Category Archives: Salads

Kale Caesar Salad

I am so glad my taste for kale has returned, because it is such a delicious green and so healthy too! One of my favorite ways to have kale is in a cold salad, believe it or not. If I am feeling lazy, I’ll massage my torn-up kale pieces with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt/pepper and parmesan cheese. It’s quick, easy and quite tasty. Massaging the dressing into the leaves helps them wilt slightly and become much more palatable. This is a great option and all, but if I am truly inspired and have the ingredients on hand I make a fresh caesar dressing, which works perfectly with the kale and holds up to it’s bolder flavor and texture.

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Fajita Shrimp Caesar Salad

We have made fresh Caesar dressing before and it was a huge hit.  The one difference this time was using chopped canned anchovies instead of anchovy paste. I lightly floured and baked some shrimp and placed it atop sauteed veggies for a light and summery dinner salad.  This would also be great to serve in a large quantity at a party or dinner.

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Caesar Salad

For Christmas eve Greg and I were asked to bring a salad and veggie option to our family party. I thought it over and decided to make a homemade caesar salad, with fresh made dressing and croutons. Homemade dressings make such a difference. You can taste each ingredient and they are just far superior to any bottled dressing you find in the grocery store. Making caesar dressing was easy and and the outcome was delicious!

Greg got a loaf of bread from Mancini’s- tomato basil bread to be exact- and I made croutons with it. I don’t see any pictures of them on my camera so I guess I forgot to snap a few. Croutons are easy to make. I cut the bread into small cubes and placed them on a lined baking sheet. I brushed the pieces of bread with olive oil and baked them at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

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Tarragon Chicken Salad

I got a package of tarragon for some inspired recipes so this will be one a of a few upcoming tarragon features.

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Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

We were heading to a family Labor Day cookout and decided on this cold sesame noodle salad.  I guess it’s not the most American dish for Labor Day, but it worked out just fine.

Cook the noodles and run them under cool water.  Then toss with sesame oil and set aside until the sauce is ready.  The sauce was a blended combination of many ingredients that was then tossed with the cool noodles.

The base seasonings headed for the blender

Can be a little fluffy at first but will settle

These did not go into the blender, but were tossed with the noodles and sauce.

Noodles with chopped vegetables waiting for the sauce

Sauce is here!

Once the sauce is prepared, veggies are chopped, and noodles are cooked and cooled, combine all ingredients and chill before serving.

The colder the better

Directions for Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

Greg

Tomato Panzanella Salad

Greg and I were invited to a family BBQ and knew we wanted to bring something good for a side dish. We remembered a great dish that Ash brought over one time, tomato panzanella salad, and decided it would be the perfect thing to make. You can find the recipe here on Ash’s site (I didn’t alter it much as you will see).

We bought the tomatoes at a local farmer’s market. Obviously for this dish the quality of the tomatoes can make or break it. I was so happy to get these tomatoes. As imperfect as they look, they tasted great!

I cut the tomatoes and added some thinly sliced red onion. I actually completed this step the night before the BBQ, as I knew I would be facing some time restrictions the following day.

Similar to the importance of using good tomatoes for this dish, the quality of the bread is also something to be mindful of. We picked up a french baguette from our favorite place on Earth, Pittsburgh’s strip district (wahoo!), the day before the BBQ. On the day of the BBQ I cut the bread into bite-sized cubes (slightly larger than croutons) and baked them for 20 minutes. 20 minutes was about 2-3 minutes too long and some of the pieces were a little too baked for my liking. I recommend keeping an eye on them after the 15 minute mark.

Sorry for the blurry pic! You can get a sense of the size though.

While the bread was baking I assembled the rest of the dish by adding fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to the tomatoes and red onion.

I just love all the colors in this dish!

Once the bread is done baking it gets added to the salad. You want it to absorb moisture from the dressing and tomatoes while still maintaining some of it’s crunch.

The final step in making this salad is to top it with ricotta cheese and a little olive oil. Since we were transporting this dish to another house I felt it would be best to keep the ricotta and olive oil in a separate container prior to serving. Before dinner was served the ricotta was placed on top of the salad.

Overall, this was a true crowd pleaser! I received several compliments on the dish and answered some questions about it too. People seemed to really enjoy it and want to recreate it themselves.

Take advantage of the Summer tomatoes while they last! Hope you like this one.

-Eileen 8)

Slow Smoked Brisket with Horseradish Sauce and Broccoli Slaw

This is our first Kittened dish in Pittsburgh and we have been discovering that food is very cheap.  This was a 9lb cut of brisket for $30, and that was not a sale.  Plenty more to come on the great deals found.  I smoked this similarly to the pork shoulder a bit back.  Slow cooked over indirect heat, but this time it was cooked as the debut dish on our new charcoal grill that we got for our wedding (thanks Mo and Stosh).

