July 12, 2009

Spicy Carrot Sald

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World. Slicing or julienning the carrots takes a bit of time (I used a mandoline and julienned the carrots, but it still took some time), but once that's done, the recipe takes hardly any effort at all. The caraway seeds give this a very distinctive flavor.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put the carrots, garlic, sugar, caraway, cumin, paprika, and oil into a wide skillet or saucepan.
  2. Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until the carrots are slightly soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Bittman says to cook until the water is mostly evaporated. I never got that much evaporation, so I just scooped the carrots and spices out into a bowl with a slotted spoon.) Drain and remove to a bowl.
  3. Remove and mince the garlic cloves. Add them back to the carrots. Add the harissa, olives (if using), and feta (if using) and toss to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Posted by spaceling at 04:59 PM

May 12, 2007

Black Bean, Fresh Corn, and Mango Salad

You can tell that spring is here, because suddenly all I want to eat is salad. And fruit. (But oddly enough, rarely fruit salad. I'm not a fruit salad kind of girl.)

I was in the supermarket this afternoon, and came across some fresh corn and a lovely looking mango. And the idea for this salad was born. It's a bit sweet, a bit spicy (or a lot spicy if you want), and loaded with more anti-oxidants than you can shake a stick at. And it takes almost no time at all to make.

I like the combination of Tabasco and Sriracha hot sauces in this recipe. I find that Tabasco gives a nice vinegary bite, but doesn't taste rounded enough on its own. Sriracha adds a nice depth of flavor without being overpowering on the heat. It might be interesting to experiment with different hot sauces.

The Ingredients

I learned a neat trick recently for removing kernels from a corn cob: start by cutting the cob in half across the middle. This gives you two short pieces of cob, each with a flat end, and you can just stand them on your cutting board and slice the kernels off with a knife. Amazing. For the first time ever, I've cut kernels off an ear of corn without getting corn all over the kitchen.

The Steps

  1. Combine the corn kernels, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, mango, scallions, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Squeeze over the lime juice, and drizzle on some olive oil. Add a bit of the Tabasco and Sriracha sauces, and toss everything together well.
  3. Taste, and add more lime juice, hot sauce, oil, salt, or pepper to taste.

I served this over some baby spinach for a bit of extra greenery. It worked pretty well.

Serves about 4.

Posted by spaceling at 07:32 PM

May 07, 2007

Lentil Salad with Whole-Grain Mustard Dressing

I whipped this up tonight because I felt like lentils for dinner, but due to the hot weather I didn't want anything too heavy. Mr. Spaceling requested that I blog this so I can be sure of making it again.

The secret ingredient in this is a whole-grain mustard. It helps add a nice sharpness to counterbalance to earthiness of the lentils. I used a British whole-grain mustard that's pretty mild - you'll probably need to taste frequently as you put the salad together to figure out how much mustard you need.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put the lentils in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook, about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender, but still relatively firm.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, cut up your vegetables, cheese, and salami, and put all the ingredients except the lemon juice, mustard, and oil into a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper, taste the mixture, and add more mustard or lemon juice if necessary.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, drain them, and toss them while they are still warm into the large bowl. Add the dressing, and toss everything.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (You might find that you need to add more mustard.)

Posted by spaceling at 09:34 PM

December 16, 2006

Roasted Vegetable Salad

I'm catching up a bit on things that I made while my computer was being wonky. I made this for dinner one night last weekend. It was loosely inspired by a recipe in Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, and by the fact that I'd picked up a pound of baby eggplant without any real notion of what to do with them.

The Ingredients

*Harissa is a Tunisian spice paste, composed primarily of red chilies, cumin, and coriander. It's hot, but not tongue-searing. I bought mine from Kalustyan's, though I'm not sure I picked a particularly good one. It seems a bit tame. I'll probably try making my own soon, since I have about half a dozen recipes for it in various books.

The Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. (I used a 9 x 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Shake the pan until the tomatoes are coated with olive oil.
  3. Quarter the baby eggplants. (Or cut large eggplant into 1 x 1 x 2 inch chunks.) Put them in a baking dish large enough to hold in a single layer. (I used a 9 x 13 inch pan.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil, and stir/shake to coat. (I also meant to add about a teaspoon of whole cumin seed at this point, but I forgot. I will try it next time, though.)
  4. Roast the tomatoes and eggplant for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring or tossing every 15 minutes or so, until they are browned and soft. (I went about 55 minutes, which I think was slightly too long for the eggplant - it was a bit dry when it came out of the oven, though it recovered nicely as it soaked up the dressing.)
  5. Let the roasted vegetables cool slightly while you prepare the other items.
  6. Combine the chickpeas, peppers, halloumi, and olives in a large bowl.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, harissa, cumin, and lemon juice to make a dressing.
  8. Stir the roasted vegetables and their juice into the chickpea mixture. Then stir the dressing and the cilantro into the salad.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve garnished with mint leaves and with warm pita bread on the side.

I think this would be equally good with a different mixture of roasted vegetables. Some roasted onions might be very nice, or chunks of zucchini. Perhaps even some root vegetables. I'll experiment when I next make it.

Posted by spaceling at 03:56 PM | TrackBack

September 24, 2006

Arugula and Pear Salad with Roast Chicken

I threw this salad together as a quickie dinner. I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken to keep it quick and easy, though any type of cooked chicken would be fine as long as the spicing doesn't clash with the salad.


For the salad:

For the dressing:

The dressing is not exactly rocket science. (Oh, ha, ha - rocket science!)* You could substitute your favorite vinaigrette recipe or even bottled dressing. Just try to go for something that tastes vaguely French.

The Steps

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the walnuts start to smell toasty. (About 5 minutes or so. This does make a noticeable difference in the flavor of the walnuts, so it's worth doing.) Let the walnuts cool a bit.
  2. While the walnuts are cooling, make the dressing - whisk the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and tarragon together in a small bowl until combine.
  3. Toss the arugula, pear slices, walnuts, tomatoes, and blue cheese in a large bowl with a few spoonfuls of the dressing. Taste a leaf, and add salt, pepper, or extra dressing as needed.
  4. Dish out the salad into plates or bowls, and arrange slices of roasted chicken on top.

I loved the combination of flavors in this salad, and particularly loved the combination of pears and blue cheese. Mr. Spaceling picked out all the pears and walnuts and ate them separately, as a kind of dessert course.

* In the UK, arugula is commonly referred to as "rocket" (from the French "roquette"). When I was in Scotland, I ate it as often as possible, just for the sheer pleasure of being able to order a "rocket salad". (Well, also because it was good.) "Arugula" derives from the Italian name for the plant.

Posted by spaceling at 12:22 PM | TrackBack

September 03, 2006

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

The idea for this came from a recipe for a zucchini "carpaccio" I saw once in a food blog. I no longer remember which blog it was, and I don't seem to have bookmarked the recipe, but the basic idea stuck in my mind: slice zucchini very thinly, salt it and drain it a bit, and then toss with herbs and top with fresh cheese. (The original recipe used fresh ricotta; I used goat cheese.) I added some chick peas to make this more of a main dish.



  1. Put the zucchini ribbons in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Let them drain for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Rinse the zucchini ribbons and let them drain for another 5 minutes. Spread them out on a paper towel and pat them dry. (They don't need to be bone dry, but they shouldn't be sopping wet.)
  3. Toss the zucchini in a medium bowl with the chickpeas, olives, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. As you serve the salad, dot each portion with bits of goat cheese.

Makes about 2-3 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 08:05 PM | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Pita Bread Salad with Olivada Dressing

This recipe came about as sort of a collision between two recipes. One was a recipe for a panzanella (an Italian salad involving toasted cubes of bread) with an olivada dressing featured in the weekly newsletter for The Splendid Table (who apparently excerpted it from xcerpted from Tomatoes and Mozzarella: 100 Ways to Enjoy This Tantalizing Twosome All Year Long by Hallie Harron and Shelley Sikora). The other was a recipe for fattoush (a Lebanese salad involving toasted pita bread) from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. I took some of the ingredients from the panzanella, some from the fattoush, added a few things of my own, and, hey, salad!

