Tag Archives: goat cheese

3 Salad Ideas OR Greens with Envy

Gentle Readers, in the inimitable words of Shakira, hips don’t lie. Into every bacon-fueled life, some salad must fall. With the onset of summer and the quest to run a 5k (an even more poignant goal as my heart goes out to Boston), it’s time to focus on my other favorite food group, salad.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Yes, you can make friends with salad. It’s infinitely diverse and interesting, and not because you load it down with cheese and dressing and whatever else. It takes time to eat. It’s pretty. I love to top it with fruit.

Tomato Watermelon Salad from Crook's Corner

Tomato Watermelon Salad from Crook’s Corner

But I digress. Here are 3 salad ideas to get you started.

1. Mediterranean style. Greens with goat cheese, orange segments, dates, and almonds. I had this salad this week at Sitti, a Lebanese restaurant in downtown Raleigh. With a light lemony dressing, this was summer on a plate. Delightfully balanced between bitter, salty, sour, and sweet.

Orange Date Salad from Sitti. Mmmm Dates.

Orange Date Salad from Sitti. Mmmm Dates.

2. Ole! Who says salsa is not a salad dressing? This is a new wave take on an old idea: taco salad. A bed of greens, a diced avocado, a mango, some stray black beans, and a few crunchy noodles (forgive me, they should be tortilla strips), and you’ve got a party. I thinned the peach salsa (hello, Trader Joe’s)  just a bit with Orange Champagne Vinegar (also from Trader Joe’s), and it was a hit with everyone.

This is a different salad, because I ate the taco salad too quickly. This is greens, mango, goat cheese, and walnuts. Plus the orange champagne vinegar and a splash of olive oil.

This is a different salad, because I ate the taco salad too quickly. This is greens, mango, goat cheese, and walnuts. Plus the orange champagne vinegar and a splash of olive oil.

3. New Chicken Salad. Rotisserie chicken, diced apples (pink lady FTW), walnuts, Caesar Romano Dressing. I know, perhaps not what you would think of at first, but you’re taking Waldorf salad and mashing it up with chicken Caesar. Don’t be afraid.

TPC Tested, Ninja Approved: New Chicken Salad

TPC Tested, Ninja Approved: New Chicken Salad

As you can tell, I take my salad inspiration from leftovers. I often have less than 5 minutes to prep lunch. If you pre-chop and wash Romaine and leave it in your salad spinner in the fridge, you will grab for it first. Dicing fruit takes less than no time, and then toss something else crunchy or salty on top. Done.

Colander, Salad Spinner, Metal Bowl

Colander, Salad Spinner, Metal Bowl

What are your salad ideas of the moment? Tweet me your salad beauty shots by ccing @practicalcook on Twitter or @amylewi on Instagram. I’m waiting!

Send your food puns, questions, and frosted cupcakes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Up next on Friday, Kitchen Tool Talk: 3 More of My Favorite Things

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Spinach Crostini: A Recipe of Sorts

Gentle Readers, the best vegetable is the one that is eaten without complaint. Though I’m very fortunate to be raising a couple of foodies who don’t run screaming from green things, crostini is a secret weapon in the war for nutrition and good taste.

Spinach Crostini: Sauteed spinach, goat cheese, toast.

Spinach Crostini: Sauteed spinach, goat cheese, toast.

Bread (toasted), cheese (goat, in this case), and garlicky sauteed spinach. Done. It’s an appetizer, it’s a vegetable, it’s a miracle. You can mix this up at will. I served these the other night, and we consumed an entire bag of baby spinach between the three of us. It was unbelievably delicious, and we all ate it not just without complaint, but with joy.

Try cream cheese and roasted red peppers, or sauteed broccolini with goat cheese. Change the bread from loaf to baguette. Use what’s at hand, stack it, and cut into manageable pieces.

Crostini with Broccolini

Crostini with Broccolini

This is the perfect lead-in to a pasta meal, or to soup. It stretches what’s being served, and it is so very easy. Spinach on bread, Popeye would be proud.

What’s your favorite green vegetable? Post a comment below! It is easy AND fun.

Send deep thoughts, kitchen confessions, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up on Friday: Bachi Burger, I Think I Love You.

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Crostini with Broccolini, a Recipe of Sorts

Gentle Readers, what is cuter than a dancing cat on the interwebs? A dancing kitten, of course. Yes, baby things are supercute, and that applies to food as well. Meet broccolini, the cuter broccoli.

Crostini with Broccolini

Crostini with Broccolini

Today’s recipe is both simple and stolen. I’m the Practical Cook, not the proud on. It was a huge hit with TPC’s Junior, and served as the appetizer course of a 3-course Italian meal. Thanks Waldorf, we can now resume arguing about food.

The Crostini was such a hit, I had to pack it for lunches the next day (foil plus clear container)!

The Crostini was such a hit, I had to pack it for lunches the next day (foil plus clear container)!

