Select Page

Salade de Betteraves et Chèvre


Jump to Recipe

Saying chèvre like an annoying American is funny to me. Probably because I know a few French words but not enough to be useful, like when looking for the bathroom or asking for a beer. However, I distinctly recall learning my first French swear-word: at the end of 9 to 5, the boss’ assistant was coming back from her trip to France and said, “merde.” In fact, I think I learned a great deal about life from that film.

I digress.

This salad was born of an overabundance of beets and the desire to have Grampa’s PIzzeria‘s beet salad without leaving the house. Seriously, it’s the best beet salad ever.

Second best?

Preheat the oven to 400º and grab your knife. After honing, cut the top and bottom off the beets. Depending on your zero-waste level, throw the beet greens in with the rest of the salad, save ’em to make a pesto, or compost ’em.

Put the beets into foil pockets and drizzle, spray, or otherwise apply some kind of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 45-60 minutes. Check with a fork after 45, even tho I’m not sure it’s possible to “over roast” a beet.

Cute little beet pockets.

Now that I look at that photo, I realize it’s not at all necessary to individually package the beets; a simple foil tube would be just fine. But, this makes them feel more special. Once you can poke a fork in ’em without much resistance, they can come out and cool down. It’s not proof of any super-powers if you can peel a beet that’s 400º ON THE OUTSIDE. Since they are plated relatively room temp, you could roast the day before or hours before you’re ready for dinner.

The rest of the salad is whatever you want. We’ve been digging these greens from Wisconsin (Woodman’s just started carrying this brand) because you can tell they didn’t sit on a truck for a week on their way up to the northern states. Slice up some red onion, cucumber, radish. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This time around, I added pine nuts and hemp hearts because I was feeling like we needed more crunch.

When the salad is well coated, plate and set aside.

This is a salad that can hold its own.

Now comes the magic part: cheese. But, not just any cheese. Goat cheese. And, not just ANY goat cheese. AIR-FRIED GOAT CHEESE in BALL SHAPE!

I regret that I don’t have pictures of the process because it’s a two-handed one, and it’s messy, and my iPhone isn’t insured.

Preheat your air fryer and get your separate whisked-egg and panko bowls ready.

Take the log of chèvre and cut pieces to shape into balls slightly smaller than the size of a ping-pong. If we’re using food for reference, you’re looking for a bocconcini-sized ball, not ovaline.

Coat with egg, coat with panko. Repeat.

When the fryer is hot, pull out the basket and lightly spray with avocado oil. Place each cheese ball so they’re not touching and “fry” for about eight minutes. When done, carefully scoop each ball out with a spoon and place gently on the salad like a rescued bird’s egg into its nest.

Dive in!

Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese

A delicious salad with the added wonderfulness of beets and "fried" cheese.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Cooling Time 30 mins
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

Salad

  • 3 handfuls salad greens
  • 1/3 c red onion sliced
  • 1/3 c cucumber sliced
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 Tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 beets roasted

Cheese Balls

  • 4 oz goat cheese divided
  • 1/3 c panko
  • 1 egg whisked

Instructions
 

  • Roast the beets in foil with olive oil, salt, pepper for 45-60 minutes at 400º. Check with a fork and remove to cool. When cooled, peel under running water. Slice into quarters.
  • When nearly ready to eat, mix the rest of the salad ingredients together and plate. Top salad with quartered beets.
  • Put panko and egg in separate bowls. Ball up the goat cheese (the size is preference-based—we like 'em smaller) and dip in each bowl to coat.
  • After the air fryer is preheated (about five minutes), place cheese balls in the basket for eight minutes without flipping. Gently remove with a spoon and place it onto the salad.

Baked Salmon & a Salad 🐟🥗


Jump to Recipe

Sometimes I decide to make something for dinner because it’ll be a challenge, or we have an ingredient or leftover to use up. And, sometimes I want to make something simple so we can enjoy two episodes of Better Call Saul instead of just one.

This meal *almost* falls under “too easy to blog about”, but I know there are folks out there for whom anything can be overwhelming or proverbially out of reach. This one’s for you.

Woodman’s has a package of inexpensive, frozen, wild-caught salmon that comes as two large, skin-on, separately-frozen fillets. This is basically all you need, but we’ll dress it up a little, to make it look fancy.

