Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category


Aarti’s Massaged Kale Salad

August 26, 2010

So it’s no secret that I’m obsessed with all things Food Network. Watching the 6th season of The Next Food Network Star definitely fell into that obsession.  I really liked Aarti Sequeira from the beginning. I loved that she was a food blogger over at Aarti Paarti before going on the show. Her personal style was to infuse Indian cuisine into everyday American foods. She questioned her ability to compete with working/professionally trained chefs, yet she won lots of the competitions and challenges. I was not surprised that she was crowned The Next Food Network Star.

Her first showed aired over the weekend. I set the DVR and watched it on Monday. I really liked her style and the first show had some great recipes. Sloppy Bombay Joe’s – which I plan on making at some point, Massaged Kale Salad, which I did make,  and Creamy Pistachio Pops.

I loved the Kale Chips I made back in July…but those were cooked. Raw kale? Who knew? The concept was really interesting to me.

The Ingredients:

1 Bunch of Kale – She used black kale – I already had regular curly kale on hand  – she mentioned that was fine too. (Remove stalks and discard, ribbon slice the leaves).
1 Lemon – Juiced
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Plus extra for drizzling
Kosher Salt to Taste
2 Teaspoons Honey – I added a little more
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Mango – Diced small (about 1 cup)
Small handful toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – about 2 rounded tablespoons – I used about 4 tablespoons.


Wash your kale and then pat dry with paper towels.

Using your hands – strip the kale off the stalk. This was very easy. I just held the stalk firmly and used my hand to slide through the curly leaves – they came right off the stalk very easily.

You are left with a pretty big pile of kale leaves. The idea is to roll them up as best as you can and then use a sharp knife to finely slice the kale into ribbons.

The curly kale made the process a little harder than what Aarti did with the black kale, but it worked in the end. I added the kale ribbons to a large bowl with 1/2 the lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt.

You then dive right into the bowl with your hands. Massage the kale, lemon, oil and salt mixture until the kale starts to soften and wilt. I had a photo of me massaging the kale, but my hand looked like a giant ham hock and that was really disturbing. Massage the kale for a good 2-3 minutes. Aarti mentioned that it will start to smell like bananas – not so much, never got the banana aroma.

The volume of the kale definitely changed – before massaging, the kale was almost to the top of the bowl. It was amazing how much softer it got after the 3 minutes.

I got my mango chopped and then I started preparing the dressing.

I whisked together the remaining lemon juice, honey and freshly ground black pepper. I then slowly added the 1/4 cup of oil, while whisking until it formed the texture of a well mixed dressing. I tasted it, added some more honey and some more lemon juice – I thought it was a little too oily.

I added the pepitas to the salad and poured on the dressing, tossed, and then plated.

Outside photo with sunlight…

Inside photo with my iPhone…

What an amazing salad. It was perfect for a 106 degree day. I ate a small bowl, had some cheese toast with celery root and carrot salad and then had a hot date with my treadmill and the Rachel Zoe Project, followed by Top Chef and another small bowl of the salad – OMG, it tasted even better after marinating in the fridge for longer. The salad is addicting. Aarti mentioned on her show that because of the hearty structure of kale, it will hold up for several days in the fridge – dressing and all. What an awesome lunch option for me, love it!

I’m really looking forward to future Aarti Party shows. It’s about time I kicked things up Indian style. This blog was about branching out and trying new foods and styles of cooking. Never in a million years did I think I’d be looking forward to seconds, thirds and fourths of a raw kale salad.

Go me…


Cheese Toast w/Celery Root and Carrot Salad

August 15, 2010

I was a little apprehensive going into my weekend. It’s Dan’s annual motorcycle ride with his buddies and I always get a little (scratch that) “a lot” nervous as soon as he leaves the driveway.

I made sure to keep myself busy all weekend.

Friday night was pedicures and sushi with my bestie. Saturday was spent hanging out with my parents up at their place. We filled the day with shopping, lunching, Baskin Robbins and cooking – I made the scalloped tomatoes as a side dish to my Mom’s chicken picatta. It was fabulous! I got home in time for another monster treadmill workout and then called it a night. Higgins and I hit the pillow hard and slept through the night. That’s kind of rare when Dan isn’t home.