Crostini with Broccolini, A Recipe

1 bunch of broccolini, washed and roughly chopped
splash of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
salt to taste
crusty bread of your choice, sliced thin and toasted
goat cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large-ish frying pan over a strong medium heat, toss garlic cloves in to flavor oil. Heat to hot but not smoking. If you overheat it, throw the windows open, turn on your fan, and accept that your house will smell like garlic for 3 days. (Not saying this happened or anything.) Saute the broccolini, seasoning well with salt, until it’s crisp tender, just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, schmear the goat cheese on the toasted bread. Now top with broccolini. Enjoy. (In a pinch, sauteed spinach is a nice substitute.)

Are you a fan of broccolini? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way!

Send your green veggies and goat cheese to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up on Sunday, it’s time for Weekly Menus.

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Salad Edition

Gentle Readers, as Star Wars informs us, there must be balance in the force. In a life full of bacon, there must be some salad. The Practical Cook is actually a fan of salad, salad of all stripes. This challenges comes from @convertiblelife as she is working on a month of salads. My parameters are broad, doesn’t have to be iceberg with ranch. In fact, I can promise you it won’t be. And why stop with one salad when you can have a trifecta?

Grilled Veggie Salad, Potato Salad, Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Strawberries

Grilled Veggie Salad, Potato Salad, Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Strawberries

Honestly, I could eat salad every day. I do most days. I did today. See above. See below.

The Corporate Lunch Salad: Dismantle the veggie sandwich and add it to the mix!

The Corporate Lunch Salad: Dismantle the veggie sandwich and add it to the mix!

And now, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Salad Edition (fine, salad is not technically an ingredient, let us call it artistic license):

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

1. Fruit Salad. From my awesome SIL, the key is not to mix the fruit till the last possible second. And grapes take up space. You’re welcome, you can now attend potlucks with ease and confidence.

Look to the left of the carbs for the beautiful fruit salad.

Look to the left of the carbs for the beautiful fruit salad.

2. Rainbow Orzo Salad. This is a reminder that a pasta or grain salad does not have to drown in dressing or salt. You can make something healthy and colorful with a fantastic chew.

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

3. Green Salad Guidelines. Something green, something sweet, something crunchy, something salty. Toss with either Balsamic and Olive Oil, or a Sherry Vinaigrette. Example: mixed baby greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese. We’ve served this in TPC kitchen for years, it is the house salad. Simple, easy to eat, delicious.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Look for more salad guides upcoming. I love the idea of 30 days of salad. I will confess that our salads have a lot of real bacon bits on them right now. You have your leftovers, I have mine. What’s your house salad? Post a comment, and yes, I’m talking to you.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad, in Variation.

Email your pictures, queries, and challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, Round 3 of Bacon Brackets: Local Edition!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 3/4/2012 (bonus recipe)

Gentle Readers, with life’s hectic pace, and the winter months upon us, The Practical Cook must confess she did not go to the Farmer’s Market for a long time. Yesterday, driven by a cause (bacon), she went with the Juniors. Hog wild barely describes the scene. And that was just the Juniors. We came, we saw, we tasted and bought. We also learned.

Sing with me: "You're the inspiration!" (Bread, I Love You.)

Sing with me: "You're the inspiration!" (Bread, I Love You.)

If you haven’t located or visited your local Farmer’s Market lately, make a point of doing so. Interesting things are starting to happen again in most climates, and the baked goods are not to be missed. In fact, I’m so inspired, I’m making bread tomorrow. I have a partner in crime, though she doesn’t know it yet. Thanks CV Tall in advance.

Farmer's Market = Potential, my equivalent of mainlining

Farmer's Market = Potential, my equivalent of mainlining

I’ve included my Farmer’s Market purchases on the grocery list, though retroactive, as proof that I don’t exist solely on bacon. Especially since, irony of ironies, I’ve gotten multiple requests for veggie recipes lately: salad, grains, etc. I am here for you. Look to the bottom of the post for the bonus recipe inspired by today’s shopping trip.

Without further delay, here is this week’s Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/4/2012

Weekly Menus: 3/4/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery List (still very spartan, still trying to eat down my unfreakingbelievably large pantry warehouse + my assault on the Farmer’s Market = fresh veggie overload):

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/4/3012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/4/3012

Which translates into:

Sunday:Salmon and kale
I think I’ll do something orange-ish, as I have a few oranges lingering in the crisper drawer, and pair it with Quinoa or couscous salad (recipe research!)

Monday: Butterbeans, cornbread, and beets, et al TBD
I’m looking to do a serious veggie meal, as the Juniors are developing a bacon withdrawal problem.

Wednesday: Sausage and Chard
Of course, then we’ll eat more pig, but as part of a cassoulet-like dish, with white beans.

Thursday: Bacon and Egg Sammies with Salad
Maybe I’ll have nailed the homemade bread by this point . . .

Friday: Soup and Sammies!
I’ve got some beef stock I need to use, so it may be time for a French Onion soup of some stripe.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Field research is so necessary. I’m scoping some new spots, let’s see if I can gather a research team. Volunteers? Mission: Chinese.