Preheat the oven to 400° and get our baking sheet and parchment paper ready. If you don’t have a lemon handy, a little lemon juice will work. Cracked some pepper and salt, sprinkle capers around, and top with sprigs of thyme (this is the fancy part).

Practically Michelin-star!

I usually bake it for 10 minutes and check the flakiness, then put it back in for 2 to 4 more.

I’d like to note here that salmon and eggs have something in common: albumen. It’s the white protein that surrounds an egg yolk, which keeps the baby chicken safe during incubation. It also seeps out of a salmon steak or fillet when cooked. This can be kinda gross to people who aren’t expecting it, so I usually try to scrape as much off as I can before plating.

While the fish is cookin’, grab your favorite medium bowl and whisk together white wine vinegar, lemon juice, canola oil, and a little agave nectar. Cut up some radishes, carrots, cucumber, and tomatoes and toss in the bowl with a whole bunch of spinach. There are some fancy sprouts pictured, too, but those aren’t required. I almost forgot to tell you to salt and pepper the salad, but you know to do that already.

Lots of tossing and stirring will turn 4 cups of spinach into a manageable salad.

Everything comes together so quickly! Plate and eat.

Salmon and Salad

English is weird; the "L" isn't pronounced in one of those words.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 lemon sliced
  • 1 Tbsp capers drained
  • salt, pepper

Salad

  • 4 c baby spinach
  • 6 radishes sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 c grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar

Instructions
 

Salmon

  • Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place filets and cover with lemon slices and capers. Salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, check and return to oven for 2-4 more minutes.

Salad

  • Whisk liquids together, toss vegetables around and let wilt.

Cheesy Tortellini & Asparagus


Jump to Recipe

This is based primarily on a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Make-Ahead Cookbook, which my mom gifted me for Christmas one year. It’s full of wonderful ideas for preparing dinner, lunch, and dinner and ways to get more meals out of your shopping list. It also gives ideas for freezer meals and slow cooker meals (good ideas for summertime—save the delicious Wisconsin sweet corn and don’t turn on the oven).

This is a fairly simple put-together dish; the only thing that gives it a second eggplant is that you need to blanch the asparagus. The bonus here is that you use the same water to boil the asparagus as the tortellini!

Speaking of, it’s time to start the water boiling. Whoever discovered heat+water=cooked food should be lauded for their curiosity and intuition.

With asparagus, I usually do the bend-til-it-breaks trick, but this time I decided to simply cut enough off the bottom, letting the knife tell me where the woody part starts. I think I didn’t want to be disappointed in how much I paid for it (this veggie is usually priced per pound), and I already have two baggies of ends in the freezer waiting for me to decide to make cream of asparagus soup.

Cut into roughly 1-inch pieces.

When the water bubbles, pop the greens in and set a timer for two minutes. Grab your trusty stainless steel bowl and put in some ice cubes; then, I usually keep the bowl in the freezer until the last second.

When the timer says so (in my case, it’s Alexa beepity-beeping at me), pull the bowl, fill mostly with cold water, and start slotted-spooning the asparagus into it to stop the cooking process. Let the pot on the stove come back to a boil.

Now it’s dressing time. I’ve mentioned before that making your own dressing is cheaper, better, and faster than buying bottled, and there’s no HFCS hiding at the top of the list, or Yellow #5 and Maltodextrin hiding at the bottom.

The dressing contains a delicious amount of minced shallot and garlic.

I’ve long known I’m never going to be a vampire. I like garlic way too much for that noise.

In a two-cup bowl, I squirt some lemon juice and realize I’ve run out, so I finish off the acidic liquid with some white wine vinegar. Because I’ve opted to use Lighthouse Farms freeze-dried Italian spices (do not buy this from Amazon, it’s too expensive—I’m sure your local Penzey’s store has a suitable alternative), I pour it in to let it rehydrate for a minute, then add the alliums. Whisk in the olive oil and let sit until everything else is assembled.

This is the magic sauce.

Slice up enough cherry tomatoes and put the asparagus into a medium bowl and add salt and pepper.

The multi-colored tomatoes make this dish pop.

To add a little bit of smooth crunch (I get the opposition, but pine nuts do that), roast a handful of pine nuts.

Since the tortellini is “fresh” (from Costco), it only takes about two minutes to boil (did I mention this dish comes together so quickly it’s almost silly?) so it’s the last thing to cook.

