Category Archives: Salads

Puzzle, dunk, and beans

The crossword puzzle gets me out of bed on Sundays, eager and curious.

Another beautiful day. It might rain at six. Regarding our patio dinner postponed from last night, K quips, “We should hold it yesterday.” It ended up being beautiful at six last evening.

A dunk a day keeps the depression away! Not gonna happen, but how grateful I am when we go.

You know it’s time to chuck a suit when the elastic crackles as you put it on. Since I love polka dots so much, a piece of the Lycra/poly blend will go into the fabric stash. I’ve used other synthetic polka dots to good effect.

Here’s a hint about tonight’s bean salad.

Here’s a hint about how the chicken will be served.

Here’s a link to GimmeSomeOven for their chimichurri recipe. Yummmm! I hope there will be some leftover for leftovers!

Gutters and lemon squares

It was cooler and then not. One pile of dirt has been dispersed, the other sifted of rocks. More news on patio in another post.

I made lemon squares and cut K’s hair. Worked on a bunch of chapters. Yesterday, met “the guys” over at the lake.

Saturday afforded some beautiful late afternoon light.

K cleaned gutters and I laid additional slates in the landing area. One of the beauties of watching a professional crew is learning how to do something. My rubber mallet, small yellow level, and trowel have been busy!

For instance, I’m interrupting the median plantings so that when the nearby elementary school resumes in-person learning, it’ll be clear where to step. A good use of the multitude of rocks uncovered in our patio project. My mother used to joke that rocks are New England’s best crop.

Recording the above because dinner prep is in the works. I’m roasting tomatoes, soaking beans, chopping olives and cooking rice for a rice, corn, and bean salad. Tons of garlic and shallots will add flavor.

Fortuitously, even before the obscenity that is Ivanka hawking Goya beans on her twitter feed, I ordered heirloom beans from California. Very exciting for this mid-level foodie!

Two friends are coming over to watch Hamilton this evening. I’m excited way out of proportion to the event. I’ve seen both friends recently and have already watched Hamilton once, but it feels special.

For one thing, I haven’t had a reason to tidy the living room in a LONG time. Plus, I love an excuse to rearrange the furniture (we’ll sit six feet apart and wear masks – except when eating).

And when have I cooked for friends last?

Pantry salad

Pantry Salad — serves 6

3 T sesame seeds

One chopped spring onion (or 2 scallions)

1/2 c pine nuts

1/4 c chopped parsley

Can of cannellini beans

1 chopped roasted red pepper

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob

1 c purple rice, cooked on toothsome side

Vinaigrette with extra garlic and salt

This salad is prettier before the addition of the rice. If you want those bright colors, either skip the rice or use brown or white instead.

I subbed rice for the kasha which I thought were buckwheat groats (oops). Technically, an ear of corn is not a pantry item and not even in season, but I had some because of a planned dinner party tonight. You could make it without the corn.

Other good additions: chopped hearts of palm; chopped Spanish olives; diced red onion.

Those of you who know how negative my self-talk tends to be might not recognize me after I produce a perfect omelet. Or a really tasty salad. After taking the first bite of this one, I said, “Oh my god! Who am I?”

Meanwhile, turns out that cancelling dinner guests for tonight was the right thing to do. I’ll still make sweet polenta with mushroom ragout. It’ll last for days!

Earlier, I took to cleaning up the perennial beds. Raking as a minor act of salvation.

My new life hack, discovered by accident (aren’t they all?): using a plunger to open a leaf bag, then using plunger to keep bag open while filling, and finally, using it to tamp leaves down as I go.

I used to put the bag over my head and punch it open from the inside, like a crazy person. Needless to say, at five feet tall, swinging a leg into the bag for stomping mid-rake session wasn’t accomplished with any grace either. So I’m loving this!

I also spent some time hacking and heaving and pulling at the maple roots that were left behind after a shitty stump removal. That little pile of roots depicted above? Took forty minutes.

