Category Archives: Salads I Have Known and Loved

Salads I Have Known and Loved: Baked Falafel Croutons

So deliciously crunch!

Falafel are one of the few take-out foods that do not taste good reheated. They tend to dry out and become overly mealy when eaten the next day. So what to do when you’ve got leftover falafel sitting in your fridge? Make falafel croutons, obviously!

I tend to eat a lot of salads for health reasons, and I like to switch up the toppings to keep things interesting. I’m also always in search of ways to add vegetarian protein to my diet. And then last week the DH and I ordered takeout from a local Middle Eastern deli, and ended up with leftover falafel. I opened my fridge the next day and looked the head of lettuce sitting on the shelf. I looked at the stale falafel in its wrapper. A light bulb went off in my head, and bam! Falafel croutons were born!

Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

Baked Falafel Croutons

  • 2 falafel
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder

Chop falafel into cubes. Toss with oil and seasonings. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, flipping them over after 5 minutes. And…you’re done!

That’s right, these croutons bake up in the time it takes to chop up your salad. I made them with purchased falafel, but they could easily be made with homemade falafel. Probably healthier that way, anyway. The two falafel will actually be enough for two salads. Unless you prefer to snack on the croutons like popcorn, which is actually not a bad idea.

As I was finishing up the salads (topped with my fave ranch dressing) the DH came into the kitchen and started nibbling away on the croutons. His reaction? “MMMM!” and then, “Why can’t you make crappy food?” I must have looked a bit taken aback, because he clarified:  “Why do you always make such delicious food? I’m going to gain weight!” A bit of an awkward compliment, but I’ll take it regardless! All of which is to say, falafel croutons are YUMMY!

Try making some yourself, and switch up the seasonings to suit yourself and/or your salad. Let me know what flavourings you think work best!

Next Post: Coconut Buttercream Frosting, probably the best coconut flavoured food to pass your lips this year. Seriously good stuff! Also seriously easy, which means I am all over it!  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade! Plus, at Full Plate Thursday!

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!