Yogurt Potato Salad with Dill

I was going to spend yesterday evening creating a snack station and post about that today… but instead I spent the evening crying over videos of kittens on YouTube. Pregnancy – it’s not for the faint of heart! So instead I’m reblogging one more recipe from my archives – and this one is timed pretty well, if I do say so myself, since Memorial Day is coming up this weekend. If you have a picnic to attend, do consider this fresh, healthy alternative to the traditional mayo-laden potato salad. Enjoy!

At last, at last, it’s summer.  You can feel free to break out the white jeans, the linen skirts, whatever blows your hair back.  But more interesting – at least to me – is that summer is Picnic Season.

I LOVE picnics.  Cookouts, too.  Food just tastes better outside, if you ask me.  I think it has something to do with memories.  I have a lot of great memories, already in my twenty-something years, and many of them involve eating outside.  There were many, many barbeques at my parents’ lake house… including plenty of servings of my favorite marinated chicken, and the infamous day when my mom dumped citronella wax over our family friend’s fabulous peach upside-down cake.  (We ate the cake anyway, just picked off the wax.  If you’d met our friend, you’d understand.  It would be a crime to waste her cake over something as minor as a little wax… or even a lot of wax.) There were snacks on the beach, where the sand blew into the food and added that certain crunchy je-ne-sais-quoi.  Even in the winter, we ate outside, on days when the sun was beating down despite the snow and we were warm from skiing.

I still eat outside whenever possible.  My picnics nowadays consist of anything from a few coworkers eating Cosi sandwiches on the National Mall, to fruit and cheese at one of my favorite Virginia wineries, to lounging beside the Potomac, watching the tour boats go by on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.  I’ve been known to carry a cherry pie on my lap in the car and plunk it down in the grass.  Why not?

If you ask me, the quintessential picnic food would have to be potato salad.  Whether it’s my grandma’s decadent potato salad with eggs – mandatory every Easter – or room-temperature boiled potatoes glazed with a salt water reduction and chives, or this wonderful, slightly more healthy, tangy and fresh yogurt potato salad, I’m more likely than not going to be toting some version of chilled potatoes in dressing along on my outdoor gustatory adventures.  Potato salad can be anything from outrageously rich to light and refreshing.  Who wouldn’t want some in their cooler?

Yogurt Potato Salad with Dill

2 cups chopped potatoes (red or Idaho)
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt (regular or Greek-style)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 scallions, finely sliced
fresh black pepper

  • Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.  Drain and allow to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Add potatoes and toss to coat with yogurt mixture.  If necessary, add more yogurt a little at a time until proportions reach your preference.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Serve chilled.

Source: Covered In Flour

Simple Green Salad with Almonds

I guess it must be January, right?  I eat salad all year round but I seem to post more salads in the winter, especially in January.  Part of that “New Year New You” craze, maybe.  Or maybe I just like salad.

I served this very simple, fresh romaine salad for New Year’s Eve to hubby, my mother-in-law, and her sister.  I made Molly Wizenberg’s cheese souffle as the main course and needed something green to go alongside.  (Okay, the rest of my dinner guests would probably disagree that we needed something green.  But my casa, my rules.)  It was the perfect salad to accompany a rich main course – light and lemony, with great crunch from the sliced almonds.  And as good as it was alongside cheese souffle, I’ll bet it’s just as good alongside countless other dishes.  I’m planning to find out just how many.

Simple Green Salad with Almonds

2 cups chopped romaine lettuce (or other greens of your choice)
1-2 tablespoons (to taste) basil-infused olive oil (or other extra virgin olive oil)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
smoked sea salt (or other sea salt)

  • Combine lettuce, oil, lemon juice and 1/3 cup almonds in a large salad bowl and toss to combine well.
  • Scatter 1 tablespoon sliced almonds and a few pinches (to taste) of smoked sea salt over the top of the salad.
  • That’s it!  Easy, right?

Yield: Serves 4

Source: Covered In Flour

Minted Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is one of my favorite foods.  Growing up, it always seemed like a special treat to have fresh fruit salad.  Now that I’m an adult (according to the government, anyway), I get to have fruit salad whenever I want… and I want a LOT of fruit salad.  Several mornings a week, I’ll throw together a quickie fruit salad from whatever fresh fruit I happen to have on hand and take it to work to eat for breakfast at my desk.  But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill weekday fruit salad, although it’s almost as easy.  The addition of mint and fresh orange juice really take this salad to the next level and make it perfect for a fresh dessert or celebratory brunch… or even for any spring weekend when you just feel like having something extra special.