I suppose since I used pita bread, this is a fattoush, and not a panzanella. Maybe it's a fattounella. Or a panzoush. (The two greatest things about fattoush and panzanella, are 1) they're a great way to use up slightly stale bread, and 2) they're fun to say.)


For the salad: For the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. olive tapenade (I used storebought tapenade)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • Steps

    1. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Place the pita rounds on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes total, turning once, until crispy. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.
    3. Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
    4. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the salad to taste (the recipe makes more dressing than you'll need for a salad for 2 people), toss, and season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Break the pita rounds into bite-sized pieces. Put some salad in a bowl, garnish with pita, and serve.

    Makes enough to serve 2 hungry people as a main course, or more people as a side dish.

    Posted by spaceling at 03:39 PM | TrackBack

    August 13, 2006

    Sexy Fig Salad

    I made a variation of Jamie Oliver's "The Easiest, Sexiest Salad in the World" a few nights ago as a starter for dinner. It's pretty easy, and I don't know if it's precisely sexy, but Mr. Spaceling is still talking about it days later.

    Here's my version, which makes enough for 2. It can easily be scaled up.


    For the dressing: For the salad:

    The Steps

    1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, and set aside.
    2. Cut the stem off of each fig, and then cut the fig crosswise as if you were going to quarter it, but don't cut all the way down to the base. Open out the fig into a sort of flower shape, and place one fig in the center of each of two salad plates.
    3. Arrange a slice of prosciutto around each fig.
    4. Cut the mozzarella into tiny dice, and scatter them around the figs.
    5. With a spoon, drizzle the dressing over the fig, prosciutto, and mozzarella, being sure to get some in the center of each fig.
    6. Scatter the chiffonaded basil over everything. Add a bit of freshly ground black pepper.

    Using a really good fresh mozzarella pays off in this recipe. Quite by accident, I picked up one that was quite a bit better than some that I've had recently. It comes packed in water in a little tub. I can't find any brand name on it, except Mollie Stone's, the name of the grocery store I bought it from. Is it possible for a grocery store to have a house brand of fresh mozzarella? Weird.

    Posted by spaceling at 09:35 AM | TrackBack

    August 10, 2006

    Bulgur Tomato Salad

    I made this Easy Bulgur Salad with Summer Tomatoes as part of dinner last night. It is indeed easy, and very tasty. It also seems like a very versatile recipe - you could add other herbs besides the mint, or additional raw or blanched veggies (next time I think I'll add some roasted red pepper), or some feta cheese, or even some cooked chicken or tofu if you wanted extra protein.

    I omitted the pine nuts because I didn't feel like fiddling with toasting them.

    I used the bulgur from the Mollie Stone's bulk bins, which was not labelled as to whether it was coarse, medium, or fine. I think that it's probably the type usually sold for making tabbouleh, which probably means it was a fine grind, but it worked in this recipe. (My local Indian grocery store sells bulgur in 4 different grinds, but most American supermarkets seem to carry just one.)

    This was the first time in ages that I've cooked bulgur. (I recall making tabbouleh at least once with my mother when I was a teenager, but this is probably the first time I've prepared bulgur in my own kitchen.) I think I'll be cooking it again - with a ~10 minute preparation time, it joins quinoa on the short list of "Good Whole Grains for the Last-Minute Cook".

    Posted by spaceling at 10:02 AM

    July 15, 2006

    Spicy salami and poached egg salad

    This is another recipe adapted from the British food magazine Olive. I adapted quite a bit, though. The original recipe called for chorizo (which in Britain always means Spanish-style chorizo, which is a hard cured sausage, not Mexican-style chorizo, which is a soft fresh sausage), softboiled eggs, and rocket, as well as for croutons made from ciabatta.

    Since it's hard to find Spanish-style chorizo here, I substitued a really nice red pepper fennel salami from the Columbus salami company. It's like one of their regular salamis, only coated on the outside with red pepper and fennel seeds. Yum.

