Category Archives: Salads


A quick post today, for a bright, juicy salad that is also quick to prepare.

juicy juicy

It’s nothing fancy, but it was just what today needed: the ripest, juiciest, summeriest tomatoes, a few dollops of crème fraîche or sour cream, a generous dousing of dill, and a little salt and pepper. Perfect for a quick snack or lunch, and bright for a dreary day.


Tomato with dill and crème fraîche
inspired by all the tomato, cucumber, and dill salads I ate in Lithuania and Russia

For one serving:

  • 2 – 3 small tomatoes, or 1 larger tomato, sliced
  • a few spoonfuls of crème fraîche (try making your own!) or sour cream
  • a big handful of dill (or to taste), chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Eat, and be content. Of course, bread (preferably black) would be nice to sop up all the juicy remains in the bowl.


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Spring hash + spring links

roof, again

Guys, hanging out on a roof on a Friday spring evening is fun. I highly encourage it.

If hanging on roofs isn’t your thing this spring, can I suggest something else?

Spring hash

I’m going to be that food blogger and tell you: “Oh, this old thing? Why, I only make this when I don’t know what to make.”

But seriously. When you take fresh produce and cook them together for a bit and add something zesty, it’s hard to go wrong. Even if you think you can’t just whip up something, you can. K?



kale kale everywhere

Spring Hash
Inspired by a sauteed spinach dish from Boqueira

Notes: This is sort of a warm salad, sort of a side dish, and all kinds of delicious. Be sure to have all the ingredients prepped beforehand, as they get thrown in the pan pretty quickly. To make a light meal out of the Spring Hash, serve with some bread (a sourdough variation of this bread is pictured) and olive oil for dipping. Of course, a fried or poached egg would feel right at home on a bed of these greens, too. And if you don’t have these exact ingredients, don’t fret – this recipe is made for compromisin’. (Doon doon doon doon doon doon doon doon.)

  • 1 bunch of spinach (or about two cups of packed spinach leaves), roughly chopped
  • 4 – 5 leaves of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks (leaving the heads intact, just because it’s prettier that way)
  • onion, chopped, to taste
  • something crunchy – sliced almonds, chopped cashews, or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup raisins (golden, preferably)
  • pickled vegetables, if you have any and want to add them
  • 1/4 cup (or so) apple cider vinegar (or another vinegar of your choosing, but I’d stay away from a heavy balsamic for this one)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons mustard – I used a ramp mustard, but I think a grainy dijon or something like that would be good too.
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • herbs to sprinkle on top, if you have them – chives, lemon thyme, or parsley, for example
  • olive oil

1. Toast your crunch (nuts, pepitas, etc.) – I like to toast them in a dry skillet for 5 – 10 minutes, shaking the pan every so often to ensure they don’t burn. You could also toast them in the oven on a baking sheet – detailed instructions here. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and mustard; taste and adjust ratio to your liking. Set your crunch and the vinegar-mustard aside.

2. Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add your onion and sauté until softened and beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins. Add the asparagus, stir to coat in olive oil and add more oil if needed. Cook a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until asparagus turns bright green and begins to soften, but still has some crunch. Add the kale, stir to coat, cook 1 minute more. Add spinach and vinegar-mustard, stir to coat everything. Add more vinegar-mustard if you’d like it to be more saucy. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in the crunch, add any additional add-ins such as pickled veggies, chopped tomatoes, or whatever you fancy.  Taste and add salt and pepper as you like.

4. Dish up! Garnish with herbs, scallions, or a grate of cheese.



Need more spring-time food inspiration? I thought you’d never ask:


  • Pasta with kale, pinto beans, and pepitas in a chipotle-yogurt sauce – inspired by this post but with a few tweaks.

chipotle pasta

  • Last but not least, something to sip on: make your own ginger liqueur. I followed the recipe almost exactly, but used lemon zest instead of orange and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean. Next time I make it (and from the looks of it, that will be soon) I might reduce the sugar a teensy bit. I know a liqueur is supposed to be sweet, but the beauty of making your own is that it doesn’t have to be. My favorite way (so far) to use the liqueur: In a tall glass add 1 shot liqueur, 1 shot rum (Mt. Gay Eclipse, to be exact), a few dashes of bitters (preferably Angostura), and a squeeze of lime. Stir, fill half of glass with ice. Top with ginger beer, stir. It’s like a dark and stormy, but, well, stormier.*

ginger liqueur, pre-strain

I’ll leave you with that – the stormier drink is calling my name, and the last three episodes of Arrested Development are itching to be watched. Speaking of Arrested Development, check back on Monday for a special, Bluth-filled post. It’s sure to be a mouthful.


