Category Archives: Salad

Kale Salad

i’m eating leftover kale as a snack RIGHT NOW.

I have a lot of flaws.  I’m impatient, competitive and sometimes I listen to the same song 4235 times in a row.  I quote Liz Lemon and wait to see if anyone notices, I yell at pedestrians for crossing where there’s no crosswalk and do EXACTLY the same thing myself, I cheat at cards and I would agree to watch a documentary only if I was also reading a book.  I am 28 years old and still make fart jokes, I eat mini marshmallows straight from the bag and I never listen to my voicemail.

But!  I also eat a shitload of kale, so I figure it all balances out.

Realistically, I eat this salad 2-3 times a week.  Because I LOVE it.  People I’ve made it for have scoffed, heartily, at this salad, because technically the kale is raw.  But they have all been turned by the power of kale salad.  Once, a 7 year old ate this salad voluntarily.  I dress this salad in one of three ways: sesame-soy dressing, lemon-parmesan dressing, or garlic-tahini dressing.  Any of the three will change your life.  Additionally, you get to enjoy the smug sense of superiority you can only get from eating something REALLY healthy.  Later, when you eat french fries while drinking a beer in a bar, you can say to everyone in shouting distance “IT’S FINE, I ATE A LOT OF RAW KALE EARLIER.”  Everyone will really appreciate it.

The main drawback to this salad is that it’s about 100% more labor intensive than I like cooking to be.  You have to wash the kale (it’s a sandy vegetable), rip out the bitter, overly cruciferous spines, rip up the leaves, massage the lot with salt, then rinse all the salt off, then wring it out, then dress it.  It’s like a 20 minute process.  But it’s worth it.  I had the best run of my life after having had coffee, 4 gallons of water and kale salad.  It’s magic.  (I also just realized this salad is vegan the only way food is acceptably vegan: accidentally.)  Because I haven’t written a blog post in 7 years, I’m going to give you all three dressing recipes.  You’re welcome.

Kale Salad

2 bunches of kale (I make two bunches for only myself.  If you’re making it for guests, probably go 3-4.)

2 tablespoons or so of kosher salt

Dressing of choice*

put on some usher or something while you’re washing, it’s gonna be awhile.

So basically, the salt cooks the kale a little.  It wilts the leaves, takes away the bitterness and shrinks it.  So!  You wash the kale leaves very well (sandy!), rip out the spines of the leaves, and rip up the leaves.  Put all the ripped up leaves in a big bowl.

When you’ve washed and ripped all the kale (approximately 2 months after starting the process), sprinkle about a couple teaspoons or so of kosher salt all over the kale.  Don’t be afraid of saltiness, because you’re going to rinse all the salt off later.  Massage the salt into the kale for 2 minutes.  If possible, draft someone else to do the massaging, because why not!

this picture is actually from when i was in denver a couple months ago and made kale salad for sue. she also now eats it multiple times a week.

After massaging, you can let the kale sit for awhile, kind of marinating in the salt, if you like your kale really wilted.  If not, rinse the salt off right after the massaging and the kale will be more crunchy and bouncy.  When you’re ready to rinse it off, put all the kale in a colander and rinse it very well.

too salty kale is tragic.

If you do a bad job, the kale will be too salty and everyone will cry.  So rinse it well.  Then, take it in handfuls and squeeze out all the excess water, putting the kale back into the big bowl.  Then dress it and try not to eat it all while you make the rest of dinner.

*Dressing options:

Soy-sesame – My favorite.  2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, black pepper.  If you have sweet Thai chili sauce, put a couple teaspoons of that in there too.

Lemon-parmesan – juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup or so fresh parmesan, salt and pepper.

Garlic-tahini – 1-2 cloves garlic, zested on a microplane, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of tahini paste, salt and pepper.  In the interest of being honest, I will admit that I copied this recipe from a kale salad they have at Whole Foods in the pre-made salad section, which I eat when I am lazy.

