Brussel Sprout Challenge

Let me just say there is no picture that could ever capture how yummy these are!

Okay people….I know this may sound crazy, but I think brussel sprouts my officially be my favourite vegetable! A few weeks ago, I went out to Original Joe’s for dinner with friends. I ordered their brussel sprouts and was blown away by the flavour of this dish. When cooked properly, I like brussel sprouts, but I can’t honestly imagine anyone not absolutely loving them after tasting this recipe. Of course, I went home and searched for a copy cat, but couldn’t find one. Luckily I had taken a photo of the description on the menu, so had something to work from. I looked up recipes containing similar ingredients and after combining several different recipes….I think I came up with something pretty awesome. I won’t go so far as to say that I nailed the “copy cat”, but the flavours are spectacular and if you like the Originals Joe’s version….I think you’ll love this recipe too. Now don’t be scared of the steps, as there are several. The best part is that you really don’t need much more to make it a meal as there is already protein in it. We had them last night with some breaded fish and were left feeling very full….probably because the brussel sprouts are so good, I couldn’t stop eating them.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Warm Honey Glaze, Candied Bacon & Cilantro-Lime Crema

That title really says it all!! I know there are several steps, but some of the steps can be done at the same time like juicing and zesting the limes and chopping the cilantro. Also, both the Candied Bacon and Cilantro-Lime Crema can be made ahead of time. If you do them first, it is really just the prepping the brussel sprouts and making the glaze.

1. Candied Bacon

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

I make my bacon first….even the day before. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and add cooking spray. Stir sugar and cinnamon together. Dip bacon in the sugar mixture to coat. Place bacon on foil lined sheet. Sprinkle any remaining sugar on top. Cook in hot oven for 6 to 10 minutes. Check every minute or so once it hits the 6 minute mark. Remove from oven. Let cool and chop into small pieces.

2. Cilantro-Lime Crema

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This can be made ahead.

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (*chop enough for step 4 as well)
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • juice from one lime (about 2 T) (*Juice/zest enough for step 4 as well)
  • 1 tsp of lime zest (grated rind)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic puree).

3. Roasted Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of brussel sprouts, trimmed, halved and washed
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven (I often line mine with foil for easy clean-up). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You want the pan to get nice and hot so that brussel sprouts will sizzle when you place them on top.

Toss the brussel sprouts and oil in a large bowl. Once they are coated in oil, season with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and dump the brussel spouts on the pan and quickly arrange cut side down (you can use tongs, but I just use clean hands). Roast on the bottom rack until softened and deeply browned …about 20-25 minutes. Do not overcook.

4. Honey-Lime Glaze and Toppings

  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • finely grated lime zest (1tsp – 2 tsp)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices of chopped candied bacon (see recipe)

Bring honey to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium heat…stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the honey is a deep amber colour (3-4 minutes). Stir often to prevent burning. Remove from heat and add the lime juice and red pepper flakes. Stir and then return to heat. Add butter and salt. Whisk constantly until glaze is glossy and slightly thickened. When brussel sprouts are cooked, transfer them back to the original bowl to toss with the honey glaze. Add cilantro and lime zest, toss. Finally, top with parmesan cheese and candied bacon.

I challenge you to try this recipe! Not only will your family love them, but they are a sure crowd pleaser for any dinner party or potluck. Original Joe’s served them as an appetizer. You could do this as well, just serve the crema as a dip and provide toothpicks and/or little plates. Soooo delicious!

Olive Garden Soup & Salad

copy cat olive garden salad

I have to admit that Olive Garden isn’t actually a favourite restaurant of mine. I try to stay away from pasta as much as possible. However, if you’re like me the Olive Garden house salad and potato soup will leave a lasting impression! It took me many years, but I do believe that I have found great copy cats for both recipes. The next time you’re craving soup and salad, this combo is sure to impress. I love the added heat in both recipes….hope you enjoy them as much as my family does!