I had movie plans today with girlfriends. We met up for the first showing of Eat Pray Love  and then headed to Whole Foods for lunch and shopping. I cruised through the salad bar at Whole Foods and wished I had access to it on a more regular basis – like it was permanently located in my house for daily lunches 😉 –  We didn’t finish up with lunch until 4:00 p.m. and I knew I wanted something light for a late dinner.

I have been on the search for celery root for a while. The food co-op doesn’t carry it on a regular basis, Nugget never has it – so when I saw it at Whole Foods, I knew I needed to get it to try a recipe I had bookmarked in my Williams-Sonoma Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook. Cheese toasts with celery root-carrot salad.

The Ingredients:

1 Ounce Sherry Wine Vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1.5 Ounces Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Large Carrots (I didn’t peel mine before shredding)
1/2 Celery Root
Garlic Powder, Parsley, Salt and Ground pepper to taste
1/2 Cup Shredded Gruyère Cheese
Sliced Rustic Italian Bread – I only had 1/2 a loaf – I made 8 pieces and still had enough salad left over for another 8-10 pieces. The recipe called for large slices of coarse country bread – I had smaller Rustic Italian leftover from the scalloped tomatoes.


In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Pour in the oil, whisking constantly until blended and then set aside.

Get your carrots shredded and then get to work on your celery root.

I took a picture of it standing up so you could get the idea if you aren’t familiar with a celery root. Whole Foods does some prep on theirs, sometimes they come all hairy and coconut like on the bottom bulb part.

The celery root’s flesh discolors when exposed to oxygen, so the vinegar from the dressing will help it remain white in color.  The first thing you want to do is slice the end of the bulb off. Next you want to slice away the skin, leaving as much flesh as possible.

Slice around the root until all skin is removed.

I then cut my root in 1/2 and shredded it with the grater.

After you get the celery root shredded, add it to a large bowl with the shredded carrots. The next step is to mix the shredded veggies together and add your seasonings.

Garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley (The recipe says you could use fresh tarragon, chervil or parsley, I only had dried parsley and it worked out fine). The next step is to add the sherry, Dijon and evoo dressing to the carrots and celery root mix.

Preheat the broiler on your oven while you prep the toast.

Brush your bread with olive oil and then put under the broiler for 2 minutes on 1 side. Then take the toasted bread out of the oven and turn the pieces over. Then brush with a little more olive oil and place the shredded Gruyère on top of each piece and place under the broiler for another 2 minutes  – until the cheese melts and the edges are golden brown.

I forgot to take a picture of the melted cheese, whoops. Last step – top the cheese toast with the salad mixture and serve.

I could not wait to dive in.

I loved the flavor combination and will definitely be making these as an appetizer at my next gathering. I’m apparently going to need to invite about 100 people over, because I keep saying that after every dish I post on this blog. I ate 3 pieces for dinner and it was the perfect ending to a relaxing day with friends.

Tomorrow it’s back to the 8-5 grind. I hope everyone had a great weekend.


Cherry Tomato and Corn Salad

June 28, 2010

I was flipping through my William Sonoma Outdoor Entertaining book to get ideas for the 4th of July party and I came across a Cherry Tomato and Corn Salad recipe. I had everything I needed, so I decided to make that on my lunch time break from gardening.

The Ingredients:

2 Large Ears of White Corn – the recipe called for 6 ears, but I was just taste testing the recipe, so I only made enough for 2 servings.
15-20 Assorted Cherry Tomatoes – Trader Joe’s mixed pack (I honestly didn’t count – just judging from the bowl photo)
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Basil – Fresh from the plant my bro gave me for my birthday
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Sherry Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Sweet Cooking Rice Wine (Not pictured – added after the first taste)
2 Squeezes of Fresh Lemon
Ground Pepper and Salt to taste

I got my corn boiling in a pot filled with a little sea salt and a few splashes of Sweet Cooking Rice Wine. The corn spent about 8 minutes in the pot as it boiled, then I turned it off and let it steam for a good 20 minutes. I took the corn out of the water and let it cool at room temperature before cutting it off the cob.

