Posts tagged with Salad

A new kind of Caesar salad

A simple, easy salad with a classic flavor.

A simple, easy salad with a classic flavor. by Sarah Henning

We’re starting to get see the beginnings of our local tomato season, thanks to area hothouse farmers. And while I can’t wait for real tomato season, I’m thrilled to get a chance at any good tomatoes after a winter of ho-hum out-of-season stock.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy these brand new babies over the last week or so has been in a simple salad of romaine and avocado. Everything about those flavors makes for a fresh, summery combination that is very much wanted on these sudden 90-degree days.

That said, though I normally make my own dressings or just stick to simple oil and vinegar preparations, I had a huge hankering the other week for Caesar dressing, though not for Caesar salad.

So, being a bit lazy, I bought some at the store and tried it out on my favorite summery salad combination.

In a word? Perfection.

It turns out Caesar salad doesn’t necessarily need to be all cheese and croutons. It’s great with a myriad of other flavors, including the bright and smooth tastes of tomatoes and avocados. The crunchy romaine base does its job either way.

Healthier Caesar Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped

1 handful cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or one large tomato, chopped

1/2 avocado, chopped

Protein of your choice (optional — salmon or chicken might work well)

Caesar dressing of your choice

In a bowl, layer romaine, tomatoes and avocado. Top with protein if using and dressing. Enjoy. Serves 1 to 2.


Dreaming of June with beets

Can't hardly wait until these are local beets...stupid winter.

Can't hardly wait until these are local beets...stupid winter. by Sarah Henning

I’ve been in the mood for beets lately. Like lots and lots of beets. Maybe it’s just my appetite’s way trying to get me to think warm thoughts. You know, because the local beet crop will kick in in June.

Ah, June.

Do you guys remember what June feels like? All warm and sunny and pretty?

Very much unlike what’s going on right now, unfortunately.

Luckily, roasted beets are earthy and hearty in ways that make them especially delicious in the dead of winter. Sometimes, I just eat them straight. Sometimes I roast them with other vegetables and a balsamic dressing. But lately, I’ve been roasting them without oil, letting them cool and then tossing them into salads. (For the roasting, I’ve been using this method I mentioned back when local beets were a thing.)

I usually like to have my roasted salad beets with other root vegetables like sweet potatoes. But one night when we were out of sweet potatoes (oh, the horror), I made a salad from a few random things we had on hand for the kiddo’s dinner.

I believe we paired this with leftover spaghetti squash (which clearly wasn’t memorable enough for me to photograph), and the dinner as a whole was hearty, delicious and extra healthy thanks to all the good extras the beets added to the show.

Beet and Spinach Side Salad

1 cup roasted beets, chopped

Hilary’s Eat Well mini veggie burgers (I posted about them here)

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)

Baby spinach

Olive oil and balsamic to taste

Bake the veggie burgers about 400 degrees for 18 minutes on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Divide spinach and beets among two bowls. Top each bowl with burgers (pulled into quarters), egg slices, if using, olive oil and balsamic vinegar or dressing of your choice. Enjoy.


Cooking away the CSA: 2013 best recipes recap

Fruit on salad was a big hit this CSA season.

Fruit on salad was a big hit this CSA season. by Sarah Henning

To start things off, let me just say that 2013 was a pretty darn good year to be a member of one of the many CSAs in the Lawrence area.

Unlike the past two summers, which were so hot things couldn’t grow, this one was varied enough that nearly every crop seemed to thrive, or at least produce a little bit.

When you’re buying a weekly share from a farm or a collective of farms like the one I subscribe to, Rolling Prairie, that sort of variety is exactly what you’re looking for.

Because we had such great weather, this year we received everything from okra to tat soi to melons to mushrooms from our CSA at various parts in of the season, which started in late spring and roared through October.

Just as I did last year, I tried to find my favorite recipes of this season.

It was tough to pick, but I went for a top five (in no particular order) plus two bonus cookie recipes I threw in during the season just to shake things up. The recipes range from a delicious double squash dish to an eggplant lasagna that was a lot of work but totally worth it.