*That was totally a reference to a June 2011 post on Gilt Taste entitled “The Classic Dark ‘n Stormy, Made Stormier” and I went to go find the link so that I could share it with you but IT’S GONE! I’ve been wondering if something had gone awry with Gilt’s recipes, as they hadn’t updated since last fall, but now I can’t find any of the recipes. Anyone out there know what happened? Did I just miss the giant, flashing link that says “GILT TASTE RECIPES ARE STILL HERE” in my panic-ridden state? In any case, I have a cached version of that post, which, more to the point, contains a recipe for homemade ginger beer. Stay tuned.

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A few salads

Only a little more than a month remains before the farmers market down the street starts up again, and I am so so so so so so so excited because a) fresh fruits and veggies and meats and flowers and QUICHES and cheeses etc., etc. will be only seven, ittybitty blocks away and b) we’re working for the fruit stand at the market for the second year in a row and it will be wonderful. If you’re in DC, come visit. It’s grand.

Until the glorious time of fresh produce arrives, though, here are a few winter-friendly salad recipes.

The first comes from Fergus Henderson, via Food52. Look at the colors! How could I resist?

red salad

Red Winter Salad 
aka, This Might As Well Be Russian
adapted from Fergus Henderson’s Red Salad, via Food52

For one serving:

  • 1 small, raw beet, peeled and finely grated
  • a sliver of red cabbage, finely sliced (to equal about a cup of sliced cabbage)
  • a sliver of red onion, finely sliced, or one green onion, finely sliced
  • a tablespoon (or less) of capers
  • a dollop of thick yogurt (Greek or strained)
  • a few sprigs of parsley
  • olive oil, to taste
  • red wine vinegar, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine beet, cabbage, onion, and capers in a small bowl. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar to taste, adding salt and pepper to taste as well. I started with roughly a tablespoon each of oil and vinegar and then adjusted to be how I liked – a little punchy, with a nice olive oil note at the end.

To serve, place the salad on a plate. Dollop your yogurt next to the salad, then arrange the parsley next to that (sort of in a triangle, re: the picture above). Drizzle with more olive oil and some pepper, if you like. To eat, drag a little bit of salad into a little button of yogurt, and snatch a bit of parsley too. Repeat.

red plate

Salad number two also uses beets, so buy more than one. You know when things just come together, like the internet, sliced bread, or gin and tonic? This salad is one of those things. The dressing is a blend of tahini, roasted sweet peppers (the small kind, although bell peppers would be nice too), red wine vinegar, a good bit of fresh dill, and salt.

tahini pepper sauce

The dressing is really the star of the show, and also masquerades as a dip by night. Have some cauliflower languishing in the back of your fridge, begging to be used from the bottom of your crisper drawer? Cut it into florets, generously drizzle on some olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper, and roast for 20-30 minutes in a 380 degree oven. The cauliflower gets all browned and caramelized, and happens to be delicious dipped in the tahini-pepper-dill dip. But anyways, back to the salad:

Roasted Beet and Garbanzo Salad 

For two servings:

  • 1 beet, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans (either canned or made from dry beans)
  • 3 small, sweet peppers, roasted and skinned (I roast according to these instructions)
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • a good handful of fresh dill, or to taste (or parsley or cilantro or, well, any other herb)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1. Roast the beets: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange beets in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Combine with your hands so the beets are evenly coated. Roast for 25-35 minutes, turning halfway through, until easily pierced with a fork and nicely browned in places. Set aside to cool.

