little extra virgin olive oil to brush onto the endives before grilling

150-200g / 5-7 oz blue cheese, crumbled

1 pear (about 200g / 7 oz in weight)

80g / 2 oz walnut halves, roughly broken or chopped

 

Directions:

  1. Remove the outer leaves from the endives and slightly trim the base, making sure to leaves enough of the base attached so that the endive leaves remain attached. Cut the endives in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with some olive oil.
  2. To grill the endives, warm up a griddle pan or Panini press on medium heat. When the griddle is hot, place the endives cut-side down on the griddle and leave for 5-7 minutes. If you do not have a griddle pan or Panini press, you can also grill your endives in an oven-proof dish in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare your dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a jar and shaking well. Set aside.
  4. When ready to serve, arrange the endive halves on a platter. Scatter them with the walnuts and crumble some blue cheese on top.
  5. Make sure you slice the pear just prior to serving to avoid discolouration.
  6. Cut the pear into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and then slice each quarter horizontally (widthwise) to get small triangle slices of pear. Scatter the pear on top of the salad.
  7. Drizzle the salad dressing on top (you may not need to use all of it).
  8. This salad can be served either warm or cold.

 

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Apr 072016
 

Recipe: Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

 

 

In my previous post, I highlighted some seasonal fruits and vegetables which are at their prime in April: Asparagus, Grapefruit and Rucola (also called arugula in the US or rocket in the UK).

 

I came up with a simple recipe which uses all three of these ingredients, called ‘Asparagus and Rucola Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette’. Although asparagus can be eaten raw, I lightly grill it for this recipe to deepen its flavour. The rucola works as a simple base and can be mixed with other spring greens of you find its flavour too overpowering. And I felt the best way to use the grapefruit was in a dressing.

 

This recipe can be used as a base on which to build a more complex salad by adding additional ingredients on top. Otherwise, it is delicious served simply as it is.

 

 

ASPARAGUS and RUCOLA SALAD with GRAPEFRUIT VINAIGRETTE

 

Dressing ingredients:

(makes half a cup – recipe can be doubled)

5 Tbsp (75ml) freshly squeezed juice from a grapefruit

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Salad ingredients:

1-2 handfuls of rucola per person (or some other green leaf)

Asparagus spears (for thin asparagus, allow 8-10 spears per person; for thick asparagus, allow 4-5 spears per person)

Olive oil (to lightly coat the asparagus spears before grilling)

Shaved parmesan (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare Grapefruit Vinaigrette by combining all the dressing ingredients together in a jar with a lid and shaking it well. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Wash and dry the rucola leaves.
  3. Trim the end off the asparagus spears and toss them lightly in extra virgin olive oil. Grill in a panini press on medium heat until you see grill lines. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 200C/400F and roast the asparagus spears in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes (turning halfway through.)
  4. When ready to serve, toss the rucola leaves in the grapefruit vinaigrette. If serving in individual plates, place 1-2 handfuls of rucola on each plate and then the asparagus spears on top. If there is any leftover dressing, you can spoon a little bit over the asparagus.
  5. As an option, you can add a few shavings of parmesan cheese on top of the salad.
  6. Serve immediately.

 

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Feb 292016
 

Baby Spinach & Garlic Dip

 

 

Spinach is a cool weather crop which grows best in early Spring and in Autumn.

 

It’s a very versatile vegetable and takes on other flavours well. I use spinach in so many things from smoothies to salads to curries. I hadn’t really thought to use it as a dip until fairly recently when I started seeing so many beautiful fresh early Spring vegetables emerge in the market. Fresh vegetables are good, but fresh vegetables with a healthy dip are even better!

 

You can follow my recipe below for ‘Baby Spinach and Garlic Dip’, but the truth is that baby spinach is so versatile that you could easily blend it into any dip to boost its nutritional value and it would work well.

