Orzo, Kale, and Spinach Salad

Orzo Salad 1

This is a great summer salad that goes well with any backyard barbeque or potluck. It’s perfect to make ahead because the kale and spinach are hearty greens that hold up well with dressing. In fact, I think it tastes even better the next day.  I made it to go with my Mediterranean grilled meatballs…that recipe is on the way soon! It would also make a great weeknight dinner with a little grilled chicken on top.

There are a few things that make this dish stand out. The bold flavors of the sun dried tomatoes, olives, and feta really make this salad. I like to buy olives from my grocery store’s olive bar so I can get a couple of different types. It’s nice to be able to buy exactly as much as you need, too.  A really good feta also makes a difference.

I love Pastures of Eden which is sold at my local Trader Joe’s. It’s an imported sheep’s milk feta and it is mellow and delicious. Even my husband likes it and he is not a big fan of feta cheese.

This recipe really feeds a crowd. We served it to company and had leftovers for lunch…yum! You can cut it in half or just use less pasta if you don’t need as much. It keeps really well for a few days in the fridge. I promise you, if you serve this salad at your next summer gathering…your family and friends will think you are a culinary genius!

Orzo Salad 2

Orzo, Kale, and Spinach Salad

Serves 8 – 10

Orzo, Kale, and Spinach Salad Printable Recipe Link

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 lb of orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one bunch of dinosaur kale (also called Lacinato or Tuscan kale), ribs removed and chopped
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • one red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup of assorted olives of your choice (I used a combo of green and kalamata), sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (I like the kind in olive oil)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil

Directions:

Make the lemon vinaigrette first by combining all of the ingredients and mixing well. Slowly whisking in the olive oil at the end makes for a nicely emulsified dressing that won’t separate. But…you can always throw everything in a small mason jar and shake it really well! Just remember to shake it again before dressing your salad.

Cook the orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water until it is just al dente. I like to cook it just a minute less than it needs so that it still has a little bite once it has absorbed the dressing. Drain the orzo, add it to a large salad bowl, and toss it with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil so that it does not stick together. Let it cool down to room temp. Add the rest of the ingredients and the dressing and mix well. I like to save a little cheese and some pine nuts to sprinkle over the top before I serve it.

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A Delicious Dinner for a HOT Day!

Yes…it’s true. This Juicy Bites post in front of you is for real. I am ACTUALLY posting a recipe! For those of you that have been eagerly awaiting more juicy bites, I apologize. No real excuses other than the fact that I am too darn lazy to take pictures of my food before it gets gobbled up! I won’t make any promises (I know myself too well), but I will try to keep posting more often than once a season!

Speaking of seasons…even though it is spring, it feels like summer here in Southern California! It is HOT this week. Like 97 degrees HOT! Not our normal spring weather, or summer weather for that matter. Yes…we are spoiled here. I really don’t like this weather and I really don’t like cooking in this weather! Perfect time to try a recipe from my new cookbook “Giada’s Feel Good Food” by Giada De Laurentiis. My sweet hubby and boys bought it for me for Mother’s day. It is filled with light and healthy recipes like this one.

Soba Noodle Salad

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This was the perfect dinner for a hot day. I love salads that are filling, hearty, and don’t leave you feeling like you didn’t get a real meal. This is one of those salads! My family loves just about anything with Asian flavors so this was a hit. Of course I had to make a couple of changes to the recipe (I seem to be incapable of following a recipe exactly). I added some grilled chicken for more protein and tinkered with the dressing a little. There is such a nice contrast of textures in this with the crunchy cabbage and the soba noodles that have just the right “chew” to them. I love soba noodles and the brand I buy from my chain grocery store is Hakubaku.

soba

Soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour which gives them a great texture. You can find gluten free soba noodles as well which is great if you have an gluten allergy or intolerance. They are made with all buckwheat flour and are a little darker in color but also delicious. If you can’t find soba noodles, you can substitute any noodle you like in this salad. Whole wheat spaghetti works really well!

For the chicken, I just had the hubs BBQ a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Left over chicken or rotisserie chicken would be great in this salad…the less cooking the better! All of the prep work (including cooking the noodles) can be done ahead of time so that you only need to assemble the ingredients when you are ready to eat.IMG_2672The creamy peanut dressing in this is soooo good! Oh yeah…that is another change I made. Giada uses almond butter and I went with peanut butter. I think both are great, but my kids prefer peanut butter. If peanut dressing is not your thing or there are peanut allergies in your family, any Asian dressing would be good. Heck, just a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and olive oil would be delish!

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Lucky for you all (and for me) there were left overs of this salad. That meant lunch for me today as well as a photo opportunity! I could hardly wait to get the pictures done so I could eat!

