Category Archives: Salads

Balsamic brussel sprout and chicken salad

Balsamic brussel sprout and chicken salad

I wanted to try a salad with brussel sprouts in place of the traditional lettuce. I have seen bags of shaved brussel sprouts in several stores, making this very easy. (You could, of course, cut up whole brussel sprouts. If using a mandolin, watch your fingers!) Having had brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar, I immediately thought of a balsamic vinaigrette as the dressing. I made the same dressing I used for the beet salad.

For an additional vegetable both for variety in taste and for appearance, I chose radishes. Brussel sprouts are strongly flavored. I wanted something that could stand up and complement that.

Likewise, for the chicken I chose to use the thighs as being more full-flavored than the breasts. And a balsamic and honey sauce continued the tastes from the rest of the salad.

Balsamic brussel sprout and chicken salad

1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (depending on size and appetite)
olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

shaved brussel sprouts
radishes, sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan. Cook the chicken thigh(s) until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and let it rest for a few minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken back in the pan with the balsamic vinegar and honey. Heat through, turning the chicken pieces so they are thoroughly coated with the balsamic and honey.

Combine shaved brussel sprouts with most of the sliced radishes. Shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, and pepper. Pour as much as desired over the brussel sprouts and radishes and toss to get everything coated with the dressing. Top the brussel sprouts with a few radish slices as a garnish, drizzling additional vinaigrette over the radishes. Add the chicken.

Ham and bean tostada

Ham and bean tostada

Ham and beans are a classic soup combination. And beans suggest to me a possible tostada. Here is a ham and bean tostada with the tortilla topped with a ham, carrot, and bean mixture made much like the soup but without the excess broth.

As with the New Orleans tostada I’m using canned beans rather than going through the effort of using dry beans. The beans I found were simply labeled white beans, but great northern beans or navy beans are very similar. Ham and bean soups typically have carrots, so those are included as well.

For the ham, I found a small bag of cubed ham which was just perfect. Some markets sell individual ham steaks which could be cut into cubes. Or you could get a very thick slice of ham at the deli counter.

For topping the frittata, I chose to add more ham and sliced carrots (raw here, of coures). And for the vinaigrette, vinegar is often served as a condiment with ham and bean soup. So I made the proportion vinegar higher than in a typical vinaigrette and included no additional flavorings, as I wanted the vinegar to be the focus. I think that worked well.

Ham and bean tostada

1 can great northern, navy, or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup carrots, small pieces
1/4 cup ham, small cubes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 bay leaf

2 corn tortillas

romaine lettuce, chopped
ham, cubes or other small pieces
carrots, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Saute the onion in oil, adding garlic for the last minute. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, ham, carrots, and spices. Cook for 30 minutes, adding more chicken broth as necessary to just keep from drying out.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of the ham and bean mixture. Put the romaine, ham, and carrots on the beans. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil and vinegar. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad.

Scallop ceviche salad

Scallop ceviche salad

I like ceviche made with all different types of fish and seafood. I thought that ceviche would make a great centerpiece for a salad. As I considered what type of ceviche, I easily decided on scallops. I am a great scallop lover, so scallop ceviche sounded great.

I had never made any type of ceviche. I looked up recipes online. As far as the time to “cook” the scallops in the citrus juice, recipes varied from 20–30 minutes to 4 hours and even 8 hours to overnight. I settled on 2 hours and was very pleased with the outcome.

Most ceviche recipes include chiles. This is not surprising since the origin of ceviche is in Latin America. I wasn’t interest in going in that direction, so I omitted the chiles. But I did include the red onion. That worked well both for flavor and for adding some color. I used my mandolin to get very thin slices.

The tomatoes on the salad were the mini-heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. I love the color variety they add. Obviously other tomatoes would work as well.

This is a very easy and quick prep. Cut up the scallops and onion a few hours before and add the lime and lemon juice. Then just assemble the salad.

Scallop ceviche salad

4 sea scallops
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
(enough of the juice to cover the scallops)
2 very thin slices of red onion, cut into pieces

spring mix lettuce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
fresh ground pepper

Cut the scallops into quarters. Put in a small dish with the onions. Add lime juice and lemon juice to cover the scallops. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Assemble the salad with the lettuce, avocado, and tomatoes. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, lime juice, and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the salad. Strain the juice from the scallops and onions and place them on the salad.

New Orleans tostada

New Orleans tostada

Once I got started with my unusual tostadas, I keep thinking about different kinds of beans and how they might be used to make a different kind of tostada. Red beans and rice is a staple in New Orleans and Louisiana. So my thinking was to use the red beans as a starting point for a New Orleans tostada.

