Caprese Salad

One of my all time favorite summer flavor combinations is tomato & basil! There is nothing quite like a garden fresh, homegrown tomato and gorgeous, fresh basil leaves – add some fresh mozzarella and you have an amazing salad! We have had the nicest basil I have ever seen through our CSA and we have been thoroughly enjoying it.

I generally make my caprese salad fairly structured on a plate but you can make it however you like! The amount of ingredients are completely up to you – I used 4 small tomatoes and 3-4 ounces of cheese with about 12 large basil leaves on the salad below.

You can serve this with some sliced and toasted Italian bread rubbed with fresh garlic for a nod to bruschetta. Totally delicious!

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CAPRESE SALAD

Tomato
Basil
Fresh Mozzarella (usually available in the deli area)
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

Thinly slice the tomato(es) and fresh mozzarella. Chiffonade the basil (to do this: stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them together from the long side to the other long side and then thinly slice). Arrange the tomato and cheese in an alternating pattern on a plate. Sprinkle with the basil chiffonade. Freshly grind Salt & Pepper to taste. Drizzle with a good quality Balsamic Vinegar (I have some general use vinegar and then I have  some amazing vinegar that I reserve for uses such as this). Let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. Enjoy!

Autumn Chopped Salad

I enjoyed concocting this seasonal salad, packing it full of the colors, flavors, and textures of fall. And to tie it all together, a lovely fall-inspired maple vinaigrette to drizzle over top.

This would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. It will definitely be a part of our menu because right now, it’s my new favorite salad!

AUTUMN CHOPPED SALAD WITH MAPLE-DIJON VINAIGRETTE
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6-8 oz. Mixed lettuces (leaves torn or chopped)
1 pear
1 apple
1/4-1/2 c. dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
1/4-1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
4 green onions, sliced (or chopped red onion, if you prefer)
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt.)
2 oz. plain or honey goat cheese, crumbled

Wash and spin dry lettuce before placing in a large bowl. Top with pear, apple, onion, and dried cranberries. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle salad with nuts, bacon, if using, and goat cheese. Serves 4.

MAPLE-DIJON VINAIGRETTE

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well.

Raw Kale Salad

If you’re looking for a seasonal salad with a nutritional powerhouse kick, look no further than this, either to grace a holiday table, or for a burst of health in between the sugar-laden days of the holiday season.

Kale is the popular super-food of the moment. Raw kale is particularly vogue. Those two reasons, along with personal curiosity, inspired me to try this raw kale salad (recipe inspired by a Vegetarian Times recipe). And while I enjoy kale slow sauteed with onions and spices, as well as pureed in green soup, I did not find the raw version up to my particular taste buds. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, in fact this salad is loaded with lots of flavor and the health benefits are numerous, I just know kale is a vegetable I’d rather eat cooked. However, I hear rave reviews of raw kale, so give this a try, you’re body will thank you and perhaps you’ll find that raw kale is your style of salad!

RAW KALE SALAD WITH TURNIPS
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12 oz bunch kale, preferably lacinato/tuscan, stem removed, leaves cut into thin strips or chiffonade
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 c. whole pecans
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup turnip, peeled and grated
1/2 cup carrot, grated
2 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Dressing
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp agave nectar

Place kale in a bowl, and pour olive oil, vinegar, and salt over top. Using your hands, gently massage mixture into kale for 2 to 3 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss together pecans, maple syrup, olive oil, dash of salt, and dash of cayenne. Spread nut mixture in single layer on baking sheet; bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until pecans are brown and fragrant, stirring frequently. Cool in pan.

To make dressing, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Stir turnip, carrot, and green onion into the kale mixture. Toss with dressing and garnish with pecans.

The Salad Bowl: Marinated Mushroom Pasta Salad

Not long ago I woke up on a Wednesday morning and had no idea what I’d be bringing for my lunch that day. I picked a few ingredients from my pantry and voila, this pasta salad was born! I enjoyed my lunch and made another batch of this salad for the weekend.

This “recipe” is not so much specific quantities, but rather the ingredients, so tailor the seasonings to your tastes and pantry supplies. Feel free to add chopped onions or tomatoes. Make sure to add plenty of olive oil.

This is perfect for a summer picnic. To make this gluten-free, be sure to use brown rice pasta.

MARINATED MUSHROOM PASTA SALAD
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Cooked corkscrew pasta
Jar of marinated Portobello mushrooms and red peppers
Can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Garlic and herb goat cheese, crumbled (feta cheese would be another good  option)
Olive oil
Splash or two of balsamic vinegar
Italian seasoning
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and toss to combine. Cool for an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

The Salad Bowl: Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad

Spring seemed to pass us by and jump right into summer and I’ve been craving salads! Instead of adding salad to my meal, I want to plan my meals around the salad. The other day I made this protein packed salad. It was a tasty change of pace for a salad. The dressing is vinegar based, so it’s an ideal salad for picnics or your next cookout.

HONEY-BALSAMIC BEAN SALAD
(from 101cookbooks.com)
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8 oz (about 1 1/2 cups each of cooked chickpeas, pinto beans, and black beans (choose other beans if desired)
1 small head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and shredded
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons runny honey
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 + teaspoon sea salt
10 sprigs fresh thyme

Combine the beans, lettuce, and most of the almonds in a large salad bowl. Set aside. Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and salt in a small container. Taste, and adjust to your tastes.

Run your finger up each thyme sprig, removing the leaves. Add to the salad bowl along with a good amount of the dressing. Toss well, and add more dressing if needed. Top with remaining almonds. Serves 4-6.

The Salad Bowl: Everyday Mustard Dressing

I wish I could say that I make all of my salad dressings at home, because truly they are so easy! However, I admittedly keep a bottle or two of the store bought kind in the door of my fridge for the days I don’t feel like whipping up my own batch.

If you’ve never made your own salad dressing, though, I suggest you try it sometime. I found this dressing recipe in Mariel’s Kitchen and have made it many times. The original recipe didn’t include any particular seasonings, so I always jazz it up with salt, pepper and anything else from my spice cabinet that suits my palate and salad bowl. Enjoy creating your own version.


EVERYDAY MUSTARD DRESSING
(originally from Mariel’s Kitchen)
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2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
salt, pepper, spices to taste

Blend until creamy. Store any leftovers in the fridge.