Soba Noodle Salad

Click here for a printable Version of my recipe

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

Dressing
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • One 1 ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped


Salad

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces dried soba noodles
  • 12 ounces of cooked chicken (shredded rotisserie chicken or grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced thinly)
  • One 1 ½-pound head napa or savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch-thick half-moon shapes
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Instructions:
For the dressing:
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
For the salad:
Boil a large pot of salted water over high heat. Cook the noodles until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Rinse the noodles in cold water, drain well and place in a serving bowl.
Pour the dressing over the noodles. Add the cabbage, green onions, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and almonds. Toss until all the ingredients are coated. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.
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Great Grains Salad

Kamut, Wild Rice, and Quinoa with Pearled Couscous

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Hellooooo Summer! The Lauterbach family has had a very full social calendar lately (we are just so darn popular ;)). We have had lots of fun with family and friends and lots of eating and drinking. It’s a little exhausting to have this much fun!

When you are busy and constantly on the go, it’s kind of nice to have something healthy and hearty in the fridge to grab in a hurry. This grain salad fits the bill perfectly! It travels to work (or the beach!) very well. I originally posted this recipe about a year ago. I have made it a few times since then with a few little tweaks so I thought I would re-post it with my changes and some updated photos.

This is a really delicious combination of grains! This recipe is a bit time consuming because of all the grains that need to be cooked separately, but it is super simple and so good that it is totally worth it. This makes a great dish to bring to a summer pot luck, or a yummy light dinner served over a bed of greens. My husband loved it over baby kale lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil.

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Kamut is related to both durum wheat and spelt, and is pronounced kah-moot.  It has more protein, vitamins, and minerals than modern wheat and is about twice the size. I love the buttery, nutty flavor and the chewy texture of this grain. The best way to cook it is to soak it over night (or all day) first. I know that sounds like too much prep to put into such a simple grain salad, but once again…it’s worth it! You can find Kamut in most health food stores like Whole Food’s, or here on Amazon. If you can’t track it down, a good substitution would be farro, barley, spelt, or wheat berries.IMG_2031

You should be able to find wild rice, quinoa, and pearled couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous) in any well stocked grocery store. Pearled couscous is just a larger version of regular couscous. It’s closely related to pasta (made with durum wheat) and has a slightly chewy texture. It is simple to prepare – just like cooking rice. I like this whole wheat variety from Bob’s Red Mill. whole-wheat-pearl-couscous

The wild rice adds a great earthy flavor and the quinoa is perfect for a little protein. I like the rainbow variety and it’s pretty easy to find.

grain collage1This salad has a tangy, tart, and slightly sweet dressing that is delicious! Celery and almonds give a nice crunch, and dried blueberries & cranberries add the perfect sweet bite!IMG_2035

Great Grain Salad

Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kamut, presoaked
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous)
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped small
  • 1 shallot, chopped small
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups of toasted slivered almonds
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Dressing:

Whisk together the following ingredients:

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard,  1 minced garlic clove, 1  teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Once they are all well combined, slowly whisk in 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

To Make the Salad:

The first step in this dish is cooking all of the grains. Cook each one separately – according to the package directions. Make sure you add about a quarter to a half teaspoon of salt to each one while it cooks. You can cook your grains up to a day in advance, then refrigerate until you are ready to make the salad.

Once all of your grains have cooled a little, combine them together in a big bowl. Add the chopped celery, shallots, scallions, parsley, dried berries, and 3/4 of the dressing and mix well. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. To serve right away, add all the dressing and the nuts and mix well. The grains really soak up the dressing, so you will want to reserve a little to add later. If you are serving this later, don’t add the nuts yet, cover and refrigerate  until you are ready to eat. Let it get back to room temperature, add the rest of the dressing and the nuts just before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Spinach and Asparagus Salad

Delicious, Flavorful, and Healthy!

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For those of you that follow Juicy Bites, I’m SURE your wondering where the heck I have been! Or…at least I like to think you have all been wondering that :). I haven’t gone anywhere (except for Maui on vacation!). I have been right here, thinking about how I should be blogging, but not finding the motivation to do it.  While we were in Maui, my 6 year old Finn asked me, “Mommy, did you forget that you have a blog?”. Ouch! Guess it had been a while since I had talked about it or posted anything. I have come up with a lot of excuses not to blog some of the things I have been cooking.

First off, it is a bit time consuming. Then there is the fact that you actually have to make something “blog worthy” to post. I know there is a really wide variety of people that seek out food blogs for recipes. I was finding myself thinking that even though I made something delicious, I would worry that some readers would think it wasn’t healthy enough, some readers would think it was too healthy, some readers would think it wasn’t easy enough, or people just plain wouldn’t be interested. I got a little caught up in what it was that I wanted this blog to be all about.