Minted Fruit Salad

2 mangoes
2 oranges
1 cup quartered strawberries
2 bananas
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped

  • Peel and cut mango as follows: slice the cheeks off, being careful not to cut into the pit.  Score into the mango cheeks in a grid.  Pop mango cheeks inside out and carefully cut the pieces out, creating cubes.  Add to mixing bowl.  Repeat with second mango.
  • Segment an orange: cut the tops and bottoms off, then slice the peel off between the pith and the flesh.  Cut between the membranes and pop out orange segments.  Cut each segment in half and add to mixing bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the membranes over the mango and orange segments.  Repeat with second orange.
  • Slice two bananas and add to mixing bowl, along with strawberries and mint.  Carefully toss all together.

Nota Baker: You don’t have to use the fruit I suggested above.  If you happen to have something else knocking around your produce drawer, or you see a particularly good-looking pineapple at the market, by all means, use that.  Just make sure you invite me over to enjoy it with you!

Source: Covered In Flour

Kale Salad with Sea Vegetable

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately.  Between the holidays and some work travel, I’ve been away far more than I’ve been home.  Traveling so much can be exciting, and I’m loving the opportunity to see new faces and new places and to work in a different environment.  (I do miss my friends at work, though!)  But one thing that I’ve realized is that I’m very wedded to my routine.  I like my familiar running trails and my fridge full of greenery.  Where I am now… well, it’s a city with lots of good qualities, but if I were to say the words “kale salad” they may look at me as if I’d grown another head.

Which is a shame.  Because this salad is not only healthy, it’s darn tasty as well.  I could eat kale salad every day of the week (and twice on Sundays!) but I rarely deviate from the classic combination of kale, avocado, olive oil, salt and lemon juice.  Sometimes I get a little crazy and sprinkle lime on instead.  Oooh, someone stop me!  So this time I wanted to try something different, something that still had that green, healthy flavor I love, something that felt like I was giving myself a little love before heading off on another grueling trip, but something a bit more creative as well.  Thus kale salad with sea vegetable was born.  The memory of this salad (which hubby is currently enjoying at home as I navigate hotel salad bars) is getting me through the next two weeks until I can have it again.  Now, if only I could find a nice running trail…

Kale Salad with Sea Vegetable

1 cup dried sea vegetable (dulse, armae, wakame or nori)
1 bunch curly kale
1 bunch Tuscan kale*
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt**
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
drizzle sesame or white truffle oil***
sprinkle white sesame seeds or Seaweed Gomasio

  • Place sea vegetable in a small bowl and cover with water.  Set aside to reconstitute.  (I used dulse but arame, wakame or nori would be good as well.  All are generally available in the Asian or natural foods sections of lage supermarkets, and in health food stores.)
  • Wash and dry kale leaves and tear them into large-ish bite sized pieces.  Add to mixing bowl; sprinkle on salt and drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  • With your fingers, massage kale until it has “wilted” down into a softer consistency.  Don’t be afraid to test bite pieces to find a texture that’s to your liking!
  • Drain off sea vegetable, but don’t be too enthusiastic about squeezing out all the water.  It’s okay if the sea vegetable is damp.  It lives in the water, after all!  Plus, there’s nutrients and minerals in that water – good stuff.  Add sea vegetable to kale mixture.  Drizzle over white truffle oil or sesame oil and toss well to combine.
  • Garnish with Gomasio or white sesame seeds just prior to serving.  Enjoy in good health!

*If you can’t find Tuscan kale in your supermarket, just substitute another bunch of regular curly kale.  Or, if you prefer, use two bunches of Tuscan kale!  The important thing is to keep the proportions right by using two bunches of kale – the variety of kale doesn’t matter as much.  Or cut the recipe in half.  Whatever blows your hair back!

**Start with 1 teaspoon and add more salt as needed if your kale is tough and doesn’t want to “wilt” down.  Be careful with adding salt though – this recipe can get very salty, very fast.  Err on the side of spending a couple of extra minutes massaging the kale before you add more salt.  Remember, once you add that salt, you’ve passed The Point Of No Return.  (Doesn’t that sound scary?  You have been warned.)