 

 

BABY SPINACH and GARLIC DIP

(makes about 2 cups)

 

 

Ingredients:

150g / 5 oz Fresh baby spinach (roughly equivalent to 4 big handfuls or 4 tightly packed cups)

1/2 cup Fresh chives, chopped

1 spring onion / scallion, roughly chopped (white and green part)

1 plump garlic clove (2 if you really love raw garlic), peeled and cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup walnuts or cashew nuts

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (no seeds)

2 tsp sea salt

 

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and drain the baby spinach (no need to trim the stems as it will all go into a food processor).
  2. Put all the ingredients listed above into your food processor and pulse a few times until the spinach has been chopped. You may need to push down the spinach once or twice in the beginning.
  3. Once the mixture is roughly pulsed, run the food processor on ‘Auto’ (or whichever button you need to press for continued processing) for about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the lid and taste. If required, adjust the seasoning. Keep in mind that the flavour from the raw garlic will become more pronounced in a few hours.
  5. Process the mixture in the machine for another 15 seconds or so.
  6. Taste again and make final adjustments, if necessary.
  7. Pour into a container and refrigerate until ready to eat.

 

 

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Sep 292015
 

Grilled Zucchini (Courgette) and Chard Salad

 

In Dubai, one of my favourite locally grown vegetables is kousa, a small light-green zucchini (courgette). One of my favourite moments is when I’m shopping for groceries and I get to the mountain of stacked kousa, taking my time to choose the smallest ones in the pile. Because it’s grown locally, it’s very inexpensive compared to the large zucchini which is imported from Europe, and I am able to stock up on it without worrying about the cost.

 

I use kousa in anything and everything from stews and curries to omelet fillers. It often makes it’s way to my table sliced lengthwise and roasted with olive oil and sea salt – a healthier and better-tasting alternative to french fries.

 

When grilled, kousa is delicious in salads. My recipe for ‘Grilled Zucchini and Chard Salad with Hazelnuts’ uses a nice combination of flavours and textures along with a simple lemon vinaigrette to make a delicious and beautiful side dish.

 

 

Grilled Zucchini (Courgette) and Chard Salad

 

 

Share your thoughts: What’s your favourite vegetable to grill and throw into a salad?

 

 

GRILLED ZUCCHINI (COURGETTE) and CHARD SALAD with HAZELNUTS

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Generous pinch of sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

400g zucchini (courgette), trimmed and sliced 1cm thick

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra is needed)

1/2 tsp sea salt

250g fresh chard or spinach leaves, washed and chopped

1 avocado, diced

3 Tbsp toasted hazelnuts (or any other type of unsalted nuts you have)

Fresh parmesan cheese (use as much as you want), thinly shaved

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare salad dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a jar and set aside.
  2. Next you need to grill your zucchini. Preheat your grill pan or panini press to medium heat (if you don’t have either of these, you can use a regular frying pan or preheat your oven to 200C/400F). While you are waiting for the grill to heat up, wash and dry your zucchini and slice it into 1cm thick slices. Toss the sliced zucchini gently in a bowl with 3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt. If you are using a grill or frying pan, cook the zucchini on both sides until it gets nice brown grill marks. If you are using a panini press, place the zucchini in the press and cook for a few minutes until you get nice brown grill lines. If you are using an oven, roast your sliced zucchini for 20 minutes (flip the slices halfway through cooking). Set aside.
  3. Wash the skin of your avocado. Cut it in half and remove the seed. Cut the avocado into cubes, discarding the skin. Set aside.
  4. Wash and dry the chard or spinach leaves and chop them (roughly or finely depending on your preference). Set aside.
  5. Toss with the grilled zucchini and avocado.
  6. To put your salad together, place a layer of chard or spinach leaves on a platter (if you are serving straight away, toss the leaves with some dressing. If you are serving later, leave the dressing out as it will make the greens limp). Place your grilled zucchini on top. Scatter with avocado cubes and hazelnuts. Thinly shave some parmesan cheese on top of everything.
  7. Pour the dressing on top just prior to serving.
  8. Serve straightaway or refrigerate for upto 24 hours.

 

Share your thoughts: What’s your favourite vegetable to grill and throw into a salad?

 

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Sep 052015
 

Fig, Lentil and Goat's Cheese Salad

 

Eating fresh figs in Dubai is a rather decadent experience. Hard to find and usually expensive, I only buy a few at a time when they are in season from July to October. As much as I love washing the fruit and eating it straight, I know that sharing is important and a great way to stretch a small amount of figs between many people is to cut them into wedges and serve them in a salad.

 

I recently made a salad using fresh figs, Puy lentils, goat’s cheese, pine nuts and dark green leaves tossed in maple vinaigrette dressing. It was a delicious accompaniment to a roast lamb dinner served on the border just between summer and autumn.

