Category Archives: Salads I Have Known and Loved

The Purest Ranch Dressing You’ll Ever Make, & Foodie Accomplishment Awards

Plate o’ greens, drizzled with nectar o’ the (ranch) gods!

I generally eat a lot of salad, and while I do like salad, I need to switch up the dressings every now and then or my palate gets bored and craves carbs. I recently mixed up this Ultra-Pure Ranch Salad Dressing, and I love it so, so incredibly much!

What I really love about it, is that I know exactly what went into it — no preservatives, no commercial additives, no artificial colours or flavours, just pure herbs and dairy. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not!

I mixed up my own dry ranch mix using this recipe, made my own mayo using this recipe (WAY easier than you think), and used some of my own homemade yoghurt. The secret ingredient that makes this dressing so good? Buttermilk powder, which I bought at a local bulk store. That, and the lack of anything artificial, is what makes it so tasty! This is as pure a ranch dressing as ever came from a ranch. Or in my case, condo.

Let’s make some up!

Ultra-Pure Ranch Salad Dressing

  • 3 tbsp. dry ranch dressing mix (I used this recipe)
  • 1 c. homemade mayo (I used this recipe, but substituted the olive oil for vegetable oil, because it tastes better)
  • 1 c. homemade yoghurt

Mix the ingredients all together and serve over salad! Your loved ones (and your taste buds) will thank you!

Dip it, dip it good!

This dressing is so good just drizzled over plain lettuce, or even used as a loose dip. I can’t wait to pack it for work lunches so I can have that yummy fresh taste on my lunch break. And it’s all healthy! Doesn’t food taste even better when you know it’s good for you? Yum, yum, yum!

Sometimes I feel like there should be foodie accomplishment awards, like for when you make your first loaf of homemade bread, or as in this case, when you make a recipe out of ingredients that you’ve made yourself! If a foodie accomplishment award existed, what would you award it to yourself for? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Speaking of food that’s good for you, I came up with a recipe for a peanut butter & jam smoothie, that’s packed full of protein, fibre, and antioxidants, and tastes EXACTLY like a PB& J sandwich! Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

Salads I Have Known & Loved: Eat-the-Rainbow Roast Veggie Salad, with Asian Flair

Good enough to eat all day!

I had a hard time coming up with a title for this salad recipe, as I couldn’t decide to showcase the roast veggies in the name or to emphasize the (very mildly) Asian aspect of it. It’s a riff on a salad available from Panera, which is a soup-and-sandwich joint in my neck of the woods. A co-worker bought a salad from there for lunch one day, and it smelled so good that I had to replicate it on my own.

The salad base (as I re-envisioned it) is a mixture of romaine lettuce and spinach, which is then tossed with oven-roasted veggies, shavings of real parmesan, mandarin segments, and sesame seeds, and then finished with a homemade Italian dressing.

The roast veggies are what take this salad to the next level — ever had eggplant, zucchini, baby tomatoes, all oven-roasted and tossed with slightly charred roast peppers? Oh, so good! If you’re thinking blech, roast veggies, then you DEFINITELY need to try this dish, as it will change your mind and make you a roast veggie convert for life! The roasting of the veggies caramelizes them and makes them soft and crispy and sweet and savoury all at the same time. I could happily eat roast veggies on toast with a dash of salt for many a meal (and have done so).

But aside from tasting really, truly yummy, the dish is obviously healthy and a great way to get a whole lot of veggies packed into a single plate. So let’s make some!

Eat-The-Rainbow Roast Veggie Salad, with Asian Flair

(serves 4)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 pint baby tomatoes
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 bunch baby spinach
  • 2 red peppers, halved
  • shavings of (real) parmesan to taste
  • 1 can mandarin segments
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil, plus two tbsp. oil
  • dressing of choice (Panera uses a sweet onion dressing, but I used a homemade Italian dressing)

The first (and very important) step is to slice the eggplant into thin slices and salt them liberally. Stack on a plate and wait for an hour or so for the salt to draw out all the bitter juices. Then rinse off the salt and bitter juices.

Place all the vegetables (except the lettuce and spinach) on two cookie trays, and put 1/4 c. of the oil on each tray. Toss veggies to coat. Bake in a 400 degree oven until crispy and golden, about 30-40 minutes, making sure to flip the veggies with a spatula halfway through the cooking. When you flip the veggies, brush the remaining two tbsp. of oil on the veggies. When fully roasted, the eggplant and zucchini will look golden and caramelized, the peppers will be slightly charred, and the tomatoes will look shrunken. Let cool.

While veggies are cooling, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium high heat until golden brown (very quick). Let cool.

