Friendly Food Snobs

salads

grilled halloumi caprese salad

grilled halloumi caprese saladRipe tomato slices play well with grilled salty halloumi in this grilled halloumi caprese salad. A rethink of the traditional tomato and mozzarella caprese, and I think maybe even better! It was a super busy weekend at our house Oscar turned two and we hosted a big family BBQ and Sunday was Father’s Day. My quick to make but still yummy Father’s Day dinner for Neil was BBQ flank steak and this salad, and some fresh garlic thyme pita bread and hummus. Fresh and tasted like summer.

I first tried halloumi about 15 years ago backpacking in Cyprus and we’d have it wrapped with grilled meats in a pita (usually at 2am after a night out). This meal reminds me of all those flavours.

As with all simple recipes, quality ingredients are key. Thankfully they’re not hard to find for this salad. I let my tomatoes ripen on the window sill for a few days, and just bought the halloumi from my local grocery store. You can get cow or sheep and both are great. The basil came from my garden, the olive oil from my mother-in-law’s recent trip to Italy and the balsamic reduction is store bought. You can find balsamic reduction at any major grocer now. It’s reduced balsamic vinegar (make sure you read the ingredients) and so handy to drizzle over a salad, BBQ meats or cheeses. I use it for salad dressing instead of honey often too.  My boys gobbled this salad up and used the fresh pita bread for the leftover olive oil on the plate. So if you occasionally eat carbs like we do, serve up a little good bread for this recipe – worth the calories to sop up that good olive oil! Makes four side portions.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

Ingredients:
250 gram package halloumi cheese
2 large or 3 small ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper
10 whole basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Cut the halloumi cheese into 1/4 inch pieces. I usually get 10-12 slices per package. Pat dry with paper towel. Heat a non stick pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Grill cheese for 2 mins a side until golden brown. Use a rubber spatula to check it every minute or so. I do it in two batches to not crowd the pan. Slice tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices and layer on serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Layer grilled halloumi on top of tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and toss basil leaves over top. Eat right away or can sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so until serving.  Recipe can easily be doubled. Enjoy and happy summer eating!

best kale caesar salad

kale caesar I brought kale into my life with this recipe! Two years of tinkering and I thought it time to share. The secret tricks to this being healthy and absolutely delicious are fresh lemon juice and a quick massage of the kale with the dressing. Unlike most salads, the kale leaves hold up to the dressing, and once tossed and dressed this salad tastes better an hour after mixing or a day later. It’s a great side dish for just about any protein, or stirred into quinoa for a quick quinoa salad. Hello leftover lunches. I use organic kale so a head is about 5 leaves.

best kale caesar salad

Ingredients:
head of kale washed and chopped into 1 or 2 inch strips
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 tsp honey or substitute like maple syrup or agave
1 and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
pinch red pepper flake
3/4 cup grated parmesean cheese (half goes in dressing, half on top)

I find it easiest to chop the kale, then wash it in a salad spinner. Another quick trick is to measure the olive oil and whisk the dressing together in the same glass measuring cup. Less clean up! Combine all ingredients for the dressing, reserving half of the grated parmesean. Pour the dressing over the kale in a large bowl. Massage the dressing into the kale (30 seconds max). Top with remaining cheese and that’s it. I have made this dozens of times and find it tastes best after hanging out covered with cling wrap in the fridge for an hour before serving.

balsamic chicken salad

balsamic chicken salad

It’s almost Christmas! The house abounds with cookies, chocolate, wine and treats. Time for a mini detox and lots of salads and greens leading up to Christmas Day and New Year’s. Whipped up this salad today and the chicken and roasted peppers are really the stars. The recipe for the roasted peppers can be found on my blog here. The balsamic glaze at the end really makes the dish. You can find it at any grocery store or specialty food shop. I add it to salads or over cheese on a cheese board. If you have time on your hands here is a great recipe for how to make it at home from the Pioneer Woman. I have also added toasted pine nuts and asiago or parmesean cheese to this salad to fancy it up for guests too. Recipe below serves two.

balsamic chicken salad

2 big handfuls salad greens
2 roasted peppers (hint: recipe here)
2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
herbamare (can be found here)
olive oil
half of a lemon
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
balsamic glaze for drizzling on plate

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Coat chicken breasts with a little olive oil and season each side with salt, pepper and herbamare. Roast in oven (I use my cast iron pan) 10 to 15 minutes a side until browned. Pour the balsamic vinegar over the chicken when you flip it halfway during cooking. Remove chicken from oven to cutting board and let cool. Divide greens onto two plates. Dress the greens with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Top with roasted pepper pieces. Slice the chicken and add to salad plates. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the chicken and dig in!

arugula pear walnut parmesean salad

arugula pear walnut parmesean salad
This is my go-to salad this summer. So simple and so good. The bitter arugula plays so well off the sweet pear, salty parmesean, walnuts and lemony dressing. I will often toss this all in a big white bowl and it gets nibbled on before a meal and polished off at the end. This is how salads should taste to me, hearty, satisfying with every mouthful leaving you wanting another. Salad pairs well with any grilled meats, or as a standalone lunch with a poached egg on top too. Hope you love it as much as I do.

arugula pear walnut parmesean salad

Ingredients for the lemon dressing:
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 and 1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salad:
2 large handfuls baby arugula
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
parmesean peels (use a potato peeler) to taste (I like A LOT)
1 small ripe pear cut into slivers

Whisk the dressing together. Mix the salad ingredients. Toss and serve. Bonus points! Dressing can be added 30 minutes before serving with no fear of wilting. Recipe serves two as a main, or four as a side.

apple cider vinegar salad dressing

apple cider vinegar salad dressingI’ve been making salad dressing from scratch for years and finally started adding apple cider vinegar a few weeks ago. We suddenly started eating more salads. Maybe because it’s March and spring’s around the corner? But I think it’s this dressing. The perfect tangy and sweet dressing for massaging into kale or drizzling over romaine. It lends itself to almost anything like dressing a lentil or quinoa salad. Serves four hungry salad eaters.

apple cider vinegar salad dressing

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 finely chopped shallot or 1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients. Let sit for a few minutes before eating. Keeps for three days in a sealed glass container in the fridge.

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