 

Fig, Lentil and Goat's Cheese Salad

 

FIG, LENTIL AND GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD WITH MAPLE VINAIGRETTE

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

 

Salad Ingredients:

3 fresh figs

85g / 3 oz / 4 cups (loosely packed) dark green leaves (ie. rocket/arugula, chard, spinach or a mix)

100g / 3.5 oz dried Puy lentils (or 200g cooked Puy lentils)

60g / 2 oz crumbly goat’s cheese

3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shaking well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
  2. Wash and dry your green leaves. A salad spinner or a tea towel work well to remove excess water. Set aside.
  3. Cook your Puy lentils by simmering them in a pot of salted water (I also add a dried bay leaf to the water if I have it) for 15-20 minutes. See my step-by-step guide (with pictures) on How To Cook Puy Lentils. When done, the lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain the lentils (discard the water) and allow to cool. Set aside.
  4. Toast your pine nuts in a dry pan on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. I use a small cast iron pan. Toss the pine nuts once in a while with a wooden spoon to make sure they toast evenly. Allow to cool on a plate and set aside.
  5. Wash and dry the figs. Remove the stalks on top and cut the figs into quarters or sixths, depending on their size. Set aside.
  6. To assemble the salad, loosely toss the cooled lentils and the green leaves in a large bowl.
  7. Place the tossed lentils and green leaves on a flat serving platter.
  8. Scatter your figs, toasted pine nuts and crumbled cheese on top.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  10. When you are ready to serve, drizzle the maple vinaigrette dressing on top of the salad. You may not need to use all of the dressing.

 

 

 

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May 252015
 

Lettuce with Tarragon Vinaigrette

 

I recently got some locally grown organic Green and Red Oak Leaf lettuce heads from The Farm House (Dubai). Oak Leaf lettuce is a loosely packed head of lettuce with a soft leaf and mild flavour. It’s perfect on its own served with a simple vinaigrette.

 

As luck would have it, I’d been eyeing a deliciously simple herby vinaigrette dressing on the Williams-Sonoma website for ‘Butter Lettuce with Mustard Vinaigrette’, so I knew exactly how I wanted to serve these beautiful tender lettuce leaves.

 

I made a few small changes to the salad dressing, such as slightly increasing the amount of extra virgin olive oil and substituting scallions/spring onions for chives (I didn’t have any chives in the house), but I basically stayed true to the original recipe.

 

Although Williams-Sonoma calls the dressing ‘Mustard Vinaigrette’, for me the main flavour coming through loud and clear is the fragrant fresh tarragon which is why I have called it ‘Tarragon Vinaigrette’. To get the best flavour, it is crucial to give the flavours time to infuse by letting the salad dressing rest for about 2 hours at room temperature or upto 48 hours in your refrigerator.

 

Share your thoughts in the comment section: What is your favourite salad dressing for simple lettuce leaves?

 

Lettuce with Tarragon Vinaigrette

 

LETTUCE with TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE

(Serves 4 as a side salad)

 

 

Dressing Ingredients (makes 1/2 cup):

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1&1/2 Tbsp red wine (grape) vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp tarragon leaves

1 Tbsp parsley leaves

1 Tbsp chives or scallions/spring onions

pinch of sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

2 heads of loosely-packed soft leaves (ie. Oak Leaves, Butterhead, Boston, Bibb)

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your salad dressing first so that you give it enough time to rest for the flavours to develop (2 hours at room temperature or upto 48 hours in the refrigerator).
  2. Wash your herbs and dry them in a tea towel or kitchen roll. Place them on a cutting board and finely chop them.
  3. If you are using scallions/spring onions instead of chives, remove the outer layer and roots. Wash and dry it, and thinly slice it (both green and white parts).
  4. Get a jar with a lid and some measuring spoons. Add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine (grape) vinegar, Dijon mustard, herbs, scallions and a pinch of salt. Shake it well. Taste it to check if you need to add more salt. At this point, don’t be discouraged if you can’t taste the tarragon as it takes time for the flavour to develop.
  5. Set the dressing aside (2 hours at room temperature or upto 48 hours in the refrigerator).
  6. Prepare your salad by separating the leaves. If the outside leaves are wilted, then discard them. Otherwise if they are fresh, you can go ahead and use them.
  7. Wash the lettuce leaves and dry them well in a salad spinner or on a tea towel/kitchen towel.
  8. Refrigerate the leaves once they are dry, wrapped in some kitchen roll/paper towels.
  9. When you are ready to serve, remove the dressing from the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Get 4 small plates and place 5-6 lettuce leaves on each one. Serve immediately with the dressing on the side or drizzled on top.

