Heirloom Tomatoes with Citrus Salsa and Pickled Jalapeno

As summer winds down and the season’s harvest of delectable tomatoes comes to a close, I managed to snag a few remaining heirloom tomatoes from the produce stand down the street this week and created this gorgeous masterpiece. It was so visually stunning when I prepared it, I hesitated eating it.

The tomato is a variety called a Lime Green Salad and this was the first time I’d seen it. The fruit is only 3 to 4 ounces in size, yet they literally burst with intricate, sweet refreshing citrusy flavor when you bite into them. So, of course, it was the perfect match for the sweet acidity of the citrus salsa and the spiciness from the pickled jalapeno.

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Couscous Salad with Turkey, Sprouts, and Arugula

I was very pleased with this salad for two reasons. First of all, because it was delicious, healthy, and very satisfying, and second because I got my husband and daughter to eat Brussels sprouts; something they swore they would never do. I shredded the sprouts raw and mixed them into the greens. If you’ve never tried raw Brussels sprouts in a salad before, this would be the perfect time to try them.

Like tiny cabbage heads, raw Brussels sprouts have a richly sweet flavor, with just a hint of bitterness, and they taste great when paired with peppery arugula and the bright, citrusy vinaigrette.

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Vietnamese Pork and Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Pork and Noodle Salad

Last Sunday was one of those hot, humid, sticky days in St. Louis, where the last thing I wanted to do is stand over a hot stove. I thought a hearty ‘warm’ dinner salad would be the perfect solution, plus I had a taste for a spicy cold noodles with fresh greens and garlicky-ginger pork tenderloin. The pork only took a few minutes under the broiler to cook so the kitchen was nice and cool when we sat down for dinner. The only heat was from the fiery jalapeno and the red pepper flakes!

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Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Toasted Pine Nut Salad

Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Toasted Pine Nut Salad

It’s time to get serious. Swimsuit weather is almost here! (I know….inward groan…).

This salad is my new ‘go-to salad’. Not only does it have great flavor and texture it’s also jam-packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin D, selenium, folate and vitamin E. All good things to give your body natural energy and help work off some of that winter ‘fluff’.

This recipe is another great way to serve the cedar plank grilled salmon I featured in my blog on February 28, 2015. If you’re short on time, that’s okay. Another option would be purchasing packaged smoked salmon from your local grocery store.

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Warm Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

Wam Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

You know how a sandwich or a salad tastes better when someone else makes it? The reason is a combination of your visual perception along with a psychological response to the exposure of the ingredients. If you’re the one making the salad, your mind is thinking about how the finished dish will taste, so in the end, the resulting pleasure isn’t as strong as if someone else prepares and presents you with the finished dish.

Either way, this salad still tastes as delicious as my mind tells me it will, whether I make it or not. The warm roasted mushrooms and asparagus add a deep, earthy layer to the salad, and the dressing has just the right level of acidity to give your taste buds a bright pop of flavor.

And just a suggestion, go the extra step and buy a nice aged Parmesan and grate it yourself for this dish. The inherent nuttiness and buttery flavor of an aged Parmesan works well here.

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Red Quinoa and Bacon Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Red Quinoa and Bacon Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I’m pretty open minded when it comes to cooking with an ingredient I haven’t used before. So the first time I saw a recipe listing an ingredient called ‘quinoa,’ I was curious and looked it up.

Interestingly, I read that it was a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.  “Okay,” I thought, “That’s not so bad.”  Reading further, I saw that quinoa is related to a species of tumbleweed.  What? No way! That had to be a joke.

So the skeptic within me tried another search, asking the internet universe, “Is the grain quinoa, related to a tumbleweed?”  Surprisingly, there were many results indicating that it was true.  Huh. (I still think it’s a joke.)

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Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

This salad is my husband’s absolute favorite dish. Every time I ask him what he would like for dinner, his immediate response is always, “Ooh….Thai Beef Salad please!” How could I resist that kind of appreciative enthusiasm?

What’s great about this recipe is its versatility. The dressing actually tastes better the second day after the flavors have blended together, and the salad can be prepared in advance so the only ingredient you need to worry about is the beef. Sometimes we’ll grill a couple of rib eye steaks and have a more refined version of the dish, other times, I’ll buy thin sliced roast beef from the deli at the grocery store and serve it along with the salad and dressing.

Either way, if you’re looking for a hearty salad that has a little bit of sweetness, a little bit of heat, and a lot of great flavor, this one is it!

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Crisp and Crunchy Summer Vegetable Salad

Crisp and Crunchy Summer Vegetable Salad

This heart-healthy dish has become my summer go-to salad.  It’s always a hit with company and rarely do I have leftovers afterwards.  The cumin and lime juice in the marinade perfectly compliment the creamy black beans and chick peas; and brightens up the spicy red onion, the crisp bell peppers and the fresh sweet corn. Once you take a bite, it’s almost impossible to stop eating it!

I also love the beautiful colors.  They really make the salad stand out, especially when you put it on the table next to all those boring mayonnaise based pasta salads, deviled eggs and dried out veggie trays and ranch dip.  Bring this dish to your next gathering and I guarantee your friends will be asking you for the recipe!

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Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet Chipotle Dressing

Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet Chipotle Dressing

Salads are one of those dishes that are so wonderfully versatile.  You can either make them an enhancement to your main course or have them as the main course themselves.  Wash up some fresh greens, grill a couple of chicken breasts and you’ll have the start of a delicious and healthy meal.

But just about everyone can make a salad, right?  I agree. It’s not always about the things you add to the salad; often times it’s the dressing that makes the difference.  That’s why the star of this dish is the dressing.  It has a little bit of heat, a little bit of natural sweetness from the honey, and a lot of fresh flavorful ingredients.  Once you try it, you’ll think twice about picking up that bottled, preservative-filled dressing the next time you’re at the market!

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