Tag Archives: salad

Wheat Berry Salad

8 Dec

Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Considering my recent obsession with wheat berries, I’m happy for any recipes I can find using them. These little gems are an incredibly healthy source of fiber and a great start to a lot of my weekdays, but they are beautiful in salads as well. Their nutty flavor and chewy texture is about as far from lettuce as you can get, so if you’re jonesing for something new, try this!

Cook the wheat berries, either using Ina’s method for a small batch below, or the method in my Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl post for a large batch (these keep fine in the fridge for a week or two). Set aside, then saute red onion in olive oil, add wheat berries, balsamic vinegar, and freshly ground black pepper back to bowl, and stir to coat berries.

wheat berries & red onion

To this mixture, off the heat, toss in diced scallions, red bell pepper, and carrot (or any other combination of veggies you like). Leave the salad to marinate for a few hours and serve at room temperature. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I also added feta cheese to my salad. Because, as Ina would say, how bad can that be?!

wheat berry salad

RECIPE – Wheat Berry Salad

My friend Brent Newsom devised this hearty salad. Wheatberries are a nutty grain that we use to make breads and salads. There are several different types, but hard winter wheatberries don’t get mushy when they’re cooked. If you can’t find them in the grocery store, try your local health food store. They’re delicious, and so good for you!

1 cup hard winter wheat berries
Kosher salt
1 cup finely diced red onion (1 onion)
6 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 scallions, minced, white and green parts
1/2 red bell pepper, small diced
1 carrot, small diced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the wheat berries and 3 cups of boiling salted water in a saucepan and cook, uncovered, over low heat for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are soft. Drain.

Sauté the red onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.In a large bowl, combine the warm wheat berries, sautéed onions, scallions, red bell pepper, carrot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes for the wheat berries to absorb the sauce. Season, to taste, and serve at room temperature.

Serves 6


Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous

4 May

Recipe source: Ina Garten of Food Network

The second dish I made for the aforementioned winery picnic was Ina Garten’s couscous. It’s pretty simple to make and a nice side dish with subtle flavors. I think it would be best paired with fish or a mild grilled chicken. I halved the amount of herbs based on complaints from reviewers on foodnetwork.com, but otherwise followed the recipe to a tee.

Here’s a pic!

RECIPE – Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous

1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 zucchini, large dice
1 1/2 cups couscous (10 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, and turn off the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and saffron threads and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Bring the chicken stock just back to a boil. Place the couscous in a large bowl and add the cooked zucchini. Pour the hot chicken stock over them. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Add the basil and parsley. Toss the couscous and herbs with a fork, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Citrus Salad with Lemongrass Syrup

2 May

Recipe source: The Kitchn

Promo! I got this recipe from a new favorite food and lifestyle site, The Kitchn (see link above). I love their recipes and tips, and the writing style is fun and down-to-earth. The design of their site is really unique in the way they use pictures, and some of the pictures themselves are inspiring ideas of things I’d like to do creatively. They also have tips and contests on home decorating, focusing on design for small spaces, and ways to be environmental with your living space, repurpose old items, make crafts, etc… sheesh, you’d think they’re paying me for this. Enough of my gushing review, just go check them out! 🙂

So I chose this recipe to share with friends on a picnic at Belle Marie Winery.  It fit my qualifications of late – combining several different flavors for a taste I wouldn’t be familiar with, being “gourmetish” (hellooo, vanilla bean!), and most
importantly for this occasion, cold, portable and healthy. I also learned a couple new things along the way.

Peeps, I had no idea what an oroblanco was before this recipe. For your information, it is a white grapefruit. And not easy to find. After baffling the produce staff of a few local markets, I finally found these and the lemongrass at Whole Foods. For whatever smack I may talk about Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”), God love ’em for carrying some exotic sh*t.

I also learned what lemongrass looks like, and the various ways to process it. (See this article from The Kitchn for more info.) The recipe called for bruising the lemongrass, but I pretty much murdered it… I cracked it in about a bazillion places so I could really be sure the flavor would come out. Next time I think I’ll just grate it with a microplane.

Anyhoo, the basics of this recipe are a combination of oranges and red and white grapefruit, tossed with a syrup made of citrus juice, honey, lemongrass and vanilla bean, and garnished with lime zest and mint. The tart flavors in the syrup, combined with the creaminess of the vanilla bean was truly amazing. This salad got rave reviews from my friends, so I will definitely be making it again! Next time I’ll make extra syrup to mix in cocktails, ooh la la…

citrus salad with lemongrass syrup
RECIPE – Citrus Salad with Lemongrass Syrup

1/2 pink or red grapefruit per person, segmented, juice reserved
1/2 oroblanco per person, segmented, juice reserved
1/2 navel orange per person, segmented, juice reserved
1/2 cup honey
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, cut into 2-inch pieces and bruised
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Zest of 1 lime
Mint leaves for garnish

Combine the citrus segments in a bowl. Cover and chill.

In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup reserved citrus juice (top off with water if necessary) with honey, lemongrass, and vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Strain.

Divide citrus segments among serving dishes. Drizzle with syrup and garnish with lime zest and mint.

Although pink or red grapefruit is highly recommended, feel free to make substitutions for this and the other citrus varieties and quantities.

This recipe makes enough syrup for about 8 servings. Store any leftover syrup in the refrigerator for up to a week and use it in soda water, mixed drinks, etc.

Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

21 Apr

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
-Fran Lebowitz

Original recipe source: foodnetwork.com / eatingwell.com

Around this time last year, I developed a sudden, severe contempt for lettuce. I couldn’t stand the thought of any salad containing it. Dramatic? Yes. But anyway, I went in search of non-lettuce-containing salads, and found this recipe. It’s now a favorite, and I don’t even know how many times I’ve made it. I’ve taken it to several get-togethers and it’s always a hit, I think because it has so many flavors going on. If you were to use tricolor peppers, it would even be a good chakra salad! A dead horse you say? Okay okay, moving on…

First, make a dressing by whisking together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and fresh ground black pepper.

Next, dice cucumbers, red onion and red bell pepper. To minimize water, I scrape the seeds out of my cucumbers. If you don’t plan to eat all the salad at once (i.e. serve it to a lot of people), it helps to salt the cucumbers for several hours or overnight to draw out the water, you can then rinse and pat them dry. The original recipe called for peeling the cucumber, but I like the skin, and I’m convinced there are probably some nutritional benefits in there. But you can peel it, or use my mom’s happy medium and peel the skin in stripes.

Add to the veggies rinsed and drained black-eyed peas, feta cheese and chopped black olives. For some reason, black-eyed peas can be extremely difficult to find, even in a basic supermarket. If you can’t find them, you can substitute white or pinto beans, no problem. Toss all ingredients to combine, and serve.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano OR 1 teaspoon dried
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cucumbers, diced
1 (14 oz) can black-eyed peas, rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped black olives

Whisk oil, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until combined. Add cucumber, black-eyed peas, bell pepper, feta, onion and olives; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

[orange] Carrot Salad, Orange Brownies

12 Apr

Greetings, and welcome to Day 2 of ROYGBIV Week! Today’s color is orange, in recognition of the sacral chakra.

Today’s chakra: Svadhisthana – One’s Own Place (Sacral)
Color: Orange: passion, optimism & tolerance
Location: Along the spine behind the genitals
Associated body organs: hips, sacram, genitals, lower part of intestine, bladder & kidneys, lower back
Controlled emotions: Feeling, desire, sensation and movement

[For an explanation of the chakras, see yesterday’s post.]


The first food I think of when I think of orange is not oranges, as would be obvious, but carrots. So today I decided to make a carrot salad, and I found a unique one from Bobby Flay. One change though; I decided to alter the dressing to use up some Greek yogurt in my fridge. David’s mom makes salads with yogurt dressing and I’ve never been able to completely duplicate what she puts in there, but I love it just the same.

I also halved the original recipe since this week is making my refrigerator ridiculously full. First, I strained the Greek yogurt to make it as thick as possible.

Greek yogurt

I boiled the carrots and made a dressing of lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt, yogurt, olive oil and fresh cilantro. (The original recipe called for parsley, but I had cilantro in the fridge as well.)

carrot salad

In the end, the yogurt did not tone down the spice nearly as much as I thought it would. Next time I’d probably reduce the cayenne. The recipe also made more dressing than I needed. But all in all, this was a unique dish. The freshness of the cilantro definitely helps balance out the garlic and cayenne, and the sweetness of the carrots adds and interesting dimension.

4 medium carrots, peeled
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for water
1/4 cup Greek yogurt, strained
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the whole carrots (cut them in half if they don’t fit in the pot) and cook until just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and cut carrots into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the yogurt and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the cooked carrots and toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or cilantro. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 2.


For dessert, I made Paula Deen’s orange brownies. No, I don’t think this is what’s meant by eating all the colors of the rainbow for your health, per se… and I’m trying to be [mostly] healthy this week, I swear… but this is the part where the cooking blog takes over and “chakras” becomes more of a loose idea. Plus, I wanted to finish off the 1/2 package of cream cheese in my fridge. Good motivation, am I right?

To make the cake batter, the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) are added first, then joined by the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, orange extract and orange zest).

wet & dry ingredients

The orange extract REALLY punched up the flavor of the batter. I’m telling you, it’s a good thing I was home alone making this, because I couldn’t stop licking every beater, spatula and spoon I could find after pouring the batter into the pan. Gluttony… embarrassing…

orange extract

I love the little spout they've added to the bottle!

The cake bakes at 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes. Next, on to the frosting. Beat softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy, then gradually add in powdered sugar. I’m learning that whenever powdered sugar is involved, you can probably half what the recipe calls for and be just fine. At least, that’s what my tastes dictate. (Half amount is written in the recipe below.) Once blended well, beat in orange juice and orange zest.

orange cream cheese frosting

The cake is done. I halved this recipe too, and used an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish instead of a 9 x 13. I think this is why the brownies came out thin; will be intrigued to see if they’re thicker in the full version of the recipe.

orange brownies

Once the brownies are completely cool, top with frosting. The final texture is sort of a moist, spongy cake. Light and refreshing; I would make this again in the summer. It’s a nice twist to a lemon cake or lemon bars.

orange brownie

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice

To make brownies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

To make frosting
In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice.

Makes about 20 to 24 brownies.

Impromptu Salad

20 Mar

Way down among Brazilians coffee beans grow by the billions,
and they’ve got to find those extra cups to fill
They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.
-Frank Sinatra

I found this salad dressing on Culinary Media Network when I was browsing around the other day, and it sounded weird to me. So this of course meant I needed to try it. I tossed with spring mix, sliced strawberries and pine nuts.

Verdict: I like coffee flavor, so I liked this. Definitely good with the strawberries. Perhaps better with a milder lettuce, like romaine. And I would have preferred slivered almonds to pine nuts, but I didn’t have any. Eh, try this if you dare.

Coffee Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon coffee, very finely ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar (vinagre de jerez)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine dry ingredients and vinegar in a non-reactive mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until well incorporated. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve (keeps for up to one week).