Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Category: Salads (page 2 of 2)

Jewel-Toned Winter Salad

Deep, rich greens are balanced by bright and lively oranges, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds, topped with a subtly sweet-and-sour homemade vinaigrette.  This salad is simple, yet so very flavorful.

Perhaps you are like me right now, craving clean and healthy foods after over-indulging during the holidays.  I don’t regret any of the holiday over-indulgences, because they were part of spending time with family and friends, but January is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.  A refreshing salad is a great way to recharge and energize.

winter salad 1I keep reading about winter greens at this time of year.  Hardy greens can survive the winter in milder regions, or in more extreme regions like mine, can grow during the winter in a greenhouse or another similar gardening apparatus.  Apparently, cold weather brings out the flavor of these hardy greens, such as kale, collards, chards, spinach, and others, and locally-grown varieties are available at markets or even in some grocery stores all winter long.  I’m really glad about this, because I have been craving greens for the last couple of weeks.  Recently, my daughter and I have been enjoying a gently fried egg on top of a bed of sautéed greens, and I have been making lots of salads.

winter salad with dressing 2This salad is a lunch favorite for me.  Not only does it use the deeply nutritious winter greens, but also vitamin-C-packed oranges.  We often get oranges as Christmas presents, and they are also wonderful this time of year.  The sweetness of the oranges balances the earthy, slight bitterness of the greens, making a really flavorful combination.  The vinaigrette goes great with this salad too, and since we have a lot of oranges right now, I used fresh-squeezed orange juice in the dressing.  Delicious!  And I love the jewel tones in this salad–the emerald, topaz, ruby and pearl colors.

winter salad with dressingThe days are now getting a little bit lighter and brighter, and I can sense a subtle shift in the light outside.  Everything looks a little brighter, and I am inspired to exercise more and de-clutter the house. (A really big, never-ending job!)  After a relatively mild December, we are now having some very cold days and nights–just in time to put the kids’ new flannel sheets on their beds.  We went up north after Christmas, and were able to go sledding and skiing, and the kids made s’mores with their cousins around an outdoor fire.  Ever since my sister-in-law introduced me to the word “hygge”, a Danish word and concept embodying a special type of coziness and togetherness in the cold and darkness, we have been trying to embrace winter and cultivate an appreciation for the aspects that make wintertime unique.  Food is often at the center of this coziness, so I am looking forward to getting back to my blogging space and also checking out what fellow bloggers have been doing.

I hope you all have a very happy new year! winter greens salad 7

Jewel-Toned Winter Salad

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • a mixed bunch of hardy greens, such as spinach, kale, or chard
  • 2 small oranges, one for juicing and one for slicing
  • a handful of slivered almonds
  • a handful of dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
  • optional:  Feta cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best, but prepared is fine too)
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/3 cup of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Select a handful of greens–enough for 2 people.  Wash the greens and tear them into bite-sized pieces.  Peel the oranges.  Set one aside for the salad dressing. Separate the other orange into sections, and cut each section into bite-sized pieces. Place on top of the greens.  Sprinkle on the desired amount of slivered almonds and dried cranberries.

For the dressing, juice the remaining orange.  In a glass jar with a screw top, add the orange juice, white wine vinegar, mustard, honey, and olive oil.  Shake well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and shake again.  Pour the desired amount over the salad, and refrigerate the rest. Sprinkle with Feta cheese, if desired.  Serve as a side dish or with bread or crackers for a light, refreshing lunch.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Refreshing Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of the most refreshing salads I have ever tasted.  With lots of mint, cucumber, lemon juice, parsley, and ripe, juicy tomatoes, it not only quenches my thirst and naturally cools me down, but it is also full of nutrients and tastes delicious. The grain in tabbouleh is bulgur wheat, which tastes similar to couscous.  close-up of tabboulehI really like bulgur because it is a hundred percent whole wheat and full of fiber, iron, protein, and vitamin B-6.  Bulgur is also a relatively low glycemic index food, so it causes less fluctuations in blood glucose levels than many other carbohydrates. Plus, it is filling without giving one that stuffed feeling.

mintWith the heat wave we have been experiencing this week, it is the perfect dish to satisfy a body in need of nutrients with a light touch.  It is also a perfect dish to take to potlucks and picnics, since this salad does not wilt easily.