Copy Cat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

I found this recipe several years ago on Tuscan Recipes. I follow the recipe exactly as presented with the exception of using cartoned chicken broth in lieu of the water/bouillon combo. This is mostly because I can be lazy in the kitchen. Sometimes I have my own chicken bone broth on hand and will use it as an alternate as well. Otherwise, I follow it just as it is written. This soup is absolutely delicious and works every single time!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of ground Italian Sausage
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (1 tsp may be enough for you)
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 T. bacon pieces (or more…you can never have too much bacon)
  • 2 tsp. garlic purée
  • 10 cups of water and 5 cubes of chicken bouillon (or 10 cups of broth)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 lb of sliced Russet potatoes (approximately 3 large potatoes)
  • 1/4 of a bunch of chopped fresh kale (I I usually add about 2-3 cups)

Method:

  1. Sauté the sausage and pepper flakes in a large soup pot. Drain the fat. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. In the same pot, sauté the bacon, onions and garlic.
  3. Add water/broth and heat to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and cook about half an hour on low heat.
  5. Add the cream, sausage and kale. Stir and heat through.

Serves 6-8.

Copy Cat Olive Garden House Salad

I came across this recipe a few years back and make it regularly for my family to enjoy. The recipe was found on Family Fresh Meals and is absolutely delicious!

Famous House Salad Dressing:

1 packet Italian Dressing Mix
3/4 cup oil (vegetable/canola)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions
Mix all of the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well…until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate flavours.

*It can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

Salad Ingredients:

  • combination of romaine and iceberg lettuce (or greens of your choice)
  • pitted black olives
  • 6 mild pepperoncici peppers (found near the pickles)
  • 1-2 wedged roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup croutons
  • freshly grated Romano and/or Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of your salad
  • thinly sliced red onion

Give this classic Olive Garden soup and salad combo a try and let me know what you think. These are two of my “go to” recipes for sure!

Roasted Cranberry & Brie Crostini

Over the holidays I was searching for some Christmassy recipes for a dinner party we were hosting. I love trying new recipes and am really into cranberries right now. Cranberries are a super food that often gets overlooked because of the tart flavour. Obviously, as a stand alone snack, they aren’t great, but I often add frozen cranberries to my morning smoothies and love them.  WebMD suggests that cranberries are second only to blueberries in their total antioxidant capacity.

Cranberries have vitamin C and fiber, and are only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fightingantioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable–including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries.

One cup of whole cranberries has 8,983 total antioxidant capacity. Only blueberries can top that: Wild varieties have 13,427; cultivated blueberries have 9,019.

Dr. Nalini Chilkov also outlines seven reasons why we should include cranberries in our diet on Cancer Schmancer. Check it out to see how cranberries can benefit your over all health and wellness.

I came across this recipe for Roasted Balsamic Cranberry and Brie Crostini on NeighborFood and it sounded delicious. Sometimes when you read a recipe you just know that it is going to be fabulous. Such was the case with this one. I knew it would be a winner and it certainly did not disappoint ~ thanks Courtney! You really must visit her blog and check-out the fabulous pictures. When I made these I was in the midst of preparing for company and in all honesty pictures were a mere after thought (and as you can see my daughter had changed my camera settings and I didn’t even get one good picture).

Roasted Balsamic Cranberry and Brie Crostini

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ½ a french baguette, sliced thin
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 T. rosemary
  • 4 ounces triple cream brie, thinly sliced
  • fresh thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine the butter and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with the oil mixture and place on a baking sheet. Set aside.

3. In a second small bowl, add the cranberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and rosemary. Mix. Spread the mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper.

4. Place the cranberries in the oven and roast for five minutes. Add the tray of baguette slices to the oven. Roast for an additional 6 minutes.  Remove the baguette slices to flip them over and return to the oven for another 4­-6 minutes, or until crispy and golden. At this point, the cranberries should be popped open with juices running out. Remove both the cranberries and baguette slices from the oven.

5. Top each baguette with a slice of brie and a spoonful of cranberries. Garnish with thyme, if desired. These can be served while the cranberries are still warm, or you can make the components ahead of time. The cranberries can be chilled overnight and the crostini will keep in a zip lock bag. Simply assemble and serve at room temperature when you’re ready!

