Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Tag: salads (page 1 of 2)

Splendid Summer Salad

Experience some of summer’s freshest flavors in this salad.  Crisp mixed greens are combined with a ripe sliced peach, chopped green onions, creamy goat cheese, and a homemade lemon-lavender-ginger dressing.  It’s all about contrasts and balance in this salad, where you combine crunchy greens with the smooth peach and goat cheese, and invigorating lemon juice with soothing lavender, ginger, and honey.  The result is a flavorful and refreshing salad that works great as a light lunch or a side to a more substantial meal.

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Tomato-Pesto Couscous Bowls

This quick and easy couscous mixture is a definite crowd-pleaser.  The flavors of toasted pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, pesto, and Parmesan cheese all combine to make a delicious dish that tastes great warm, room temperature, and cold, so you can refrigerate any that is left over, and easily have it the next day.

dsc_0578-001Sometimes a cook needs a really easy, really quick, yet really delicious recipe to fall back on during busy times.  I won’t list to you my family’s schedule these days (it would take too long, and would most likely be boring to anyone but me!) but let’s just say that on many evenings, there isn’t a lot of time to make a complicated meal.  This couscous dish has been in a regular rotation with us lately, because it takes under ten minutes to prepare, yet it tastes like it took much longer, and it incorporates great flavor with good nutrients.

The Near East company makes all kinds of flavors of couscous mixtures, and I have tried many of them.  For this dish, I like to use the toasted pine nut couscous mix, and then add my own tomatoes, pesto, and cheese.  (I am not getting paid to promote this company’s couscous mix, though maybe I should look into that….)

couscous with tomatoesThough couscous is not gluten-free (it is made from semolina, so it is actually considered a form of pasta), it does have some health benefits, such as vitamins B and E, and a relatively high amount of the mineral selenium.  I am kind of in the middle of the road when it comes to gluten, where I am trying not to eat too much of it, yet I find that eating some foods with it works fine for my body. The thing I really like about couscous is the quick-cooking factor, and also the versatility.  It’s a way to get in some vegetables and herbs, like tomatoes and basil, and feel full and nourished at the same time.

tomato and pesto couscousAnyway, I love the tangy taste of the pesto with the fresh, ripe tomatoes, which are so good this time of year!  If you want to add shredded, cooked chicken to this couscous recipe, feel free.  I know we are having it as part of our dinner tonight, and my husband will probably take a container of it with his lunch tomorrow.  I hope you all enjoy the last few days of summer! It is really starting to look and feel just a bit like fall, which is not a bad thing, but for me, it is a bit nostalgic.  The daylight is fading earlier in the evenings and there is a bit of a chill in the breeze now, yet the sun is still warm and soft in the afternoons.  Have a great weekend!tomato and pesto couscouscouscous against windowtomatoes and parmesanI am sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Natalie @ Kitchen, Uncorked.

Tomato-Pesto Couscous Bowls

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • One package of Near East Couscous Mix (I think the toasted pine nut mix works best for this recipe)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of prepared pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil sprigs for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package.  While the couscous is cooking, chop the tomatoes, and measure out the pesto and shredded cheese.  When the couscous is cooked, combine all the ingredients. Serve in bowls.  May be served warm, at room temperature, or cold out of the refrigerator, if using as a leftover. Enjoy!

 

 

Peach-Plum Salad

Luscious peaches and plums, along with chopped walnuts, crumbled Feta, and leafy lettuce make up this refreshing salad.  A spritz of honey and lemon juice give it a light dressing that brings out the rich flavor of the fruit.  When you are looking for a light lunch or lively side dish, there is nothing like a seasonal salad to brighten your day and boost your immune system.

peach-plum saladSome days, I really crave a good salad to energize my body with fresh, bright ingredients.  As a result of my baking craze this past few days, I am in desperate need of a light lunch!  (My latest baking adventure includes soft pretzels, which are so good, but still need more practice before they hit the blog).  This peach-plum salad works really well, because it is super-easy to make, and it uses the best of late summer fruits.  Peaches with honey and lemon juice taste like a heavenly combination to me, and the savory aspect of the walnuts and Feta add depth to the flavor.

peach-plum saladLate summer is my favorite time of year to eat peaches, since their flavor and color seems to match the glorious mellow warmth of the September sun.  We have had absolutely stunning weather the past couple of days, and I just want to hold onto this as long as possible, because to me, this is the most comfortable weather we get.  Cool, misty mornings give way to warm, soft afternoons, which lead to dinners full of fresh fruits and vegetables out on the screened-in porch.  Nights are cool, and the breeze coming in the open windows is laden with the sound of crickets and cicadas.  The light outside is not so strong as it is in the height of summer, so it is a photographer’s dream.

peach-plum saladThis salad is so very easy to make, it hardly requires a recipe, and sometimes just a pretty photo and a few words will remind us of a great combination of delicious, healthy ingredients. I have included a recipe below, though it is flexible and can be adjusted easily.  I consciously used honey in the dressing, not only because it tastes great with this salad, but also because I have heard that consuming locally-made honey can help with allergies.  This is the time of year when I often get seasonal allergies, so I have been trying to incorporate local honey into my meals as often as possible.