I can’t believe I forgot about this dish all summer until now, since my whole family loves it, and I made it numerous times last summer.  We have some of the ingredients growing in our very own garden right now, including parsley, tomatoes ripening on the vine, and mint growing rampant.  That makes it even better, because the freshness of the vegetables is key to the wonderful flavor.  Luckily, I am now back on track again with the tabbouleh, and there is still time to make more, with the tomatoes still rolling in!  After eating a big bowlful during dinner tonight, my son said that he likes tabbouleh so much, he would rather eat a bowl of it than eat an Oreo (!), and with him, that is saying something.  With that kind of endorsement, I am going to make another batch tomorrow! In fact, I plan to double the recipe so it will last for more than one meal.

veggies and bulgurThe recipe I am sharing below reflects the balance of traditional tabbouleh ingredients we like best in my family.  Feel free to adjust the levels to your personal tastes.  It only takes about a half hour to whip up a batch, though it tastes best after it has chilled at least an hour.

Until the next time, stay cool, and savor what remains of the beautiful summer! The mornings have been so misty and lovely here lately, before the day starts to really heat up.  The insects are humming and there is a golden hue to the light. I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! I am off to visit Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted today by Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread.bulgur and veggiestwo bowls of tabboulehclose up tabbouleh

Refreshing Tabbouleh

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of bulgur
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup of cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash the bulgur in a bowl, changing the water a few times.  Then cover the bulgur with boiling water.  Set aside and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and finely chop the vegetables and herbs, and place them in a medium bowl.  Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  When the bulgur is done, drain it through a fine strainer.  Take the bulgur by handfuls and squeeze the excess water out of it, then add it to the bowl with the salad mixture.  Stir gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least one hour.  Serve cold.  Enjoy!

 

Yogurt-Dill Dressing for Greens

dill and greens 5Delicate and robust at the same time, freshly-picked greens are one of the most refreshing foods on the planet.  And this is the time to eat them–gardens and farmers markets are full of tender lettuces and other greens right now.  They soothe the body with all their vitamins and minerals.  This simple, yet flavorful yogurt-dill dressing enhances the greens without overpowering them.

Homemade salad dressings are so much fun to work with, because you can be as creative as you want to be with them.  A general rule of thumb is to use a ratio of one part acidic liquid (like a vinegar or lemon juice) to about three parts oil (like olive oil or vegetable oils).  A prepared Dijon mustard, though not necessary, adds flavor and helps bind the oil and acidic liquids together.  You can also play around with herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and creamier agents like Greek yogurt or buttermilk.  The possibilities are endless!  Just adjust the levels according to your tastes.

salad on porchThe yogurt dill dressing I am sharing today is loosely based on a recipe I found in the inspirational Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi, though I made some changes to reflect my own tastes.  That is the beauty of homemade dressings.  You get to be creative, and you don’t need tons of time or complicated ingredients to make a wonderful accompaniment to fresh greens.  This dressing is gently creamy with the heavenly flavor of dill.  I love the smell of dill, and I am in heaven chopping it.  If you are not a fan of dill, or want to try another homemade dressing, I posted a recipe for a simple, tangy dressing last spring.

The poet in me is always looking for symbols and finding metaphors and multifaceted interpretations of different aspects of life.  As I was thinking about the tender greens that are so delicious this time of year, I started making connections with a couple of moments that have touched me and stuck in my mind this past month.  I realized that those moments revolve around tenderness as well.  Tenderness has to do with softness, freshness, and gentleness, but also with vulnerability.  It has to do with caring for others in their vulnerability.

reaching for water balloonsA couple weeks ago, on a warm and sunny afternoon, my kids and their neighbor friends were having a water balloon fight.  They had a great time, and got all wet and cooled off.  When they had used all of their balloons, they were winding down and getting ready to move on to another activity.  My six-year-old neighbor friend came up to me, gave me a bucket, and said, “here.”  Without my even asking, she and her brother and my two kids had gone through the yard and picked up all (or almost all) of the broken balloon pieces scattered about, and put them in the bucket.  She told me they picked up the pieces so our dog would not eat them and choke on them.  I was so touched that they had gone to all that effort to take care of our dog, all on their own.  You can tell a lot about people by the way they treat those (animal or human) who are more vulnerable than themselves.

