Posts tagged romaine lettuce

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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Kid-friendly spring rolls

Well, at least one more traditional spring roll turned out.

Traditional spring rolls are easy to make. Or so I thought. I’ve had spring rolls in restaurants–the translucent wrappers often have shrimp and vegetables tucked inside. They’re beautiful. So I figured they couldn’t be that hard to make at home, right? But from the start my traditional spring rolls were a disaster!

If you’ve ever used spring roll wrappers you know that it’s a little bit like working with a thin piece of Jell-O. Not easy. I had all my ingredients chopped and ready to go so I figured it would be like make-your-own-pizza night with the kids. My first one was packed with veggies (and large air holes). It looked awful and tasted worse–kinda like eating your bagged veggies plastic and all (for the record spring roll wrappers are made with tapioca starch). My oldest didn’t even pretend to like hers, but my middle daughter dutifully downed hers and even managed a smile when she said,

The amazing hanging spring roll!

“No, it’s really good mom.” I almost believed her. Until that is we started noticing just how sticky spring roll wrappers can be. I can’t remember who started it, whether it was my hubby or my oldest but someone ended up with a spring roll (fully loaded) stuck to her forehead.

Uh, it didn’t stop at foreheads. Spring rolls, we discovered, can stick to just about anything. Like ceilings. Yup, what can I say, we had to give it a try. My well-planned, poorly-executed spring roll made for a lovely wall hanging. Literally.

But I wasn’t ready to give up on spring rolls! I just threw out the idea of making it “traditional.” I hunted through my refrigerator for alternatives. Preferably less sticky ones. I found a couple that worked perfectly–and my kids enjoyed putting these together so much more (me too). Enter romaine lettuce and flour tortillas.

Ready for un-traditional, but kid-friendly spring rolls? Here’s what to do:

  1. Chop up various veggies, like zucchini, carrots and peppers into long strips (about two inches).
  2. Tear off a piece of romaine lettuce that’s about 4-5 inches in length and about 11/2 inches in width (perfect kid job).
  3. If you’re using flour tortillas, simply use a pizza cutter to get those same dimensions.
  4. Place a few pieces of veggies on one end of either the lettuce or the tortilla and roll it toward the other end. You can seal this with a little cream cheese “glue” or tie it up with a cooked piece of spaghetti (I told you I was hunting through the fridge for ideas).

    Spring roll success!

  5. You can make as many spring rolls as your kids have patience for.
  6. To make the spring rolls even fancier, create green onion “flowers” by using scissors and cutting small strips on one end.
  7. You can also use small cookie cutters on carrot slices to create shapes. Stick these to your spring roll with a little cream cheese.

Looking for more ideas to add a little bit of spring into your family’s lives (even if it’s still snowing outside)? Check out these instant spring ideas from Motherboard.

Your turn–have you been doing anything lately to make it feel springer at your house?

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