***I fully intended to use sesame oil in this recipe, to tie in with the sprinkle of Gomasio I was planning to finish the dish off with.  Being somewhat impatient, I didn’t read the bottle of oil before I grabbed it, and ended up drizzling on my precious white truffle oil.  As white truffle oil has the tendency to do, it made this dish FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC, so I put it in the recipe instead of lying to y’all and pretending I used sesame oil.  But sesame oil would be great in this as well.  Just remember, whether you use sesame oil or white truffle oil, go easy because it’s intense stuff.

Source: Covered In Flour

New Year’s Salad

New Year, new salad.  I welcomed 2011 with a tasty meal-sized salad for dinner – one of my favorite things to eat!  In a nod to the incoming year, I decided to use black-eyed peas for the protein component of my salad.  Who else follows the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year’s?  I don’t know where it comes from; all I know is that we always had them at my grandma’s house on New Year’s Day.  And I’ll tell you what – eating a fresh spinach salad with avocado, crunchy peppers, and black-eyed peas makes me feel lucky indeed.  But don’t feel like you need to save this salad for New Year’s Day.  I’ll be eating it all year to keep that New Year’s luck going!

New Year’s Salad

4 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
1 avocado, diced
2 bell peppers, cored and diced
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
dressing of your choice (I used Annie’s Organic Goddess, but you can use whatever you like or make your own)

  • Create a bed of spinach by dividing leaves into two bowls.
  • Top spinach with peppers, then avocado, then pile black-eyed peas on top.
  • Dress and serve – that’s it!  Simple for 2011!  Serves 2.

Source: Covered In Flour

Refreshing Orzo Salad

Growing up, one of my favorite meals that my mom would make was Grecian orzo salad.  Recently, I was in the mood for orzo salad and I decided to try to replicate hers.  Thinking back, my mom’s orzo salad included Feta cheese, kalamata olives, and red peppers.  Well, I don’t like Feta cheese and I always dug around it in the salad bowl (sorry, mom!), and my grocery store didn’t have any organic red peppers.  Without those two, the kalamata olives just seemed a bit out of place.  So the Grecian orzo salad idea went out the window, and I decided to try my own orzo salad concoction.  Mine is fresh, light and simple – like my mom’s – but it’s not “Grecian.”  Ah, well, the best laid plans…

This was still pretty darn delicious.

Refreshing Orzo Salad with Shrimp

~2 cups cooked orzo pasta, chilled
1 long English cucumber, large dice
2 green bell peppers, large dice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
steamed shrimp

  • Combine orzo, cucumbers, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes in large salad bowl and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk oil and lemon juice until the mixture emulsifies.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour dressing over salad and mix thoroughly until the pasta and veg are coated completely.  Add additional oil sparingly, and only if needed.
  • Serve with steamed shrimp (I tossed mine in lemon-pepper seasoning).

Source: Inspired by my mom!

Nota Baker: This pasta salad recipe makes a TON.  You will not, I promise, finish this in one day.  That’s intentional!  It makes a fantastic lunch for the next week or so.  I’m nothing if not thrifty!

Warm Bean and Edamame Salad with Feta

I love January.  Does that make me weird?  I also love Mondays, for the same reason – because I love a fresh start.  I’m that annoyingly perky girl at the office on Mondays – the one who says things like “Big day!  Lots to do!” and drives everyone crazy with her enthusiastic list-making.  I just love that feeling of being revved up, motivated and ready to go.  And in January, I take it to extremes.  I’m all about the healthy eating and I’m the most over-zealous gym rat you’ll find.  I make the same resolutions that everyone else makes.  I always go into January with plans to: (1) get more organized; (2) run a half marathon; and (3) be all zen and peaceful and stuff.  I always have high hopes for the year ahead, and even if I miss the mark on some of my resolutions, I never stop believing that I can make positive changes.  And at the end of the year, even if I’ve fallen short in some areas, I’m usually so happy with the way things are going in my life that I really have no complaints.  I’m annoying that way too.

So for all of my brothers and sisters on the January motivation bandwagon, I have a belated holiday gift for you: warm bean and edamame salad with feta.  If you want to eat healthy, here’s a great place to start.  This salad is pure protein – creamy navy beans, crunchy edamame, and tangy feta cheese wrapped in a silky squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a bit of pepper.  It’s filling, satisfying, packed with good stuff like vitamins and minerals – and it’s vegetarian too!  The recipe makes so much that you’ll be guaranteed bonus leftovers for your lunches… unless you invite your whole Pilates class home with you. 