2. Make the dressing: In a small food processor, pulse the roasted peppers, tahini, red wine vinegar, olive oil, dill, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust ingredients to your taste. I usually add a little more vinegar or olive oil, and almost definitely add more salt. (I really, really like the combination of tahini and red wine vinegar.) Note: this recipe will probably make more dressing than you will need. As I mentioned above, it is also a fantastic dip. Cauliflower, pita chips, flatbread? Done.


3. Assemble the salad: In a medium bowl, combine the beets and garbanzo beans. Drizzle on a bit of the dressing. Mix. Taste. Add more dressing if you’d like.

beet garbanzo salad

That’s all for now, folks.

Oh, and this:


Spring. It is coming.


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The Slaw

I love a good slaw. Sometimes I’m so desperate for a slaw, that I even like a bad slaw. You know the type – a little too much sauce, the cabbage chiseled a little too small, and the flavor a little too lacking. What’s a girl to do?

This slaw is none of those things: there’s zucchini, cut into cute little matchsticks. Next, a bit of carrot, shredded. A bell pepper or two, thinly sliced. A diced jalapeno, to add a little spice. Some cilantro, because I love it like no other herb. Top all of that off with a little onion and a mustard-y sauce, and you have The Slaw. (Also affectionately known as “The Slaaaaaaaw.”)

Pleasantly crunchy, spicy, and tangy. Could a slaw ask for anything more?

The Slaw (Zucchini Slaw)
adapted from this slaw and this slaw’s sauce

Note: As usual, the measurements I’m about to give you are guidelines. The amount of vegetables can vary depending on how much slaw you want, and you’ll probably have some leftover sauce. Save it for more slaws – it’s versatile. Also, I definitely tasted and adjusted ingredients in the sauce before dressing The Slaw, and I suggest you do the same. You could add more mayo or sour cream if you like a thicker sauce, or more vinegar or buttermilk if you like it more tangy or thin. One more thing: The zucchini needs an hour of prep time to be salted and drained to draw the water out, so prepare for that.


  • 1 or 2 zucchini, cut in 4-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bell pepper (any type), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons diced onion (green onion would be nice, too)
  • cilantro, to taste (I used a big handful, about 1/3 cup)


  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • a big glop of mustard (I used whole grain dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • salt, pepper, to taste

Place zucchini in a colander and sprinkle the 1 teaspoon salt over, mixing gently to thoroughly cover. Let drain in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine all ingredients, taste, adjust, and repeat until the sauce is to your liking.

After zucchini is satisfactorily crunchy, blot water still on zucchini with a paper towel and place in a medium – large bowl. Add the rest of the slaw ingredients to the bowl; combine. Dress The Slaw with desired amount of sauce. The original recipe recommends chilling the dressed slaw for an hour before eating, which indeed improves the flavor, but if you simply can’t wait, then dig in.

The Slaw is best on the day it’s made, but I thought it was still quite tasty on day two.  Also, The Slaw enjoys the company of Pulled Pork – or should I say Mr. Pig?



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For Picnics, Potlucks, or Celebrations at Home – Make it Red, White, and Blue

Quick Quiz: What’s fast and easy, delicious and nutritious, pretty and patriotic?  If you answered “Berry and Mozzarella Salad,” you pass the quiz with flying colors.  And speaking of colors, isn’t it nice that Old Glory comes in such appetizing colors?  Raspberries and blueberries have to be among the best flavors of summer, and not only that, they are beautiful!

I’ve always loved the Fourth of July, not only for what it represents historically, but also because I think of it as a relatively low-stress holiday.  No gifts to worry about, no cooking marathon, just relaxed summer fun.  When we lived in WA, it usually meant an extended family gathering at the lake, or sometimes a Spokane Indians baseball game followed by fireworks.  This year we’re going to a friend’s for a big cook-out, and I’m taking this fruity riff on insalata caprese.