Honestly, though they are things I made during the spring, summer and fall of 2013, I'm pretty sure they could be satisfying year-round.

Fruity Starter Salad

Pizza-Tinged Mushrooms

Lasagna made with eggplant as the noodles was totally worth every minute spent in the kitchen.

Lasagna made with eggplant as the noodles was totally worth every minute spent in the kitchen. by Sarah Henning

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Lasagna

Roasted Beets

Double Squash Skillet

Bonus cookie recipes:

Local honey works perfectly in these flourless peanut butter cookies.

Local honey works perfectly in these flourless peanut butter cookies. by Sarah Henning

Honeyed Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

What was the recipe that became your favorite over the 2013 CSA season?


Cooking away the CSA, week 6: Salad season

This salad is local in more ways than just my CSA.

This salad is local in more ways than just my CSA. by Sarah Henning

It's officially salad season, my friends! Sure, we've been getting greens for weeks, but we're really rolling now. And, if you've been following this space for a few years, you know I couldn't be happier.

I've been buying greens through Rolling Prairie (my CSA), the Lawrence Farmers' Market and even at the grocery store, because I just can't get enough.

So you've been warned: We'll have a lot of salad posts in the coming weeks.

But now to this week. At our last CSA pickup, we received: Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.

As you can imagine, we had steamed asparagus and lots of salad with our box of goodies. We saved the whole-wheat flour for more pizza. Meanwhile, I’m sad to say that we still haven’t used the mustard greens. They’re still healthy-looking, I just haven’t found a home for them as of this writing.

One of the best things we did with the salad mix was combine it with a local Mediterranean treat: Lebanese beans.

Lebanese beans make for a great salad addition.

Lebanese beans make for a great salad addition. by Sarah Henning

A mix of garbanzos, fava beans, herbs and spices, it’s a nice salad topper and pita filler. Mixed with CSA salad mix, avocado, olives and a little something sweet, it makes for a fantastic salad.

Mediterranean Flair Salad

2 large handfuls local salad mix

Half an avocado, cubed

10 to 15 kalamata and/or garlic-filled green olives, cut in half

1/2 cup Lebanese Flower Lebanese beans or other mixed beans

1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste

Divide salad mix among two salad bowls. Add 1/4 avocado to each bowl. Divide the olives, beans and cranberries. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.

This week we received: Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.

Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.

Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce. by Sarah Henning


A great salad to start the new year

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing.

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing. by Sarah Henning

It's Jan. 1, peeps! (Or Jan. 2 for many of you who might not be eyeballing our site on a holiday.) If you're visiting this blog in the new year because you've decided you'd eat more whole, fresh foods, you've come to the right place. Well, at least I think so.

I really do try to keep this blog as healthy as possible. To me "healthy" means a few things:

  1. Whole ingredients — I like to use foods in their natural state, as unprocessed as possible. This isn't always the case, or sometimes I use something out of convenience (case in point: the can of beans below, rather than beans from scratch). But, most of the time, my meals feature whole fruits and vegetables supported by a few condiments.

  2. Good fats — I prefer to focus on fats that are good for the body: seeds and nuts with essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids (like the kind in avocados) and medium chain fatty acids (like the kind in virgin coconut oil). Extra virgin olive and grapeseed oils are great too, but don't provide as many anti-inflammatory benefits as the other fats I've mentioned.

  3. No refined sugar — I like to use alternatives to white or brown sugar when possible. Most of the time, I'll tend to use dates, maple syrup and honey.

The salad I'm featuring today is a great example of a healthy dinner that meets all of my guidelines. It contains good fats, plenty of whole foods, unrefined sugar and isn't difficult to prepare.

Note: The picture above also contains mashed sweet potatoes. I'm not including a potato recipe because we were too heavy-handed on the spices and they ended up tasting like a high-end pumpkin pie candle. Not our best experiment.

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing


1/4 cup prepared spicy, smooth mustard

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


8 cups mixed greens

1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced thin

1 small red onion, sliced into very thin half-moons

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 recipe roasted portobellos (below)

Dressing: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Done.

