Category Archives: Salads

Grilled Radicchio & Pear Salad

We did a pretty good job cleanin’ out the CSA box from last week, but there was that dreaded lingering head of radicchio.

Though I actually really liked the chicken and radicchio pasta salad from last week, I hate to repeat recipes so soon, and this definitely raised concerns that I wouldn’t be able to top that salad.  Fritz is especially not a big fan of anything bitter, and radicchio is, um…quite bitter.  Downright disgusting raw, I must say.

Several people suggested that I try grilling it, and I just wasn’t convinced that this would alter the bitterness enough to enjoy it.  But when I came home from a long day of class and the house was 90 degrees inside, I knew that the grilling was on.

Hold on to your seats, friends, because it works.  It really, really worked.

Grilled Radicchio & Pear Salad Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 small head radicchio, cut into quarters
  • 1 ripe pear, large dice
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t mustard (I used hot and sweet)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cut the radicchio into quarters, leaving the core largely intact, and brush with a bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill over indirect medium-high heat until wilted, with some crisp on the outer leaves.  This should only take a few minutes on each flat side of the quarter.

Meanwhile, mix the balsamic vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese together with a fork until well blended.

When the radicchio is done, slice and divide onto plates.  Sprinkle with the pear and drizzle with dressing.

This recipe made three nicely sized entrée salads for Fritz, Eber, and I, but it could make 4-6 little side salads, too.

I couldn’t believe how good the radicchio was once it was grilled!  Fritz still found some of the inner pieces to be a little too bitter for his taste, but for the most part he enjoyed it.

He also couldn’t tell that there was mustard in the dressing, which is good because he claims to hate mustard.  I, however, have yet to see the definitive evidence of this hatred–every time I make something with mustard in it and don’t tell him, he finds it to be quite delicious.  Veeeery suspect.

Fritz and I also had an intense play session with Henry today, involving his arch nemesis–a paper towel roll.  However, the tables turned on Fritz when Henry spotted a much more fun (and interactive) target:

No, that’s not my foot.  That hairy leg belongs to Fritz.  I continued to egg Henry on and reinforce his bad habits by not stepping in to rescue Fritz until things went from bad to worse:

Henry was without a doubt a serious warrior in his previous life.

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Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad

Post # 200.

Amazing–it feels like just yesterday that I decided to make an apple pie (well, two–I’ve never been the type to do things by halves) and then blog it!  But, 200 posts later, I’m still loving the blogging world!

I also added a new page to the blog today–called “Top 100”.  It’s a list from the New York Times naming the top 100 novels from 1923–present.  I’ve started using it as an inspiration when I want to combine what I’m reading by chance (read: books I choose based on their titles and covers alone) with something that will definitely enrich my selection and hopefully make me a little smarter, too.  And nerdier?  Definitely.  So check it out and let me know if you’ve read any of them, and which ones you think I should tackle next.

In last week’s CSA box we received a head of radicchio, which I had never tried before.  When I googled it and discovered that is it very bitter, I got a little nervous.  I am frankly just not a fan of bitter greens, so I knew I’d have to cook this to make it palatable.

And of course I was also hoping to somehow make it beyond palatable into something more delicious.  I adapted this pasta salad recipe from Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes, from Laura Pensiero’s Hudson Valley Mediterranean.  Her mantra is:

Eat healthy, enjoy food, live well, and never sacrifice flavor.

Now that is a mantra I can get behind.

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 oz dry whole-wheat pasta (I used macaroni)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded (for a shredding tutorial, go here)
  • 12 oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 t dried garlic)
  • 1 1/2 t mustard (I used Trader Joe’s Hot and Sweet Mustard–mmm)
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and place in a large bowl–this is where the entire salad is going to end up, so make sure there’s enough room.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and saute the onion until translucent and beginning to brown.  Add the radicchio and saute for a few more minutes until it cooks down, but not until it’s totally limp.  Add the onions and radicchio to the pasta bowl, and mix.  Now is a good time to add the frozen peas, too–the hot pasta will defrost ’em.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the (now empty) skillet.  Cook the garlic until fragrant (30 seconds or so), and add the chicken, saute until golden brown and cooked through.  Add the mustard and chicken broth, and cook until the broth reduces volume by half.  Lastly, pour in the Parmesan cheese and stir until it melts and forms a nice, thick sauce.

