Tag Archives: salads

Grandma Antha’s Cucumber Salad

 The Midwest is replete with cucumber salads. This one belonged to my grandmother, who used to chop the onions and sprinkle a little grocery-store paprika on top.  Thought I’d pass along the recipe in time for graduations and Father’s Day BBQ’s.  It makes 2-3 servings, but multiplies easily.  Enjoy!

1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2/3 c. water
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. olive or canola oil
Salt and pepper
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
½ small onion, thinly sliced

Whisk vinegar, water, and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in oil. Add cucumbers and onions and stir to combine. Marinate in the fridge for 4-24 hours.  Serve at room temperature.


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French-Style Lentil Salad

Salad season is fast approaching.  I am already craving crunch.  This salad was inspired by all the French food I’ve been eating in San Francisco.  It is particularly nice because you can make it ahead– It is actually better if you let it sit for an hour or two.  It lasts several days in the fridge (well, not around here…). And it is not dependent on fragile, of-the-moment produce, so you can make it whenever the mood hits.  The recipe calls for red wine vinegar, but go ahead and experiment.  My absolute favorite, so far, is a combination of poppy (!) and sherry vinegar.  The recipe makes about 4 cups.  Enjoy!

½ c. finely diced onion
Ice water
1 ½ cups black “beluga” lentils
3 ¾ cups of water
Large clove garlic
1 tsp. finely ground sea salt
½ c. plus 2 T. olive oil
4 T. red wine vinegar (or 2 T. sherry and 2 T. poppy vinegar)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground celery seeds
¼ tsp. (or more) red pepper flakes
Black pepper
1 c. finely diced celery

Place diced onion in a bowl of ice water to cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Rinse and sort lentils. Combine lentils and 3 ¾ cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer gently until lentils are cooked, but still have a slight bite, about 25 minutes. Most of the water will have been absorbed.  Drain briefly, if needed.

While lentils cook, make the dressing: Mince the garlic clove and mash it into a paste with the salt. Place this paste in the bottom of a medium-size mixing bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar(s), Dijon mustard, sugar, celery seed, red pepper flakes and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Whisk well to combine.

Toss still-warm lentils with dressing. Drain onions. Stir onions and celery into the lentils. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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Beet Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese

At the farmers’ market the other day, I heard a man ask the farmer how to prepare beets, “You boil them, right?”  Please don’t boil beets!  It is SO much easier to pop them in the oven, wrapped in foil, then simply slip them out of their skins after they’ve roasted.  They taste better, too! This recipe calls for both red and golden beets, though you could, of course, use either color.  Red beets STAIN, so you might opt for golden beets if you are feeding children.  I wish I could come up with a fancier name for this salad.  There is nothing particularly novel about combining beets, goat cheese and nuts.  What makes this dish special is the use of toasted sesame oil in the dressing.  It amps up the nuttiness of the dressing, which goes so well with the other ingredients.  This makes four servings.  Enjoy!

3-4 golden beets, preferably with their tops
3-4 red beets, preferably with their tops
¼ cup hazelnuts
2 T. plus 1 tsp. hazelnut or walnut oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 T. good quality balsamic vinegar
2 oz. goat cheese

Arrange oven shelves so that one is one-third of the way off the oven floor (the usual place to bake) and another is at the half-way point. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut off the tops of each beat, leaving about an inch of the foliage attached. Rinse the beets of any loose dirt, then wrap each one completely in foil. (It’s OK to trim off any protruding roots.) Spread hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and place on the lower shelf of the oven. Place beets on the higher shelf, taking care that each beet is resting above the cookie sheet.

Toast hazelnuts for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the nuts from the oven and pour onto a clean kitchen towel. Return cookie sheet to the oven (so to catch any drips from the beets). Roast the beets 50 minutes longer.

Skin the hazelnuts. (You do this by folding the towel over the warm nuts and rubbing them briskly. Most of the skin will come right off. It is OK to leave on any that sticks.) Coarsely chop them and set them aside.