First to prep the rub

Started with a quick made rub.

Yeah, $30!

As similar to the pork, I started the grill with a large pile of charcoal and once it was ashed and ready, it was moved and kept to one side.  I also used a store bought foil baking dish as a drip tray below the meat to limit the mess and possible flare up.

The grill will never look like this again.

Opposite the coals

Now a lot of waiting.  The grill was covered with the below air intake about halfway open and the lid air intake also about halfway open.  The lid intake was placed over the meat, opposite the coals so that the heat and smoke are forced to go around the meat in order to escape.  The brisket cooked for about 5 hours total.  Here is is about halfway through.  I turned it about every hour to alternate the side facing the heat.

About 3 hours in.

And after all five hours.

Allow the meat to sit for 15 minutes or so before slicing and always slice against the grain.  It would be great to have a deli slicer here, but that is a bit excessive!

Patient, patient

Hey guys, Eileen here. I am going to fill you in on the sides, which I was responsible for making.

In addition to the brisket, we served a simple horseradish sauce from all recipes (sorry, no pictures of it) and a broccoli slaw from Smitten Kitchen. I have made this broccoli slaw once before for a cook out and people seemed to like it. I decided to make it again, figuring it would be a nice complement to the meat and tangy horseradish sauce.

First, I made the dressing for the slaw, which is composed of buttermilk, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar and shallots.

Give it a good whisk and set aside.

Next, it is time for the broccoli. I used the slicing blade on my food processor to cut the broccoli for me. This method is a major time saver and produces pretty uniform slices of broccoli. Here it is pictured with chopped red onion as well.

To this, I added dried cranberries and sliced almonds and eventually the dressing.

Give it all a good stir and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.

It’s a great slaw and a bit different than your typical cabbage slaw. If you are looking for something new to have or bring to an event this could be it! The crunch of the broccoli with the tartness of the cranberries and the sharpness of the red onion are all tamed by the buttermilk sauce. It was a great compliment to the brisket too!

All in all, this meal was delicious! We were very happy with the final product and our guests seemed to be too.

Brisket Dry Rub Recipe

Seared Salmon Salad with Grilled Tomato and Avacado

Summer!

This was another summery grilling inspiration.  I had a hankering for seared salmon and figured to keep it light by having it on a salad with an oil based dressing.  I also decided to spruce up the salad with some methods that I had never tried and some that were truly experimental, but worked out.  This turned out much better than the last post, but we give you the truth here!

First off the primary ingredient, the salmon.

It did have the skin on it and I had an idea of how to get it off.  I have tried to cut it off, but I always feel like I lose so much in the difficult process.

All dressed up and nowhere to go!

I sprinkled a store bought cajun seasoning on the meat side only.

Next was to prep some of the other salad ingredients.  The first was to prep a foil packet of walnuts, sliced garlic, oil, and salt and pepper.

Ready for the grill

I had never roasted walnuts and garlic on the grill like this but it worked out.  This packet went right onto the grill for about 6-8 minutes each side.  The flavors intermingled well and I threw them right on the salad though I know some would be weary to throw the roasted garlic on the salad.  Feel free to discard it or recycle it for another dish, but I think that it worked out well and was not too overpowering.

Post Grill

That was one of the new methods mentioned, the next is also a new method and one that was truly experimental and I was not sure if it would work out.  I sliced 2 tomatoes in half and an avocado in half, sprayed them with a little oil, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and then……

Whats next?

Probably not a big surprise, but right on the grill face down!

It worked out just fine and I would suggest it and try it again myself!

Maybe a minute or two less next time though

I wasn’t sure how the avocado would fare on the grill and it could have used a minute or two less but I was able to peel away some of the burnt parts sort of like peeling the blistered skin of a roasted red pepper.  I sliced them and added them to the salad.

Back to the salmon.  I was planning to sear it and placed it skin side down first.

Ok, I forgot my plan and put it down meat side for a second.

Once I flipped it after a few minutes, the skin came right off which was the hopeful plan!

Skin came right off. Nice!

Once the salmon was done, I sliced it and put it atop the rest of the salad ingredients.

We used some olive oil and vinegar as a dressing, though much wasn’t needed since there were so many great flavors.

In addition, I threw a little bit of goat cheese on the salad.  The warm salmon and grilled veggies melted it a bit and the creaminess tasted great.  Overall, was a good meal.

