by Kristen Bagwell
This is a great time of year for salads - especially if you are realizing this week that you're not quite swimsuit ready! I dusted off this post from last spring and am ready to start shredding...lettuce, that is. Yum!
We grew up on the same salad each night: lettuce (iceberg or romaine), carrots, tomatoes, celery, some onion, radishes if we had them, cucumbers, and italian dressing. Croutons, if mom was feeling really crazy. I do like the "house" salad, but it can get a little old...which is why I've taken the liberty of jotting down some of my favorite recipes for us. If you are trying to lose weight, watch the portion amounts of dressing and cheese on some of these. In general, though, they are all pretty light.
My cooking creativity is not as bad as my crafting creativity...but it's close. Needless to say, these are all recipes I've either copied from restaurants or swiped entirely from friends. Do you have any favorites? If so, leave us a comment under today's blog, and I hope you enjoy!
This is possibly the easiest salad ever, and a nice twist on the traditional caesar. Stephanie used to bring this over for girls night dinner and I'd provide wine and dessert. I loved that because it makes for easy hosting, plus you can get everything pre-packaged at the store if you'd like!
Romaine hearts, 2-3
Grilled chicken strips - 2 bags, or if you're making your own, 1/2 breast per person
16 oz container of strawberries, washed and sliced
Whichever Caesar dressing you prefer (we love Marie's)
Shredded parmesan - fresh or bagged, either is fine (but not powdered)
Prepare strawberries and set aside. Slice romaine hearts, or chop if you'd prefer. In a giant bowl, place romaine and chicken. Add about 1 tbsp dressing per person, then toss. Dish into individual bowls and garnish with strawberries and shredded parmesan cheese. Delish! Serves 4 but can be stretched to serve 6 in a pinch.
Amber's Jenny's Salad
Maybe my personal favorite, although I haven't made it in so long that I had a hard time remembering the ingredients...My friend Amber gave me this recipe entitled "Jenny's Salad" so I've been calling it Amber's Jenny's ever since.
1 bag baby lettuce mix
1/2 chicken breast per serving (2 total)
1-2 tbsp chopped red onion
1-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1-2 tbsp sliced almonds - I love the honey roasted almond accents
Raspberry poppyseed or strawberry dressing - I love Brianna's Blush (the pink dressing w/the strawberry on the bottle)
Toss the salad mix, almonds, onion, and dressing together in a large bowl. Dish into 4 servings, then lay chicken and goat cheese crumbles over the top. Simple and delicious! You can also add strawberries if they are in season.
Rob's Favorite Chopped BLT Salad (adapted from the Winston's Grille BLT salad)
We get tons of lettuce from our local CSA during the spring months, and this is an easy salad that everyone loves. I recommend chopping the ingredients separately and then mixing so you don't crush the tomatoes.
1 head of lettuce, chopped fine
1 ripe tomato, diced
6 pieces of bacon, chopped (or 2-3 tbsp of real bacon pieces -- not bacon bits)
1-2 tbsp white onion, chopped very fine
1/2 chicken breast per person (2 total), chopped very small
Ranch dressing, 2 - 4 tbsp to taste
black pepper (optional)
Chop all ingredients separately. In a large bowl, add salad ingredients plus dressing and toss. Dish into individual bowls and serve with a sprinkle of black pepper if desired. Serves 4 and is a great side salad without the chicken. We also like to add croutons, although we generally don't chop those.
Steak and blue cheese salad
Another recipe that you can adapt to use all pre-packaged ingredients if you don't have much time. This one is good for leftover steak too, although we never seem to have any!
2-3 oz of (cold) steak or roast beef per serving, sliced thin
Any lettuce you like - I like the baby spring mix or romaine, but spinach is not bad in a pinch
About 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1-2 oz crumbled blue cheese (or gorgonzola, for something milder)
1 tbsp white onion (optional)
1/2 cup croutons
1-2 tbsp balsamic or italian dressing (I prefer balsamic)
Toss all ingredients except the steak and dish into serving bowls. Top with the steak and serve immediately.
On to the side salads...these recipes are great for picnics and pot lucks, or if you want something "fresh" with your lunch or dinner. I could eat each of these as its own meal!
Tomato and Feta Salad (which I did not invent, but cannot remember who I stole it from)
I think this is a combination of something my mom used to serve and something from a Giada DeLaurentiis cookbook, with perhaps a little Ina Garten thrown in. It's super-easy and is a great side dish with almost any cookout-type foods.
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 - 1 tbsp red onion
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
3-4 oz balsamic dressing, enough to halfway-cover the ingredients in a small container
2-3 leaves of fresh basil, sliced in ribbons
Prepare all ingredients and put into a medium-sized tupperware container. Give the container a good shake, then chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with a slotted spoon so the veggies aren't swimming. This recipe is easily doubled for larger events and actually tastes quite good on top of a hamburger.
Kimberly's Cranberry Apple Salad
This salad will keep 3 weeks, but it will never last that long!
5 to 6 red apples chopped with peel on (not red delicious apples, they are too mushy - anything else is fine, I frequently use Gala.)
1 (I use 2) oranges, peeled and chopped. Hint: zest the peel FIRST into the bowl - once you peel, you can't zest.
1 lb fresh raw cranberries - wash, drain, chop fine (I have some frozen since I know the "season" will be over soon and I can have some in spring if I want. Kristen has also used Craisins and cut down on the sugar.)
1 & 1/2 cups sugar (you can use up to 2 cups, to taste)
20 oz can crushed pineapple drained
OPTIONAL - 1 cup chopped pecans. I *never* put nuts in it because I hate nuts IN things. I much prefer this salad without the nuts.
Mix it all together and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
Roberto Santibanez Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole (also from Kimberly)
Plan to devour this twist on guacamole! It's actually very easy; these are just detailed instructions. If you have little ones (or big ones) that don't like spicy foods, leave out the chiles, or use canned ones.
2 large or 3 small ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 fresh cerrano or jalapeno chiles minced including seeds for more taste and spiciness
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
3/4 teaspoon fine salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 (10 to 12 oz.) cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (1/2 inch)
1/4 pineapple peeled, cored, and diced (1/4 inch)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Stir together the cucumber, onion, chiles, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Score the flesh of the avocado halves in a crosshatched pattern (not cutting through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it out with a spoon into the bowl and gently stir together (do not mash). Stir in the pineapple last so the fresh acidity is a distinct counterpoint to the avocado. Season to taste with additional chile, lime juice and salt. Transfer the guacamole to a wide dish and sprinkle the cilantro on top. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours with a pice of plastic pressed against the surface. Let it come to room temperature before you serve it.
I hope these recipes help you to get ready for summer. Enjoy!