My first idea was to top the tostada with Cajun shrimp. Can’t get much more New Orleans than that. But then I had the idea of andouille sausage, very much associated with Cajun cuisine. Both sounded ideal and I couldn’t make a choice. So I didn’t. It’s the shrimp on one tortilla, the sausage on the other.

For the red beans, I used canned kidney beans, which some recipes call for. This seemed so much easier than starting with dry beans. I used the whole can of beans, which is more than I need for the tostada. But what else would I use the kidney beans for? I’ll eat the leftover red beans for lunch. The recipe for the red beans was adapted from a number of different recipes. But feel free to use your own approach and spices. I chose to remove the casing before chopping up the sausage, but that certainly is not necessary. I cooked the beans for at least a half hour before starting the sausage, shrimp, and tortillas, so they cooked for at least 40 minutes. Cooking this long (or longer) makes the beans softer, but this is not necessary.

For the shrimp, I used McCormick’s Cajun seasoning and followed a recipe from their website. Again, I am choosing the easiest way, but you could certainly follow a more authentic recipe.

The amounts of cayenne pepper in the beans and the vinaigrette make this moderately spicy. Use more or less to suit your taste.

New Orleans tostada

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 andouille sausage, chopped up
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
chicken broth
olive oil

1 andouille sausage cut into bite-sized pieces
olive oil

4–6 shrimp, depending on size
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

2 tortillas
olive oil
romaine lettuce, chopped into smaller pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To make the red beans, start by browning the sausage in some olive oil. Add the onions and green pepper and cook over medium heat until soft, adding the garlic for the last minute. Add the kidney beans, cayenne pepper,  and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cook covered at a low simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally, adding more chicken broth as needed to keep it from getting dry.

Brown the pieces of the second sausage in olive oil. Remove from the pan and wipe out the pan. Melt butter in the pan. Put the shrimp and Cajun seasoning in a small plastic bag and shake to coat the shrimp with the seasoning. Cook the shrimp in the butter until pink on both sides, no more than about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Wipe out the pan again. Heat a thin layer of oil in the pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Place the tortillas side-by-side. Top with a layer of the red beans. Add the romaine. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, and pepper. Spoon over the romaine. Put the andouille sausage on one tortilla and the shrimp on the other.

Poached egg and bacon salad - Salade Lyonnaise

Poached egg and bacon salad – Salade Lyonnaise

After making the corned beef hash frittata with the poached egg on the top and having the egg come out nicely, I thought it would be good to have a salad with poached eggs. Bacon was an obvious choice to include with the eggs.

As I often do when making a new salad, I then went online for further ideas. Of course my idea was hardly original. In fact, this salad was famous and named for the city of Lyon, France. The recipes called for bacon or pork lardons, poached eggs, frisee, and a vinaigrette made with the warm bacon fat. Some recipes included croutons while others showed slices of toasted bread on the side. I decided to be sinful and grill the bread in butter like a grilled cheese sandwich.

A note on the base for the salad. Frisee seemed to be called for most often. Some mentioned using curly endive because they couldn’t find frisee. And yet other recipes just said to use curly endive. In looking around, I found curly endive. But then I did a little research online to find out what the difference was between frisee and curly endive. The answer: none. Frisee is another name for curly endive. Also, the more yellow leaves at the center are milder and more tender.

This was a fantastic salad, thanks to what I learned doing the research online. I am adding it to my list of the great salads along with Caesar salad and salade Nicoise.

Poached egg and bacon salad – Salade Lyonnaise

3 slices bacon cut into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vinegar for poaching eggs
frisee or curly endive
2 slices French bread

1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper

Tear the frisee or curly endive into bite-sized pieces and have ready on the plate for the final assembly.

Cook the bacon. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.

For poaching the eggs, heat water about 1–1/2 inches deep in a nonstick pan to a low simmer, about 190 degrees F, adding 1 tablespoon vinegar. Break each egg into a separate custard cup. Place the eggs in the water by tilting the cup, lowering it into the water, and letting the egg slide out. Cook for 4–1/2 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Place on a towel and trim off any white around the edges with the spoon.

While poaching the eggs, melt butter in a pan and grill the slices of bread until golden, as you would in making a grilled cheese sandwich. Keep warm in the oven.

For the dressing, add olive oil to the pan to total about 3 tablespoons with the bacon fat (judge by eye). Heat and cook the shallots for several minutes. Combine the red wine vinegar, mustard, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly pour the bacon fat, olive oil, and shallots into the bowl, whisking to combine. Spoon as much of the dressing as desired onto the salad and toss to coat all over. Top with the eggs and the bacon, with the toasted bread on the side.

Asian tostada

Asian tostada

After having the idea of using hummus instead of refried beans to make a tostada, producing my Greek tostada, the floodgates opened as I then thought up all sorts of other tostada variants using every type of bean I could think of. This is my next creation, using edamame atop the tortillas. Naturally, this led me to develop an Asian-themed tostada.