Berry and Mozzarella Salad

  • 1-2 cups fresh raspberries and/or halved strawberries
  • 1-2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 8 – 16 ounces fresh mozzarella (the mini balls are nice halved, or cut regular-sized balls or logs into slices and quarter each slice)
  • Fresh basil or other herbs if desired (I like lemon thyme)
  • 1-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduction (see note below)

This salad is best assembled shortly before serving, but you can go ahead and cut the mozzarella and wash the berries in advance.

Arrange the berries and mozzarella pieces on a serving plate along with basil leaves if you are using them.  Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction.   That’s it!

Note about the balsamic vinegar: I use a commercial cranberry-infused balsamic crema that I found in a little shop right here in my village, and the flavor and color is perfect for this salad.  If you don’t find something like that, any good white or dark crema will work, or you can make your own reduction (a red balsamic vinegar would yield a nice color).  I made some just to try it – all you have to do is pour the vinegar into a stainless steel pan and stir occasionally over low heat until the volume is reduced by 60 – 75 percent and then let it cool (you’ll want to ventilate the kitchen because the vinegar fumes are strong).


Happy Independence Day!


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Hot Side or Salad – A Quick and Delicious Pasta Recipe

Snap your fingers, and it’s almost that fast!  We were minutes away from putting steaks on the grill when I started thinking about what to have on the side.  Actually, it went something like this……

Jerry: What are you having with the steak?

Tami: Something good.

Jerry: Like what?

Tami: You’ll see…..and you’ll like it…. (while heading down to see what might jump out of the fridge or off the pantry shelf).

Fortunately, the fridge yielded one and half bell peppers and a little clump of broccoli left on the stem, and the pasta bin held part of a bag of fregola sarda.  It seemed like a combination with definite potential.

And the result: he saw, he liked, we ate.  I liked it, too (a lot!).

If you’ve never had fregola before, try to find some.  Fregola is a solid little pea-sized toasted nugget of pasta from Sardinia, and it is delicious.  I came across it once when I wandered into an Italian store that seems to be the supplier for all the Italian restaurants here in our part of Germany (really, they sell 40-liter cans of olive oil!).  After I bought the pasta, I looked it up online and several of the recipes I found said to use fregola or Israeli couscous….so that might be something else to look for (but if you don’t find it, any small sturdy pasta will do).

This dish is as fast as they come – by the time the pasta is cooked, you can have the vegetables ready  Then you simply toss everything around in some hot olive oil, season, and it’s ready to serve.  We really liked the peppers grilled, but if you don’t happen to have the grill fired up anyway, you can sauté the peppers briefly in the olive oil before stirring in the cooked pasta and broccoli.

Fregola with Broccoli and Bell Peppers

  • 1 cup fregola sarda
  • 1-2 bell peppers (I used a whole yellow one and half a red one), cut into quarters
  • Broccoli florets – about a cup, plus the peeled and diced broccoli stem if you want
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar if you are making a salad from the leftovers (if there are leftovers, that is)

Put a couple of quarts of water on to boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Place the peppers skin side down on a hot grill with the lid down and cook for a couple of minutes, until the skin starts to blister and turn black.  Turn and cook on the other side for a few minutes longer, then remove to a small bowl and cover with a plate or lid to trap steam inside where it will loosen the peppers’ skins.

By this time the water should be boiling, so add a teaspoon of salt and start the pasta cooking (it will take about 12 minutes for fregola).

Cut up the broccoli into small florets, and peel and chop the stem.  The peppers will still be pretty warm, but you should be able to handle them now.  Pull of the skin (or scrape off with a knife) and cut into bite-sized pieces.  If you are sautéing instead of grilling the peppers, there is no need to peel – just go ahead and cut them into smaller pieces.

When the pasta has about three minutes to go, add the broccoli florets and stem pieces to the same pan with the pasta.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander.  Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the same pan (and quickly sauté the peppers if you didn’t grill them).  Return the pasta and broccoli to the pan (along with the grilled peppers) and stir gently to coat and let the pepper juices blend in.  Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  I didn’t think of it until after we finished dinner, but a quick snip, snip, snip of fresh chives on top would be a nice touch if you have them.



