Tag Archives: Salads

Salmon & Couscous Salad

The first time I had this salad was on a family vacation, and my sister-in-law and her friend were cooking a vegetarian dinner for everyone. She has been a vegetarian for going on 20 years now, which is an awe-inspiring lifestyle, for me. I’m not sure where the original recipe came from, but it involved corn and tomatoes, pine nuts and salmon, shaved parmesan and arugula. It sounded pretty good.

Then we sat down to eat. And it was presented beautifully, layered in a rainbow across a large serving tray.

And then I took a bite.

And I was in love.

That’s the story of my obsession with my favorite salad of all time. Since then I have made several permutations of this salad, for a dinner party, for hubs and myself, and just for me to enjoy at work. It is super simple to put together, and can be an easy thing to take to work to eat for several days. You can eat it cold or room temp, so there is no microwave fishy smell (which I’m sure my co-workers appreciate).

And it is virtually endlessly customizable. I’ve had it with pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, macademia nuts, or none. I’ve tried craisins, raisins, dates, and prunes. I’ve used couscous, quinoa, or no grains. And nearly every salad dressing on the planet will go with this well, as well as having it naked! (As in, no dressing, though do whatever makes you happy. At your house, not at work.)

If you’ve been keeping up with my Weekly Eating series, you know this is frequently a dish I make in large amounts so that I can have leftovers for several days. I’ve begun taking enough for 3-4 days’ worth to work, and just keeping it in the refrigerator and taking out one serving at a time. It is super healthy, quite filling, and pretty affordable if you choose ingredients seasonally and/or on sale.

If you’ve been looking for a recipe to impress at a dinner party, a meal that is inclusive for vegetarians (just offer extra protein options like quinoa and other toppings like beans/nuts), something light and fresh and healthy, or a make-ahead nearly-no-prep work lunch option, look no further!

Ingredients (per salad):

  • 2-3 ounces cooked salmon
  • 2-3 cups salad (spinach, romaine, mixed greens, arugula)
  • 1/2 cup cooked couscous (or barley, rice, quinoa)
  • Sprinkle of craisins or raisins or other dried fruit
  • Sprinkle of nuts (walnuts work best but any will work)
  • Sprinkle of cheese (parmesan, feta, goat…)
  • Optional other toppings: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, peppers, carrots, beans, anything you can think of!
  • Dressing of choice

Step 1: Cook your salmon however you like, I usually pan-fry them with a spritz of coconut oil or bake them in the oven. Your choice to leave them as a fillet or shred them. You could also use canned, drained salmon here, or sub in cooked chicken, steak, or other fish.

Step 2: Cook your couscous or other grain. I like pearled couscous because it has a pleasant, sort-of-chewy texture that goes well with the overall texture of the salad. Quinoa is also good here.

Step 3: For visual effect, lay down a bed of greens and then layer each separate ingredient in a line across it. To just dig in, toss it all in a bowl, topping as you see fit. Enjoy!

 

 

Shrimp Salad

 

While I may be spoiled now, living so near the coast, shrimp is also on sale at the grocery store this week (BOGO ftw!). Shrimp is an amazing protein source because it is so low in fat, super versatile, and cooks up in literally minutes.

From shrimp cocktail to shrimp scampi, from jambalaya to tacos to fettuccine, shrimp is a great addition to just about any dish. This simple salad makes use of some leftover cooked shrimp from a party tray, but you could also brown them in Cajun seasoning, or grill them with some pineapple sauce.

If you’re looking for a healthy way to use up some of summer’s fresh veggies, or a healthy-but-tasty lunch or dinner option that takes but a minute to put together, you’ve found just the thing!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups greens (spinach, romaine, iceberg, arugula…)
  • 1 cup diced fresh veg (bell pepper slices, mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, radishes…)
  • Handful cooked shrimp
  • 2 tbsp dressing
  • Optional: shredded or crumbled cheese, croutons, sunflower seeds, chia seeds…

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This quick salad can literally be tossed together in under a minute if you eat the shrimp cold out of the salad, or 5 minutes if you brown it in a pan first. Use any combination of greens, veggies, and dressings you want.

