Warm Caprese Salad

I literally turned up the heat on this favorite dish.  I heated the tomatoes until they were hot and sizzling and then poured them over the fresh mozzarella.  This dish dances in your mouth, peppery arugula, melting mozzarella and warm tomatoes.  I can’t think of anything better to serve on a beautiful spring day.  Perfect with grilled meats, fish or along side a juicy hamburger.

warm caprese salad

Warm Caprese Salad
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Ingredients
  1. Arugula
  2. 12 oz. fresh mozzarella
  3. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  4. 4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  6. Olive oil
  7. Balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Line a salad plate or bowl with arugula. Top with sliced fresh mozzarella. Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, toss in the tomatoes. Cook tomatoes until they are hot and sizzling, stir frequently. Salt and pepper tomatoes to taste. Stir in 1/2 of the chopped basil. Pour hot tomato mixture over mozzarella. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with remaining basil.
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Heirloom Tomato Salad

I think I have mentioned before that I am a true lover of tomatoes and I could eat them every day.  Well, for a tomato lover there is no better time in the year than in the summer when heirloom tomatoes are abundant at the local farmers markets.  The flavor of fresh-off the vine tomatoes cannot be beat.  I decided to make an heirloom salad to serve along side flat iron steaks that we were serving this past weekend.  I combined the tomato mixture early in the day and added the toasted bread cubes about 1 hour prior to serving.  The bread absorbed the wonderful juices from the mixture – it was a great combination and is easy to prepare and can be made ahead.  My kind of entertaining!

To grill fantastic flat iron steaks, simply brush with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill over medium high heat 5 minutes per side for medium rare.  Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.  After they rested, I topped the steaks with a combination of 2 cups of large chopped Italian parsley tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.   I added salt and pepper and then shaved parmesan cheese over the top of the parsley combination – delicious.

 heirloom tomato salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large heirloom tomatoes
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  3. 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup capers
  5. 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  6. 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  7. 1/2 loaf of unsliced bread, cubed - approx. 4 cups
  8. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400, cut bread into 1 inch cubes. Toss bread cubes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place on baking sheet and salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cubes are toasted. Remove and set aside.
  2. Peel tomatoes. Bring a sauce pan full of water to a rolling boil. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, place in boiling water for 10 seconds, remove and submerge in ice water. Remove and place on cutting board, peel tomatoes and cut into cubes, place in large salad bowl.
  3. Add the following to the tomatoes - capers, kalamata olives, basil and salt and pepper. You can prepare this a few hours prior to serving. Add red wine vinegar and remaining olive oil. Toss and cover. Keep at room temperature.
  4. One hour prior to serving, stir the bread cubes into the tomato mixture. Stir every 15 minutes so the bread can absorb the juices from the tomatoes.
  5. Serve
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Watermelon Salad

I will never forget a watermelon salad I had a few years ago.  Sweet, crunchy, tart, and just outstanding.  I saw a very ripe watermelon and decided it was time to try to recreate the salad that I still remember.  I do remember the crunch was from jicama.  When looking for jicama in the produce section it is a round and bulbous root vegetable that grows on vines.  It is grown in the warm climates of Central America, the Caribbean, the Andes Mountain regions, and Southern Asia. The texture is close to an apple; it is crisp, white, and has solid flesh. Wash them just as you would a potato, slice off the top and bottom and peel.  It is very good cold, however, it can also be cooked. A favorite Mexican recipe is chilled jicama slices sprinkled with chili powder, salt, and lime juice.

watermelon salad

Watermelon Salad
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Ingredients
  1. Cubed ripe watermelon
  2. Jicama, thinly sliced or cubed
  3. Feta cheese
  4. Toasted almonds
  5. Salad greens
  6. Lemon Vinaigrette
  7. Fresh mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. For each salad
  2. Salad greens of your choice
  3. 6-8 cubes of watermelon
  4. 1/3 cup sliced or diced jicama
  5. 1 tablespoon feta cheese, crumbled
  6. 1 tablespoon lemon vinaigrette
  7. Dusting of toasted almonds
  8. Garnish with fresh mint
Notes
  1. Lemon Vinaigrette
  2. 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1 teaspoon sugar
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. Mix well
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Mandarin Spinach Salad

I am always trying new and different salads to serve.  Many times I make a salad once and start trying new combinations.  This salad is one that I have made over and over.  It is perfect with grilled meats, poultry or fish.  Add grilled chicken and you have a main dish salad.  Easy to prepare with easy to find ingredients – my idea of a winning recipe.

 

 Mandarin spinach salad

 

Mandarin Spinach Salad
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. Fresh baby spinach
  2. 9 fresh mushrooms
  3. 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  4. 1 11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
  5. 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  6. Dressing
  7. 1/2 cup olive oil
  8. 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  9. 1/4 cup sugar
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  12. 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  13. 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  14. 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
Instructions
  1. Combine the dressing ingredients and shake thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Toss the salad ingredients with the amount of dressing you prefer, just prior to serving.
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Quick and Easy Taco Salads

I am a fan of a great taco salad.  Years ago, you would have found me using a dried package of taco seasoning and adding it to ground beef to make the salad.  Over the years, I have tried to cook everything organic and with the least amount of additives (farm to table),  just like our moms did.  Restaurants lead you to believe they are on to something new – however, I don’t know about you but my mom always cooked everything fresh and from scratch.  I remember thinking how great it would be to have a sandwich on purchased bread, since I grew up only eating homemade bread.  Now, I am thrilled that I was raised by a cook, baker and chef.  You know the tale, shop the outside perimeter of the store and not the center aisles so you avoid those items that are loaded with ingredients that are best to stay away from.  Well, back to my taco salad.  For this salad I used ground turkey and seasoned the meat with one cup of organic salsa.  Delicious, easy and quick.  You can add any variation of complements to your salad, I love adding the blue corn chips.

