Posts tagged feta

Watermelon arugula feta salad

I have a weakness for a good salad. My favorites have strong flavors that play off each other with hints of sweetness, sourness (without being bitter) and crunch. This salad has it all–plus it’s easy to put together.

Sure, I’d love to take credit for coming up with the combo, but that goes to a restaurant I went to with friends–Moxie’s. I wanted to share one of the dishes with my kids (I’ll save figuring out the shrimp and zucchini fritters for later). This simple salad came to mind when I found watermelon on sale. I made several tweaks from the restaurant, including not making a vinaigrette. Lately, I’ve been just drizzling the vinegar on the bottom of the salad plate, stacking on the mixins’, then drizzling a sweetener, or flavored oil, on top. Saves time and it lets the flavors stand apart instead of being mixed from the start.

Here’s how to put it together:

  1. Cut up watermelon into bite-sized chunks. Sprinkle with a little salt to bring out the flavor and set aside.
  2. On each plate, drizzle your favorite vinegar. I use orange vinegar (thanks Trader Joe’s!), but other good choices would be something on the lighter side, like white balsamic.
  3. Place a handful of arugula, followed by feta cheese (Moxie’s used goat cheese), candied walnuts (this is my idea instead of rye croutons), then the watermelon pieces and finally a drizzle of agave.
  4. That’s it! Serve immediately.

Kid version of the salad

Now my oldest is to the point where she eats just about anything, but I knew my two younger kids wouldn’t go for it, so I separated out each ingredient so they could mix it on their own. You can see it pictured. They weren’t too fond of the kick of arugula at first, but when I coaxed them to try it with watermelon, then dip it in agave, they seemed to like it. Now, I won’t say they’re requesting this salad everyday (even though I’d love to have it often), but they were willing to give it a try and finish it. I call that a success. Now to figure out those fritters…

And we have winners in the eco-products giveaway. It was easy to pick ‘em out since the comments were sparse. So congrats to Jennifer, Betsy & Kerry. I’ll be sending your lunch bags soon!

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Mustard seed vinaigrette

I’m a sucker for those restaurant salads—you know the ones with a list of fun ingredients that cost double what you’d pay for a burger? Then you order the salad and start eating and the thought comes to mind, “Hey, I could do this at home.” And you can.

Salads are easy to dress up with different ingredients and flavors. But you might want to start first with the main ingredient. Yup, lettuce. Forget iceberg. Save that to dice and put on your burger. If you want to make lettuce into your entrée, look for heartier, tastier varieties like argula for a spicy kick; butter lettuce for soft, tender pieces; and crisp, crunchy romaine. This is just a sampling of the different varieties you can use. I usually mix in at least a few baby spinach pieces too, which adds a bit of heft (not to mention nutrients) to the meal.

Once you have a good mix of lettuce, it’s time to consider what kind of mix-ins to use. Don’t stop at grilled or roasted chicken. Think about what kinds of fruits and vegetables you can mix in. For ideas, I turn to menus from my favorite restaurants or even to cookbooks. In cookbooks I look in the entrée section, not the salad chapter. For example, this recipe was based on a favorite pork dish that includes sautéed apples and a mustard sauce. I knew the combination of mustard and apples was a good one, now I just needed to add lettuce into the mix.

I chose romaine lettuce because it’s stiff and holds up to a good tossing of vinaigrette. Then I figured I would just chop fresh apples (sprinkle them with a little lemon juice before putting them into the salad to prevent browning), and add in dried cranberries and walnuts. Why? Probably because I’ve had it once at a restaurant.

Now for the vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes are simple really. I pair equal parts vinegar and olive oil and then spice it. For this recipe, I used Dijon mustard (substituting it with regular doesn’t work well). Add in a little cayenne pepper for a kick and salt and pepper to season and you’re ready to mix it with your lettuce. It’s that easy.

So forget ordering the big salad the next time you go to a restaurant. Copy down the ingredients and make it yourself at home.

Mustard vinaigrette with romaine lettuce, apples and walnuts

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

4 cups romaine lettuce, torn

¼ cup dried cranberries

½ cup apples diced (tossed with fresh lemon juice)

1/3 cup walnuts

1/3 cup feta crumbles (optional, but good)

Viniagrette

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup vinegar (I like red wine or something fun like orange)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon mustard seeds (I usually toss in more)

dash of cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

  1. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add the lettuce ingredients. Toss.
  3. Serve. That’s it.
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