Measure the hazelnut oil, the sesame oil and the balsamic vinegar into a small glass jar.  Shake to combine.  Set aside.

Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool. Unfold each beet from the foil and skin it (over the sink!) by squeezing gently with your fingers. The beet will slide right out. Take care to keep the golden beets separate from the red beets, as the red beets will exude stain.

Starting with the yellow beets, cut each beat into ½-inch rounds, then each round into quarters. Place the yellow beets into a small mixing bowl. Do the same with the red beets, placing them in a separate bowl. In total, you should have about 3 cups of beets.

Crumble half of the goat cheese over each bowl. Divide the dressing between the two bowls and toss to combine. Pile the red beets into one side of a rimmed serving dish, then add the golden beets to the other side. Sprinkle the chopped toasted hazelnuts on top.  Serve at room temperature.

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Thai Chicken Salad


I’ve been making this for years.  It is one of the few salads that seems to appeal all year long- Good cabbage is easy to find even in colder months, and the salad is, of course,  delicious when garden-fresh cabbage, peppers and cilantro abound.  My kids love it, and left-overs, if any, are great packed for lunch the next day.  To give credit where it is due, this  is an adaptation of a recipe that first appeared in Cooking Light magazine. Over time I’ve modified it to use fewer, more readily available ingredients.  I’ve also simplified it for weeknight cooking.  This makes enough for 3-4 main dish servings.  Enjoy!

½ c. fresh lime juice
6 T. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ c. tamari

¾ c. salted peanuts (plus more for garnish, opt.)
Rotisserie chix, meat stripped off bones and shredded
10 oz package (or 6 cups) shredded green cabbage
1 c. matchstick-cut carrots
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into rough matchsticks
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into rough matchsticks
1 c. chopped cilantro
Combine dressing ingredients in a glass jar and shake well to combine. Set aside, but shake occasionally as you assemble the salad to help sugar dissolve.

Place ¾ c. peanuts in a sandwich bag and smash with the smooth side of a meat mallet until coarsely chopped.

Place chopped 3/4 c. peanuts and remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl and use hands to toss lightly until ingredients are evenly distributed. Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss again. Taste. Add more dressing, as needed, tossing after each addition. Sprinkle a few peanuts on top as garnish (opt). Serve cold or at room temperature.

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What To Do About Kale?

Peanut-Kale Salad

I don’t know why Kale intimidates me– no matter how many times I eat something delicious made with Kale, I still hesitate to pick it up at the store.  Seems like a mind block, one I need to get over.  Had a delicious shredded Kale salad with a peanut dressing at Seva Restaurant my last trip home.  I’ve been experimenting ever since. The texture of the Kale, the salty, crunch peanuts, and the sweet red peppers and carrots is addicting.  Once I come up with a reliable recipe, I’ll post it, but there are several starting places on-line. Let me know what you come up with!

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Fall Salad

I’m still playing with this one.  Ate a huge bowl for dinner last night and can’t resist sharing. Not sure the dressing is perfect, but I love the cardamom with the roasted sweet potatoes and goat cheese. And it is truly beautiful on the plate–Give it a try, and let me know if/how you tweak the dressing.

 Serves 3-4 as side salad. Approximate.

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½“ dice
1-2 T olive oil
Sea salt
5 oz. baby spinach
3oz crumbled goat cheese
1/3 c. (or more) roasted, salted pepitas

2 T. honey
1 T. poppy or balsamic vinegar
1-2 T olive oil
¾ tsp. freshly crushed cardamom seed
2-3 tsp. water (opt.)

Toss sweet potato with olive oil and salt and roast in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until lightly roasted.

In a large bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, 1 T. olive oil and cardamom until combined. Taste. Add additional oil if too intense. Consider thinning with water. Toss spinach, pepitas and feta with dressing. Spoon warm sweet potato on top.

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