Roasted Corn Salsa Dressing on Peppercorn Steak Salad

This is Greg and this is my first Kitten post!  A teacher has some summer time so you should be seeing me around here more often.  The original idea for this was black and blue steak salad and I decided to really focus on the black part and made a peppercorn rub for the steak.  I used a porterhouse cut of about 1.5 pounds which is not the typical or easiest cut for a steak salad, but they are always on sale at Giant in the summers and was a great deal for some quality meat.  With the trimming off the bone, there were some convenient scraps that had to be tested too.  When grabbing the blue cheese, Gorgonzola was right next to it and I decided to switch up the black and blue philosophy though it is not a major change as they are pretty similar.

Filet on the right!

The rub was just a combination of some dried spices and whole peppercorns that I ground in our spice grinder.  It was very loud at first and I ran it until itwas quieter but not fully ground.  I wanted to keep the peppercorns a bit coarse.

Preground peppercorns and spices
Don’t be afraid to use your hands and get it well covered

It is called a rub because you are supposed to rub it into the meat, so pour half of it on and get to work!  Flip it over and make sure that the whole piece is thoroughly covered. Grill it as you normally would a steak.  If possible, it is best to plan some rest time once the steak is done to allow the juices to set and to allow it a bit of time to cool to cut it and serve on a cold salad.

Where the term blackened comes from

Despite how it looks, the meat was cooked medium rare.  The rub just really blackened it that much.  It did not taste over spiced, again despite it’s appearance.  I let it sit for about a half an hour and sliced it up.  I kept the filet separate to make sure we got fair shares and as mentioned, many samples had to be had while carving it along with cleaning the bone.

Once the steak was sliced, I placed it on a bed or romaine lettuce and applied the salsa/dressing that I was simultaneously making.

Could always stop here and add a premade dressing

I had a hard time naming the dressing because it is sort of a salsa mixture that we used as a dressing.  There were so many important ingredients also that it was hard to focus on a few to give it an identity.  No other dressing was added once we topped the salad with this.  I first wrapped the peeled corn in foil with some butter and salt and pepper and roasted it on the grill for about 45 minutes or so turning once in a while.

Good ol sweet summer white corn
Double wrapped and ready for the grill

While the corn was roasting, I combined the remainder of the ingredients.  The lemon juice, oil, and vinegar tied it together as a dressing consistency which spread well on the salad and held the whole thing together too.

All of the ingredients for the dressing except for the corn

Once the corn was roasted, I let it cool until it could be handled and removed the kernels and mixed it in with the rest.

Apparently the center was on the most intense heat

Once all of the dressing ingredients were combined and well mixed, we used it as you would a normal dressing on the steak salad and sprinkled a little bit of extra Gorgonzola on top and enjoyed.

The final product!

It was sort of a lot of work but was well worth it and we really enjoyed it.  The dressing was so good itself that salad bites without steak were still really fulfilling.  An added bonus was that about half of the steak bites were filet mignon which most would consider a sin to be placed on a salad but the price was so great that it was just fine.  Give some or all of it a try!

Recipe for Roasted Corn Salsa Salad Dressing

Recipe for Peppercorn Rub

Avocado Salad Dressing

One of our friends from college is doing an internship in Maryland for the summer (yay!). He arrived a couple of weeks ago and to celebrate Ashley invited us over for chicken tacos.  I offered to bring a salad, since all I had at home was some produce. I picked up a few extras, such as avocados, and decided to make a homemade salad dressing to jazz things up a bit (making homemade salad dressings is easy and they taste SO much better than store bought!). I wanted to stick to the taco theme and figured an avocado dressing would be fun and different.

This is about the best looking avocado you will find in Wheaton. It was certainly ripe and about a day away from being bad. At least they were ripe though, if not a little too ripe.

Limes are so pretty! I love them. They go hand in hand with avocados in my book and the citrus helps the avocado from turning brown. They also seem to help in the mashing process, as the acidity must break them down a bit.

So, after a good smashing, I added yogurt, half and half (you could use milk or cream if you prefer), garlic, onion, and salt and pepper. Oh, and  a dash of cayenne. The onion was grated- which created an interesting consistency and also left the house smelling like onion for a few hours, FYI. It was almost like onion pulp and helped distribute the flavor evenly and without adding much texture.

I wanted to make a festive salad full of color. I included romaine lettuce, rainbow chard, grape tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, and green onions. Twas delicious.

The salad dressing tasted extremely fresh and the flavor was pretty mellow. It lasted for another 1-2 days, but did start to turn brown by that point. It’s probably best served on the day you make it.


Recipe for Avocado Salad Dressing