Slice romaine and toss with baby spinach and mandarin segments. Divide over four plates and divide veggies and place on top. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and top with parmesan shavings. Add dressing of choice.

Close-up, sans dressing.

This salad is SOOOOO good! I served it for dinner this weekend, and while it looks all healthy and light (and is!), it was also enough to keep my taste buds happy and my stomach full.

I imagine it would taste even better with a sweet onion dressing, and plan to try that next time. I honestly didn’t think roast veggies would go well with mandarin segments, but it really, truly does. Plus, the vitamin C in the mandarin segments helps your body absorb the iron from the spinach, so win-win! If the health benefits of this salad don’t convince you to try it, do it because it just tastes so darn good! You’ll thank me, you’ll see!

Next Post: Three-Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta…or Strawberry Custard and Cream Cake? I’m leaning towards the cake because of my sweet tooth, but…I do like my carbs, so it’s a toss-up! Any preferences? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and at Happiness is Homemade!

Spinach Salad w/ Faro & Roasted Grapes: Memories of Meals Past + Salads I Have Known & Loved MASHUP

Lunchtime at my workplace! Salad, with a side of soup.

Know what time it is? It’s time for a Memories of Meals Past Post! (Also know as a ‘What-I-Ate-And-You-Can-Too’ post.)

As much as I love baked goods, I also like being healthy. As such, I like to balance my sugar/baked good intake with lots of whole grains and veggies. (And fruit, because my sweet tooth has a say even when I’m menu-planning healthily.)

So, that’s whole grains, veggies, and fruit. What can I make with those ingredients? And ideally it has to incorporate salad, since a) healthy and b) salad helps keep my IBS symptoms at bay. Hmm…oooh, ooh, I know!

Spinach Salad with Faro, Caramelized Onions, & Oven-Roasted Grapes! In other words, I took a Martha recipe and modified it slightly (Queen of Substitutions style) and voila! Lunch is served!

How did this recipe come together?

  • I boiled the faro (a type of whole wheat kernel, essentially) with a bunch of dried rosemary (this gave it a lovely flavour)
  • I caramelized the onions in a pan
  • I roasted the grapes (with a bit of salt)
  • I mixed it all together with some baby spinach
  • I added Martha’s vinaigrette
  • I ate it, dear reader. Actually I packed it for lunches for several days, and it was yum.

What did I switch up? I didn’t use concord grapes because it’s the wrong season for that and I’m not going to fork out an arm and a leg for imported concord grapes. Plus, I used spinach because arugula wouldn’t stay fresh once mixed with the vinaigrette. The spinach wilted a little, which was fine by me, as wilted spinach is still considered all foodie, and anyway, Martha’s specified arugula wouldn’t have held up to being packed in a lunch container.

The verdict? Nice. Nicer than the individual ingredients make it sound. But not uber-spectacular. Nice enough to make again? Yeeeees, but the biggest take-away for me from this recipe was that boiling faro with rosemary makes it AWESOME! And slightly chewy and better than rice, both in health benefits and taste. So, up with healthy grains! And salad. Because, really, health is precious. (As is sugar. Cue…*my precioussssss*)

Next Post: Sugary goodness in the form of easy yet delectable Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread? Or Three Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta? That’s right, it’s time for some carb-y goodness!

Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Fattoush Salad, & Boosting Nutrition Profiles

Salad looking lovely! (Was promptly eaten, fyi)

Salad looking lovely! (Was promptly eaten, fyi)

The days after Christmas are always filled with delicious foods, and oftentimes, with self-recriminations over eating all those delicious foods (not that I speak from personal experience or anything). So I developed this recipe to be a) delicious and b) healthy! And I made it using only what I had in the house, hence the name: Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Fattoush Salad!

Fattoush is a Mediterranean salad, made with crunchy bits of pita. I suspect that it originated as a way to use up stale pita — toss it with olive oil, vinegar, a few herbs, and some veggies! These days it’s made with fresh pita, usually dabbed with oil and baked until crispy. I didn’t have any pita in the house, but whipped some up myself using this recipe. (Who knew it was so easy?)

My dad, who is of Mediterranean origin, will shake his head if he reads this post, because fattoush usually contains some dried sumac as a seasoning. Do I have it in the house? No! Am I the Queen of Substitutions? Yes! So I just mixed up a dressing that seemed vaguely Mediterranean-ish (heavy on the olive oil and garlic), sprinkled on some pomegranate seeds, and called it good. The DH called it delicious!

Make some fattoush yourself, and modify the ingredients to match what you have in the house! Then feel virtuously healthy and enjoy another Christmas sweet! (Hey, it’s all about the balance, is it not?)

Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Fattoush Salad

Serves 2

  • 8 baby tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cubed
  • 1 pita
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. pomegranate seeds

Dressing

  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. high quality olive oil, plus extra to drizzle over the finished salad
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • dash of dried thyme
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar

Split pita in half, spread 1 tbsp. oil on each half, and toast in oven on high heat until it starts to get crispy. Let cool, and break into bite-sized pieces.

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the vegetables together, add in the pita pieces, pour the dressing over it all, and toss to mix. Plate immediately, and drizzle with more olive oil.

Enjoy!

Pita from scratch! (So cool to see it puff up in the oven when baking!)

Pita from scratch! (So cool to see it puff up in the oven when baking!)

But…didn’t I write something about a nutrition profile in the title of this post? Indeed I did! While salad for a meal is in and of itself healthy, why not bump up the nutrition level? Which is exactly what I did! I used blackstrap molasses in the dressing instead of regular molasses, because it’s higher in iron and lower in sugar.

Plus, when I was making the pita breads, I sprinkled either side of the pita with freshly ground flax seeds (omega fatty acids, baby!) as well as ground psyllium husk (up with fibre!). Ideally, the pita would have been whole wheat, but again, I was working with what I had in the house.

Had I had more time, I probably would have made some lentil sprinkles to add to the salad as well, just to make sure there was some protein in the dish, but hey, one does one’s best. When I make this dish again though, those lentil sprinkles are IN! (Totally picturing my culinary purist father throwing his hands in the air at the addition of lentils to fattoush. Tee hee hee!)

Next Post: Those peppermint chocolate candy cane cupcakes that I mentioned last time! Probably. Unless I make some chocolate whoopie pies with peppermint buttercream. Hmm. Any strong feelings either way? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

Lentil Sprouts and Staying Healthy in the Season of Indulgence

 

Grow your own sprouts in 30 seconds a day! (Or less.)

Grow your own sprouts in 30 seconds a day! (Or less.)

At last, dear readers, I have gotten around to writing up this post about lentil sprouts, after blogging about it here and here. (Here too.) It costs literally pennies to grow these sprouts, and they’re uber healthy. (Healthy is important, given all the delicious, calorie-laden yumminess available around the holidays!)

Light, and crunchy, like little bites of summer freshness, these sprouts add healthiness to your salads and sandwiches. Or maybe sprinkle on top of some soup? Yes, I think that’s perfect! A bunch of fresh sprouts on top of a bowl of steaming soup, served with my favourite bread recipe. Wouldn’t that hit the spot right now?

How to make them? Rinse them in water. Bam, done!

Ok, so it’s sliiiiightly more involved than that, but only slightly. I kid you not! I present:

HOW TO GROW LENTIL SPROUTS

(or pea sprouts or alfalfa sprouts or any other sort of sprouty goodness)

  • 1/8 c. of dried lentils (now you see why I say it costs pennies!)
  • mason jar with lid
  • cheesecloth

Place dried lentils in mason jar. Stretch cheesecloth over top and fasten in place with the canning jar ring (or an elastic). Add water until covered by an inch of water. Soak for 12 hours. Empty jar of water by turning upside down and draining water through cheesecloth. Turn right side up and leave for 12 hours. Then rinse (not soak) in water,  drain water (immediately) again, and repeat rinsing and draining immediately every 12 hours or so. In a day you’ll see sprouts starting, and in 3-5 days, your sprouts will be ready to nom-nom-nom on! When you want them to stop growing, put the canning lid on them, and store in the fridge. They’ll keep for several days.

This time with dried peas!

This time with dried peas!

This is a great project to do with kids, as they can see the sprouts growing with each watering. It really is super-easy!

Be warned though, a tiny bit of dried lentils will produce a lot of sprouts! I learned this the first time I made some. I made a huge mason jar full, and after eating them with every meal for several days, I conceded sprouty fatigue, and gave the rest of the jar to a colleague.

All this said…I must add a caveat emptor: if you grow your own sprouts and it is theoretically possible that they could grow bacteria. To quote the www.foodsafety.gov website, “Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.” So, be informed, and make your own judgement call. I’ve never gotten sick eating homegrown sprouts, and no one I know has gotten ill eating sprouts (homegrown or otherwise), but if you grow them and they look odd, toss them and try again. Better safe than sick, amirite?

With that said, I totally suggest growing your own sprouts! Hey, you get to grow your own nutrients, and look all cool doing it (at least, I think it’s cool!) If you grow them, take a photo and tag me on my facebook page! I’d love to see the fruits (vegetables, actually) of your labour!

Next Post: Peppermint Patties! Three ingredients, 3 minutes, 30 patties. Dip them in chocolate? Eat as is? Your choice!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!