Big Green Dinner Salad

This big green salad is hearty enough for lunch or dinner. It’s loaded with all kinds of things that you can’t really make out in the picture: olives, blanched broccoli, blanched asparagus, cabbage, arugula, and chickpeas. Blanched broccoli is a recently rediscovered favorite of mine; sometimes I make a dinner out of just that drizzled with some salad dressing. It soaks up the dressing perfectly. I have been making huge batches of this salad in the beginning of the week so that I can grab some easily for lunch or dinner without much hassle.

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I have also been making various versions of a yogurt dressing. It’s so easy: dump yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, and an add-in or two into a jar and shake, shake, shake. This past week, my add-in was a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and a 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. But you could add chopped herbs, crushed garlic (raw or roasted), crushed scallions, sesame seeds, etc. Measurements here are approximate – get creative with it.

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Big Green Dinner Salad

Romaine lettuce, finely shredded
Arugula, finely shredded
Red, green, or savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 head broccoli, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives of your choosing (I’ve been using “fresh cured” olives lately, which are in the black olive section of the grocery store)

1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 raw garlic clove
add-ins of your choosing (for example, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you begin chopping all the veggies. Put the romaine, arugula, cabbage, chickpeas, quinoa, and olives in a large bowl. When the water starts to boil, put in the broccoli and asparagus. Let boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately strain and place in an ice bath. Let the broccoli and asparagus drain completely. When drained, add to the bowl. Toss the entire salad together.

Make the dressing by combining yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and any spices in a jar. Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of flaky sea salt until it is the consistency of a paste. Add the garlic to a jar, put on the lid, and shake until combined. Dress the salad on a per serving basis. The salad itself will last a few days (really, up to a week, though it will begin to wilt a bit) in the fridge undressed.

*Other options to add to this salad: chopped hard boiled eggs, shaved brussels sprouts, finely shredded kale, other grains like farro or bulgar wheat, blanched and chopped cauliflower, fresh roasted sweet corn, mushrooms, etc, etc.

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Detox Week: Kale, Carrot, and Fennel Salad

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but after the holidays or other big trips that involve a lot of eating, Eric and I go into detox mode and try to eat a lot of salads. I, for one, ate my weight in Buckeyes this past weekend. We decided some heavy-duty detox was needed, which is when we brought in the kale.

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad (6)

I received some fun new kitchen toys for Christmas, including a cast iron pan and a mandolin. I also received a huge box full of fancy olive oils and vinegars. Yesterday I went to work making three different vinaigrettes for salads throughout the week as well as a homemade chili powder from Rick Bayless, which I saw on Mexico, One Plate at a Time before we left for Christmas. The vinaigrettes include a saffron + red wine vinegar + olive oil, chervil + sorrel + blood orange vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil, and basil + apple + chili powder + elderberry balsamic vinegar + olive oil. I just toss stuff in the food processor with an almost 1:1 acid to oil ratio. I use just a touch more oil than acid, but this produces a pretty acidic dressing. If you’re vinegar averse, add more oil. I prefer my salads vinegary.

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad (3)

We dressed this kale salad with the chervil + sorrel + blood orange vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil salad dressing. I like the strong citrus flavor on kale. I also tossed in some farro to make this a bit more substantial for dinner. Oh, and the carrots and fennel were very finely sliced using my new mandolin – fun!

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 bunches lacinato kale
1 large carrot, very finely sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, very finely sliced
1 cup farro, cooked
handful of sunflower seeds and shaved almonds

De-stem the kale and role the leaves up, then finely slice the leaves so you have long, noodle-like shreds. I used a mandolin to shave the fennel and carrots so they were just paper thin and super easy to eat. Toss everything together in a large bowl

For the dressing, I put 5-6 sorrel leaves, 1 small bunch of chervil, 1/2 cup of blood orange vinegar (or use apple cider vinegar), juice of half a lemon, and 1/2 cup of olive oil in the food processor along with some salt and pepper. Process until emulsified.

Heirloom Caprese Salad

I love Sundays. Sunday mornings, that is. After 4pm, I usually start feeling those hints of depression… that gloomy feeling knowing that Monday morning – work – is coming closer and closer by the minute.

Sunday morning, on the other hand, is so wonderful. I can’t describe why, but it feels completely different than Saturday mornings. Perhaps this weekend, Sunday was different because I didn’t have that pounding wine headache from Friday night’s dinner extravaganza (which, this past weekend, included a secret underground dinner event in an uber trendy loft in the South Loop). Perhaps it was the long run that felt so refreshing. Perhaps it was the sun shining and crowds of people gathered at the lakefront to see Chicago’s Annual Air and Water Show.

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Whatever the case, I made my way to our quaint little market in Wicker Park and picked up a slew of goodies that have provided enough material to post on this blog for a week! Fresh sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, cranberry beans (yes!), three different kinds of eggplant, basil, and garlic… the few blocks home felt like a mile with such heavy bags hanging off my arms.

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If you know me, you know I love spring produce like asparagus, ramps, and garlic scapes. Even more so than spring, however, I look forward to tomato season… also known as summer. Tomatoes are one of those foods that you must eat in season. And, more and more, I believe heirloom tomatoes are the only way to go. Forget those hybrid, mealy, flavorless varieties you find in the grocery store. You haven’t had a tomato until you’ve had an heirloom tomato.

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Heirloom Caprese Salad

This recipe was very much inspired – er, practically stolen – from Love and Olive Oil.

2 heirloom tomatoes, different varieties
1 ball fresh mozzarella
~10 fresh basil leaves, or more if preferred

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/2 clove raw garlic
1 small squirt of mustard
1 small squirt/drizzle of agave nectar or honey
salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes into rounds and cut the mozzarella into rounds approximately the same thickness. Layer tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. To make the vinaigrette, combine olive oil, vinegar, leftover basil leaves, salt and pepper, garlic, mustard, and agave nectar in a food processor. Pulse until oil is emulsified. Drizzle over salad.

You’ll likely have some dressing leftover; enjoy it on an arugula salad or any other greens.