When I made this appetizer for our dinner party, I ended up with a small amount of the cranberry mixture left over. I simply refrigerated it in a covered container and served the cold mixture over a bed of greens with purple onion and feta. No dressing necessary. This made a salad that was both beautiful and delicious! In fact, it was so good that I’ve since made another batch just for salad topping. Mmmm….so good!

The combination of flavours in this recipe is so great, that I really hate to mess with it.  However, I do try to reduce the sugar in recipes when possible. Next time I make it I will try to reduce the sugar amount slightly – I might try 1/3 of a cup and see how that works.  Enjoy!

“Give It Time” Green Smoothie

green smoothie

Yes, I know this isn’t green!

I’ve been dealing with several health problems over the past few months and in my struggle to get my life back on track, I decided to commit to consuming green smoothies on a regular basis. I had tried several variations in the past and have to admit that healthy or not, they were just too “nasty” for me. However, when push comes to shove and your health is on the line, it is amazing how one can actually suppress the gag reflex and learn to enjoy these “puréed salads in a cup”.

If you landed here expecting me to tell you how delicious this healthy smoothie recipe is and that it is an absolute must try…this is not the post for you. I believe in being transparent and completely honest. When my friend passed this recipe along and I tried it for the first time, I was not a raving fan. In fact, when she asked me how I liked it, I said, “Okay, I guess…I didn’t throw-up”. And this was not really an exaggeration. If you are used to those creamy fruit filled dream like smoothie sensations like I was…brace yourself.

Green smoothies are not really that great tasting and the texture of mine don’t ever seem to get as smooth as in a fruit smoothie, but the strange thing is….within a couple of days you develop a taste for them. I mean I actually crave this cup of goodness. I can’t say it’s the flavour or the texture, but more so like I know I’m drinking a glass of nutrients or a cup of health…I can’t quite explain it, but I’m hooked. I now drink green smoothies most days (at least 5 days a week) and can honestly say I miss them on the days I don’t . Green smoothies are one of  the easiest ways to pack so many essential nutrients and vitamins into one meal.

Robin’s Original Green Smoothie Recipe:

What I love most about Robin’s recipe is that each and every ingredient that she uses was picked for its nutritional elements. To find out more about some of the many health benefits of the ingredients, just follow the links.

Dump all the ingredients in a blender and mix to desired consistency.

Green Smoothie Tips

My Variations:

In order for this “green smoothie” thing to work for me, I knew I had to tweak it so that it was more than just tolerable. Here is what I discovered:

I basically took Robin’s recipe and made a few adjustments so that it worked for me. For starters, I needed to change the colour and add a hint of sweetness to the mixture. I decided that frozen fruit would be the best option. Blueberries work really well because they are healthy, add that element of sweetness and above all create a deep purpley colour that looks delicious. For me, digestion is one of the problems I’m constantly dealing with, so cranberries and pineapple are also great options in terms of the health benefits. The downside is that neither do much for the smoothie in terms of colour. The cranberries create a smoothie that is a disgusting brownish green and the pineapples don’t adjust the green colour at all. When I add cranberries, I will often add in a number of blueberries as well, just to help with the colour.

I often find myself rushed in the morning and as much as I would like to have a fried egg along with my smoothie, I generally find, I just don’t have time to do both. So, if my smoothie was going to serve as my entire breakfast, I had to incorporate some protein into it. I decided to add chia seeds and flax meal to add a substantial amount of protein to my drink.

Although my recipe fluctuates and changes constantly, this is my basic plan:

Cindy’s “Give it Time” Green SmoothieGreen Smoothie

  • 2 cups of packed organic spinach (or baby romaine)
  • 2 stalks of celery (up to 3 with leaves on)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 a cucumber (if not organic, then peel it)
  • 1″ of fresh peeled ginger
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley
  • 1-2 mint leaves (when I have them on hand)
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • liquid (water or good quality fruit juice with no sugar added – usually pineapple or cranberry)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons of flax meal (ground flax)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of frozen fruit (blueberries, cranberries or pineapple chunks)

One of the biggest challenges is not making too big of a batch. I have a 16 oz cup with a straw and lid and my recipe usually fills that plus about 1/2 more. I wish I could get it exactly right, but I never seem to be able to. Of course, if I actually measured each and every ingredient every time, I would be able to perfect this, but I am often in such a rush I just eyeball the amounts as I throw them in the blender. Robin will often place the prepared veggies in her blender and set it in the fridge the evening before. This way she just has to add her liquid (and berries for me) to quickly whip it up in the morning. I never seem to be that organized or have the energy left to prep it at the end of the day, so I am pulling it together last minute. I probably have the time down to about 5 minutes and always take my smoothie in the car, so it is still a quick and easy breakfast.

