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Category Archives: salads

Raw Tuscan kale salad with pine nuts, currants and parmesan

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 I knew I’d be making this salad from the name alone. Tuscan Kale salad with pine nuts, currants and parmesan.  All the flavors that make my taste buds sing: nutty, sweet and salty with a bit of crunch from the crisp raw kale.  This salad delivers it all and then some.  This is the kind of salad […]

The long hot summer and Tabbouleh

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I’ve been away for a short while and I have the weather to blame for my absence.   Although we’re  just going into the third week of summer, its been hot for the majority of those days.  I’ve been cooking up a storm as usual but somehow the act of cooking, taking photographs of the food I cook and then blogging about it in this extreme heat is making me that much hotter.  Most days after I’ve finished cooking I just want to eat and then lean back with an ice-cold drink. 

There are other days in between the cooking up a storm days when I’m happy with just a simple salad.  And by simple I don’t mean a boring mix of the usual salad greens with slices of tomatoes and other vegetables thrown in.  I prefer something that not only looks fresh but tastes fresh as well.  A salad where in each mouthful you taste the individual components that make up the whole dish.  A tangy burst of sun ripened tomato, the crunch of cool cucumbers, the grassy taste of fresh herbs.  And just to keep things interesting  nuttiness from a favorite grain.  In this case the grain is quinoa and the salad I’ve been munching on for most of these hot summer days is tabbouleh.

I fell in love with tabbouleh in culinary school.  Once I tasted it I could not get it out of my head.  Tabbouleh is a middle eastern dish of chopped vegetables and herbs.  Traditionally, tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, parsley, mint and bulgur wheat all tossed together with a lemony vinaigrette.  It is about the most refreshing salad you will ever put into your mouth. 

 Instead of bulgur wheat I use quinoa.  Only because I am more likely to have a tub of quinoa on hand and bulgur wheat isn’t something I use everyday.  I was told that tabbouleh is all about the parsley and I have seen many a recipe that supports this.  Some have as much as 3 cups of parsley to one cup of cooked grains.  I”ve never put that much parsley in and my tabbouleh is always well-balanced. 

This recipe makes a good amount and I store leftovers in small chinese soup containers so that when I’m going out I can grab a tub as a healthy alternative to eating fast food on the run.  It’s perfect alone or for a heartier version add strips of cooked chicken breast.  If you’re going meatless tuck a few spoonfuls inside of a  pita for a quick sandwich.  Either way you decide I promise you won’t be disappointed by this cool herby salad.

Recipe: quinoa tabbouleh , adapted from

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large English cucumber cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

2 scallions thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)


Cook quinoa: Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a  medium saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool.  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup of dressing.  Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle remaining dressing over.  Serve or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.


just like moms potato salad

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I really should have called this accidental potato salad, because how I came to make it and have it come out almost as good as my mother’s was completely by accident. Potato salad had always been on the short list of foods I love to eat but was not so enthusiastic about making.   The only explanation I have for not making potato salad as often as I should is because I never know which kind of potato to use.  In a regular supermarket alone you can find five or six different varieties-red bliss, new, Yukon gold, russet, all-purpose.  Complicating matters more is that not only are there different varieties but those varieties are categorized between waxy and starchy.  That’s a lot to remember when all I want to do is make a simple side dish.  Furthermore, I don’t ever remember my mom having this dilemma. I know for a fact that she never spent one second obsessing over whether she should use fingerlings or red bliss potatoes in her salad.  She used whatever potato was in the local supermarket and her potato salad was always perfect.

When I made my first potato salad I became further confused by all the contradicting recipes; always use starchy potatoes: never use starchy potatoes only waxy will do; peel the potatoes before boiling; never peel the potatoes before boiling lest you desire water-logged potatoes and on and on.  Let me explain something about myself.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist and have a tendency to become overly involved in the simplest of tasks.  Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s not so good. 

 Take for instance an obsession I have with trying to make the best ever bread pudding.  I cannot make a decent bread pudding to this day. It will curdle and weep watery yucky stuff no matter what I do.  So perplexed  by this I began to research this phenomena (and research ) and  today I can tell you all about the breakdown in protein from overcooking eggs and what eggs are composed of that makes them do this but I still cannot make a decent bread pudding. Or another time when I made what had to be the worlds most expensive tiramisu.  I couldn’t understand why my mascarpone cheese kept getting lumpy.  I had to keep throwing the lumpy mess in the garbage  and going back to the store to purchase more cheese.  Mascarpone cheese is (ahem) quite expensive and I made (ahem) many trips to the grocery store.  Finally, after some (more) research I found out that mascarpone cheese  becomes lumpy if stirred too much.  Good to know.  And now I make a pretty decent tiramisu.