Salad: Throw together all the ingredients except the portobellos in a large mixing bowl. Pour on the dressing and use tongs to toss. When ready to serve, place the dressed greens on plate and add the sliced, warm portobellos. Serves 4.

Roasted Portobellos

1/2 cup cooking wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large portobello caps

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a glass pie plate or small casserole. Place the mushrooms upside down in the marinade into each cap to form a small pool. Preheat the oven to 400 F and marinate for about 20 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, use tongs to flip the caps over, and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then slice the mushrooms very thinly on the diagonal and make nice meaty slices.

(Recipe from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)


A warming seasonal salad, both savory and sweet

Savory Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad.

Savory Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad. by Sarah Henning

As much as I love salad year round, coming home to a dark house and a cold salad isn't that fun this time of year. Yet, I don't want to miss out on the nutrition that a salad for dinner provides.

Thus, I've really been digging having "warm" salads these days.

I shared my "burger" salad a few weeks ago. It's awesome, but it's also not the only warm salad in my arsenal.

A single warm ingredient can winterize any salad, meaning, depending on the foods you like, your possibilities are endless. Plus, in my estimation, the warm ingredients usually soften the rest of the ingredients and provide texture and flavor, meaning you can probably skip the dressing all together.

The one I'm going to share today has a bunch of texture, flavor and tons of nutrition. This salad is a great source of vitamin A from the sweet potato and spinach, omega-3 fatty acids from the hemp seeds, vitamin B-12 from the nutritional yeast (which also adds a nice, cheesey flavor), while the avocado provides good monounsaturated fats and loads of vitamin E. And the cranberries bring a necessary sweetness plus a bit of fiber, iron and vitamin C.

Yeah, basically, it's a nutritional powerhouse in one bowl. And it's super tasty.

Savory Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad

Handful baby spinach

1 small sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces and steamed

1/2 avocado, chopped

Handful dried cranberries

1-2 tablespoons hemp seeds (or ground flax, if you prefer)

1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Pinch black pepper

Line a salad bowl with a bed of spinach, top with hot sweet potato, avocado, cranberries, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and pepper. Mash the sweet potato and avocado into the greens for a creamy, filling salad. Serves 1.


A burger salad for cold weather

My winter version of a burger salad.

My winter version of a burger salad. by Sarah Henning

Ever since the cold snap a few weeks ago, I’ve been drawn to dinner bowls that are basically half salad, half fresh-from-the-stove goodness.

And my most favorite version of this hybrid dinner bowl gets its inspiration from my favorite meal at the now-shuttered Local Burger: The burger salad.

Even though Local Burger shut down at summer’s close, Hilary Brown’s fabulous “World’s Greatest Veggie Burger” have been on sale for quite some time under the brand name “Hilary’s Eat Well.” I used to buy them in bulk back in the day at Local Burger, but now you can pick up two-packs of the yummy burgers at pretty much any Lawrence grocery store (plus nationally at Whole Foods, if you happen to be reading this anywhere but Lawrence).

Anyhow, when Local Burger was open, you could get any burger on top of a salad. It was a great idea that not only upped the satiation factor but also the nutritional value of each salad. Maybe it was nostalgia, or the cooler weather, or both, but for some reason, I wanted to make my own burger salad at home.

After many attempts and combinations, I think I’ve found my absolute favorite. It’s a sweet/salty/hearty mix that’s just perfect for a weeknight fall or winter dinner.

Of course, this recipe works with my own homemade veggie burgers, but I thought when I shared this recipe, I’d share it with the burger that was the inspiration for it.

Fall Burger Salad

1 frozen/uncooked veggie burger

1 small sweet potato

5-6 Brussels sprouts

1 handful baby spinach

¼ cup sauerkraut or kimchi

Coconut oil

Dijon mustard (to taste)

Pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. De-stem (cut off the little bottom “nub”) the Brussels sprouts and half them, and peel the sweet potato and chop it into ¼-inch rounds, halving the largest of the rounds.