 

Share your thoughts in the comment section: What is your favourite salad dressing for simple lettuce leaves?

 

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Feb 122015
 

 

Leafy Green Salad with Garlic-Parmesan Croutons

 


Most people associate Valentine’s Day with romantic foods like chocolates, strawberries and oysters, but I think that dark green leafy vegetables should be up there on the list too. Dark green leaves are great for the heart, which is an excellent reason to eat them on Valentine’s Day! If you don’t want to mix your own leaves, you can buy pre-mixed bags of leaves which have 4-6 varieties in them.

 

To make an easy and delicious Valentine’s Salad, try tossing mixed leaves in balsamic vinaigrette and topping them with some delicious home-baked garlic-parmesan croutons. (To learn how to bake croutons, see my Cooking Tutorial: How To Bake Croutons.)

 

Home-made croutons are so much tastier and healthier than store-bought ones. They are also very easy to make and you can prepare them in large batches and store them (tightly sealed) in your refrigerator to throw onto salads for the whole week!

 

Some people like to fry their croutons in butter, but I prefer baking them in the oven with extra virgin olive oil. I have read several recipes which suggest using bread which is a few days old but, since I usually don’t plan things in advance, I often use fresh same-day bread and they turn out just fine. You simply need to bake them for a little longer to get them crispy.

 

At their simplest, croutons can be made with only bread and olive oil and still turn out wonderfully tasty, but adding some garlic and parmesan makes everything more delicious.

 

The croutons can simply be cut into chunky cubes, but for Valentine’s Day you can make them extra special by using a cookie cutter to cut out heart-shaped croutons. What a great (and healthy) way to say, “I love you!”

 

 

Write your comment below: Have you ever cooked something healthy for your other half on Valentine’s Day? Or maybe it was your other half who cooked something special and healthy for you? Tell us what it was!

 

 

 

 

LEAFY GREEN SALAD WITH GARLIC-PARMESAN CROUTONS

(Serves 4 as a starter)

(If making for 2, halve the recipe for the salad and dressing but keep the crouton quantity the same)

 

 

Crouton Ingredients: (can be made a day in advance)

6 slices from a loaf of good quality white bread

3 garlic cloves, grated

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Generous pinch of salt

Fresh ground pepper (to taste)

3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Generous pinch of salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

6-8 cups of mixed dark green lettuce leaves (you can get good packs of mixed lettuce leaves from most supermarkets)

1 cucumber, sliced

12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

 

 

Directions:

 

  1. Croutons: Preheat the oven to 375F/ 190C. Cut your bread slices into chunky cubes or use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Spread evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, combine the grated garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and then drizzle over the bread. Toss the bread around to coat it on both sides and then re-arrange it again in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of the croutons and bake for 10-20 minutes (less time if the bread is dry and more time if it is fresh). Check every 5 minutes to make sure they aren’t getting burnt. Toss the croutons once, when they seem about halfway done.
  4. Allow the croutons to cool to room temperature. Use immediately or seal well and store them in the refrigerator.
  5. Dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a screw-top jar or a bowl. Mix well and put aside until you are ready to serve the salad.
  6. Salad: Wash the salad leaves, cucumber and tomatoes and then dry. Slice the cucumber and cut the tomatoes. Roughly chop the dark green leaves, if necessary. Toss the leaves with the dressing just prior to serving. Scatter the cucumber and tomato on top of the salad and arrange the croutons on top.
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Sep 092013
 

Apple, Roquefort and Walnut Salad

 

 

At my house, some fruit gets eaten faster than others. Mangoes, plums, grapes, clementines, conference pears and melons usually disappear within 48 hours. Bananas have been known to get over-ripe at my place, but they are easy to throw into smoothies so don’t end up getting wasted. But apples tend to linger. I’ll buy six apples at the beginning of the week, and by the end of the week there will probably still be four sitting in the fruit basket. It seems they come pretty low down on the preference list around here. So, I’m always happy when I can find new and inventive ways to serve apples to my family.

 

Apples team really well with cheese and nuts, so why not throw them into a salad together? Apple, Roquefort and Walnut Salad is a great combination. The Roquefort satisfies those of us who have strong savoury cravings, the apple’s sweetness comes in little bursts, and the walnuts give delicious crunch!