In summary, I am totally hooked on my green smoothies, but you really do have to “give it time”.  Play with it a bit and commit to a week before giving up. I actually have a hard time drinking fruit smoothies now. They just seem soooo sweet. Much like when I went from drinking double double coffee to cream only. At first, it is not easy to take, but eventually you can’t even stomach the sugary taste.

Update:

Although I still enjoy my smoothies, I sometimes find it hard to enjoy a frozen drink on winter mornings when the temperatures are hovering between minus 20 and 40 degrees! I presently tend to be opting for eggs most mornings. However, I’ve recently been doing some research on the benefits of juicing. I had never really given juicing much thought and still am not sure if I’m up to the chore of cleaning the machine after each use. (I can be lazy that way.) However, Dr. Josh Axe is a real supporter of juicing and I totally respect him and his opinions.

Juicing is an easy way to get a whopping heap of fresh veggies (and fruits) into your diet in one easy shot – or however many you want a day. You can consume far more of these veggies and fruits with juicing than you could probably eat in the same amount of time.

A fellow blogger recently shared a post written on Health Ambition that outlined the health benefits of celery. Their article:  7 Surprising Celery Juice Benefits absolutely substantiates the advantages of including celery in juices (and I suppose in my smoothies as well). I also love the fact that there is a free download for juicing recipes. I recently borrowed a juicer from a friend and can’t wait to try some of their recipes! Juicing is a great way to optimize the number of nutrients in your diet and research suggests it can also aid in weight loss. With the big 50 looming in the not so distant future, I have noticed how easy it is for those few extra pounds to show up on the scale and how much more difficult it has become to make them disappear again. If you decide to giving juicing a try, let me know about your experiences. Be sure to check out the article on the health benefits of celery! 

 

Going Greek! Part 1

I really love Greek food and although I have tried a few recipes over the years, I was never really that happy with the results. Well, this past week, I decided to “Go Greek” and try out some new recipes. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised and loved them all! Our meal consisted of:

  • Greek Salad
  • Gyros with Greek Marinated Chicken
  • Tzatziki Sauce

Although I only made three dishes, it was quite a bit of work simply because there was lots of chopping to do. I needed chopped veggies for both the salad and for adding to the gyros. I decided to chop everything I needed and make a tray up earlier in the day. I then just added the veggies to the salad and gyros from the previously prepared tray. This certainly made dinner time much easier.

Yummy Greek Salad:

I am one of those people that prefer my Greek salad with Romain lettuce. This recipe is really all about the dressing! It was a “restaurant hack” and that’s probably why is tastes much like one that would be served when having dinner out. The flavour is great and I will definitely be making it often. As for the actual salad, I used the following:

  • Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
  • tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes because I had them on hand, but otherwise I would have bought cherry/grape tomatoes)
  • red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • Kalamata olives
  • avocado, chopped (add right before serving)
  • cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • pepper, chopped (I used yellow and red because I had them both on hand)
  • Feta (I honestly can’t even believe this, but I completely forgot to add my favourite ingredient because it was the one and only thing that I had not put on my tray. I thought I was so well prepared and it wasn’t until I finished my salad that I realized I had completely forgotten to take the feta out of the fridge. Dam.)

Greek Salad Dressing:

This recipe was adapted from Danielle’s recipe that I found on All Recipe’s. The recipe makes a huge batch because it is an actual restaurant recipe. I originally divided it by 12, but still felt it was too much. I took my 1/12 recipe and then halved that. So, if my math serves me correct….I made 1/24 of the original recipe. I only wanted enough for the dinner salad in case I didn’t like it. In the end, I had more than enough for the salad and enough left over for another smaller salad. Here is my scaled down version of the original recipe.