This can also be layered into a mason jar for a quick on-the-go healthy lunch, snack, or dinner.

 

Chia, Quinoa & Greens Salad

 

For an awesome, easy lunch/side dish/snack that you can take on the go or whip up without heating the kitchen on a smoldering summer day, try this salad packed with power players. This would easily be layer-able in a mason jar, to take to work or school or anywhere on the go, or throw together right out of the fridge. It also tastes good made in advance if you use hardy greens that are amenable to some marinating.

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The base of any good green salad is of course the greens. Leafy greens are the super-veggies of the plant kingdom, and it is REALLY tough to have too much. There are plenty of species whose only food is leafy greens. We should try to emulate that as much as possible.

According to author, dietitian, and nutritional educator Jill Nussinow MS, RD, “Greens are the number 1 food you can eat regularly to help increase your health” (WebMD). Leafy greens are packed with vitamins & minerals, as well as heart- and gut-healthy fiber and plant-based chemicals, many of which we haven’t even discovered yet.

Leafy greens include kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, romaine, spinach, arugula or rocket, swiss chard, broccoli,  cabbage, and even iceberg. Start with a big heaping handful, at least 1-2 cups.

Next up is the buzz-worthy quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa was domesticated 3,000-4,000 years ago in South America. It is a psuedocereal with edible  seeds, closely related to amaranth and buckwheat.  Quinoa contains essential amino acids (which our body cannot make on its own) like lysine, as well as an exceptionally high protein content, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is also gluten-free, making it a great “grain-like” choice for those with Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance.

The raw seeds have a soapy coating (called saponins) that make them unpalatable to birds. This is handy because the crops need less protection. However, that means most quinoa crops must be processed before sale for humans, so that we are able to eat it without feeling like we just licked a Dawn dish soap dispenser.

And our final power player here is the chia seeds. Chia seeds are a massive nutrition powerhouse, with just one ounce (2 tablespoons) containing 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, and about 100 calories while also providing about 1/3 your recommended manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. There are claims that some ancient cultures would survive solely on chia seeds in times of duress.

Chia is easy to incorporate into baking, simply sprinkle a tbsp or two into any batter, from pancakes to muffins to oatmeal. You could also try a refreshing Chia Fresca as a beverage to get some chia in your life. While a little weird at first, it is a great habit to start to get enough water every day.

And finally, we top it off with whatever fresh veggies you are partial to. Just make sure to incorporate a variety, and at least 1/2-1 cup total. A tbsp of other nuts or seeds is also a great addition. Steer clear of too-high-fat toppings like cheese, meats, or even eggs. Add spices to taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrot & cucumber
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp vinaigrette

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Step 1: Lay down your greens. Mix in your quinoa. (To cook: mix 1 cup with 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat. Let stand 10 minutes, fluff with a fork.)

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Step 2: Add in your vegetables, sprinkle chia on top.

Step 3: Whip up a fresh, super-simple vinaigrette by mixing 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp vinegar in a bottle, then shaking. Or drizzle on 1-2 tbsp of bottled dressing.

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If you want to make a portable layered salad, add ingredients in the exact opposite order: dressing on the bottom, then hard veggies, soft veggies, quinoa & greens.

Steak Salad with Balsamic & Orange Dressing

 

Summer is meant for salads. Vegetables are fresh, lettuces are crisp, days are warm. Rather than turn on a hot stove or oven, a salad cools and refreshes. The possibilities for greens are endless, from plain Iceberg to hearty kale to spicy arugula to rainbow chard. On top of your crisp base you can build your masterpiece with any number of toppings.

Since I had recently purchased some steaks on sale, a steak salad seemed only natural. I had also recently procured some “Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar” from Trader Joe’s, which I had heard is delightful as a dressing. So I decided to test that claim. (Spoiler: they were right.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 thin steaks (1-2 oz)
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Orange vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup torn Iceberg lettuce
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • Handful of banana pepper slices (optional)
  • Handful of Kalamata olives (optional)

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You can of course use whatever greens you prefer for the base of the salad. Just make sure you have a hearty plate full! Gotta get those vitamins and minerals.