If you are lucky enough to have some left over, drizzle it with a good balsamic vinegar, and just like that you have a salad to pack along for lunch.  Dress it up if you like with halved cherry tomatoes and/or a few olives or capers (or artichoke hearts, mmmmm!), and if you happen to have a little chunk of montasio or asiago cheese to cube up and mix in, you can look forward to a satisfying full-meal deal.

Of course, you can always make the whole recipe into a salad to start with – either way, you’ll like it!


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You can do so much better

Hey, you busy bees looking for a better lunch: I have something for you. It’s quick, it’s healthy, it’s filling, it’s colorful, and it’s even better than Wendy’s.  Also, I just realized it’s vegan. And gluten free, I think.

Today for lunch I made a version of this beet green chopped salad from Sprouted Kitchen. I had cooked the beets the night before, had some leftover brown basmati rice from dinner, and quickly threw together the dressing before meandering out the door for work. Rather than toasted sunflower seeds, I toasted some pepitas and threw them in a little plastic bag. Then at work, lunch was as simple as chopping a beet, chopping an avocado, and throwing in the rice, pepitas, and dressing. (The beet greens sadly lay forgotten in the refrigerator drawer). I didn’t even get a chance to test the dressing before running out the door, so I was a little nervous about it, but the salad came together quite nicely – creamy from the avocado, slightly sweet from the beets, a nice nuttiness from the rice, and the perfect crunch from the pepitas, all rounded together with the tangy sesame dressing.

I was so pleased with this salad that I decided we should have it for dinner again tonight, this time following the recipe a bit more closely. Although, I must admit, I didn’t measure any of the dressing ingredients. I have a suspicion that I used more dressing than the original recipe (I like things to be nice and saucy, you see). So, if you like, I’d suggest doubling the dressing recipe. You can always save any leftover for another day. One more note: I found this recipe to be very, very adaptable in the best of ways. You could use rice, or quinoa, or cous cous, or many other grains. I think some beans added in could be nice, too; maybe garbanzo? Or even green beans, barely blanched and still a little crispy?

Have at it.



Beet green avocado chopped salad
adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
(see notes above for more improvising suggestions)

  • 1 bunch of beets, including fresh looking greens
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 small avocado
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. agave nectar, depending on desired sweetness
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • a few splashes of sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

So I only actually used one medium-sized beet per salad, but go ahead and cook all the beets so you can have some leftover: cook beets using your preferred method. I cooked them in a pressure cooker, but you could also boil them or wrap them in foil and cook in a preheated 450 degree oven for 45-55 minutes. You just want a knife to pierce them easily. Set aside beets to cool.

Prepare the dressing: combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar and whisk to combine. Adjust ingredients to your taste.

When ready to assemble, peel and dice one beet (saving the others for another use), dice avocado, and chop beet greens; place in serving bowl. Add quinoa to the bowl and dress with desired amount of dressing, mixing gently to combine. Sprinkle on pepitas and serve!


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Summer Nights – Watermelon and Feta Salad

A recent dinner at our friends’ house was excellent. Everyone liked my blackberry pie (recipe to follow in a later post), and in addition to flavorful grilled steak, there was a fabulous eggplant parmesan and some amazingly delicious salads. In fact, one of those salads had just two ingredients:

Watermelon and Feta Salad

This one isn’t complicated.  In fact, that’s it.  Really, just chunks of cold sweet crisp watermelon with feta cheese crumbled over it.

If you have such things available, you could mix it up a bit by throwing in some chunks of crunchy chilled jícama and maybe some freshly chopped cilantro, basil, or mint, depending on your preference.  I’ve only seen jícama in a German store once in the last nine years – it was actually fairly recently and it was 7 euro (yep, about $10) for a root about the size of a softball, so I passed on it.  But I’m starting to wander, so let’s get back to the salad!  Jazz it up if you like, add a vinaigrette if it sounds good (maybe a pear balsamic crema or something like that), but be assured, the simple two-ingredient version is sublime.

Mmmmm, they sent us home with leftovers!  I snapped a shot before devouring everything on the plate (also pictured: Deana’s eggplant parmesan and Nina’s insalata capresa).

Do try this salad while there is still good watermelon!


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