Ingredients:

Pampered Chef Sliding Measuring Spoons

2/3 tsp. is a bit tricky. I was so glad I have these sliding measuring spoons from Pampered Chef!

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2/3 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together (with the exception of the vinegar). Once mixed, add the vinegar and mix vigorously until the ingredients are well blended. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

Picnic Potato Salad

This homemade salad dressing was my Grandma Cooley’s. She used to make it and passed it along to my mom who used it as the base for her potato salad. It has great flavour, but I sometimes add extra spices and/or pickle juice for a little extra kick when making potato salad. Prepared mustard is also great for kicking up the flavour in the final stages if you feel you need to.

Grandma Cooley’s Homemade Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • To use for potato salad , you will need to add milk and either Miracle Whip or Mayo

Method:

Place all of the ingredients in a double-boiler. Stir and cook over boiling water until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and refrigerate. To use this dressing recipe for a potato salad, my mom would combine equal parts of the dressing with milk and either Miracle Whip or Mayo. She suggested using 1/3 of a cup of each. Mix to combine and stir into potato salad.

Potato Salad:

When making a potato salad, I generally make about 1 potato per person. I alter the additional items based on the number of potatoes I use in the salad. Although I don’t always use the same ingredients, this is what I generally add to the base salad.

        • Russet potatoes ~ peeled, boiled, chopped and cooled
        • chopped celery
        • chopped radish
        • diced red onion or sliced green onions
        • dill
        • salt and pepper to taste
        • chopped sweet or dill pickles
        • 4 to 8 hard boiled eggs (chopped in the salad and/or sliced to decorate the surface)
        • paprika sprinkled on top

If you’re are planning to serve a number of people and need to make a large salad, you may want to try this speedy method of removing the peels from all of those potatoes. Brilliant!

Roasted Rhubarb and Beet Salad

My friend Joan passed on this great article about rhubarb from Alive and it included this awesome recipe for a scrumptious summer salad. The article itself provided information on rhubarb and also highlighted some of its medicinal benefits. I made this for dinner on Sunday night and absolutely loved it. Tim thought is was very good, but he isn’t a lover of goat cheese and said he would substitute feta for it next time. I can’t say the kids loved it, but it is a little different than anything they’ve had before. For me, it was pure perfection…..loved the combination of flavours! This was a perfect dinner salad for our family, but would also be a  fabulous side dish to serve company.

Pamela Durkin’s Roasted Rhubarb and Beet Salad:

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium beets
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2″ diagonal slices
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • soft goat cheese (or feta)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the washed beets in the oven to bake. Remove when they can be pierced easily with a knife or fork. (About 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size.). Set the roasted beets aside to cool. Peel and slice.
  2. Toss the rhubarb with the honey in the same measuring cup used to measure the rhubarb. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 6 to 10 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Set aside to cool.
  3. After emptying the rhubarb and honey onto a baking sheet, I used the same cup to make the dressing, so there was a bit of honey remaining from the original mixture. To the scant amount of remaining honey, add the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk together.
  4. Toss the greens, beets and walnuts with the dressing to coat evenly. Divide evenly onto 4 salad plates and top with rhubarb and crumbled goat cheese.

Cauliflower with Broccoli Cheese Sauce

Growing-up, one of my favourite ways to eat vegetables was with my mom’s homemade cheese sauce. She would simply melt some butter (1 to 2 Tablespoons), add flour to soak up the butter (paste like) and then whisk in milk (1 to 2 cups) until the flour was mixed in. She would then put it on medium heat (stirring constantly to avoid scorching) until the mixture thickened. She would then add grated cheddar until desired cheesiness was achieved.  She often add dill as well as salt and pepper.  My mom would serve the cheese sauce over cabbage, cauliflower or steamed broccoli. Knowing how much I loved this growing-up, I was intrigued when I found Jamie Oliver’s recipe for the Best Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese ever.

Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese:

broccoli cheese casseroleThis recipe is like our long time family favourite kicked-up a notch. You’ll have to follow the link to get the complete recipe, but basically it is much the same as my mom’s with a white sauce as the base. Here is what sets his recipe apart:

  • Sauté fresh garlic in the butter prior to adding the flour
  • Simmer broccoli florets in the milk mixture for about 20 minutes
  • Blend the above, so that the broccoli is puréed
  • Place small cauliflower florets in a baking dish
  • Pour broccoli mixture over top
  • Add additional grated cheese, bread crumbs, slivered almonds, salt and pepper and fresh thyme to the top
  • Bake at 350 for one hour

I really enjoyed this recipe and will definitely make it again. However, I happened to have frozen veggies on hand and he suggested it was a great option. I think the moisture in the cauliflower may have “watered it down” a bit. Next time I will use fresh and I think it will be superb. It makes a nice potluck dish or side dish to serve for company.

Diane’s Tomato Zucchini Salad

Tomato Zucchini SaladThis salad is almost salsa like in its look. It is a nice addition to any summer meal. I love it served on a bed of rice, chicken breast or on its own as a side dish. I got this recipe from my cousin and I really don’t have actual amounts for the ingredients, so I just wing it. I don’t know where she got the original recipe from, but here is what she passed on to me. The quantities in parentheses are the approximate amounts I used.

Tomato Zucchini Salad

  • finely chopped tomato (4 Roma tomatoes or 2 large)
  • finely chopped zucchini (2 medium-sized)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (sweet white or red)
  • 1 avocado, chopped (add just before serving)
  • salt and pepper

Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons of oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice (lime would be great as well)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir. I find that this type of salad/salsa is best when left on the counter for about 30-60 minutes, so that the flavours can blend together. If you have the time to let it stand before serving, I would suggest holding off on the avocado and adding it just before you are ready to set it out.

Possible Variations:

I did a quick search to see if I could find the original source for this recipe and could not, but found some interesting variations that would be fun to try. Here are some I thought I might give a whirl:

Epicurious had a version of this recipe, but the dressing called for basil, oregano, oil, salt and pepper and the choice of using either balsamic or red wine vinegar. To check-out the recipe, follow the link.

Oh Snap! Let’s eat! had another version that included cilantro, which I love. I also thought that the idea of thinly slicing the zucchini with a peeler to create a ribbon effect was a really cool idea. Follow the link to check out the post. ribbon sliced zucchini

Everyday Lunch Salad

SaladWhen it comes to packing my lunch for work, I am pretty lazy. I pretty much have the same thing almost every day. In order for this to work, you have to find something you really like. For me, it is my salad. I’m not saying I don’t occasionally change things up, but I would say I ate this salad about 75% of the days this year. I know that sounds boring, but its very simple to make, healthy and delicious.

My Everyday Salad:

Ingredients:

  • greens (I use either baby Romaine or Spring Mix)
  • 1/2 chopped avocado
  • red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 an apple, cored and thinly sliced or 1/2 a pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup or more of raw pumpkin seeds (excellent source of protein)

I make this every morning and it takes me about 4 minutes. I place the ingredients in my salad container in the order listed above. The order is important because the red onion prevents both the avocado and apple from browning. Seal the container.

Lime Agave Vinaigrette:

This dressing recipe is taken from Lyn Genet-Recitas’s book called The Plan. It is one of my very favourite homemade dressings. It is light and “citrusy” and has great flavour. I usually mix up a batch on Mondays (takes me no more than 3 or 4 minutes) and it generally lasts me the week as I only use about 1 1/2 Tablespoons per serving.

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup water (I often only add about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 Tablespoon of agave nectar (I always use agave, but I’m sure you could use honey if you don’t have any agave on hand)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Herbes de Provence
  • Optional: 1 clove of crushed garlic (not optional in my books, I always include the garlic!!)

Combine the ingredients and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to one week.

I love this salad. I can honestly say that I never get sick of it. It always looks delicious with the purple onion and deep green pumpkins seeds and avocado. This is delicious enough to serve to company and yet simple enough to eat every day. One of my all time favourite recipes.