After the corn had cooled, I cut my tomatoes in 1/2, chopped up my parsley, basil and corn and got them added to a large bowl.

I then added my Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon, Sherry Wine Vinegar, Salt and Pepper. I tossed the mixture until everything was coated. I gave it a quick taste and it still needed something. I ended up adding a few splashes of the sweet rice wine and that worked well.  I then slid the bowl into the fridge to chill.

The plan was to grill some meat for dinner to go with it. Plans changed and we ended up cleaning the pool tiles (Thanks Deede) and I did more yard work from inside the pool. I brought my clippers into the pool and tackled the back side of the kidney-shaped planter. My great idea turned a little sucky when a stupid bee decided to sting me in the armpit – Awesome! Ugh! Prior to yesterday’s bee sting, I’d only been stung once. I was 6 or 7 years old, camping with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin and I got stung in the corner of my eye. OUCH! My whole face swelled up and I had to go to the nearest emergency clinic.  They gave me a shot. I’ve managed to avoid bees since then. So, I wasn’t sure if I was allergic or not. I got out of the pool, Dan used tweezers to get the stinger out and then I ran to the phone and called my Mom and Dad. They came through like champs. I put alcohol on the sting site – swigged 4 teaspoons of liquid Benadryl and put ice under my armpit.  The good news, no horrible reaction – just a big bump.

O.k., back to dinner and the corn salad. We didn’t sit down to eat dinner until almost 8:30 PM. I made Dan a sandwich and I had a serving of the salad. It was perfect for a late night/light dinner on a very HOT evening.

Today is supposed to hit 104 degrees, woohoo! What’s your favorite summer non-lettuce based salad? I need some ideas for the BBQ.


Curried Cashew, Pear, and Grape Salad

May 31, 2010

We spent our Memorial Day with friends.  We were invited to another couple’s house for an afternoon BBQ. Like I mentioned yesterday, I was supposed to bring a side dish and a salad. The side dish was Dan’s pick. He’s a huge baked bean fan – his whole family likes them. He normally makes Bush’s Original and adds some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and brown sugar.

He’s been taste testing the new Bush’s Grillin’ Beans product line over the past few weeks. So far he has tried the Steakhouse Tradition and the Southern Pit Barbeque flavors. He didn’t like the Steakhouse Tradition (too sweet) but really liked the Southern Pit Barbeque. We still have Bourbon and Brown Sugar and Black Bean Fiesta to try. Since we knew Southern Pit Barbeque was good, I picked two cans up and we were good to go with the side dish. Nothing fancy… but super tasty. (Turns out… our friends knew how much Dan liked baked beans, they unexpectedly made them) – needless to say, we have a shelf of beans in the pantry for a later date.

I hunted online for a salad recipe. I knew they were making Chili Rubbed BBQ Chicken and I thought something with fruit in it would go great. I found a recipe on and I doctored it a bit.

Curried Cashew, Pear, and Grape Salad Ingredients:
3/4 Cup Cashews – Whole and Halves
4 Slices Bacon – Coarsely Chopped
1 Tablespoon Melted Butter
1 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Honey
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
10 Ounces of mixed salad greens
1/4 head of iceberg lettuce – added for crunch
1 Medium Pear – I used a D’Anjou pear
1 Cup Seedless Red Grapes

The Cashews:

In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast cashews until golden brown – it took about 3-4 minutes. Remove the cashews and set into a bowl for cooling.

In a medium bowl, stir together your melted butter, rosemary, curry powder, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and the toasted cashews. I tasted one and it definitely had a kick – next time I might use a little less cayenne, but I’m a lightweight when it comes to spices.

The next step is to cook the bacon strips until crisp. Set on paper towels when done to soak up the grease. Coarsely chop the bacon and then set aside.

The Dressing:

In a small bowl, stir together white wine vinegar, mustard, and honey. Slowly whisk in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. I used a pinch of salt and probably 10-15 cranks of the pepper grinder.

The Salad:

In a large salad bowl, toss dressing with greens, pear slices, grapes (I cut them in half) and bacon –  then add the cashew mixture and toss again.