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Step 1: In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the steaks with the balsamic vinegar for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked but not blackened. Don’t over-cook, you don’t want them tough like shoe leather.

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Step 2: Let the drippings in the pan cool, and add to a small bowl. Pour in the Orange vinegar and olive oil, whisk with a fork.

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Step 3: Slice the steak into thin strips. Coat a plate with the salad greens, sprinkle on the toppings, and the hot steak strips.

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Step 4: Whisk dressing once more, pour over the salad.

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And there you have it! A hearty, healthy fresh steak salad. Isn’t it pretty? You know you want one.

You will get a nice tang from the two different vinegars, while the umami of the balsamic and the sweetness from the orange muscat champagne balance each other. Adding the pan drippings creates a depth of meaty flavor. The olive oil provides healthy fat in order to absorb all the delicious nutrients in your salad.

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If you aren’t a salad person, or make extra steak and want a different way to eat the leftovers, try the steak strips in a burrito! The balsamic marinade is a perfect way to complement the meatiness of beef. Wrap it up in a tortilla with some beans, cheese, and sour cream (this is actually sour cream substitute, made from coconut milk! Tons less fat with no taste difference!) and enjoy.

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Mmmmm beef and beans and cheese… For the I’m-not-worried-about-healthy nights. =)

As always, make it your own. Don’t like balsamic? Use apple cider vinegar or Worchestershire instead. Don’t have orange muscat champagne? Try a tbsp or two of honey to sweeten it up. And top however you please. Have a healthy summer!

 

Steak salad

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In summer, everything tastes better on the grill. So when craving beef, it is only natural to want to grill a steak. I don’t have pictures of them, but I wish I did. Because I came home to a pound and a half steak that was bigger than my head!

So there was a sizable chunk left (of mine anyways) for the next day. Since I had also bought a head of romaine and I work on a farm, a salad with steak on top worked wonderfully. The farm I work on had radishes by the truckload, and some wild leafy greens that I had harvested 2 days before. Add to it the last leftovers of a veggie tray from a Memorial Day cookout, and a beautiful salad took shape.

Ingredients:
4 oz steak
2 cups torn romaine
1/2 cup leafy greens
1/2 cup baby carrots
2 radishes, sliced
Handful broccoli florets
Balsamic vinaigrette

Step 1:Place a handful or two of fresh washed greens on a plate. Put all the vegetables on top of the greens.

Step 2: Cook or microwave steak slices for a minute, add to greens, and top with 2 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette. Tasty and super healthy!

Of course, you don’t need the steak on top if you’re vegetarian or vegan. You can also use any other kind of grilled meat you have.

Taco Salad!

When you’re hungry for Mexican but don’t want to go out, don’t have much time, want to eat healthy, or don’t want too many ingredients (or all of the above), you can’t beat a Taco Salad. Quick and easy, it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it.

Having just moved into a new apartment, most of my kitchen is not yet unpacked. Besides that, I don’t have an oven. I know, shocking. That eliminated about 1/3 of my cooking repertoire. However, this tasty salad requires only one pan, and little effort, so you can make it happen in under 20 minutes.

 
Ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce, or 1 bag pre-cut mix
1-2 tomatoes
Doritos
Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar or Mexican mix
Catalina dressing
1 lb. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1/2 cup water 
Black olives (optional)


Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain off the excess fat, and add 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water slowly, stirring it all together. Leave on low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the seasoning to cook into the beef. 

Step 2: While waiting, chop up the Romaine and tomato and place in a large bowl. When all seasoning is cooked in, pour taco meat over top. Sprinkle on the cheese, crush up a few handfuls of Doritos, and douse with Catalina dressing. 

The Doritos give it a cheesy crunch and the dressing is just enough tang, while the sweet works with the spice of the taco seasoning. It is so tasty! Obviously, if you go heavy on the lettuce and tomato and light on the beef plus nix the Doritos and dressing, it is much healthier. But where’s the fun in that? 😉

What’s your favorite salad topping?