 

Do you have any delicious salad recipes with apples in them? I am always looking for suggestions!

 

 

 

APPLE, ROQUEFORT AND WALNUT SALAD
(4 appetiser servings or 2 main course servings)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of sea salt
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

Salad Ingredients:

100g lamb’s lettuce leaves (or any other dark green lettuce)
2 medium red crispy apples (the salad needs to be served immediately, so it is best to chill the apples in advance in the refrigerator)
100g walnuts (or pecans)
30g Roquefort cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a clean empty jar with a lid and shaking it until well combined. If you don’t have a jam jar, simply whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl or cup.
  2. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Place them in a large bowl and toss with the dressing (you may not need to use all the dressing). Set aside.
  3. Wash and cut the apples into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
  4. Roughly chop the walnuts. Set aside.
  5. Roughly crumble the Roquefort cheese into a small plate or bowl. Set aside.
  6. If making individual servings, arrange the dressed lettuce leaves on the plates and scatter the chopped apples, Roquefort cheese and walnuts evenly on top of each serving.
  7. If serving from a large salad bowl, toss all the ingredients together.
  8. Serve immediately.
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Jun 042013
 

Cobb Salad

 

 

If you want a hearty, filling and satisfying salad, look no further than the Cobb Salad.

 

Cobb Salad is a classic American main course salad. The origin of the Cobb Salad dates back to 1937 when Robert Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, realised very late at night that he has been too busy to eat anything all day. He rummaged through the restaurants refrigerators (charmingly called ice-boxes back then) to collect some ingredients and then swiped some bacon from one of his chefs. He chopped everything up, and the result was the Cobb Salad. We may not have known about the salad if Robert Cobb had not also served it to his friend Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood). Grauman loved the salad so much that the Brown Derby decided to add it to their menu, and the rest is history!

 

 

 

COBB SALAD

(makes 3-4 main course salads)

 

Dressing Ingredients: (makes 1/2 cup)

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced or very finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

4-6 cups chopped salad greens (traditionally a combination of Romaine (Cos), Iceberg Lettuce, Endives and watercress. However, it also works well with only Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce if that is all you can find)

8-10 oz / 250g tomatoes, deseeded and chopped into bite-size pieces

2 ripe avocados (I prefer Hass avocados)

4 oz / 100g bleu cheese (traditionally, Roquefort was used but any crumbly blue cheese will work fine)

2 eggs, hardboiled (you can boil them on a rolling boil for 10-12 minutes, or buy them from them pre-cooked from the deli section of your supermarket)

6 pieces of bacon (turkey or pork), roughly chopped and crispy

2 raw skinless chicken breasts (alternatively, you can use pre-cooked chicken from leftovers or from a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake well and set aside (refrigerate if not serving within an hour).
  2. Eggs: Hard boil 2 eggs for 10-12 minutes on a rolling boil. You can cut out the cooking by buying pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs from the deli section of your supermarket. Allow the boiled eggs to cool a little (you can run cold water on them), and then peel. Chop the hard-boiled eggs with a knife or by using an egg-slicer. If you are using an egg-slicer, the best way to chop them up is by first putting an egg on the slicer and slicing through it horizontally (or vertically). Then, pick up the egg from both ends so that it stays in one piece, and place it in the egg-slicer vertically (or horizontally). Place the chopped hard-boiled egg in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. Chicken: For the chicken, bring a small pot of water to the boil. As soon as the water has started boiling, put the raw chicken breasts (plus 1 tsp of salt and 1 bay leaf, optional) into the water. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is completely white throughout. Allow to cool slightly, and then chop into bite-size pieces.
  4. Bacon: Take 6 pieces of bacon and chop them up. In a frying pan, heat a little bit of oil (just enough to prevent sticking) on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the chopped bacon and fry until crispy. You can also grill the bacon in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400F/200C if you prefer not to fry.
  5. Lettuce: Wash, dry and chop 4-6 cups of salad greens. You can use one type of lettuce or a mixture. Traditionally a mix of Romaine (Cos), Iceberg, endives and watercress is used. Lay the chopped greens on a large serving platter.
  6. Tomatoes: Cut your tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with a small spoon. Discard the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  7. Avocados: Cut your avocados in half, remove the stones and skin. Cut into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  8. Bleu cheese: Crumble your bleu cheese into a bowl using clean hands or a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  9. When all the components of your salad are ready (tomatoes, avocados, bleu cheese, eggs, chicken and bacon), place them in rows on top of your lettuce leaves. Refrigerate for upto 24 hours until ready to serve. Serve with dressing on the side.