Add the chicken mixture to the macaroni bowl.  Mix.  Taste.  Be surprised that the radicchio, though bitter, isn’t bad.  Taste again.  Salt and pepper to taste, toss it one more time, and steal one more taste.

Yum.  Serve either warm, at room temperature, or cool.  It is totes up to you.

I really enjoyed this pasta dish–definitely an entrée and not a side, and full of different textures.  The radicchio was still bitter, but not overwhelming.  I had this for lunch today with half of a grilled zucchini and a roasted beet: vegetable city.

For people who don’t need to use up their CSA veggies and don’t like bitter greens, you can make this recipe with spinach or Swiss chard, too.  But if you can, give radicchio a chance (because it’s always good to add some variety in your diet!).

Speaking of CSA boxes, say hello to week seven:

And say hello to radicchio number two–guess I’ll have to find another cooked radicchio recipe for this week, too.  Any suggestions?

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Filed under Entrees, Salads

Quinoa Fruit Salad

Doesn’t the weekend just go way, way too fast?  I’m so bummed that it’s already Sunday night, even though we had a fun-packed weekend and Fritz is outside grilling chicken so I can have a beautiful salad tomorrow like the world’s best husband that he is.

Still.  I wish it was Friday morning again.  But since it’s not, here’s an awesome fruit salad recipe that I promise you will love.  You’ll think it’s gorgeous, you’ll want to kiss it, you’ll want to hug it, you’ll want to love it…(Miss Congeniality, anyone?)

Quinoa Fruit Salad (original recipe from Oh She Glows, serves 4-6) 

Printable Recipe Card

  • 3/4 C dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 apple, rinsed and diced
  • 3 peaches, rinsed and diced
  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • sprinkle of salt

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, remembering to rinse it first to get rid of that bitter taste.  Meanwhile, slice the fruit (and feel free to adapt the fruit in any way–use whatever you have around the house!) and layer it in a deep bowl.  When the quinoa is cooked and fluffed (it doesn’t need to be cooled), toss that on top, too.

Toss the dressing ingredients over the top and mix, mix, mix.  I found this to be the perfect amount of sweetness (and just a teensy hint of balsamic), but you can always adjust to your own taste.  The lime also keeps the apple from browning, which is nice.

Either serve warm as is (because you probably wont be able to resist it), or cool in the fridge prior to serving.

Angela also added almonds to her salad, which I can imagine would be amazing if you plan on eating it all in one day.  I know we’ll have some leftover for school tomorrow, so I left out what I knew would end up as soggy nuts.  Which is never a good thing to have.

Ahem.  Anyway.  I love, love, love this salad.  Sometimes I forget that quinoa is so yummy in a sweet dish, so I’m glad I had a reminder.

I also got to chat with some lovely people at the farmstand by my house when I went to pick up some strawberries.  I’ll tell you all about that (and the recipe I left with!) on another day.

Because I want to start the week off on the right foot, I’ll leave you with a picture that my mom posted on facebook today.  It’s a throwback to the old days, when my little sister Kristen (who is applying to vet schools as we speak) first discovered her true love for animals:

It makes me laugh every time I look at it.  For, like, ten minutes.

No frogs were harmed (other than possible psychological damage) in the making of this photo.

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Making Salads Portable

Do you guys miss baking the way I do?  Without my camera (Fritz has it for the weekend while he’s in Montreal with his dad for the Grand Prix), and without my husband, baking has seemed a little superfluous.  Between trying to get through all the greens and leftovers in the fridge by myself, and having no one to share baked goods with, I just couldn’t make it seem necessary.  However, Fritz is coming home tomorrow and today is looking like its going to be a perfect day for some serious baking.  I’m thinking cookies, or bread, but probably cookies.  Mom gave me some giant nonpareils that would look so cute squished atop some peanut butter cookies.

Sorry that you won’t see them.

Last week, when I knew I’d be camera-less, I took some extra pictures so I’d have something to blog about.  Today’s topics:  making salads portable.

With Fritz and I both in school all day long, it’s even harder to eat healthily–especially on a student budget.  When I first started school, all my classmates bought their lunches in the hospital cafeteria, which adds up really fast.  A prepackaged salad there costs between $5 and $8!  Definitely not acceptable.  I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day (I’ll admit it, I still love a good ol’ PB&J) which wasn’t the most nutritious of lunches to eat daily.  This year, we’ve started to bring leftover dinners to school for lunches, along with our standard easily packaged sides (yogurt, baby carrots, fruit, cottage cheese, trail mix, etc), and now–salads.