When I first had the idea of using edamame, I wasn’t sure in what form I wanted to include it on the tostada. I considered leaving the beans whole or mashing them with a fork or potato masher. As I often do when I am looking for inspiration, I went online and started looking at recipes including edamame. I found a number of recipes for edamame dip. (Interestingly, they all want you to serve it with pita chips.) They all took pretty much the same approach, with variations on quantities and flavoring. But all involved processing the edamame in a food processor with olive oil and some type of citrus juice. So I went from there. Then there’s the questions of how thoroughly you want to process the edamame. I chose to do it enough so that all the beans were chopped up but leaving some texture to the resulting dip/spread. Obviously one can do more or less to taste.

I chose to do a soy-ginger vinaigrette, which I have made for the Asian salad, among others. When I made these and wanted fresh ginger for other recipes, I have used Gourmet Garden ginger paste that comes in a plastic tube, which I have found works well, is very convenient, and can keep in the refrigerator for a significant length of time. Sadly, my market no longer seems to carry the tubes of ginger, though they carry many other types. Then I noticed next to that a small container of lightly dried ginger from the same company. They claimed this would be refreshed in liquid. The ginger flavor it gave to the vinaigrette was fine, but I wasn’t especially impressed with the texture. I think the next time I need fresh ginger, if I can’t find the paste in a tube, I’ll have to get over my laziness, buy a piece of ginger, and grate it.

Asian tostada

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
i small clove garlic, pressed
fresh ground pepper

1 piece of boneless chicken breast in small bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
vegetable oil

2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil

baby spinach, chopped
3–4 scallions, sliced, including lots of the green portions

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed (not all of a large clove)

Earlier in the day combine the edamame, olive oil, garlic, and about 1 tablespoon of the lime juice in a food processor and process until it gets to your desired texture, maybe 30 seconds. or so. Add more lime juice and process a bit more to get desired flavor and consistency. I made mine so it retained some texture and wasn’t completely smooth, but it’s your choice. Refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator a half hour to an hour before making the salad so it is not icy cold and is closer to room temperature.

Heat the oil and cook the chicken until nicely browned and cooked through. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger, and pepper and add to the chicken. Cook several minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and turns dark and shiny.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of the edamame mixture. Put the spinach, mushrooms, and scallions on the edamame, reserving much of the green parts of the scallions. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad. Put the chicken pieces scattered on the salad and top with the remaining green parts of the scallions.

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise

I consider the salade Nicoise to be one of the great, classic salads along with the Caesar salad. This is my take on it.

As I said with the balsamic chicken salad, the haricots verts are so much better than ordinary green beans. It’s worth the effort to find them.

With the Greek salad, I encouraged you to try the yellowfin tuna in olive oil. That is a good choice for this salad as well. But you can certainly get fancier. Specialty grocery stores (and Amazon) sell tuna filets in jars. Much more expensive than even the premium canned tuna, but awfully good. Or go all the way and sear a piece of Ahi tuna, nicely rare, for a special salad. This makes a salad that you can definitely serve to company.

Some other ideas for making the salad special for guests. Get several different kinds of small potatoes. When I did this for company, I combined small red potatoes with tiny fingerling potatoes. And include a mix of various types of olives–easy to do if you have a market with an olive bar. The variety just makes the salad even a little more special.

You will notice that I am making a little more of the vinaigrette than I usually make for a salad. This is because I like to toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes in the vinaigrette before putting them on the salad. I want to be sure I have enough to do this after having put dressing on the salad itself.

Salade Nicoise

3 to 4 small potatoes
1 helping fresh haricots verts
1–2 hard-cooked eggs

butter lettuce
Nicoise or Kalamata olives
cherry or other small tomatoes, cut in half
tuna (see discussion above)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
fresh ground pepper

Put potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until just tender, so a fork can be inserted easily. This will take something around 15 minutes, but use the fork test and start checking earlier. Drain the potatoes. Before finishing the salad, cut them in half or whatever seems appropriate for eating, given their size.

For the haricots verts, bring a pot with plenty of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook until they are just starting to get tender, 2 to 3 minutes, 2 for very crisp to 3 for tender crisp. You can take one out and check, but they will become a little more tender after you strain and rinse them, so stop on the crisp side. When cooked, strain and run cold water over them. This not only cools them down and helps to stop the cooking but also helps keep the nice green color.

Start the egg cooking in cold water. This heats the egg gradually, allowing air to escape from the shell slowly, without cracking it. Bring the water to the simmer, turn down the heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and cool the egg. Peel and cut the egg into quarters lengthwise for the salad.

Whisk together or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, and the other ingredients for the vinaigrette. Place lettuce on the plate. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the lettuce. Toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the ingredients on the lettuce, with tuna in the center.