Rub the tops of the Brussels with a bit of coconut oil and place them, cut side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure to line them up on one half of the sheet, as you’re going to use the other half for the burger in a few minutes. Put the sprouts in the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the sweet potato pieces in a steamer pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and steam the sweet potato on the stove.

When your 10-minute timer goes off, take the sprouts out and flip them with tongs. Then, before putting them back in the oven, add the frozen burger patty to the open side of the parchment. Set your timer for 5 minutes.

When the 5 minutes are up, flip your burger and put the baking sheet back in the oven. Next, check on your potato. If you can cut through the rounds easily with a spatula, they’re done. Take them off the heat to cool a bit while your sprouts and burger finish.

Check on the burger and sprouts and either pull them out when the timer goes off, or a bit earlier.

In a bowl, put your spinach on the bottom. Next, layer with sweet potatoes and sprouts. Top with your burger, cut into eighths. Add your kraut or kimchi and top with a dollop of Dijon and a bit of black pepper. Mash it all together and eat. Serves 1.


10-2 Bye-Bye Bounty, week 23: Turnip taste test (aka: I don’t want to eat them alone)

CSA salad topped with roasted turnips with a side of bread and homemade hummus.

CSA salad topped with roasted turnips with a side of bread and homemade hummus. by Sarah Henning

Thanks to strong evidence from the peanut gallery, it seems as though I might be the only member of my immediate family who truly likes pretty much any root vegetable.

Of course we love carrots and sweet potatoes (though that’s a tuber, I suppose), but if we’re talking beets, turnips, parsnips, my darling hubby/head chef WILL NOT TOUCH THEM. Sure, he might shovel a few in his mouth if they’re hidden in with those he prefers in our favorite life-saving roasted vegetables. But, on the whole, he will not eat them. Same thing for the kiddo, who, at age three, just cannot get over that special root vegetable smell.

Alas, when it comes our CSA and root vegetables, two things normally happen. One: If the husband is picking up the vegetables, he won’t get root vegetables unless there’s no other choice. Two: I’ll pick up the vegetables, embrace the lovely roots, and then eat them all by my lonesome.

This past week at our CSA, I was the one picking the veggies. And you can totally tell because I chose salad turnips over radishes. We also received a butternut squash, greens, salad mix, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

I knew the family wouldn’t touch a raw turnip, despite the fact that salad turnips are mild enough to eat without preparation, so I decided to give them a nice, good roast and then use them as a salad topper.

The result? I nice, hearty addition to your typical green salad.

"Meaty-looking" turnips.

"Meaty-looking" turnips. by Sarah Henning

We served the roasted turnips (Don’t they look like marinated mushrooms?) on top of a salad made from our CSA salad mix, carrots, cherry tomatoes from our garden (the CSA ones weren’t ripe yet), avocado, lemon and garlic. We served them with our favorite butternut squash-apple soup and homemade hummus with sliced veggies and WheatFields’ bread.

I thought they were delicious (of course) and even got both the hubby and the kiddo to try some. Of course, I ate the bulk, but, hey, when it comes to root vegetables, there’s victory to be found in getting your family to do a taste test.

So, if you want to try it (or just happen to have gotten turnips in your CSA and have no idea what to do), you’re in luck, because the recipe is super simple and won’t leave you with ingredients you can only use on the occasional turnip.

Easy Roasted Turnips

1 bunch salad turnips or 2-3 large turnips

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, plus more for splashing

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Peel your turnips and then chop them into ½-inch by 1-inch rectangles. Put the turnips in a mixing bowl, cover with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and toss to coat. Spread your coated turnips out on your prepared baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. When serving, top with extra balsamic plus salt and pepper if needed. Serves 2-4.

What’d we get this week? Swiss chard, peppers (hot and sweet), tomatoes, salad mix, radishes and butternut squash.


Bye-Bye Bounty, week 15: Packing local foods on vacation

The kiddo takes in the beauty.