When I started trying to make salads portable, I was making rookie mistakes such as (don’t laugh) putting the dressing on them at home and eating them five hours later.  The horror!  Wilted, slimy lettuce and a salad that’s half the size it was when I first packed it.  I also crammed a big salad (these are entree-sized salads, here) into too small a Tupperware, making them difficult to mix and messy to eat.

Finally, I’ve got it down.  For someone who didn’t really like salad that much in the first place, it took a lot more trial-and-error than you’d expect to make me actually want to enjoy a salad at school.  For all you salad-haters out there–it is possible!  Stick to it.

Here’s some of my “making salad portable” tips:

1)  Mix your lettuces.  I get bored of salad pretty fast, so if you can combine lettuces in the same salad, or rotate lettuce types daily, it’ll really help.  In this salad I started with the red Boston lettuce, and added in a handful of baby mixed salad greens.

2)  Be creative with your toppings–and don’t get stingy.  This is a meal, remember.  For this salad I used white salad turnips and turkey, and I topped it off with a handful of sesame seeds.  I was making this salad quickly in the morning, and wanted a protein–even sliced deli meat is better than nothing!

Other tried and true combinations are strawberries/raisins/walnuts, carrots/bell peppers/tomatoes, and any leftover grilled chicken or steak we have lying around.  Since I am still a rookie salad maker, I’ve yet to get into adding hummus, lentils, beans, etc.–but I can promise that will happen.  One step at a time, here.

3)  Dressing.  So important.  Get a non-leaking small container that’ll hold 2 T of dressing, and take advantage!  Also have a few interesting dressings in your fridge so you don’t have to make one yourself every day, and you can change up the flavors.

4) A big enough container.  I use a pretty giant container, but it holds my salad and all the extras–the dressing container, a fork, other toppings I want to add later (in a baggie), everything.  That way it’s okay that it’s giant.  You can take all the extras out, add the dressing, and shake it up!

So far, salad has really grown on me.  Summer of the salad is turning into a successful venture!

Today is really looking like a good day–it’s cool and rainy, so it feels a bit like fall (which you know I love).  Even though I’ve been moping around without Fritz, today I woke up feeling motivated.  I’m currently watching my favorite movie of all time (Dan In Real Life), and when I’m done blogging I’m going to clean out my closets.  It’s going to be crazy.

I have so many clothes.

Someone pinned an old blog post of mine on Pinterest, reminding me of a necklace organizer/display I made a few months ago.  I have some newer pictures of it, so I thought I’d reshare for all you new readers out there.  I used to have all my jewelry crammed into a box, and the necklaces were forever getting tangled together, broken, and buried until I forgot about their existence all together.  A genius idea (if I do say so myself), a towel bar, and some shower curtain rings later, I have this:

It’s awesome, because not only is it super easy to pick out the necklaces I want to wear, but it looks really cute and bright, and never will a necklace tangle again.  And if you get more necklaces, buy a few more shower curtain rings!  I have a million necklaces on there, and it’s not overcrowded yet.

Above the necklace rack is a Frangel that Fritz’s mom made for me.  Beautiful, huh?

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Filed under Non-food things I like, Salads

Greens, Egg, and Ham Salad

Catchy title, huh?  I thought of it on my drive home from the gym as I was contemplating what I was going to immediately make for dinner.  Because I’m one of those people who thinks about what they are going to eat the second they wake up, throughout class, at the gym, in the shower, etc.  I really just love food.  And planning food.  But mostly eating it.

My workout today was great–recently, the gym I go to got some new giant StairMasters and a Jacob’s Ladder, both of which are new and fun ways for me to get some more cardio in.  I had realized lately that I wasn’t getting quite enough of that heart-rate increasing, quad and hamstring burning cardio, so it was perfect timing for some new equipment.  I also warmed up today by running a mile and sprinting the last 0.15 of it, and it was surprisingly easy!  Seems like my workouts lately have paid off.