In the same week, I attended a funeral for a friend’s father.  This was difficult and poignant for me, because I lost my own father a little over a year ago.  But I wanted to be there to support my friend, since I had an idea of what she was going through.  I sat with my mother and a mutual friend of ours.  At the end of the ceremony, there was the usual hand-shaking and hugging and showing of support that is so important to those going through loss.  When our mutual friend gave our mourning friend a hug, I witnessed an act of complete tenderness.  Her embrace and the look in her eyes was that of unguarded caring and kindness.  So often we go through our days covered in a protective shell of busy-ness, politeness, or irony.  It is rare to get a glimpse of raw tenderness, especially in adults.  I felt privileged to witness such authenticity, such caring in the midst of pain and loss.  It made me realize how that caring and tenderness is often there, even when it is not visible, and how important it is to express it.

What does all this have to do with food and salads?  Nothing and everything.  We are all vulnerable or tender in certain areas at certain times.  It is the tenderness of others that helps us through that.  I often see food as a way of showing others that I care about them.  We all get hungry; we all need to eat.  Food is something we all have in common.  And sometimes the most natural and authentic food soothes and refreshes us best.  Sometimes a salad with raw, tender greens and homemade dressing takes care of the heart as well as the body and soul.

I cannot believe it is Friday again already.  This has been a really quick week!  Since it is a Friday, I will include this recipe in Angie’s awesome Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Dini at Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie at The Frugal Hausfrau.  I hope you all have a refreshing weekend!

dill and greens 1greens on back porchgreens with tomatoesgreens on purple bench 2greens and fork

Yogurt-Dill Dressing

  • Servings: dresses 2-4 salads
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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Directions:

Wash greens, pat dry (or dry in a spinner) and tear into bite-sized pieces.  Wash and chop the dill.  In a glass container with a pouring spout, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and yogurt.  Add the olive oil gradually, whisking as you add it.  Whisk in the dill, and the salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.  Feel free to adjust levels of ingredients–the taste will vary depending on the particular vinegar and oil you use.  Pour the dressing lightly over the greens.  Add any other vegetables you wish to the salad.  Enjoy!

This recipe is loosely based on a recipe found in Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi

German Potato Salad

german potato salad 3I have been wanting to share this recipe for quite some time.  I love this classic potato salad, and a couple of friends and relatives have asked me for this recipe, since they have enjoyed it at picnics.  So here it is!  It is a recipe I found years ago in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, and reminds me of the potato salad my German/Swiss grandmother used to make when I was a child.  My husband, not a fan of the mayonnaise and egg type of potato salad, loves it too.  Since I lean toward the vegetarian end of things, I have tried making this salad without the bacon, and cooking the onions in olive oil.  But it just doesn’t taste the same.  So I find the highest quality of bacon I can find.  It’s not imperative to crumble the bacon and add it to the salad, but it seems important (at least to me) to cook the onions in the bacon drippings.  I have also tried making it without celery seed, since one time I didn’t have celery seed, and that also didn’t taste as good.  So I would not leave those two ingredients out unless you really need to.  As with everything involving vegetables, the better the potatoes, the better this salad will taste as well.  I am excited that new potatoes will be appearing soon at the farm stands around here.

We are just kicking off picnic season with Memorial Day weekend upon us, so I thought this would be a fitting time to share this delicious recipe.  I like this potato salad because it is very portable.  It tastes good warm, cold, or at room temperature.  I am sure we will be taking it with us this weekend to my daughter’s soccer tournament.  I don’t know why, but food often tastes better when eaten outside.  Maybe because it’s novel and exciting after a long winter, or maybe the fresh air whips up our appetite.  We have our screened in porch cleaned up and ready to use, and I am looking forward to eating out there as much as possible, in addition to lots of picnics!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! With it being Friday, I am going to take this recipe over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Cooking with Aunt Juju and The Chunky Chef. german potato salad 2german potato salad in skilletgerman potato salad with fork

German Potato Salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes (or six smallish ones, about 1 and 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • fresh chives or parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions: Cook the potatoes in a covered saucepan of boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.  Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool.  (I do not peel my potatoes, because I like the skins.  Peel them if you want to, but it is not necessary).  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into cubes or slices. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the 4 slices of bacon until it is crisp.  Remove the bacon and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Crumble the bacon when it is cool.  Add the chopped onions to the bacon drippings in the skillet.  (There should be about 2 tablespoons-worth.  If there is more than that, drain it out till there’s about 2 tablespoons).  Saute the onions over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the sugar, flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed.  Then stir in the water and vinegar.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in the potatoes and bacon.  Garnish with chives and/or parsley if desired.  Enjoy with your chosen main course!