I needed to remind myself why I started Juicy Bites in the first place.  I wanted a “cook book” of the things that my family and I love to eat.  A place to record all of the juicy bites that I make at home. Sometimes those things are super healthy, like my Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl, and sometimes they are super easy, like my Super Quick Fish Tacos. I thought it would be a great way to record my favorite recipes, and share them with my family and friends. Sometimes when I ask my son, Max, what he wants for dinner, he will say he wants to look at my blog and pick something out. I kind of LOVE that! So, I guess I better keep up with this and not worry about weather anyone else wants to make whatever it is that I posted. And, if  they do…fabulous!!IMG_1827So let’s talk about this salad! A while back my good friend, Lori, made a similar salad when I had her family over for dinner. I have loved it ever since and it has been on my blogging to do list for a while. I decided to make it for lunch yesterday and forced myself to take some pictures before gobbling it up! It is a delicious combo of baby spinach, blanched asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado. I topped it with a little shaved manchego cheese and toasted pine nuts. The dressing is a balsamic dijon vinaigrette, really simple and delicious!

There are a ton of adaptations you could make with this. My friend’s original version had arugula instead of spinach (which was really good!) and Marcona almonds instead of pine nuts. You could also use what ever cheese you have on hand. Shaved parmesan would be great.

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Blanching

This salad is simple to make…just a quick blanch for the asparagus before hand. And when I say quick, I mean like a minute or less! When you blanch a veggie, you want your salted water to be at a full boil. Throw your veggies in and be ready to get them out pretty quick and put them straight into an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep the texture crisp and the color bright. After a few minutes in the ice bath, drain and let them dry on paper towels. You can do this step in advance and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

IMG_3560Avocados are plentiful right now in California and they are oh so good! We go through at least a couple a day in my house. For a salad I like my avocados “firm ripe”, which means I don’t want them too soft, but just so they give a little when you press on the skin. A “firm ripe” avocado holds together better when you are tossing a salad. Save the soft ripe avos for guacamole or avocado toast (a favorite breakfast around here).

IMG_3561The dressing I made is a simple balsamic vinaigrette. I love the sweetness from the balsamic vinegar.  A little dijon mustard adds just the right kick. This is a good time to bust out your best olive oil. I used a Spanish olive oil with amazing flavor…it really makes the dressing! This recipe made more than enough for my salad, so depending how much you use, you may have a little left over.IMG_1826

Spinach and Asparagus Salad

Makes 2 entree size salads or 4-6 servings as a starter

Ingredients:

  • 1 six-ounce package of baby spinach
  • 1 bundle of asparagus (about 12 – 16 ounces) – cut into 1 inch pieces, and blanched & chilled (see directions on blanching above)
  • 1/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and blotted with a paper towel
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • a couple ounces of shaved hard aged cheese (like manchego, parmesan, or romano) – a vegetable peeler works great for this!
  • Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Toss the spinach, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and diced avocado together with the dressing (how much you use depends on how “dressed” you like your salad, it’s best to start with a little and add more if it needs it). Season with plenty of salt and pepper (this is important…avocados scream for salt and pepper!). Top with the shaved cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (adjust to suit your taste)
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate any unused portion.
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Chopped Salad

You can’t beat a simple & flavorful chopped salad!

Hi Juicy Readers!

I feel like I dropped the ball a little on my summer salad posting. I had the best of intentions to make many and post them all, but sadly…time got away from me and we were busier than I thought we would be for most of the summer. I have been working on a recipe index for Juicy Bites and I hope to have it done soon.

Even though summer is winding down (my kids start school tomorrow!), we still have plenty of warm weather here in Southern California. We spent last evening (the last official stay-up-late night of summer for my boys) at the park with some good friends, good wine, and yummy food. I brought this chopped salad that I was inspired to make when I saw it in my new Food & Wine Best of the Best volume 15 cookbook. It is from Nancy Silverton and it is simple and delicious as a side salad or a main course with some crusty bread.

My version has romain hearts for crunch, radicchio for color and flavor, and some arugula for that peppery bite that I love. I added cucumber for extra crunch and some green olives because I love them!

I like the cucumber seeded for this salad. You simply cut it in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. That way you get more crunch and less of the watery part of the cucumber.

I love the flavor that radicchio brings to this salad.

I like to buy pitted olives from the olive bar at my market.

Good salami, sharp provolone, and garbanzo beans!