Also, I’m starting to get triceps!  Real ones!  I was driving the other day and I rubbed an itch on my arm–surprise!  Triceps!  Usually I have to try really hard to notice them even when I’m flexing, so it was nice to find them just hangin’ out while I’m all relaxed.

How dorky is it that I’m so excited by this?  I’m not sure how apparent it is to people just looking at me, but that doesn’t really matter in the greater scheme of things, does it?

Anyway, back to the salad.  I knew I had some greens hangin’ around, but I was craving protein, so I decided to be all foodie-trendy and add a fried egg to the top.  The nicest part?  With the addition of warm ham and eggs, the spinach wilted a bit–and no dressing needed, since I like my eggs runny.

Greens, Egg, and Ham Salad

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/3 C diced ham (I had some in the freezer that I just reheated in the microwave)
  • 1 fried egg, cooked to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste (that means lots of black pepper for me!)

I don’t think I need to go into detail on how to actually put together this salad.

Baby spinach:

Topped with warm ham:

And a fried egg with S&P:

I also popped it in the microwave for ten seconds to encourage the wilting of the spinach.  Cheating, I know, but part of food blogging means all your food gets cold while you are taking photos, and the spinach isn’t likely to wilt on its own.  Gotta give it a little help.

This was so good!  I gave Fritz a taste, and he also really liked it!  It helped that the ham was really savory, but the runny egg on the top was the piece de resistance.  Now I understand why all the food magazines I’ve seen lately are all over this.  Definitely an easy way to bulk up a boring and really simple salad!

We ate outside because at 7:00 or so when it was all ready, the weather was that perfect slightly-dim-outside just-cooling-down perfection that is summer nights.  Anytime we’re outside on the deck, Henry stands on the table and meows sadly because he’s been left out–even if we’re just outside for a few seconds to grill.

Probably the most adorable thing ever.  Those pictures are from two different days–the one on the left is from when Fritz grilled turkey burgers with pineapple (delicious, by the way) and on the right from today.

One more summer update–we switched from the warm, bulky, winter comforter to the light, bright, summer comforter!  Doesn’t it look so peaceful and refreshing?  I love the bright colors and busy patterns of our other Anthropologie comforter, but sometimes it’s nice to switch over the clean and white.  It just looks so calming and fresh.

Tomorrow we are going to visit some of our favorite people, Zev and Breanna, before they move far, far away!  So sad to see good friends leave, but they are moving on to a new and exciting chapter of their lives (involving lots of graduate school), so we are happy for them.  Anytime I see people move, I get a little jealous because I love that exciting transitional period of finding yourselves in a new place.

It also might have to do with the fact that they will be much closer to my mom and dad than we are.  But that’s all the more reason to visit later!

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Grilled Summer Corn Salad

Best news ever.  I have officially completed the end of my second year of PT school.  I’m a third year!

It feels amazing.  Especially because:

  1. I don’t feel guilty about cooking and/or blogging instead of studying.
  2. I may be able to actually read a large section of a book tomorrow without falling asleep.
  3. I can go to the gym for a whole hour and a half! Maybe even two hours!
  4. The sun came out for two minutes when I walked out of school.  Coincidence?
  5. My friends are coming over tonight, and if it doesn’t start raining again, we can use the fire pit!
  6. Fritz and I are going to Boston this weekend to celebrate my younger sister’s 21st birthday (happy birthday, Kristen!)!
  7. I made grilled summer corn salad for dinner–and finally learned to turn on the grill all by myself (about time, huh?)
  8. Fritz got sworn in as an American citizen yesterday.  God bless America.

Grilled Corn Summer Salad (original recipe here)

  • 3 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 1 small eggplant, cut in half lengthwise OR 1 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2-3 T chive blossom vinegar or other vinegar of choice
  • 2 T minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Turn on the grill to high, oil it, and let it heat up for about ten minutes.  Lay the corn and eggplant (or squash) directly on the grill, turning a few times, for about 20 minutes, until slightly charred and cooked.

Slice the eggplant/squash into cubes.  I used eggplant, but I really think I would have liked the taste and texture of the squash better–brighter and a little less…eggplanty.  Next, cut the corn kernels off the cob.