Warm Bean and Edamame Salad with Feta

1 package frozen edamame beans, pre-shelled, thawed
1 can navy beans*, drained and rinsed
1/2 block Greek-style Feta in brine, cubed
1 lemon
pinch kosher salt
pinch black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

  • In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm a drizzle of olive oil – just enough to coat the bottom of the pan, no more.  Add the edamame and navy beans and heat until warmed through.  Remove from heat.
  • Add juice of one lemon, Feta cubes, pinch of salt and pepper (not much salt, because the Feta is salty), and an additional drizzle of olive oil, then toss all together.

Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Apple and Pecan Salad with Goat Cheese

I’ve sung the praises of salad on here before, I know.  It is a wonderful way to get lots of nutrients in a light dish, it’s endlessly adaptable to the seasons, it’s a snap to put together after a long day… is there anything bad about salad?  If there is, it’s just that salad can sometimes be a bit boring.  But that’s easily fixed – the trick is to make sure there is plenty of visual interest, different flavors and textures, and variety from night to night.  If you treat salads like a meal, making an effort to get plenty of different colors onto the plate and adding a protein, you’ll happily eat them for the rest of your life and never get bored.

I love this particular salad in the fall.  It has some of my favorite flavors – crisp apples, crunchy-sweet pecans, and creamy goat cheese – all tossed with greens and wrapped in a tangy honey mustard vinaigrette.  Best of all, it’s put together from ingredients I almost always have on hand.  It does what the best dinner salads do – provide a healthy but filling dinner on five minutes’ prep.  It’s a winner.

Apple and Pecan Salad with Goat Cheese

2 cups mixed greens
2 apples, sliced thinly
2 ounces goat cheese (I like Laura Chenel), crumbled
1/2 cup pecans, toasted (substitute walnuts if desired)
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

  • Divide the greens evenly into two bowls.  Add half of the following to each bowl: sliced apples, toasted pecans, crumbled goat cheese.  Toss gently to combine.
  • To make the vinaigrette, simply combine the mustard, honey, vinegar and olive oil in a clean jar and shake briskly until the dressing is emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and shake again to combine.  (Nota Baker: This makes way more dressing than you will need for the salad.  I like to make mine in a tupperware container with a lid and a spout and store it in the fridge.  It will keep for quite some time – I’m not sure how long, because I’ve never been able to keep the stuff in the house long enough for it to go bad!  In the fridge, the dressing will solidify; don’t worry about that.  Just let it come up to temperature and then shake it again to recombine all of the ingredients before using it.  It’s wonderful on all types of salads, not just this one.)

Yield: Serves two

Source: Covered In Flour

Bean and Barley Salad

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I belong to salad.  It’s year round for me.  What salad and I have together… well, it’s special.  It’s not a summer fling.  I do love salads in the summer… grilled tuna and avocado salad, for instance.  And there’s nothing like roasted fall vegetables over greens in late fall, or a tart and crisp fennel and grapefruit salad in the winter.  But one of my all-time favorite salad categories is the warm grain salad.  It’s a perfect salad for a fall dinner – hearty enough to make a meal out of it, but extremely wholesome and nourishing all the same.  And I’m not just talking about rice – although a wild rice salad with grapes is very nice.  Any whole grain can bulk up a salad, whether as an accent or as one of the basic building blocks – and you’re supposed to eat whole grains, anyway.  Bonus!  Take barley for instance – I’ve always got some in my pantry and sometimes it can be hard to know what to do with it.  But I’m telling you… give this salad a try, and you’ll never wonder what to do with that barley you bought in a fit of crunchiness.  This salad is what barley is made for.

A note on the beans, before I give you the recipe: while this salad would work with your run-of-the-mill dried pinto beans from the grocery store, it’s just better if you use heirloom beans.  The recipe was written to be made with the Yellow Indian Woman beans from Rancho Gordo… and no, I’m not being racist.  That’s really what they’re called.

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See?

Anyway, these beans are wonderful in this salad.  They hold their shape beautifully and bring a fantastic, rich flavor that goes extremely well with the barley and other ingredients – chopped preserved lemon and wilted spinach.  They really do make a difference, I promise!

