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Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

In June I had all kinds of gorgeous, berry delicious recipes picked out to make while strawberries were in season, sadly though life was hectic and I never made it to our local patch this year.

Strawberry picking is a tradition in our family that I’ve always looked forward to. The best part of being in the patch is popping that very first plump, juicy berry into your mouth and tasting that off-the-vine freshness that comes with picking your own. It sure motivates you to get picking and fill that basket so you can bring more of that berry goodness home with you.

Recipes abound for these ruby-red beauties and the possibilities they bring to the table are endless.  One of the ways I’ve been eating them since the spring is in a goat cheese and spinach salad that I truly love.

For this salad, one of the things I really concentrated on, was the dressing. I wanted to come up with something that was light, summer-y, full of good-for-you ingredients and the most important thing – great berry flavour.  Nothing artificial. I wanted to compliment the spinach and goat cheese with a berry-bursting freshness — the same freshness found in berry patches across Ontario.

Each year, I usually make strawberry jam as a way of capturing and enjoying those delicious berries all year-long. One of the jams I make is a no-cook strawberry freezer jam which is basically a mixture of freshly crushed berries, sugar, pectin and lemon juice.  The jam is not cooked but poured directly into jars and kept in the freezer until I need it. Because it doesn’t go through a long cooking process, the jam is bright red, sweet and full of delicious berry flavour.

I had some in the freezer that hadn’t set all that well, so I’d been saving it to serve as a topping over ice cream. Then I thought, what better way to bring that berry-freshness to the dressing than to use my runny strawberry freezer jam. It would work perfectly as a base for a salad dressing.

I added a little olive oil to thin it out, apple cider vinegar and freshly squeezed lemon juice for a little flavour contrast, and some poppy seeds for crunch.  This is now one of our all-time favourite dressings and it has everyone helping themselves to seconds of vitamin-packed spinach and strawberries. It takes just a couple of minutes to put together, and brings one of the freshest tasting dressings right to your table, so you can enjoy summer all year-long.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Serves 6

6 cups spinach, washed

2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered

4 – 5 ounces goat cheese

1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped

Method

1. Wash and dry spinach leaves and remove longs stems if necessary.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Wash strawberries, remove stems and cut into quarters. Place berries on top of spinach.

3. Crumble goat cheese into bite-size chunks and place on top of berries and spinach followed by the almonds.

4.  Make the dressing.

Perfect Summer Preserve Strawberry Dressing

1/2 cup strawberry freezer jam

1/8 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir with a whisk for 30 seconds until incorporated or place all the ingredients in a mason jar fitted with a lid and shake for 15 seconds.

Pour over your salad and enjoy!

Any left over dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

If you don’t have strawberry freezer jam, you can easily substitute any favourite strawberry preserves.

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I had some brown rice left over from last night’s dinner, so here’s what we had for lunch today.

It was beautiful and delicious.

And if I’d thought about it, I would have added some goat cheese.

This rice pilaf is a simple summer favourite that really sings.

By itself or with a skewer of grilled shrimp or chicken.

Or a few pieces of goat cheese.

In fact it’ll compliment just about any grilled meat you fancy.

Perfect for your next potluck/barbecue, picnic or cookout. It’s seriously good and good for you!

Here’s the recipe.

Almond Apricot Brown Rice Pilaf

Serves 4 for lunch, 16 as part of a potluck

4 cups brown rice, cooked

1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup pistachios, slightly chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup roasted almonds

1 cup baby spinach (or a generous handful)

Dressing

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon curry powder

pinch of salt

1. In a large bowl, add apricots, pistachios and red onion to the rice.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, curry powder, and salt. You can also add these ingredients to a glass jar with the lid on and shake it for about 15 seconds.

3. Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and toss. When completely cool, sprinkle with parsley, spinach and almonds.

4. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.

Notes:

The brown rice can be substituted with quinoa or barley with delicious results.

The ingredients can be prepared in advance, but toss in the spinach, pistachios, almonds and dressing just before serving.

Serve this with some sliced nectarines, a skewer of shrimp or chicken or a few pieces of goat cheese for a delicious lunch that’s nutritious and makes a beautiful presentation.

This makes a delightful side when paired with grilled chops, steak, chicken or sausage.

The dressing is minimal.  If you like a lot of dressing, you may want to double the dressing ingredients. Extra dressing can be drizzled on any leftovers the following day just to freshen it up.

As if that’s possible.

Leftovers, that is.

I hope you enjoy it!

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I’ve been baking a lot of cookies lately and even though I love all that sugar,

I started craving some crisp, satisfying vegetables before I fell into a sugar

induced coma.  This salad proved just the remedy to balance my gluttonous

cookie consumption and gave me a boost of vitamins full of delicious flavours

that blend really well together. I couldn’t wait for the dressing to marinate the

vegetables since it was already lunch time and munched down immediately

after it was made.  It was delicious. If you have the time, however, it’s even

better after it sits in the fridge for a bit to blend the dressing flavours.  The

salty bacon pieces and cherry tomatoes added just before serving, take this

salad up a notch with some stand out flavours and they also really dress it up.

The colours of this salad are delightful, they make me sing, and singing makes

me happy.  And when I’m happy, the world is a better place.

Fresh Vegetable Salad

2 cups (500 ml) broccoli

2 cups (500 ml) cauliflower

1/2 cup (125 ml) pepper, chopped (I used red, but you can use any colour)

1/4 cup (60 ml) grated carrot

1 cup (250 ml) mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar

3 tablespoons  (75 ml) Parmesan cheese

2 bacon strips, cooked and chopped

6 cherry tomatoes

Wash vegetables under cold water, drain and pat dry.  Chop vegetables into

bite size pieces and toss in a large salad bowl. 

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and parmesan cheese; pour

over vegetables …

 … and toss to coat. 

Cover and chill. Sprinkle with bacon and halved cherry tomatoes just before

serving.  Yields 8 servings.  Bon Appetite!

Love,

This Sweet Wife

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