Chopped Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2  red onion, peeled and sliced into fine rings

2  1/4 inch slices of aged provolone (have the deli slice it thick for you), diced into cubes

4 ounces of sliced salami salami, cut into 1/2 -inch ribbons

a dozen or so marinated green olives, quartered (or more if you love them like me!)

3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

1 head romain lettuce, chopped

1 small head (or half it is large) radicchio, cored and cut in ribbons 1/4 – to 1/2 -inch wide

a couple of big handfuls of baby arugula, roughly chopped

Oregano Dressing (recipe follows)

Pepperoncini for garnish

Oregano Dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 heaping teaspoon of dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup good red wine vinegar

1/2 cup of good extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing: 

Mix all of the ingredients except for the oil together. Let sit for a few minutes so the oregano can marinate and the salt can dissolve. Add the olive oil in a slow stream while whisking, or put in a mason jar and shake well to mix.

For the salad:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss well to coat.

If you wish to have left-overs (we did!), just don’t dress it all, reserve some dressing, and refrigerate for up to one day. Makes a great left-over lunch!


Let the Summer Salad Extravaganza Begin!

Niçoise salad

Happy summer to all of my Juicy Bites readers! So maybe extravaganza is a bit of an over statement, but a juicy post title can’t hurt…right? I do hope to post many a salad over the next few months. Salads are a great way to lighten up your dinners for summer and keep you from sweating over the stove. Even if there is some cooking involved with a salad recipe, it can usually be done earlier in the day before it gets too warm. This salad happens to be one of my favorites. It’s a classic that I’m sure you have probably had before, but maybe forgot about. It is great as a dinner salad because it is substantial and filling with the tuna and eggs to give you some healthy protein.

I make this Niçoise salad salad with a good canned tuna, but it is even better with a sushi grade ahi that has been seared and kept rare. It’s also great with grilled salmon. If you go with canned or jarred tuna, make sure you use a good brand like Wild Planet or an imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil. It really makes a difference! You also want to use really good olives…Niçoise if you can find them.  I couldn’t, so I bought a good quality green olive. As far as your greens go, you can really use what ever you like best. I like a hearty lettuce like romaine combined with something a little more delicate, like butter lettuce.

Niçoise salad is all about presentation. You serve it with all of the ingredients laid out separately, never tossed. It’s a great salad to serve for company (especially with fresh fish) because of it’s beautiful presentation.

Niçoise salad

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • handful of fresh Italian Parsley
  • leaves from one sprig of tarragon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing:

In the bowl of a small food processor combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and pulse until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn on while adding the olive oil slowly to emulsify. Set aside until ready to use.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound small potatoes (red, Yukon gold, or fingerlings) scrubbed and quartered
  • 1/4 pound haricots verts (French green beans), or small, thin green beans, ends trimmed
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 12-16 good quality olives, quartered
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 – 5 ounce cans of good quality tuna
  • 1 small shallot, chopped small
  • small handful of Italian parsley, chopped
  • a few leaves of fresh tarragon, chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces of washed lettuce of your choice, torn into small pieces

Make the salad dressing and set aside. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes and put in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing and toss well.  Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes and shock in cold water. Lay them on paper towels to dry. Drain the tuna and put it in a bowl with the chopped shallot, chopped parsley and tarragon, squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well to combine. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with some of the dressing.

To assemble the salad: In a large shallow bowl or plate put a layer of the lettuce down first. In the center on top of the lettuce, put a quarter of the tuna. Around the tuna on top of the lettuce, arrange the green beans, one of the boiled eggs, a quarter of the dressed potatoes, a few of the olives, and a few of the tomatoes. Drizzle a little of the dressing over the top of the salad and season with more salt and pepper. Serve with good crusty bread and a crisp glass of sauvingon blanc.


Italian Pasta and Bean Salad

Max has had one too many quesadillas this week for lunch (he takes them in his lunch box and eats them cold at school). I didn’t have my usual abundance of left overs for him this week and our fridge contents have been a bit sad. He did score the Asian Noodle Stir Fry left overs one day this week…but that was it. So to make it up to him, I made this yummy salad for him to bring tomorrow. He already had a preview snack this afternoon and loved it. This type of thing is right up his alley.

I blanched some french green beans, then shocked them in some ice cold water so they would stay nice and crisp and keep their pretty green color.

Rinsed and drained canned garbanzo beans…

Rinsed and drained canned kidney beans…

I had the deli cut some Genoa salami for me in a 1/4″ slice so that I could dice it into cubes…

I did the same with some sharp provolone cheese…

I minced some shallot and chopped a couple of good handfuls of Italian Parsley…

I added a can of sliced black olives, some salt and pepper, and dressed it with a simple vinaigrette and it came together deliciously!