Since my comments don’t take over at Joanne’s blog, let me shout out here: Wolf Hall is one of my favorite books ever. Be a good choice for a re-read. I just can’t believe how skillfully Mantel crafted her historic narrative. Also: she has a new novel out.

One more shout out: Happy birthday to my mother-in-law!! (She’s the only family member who reads my blog regularly.) Stay healthy. Stay strong. If you were here, I’d pull out some of the salad before adding the garlic — just for you.

Cold Weather Salads

In the colder weather, we want sturdier, starchier foods. The craving applies to salads, too. This selection of ‘cold weather salads’ relies on typical pantry items, which means with a well-stocked larder you can make most of them with little or no planning.
Nothing like toothsome barley to satisfy the need for something deliciously starchy! Add some chic peas, diced red onion, chopped green olives and orange pepper, toss with parsley and a vinaigrette and you’ve got yourself a Company Worthy salad! Unlike many others, this holds for days in the fridge.

IMG_6942Dress up red leaf with some deli-style olives and artichoke hearts out of the can. Yum! While I generally prefer white or rice vinegar, a balsamic vinegar adds to the visual sense of a dark and hearty mixture.

IMG_6951IMG_6953Sunflower seeds and cannellini beans, both readily kept on hand, dress up any salad — here find them nicely partnered with spinach and red cabbage.

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IMG_7289Hearts of palm and again, sunflower seeds, turn an otherwise pedestrian salad into something a little special. Scallions and radish add pizzazz. The dressing here is Marie’s Lite Blue Cheese mixed with lemon and garlic. It’s the only store bought dressing I ever use. If you’ve a brand you really like, let me know! Generally, I find that little compares with homemade mustard/garlic vinaigrette.
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IMG_7506This salad combines radicchio, sunflower seeds, chic peas and carrot ribbons with bitter greens. In the cold weather, it’s nice to have pops of color on our plates and even though we associate bitter greens with spring, they’re available all year ’round. Partner with a sweet potato for a light, mid-week meal.
IMG_7545  IMG_7548Roasted beets of any color constitute a real treat in my book. Wrap them in foil, throw ’em in a medium oven for an hour, use the foil to scrape away the skin and voila! — you have a tender, sweet vegetable that really needs no adornment. Here, I’ve mixed yellow beets with canned white beans, olives and lots of pepper prior to dressing with a vinaigrette.

IMG_7554If my friend Elizabeth ever produces another batch of this exquisite oil, I’ll let you know. It’s delicious on salads and good for direct application to hair and skin, too.

IMG_7555IMG_7558Escarole, mung bean sprouts, and radishes. Not sure why this salad made it into the ‘cool weather file,’ but I’d eat it this late November week for sure. IMG_7595IMG_7600

Chicken Waldorf Salad is special any time of year, but in November it’s particularly satisfying. I’ve skipped the greens and the grapes and added wild rice. Walnuts are a must, as are celery and some kind of onion. I didn’t do so here, but roasting the nuts briefly in a saute pan brings out their flavor. This is a wonderful use of leftover chicken.

Skip the lettuce

Every now and then I like a salad without lettuce. Here’s tonight’s version:

Diced base of green pepper / Small chunks of half a tomato / two celery stalks, chopped / 3 Tbs diced red onion / small handful of chopped endive / half a chopped avocado / one small cuke, peeled and chopped / chopped herb (cilantro or parsley).

Tasty with all kinds of dressings but my favorite is a tangy vinaigrette.

This is a single serving.

* * *

Great opportunity opened up last night: got a space at a writing retreat. I had moved on it late. It was full. Forgot about it. And then: ta da! I was first on the waiting list and a spot is mine!

Not only is it being held in my old stomping grounds just outside of Northampton in central Mass., it’ll be DAYS dedicated to writing and feedback. The timing couldn’t be better!

Brutally hot here again. Finn and I started our day in the lake!

I’ll be taking about a week-long break here.