The kiddo takes in the beauty. by Sarah Henning

I'm like everyone else in that I love to splurge when I'm on vacation. I think there must be an switch somewhere deep in our human brains that says: Holy cow, you're not at home, EAT ALL THE THINGS.

That mentality was on full display last week, when we took a family vacation.

That said, because we were staying at our family's cabin, I had access to a kitchen. Thus, I tried get the splurge section of my brain to meet the practical side of my brain halfway. This pretty much translated to cooking lunch and then eating out at dinner.

Really, I don't think that's half bad. I got to enjoy my favorite vacation-spot Indian food (NAAN!) plus two different pizza joints AND got to introduce my parents to the awesomeness that is our favorite homemade fajitas.

Though we didn't have any CSA goodness to work with (having given our pickup coordinator notice the week before), I was able to harvest produce from my own garden and hit up the Lawrence Farmers' Market before we left. Because of that, I could enjoy a little taste of home each day at lunch.

For probably half of my lunches, I made the salad below, which was super tasty, healthy and included homegrown tomatoes along with store-bought ingredients I picked up when we reached our destination.

The salads went a long way to balance out edible vacation-style splurges (chocolate, a giant cookie, the aforementioned naan) and they were beyond easy.

Simple Vacation Salad

Simple Vacation Salad by Sarah Henning

Simple Vacation Salad

2 handfuls baby spinach

2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 avocado (it's there, just buried in the photo)

Sliced almonds (to taste)

Store-bought honey mustard dressing (to taste)

Toss all in a bowl. Serves 1. Yum!

What'd we get this week?

This week's haul.

This week's haul. by Sarah Henning

Melon, grapes, Swiss chard, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes.


Bye-Bye Bounty, week 14: Our CSAs are more than halfway through!

Vegetable lasagna: So yummy!

Vegetable lasagna: So yummy! by Sarah Henning

Chances are, that if you started coming to this blog because you were looking for ideas for what to do with your initial CSA hauls. You know, the ones with ingredients you tend to never buy (turnips, kohlrabi, etc.) or ones that seem so similar you’re not sure how to use them without eating the same variation of a meal over and over (head lettuce, spring mix and kale, anyone?).

But now, on the cusp of August, you should be completely comfortable with what you’re bringing home or finding at the farmers’ market. Tomatoes, cucumber, onions, peppers and melon have probably been summer staples in your house well before you knew what the heck a CSA was (it stands for Community Supported Agriculture, by the way).

My haul last week? Tomatoes, cucumber (1), onions, multiplier onions, watermelon, bell peppers and kale.

If your CSA pickup was like mine, I doubt I really need to give you ideas on how to use those things. You know what to do. You already have your favorite recipes. And I have mine. And this week, we did nothing spectacular with our haul, we just made food we already know we love.

We made fajitas. We made this salad and one with this dressing, too. We chopped up melon.

And we made the above cheeseless vegetable lasagna, which I haven’t shared before, but have made previously. Honestly, I haven’t shared it because the recipe is super long and has multiple steps. BUT, if you want to know how to make it, and are interested in something with homemade tomato sauce, marinated mushrooms and yet another use for zucchini, let me know by emailing the Lcom folks and I’ll send out a mass email.

Thus, the recipe I’m sharing this week is a super simple one. It takes items you’re getting in spades, mixes it with other goodies and creates a fabulous chopped salad. Feel free to play around with the ingredients -- use what you have on hand and don’t go out and buy stuff if you don’t have it. The dressing and the salty-sweet combo of raisins and olives will keep things flavorful, no matter the base.

A chopped salad that's super easy and features some summer's best produce.

A chopped salad that's super easy and features some summer's best produce. by Sarah Henning

Midsummer Night(s) Chopped Salad

2 large red peppers (or orange or yellow), seeded and chopped

1 to 2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped

1 to 2 handfuls kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 to 2 handfuls raisins

1 avocado, chopped

Squirt lemon juice

Pinch each: salt, pepper, nutmeg

Mix the peppers, cucumbers, olives, raisins and avocado in a large bowl. Top with lemon juice and seasonings. Stir gently to mix and enjoy. Serves 1 to 2.