I hope you are having a great week, and enjoy the diffused light of September! Sometimes it is easier to see when the light is not so bright. “Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.” ~C. Day Lewis
peach-plum salad ingredientspeaches and greens

Peach-Plum Salad

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh, ripe peach
  • 1 fresh, ripe plum
  • a small head of leafy lettuce, such as Boston lettuce or green leaf lettuce
  • a handful of chopped raw walnuts
  • crumbled Feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together the honey and the lemon juice. Taste, and adjust the levels if you wish.

Wash the lettuce, pat it dry, and tear it into bite-sized pieces.  Wash and slice the peach and the plum.  Place the lettuce on two salad plates and top with sliced peaches and plums.  Sprinkle a handful of walnuts onto the salads, and then a handful of crumbled Feta.  Drizzle the honey-lemon juice mixture over the salads.  Top with a tiny bit of ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Mineral-Rich Salad

Treat your body to an infusion of nutrients.  This quick salad is rich in vitamins and minerals, with dark leafy greens, dried apricots, walnuts, and roasted pumpkin seeds, topped off with a homemade orange zest vinaigrette.  The recipe for this salad is so simple, it’s not as much of a recipe as it is a remembrance of how easy it can be to make a really good salad that’s really good for us.  Sometimes all we need is a  nudge in a certain direction, or a simple reminder, and we have a really delicious salad in front of us that came mostly from foods we have in our own pantry.

mineral salad day 3 4If you live in a northern climate like I do, spring takes her sweet time to truly settle in, and winter does not give up without a few fights.  We are in such a situation right now, where it is cold, gray, and wet.  The only indication that it really is springtime is that the birds are singing loudly and beautifully, and the crocuses are proudly carrying on, despite the cold rain.  And I am really grateful for that!  However, during this time of year, I often feel depleted of energy and nutrients. The longing for spring and all that it brings is strong, yet we are not quite there yet.

DSC_0612So to remedy the situation, I have been eating this salad for lunch for the past few days, and it is really helping my energy level and my overall feeling of health.  Even if greens are not growing in my own garden yet, they are growing somewhere nearby, and fresh greens are appearing at the grocery store more and more as this month progresses.  And mandarin oranges have been on sale at the grocery store lately, so the orange zest salad dressing seemed like a good idea.  There are so many nutrients in leafy greens and they are so well known, that I don’t feel the need to list them all. The rest of the salad is from staples I like to keep on hand, and though I sometimes take them for granted, these ingredients are full of really good stuff.  Dried apricots are known for their potassium and iron content, walnuts for their omega 3s and vitamin E, and roasted pumpkin seeds for their zinc, manganese, and magnesium.  And that’s just mentioning a few of the minerals found in these foods.

mineral salad with pitcherFor me, it can be easy to get sidetracked and just graze on some pretzels and cheese for lunch, so eating this salad has been a boost to my nutrient intake, which helps my energy level and outlook on life.  The recipe below is for two servings–feel free to double it or whatever, depending on how many you are making.  And just a note–in my photos, the dried apricots look like bacon! (Not that bacon would be bad in this salad–it would probably taste really good!) They are actually organic dried apricots, so they aren’t the bright orange that some of the dried apricots are when they have preservatives to retain their color.

With the events going on in the world the past few days, we need all the energy and nutrients we can get to keep a hopeful attitude.  I usually don’t like to talk about politics or world affairs much in this blog, and I don’t want to say much, except that I am saddened by the events and words that are tearing people apart lately, and I hope that we can each do our small part to help try to put love and healing toward the hatred.  There is no easy answer, and I don’t pretend that there is, nor do I pretend to know the answer. I do know that I want to take care of the people I love, and if we all try to take care of one another, it will help.  Food is a way for me to do that.

On a much lighter note, even if the weather doesn’t feel like spring today, I did see 6 mallard ducks waddling down our road this morning.  I’m not sure where they were going, but I hope they got there safely.  And if you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend! If you don’t, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I managed to get some photos of the crocuses when it was sunny a few days ago, and they look to me like rays of hope.striped crocuspurple crocuses

Mineral-Rich Salad

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • a large handful of leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or lettuces
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped
  • a handful of walnuts, chopped
  • a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
  • feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 6 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

For the dressing, first grate an orange peel for the orange zest (and eat the orange!).  In a glass jar, combine the orange zest, mustard, wine vinegar, and honey.  Add the olive oil, and shake or whisk till combined.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad, arrange the greens on two plates.  Sprinkle on the desired amount of chopped apricots, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Sprinkle on some feta cheese, if desired.  Pour the dressing over the salads.  If you like a lot of dressing on your salad, you may want to double the dressing recipe.  Enjoy!

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!

 

 

 

 

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