All posts tagged salad

Roasted Pear Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola, and Toasted Walnuts

Published December 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’m generally not a fruit-in-my-salad kind of person (unless it’s a fruit salad) but I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and try something new.  Plus, this was for my aunt’s cookie exchange, and I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary and kind of fancy. At least I thought it was fancy.  Plus, it was a Christmas cookie exchange, and pears are all the rage this time of year.  Couldn’t have been better!

Pears prior to roasting

I had the idea for the salad before I even started searching for recipes, so I ended up kind of just winging it.  I used this recipe as a starting point (and for the dressing) from Guy Fieri, but omitted the pomegranates, added walnuts, and roasted my pears with a little bit of honey.  The salad was wonderful!  At first I thought it might be on the vinegar-y side, but Nate tested his with the gorgonzola and said that really balances it out.  I’m also not a huge fan of nuts in my salad, but the walnuts gave the salad a much needed crunch.  This would be fantastic to start your holiday meal!

Roasted Pear Salad with Champagne Vinegairette

Roasted Pear Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola, and Toasted Walnuts

Source: Adapted from Guy Fieri
Servings: 8


1 pear, halved and cored
1 tbsp honey
8 cups salad greens (I used a mix of arugula and baby spinach)
champagne vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/2 cup toasted walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle pear halves with honey and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake until softened slightly, but still firm, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Once cooled thinly slice pears.

2. Drizzle salad with vinaigrette as desired.  Plate greens and divide the sliced pears and top the salads.  Sprinkle with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts.

Champagne Vinaigrette

Source: Adapted from Guy Fieri
Servings: Makes 1/2 cup


1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil


1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except olive oil.  Mix well, then slowly whisk in olive oil.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Goddess Salad Dressing

Published November 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we are all feeling a little bloated and guilty.  But, there’s great news!  We can move on from here.  Maybe you had an extra helping of stuffing, or mashed potatoes, or pie (or of all of them), but we can’t turn back time.  What we can do is look to the future and make better choices.  If you’re like me, you might be in the mood for a salad after all that heavy (delicious) food.  I have a great homemade dressing for you!

I recently found out that a friend of mine from one of my networking groups, Ashley, is a food blogger as well.  Not only is she a food blogger, but she’s a food and fitness blogger.  Two of my favorite things!

I was checking out all the cool stuff she has on her site, and came across an interesting post about what to do with tahini.  As most of us know, a great way to use it is by making hummus.  I make it all the time, so I almost always have it in my fridge (except for the last time when I was out, but didn’t know it, and poor Nate had to run to the store – he had no idea what he was even looking for.  What a sweetheart!).  Anyway, one of the recipes really caught my eye and I made up a batch right away.  Goddess dressing, because there is a goddess in all of us, right?

The only adjustment I made was using cilantro instead of parsley.  I almost never have parsley and always have cilantro.  The dressing was fabulous!  I served it over a salad of hearts of romaine, white beans, onions, yellow bell peppers and avocado (wonderful lunch salad).  For you cheese eaters, I’m thinking feta would be a great addition.  The vinegar balances out the heaviness of the tahini, but it still retains its nutty flavor.  Can’t wait to try more of these tahini recipes!

Goddess Dressing

Source: Adapted from Sore Legs and Scrambled Eggs
Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 cup dressing


1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil


1. In a food processor, add all ingredients except for olive oil.  Puree until smooth.  While processing, stream in olive oil until mixture reaches desired consistency.

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.

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.

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.

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