Italian Pasta and Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of  bow-tie pasta (about 1/2 of a package)
  • 1  eight ounce bag of french green beans (my grocery store sells them already trimmed, washed and bagged)
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2  1/4 inch slices (about 4 ounces) of Genoa salami, cut into small cubes
  • 2  1/4 inch slices of sharp provolone cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 of a shallot chopped small
  • 1 small can (4 ounce) of sliced black olives
  • a couple of handfuls of fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Vinaigrette – see recipe below

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water for about a minute less than normal ( you want it just a touch under done so because it will soak up some of the dressing). While the pasta cooks, blanch the green beans in some salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove the beans from the pot and immediately shock them in some ice cold water. Lay them on a paper towel to dry then chop them into 1 -2 inch pieces.  When the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine the canned beans, green beans, drained pasta, salami cubes, cheese cubes, black olives, chopped shallots and vinaigrette. Add the parsley, mix well, and season with salt and pepper (I used about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt). You can eat this at room temp…we had a little taste of it and it was great, but it will be even better after the flavors have some time to come together!

Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (I put mine through a press)
  • a few shakes of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and the vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper.This is a pretty zippy dressing on it’s own, but once it is all mixed in the salad it isn’t so strong.

All packaged up for school tomorrow. I wonder if all of his friends will be jealous? 🙂




Lentil and Farro Salad

So…for the past 3 days I have been on a juice cleanse. Juice and only juice for 3 days! I felt like I needed a fresh start and help with curbing some of my bad cravings. I had done a juice cleanse in the past through Ritual Cleanse in Newport Beach, CA and I was really happy with how I felt after I was done. This time I did it on my own (MUCH cheaper) with the help of Organic Tree in Dana Point, CA. Organic Tree is a juice bar that uses a top of the line juice press for all of their fabulous organic veggies and fruits. I got all of my green juice from them for each day (kale, spinach, celery, cucumber and parsley…3 times a day!). I also did some juicing at home to complete my 6 a day. One is a very yummy blend of carrot and pineapple!  At the end of the day you get a  “smoothie” made with alkaline water, cashews, dates, vanilla & cinnamon. Did that one in my Vitamix and it pretty much saves you from total starvation! Anyway, I feel really good and want to keep up the good habits so for my first real dinner I thought this salad would be a good start. I also get to have coffee and wine again…THANK THE LORD!

I got the idea for this recipe from a link that my friend Lori shared with me for a very similar salad from a another food blogger. It looked delicious so I adapted it to what I had at home and needed to use up. Here is the link to the original recipe if you want to check it out: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/03/recipe-for-lentil-and-barley-greek.html. She used tomatoes in her salad which would be really yummy IF tomatoes were in season. I will try it again that way when our garden tomatoes start coming in.  You could vary the ingredients quite a bit to suit your taste. I used farro instead of barley.  I LOVE farro and it’s chewy texture. It is an Italian grain that is very similar to emmer wheat (sort of like a wheat berry). It can be hard to find but I have found it at places like Whole Foods and it is sold at Williams-Sonoma. For the lentils I used a quick cooking “sprouted lentil” from True Roots.  They cooked in a very short time and I recently read that “sprouted” lentils are even better for you than the regular ones. Any type of lentil would be great though. You need to cook the grains and lentils separately because of their different cooking times and you can do it ahead of time then pop them in the fridge until you are ready to put the salad together.

As for the rest of the ingredients, I used what was in the fridge: a bag of french green beans and a couple of zucchinis that needed to get used. I blanched them – put them in boiling water for just a few minutes then put them in an ice bath to “shock” them and help them keep their nice green color. It’s important to keep a close eye when you  blanch veggies…you want to keep that nice crisp bite and it only takes a minute or two to get them there. I thought green onions would give some good flavor and some Italian parsley (which I pretty much put in everything!). I picked up a really good feta cheese at the market. An imported sheep’s milk feta…much tastier than the domestic stuff! Remember…simple food needs really good ingredients! I feel like the better it is, the less I have to use.

Lentil and Farro Salad

makes 6 servings

Salad Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lentils, cooked and cooled
  • 3 cups farro, cooked and cooled
  • 2 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces and blanched
  • french green beans, cut into bite size pieces (about 2 cups) and blanched
  • 4 green onions, chopped small
  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian Parsley
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted pine nuts

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • a few shakes of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the salad ingredients except the pine nuts and mix well. Whisk the dressing ingredients well and mix into the salad. Serve with the toasted pine nuts on top.

My family had this salad for dinner with steamed artichokes (my kids favorite!). The left-overs were really yummy the next day for lunch!