While it’s boiling, grate some parm and try to contain yourself.

Strain the pasta and rinse with cold water so it doesn’t melt the Parmesan. Pour into the bowl, add the dressing and shredded cheese. Stir carefully so as not to break the little pockets of cheesy amazingness.

Enjoy!

Cheese Tortellini and Asparagus

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 lbs asparagus ends trimmed, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1.5 lbs cheese-filled tortellini
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Italian herb mix
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 c grated Parmesan not that Kraft s#!t, either

Instructions
 

Salad

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus bits to boiling water with a little salt.
  • Prepare blanching vessel with ice cubes and cold water. After two minutes, remove asparagus from the pot with a slotted spoon into the ice-cold water. Strain and set aside. Return pot to a boil.
  • Stir together lemon juice, vinegar, and herb mix, then add diced garlic and shallots. Whisk in the olive oil and let rest.
  • Heat a small pan over medium and toast pine nuts until slightly darker than raw.
  • Slice tomatoes. Grate Parmesan.
  • Add tortellini to boiling water. After two minutes, straing and rinse with cold water.
  • Mix everything together carefully.

My mom’s boyfriend calls asparagus “spare grass” because he says horses eat it when they run out of real grass.

Cauli-Orzo-Feta Salad


This is from Chrissy’s Cravings, which I’ve talked about before; it’s the “lightest” recipe we’ve made from the cookbook (there may be others, we don’t know yet). We’ve made this twice so far and it comes together really quickly because you get to use the roasting and cooling time to do all the other prep and then it seems like you didn’t have to wait for anything!

Break up a head of cauliflower and roast, boil water, cook feta, make the dressing, mix together in a bowl. I know that sounds easy, and I do tend to think that making food is easier than it really is, so I’ll go through it more thoroughly.

Broken up, ready to roast.

The cauli gets tossed in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic and roasted; then set aside to cool.

The best picture of orzo cooking that you ever did see.

The orzo gets boiled, rinsed, and oiled; then set aside to cool.

It’s coming together!

Meanwhile, the dressing gets whisked, feta crumbled, and onions cut.

Toasted pine nuts for crunch.

Since I have a huge bag of pine nuts from Costco (it’s the best deal), I like to throw them in salads when I can; toasting gives a nice flavor.

Brick feta.

I like using the brick feta because it’s cheaper per ounce, and there aren’t as many preservatives as in the tubs of pre-crumbled feta. Plus, it’s not that hard to slice and crumble.

Mosty toasty roasty.

When the cauli is cool (it always is!), and you’re ready to assemble, throw everything in the bowl, along with a handful of dried cranberries (Chrissy recommends cherries, but I don’t have those) and fresh spinach.

Serve and eat immediately before I take your plate. Surprisingly, this holds up for lunch the next day without getting too wilty.

Now, go get Cravings (amzn affiliate link) so that I can afford her next book, Hungry for More!

Salade Niçoise


Jump to Recipe

This is an amalgamation of several Niçoise salad recipes and, since it requires many dishes and methods, it gets five eggplants for difficulty.

I was recently talking to the fella about rating the recipes and timing and how to get everything in the right order and how that seems to come naturally to me, so I’ll try to incorporate reasoning into the recipes that I write so it helps make sense of the whole thing.

For this dish, you can either start with the eggs or make them while the veggies are roasting. They can be hard boiled at any point prior and I use Gwennie’s method because it makes sense to me. So, for this recipe, it’s a nine-minute egg. The eggs can sit in the ice bath in a metal mixing bowl until you’re ready to plate, as far as I’m concerned. The colder they are, the easier they are to peel.

A riveting shot of eggs, resting in boiled water, covered. Use your imagination.

As the salad is served room temp, you can roast the veggies next (or first, depending on your egg situation). This will give them time to cool enough to put atop your mixed greens, which are typically fragile enough to wilt under the heat of a roasted veggie. My recently-discovered trick: after the eggs are peeled, wipe out the metal bowl, put all the veggies in and pop in the freezer for about five minutes.

I have not been diagnosed with OCD or Asperger’s but identify with those who have.

I’ve been keen on the bag of peppers from Costco since I don’t care for green (they make me burp) and the red/yellow/orange are usually over a dollar a piece at Woodman’s.