– Cat

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Filed under Dressings, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Thai Chicken Noodle Salad

So here’s the thing about ginger. I hate it. I think it tastes like soap. I am extremely sensitive to it and I can taste even a small amount in things. Now, I realize there are some things where ginger is imperative and in general if it’s cooked into something (like chutney) I don’t notice it that much, but fresh ginger makes me feel like I’m in that scene from A Christmas Story.

While writing this post, I searched long and hard to find information on why ginger tastes like soap to some people (because I know I’m not the only one), but I couldn’t find anything. I did find some disturbing things pertaining to why people thing ginger tastes like soap, but I assure you- none of it was scientific.  Somewhere along the line I read something about how the way ginger tastes is some kind of chemical reaction, or recognition, similar to why some people think cilantro tastes like soap (not me, I love the stuff). Either way, I give up. If you find it, tell me.

Until then- keep that nasty crap away from me.

As for this recipe, it is common for Thai food to have ginger in it. I was immediately drawn to this recipe after I realized it was missing that one loathed ingredient.  I love rice noodles, everything from their texture to how quickly they cook. Aside from a short marinade for the chicken this recipe comes together extremely quickly. It tasted light and refreshing and I had visions of enjoying this in the backyard with fresh herbs from the garden. Screw you winter, bring on the sunshine!

Anyway, this is a modified version of this Martha Stewart recipe

Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

Ingredients for dressing/ marinade:

4 thinly sliced scallion whites

2 minced garlic cloves

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup rice vinegar

2  Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

½ tsp anchovy paste

1 tsp red pepper flakes

¼ cup sesame oil or olive oil

Whisk or shake together all ingredients except the oil (the oil will be added after it is used as a marinade).

Ingredients for salad:

1 ¼ Lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced crosswise

3 ½ oz Chinese rice noodles

1 Tbs. veg oil

2 carrots, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (or julienned if you’re fancy)

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro

Handful of bean sprouts

3-4 sliced scallions

A dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

Method:

Place chicken and half of the dressing in a sealable plastic bag, reserve remaining dressing. Marinate at room temp for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight. Boil about 3 cups of water in a kettle or a pot. Put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for two to three minutes until cooked (these directions will also be on the package). Drain and set aside. In a Large skillet heat oil over medium high. Working in batches, cook chicken until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk the remaining dressing with ¼ cup sesame or olive oil. Top the noodles with the chicken, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro and bean sprouts. Drizzle with the dressing, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and scallions.

A few notes:

The original recipe called for basil- both cilantro and basil work for Thai food and I happened to have cilantro on hand. It was delicious. If you had Thai basil it would be even better.

You could literally modify this recipe ANY way you want. You could add ginger (eww) to the marinade/dressing. You could add spicy Thai chilis instead of red chili flakes for even more heat. You could use pork or beef. You could top it with crushed peanuts, or any other kind of vegetable you might like.

-Sue

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Filed under Pasta, Poultry, Recipes, Salad

Steak Salad with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

i ate this, immediately after photographing it.

Cooking for just yourself is one of life’s REAL pleasures.  You get to cook exactly what you feel like eating, no one judges you if you open a bottle of wine as soon as you start cooking, you can listen to the same album over and over and no one says “sorry, no more Florence + the Machine, it’s been 438 times in a row”, you can cook with no pants on if you feel like it.  You can eat as slowly as you want and no one starts cleaning up while you’re still eating (Susie Dubeck, you know what I’m saying).  It’s glorious.  This recipe is a perfect example of what I make when I’m alone and can pick whatever I want: meat and vegetables.  And wine.

Apparently, and I’ve just become aware of this, some people look at being alone for dinner and think: fantastic!  I don’t have to cook!  I’m ordering a pizza immediately.  But I like the ritual of cooking dinner.  It slows me down.  Cooking and eating are physical acts, they require that I focus on movements and tangible things.  I look at a computer screen all day and live in my head, like we all do, and I like to cut and stir and move food around with my hands every day.  I find it brings a fitting opposition to the rest of my life.