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, Tenth Ring Bound Edition.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches and Colorful Slaw

pulled chicken sandwich 2slaw with lemon and cabbage 6There is great value in meals that can be made ahead of time.  Sometimes the hour before dinner can be the most busy and full time of the day.  In our house, there are often multiple things going on at that time, including kids doing homework, unpacking lunchboxes, frantically searching for clean soccer and/or basketball clothes, shin guards and the appropriate shoes for the practice immediately following dinner, and lots of other things not even worth mentioning! Some evenings, it is a huge relief to know that the main part of the dinner is already simmering away in the crockpot while we tend to all the other issues at hand.  And some meals taste better the longer they simmer, allowing the flavors to blend and strengthen. That is the case with these pulled chicken sandwiches. With just a few simple ingredients and a crockpot, the chicken becomes tender and mouth-wateringly flavorful.  The recipe below is formed from a conglomeration of a few different recipes for pulled chicken and sloppy joes, based on the combination I feel tastes best while maintaining simplicity.  Because there is a fair amount of ketchup in this recipe, I like to get the highest-quality of ketchup I can find, and as always, that goes for the chicken as well.  This recipe is really easy to throw together a few hours ahead of time, and is perfect for when you have a little pocket of time in the afternoon and know it will be a busy evening.  I like to make a delicious, colorful coleslaw to serve with these sandwiches.  This coleslaw can be made with either red or green cabbage, but I chose red cabbage yesterday.  Cabbage is really good for us–it has lots of fiber and vitamins K, C, and A.  Plus, red cabbage (which can actually also be purple, but is still called red cabbage) contains an extra concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, giving it extra antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is easy to like the health benefits of cabbage!  Red (also colored purple) cabbage is so beautiful. I really enjoyed taking photos of this salad.  The dressing is mildly tangy, bringing out the flavors of the vegetables without overpowering.  I often think of coleslaw as a summer salad, but it works well in the winter too.  Cabbage, carrots, and apples keep well over the winter, and goodness knows we all need a burst of color and crunch in the midst of winter.  This evening, my husband and I had leftover slaw on a bed of dark, leafy greens, topped with shelled, roasted pumpkin seeds.  That was so tasty!  I could feel the vitamins and minerals flowing into my body.  I cannot write this post without mentioning how utterly cold it is here in Michigan!  Today (and probably tomorrow too) my kids are home because their schools are closed due to dangerously cold wind chill temperatures. While we normally enjoy skiing or just being out in the snow, it is even too cold for that. I feel like we need healthy food now more than ever! Whether we are cozied up at home or facing a busy evening driving to and from obligations, a good, nourishing dinner helps us meet whatever life has in store for us.  I will be taking this dinner over to Angie’s at The Novice Gardener, for Fiesta Friday. This week’s fiesta is hosted by Tina at Mademoiselle Gourmande  and Juju at Cooking with Aunt Juju. With the cabin fever going on here, I especially look forward to checking out what everyone else has posted and look forward to communicating with all of you!  Stay warm and have a great weekend! red cabbagechicken mixturepulled chicken 1red cabbage choppedslaw with lemon and cabbagechicken and slaw

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

  • Servings: about 4
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of onion (red or yellow), finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 8 hamburger buns

Directions:

Place the onion in your crockpot.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat the pan.  Add the garlic and chicken to the pan and cook, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  (Chicken does not need to be completely cooked–it will finish cooking in the crockpot). Transfer the chicken and little pieces of garlic to the crockpot and place on top of onions.  In a small bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients and pour over the chicken.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is tender and sauce thickens a bit.  Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred it with two forks.  Then put it back in the crockpot.  Ladle the chicken and sauce mixture onto each bun and cover with bun tops.  Enjoy!

Colorful Slaw

  • Servings: about 4
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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 apple, cored and finely chopped
  • 2 cups of finely chopped red, green, or napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • a pinch (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) of salt

Directions:

Wash and prepare the carrot and apple, and put the chopped pieces in a large bowl.  Wash the cabbage and peel off the outer layers of skin.  Cut the cabbage in half, and then finely chop.  Add the cabbage to the bowl with the carrot and apple.  In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, apricot preserves, lemon juice, and salt.  Adjust the amount of salt and lemon juice to your taste.  Pour this mixture over the salad and stir well to coat evenly.  Enjoy!

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