 

 

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May 032013
 

 Potato and Arugula (Rocket) Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing

 

 

I’ll admit it – I often have trouble trying to time my roast and potatoes to be ready at the same time. My solution is to serve potato salad, which can be prepared upto a day in advance and then whipped out just before everyone comes to the table.

 

This elegant Potato and Arugula Salad is mixed with Grainy Mustard Dressing, which complements a roast lunch or dinner perfectly, and takes a lot of the stress off the cook!

 

 

 

POTATO AND ARUGULA (ROCKET) SALAD WITH GRAINY MUSTARD DRESSING

(Serves 4)

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp grainy mustard

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar (or any other light-colored vinegar)

Pinch of sea salt (to taste)

 

 

Salad ingredients:

24oz / 680g waxy baby potatoes, cut in half

3 cups loosely packed (1.5oz / 20g) rocket leaves

 

 

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil. Add 1 tsp salt and the baby potatoes (cut in half) to the water, and boil for around 10 minutes (until tender – do not overcook!). Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and lay them on a plate or tray to cool to room temperature.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the grainy mustard dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. When the potatoes are at room temperature, pour the mustard dressing in the bottom of a large bowl and drop the potatoes on top of the dressing. With a spatula (use a spatula to keep the potatoes intact), gently fold the potatoes and dressing together until evenly combined.
  4. Fold in the rocket leaves.
  5. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
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May 032013
 

Caesar Salad

 

 


Caesar Salad was created on 4 July 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico by Caesar Cardini, an Italian-born restauranteur. The story, according to his daughter Rosa, is that there was such a rush of customers on 4 July that the restaurant’s kitchen ran low on supplies. To satisfy his hungry patrons, Cardini used whatever he could find in the kitchen to create his famous Caesar Salad, which was tossed at the table by the chef.

 

The original Caesar Salad recipe contained Romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, eggs, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and a grinding of black pepper. There were no anchovies in sight! It was only a few years later that Caesar’s brother Alex Cardini re-invented the salad dressing using anchovies and called the salad Aviator’s Salad (it was made for some visiting American airmen from San Diego). Although Caesar himself was against the use of anchovies, the slightly salty hint of anchovy in the dressing is what many fans of Caesar Salad actually crave.

 

Caesar Salad can be served on its own, or with grilled chicken or grilled prawns on top.

 

 

CAESAR SALAD

(Serves 4)

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1 garlic clove, peeled and grated / finely chopped

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp light-colored vinegar (ie. apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar)

4 Tbsp (1/2 cup) mayonnaise

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp anchovy paste (or 4 anchovy fillets)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

10 oz / 280g Romaine or Cos lettuce

Parmesan shavings (optional as there will be parmesan in the dressing)

Anchovy fillets (optional as there will be anchovy in the dressing)

 

 

Crouton Ingredients:

4 cups chunky bread cubes

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried herbs (ie. herbes de Provence or oregano) (optional)

1 tsp garlic powder (optional)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Croutons: Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Cut up fresh or slightly stale bread into bite-size pieces until you have roughly 4 cups or bread cubes. Put the bread cubes in a baking dish which allows them to sit comfortably in one layer. Drizzle with 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp coarse salt, 1 tsp dried herbs (optional), and 1 tsp garlic powder (optional). Place the dish in the oven. If you are using fresh bread, bake for 10 minutes, stir, and then bake for another 10 minutes. If you are using slightly stale bread, cooking time may be less – 5 minutes, stir, 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Dressing: If you are using anchovy fillets, mash them together with half a tsp of salt until it forms a paste. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and whisk well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Salad: Wash the Cos Lettuce and dry it using a salad spinner or gently rubbing in a tea-towel or kitchen-towel. Cut or tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Assemble the salad just before serving. Place the Cos lettuce on individual plates or in a large salad bowl, drizzle most of the dressing on the leaves (make sure not to drown them), and toss. Taste and add more dressing if necessary.
  5. If you are using parmesan shavings and anchovy fillets, place them on the salad now (optional).
  6. Scatter the croutons on top and serve immediately.

 

 

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