I would also like to note that I made up this dressing recipe.  It’s delicious.

Steak Salad with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

Salad:

Steaks – I used a NY strip, which I ate approximately 1/3 of.  Cook as many steaks as you’ll need for the people you’re serving.  Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides, and let them come to room temperature 30 minutes before you want to cook them.

1 onion, sliced

1 package white mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

crumbled goat cheese – I used goat cheese with peppadew peppers, because they had it, and it sounded AWESOME

spinach

Dressing:

1 package cherry tomatoes

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled but kept whole

4 tbsp olive oil, 2 for drizzling over the tomatoes while they cook, two for putting in the dressing itself

2 tbsp red wine vinegar, or apple cider, or white

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tsp sugar

salt and pepper

Method:

Turn your oven on broil, and put the tomatoes, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper in some kind of metal pan (I used an 8 inch metal cake pan, because I sure as shit don’t use it to bake cakes).  Put the pan on a low rack in the oven, so the tomatoes cook quickly but don’t burn from being RIGHT under the broiler.  Shake the pan around every few minutes, cooking until the tomatoes are all split open and browned, and there’s a bit of bubbly juice in the pan, probably 15-20 minutes.  Remove the pan and set it aside to cool while you cook the steak.

garlic and tomatoes roasting together don't smell bad, i can tell you that right now.

Put a cast iron or metal (NOT nonstick) pan on high heat, and heat it up for a few minutes, until you can flick water into the pan and it sizzles violently.  Assuming you’re using a relatively thick steak like a NY strip, sit the steak in the pan and let it stay there for 3 minutes without moving it.  After 3 minutes, flip the thing and cook another 2-3 minutes, which will yield you a rare steak.  If you want to cook it more, do 4 minutes a side.  If you want it cooked more than that, read someone else’s blog.  Remove the steak to a plate, tent with foil and let it sit there while you fix everything else.

In the same pan, toss in the 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil, and then put in the onions and mushrooms.  Turn the heat down to medium.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the mushrooms are nicely browned, probably 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.

when mushrooms are cooked NOT in liquid, they get nice and browned. SCIENCE. or something.

While that is happening, put your tomato/garlic mixture in a food processor with all the other dressing ingredients- the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Puree until smooth.  Take a minute to admire how pretty it is.

it's really that color. i didn't change it in photoshop. promise!

When the onions and mushrooms are ready, slice the steak against the grain.  Make a big pile of spinach on a plate, top that with onions and mushrooms, crumble some goat cheese over it, lay some steak on top of that, and drizzle the lot with dressing.  You could serve it with some crusty bread, but what would be the point?  Bread just takes up stomach room you could save for dessert.  Or wine!

– Cat

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Filed under Meat, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables

Caesar Salad Dressing

i went traditional with romaine, but i'm not happy about it.

From the ages of 15-19, I subsisted on chicken Caesar salads, these weird calzone/sub sandwiches from Hungry Howie’s, whole Snickers bars (most of which Sue purchased for me) and cans of Coke, which, I drank in the morning.  I considered myself an authority on greater Detroit area chicken Caesar salads, and can tell you several things.

1. Romaine lettuce is pointless.  Why don’t they use spinach?

2. The best chicken Caesar salad in metro Detroit, and THE WORLD, can be found at Ya-Ya’s Chicken, and though a lot of them have closed, I know there’s one at 12 and Woodward in Royal Oak, Michigan.  (Sidenote: I just Googled locations and there are 4 Ya-Ya’s in Flint [?], and also some in Florida, apparently.  So there you go.)  The reason is the dressing, which is parmesan cheesey, and lemony and creamy and peppery and perfect, not too sharp, but full of flavor.

