Category Archives: Salads

Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Salad

in white round bowlHope life is treating you well this week. We are in full-on purge mode around here. We’re planning to downsize shortly. It’s amazing the amount of junk you can accumulate in 23 years.  Getting rid of stuff is not my husband’s forte. He still has all his high school essays. (He got an A+ in his Family Studies paper on “The cost of setting up a home for newlyweds” – it was the 70’s!) He kept all the cards from our wedding. We have been married for over 30 years. He also kept every birthday and father’s day card from me and the kids.

I wasn’t hopeful that he would be able to dispose of very much. But once he began shredding, he couldn’t stop. And then he discovered Kijiji. Things have been flying out of here at an alarming rate. It has become quite cathartic for him. I’m afraid that if I stay still for too long he might put me up for sale on Kijiji. I can just imagine the ad:

“Pre-owned, but very well-maintained wife for sale. All parts original. A little slow to start up in the morning, but motor begins purring after an extra-hot latte.” Will accept any reasonable offers.”

This salad was inspired by a forgotten bag of Israeli couscous I discovered sitting at the back of my pantry in a cleaning spree. The addition of roasted butternut squash is the clever idea of Daniel Gritzer over at seriouseats.com. Start by toasting the uncooked Israeli couscous in a bit of olive oil.Toasting cous cousAdd boiling water and salt and cook couscous.adding boiling waterI recently learned that squash is an excellent source of potassium. Apparently acorn squash is the champion, but butternut is a close second, and I find it much easier to peel. All those ridges in acorn squash scare me. If you need a primer on peeling and cutting butternut, check out the video in this post.chopping squash Toss squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some smoked paprika too, because everything is better with smoked paprika.ready for roastingA jolt of freshness is provided by lots of green (scallions, mint and parsley) and yellow (lemon).lemon and herbsready to assemble

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Salad.

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Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad

On blue oval platterAs parents, I believe one of our most important jobs is to create memories for our children. Certain aromas or sounds can instantly evoke specific memories or feelings. It only takes a shake of Ajax cleansing powder and a squirt of Joy dishwashing liquid to transport me right back to the kitchen of my childhood. The combo of Ajax and Joy was my mom’s special recipe for disinfecting the sink after dinner each night. The scent was sinus clearing and most certainly  responsible for the loss of a few brain cells. But we had the shiniest sinks in the neighbourhood.

If you were to ask my children, undoubtedly, they would tell you that the annoying whir of my cobalt blue Braun immersion blender was the soundtrack to their childhood. Each morning, they were roused from a deep sleep to the sound of their mom frothing milk for her morning latte. (This was before Nespresso machines with milk frother attachments) No need for alarm clocks in our house.

I hope that I have created other memories for my children, that were perhaps a bit more pleasant.3 platesLast weekend was the start of cottage season and we had a full house. My youngest son was there as well as my daughter and 3 of her friends. A few days earlier the girls had decided that they wanted to eat healthy for the weekend, so I was instructed to please not bake anything tempting. I made this salad for our lunch on Friday. It was met with rave reviews. It’s not really a grain salad, as the farro only plays a supporting role. The real star of this salad are the fat spears of sweet asparagus, charred to perfection on the outside but still maintaining a bit of crunch in the center.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Melissa Clark, over at www.cooking.nytimes.com. She roasted the asparagus in the oven, but I wanted to officially start grilling season. I like fat spears of asparagus and I peel the bottom third of each spear because that’s how I was taught to do it at my very first restaurant job.peeling asparagusready for grillinggrillingThe dressing for the salad packs a flavour punch. Lime juice, garlic, soy sauce and olive oil are whisked together and mixed with the cooked farro. This is a great make ahead salad as the farro can sit in the dressing for several hours. The asparagus and green onion can sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Lime Soy DressingI decided on a bed of peppery arugula and bitter radicchio. Toss the farro with the salad greens and top with the grilled vegetables. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin shards of Parmesan cheese over the top of this salad. close up

Click here to print recipe for Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad.

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Carrot and Radish Slaw with Pistachios and Raisins

2 bowlsI am not exactly a fully immersed and loyal subject of the social media kingdom. While I do have an Instagram account, I came late to the game and don’t post very frequently. Like all social media, it sometimes leaves me feeling just a teeny bit jealous. Like when I see posts like thisthis, and this.

Local asparagus, rhubarb or spring peas have not yet arrived in my neck of the woods, but I am still craving something fresh and crunchy. Enter the humble carrot. Much like that shy kid you knew in school, carrots possess way more charisma than we give them credit for. One of mother nature’s most versatile creations, they can be juiced, braised, stir-fried, roasted, pureed, whipped and baked. Equally at home in savoury and sweet applications, carrots are an unsung hero in the kitchen.