I had to take the final photo at our friend’s house. I carried the plate to every flat surface in their backyard – hah! I ended up on their pavers with a 95-100 lb. Great Dane very interested in what I was doing – super cute and eager to please his Mommy in the backyard.

He also had the lingering smells of the BBQ chicken to keep him busy…

The Menu:
Chili rubbed BBQ chicken, Curried Cashew, Pear, and Grape Salad, blue cheese potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob and pugliese bread. Everything was fabulous! The salad was a hit. I will with 100% certainty be making it again. It definitely has a kick, if you aren’t into that, you could easily leave out the cayenne.

We were very thankful to be surrounded by great friends and amazing food, while remembering the soldiers that have given their lives to let the rest of us live in freedom. I feel very blessed and grateful.


Wheat Berry Salad

May 19, 2010

I knew I wanted to make something fresh and light for dinner last night. After having had a rather sinful sushi lunch – I went with the tempura/multiple sauce roll, I didn’t want to go to bed feeling stuffed.

I had seen an ad for Pompeian oils and vinegars in a magazine a few months back. The ad also contained a recipe for Black Bean, Edamame and Wheat Berry Salad. I had tracked down some of the ingredients over the weekend and decided that would be the recipe I’d try.

The Ingredients:

4 Cups Water – not shown – used to cook the wheat berries
1/2 Cup Dry Wheat Berries
1/2 of a 15 oz. Can of Black Beans – rinsed and drained
1 Cup Shelled Edamame – the recipe called for thawed frozen – I went with fresh from Trader Joe’s
1 Cup Chopped Tomato
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Red Onion
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Ground Pepper to taste – not shown…I’m sure you are all familiar with my salt and pepper shakers now 😉

Serves 6 –  (3/4 Cup Servings)

Wheat berries – I had heard of wheat berries. I had seen other recipes that called for wheat berries, but I wasn’t exactly sure what they were or where to find them in the grocery store.  I thought for sure they would be near the rice – to me they looked similar to brown rice when cooked. Well… A wheat berry refers to the entire wheat kernel, except for the hull. They can be cooked several different ways. You can cook them similar to rice – add water, bring to boil and then simmer. You can soak them and then sauté them in olive oil with garlic and other spices. You can also add them to bread for a crunchy texture or ground them up into a wheat flour. They are available in both soft and hard textures and they vary in color from white (light tan) to red (reddish-brown). I’m pretty sure the original recipe showed red, but all I could find at the store was soft/white. You can find them in the grain section or healthy foods section of the grocery store, near the flour.

For you calorie counters – A cup of wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron.

The first step was to rinse the dry berries. A fine mesh strainer would have worked great for this… the coffee filter/pampered chef can strainer/hoopty combo I used… was pretty much a pain in the butt.

Mental note: Must purchase a fine mesh strainer.

Anyway, I added the rinsed berries to 4 cups of salted water. The cooking instructions on the wheat berry package called for way less water, but the recipe instructions I used – called for 4 cups  – bring to boil, simmer for 50 minutes and then drain.

While the wheat berries where simmering, I chopped up the tomatoes and red onion. I rinsed and drained the black beans and added all of the ingredients, minus the wheat berries to a bowl. I gave it a good mix and then put it into the fridge to marinate.

As soon as the berries were finished, I grabbed my coffee filter, can strainer, make-shift contraption and I rinsed the berries with cold water to cool them down. I patted them dry with paper towels and then got them added in with the other ingredients. I gave everything a good stir and did a taste test. It needed something. I added more ground pepper and a splash or two of balsamic. I let the salad mixture sit in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Perfection! I will definitely be making this dish again. I loved the combination! It would be great paired with grilled chicken.

I ended up eating it with a 100 calorie everything bagel thin w/reduced fat cream cheese. I actually ended up using my bagel as a scoop – it was delicious!

I’m super excited about wheat berries and can’t wait to try them in more recipes – good thing I still have the majority of the huge bag left. One of the recipes I came across combined wheat berries with milk, honey and cinnamon – interesting, I could see that – they do have a rather nutty taste to them.

Queen of all things salad and master of the side-dish,