I love corn on the cob, and charred?  Even better.  I could have eaten all three ears for dinner, but I thought Fritz might appreciate an actual meal for once.  Add the diced tomato, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar.  Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remember that chive blossom vinegar?  Here it is, in the most gorgeous bright pink ever found in nature.  This is seriously only colored by the chive blossoms!  I let it sit for a week, and when I tasted it today I decided a week was enough–nice, strong chive taste (but not too strong).

I was only about 90% thrilled with this salad, but I think it would have been 100% with the switch from eggplant to summer squash.  The corn added a really nice touch of sweetness to the salad that was quite enjoyable.  Also, I love corn.  Have I said that?

It’s delicious.

Now if it would just stay nice outside!

I also got to pick some of our flowers from the garden for the first time this year, and they dress up the house instantly:

Amusing fact: I took out a cut crystal vase we received as a wedding gift to hold the flowers, laughed hysterically (so not me), and immediately put them into a washed out chutney bottle.  Ahhh.  Much better.

This is also Fritz’s first full day as an American!  Look at how cute he was getting all dressed up to go be sworn in:

I think that tomorrow some friends and I are getting together to make some yummy frozen treats, and then we are headed off to Boston for the weekend!

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Pear and Gorgonzola Spinach Salad

As you all know, I’m trying to be all about salad this year.  Tryin’ real hard, in fact.

Since this week has been very stressful (finals and all that), I decided that after presenting my project at school, I would come home and make myself a nice lunch before starting to study again.  At the grocery store I snagged a couple of eggplants on quick sale and thought a Thai roasted eggplant salad would be just the ticket.

So, so, wrong.  It was awful.  It was a horrendous pureed texture, the flavors just did not work together, and it smelled and tasted like Henry’s post-catfood breath.  Not a good smell, and definitely not a good taste.

Being the “calm under fire” type of person who reacts especially well when stressed, I promptly threw it out and sat down to study.  And then I thought about all the food I wasted.  And how much time I lost from studying.  And how the house still smelled like old salmon left out to ripen on a hot sunny day (darn you, Thai fish sauce).  And then I cried.

Turns out I’m not really the “calm under fire” type.  More the “cry under fire” type.  So I let it out for about 30 seconds and then gave myself a (figurative) slap across the face.

Gotta get it together!  There’s always still time to have a good day (and a good lunch).  One emergency phone call to Fritz (only a little teary), and a lovely tub of gorgonzola cheese arrived home only a few minutes later.

Sometimes you just need some cheese.

Pear and Gorgonzola Spinach Salad

  • 4 C baby spinach (or a few handfuls…which is how I actually measured)
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 1 ripe Anjou pear (any would work, I’m sure!), cored and diced
  • 1/4 C gorgonzola cheese
  • 1-2 T balsamic vinaigrette per serving (I used Newman’s Own, light)

First important step: attempt to cheer yourself up by making your salad in the gorgeous wooden bowl given to you by your parents, passed down from your great-aunt.

Incidentally, the fabric under the bowl is also from my great-aunt.

Toss in the spinach.

I must have felt better by this point, because I took the time to do a little photography experiment.  Because it was so dark and rainy outside, and it was already past five, it was really dim in the kitchen and difficult to get a good shot so–I broke out the tripod!  I’ve been using it for some occasions like these where I want a clearer shot.  Can you tell the difference?  Other than the tripod, I took them at exactly the same settings, distance, etc.  I love how much clearer the spinach is in the entire bowl in the top picture.

Anyway, add in the raisins:

The pear (which was so perfectly ripe, I couldn’t stand it):

And, of course, the cheese:

No one will judge you if you add in a little extra.  Give the salad a toss, and then admire.  Further cheer yourself up by using your favorite serving spoon, given to you as a wedding gift by Fritz’s aunt.

Serve the salad and drizzle the dressing over the top.  You could add the dressing in now, but I didn’t want to have dressing already involved in case there were leftovers.  Which there were (it made about three main dishes and probably six side salads).

So delicious.  I call salads that I like “restaurant quality” and this one definitely fits the bill.  I threw some leftover ham in Fritz’s salad (that man-protein complex) and he ate the giant salad in about four minutes.  Impressive.

This actually reminded me a little of a salad my high school boyfriend’s mom used to make, except I think her recipe used craisins, apples, and walnuts with a raspberry vinaigrette.  I loved that salad a lot, too–maybe that’ll be my next one, since I have some cheese leftover.  Any other gorgonzola cheese-involved salads that I need to try?

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