You see, I just don’t know how to let things go and I did not want to become obsessed with another recipe and the reasons why it didn’t quite work out for me.  

A few Sundays ago I made oven ribs and I wanted to serve a classic side dish to go along with them-potato salad.  I went to the grocery store grabbed a bag of Yukon gold potatoes came home cooked them and threw things together for a dressing and amazingly enough I had a pretty decent potato salad.  It’s only flaw was that I had cut the cubes of potato too big and because Yukon’s hold their shape pretty well the chunks were too large  in the salad.  So as I was folding the dressing into the potatoes I used the side of the spoon to break the larger chunks into smaller pieces.  As I was doing this I realized I was crumbling and unintentionally mashing some of the potatoes.  But I liked the way this looked and the mashed potatoes made the dressing even creamier.  The result was a combination of chunky and mashed potatoes and a potato salad that had character and was quite good.  The mashed portion of the potatoes incorporated in the dressing and flavored it nicely.  This was an easy and delicious potato salad and best of all no obsessive researching was required.  

I am very excited to have a potato salad recipe that I can throw together in a flash and look forward to making lots of this summer.  Happy Memorial Day, Kat.

Recipe: just like moms potato salad

Note: I used Yukon gold potatoes. Russet potatoes can be found in every grocery store. You may use whichever of these you like.


2 pounds   (3-4 medium-sized) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 medium celery stalk, chopped fine

2 tablespoons minced onion

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish ( I like Heinz in the squeeze bottle)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow prepared mustard

1/4 teaspoon or to taste ground black pepper

2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and finely chopped


Make the dressing by combining mayonnaise, celery, onion,pickle relish, mustard, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped eggs. Using a rubber spatula mix until ingredients well combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium and, simmer about 8 minutes, stirring once or twice.

When potatoes are done drain and transfer to large bowl.  Let potatoes cool a bit and while still warm add dressing.  Using a rubber spatula gently fold dressing into potatoes.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled about 1 hour.  Serves 4-6


get grillin’ contest and black-eye pea salad

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black-eye pea salad

It’s not fair.  For weeks I thumbed through pages and pages of cookbooks, magazines,old recipe notebooks and searched on line to try and put together a suitable menu for the Mother’s Day Luncheon. What should have been a simple task turned out to be a stressful chore.
Having to take into account the different tastes,likes and dislikes of a variety of women I had to be sure my menu was diet friendly but not too friendly. These women like to eat but salads and vegetables and carefully cooked foods devoid of flavor were out.
In the end everything worked out and the menu was interesting and even included a few vegetable dishes.
The unfair part, and I’m not blaming the gender,was Father’s Day. Not a cookbook nor magazine was consulted. And yet without much thought I knew what I would be cooking weeks before Father’s Day. I actually had too much to choose from: Steak? Fillet of beef? Fat juicy burgers? And as long as there was ice cold beer, what side dishes I served wasn’t even important.
 I’m not complaining. The Mother’s Day Luncheon was a great chance to get together with friends,old and new. Father’s Day was a day to cook meat and let men eat.
Because I raved so much about the black-eye pea salad from the lucheon I decided to make it for Father’s Day. I wasn’t multi-tasking as much so I was able to get pictures to use for a post.
I’m also entering the Black-eye pea salad in a Get Grillin contest for Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.” Please visit Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck for great grilling recipes, and the sponsors for great products that enhance your cooking. Happy Fathers Day!

Recipe: Black-eye pea salad

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup olive oil

3 cups canned black-eye peas, rinsed and drained

1 red bell pepper seeded and diced

1/2 c chopped green onions, white and green parts

1 large tomato, diced or grape tomatoes cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons  fresh,  oregano, minced

1 large banana pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium sized jalapeno or other hot green pepper, seeded and diced


Add vinegar and sugar to a medium sized bowl and mix until sugar dissolves.  Whisk in oil to incorporate into dressing.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss together with a large spoon to combine.

Pour dressing over salad and mix well.

Put in refrigerator to chill.  Before serving gently toss again. Use a slotted spoon to serve.






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