3. Real Caesar dressing has anchovy paste in it, best make your peace with that.  (I will also tell you that I had actual, whole, pickled anchovies recently while Sue and I were in Seattle and they were surprisingly GROSS.  As in- I thought they would be gross.  And then they were even grosser than that.)

My Caesar dressing is easy, fast AND can be assembled in a jar.  1 container for making AND for storing?!  Yes.  I’m always looking for reasons to validate  my extensive jar collection.

Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise, NOT Miracle Whip, though that pains me to say, because I love it

2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (depending on the size, you want about a tablespoon of minced garlic)

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp anchovy paste

juice of 2 lemons

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

copious amounts of freshly ground black pepper

Mix everything together in a jar.  Put it on lettuce.  That’s it.

here is another picture! sue's rule is 2 pictures or no post. she's 100% right, and i am an impatient cook.

– Cat

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Baby Potato Salad with Chard and Bacon

mmm bacon.

Last week was the 4th of July, which I realized is my favorite holiday.  Everything about the 4th of July is good: eating grilled things, eating baked beans, lots of drinking, usually swimming in lakes, fireworks, being outside in beautiful weather, lots more drinking, sparklers, falling asleep in the car on the way home, etc.  There’s nothing bad about this holiday.  My love for the 4th of July has almost nothing to do with patriotism, interestingly.  Not that I don’t love America.  BECAUSE I DO.  I think my favorite thing about America is the fact that we can fearlessly make fun of whoever we want, but also: the freedom for people to set off fireworks in the street outside my building until 2 am even though it’s a school night, and my freedom to yell obscenities at them for doing so.  Ah, America.  The only thing Christmas (traditionally my favorite holiday) has on the 4th of July is mimosas and honey baked ham.

So because I’m a real American, I celebrated the 4th of July by eating baked beans and drinking.  I mostly slowly sipped shots of orangecello and I made pulled pork instead of burgers with  my baked beans, but still, it counts.  I also made a nice potato salad of NOT THE MAYONNAISE VARIETY.  This potato salad is a lot like German potato salad, with the addition of Swiss chard or kale.  The chard makes it seem like you’re making something healthy, which you are, if things can still be healthy when they have a gloss of bacon fat.  I made mine with baby Dutch yellow potatoes, which are delicious and buttery.  You could also make this with fingerlings or redskins, but I really think the Dutch yellows are the nicest.  In any case, make this with a baby potato so it stays delicate.

Baby Potato Salad with Chard and Bacon

2 lb baby Dutch yellow potatoes, scrubbed

1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, cut or ripped into 2 inch pieces (To prepare kale or chard, wash each piece pretty carefully, they hold a lot of sand and grit.  When they’ve been satisfactorily rinsed, rip or cut out the center stem of each leaf.  Discard the stems, and chop or rip the remaining leaves into bite sized-ish pieces.)

5-6 slices bacon, chopped (I cut up my bacon with a pair of kitchen scissors I use only for cutting up bacon.)

3 large shallots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp whole grain mustard

4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

Method:  In a large pot full of water, boil the whole baby potatoes with a few pinches of salt, until they are fork tender.  Remove them to a colander and let them drain until cooled to room temperature.  When they’ve cooled, cut them into quarters and put them in a large pan or bowl, whatever you want to serve the potato salad in.  In a large saute pan on medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until crispy.  Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate.  Turn the heat down to low and put the shallots and garlic into the bacon fat, cooking until translucent, probably 10-15 minutes.  Then add the mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt and pepper, and let cook 5 more minutes.  Pour half the dressing over the potatoes, leaving the other half in the pan.  With the pan still on low heat, put the chard into the pan in a big layer, moving it around every 30 seconds or so with tongs.  It will slowly wilt and shrink in size.  When it’s all wilted but still green and mixed up with the remaining dressing, pour the chard over the potatoes and mix well.  Mix the bacon back into the salad and serve warm or at room temperature.