    I also swapped poached eggs for the soft-boiled eggs, added tomatoes, and used a salad mix containing mache in place of the rocket. (I like rocket, a.k.a arugula, but I just felt like mixed greens.)

    The Ingredients

    The Steps

    1. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice until it's blended.
    2. Put about 1 inch of water in a deep skillet with a lid. Bring to a boil, add the vinegar and some salt, and turn down the heat until the water is just lightly bubbling.
    3. Working one at a time, crack each egg into a shallow bowl and then slide it into the water. Cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes. (I like my poached eggs with rather runny yolks, so go about 5 minutes if you want the yolks cooked a bit more.)
    4. While the eggs are cooking, divide your greens and tomatoes between 2 plates. Arrange 4 slices of salami on each plate. Season with a bit of freshly ground pepper.
    5. When the eggs are finished, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon, and place one egg on each salad. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

    For poaching the eggs, I used the technique from Mark Bittman's trusty How to Cook Everything. They were not the prettiest poached eggs I've ever seen - they spread out a bit and were a bit ragged around the edges. But they were perfectly cooked, and I could probably get them a bit prettier with practice. One thing I learned is that it's important to be very gentle when you're slipping the egg into the water - any momentum you impart to that egg is just going to make it spread out more.

    This recipe makes a great quick summer supper - it's light, it's easy, and it's different enough to be interesting.

    Posted by spaceling at 09:14 AM | TrackBack

    July 11, 2006

    Puy Lentil Salad

    I adapted this recipe from a recipe in the British food magazine Olive, which accounts for some of the measurements being in metric. If I'd been thinking about blogging while I was making the recipe, I'd have stopped to work out what 225 g of lentils is in cups, but I didn't. Maybe about 2 cups? At any rate, I think the proportions in this recipe are pretty flexible - add more of things you like, and less of things you don't, and it'll come out fine.

    This is a handy recipe to help use up some of the basil that one always seems to have too much of at this time of year if one is a gardener or an enthusiastic patron of farmers' markets.

    The Ingredients

    The Steps

    1. Pick over and wash the lentils. Put them in a pot, add water to cover by ~2 inches, bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
    2. Meanwhile, put the onion slices in a large bowl and toss with the juice of 1 lemon. Let the onions marinate while the lentils cook.
    3. Prep all your other ingredients while the lentils cook
    4. When the lentils are done, drain them if necessary. Add them to the onions. Stir in the peppers, sundried tomatoes, remaining lemon juice, mozzarella, and basil. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
    5. To serve, put a handful of greens on a plate, and top with the lentil mixture.

    When I was making this, I was a bit worried that it didn't include any instructions for cooling the lentils, and I was worried about serving up piping hot lentils on top of salad greens. Turns out I needn't have worried. By the time you've stirred everything together, and gotten your proportions of olive oil and seasonings right, the lentils are just pleasantly warm.

    This would probably lend itself to some nice variations - for example, with feta in place of the mozzarella, or cilantro in place of the basil.

    Posted by spaceling at 07:17 AM | TrackBack

    June 10, 2006

    Provencal Green Bean and Tomato Salad

    I have no idea if this dish actually resembles anything actually eaten in Provence. But I was going for a sort of Provencal combination of flavors. This makes a really quick and scrumptious side dish. It made me do the happy dance when I tasted it.


    The Steps

    1. Blanch the green beans in a pot of simmering salted water for about 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water to cool. (Note: this produced green beans that were still very crunchy and raw tasting - it you want them more cooked, increase the time.)
    2. Toss the beans, tomatoes, shallot, herbs, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Drizzle in olive oil to taste. Crumble in the goat cheese, and toss again.

    Posted by spaceling at 07:17 PM | TrackBack

    April 22, 2006

    Anti-Pythagorean Salad

    This makes a nice quick and simple no-cook lunch or light supper. It does take a fair bit of chopping, though. (I find chopping veggies quite relaxing, but the ever-expanding collection of pre-chopped vegetables available in supermarkets strongly suggests to me that not everyone feels the same way.)

    I call it "Anti-Pythagorean" salad because of the fava beans, which Pythagoras counselled his followers to avoid. (This article gives a good summary of the potential reasons one might want to avoid fava beans.) I used canned fava beans, which are kind of odd beasties. For one, I've only ever come across them in one grocery store (Mollie Stone's in Palo Alto), and for another, they're utterly unlike the fresh fava beans that I've had. They have dark purplish-black skins, and none of the "green" taste of fresh favas. If you can't find canned fava beans, or if you're feeling Pythagorean, I'd substitute chick peas or cannelini beans. Or you could probably use fresh favas, but that would give the salad a different taste.

    The Ingredients

    The Steps

    1. Dice the onion first, and put it in a small bowl with the sumac (if using) and lemon juice. Stir to coat, and allow the whole thing to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients. (15 to 20 minutes or so.) Marinating raw onions in lemon juice makes them considerably less pungent, and less prone to causing indigestion.
    2. Dice up the other veggies as described, and put them in a large bowl. Add the feta, and dried oregano to taste. Add the onion mixture, and some extra virgin olive oil, and mix everything up. Taste, adjust the seasoning with oil, salt, and pepper.

    Serve stuffed into warm whole-wheat pitas with a dollop of baba ganoush or hummus on top. It gets the Mr. Spaceling "You can make this again!" seal of approval.

    Posted by spaceling at 01:42 PM | TrackBack

    March 20, 2006

    Shrimp, Pancetta, and Spinach Salad

    Here's a catchup entry. I made this salad earlier this past week, using, among other ingredients, the mystery endive.

    This dish was very, very loosely inspired by a shrimp, bacon, and spinach salad that I had at Applebee's, of all places. It was really quite good, except that a) they overdid it a bit on the dressing (which, given the calorie count of most restaurant dressings, probably means they really overdid it on the calories), and b) the dressing had an oddly sweet undertone that I didn't care for. This salad does not sweeten the dressing, and I served the dressing on the side so that each person could decide how much they wanted. However, the dressing includes rendered bacon (well, pancetta) fat, which is probably not going to please health food purists. (I don't think that the amount is excessive, but some people just don't go for pig fat. You can always leave it out.)

    This recipe makes enough to serve 2 people for dinner and have enough left over for one of them to have a side serving of salad for lunch.

    Ingredients: Salad

    Ingredients: Dressing

    The Steps

    1. Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat until it is crispy and some of the fat has rendered out. Remove the pancetta to a plate. Pour off most of the fat into a small bowl.
    2. Sprinkle the shrimp on both sides with dried thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Saute the shrimp in the pan used to cook the pancetta until opaque and cooked through. (3 to 5 minutes.)
    3. Toss the hot shrimp with the pancetta and all the other salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
    4. Make a vinaigrette dressing using the pancetta fat, olive oil, sherry vinegar, thyme, and generous dollops of Dijon mustard. (I threw the dressing together pretty much by feel - you want roughly twice as much fat/oil as vinegar. Just whisk everything together vigorously, taste, and adjust accordingly.)
    5. Serve the salad, passing the dressing and a pepper grinder for people to apply to their salad as suits them.

    Posted by spaceling at 10:33 AM | TrackBack

    January 27, 2006

    World's Prettiest Salad

    I made a really gorgeous-looking salad tonight to accompany these Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps. It's a very simple salad, with just 4 ingredients: a couple of red bell peppers, half a head of purple cabbage, 4 or 5 scallions, and a bit of Ginger People Ginger Sesame vinaigrette.

    Here's what you do: Chop the scallions (both white and green parts). Thinly slice or shred the cabbage. (I used a mandoline to get really nice thin shreds, but you could use thicker slices.) Slice the bell peppers into julienne strips. (I probably could have done this with the mandoline as well, but I just used a knife.) Put everything in a bowl, splash on some of the Ginger People dressing, and toss well to coat.

    This salad just looks gorgeous in a bowl - the contrasting colors really seem almost jewel-like. It's also quite tasty, and you get a nice big dose of vitamins A, C, and K from it. And though it's not precisely traditional, it would make a great side-dish for a Chinese New Year celebration, with all that nice red.

    Posted by spaceling at 10:58 PM | TrackBack