Bean and Barley Salad with Spinach and Preserved Lemon

1/2 cup Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman beans
1/2 cup organic pearl barley
1/2 package spinach (or equivalent amount of another leafy green)
1/4 preserved lemon, minced fine (use more if you like)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Put dried heirloom beans in a heavy stockpot, cover with water – about an inch – and cover the pot.  Allow to soak at room temperature for at least two and up to eight hours.  (I know this is annoying, but it’s crucial.  This recipe is really better on a weekend, I realize… but canned beans would not be the same.  Trust me on this one.)
  • Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours, until extremely fragrant.  Test a bean occasionally to gauge doneness.  The Yellow Indian Woman beans should keep their shape but still be soft enough to eat without crunching.
  • Meanwhile, cook the barley according to the package directions.
  • When the beans are about done cooking, stir in the spinach (or other dark green – chard would be lovely here and was actually my original intention, but my grocery store was out, darn them).  Allow the greens to wilt, then drain the beans as necessary – but don’t get too precious about it.  A little pot liquor (what bean folks call the cooking liquid) is a very, very nice addition.  Stir in the minced preserved lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Finally, add the barley and stir everything together.  Serve the salad while it’s still warm and congratulate yourself for eating such a healthy dinner!

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Yield: Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Heirloom Beans, by Steve Sando

Roasted Shrimp Salad

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I think I have a problem.  My blogging friends are welcoming September and baking with apples… and I am not ready to let go of summer.  Usually I’m the first one to hop on the autumn bandwagon.  Fall has always been my favorite season…  I love apple-picking, foliage, Hallowe’en, the crisp air and blue skies, fall hikes, pumpkins, turkey, the beginning of hockey season… but I’m just not there yet.  I’m still thinking backyard barbeques, sailing, berry picking, beach days… and salad.  I’m still very much in salad mode.

For Labor Day weekend, hubby and I went home to spend the holiday with my family up in the Adirondacks.  On Sunday my dad and I kayaked Lake Placid, just the two of us, but on Saturday the whole family was celebrating at my parents’ lake house – my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and my parents’ close friends, who I’ve mentioned before.  Like I said, they are practically my second set of parents; they’ve known me since before I was born.  My mom’s friend Denise, though, is more than just a second mom to me – she is my cooking inspiration.  An incredibly talented gourmet, she is constantly whipping up fabulous treats and making it look easy.  When my parents and their friends visited for Easter a few years ago, it was her opinion that mattered to me more than any other opinion about the dinner I cooked (fortunately, she loved it).  Denise brought the hors d’ouvres to the lake this weekend, which meant we were in for some serious deliciousness.  One of her dishes was a very creative roasted shrimp cocktail with a homemade thousand-island sauce… and it was amazing.  (No surprise there.)  She inspired me to try roasting shrimp, which is something that has been on my list for awhile.  The result was this salad – cool and crisp from the greens and the cucumbers, yet warm and sweet from the shrimp, all at the same time.  It hit the spot, even on a chilly, rainy September day.  No, I’m not ready to give up on summer yet.  I’ve got a few more roasted shrimp salads in me before then.

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Roasted Shrimp Salad

1/2 pound raw shrimp, shelled
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh black pepper
2 cups (approx.) salad greens
1/3 cucumber, quartered and chopped
croutons (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lay the shrimp out on a foil-lined baking sheet, and season with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt (I like Maldon; you could use kosher salt but I think that sea salt really does make a difference here) and black pepper.  Roast shrimp for 5-8 minutes (depending on their size), until just pink.
  • While the shrimp are roasting, assemble the rest of the salad: lay out greens on two plates and scatter cucumber slices over salads.
  • Remove shrimp from the oven and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them, making sure to hit them all.  Divide the shrimp between the salads, dress (hubby went for just olive oil, I had my favorite Green Goddess dressing) and serve.

Yield: Serves 2.

Source: Covered In Flour, inspired by messybaker’s mom’s fabulous friend Denise.

Wine Pairing: As hubby and I continue our quest to finish all of our wines (ha!) before our trip to Napa, we drank a 2006 Finger Lakes Riesling with this dinner.  The mellow sweetness of Riesling was a good complement to the mellow sweetness of shrimp.  I’d also recommend my quintessential summer wines – Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Australia, or a French Rose – as excellent with seafood.