– Cat

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Filed under BBQ, Dressings, Meat, Recipes, Salad, Sides

Grilled Vegetable and Orzo Salad

This is quite possibly one of the easiest BBQ sides I have ever put together.  I knew a few things: I wanted grilled vegetables, and I didn’t want them on a salad, and I didn’t want them plain. While I love grilled vegetables plain I wanted to spice it up. When you put grilled vegetables on a big salad they all sink to the bottom and end up making the lettuce soggy. While a grilled vegetable salad can be plated nicely individually, it’s not as successful as a big dish.

This salad was also met with rave reviews; it’s been awhile since I had such a rush of requests for a recipe. A few other great things about this recipe: it can be made ahead, and I can attest to this because I ate every last bit of the leftovers. It can also be eaten warm or cold (versatility at its finest). It’s a GREAT summer salad because there is no mayo in it or anything to get all nasty when you leave it out in the sun while you are distracted playing bags (I know I’m not the only one). You can feel completely safe about eating round two hours after this salad has been sitting out. Feta cheese is one of those great cheeses that never really melts and never gets the greasy sweat that other cheeses sometimes do. Perfect for something like this.

By far- the best part of this recipe is how damn easy it is. Cook some orzo, skewer some vegetables, and crumble some feta…delicious amazing salad complete.

Grilled Vegetable and Orzo salad

Ingredients:

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked and drained

¾ to 1 cup block feta cheese, crumbled

1 zucchini, cubed

1 yellow squash, cubed

10 asparagus spears

15 (or so) cherry tomatoes

1 medium Vidalia (or sweet) onion chopped in large pieces.

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

Skewer the zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes, and onion. Skewer only one kind of vegetable together. The onions will take a little longer, and the tomatoes will take the least amount of time which is why I keep like vegetables together. For the asparagus, prepare a foil packet for the grill and toss the asparagus with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper before sealing up. Drizzle the skewers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a healthy grind of pepper. Over medium heat grill each of the skewers until each of the vegetables has a nice light char. Onions first; asparagus, zucchini, and squash at the same time, and tomatoes a quick turn last. While the vegetables cook (or before) cook the orzo according the the directions on the box.

In a large bowl top the orzo with the vegetables and the feta cheese and toss.

Add a drizzle of olive oil and a few grinds of pepper (no salt is necessary, the cheese has plenty) and serve.

A few notes:

You could use any kind of vegetable here. Bell peppers would be lovely (if I liked them) along with eggplant, or any other vegetable (I can’t think of any other vegetables you grill, but maybe you can).

I love grilled (or roasted) tomatoes, but this salad could also be served with them fresh.

I highly recommend trying this as is first, but a bit of fresh basil, or other fresh herbs, would be wonderful.

-Sue

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Filed under BBQ, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegetarian

Asparagus and Radish Spring Salad

Here is a secret: raw asparagus is fantastic.  I think I like it better than cooked asparagus.  And while I do prefer my radishes smeared with butter and salt, I’m not opposed to them in other preparations.  Like in this salad, for instance.  The raw asparagus is pretty sweet, for a vegetable that makes your pee smell weird.  So the sharp, lightly bitter crunch of the radish is lovely with the tender, buttery asparagus.  The lemony mustard vinaigrette is clean and springy, the whole salad is beautiful and wonderful like violin playing unicorns who never eat fried food or use foul language.

Asparagus notes:  1. You can store asparagus for a few days after you buy it at room temperature, stuck in a glass or jar of water.  2.  To trim asparagus, snap the yucky, dry, tough end off, letting the asparagus spear choose where to break.  It will snap at the best point.

Asparagus and Radish Spring Salad

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, sliced into teeny, tiny slices

1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed, sliced thinly

1 bag of arugula

1 cup shredded or shaved parmesan cheese

juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Method:  Mix together the vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle with the cheese and toss.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dressing over the salad.

so precious. just like baby bunnies eating Peeps shaped like baby bunnies.

– Cat

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Filed under Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian