All posts in the Salads category

Japanese Cucumber Salad

Published October 15, 2012 by jenmatteson

You may or may not know that my garden was only partially successful this summer.  Granted, it was my first go around, so I’m satisfied with what I ended up with.  I’m still a bit disappointed in my tomatoes though.  I ended the season with a bushel of green tomatoes.  I attempted to ripen though following some online instructions I found, but they just ended up rotting and smelling terrible.  This might be due to the fact that I picked them after the first frost and that was frowned upon in these ripening instructions.

But, I did have tons and tons of cukes.  I made quickle salad for most of the summer, and this recipe is quite similar, with a slight twist.  We were just excited to try something new.  I have a mandolin with one of those silly saftey sliders, so it’s unusable without it, and I couldn’t fit a whole cucumber in the saftey zone, so I ended up just using a vegetable peeler.  It worked just fine, just a little cumbersome.

Japanese Cucumber Salad

Source: The Way to His Heart
Servings: 6


2 medium cucumbers, halfed and seeded
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp seasame seeds, toasted


1. Slice cucumbers lengthwise very thin.  I found a vegetable peeler works best.  Place sliced cucumbers in a paper towel and gently squeeze out excess moisture.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt and sesame seeds.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Add cucumber slices and toss to coat.

Cucumber Overload? Try Quickles!

Published September 9, 2012 by jenmatteson

Apparently I am really good at growing cucumbers.  Clearly not much else as I have yet to get any ripe tomatoes out of my garden.  I have plenty, but it’s September and they haven’t even started to turn red yet.  Not one.

But, my cucumbers.  Oh, my cucumbers!  They are growing like nobody’s business, and I have had a ton this summer.  So many that I actually had to make something from them instead of just slicing them up and eating them with some dip.

With a little inspiration from a Chopped chef on Food Network, I made “quickles”, or quick pickles.  I made a dressing of vinegars and a little oil, added some seasoning, and BOOM, quickle salad.  We’ve had this in our fridge for probably the last month and continue to make and eat more as my garden keeps pumping out cucumbers.  I need to come up with some other recipes to use my cucumbers, but for now, this will do just fine.  It’s fun to change up the vinegars and seasonings.  Fresh dill would be a great addition to this simple salad.

What’s your favorite cucumber recipe?

Quickle Salad

Source: Pigzilla Original, inspired by a Chopped chef
Servings: 8


2 large cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper


1. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers and onion.  In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil, adding in the seasoning to taste.  Pour dressing over cucumbers.  Refrigerate for at least one hour to let the cucumbers soak up some of the flavors.  Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe Swap: Sante Fe Chicken Salad

Published August 24, 2012 by jenmatteson

Another blogger’s choice recipe swap, and this time I got Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks, written by Heather.  I didn’t even have to peruse her blog to find what I wanted to make; I already had three recipes in my “to try” list from her (I don’t know why she wasn’t in my in blogs I frequent already, but she’s certainly going there shortly!).  Okay, so I did take a gander through her blog again, but I really wanted to try all the recipes that were waiting on my list: bagels, Sante Fe chicken salad and spicy chicken in garlic lime broth.  I settled on the salad (for today), but don’t you think for one second that I will not be making the other two very soon 😛

This recipe sounded exactly like a salad I would order in a restaurant (and why in the world does a salad almost always taste better in a restaurant than it does when you make it at home?), so I knew this was exactly what I wanted to make.  Super simple, everyday ingredients (love that part!), and quick to prepare.  What could be better?

Oh, and I have to include a shout out to my good friend, Nick.  He custom-made me some spice racks (I have far too many spices), and after almost a year of bugging him, he finally hung them for me a few weekends ago.

The reason this particular recipe made me think of Nick and my spice racks is because it involves a good handful of my favorite spices (all were on my “frequently used” rack, not the “alphabetically ordered” rack).  Woot woot!  Thanks, Nick!! 🙂

Back to the salad…It was textbook out of a restaurant – in an awesome way!  It was probably even better!  I didn’t have any red peppers on hand, so I used tomatoes for the color instead.  To make up for the flavor of the missing red pepper, I used red onion along with a little green onion (I had them both in my refrigerator).  I forgot the corn…eh.  Certainly wouldn’t have hurt, but I remembered when I went back to blog the recipe.  Oh well.  I also forgot the cheese for Nate, and he didn’t even notice because it was a such a good salad, and one he’d like to have again on many occasions.  He even ate up all the extra chicken, veggies, and dressing with some blue corn tortilla chips the same night.  Lettuce..who needs it?

Oh, and the dressing.  Yum!  I love the combination of sour cream (I used Greek yogurt) and salsa, but the addition of ranch and lime juice really gave it that restaurant flavor that can be hard to find at home.  So delicious!  Thank you, Heather!

Sante Fe Chicken Salad

Source: Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Servings: 3 large salads


For the chicken:
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp tequilla
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the dressing:
1/4 cup salsa
2 tbsp plain non-fat Greek yogurt (sour cream would work)
2 tbsp ranch dressing
1 tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper

For the salad:
4 cups lettuce, rough chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 avocado, diced
3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4  red onion, chopped
1/3 cup pepper jack cheese
tortilla chips


1. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, orange juice, tequilla, olive oil, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic and salt and pepper.  Place chicken in zip-top bag and cover with marinade.  Refrigerate and let chicken marinate for 1-4 hours.

2. Combine all ingredients for dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Heat grill to medium high heat.  Remove chicken from marinade.  Grill chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side.  Let cool, then slice into strips.

4. Place a layer of tortilla chips on plates, then top with lettuce cilantro, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, onions, cheese, and chicken strips.  Finish with dressing as desired.

Two-Tone Potato Salad

Published May 18, 2012 by jenmatteson

I used to love my mom’s potato salad, and it was always a treat when she made it for a party or family gathering.  Since then, my taste buds have transferred their preferences to this amazing potato salad…sorry mom (but I still LOVE your chicken nuggets!).  I made this to go with my slow cooker French dip sammies for Mother’s Day, and I thought it was awesome.  Nate said there was something missing…but what does he know 😉  Kidding.

The blue potatoes were difficult to find; I finally found them at Trader Joe’s, and I had to buy two rainbow bags of potatoes and pick out the blue ones.  Totally worth it visually!  It was colorful and fun, plus it tasted super good.  Of course, if you cannot find blue potatoes, or don’t want to go through the trouble, you could certainly just use another pound of the Yukon Gold potatoes.

This was a Food and Wine recipe, and I generally always trust them.  I was a bit thrown off by cooking the potatoes and then peeling and cutting them.  However, I trusted Food and Wine.  It worked out, but honestly, next time, I’ll peel, cut, then cook the potatoes.  It’s really a pain in the butt to peel cooked potatoes!

But, again, the trouble was worth the reward.  The sweet relish gave the salad a nice flavor, but wasn’t too overpowering.  I could have used more black pepper, but didn’t want to overwhelm any guests, namely, my mother 🙂

I would definitely make this again for another party, but not just for Nate and myself.  It makes a lot!

Two-Tone Potato Salad

Source: Food and Wine
Servings: 10


1 pound small blue potatoes, scrubbed
4 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
2 cups mayonnaise
juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1-3 oz jar pickled cocktail onions, drained and thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh dill
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 large celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup minced chives, plus more for garnish
smoked paprika and lemon wedges for serving


1. Put the blue potatoes in a medium saucepan and the Yukon Gold potatoes in a large saucepan and cover both with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer the potatoes until just tender, about 15 minutes for the blue, 20 minutes for the Yukon Golds.  Drain the potatoes and let cool at room temperature.  It’s best to spread out potatoes on a baking sheet to cool, otherwise the heat from the potatoes will continue to cook them, making them overcooked and hard to handle.  Once cool enough to handle,  peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, relish, cocktail onions, salt, dill, and pepper.  Fold in the potatoes, celery, red onion and 1/2 cup of the chives.  Refrigerate the potato salad until cold.

3. Spoon the potato salad onto a platter and garnish with chives and paprika.  Serve cold or slightly chilled with lemon wedges.

Asian Coleslaw

Published April 15, 2012 by jenmatteson

This was a really simple salad to go with the Grilled Hoisin-Glazed Pork Tenderloin.  I probably would have used more lime juice, but I only had one quarter of a lime in my refrigerator.  Instead of using a traditional coleslaw mix with cabbage, I like to use the broccoli slaw.  It seems to have a bit more crunch and flavor, and I think the nutritional value is a bit higher in broccoli slaw.

Asian Coleslaw

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 6


1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp seasame oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 tbsp seasame seeds
3 cups broccoli slaw


1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together vingar, oils,  and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.   Add scallions and sesame seeds.

2. Add broccoli slaw in seperate bowl.  Pour dressing over slaw and toss to coat.  Refridgerate for at least one hour before serving.

Green Chili, Tomatillo, and Avocado Pasta Salad

Published April 9, 2012 by jenmatteson

A few days ago, I made Chicken with Green Chili, Tomatillo, and Avocado Sauce, and there was a LOT of extra sauce.  The following day, we had an impromptu get together in which we were going to grill out.  I decided a pasta salad was in order, and Nate suggested using the Green Chili, Tomatillo, and Avocado Sauce with the salad – so I did, and it was excellent!

Because there are avocados in the sauce, it wasn’t quite as vibrant as it was on the first day it was made, but it still tasted wonderful!