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Bonus Recipe: Spinach Salad with Cherries, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

This is too obnoxiously easy to be a true recipe, but it permits me to lecture on what to keep in your pantry/fridge, so you’re salad-ready at all times.

baby spinach (don’t be without this, for real)
dried cherries
chopped pecans, lightly toasted
goat cheese, fresh is best and way less goaty
good quality Balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Combine in portions that work for you. My Youngest, a notoriously picky salad eater, literally wiped the plate with her spinach leaf. She would walk on hot rocks to get to goat cheese, so I crumbled a heftier portion on her salad. The basics here are sweet, crunchy, and salty. Spinach is a good salad back-up. It stays fresh longer in the fridge, is less bitter than some greens, and packs a serious nutritional punch. Keep dried fruit always. Raisins are good, but red dried fruit (cherries and cranberries) look more festive in salads. Nuts or seeds, also keep on hand. Of course, if you’re me or have a nut allergy, you can sub bacon bits. And though I’ve got both feta and goat cheese in the house, I find goat is way more versatile. If you hate it, go with feta, but you want creamy/salty here. It melds with the oil and vinegar.  End of lecture. Salad on!

What are you eating between seasons? Post a comment with your meals or your cravings!

Send salad suggestions, vegetarian challenges, and lucrative book contracts to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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For Wednesday, we’ll be testing one more round of M&Ms: Pretzel vs Peanut!

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Blueberry Herb Salad: Obnoxiously Healthy, Magically Delicious

Gentle Readers, as you’re reading this, The Practical Cook is scampering about an event center in London spreading the good word about data centers and virtualization. Though I feel certain there’s a London/Cloud joke in there, I shall refrain. Point being, I’m busy, just like you. I need fuel, just like you. Here’s a salad I created the other day that bears repeating.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

It’s full of high-impact nutrition, comes together in a flash (15 minutes between conference calls is about my time limit during the week), and it’s beautiful and delicious.

Blueberry Herb Salad

herb salad blend in a clamshell (I’m sure there are other brands, but this was Earthbound Farms, and I’m a fan of this blend)
blueberries, like 1/4 cup or so, rinsed and dried (I know they’re out of season, they’re a wicked indulgence for me right now)
sliced almonds, toasted (on a plate, in the microwave, for about 2 minutes, in 1 minute increments, stirring between)
shredded mozzarella (I was out of goat, which would be awesome, but the mozzarella was surprisingly good)

Compose your salad artfully, then drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a healthy splash of Balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Blueberries are just so cute, they make greens happy to be with them.

Blueberries are just so cute, they make greens happy to be with them.

This was crunchy, salty, sweet, and herbalicious. I was surprised how well the dill and the blueberries paired. See what you think.

Are you a fan of the salad blends? Cast your vote, let your voice be heard. Post a comment today!

Questions, comments, good ideas? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Coming tomorrow, Parmesan Rinds Spotted!

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Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist (Recipe)

Oh Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook would like to tell you she was immune to the pleasures of holiday overindulgence, but that would be a big fat lie. Emphasis, mine. Surrounded by mountains of chocolate and seas of baked goods, I’ve sampled, heartily. To assuage my guilt, and hopefully beat the cholesterol odds in an upcoming test, I’m indulging in another love, salads.

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

Yes, lean in, you see, I love salads. I love them because they are infinite in variety, and take forever to chew. I’ve found that one of my great pleasures in eating comes from chewing. I would not do well on a smoothie diet, or anything gelatinous in nature. Salads provide that necessary crunch, with optional squish, snap, cold, hot, spicy, etc. Just no French dressing please. Ever.

I fear the orange French Dressing, even if it's Piggly Wiggly brand.

I fear the orange French Dressing, even if it's Piggly Wiggly brand.

I thought I hated salads because of a childhood of the orange stuff. It was the 1970’s, and it was de rigueur. Good news, I just greatly prefer vinaigrette. Enough jawing, to the recipe.

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist (Recipe)

bowlful of lettuce (I used Romaine because it was what I had, would be great with butter lettuce or mixed greens)
diced mango (orange segments would also be lovely)
toasted sliced almonds (put ’em on a plate, microwave them for a minute or two, voila)
goat cheese
2 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (I get mine at Trader Joe’s, of course, and they are divine)
cooked chicken (optional, would be good, but I didn’t have any)

Compose the above ingredients, and dress lightly with the dressing below. This is a single person order of salad, but the dressing will cover at least two, so feel free to double and share with a friend.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon white Balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
orange zest (if you can, it is delish)

Combine OJ and vinegar with salt, stir until salt dissolves. Whisk or stir in olive oil until it emulsifies slightly. Add zest and stir. Dress your salad, it’s waiting for you.

This salad is different, light, and full of various flavors. Enjoy!

What’s in your salad bowl these days? How do you feel about French dressing? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way!

Send lettuces, queries, and lucrative offers to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Parmesan Rinds.

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