Quick and Easy Taco Salads

Quick and Easy Taco Salads
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 cup salsa
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. Lettuce
  7. Black beans
  8. Tomato, diced
  9. Avocado, diced
  10. Shredded cheese
  11. Sour Cream
  12. JalapeƱos
  13. Tortilla chips
Instructions
  1. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and onion, cook until onion is transparent, 5 - 8 minutes. Add turkey, reduce heat to medium and cook until meat is no longer pink, stir frequently to break meat into small pieces. Add salsa and water, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 8 minutes.
  2. Layer desired salad ingredients in large bowls, top with turkey mixture. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
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Vegetable Rice Salad with Garlic Herb Dressing

I am always trying new salads.  What inspired this salad was my trip to the grocery and finding gourney cheese with garlic and herbs  (Boursin)  on sale.  I took that as a challenge to come up with a salad that would incorporate this cheese.  Since it is a creamy cheese, I thought about a salad dressing.  I also had asparagus, zucchini and Peppedew peppers in my refrigerator.  I think the term ‘necessity is the mother of invention’  applies to this recipe.  The results were outstanding – a new rice salad to add to my salad list. 

 vegetable rice salad 3

 

Vegetable Rice Salad with Garlic Herb Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups cooked rice, cooled
  2. Asparagus, cut and blanched
  3. 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  4. 5 Peppedew peppers, diced
  5. 1/4 cup toasted almonds
  6. Salt and pepper, to taste
  7. Dressing
  8. 1 5.2 ounce gourney cheese with garlic and herbs (Boursin)
  9. 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  10. Juice of one lemon
  11. 1/4 cup milk
  12. 1/2 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine cooked rice, asparagus, zucchini, and Peppedew peppers in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients, pour over rice mixture. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well to combine. Refrigerate. Top with toasted almonds prior to serving.
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Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is a summer staple.  I am sure everyone has a family recipe or favorite recipe they make during the summer.  There are so many variations to this basic salad.  I even think that the term ‘macaroni’ has gone by the wayside in favor of pasta salad or other more intriguing names.  However, I think there is nothing better to accompany grilled foods that a wonderful macaroni salad.  I added my favorite pepper, Peppedews to this salad.  If you prefer a more mild flavor you can certainly use chopped pimentos in place of the Peppedews.   This is a best made early in the day or the day prior, so the wonderful flavors can meld together.  If desired, you can certainly add tuna, chicken, shrimp or crabmeat to the salad.

macaroni salad

 

Macaroni Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups small shell or elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 2 stalks of celery, diced
  4. 5 Peppedew peppers, chopped
  5. 2 hard boiled eggs chopped
  6. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  7. 1 tablespoon celery seed
  8. 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  9. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  10. 1/2 cup sour cream
  11. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Drain pasta and mix with olive oil. Chill. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Chill until serving.
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Chutney Chicken Salad

I just love making cold salads for dinner during these warm summer months.  They are easy to prepare and this salad can be made in advance, as a matter of fact, this salad is better when made early in the day.  The flavors blend after being refrigerated covered for 4 hours or overnight.  This is a great salad to serve with a glass of chilled white wine.  That is my type of summer dinner!

chutney chicken salad

 

Chutney Chicken Salad
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  2. 1 apple, diced
  3. 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  4. 1/2 cup dried cherries
  5. 3 tablespoons chutney
  6. 1 cup mayonnaise
  7. 1 teaspoon curry powder
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Chilled cantaloupe, halved, peeled and seeded
  10. 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
  11. Lettuce for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, apple, pineapple, cherries, chutney, mayonnaise, curry powder, and salt. Cover and refrigerated 4 hours or overnight.
  2. When serving, place the lettuce leaves on individual chilled plates, Cut the bottoms of each cantaloupe half and cut into thick rings. Mound the salad in the center of the cantaloupe, top with chopped nuts.
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Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon Dill Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (Vango Salad)

Years ago, when we lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we had a favorite dive hang-out.  Yes, it was a true dive, but the food was delicious.  They made this pasta salad with fettuccine and a dill ranch dressing.  To this day, we still remember the salad and I think I this combination is very close to the original.  I have added the name Vango Salad since that was the restaurant that inspired this dish.  I hope you like it as much as we do.  It is a real throw back recipe for me.

Vegetable Pasta Salad

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon Dill Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 pound fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
  2. Assorted diced or shredded vegetables (zucchini, carrots, celery, peas, or any preferred combination)
  3. Lemon Dill Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
  4. 3/4 cup buttermilk
  5. 3 tablespoons sour cream
  6. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  7. 2 teaspoons chopped dill
  8. 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  9. 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  10. 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta and assorted vegetables. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Pour desired amount over salad ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate. Just prior to serving, add a bit more dressing if salad appears dry.
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Pasta Salad with Artichokes and Tuna

This is the perfect salad for a picnic or dinner on the porch.  If you prefer, you can certainly substitute cold grilled tuna or shrimp for the canned tuna.  This would be the perfect salad to serve with a savory bread and a chilled white wine.  How many ways can you say marvelous!  That is what this salad is!

pasta salad with tuna and artichokes

Pasta Salad with Artichokes and Tuna
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ounces pasta, cooked according to package directions
  2. 6 oz. jar marinated artichokes, chopped
  3. 1 can tuna, drained and flaked
  4. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  5. 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  6. 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  7. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  8. 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  9. 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  10. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta and drain. Toss with olive oil. Let cool. Toss with remaining ingredients until well combined. Chill.
Notes
  1. When serving, it is great with a drizzle of olive oil on top.
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