Green Chili, Tomatillo, and Avocado Pasta Salad

Source: Pigzilla Original combined with Our Life in Food’s Sauce
Servings: 8


2 cups small pasta shells
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 cup Green Chili, Tomatillo, and Avocado Sauce
salt and pepper


1. Boil pasta 8-12 minutes until just cooked.  Drain and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, add cooled pasta.  Add green chili sauce until pasta is well coated, and salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Steak Sandwich Salad

Published March 27, 2012 by jenmatteson

Unless you don’t eat meat, I’m not sure I know anyone that doesn’t like a really good steak sandwich.  I took all the greatest elements out of the sandwich and added them to a salad.  While salads are usually pretty simple to make, this one is busy – a lot of elements, but trust me, it’s totally worth it.  For extra flavor, I marinated the steak in a black pepper sauce, but it isn’t necessary.  Salt and pepper would be just fine.  The crispy onions strings and homemade balsamic vinaigrette are an added bonus!  I don’t like to overload my salads with meat, so one 8 oz steak is plenty for Nate and me for dinner.  Of course you could add croutons and/or a good cheese if you feel it’s necessary.

Steak Sandwich Salad


olive oil
1 8 oz steak (marinated if desired)
1 large onion, sliced thin
1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
4 cups salad lettuce
1/2 tomato, diced

1. In a small pan, heat olive oil over low heat.  Add 1/2 of the sliced onions and cook over low heat to caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Add green peppers for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
2. Meanwhile, cook steak over medium heat (or grill) to desired doneness.  About 5 minutes on each side for medium. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
3. In another pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium high heat.
4. In a small bowl, add remaining sliced onions and buttermilk.  Toss to coat.  In a shallow dish, combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper.  Dredge onions in flour to coat.  Repeat dipping onions in buttermilk and then flour so they are double coated.  Add coated onions to hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
5. Construct salad by adding lettuce and topping with chopped tomatoes,  camelized onions and peppers, sliced steak, and crispy onion strings.  Finish with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  Of course you could add your favorite cheese if you like, possibly a swiss or provolone.

For Emily, with Love

Published March 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

The first time I made these, it was a few of my girlfriends making dinner for our men.  These were the appetizer.  We set them out for the boys while we finished making the main dish, and I swear they were gone within 5 minutes.  They actually stopped playing video games to devour these delicious bites.  The second time I made them was for my best friend’s wedding shower.  I was afraid I made too much, but they were the first thing to be absolutely gonzo.  If you haven’t gotten the point yet, they are super yummy!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

A girlfriend of mine asked me for the recipe for these gems yesterday, which made me think, we should have them for dinner because it’s been far too long.  These are great as a party appetizer, for a crowd, or even just for a low-key dinner.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps


16 boston bibb or butter lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 lb ground chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (usually found with Asian food in grocery stores)
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp chile pepper sauce
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp dark sesame oil


1. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground chicken in 1 tbsp oil.  Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

2. In the same pan, cook the onion, stirring frequently.  Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions and stir.    Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and cook until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

3. Add chicken to pan and stir until well combined and heated through.

4. Serve chicken mixture in lettuce leaves.  Top with sesame noodles and/or extra chile sauce if desired.

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

Published March 17, 2012 by jenmatteson

This is a fabulous salad that I concocted for a night with one of my best girl friend.  I wanted to make something light, but with a lot of flavor, so I decided on a shrimp salad with a kick.  Nate grilled the shrimp, and did a fantastic job.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had shrimp cooked this well in a long time; it always seems to be overcooked with that rubbery consistency.  But I have to hand it to him, he did wonderful work!  The salad is simple and quick and has so much flavor.  I would have used twice the chili powder for a little more kick, or even added cayenne pepper, but since I was cooking for my girlfriend, I didn’t want it to be too spicy.  This recipe would serve four people with a little left over.  Perfect for a summer day!

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad


For marinade:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb fresh peeled and deveined shrimp

For salad:
4 cups chopped lettuce
1/4 cup black beans
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 avocado

1. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, zest, olive oil, chili powder, paprika, pepper, salt, and garlic.  Pour 2/3 of the marinade over the shrimp, use tongs to toss and coat each shrimp.  Place in fridge to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your cilantro lime dressing.
3. Remove shrimp from fridge and add the remaining marinade.  For grilling, it’s easiest to place the shrimp on skewers.  If you are using wood skewers, its important to soak your skewers in water for at least 1 hour so they do not burn on the grill.  Alternatively, you could toss them in a pan and give them a quick cook.
4. While shrimp cook, prepare the base of your salad.  Add lettuce, black beans, corn, green peppers, red onion, tomato, and avocado.  Top with cooked shrimp and cilantro lime dressing and serve.

Quinoa Pilaf with Corn and Jalapenos

Published March 2, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’ve been wanting to make quinoa at home for quite some time, so I was happy to find this recipe to try. The jalapeno are an added bonus for me. I like the heat, so instead of steaming them, I kept them raw and added toward the end.

Quinoa Pilaf with Corn and Jalapeno

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups corn (I used frozen, but you could use canned or fresh)
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth)
2 jalapenos, chopped small
1 tomato, cored, seeded and chopped small
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
2 tsp lime juice

1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2. Add the remaining oil and onion to saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until onion is softened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth (and jalapeno if you like less heat) and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue to simmer until quinoa is transparent and tender, about 16-18 minutes.

3. Remove from heat, stir in jalapeno (if you like more heat), and lay a clean kitchen town underneath the lid. Let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the cooked corn, tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

%d bloggers like this: