Finally! We’re getting in to fresh produce season! Not that I mind all of the comfort food that fall and winter brings, but you just can’t beat a fresh homemade salad. And this one includes the perfect “cross-over” ingredients.
Set your broiler to high. Toss the quartered sweet potato in olive oil and a dash of salt. Spread it out evenly on a cooking sheet and stick it under the broiler until it begins to soften and brown, approximately 10 minutes. (This is the same way you can make sweet potato fries. Just cut them thin instead of quartered.) When the sweet potato is just about done, throw in the walnuts to get them warm and slightly toasted.
In a salad bowl, throw together the arugula, beets, and warm sweet potato and walnuts. Toss with the dressing and enjoy.
Can I just tell you, I freaking LOVE LOVE LOVE the Morrocan chicken salad at CPK (You know California Pizza Kitchen, yes food blog people DO go to chains) Anyway, I am obsessed with it, BUT its SOOO expensive! Literally, I spend $16-$18 on the salad (the range is because the tax/tip usually makes it $17) which is totally cray to spend on a salad and yet I do. A) because of the convenience of grabbing it after work en route to my night MBA class B) because it is beyond delish! It has all the taste bud pleasing elements you can think of: sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy, etc! Anyway work was slow this week and I have an online class this semester so I am not running around as much and I figured its time to replicate this salad. Especially because I need to save my money for pedicures. Oyi my feet are looking rough! woof! Ok back to the tasty salad prep. As always this is going to reuse ingredients from other recipes. At CPK they use a champagne vinaigrette, so I grabbed a bottle of the Trader Joe’s pear champagne vinaigrette used in one of our salad recipes and a chicken dish to toss my greens with. Then the beets were in the last salad recipe as well-ha can you tell I really like them?! Might be the new truffle, lol just kidding that would never happen.
1/3 cup Dates (Sliced in halves or quarters depending on how big yours are, I did mejdool dates)
1/3-1/2 cup Toasted almonds (I tossed them in a pan to toast when I was boiling the eggs)
6 oz. Beets (Drain all the water if using the canned stuff and chop vs. slice)
10 oz. Roasted butternut squash (I just did it with salt, pepper, and paprika)
1/2 cup Cranberries (I bought dried packaged ones from the store)
3 Grilled chicken breasts (I just did it with cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, & paprika)
1 Avocado (dice into cubes)
1 medium Red bell pepper (try for the same sizes as the beets and avocado).
1 package or 8-10 oz. Mixed greens (tossed w 1/3 cup of the bottled dressing)
Chopped up boiled eggs (I did 2, but 3 without the yellow of the 3rd would be good too)
Heat up a nonstick pan (I used my grill pan since it was washed & ready from the last time I made burgers) with some olive oil and sear the chicken breasts (I had them coated & rubbed in with the spices on both sides of the breasts) until cooked through about 5-7 minutes on each side. Let the meat rest before slicing and adding to salad. While you are cooking the chicken you can toss the squash with some oil & spices as well and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. While the chicken and squash cools, chop the other veggies and eggs and mix well. This is how pretty the colors look:
I called this recipe the pseudo salad because its a knock off of the one from the restaurant and its much more filling than a regular old salad. This is meant to be an entrée and that’s why there is a bit more cooking involved than most salad recipes. Anyway its yummy, don’t worry about what the title means, just devour.
Beet Salad with Fried Goat Cheese. Oh right, like I wasn’t going to trash up the health benefits of a salad by pan frying cheese. Puhlease. I don’t eat to live, I LIVE to eat. I need it to be tasty! Now, some of you a) don’t want to take the time to fry the goat cheese b) hate goat cheese and its strong flavor. Don’t fret, my pet: use gorgonzola or mozzarella instead! Be your own boss. Anyway, I was jamming out to some beats on the way to work this morning and told myself I was going to make a salad for dinner tonight (you know more time for a dance party when there is no hard cooking involved). Hmm what do I have lying around that could make my salad awesome, yup canned beets. Now I know you are thinking “ew canned veggies” gross on the preservatives etc etc. BUT, I don’t have the time or energy to deal with real beets so get over it. Plus “lipstick” as I used to call it when I was younger (you know because of the way beets stain your lips with that gorgina red/purply color). Anyway, “lipstick” doesn’t need to be fresh, if anything the fresh stuff requires tons of work with either boiling or pickling and listen here, Id rather focus my prep time on my cheese, so there. Oh and now I am going to be a total “Cheeseball” and play MJ’s “Beat It!” for my beet salad. LOL #nerd #corny.
16 oz. log fresh goat cheese
1 can of the DelMonte sliced beets (14.5 oz. and drain them obvi).
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of Italian blend seasoning (I added a pinch of red chili flakes since goat cheese has such a sharp flavor)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups of mixed baby greens (or the Sorrento bagged mix at Trader Joe’s)
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of candied pecans, if you don’t like the sweet some toasted walnuts would work too
Freeze the goat cheese for about 30 minutes until its solid but not totally frozen. While the cheese is hardening, mix together panko bread crumbs, seasoning, salt, pepper, set aside. Set up a breading line in the following order: flour, egg, bread crumbs, parchment/wax paper covered large wooden cutting board. Remove cheese from freezer and slice into 1/2 inch rounds by using plain dental floss or a knife. If using a knife make sure to wipe it off after each cut to stop it from crumbling. If any of your pieces fall apart just pat it together and try to keep a somewhat round shape. It does not have to be perfect. Take goat cheese rounds and dip in flour, then egg and then goat in panko/herb mixture. Lay onto lined cutting board. Continue until all slices have been coated. If your cheese is really soft pop it into the freezer for about 5 minutes to chill. Take a large high-sided skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil and add to range over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, fry goat cheese rounds until crispy on both sides. Gently remove fried goat cheese from the skillet onto a paper towel lined plate to help soak up any remaining olive oil. Serve fried goat cheese warm. Toss greens with the nuts and balsamic vinegar, add the beets before laying 1-2 goat cheese rounds atop the salad.
…a salad bar! Get it? Yeah, yeah I know, stick to my day job…
Anyway, the other day I whipped up our fruit parfait for breakfast and made way too much quinoa. I couldn’t just throw it out so I got to experimenting. This is how it went down: Quinoa’s healthy, so what else is healthy? Hmm, throw in some cucumbers, beets for some color, kale of course, and fresh dill! (Only because I’ve acquired an obsession with it since the flies and swims recipe). Top it all off with the quinoa and you actually get a pretty filling salad. I also paired it with our homemade dill dressing (I told you, obsessed) and it was damned refreshing, perfect for spring.
*Makes 1 personal sized salad.
2 cups fresh baby kale
1 cup of sliced cucumbers
1 small can of beets
1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup of homemade dill dressing
1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
Toss together everything but the quinoa (I mean you can if you want to, but I prefer not to). Once the dressing is evenly coated on the salad, top with the quinoa and garnish with a bit of dill.