Bonus points if you can find rainbow carrots, but regular carrots will be equally delicious. CarrotsStart with a quick pickling of a shallot and some raisins. If you have some fancy champagne vinegar in the pantry, now’s the time to bust it out. If not, regular white wine vinegar will also work. shallots and raisinspicklingGive the vinegar, sugar and salt some time to do their magic and get on with the rest of the salad. Julienning carrots is a breeze if you have a mandoline. If not, here’s the perfect time to practice your knife skills. I made a video showing you the safest and quickest way to do it. If you can’t be bothered to julienne, simply shaving the carrots with a vegetable peeler would be a good alternative. I just prefer the crunch that you get with julienned carrots.

julienned carrotsMint and Italian parsley add the verdant freshness I am craving this time of year. mint and parsleyThis salad touches all the bases. The raisins and honey add a welcome whisper of sweetness. Bitter radishes and spicy red pepper flakes punch back at that sweetness. Pistachios add a satisfying crunch. And bonus! This salad tastes even better the next day.white bowl 2

Click here to print recipe for Carrot and Radish Slaw with Pistachios and Raisins.

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Pickled Apple Slaw

3-bowls-of-slawHappy New Year! Hope everyone filled up on lots of cookies and family time over the holidays. Did anyone make any New Year’s resolutions? I must admit, resolutions kind of scare me. I always end up being so disappointed in myself. But, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make two resolutions.

1. I feel like I should probably give up my favourite potato chips for just a little while. (How’s that for a definitive statement?) WAIT! I take that back. Perhaps I should just take baby steps here. OK, I resolve to fill my little portion control bowl to the rim with chips, rather than to overflowing! A much more realistic and achievable goal.

2. I resolve to drink more Prosecco. Yes, I said more. Breaking news folks! Prosecco is actually good for you. 

If early January is too soon for you to start pickling your liver, how about pickling apples? I first read about pickling apples over on seriouseats.com. Daniel Gritzer featured a recipe for Beet and Wheat Berry Salad with Pickled Apples and Pecans. To date, I have only pickled onions, shallots, cucumbers and carrots. Pickled apples intrigued me. I love the addition of apples in slaw, but you need to cut them just before serving or they turn brown. Pickling solves that problem.

This slaw packs in a ton of vegetables, which, if you’re like me, I try to do every January to help cleanse my system after my December gluttony. This recipe does not feel like deprivation at all. The choice of vegetables is up to you. These are what looked good to me when I went to the market.

I started with a base of red and green cabbage.cutting-cabbgeI love the crunch and verdant freshness of sugar snap peas, so they went in next. sugar-snap-peasI thought that the flavour of celery would really complement the apples, so I bought some celeriac (also known as celery root). It’s the ugly knoby, hairy root you always see and wonder about. A few stalks of celery would be a good substitute if you can’t find celeriac.celeriacJust peel and slice it into a julienne. Put it in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice to keep it from turning brown before adding to the salad. celeriac-cutI decided to pickle shallots, along with the apples.apples-and-shallots Combine apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt and some mint sprigs in a small pot. Simmer until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour hot pickling brine over apples and shallots and then place bowl in an ice bath to cool quickly. chilling-pickling-liquidA simple cider vinaigrette, with a touch of dijon and honey is the perfect dressing for this slaw. Finish with some diced or sliced jalapeños, fresh mint and some toasted pecans for crunch. Your digestive system will thank you.

Any leftovers will keep well for a day or two in the fridge. I added some diced hardboiled eggs and julienned gruyere cheese the next day for a lunch salad. It was bonkers good!composed-salad

Click here to print recipe for Pickled-Apple-Slaw.

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Crunchy Winter Slaw

ginger-crinkle-cookies_17As we enter the festive season of butter and sugar, I thought it would be a good idea to have a new recipe at the ready to provide a healthy counterbalance. This slaw recipe was inspired by an Asian slaw I read about in Milk Street Magazine. This new publication is Christopher Kimball’s first venture since leaving Cook’s Illustrated last year.

I have been a huge fan and supporter of Kimball and Cook’s Illustrated since it’s inception in 1993, so I was curious to check out the premiere issue of Milk Street. The premise behind Milk Street is to bring techniques from the world’s kitchens to America’s weeknight dinner table. Christopher explains that, “There’s no ethnic cooking. It’s a myth. It’s just dinner or lunch served from somewhere else in the world…. Milk Street offers an invitation to the cooks of the world to sit at the same table…All food is everyone’s food.”

This is my take on Milk Street’s “Coleslaw by Way of East Asia.” I loved the combination of cabbage, radishes and sugar snap peas, but I wasn’t fond of the dressing (coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and serrano chili). I preferred an apple cider vinaigrette with honey and grainy mustard.

I settled on a combo of Brussels sprouts, red, green and Napa cabbage, radishes and sugar snap peas for my vegetables. Cilantro and mint were also invited to this fresh party.veggiesI believe that every salad needs an element of crunch. Croutons are good, but nuts are better! I was inspired by a maple spicy nut crunch I read about in the LCBO’s Holiday 2016 issue of Food & Drink.  I’m very excited that the magazine is now available online.

I used a combo of pine nuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, sliced almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds. nuts-and-seedsThe nuts get coated in a hot bath of maple syrup, brown sugar, paprika, salt and cayenne. coating-nuts-and-seeds20 minutes in the oven crisps up everything beautifully. I added some dried cherries to the cooled nut mixture. The recipe makes more than you will need, but it keeps perfectly for at least a month in an airtight container. It makes a very yummy afternoon snack.crunch-mixtureready-to-mix

Click here to print recipe for Crunchy-Winter-Slaw.

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