Baby potatoes cut into halves will be chewy in about 35 minutes at 400°. The peppers, thankfully, go along for this ride nicely. Spritz with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, Herbamare, or any of your favorite seasonings and spices.

Little Ball jars are a staple in the kitchen for mixing up quick dressings.

While your eggs are cooling in the sink, you can steam the green beans using the leftover egg water. You still want the freshly crunch, which is why steaming (for about eight minutes on medium heat) is the best method here.

While waiting for the veggies, you can make the dressing and mix up the tuna. The dressing is just* olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. The tuna is a handful of parsley, capers, minced shallot, and two cans of tuna packed in oil. If you have an abundance of oil left in the can, add it to the dressing. It’s all going to the same place, so it doesn’t *really* matter, but it helps bring all the flavors closer together.

Mayo-based tuna salad is GOOD but this is waaay better.

A couple of the recipes I referenced for this specifically call for Niçoise olives (holy crap, they’re expensive on Amazon!), so if you have a patient helper, get them, otherwise, Kalamata olives will do just fine (and they’re already pitted—a huuuuuge time-saver).

Much of the assembly line.

Fill a bowl with greens (these are the organic mixed greens from Costco, but we’ve been having varying degrees of luck with them lasting more than a day past “best by”) and tomatoes. It looks like a lot of food but will scrunch down into the bowl after everything else is piled on.

The start of a very delicious dinner.

Top with the warmer veggies and dressing. This should, hopefully, get things closer in temperature. I was a bit anxious and hungry, so I may have pressed a bit on this step.

Top with tuna, olives, and a couple of crusty bread slices (as if it weren’t enough food already) and serve to your best friend(s).

Beauty in a bowl.

Niçoise Salad

A veritable mashup of crunchy, soft, savory, tasty goodness.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cool Time 10 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine French
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 4 eggs
  • 12 baby potatoes halved
  • 2 peppers sliced
  • 2 cups green beans
  • 2 cans tuna packed in oil
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp shallot minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 2 cups greens mixed
  • 2 tbsp Niçoise or Kalamata olives sliced

Instructions
 

For the eggs:

  • Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water until an inch over (it's really hard to see what a liquid inch is when you're looking down into the pot). Turn heat on high and watch for boiling bubbles.
  • As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, move pot to a cold burner, and set a timer for nine minutes.
  • Fill a metal bowl with ice cubes and put in the sink. When the egg timer goes off, run some cold water in the metal bowl and put the eggs in there to cool.

For the roasted veggies:

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Slice potatoes into halves, slice peppers into strips, and arrange on a baking sheet (covered with parchment, if you like to make your life easier). Spray with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbamare, and/or your favorite seasonings from Penzey's. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, remove veggies and parchment to another surface to cool.

For the steamed green beans:

  • Place a steamer basket into a pot of water to make sure you haven't overfilled it. Turn the heat on.
  • Break off bean ends and cut beans in half. When the water is near boiling, arrange in the steamer basket and set a timer for seven minutes, cover. Remove basket and set on counter to cool (there is a theme here).

For the dressing:

  • In the vessel of your choice, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper (and some dijon mustard, if you're feeling fancy). Shake, whisk, or otherwise mix together and hold for later.

For the tuna salad:

  • Empty two cans of tuna into a bowl and add capers, shallots, and parsley. Mix well with a fork.

Assembly:

  • Peel eggs, slice in half.
  • Place mixed greens in two bowls, throw in the sliced tomatoes, drizzle dressing over the greens.
  • Assemble veggies, top with tuna salad and olives. Place eggs pleasingly around the bowl edge and serve.

I’ve had my share of mock-tuna dishes made with a slightly mashed chickpea mixture and think this would hold up well if you wanted to make it vegetarian; do this and omit the hard-boiled eggs to make it vegan.

My Take on Dressing

The sooner you learn how to make (and enjoy the simplicity of) your own dressing, the happier you’ll be. No more half-used bottles of Ranch in the back of the fridge, no more zero-calorie (and tasteless) Caesar dressing, no more salads doused with high fructose corn syrup and whey powder. *Just* oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper (also dijon mustard and agave nectar).

And, if you do want Caesar, Ranch, or whatever, you can enjoy the pure calories of buttermilk cuz you haven’t been using the bottled kind.