Tomato & Basil Salad

Well, my garden is starting to wind down now.  We’ve had some beautiful weather and the cooler temperatures have slowed production.  Matt actually made this Tomato & Basil Salad earlier this summer for the first time and we both really liked it.  We’ve made it several times since then and love that we can use any tomatoes from our garden and we can more or less follow the recipe and it still turns out well.  We still have some cherry tomatoes and the basil is still out there, so yesterday, I quickly tossed together this wonderful salad to go along with some Baked Tilapia and brown rice.  It made for a really nice, quick, delicious dinner.

If you have tomatoes to use up, I highly recommend this salad!

 
Tomato and Basil Salad

 

Tomato & Basil Salad
from a cookbook called Vegetarian

Ingredients
4 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 basil leaves, roughly torn
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic or wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

What To Do
Overlap tomato slices on a serving platter.  Sprinkle with shallot and basil.

Spoon oil and vinegar evenly over salad.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

My Comments
So, actually, we’ve never done the serving platter thing.  We have just chopped up tomatoes and sometimes put onion in and sometimes add feta cheese or in yesterday’s case, I sprinkled parmesan cheese on top.  Like I said, we more or less follow the recipe.

For the cherry tomatoes, I just sliced them in half and tossed all the ingredients together.  Very simple.

Some Photos Along the Way
Tomato and Basil Salad

Tomato and Basil Salad

Tomato and Basil Salad

 

So easy and so delicious! I hope summer isn’t over yet and I hope to get some more tomatoes out of the garden but if not, I can look forward to more of these yummy salads next year.

Have a great day!

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Italian Croutons

I know it’s not that expensive to buy croutons but I think it’s fun to make them yourself.  Especially if you have some old bread to use up.  Or if you just want to.  Just because.  You don’t always have to have some great reason for doing stuff, right?

Salad season is fast approaching and if you want to add a little more flavor and crunch, try making these Italian Croutons.  It’s super easy and tasty!

Italian Croutons

 

Italian Croutons
from Taste of Home

Ingredients
3 slices Italian bread, cubed
butter-flavored cooking spray
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t garlic powder

What To Do
Spritz bread cubes with butter-flavored spray; place in a bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and garlic powder; toss to coat evenly.

Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once or twice. Cool.

My Comments
I had part of an old baguette so used that.  I ended up with about 2 cups of bread cubes.  I’ve also used sourdough bread.

I didn’t have butter-flavored spray…just used what I had, which was canola oil cooking spray.

I also didn’t have any garlic powder so left that out.

I tried this two ways – one with spraying the bread cubes and the other I tried tossing the cubes in olive oil.  Spraying was much easier and more evenly coated the bread cubes, which made it easier to evenly coat with Italian seasoning.

I lined my cookie sheet with foil and sprayed that.  Nothing stuck – hooray!

I baked mine at 350ºF for about 10 minutes.  I think the higher temperature would have burned them in no time, considering my oven and the size of my bread cubes.

Some Photos Along the Way
Cutting bread into cubes (I did trim some of the crust off)
Italian Croutons

Bread cubes sprayed and tossed with seasoningItalian Croutons

Spread out on lined/sprayed cookie sheetItalian Croutons

Italian Croutons

Italian Croutons!Italian Croutons

 

One reason I like this recipe, and homemade croutons in general, is because you can adapt to your liking.  You can use different seasonings and if you like crunchier croutons, just leave them in the oven longer…or not as long if you don’t like them super crunchy.  You can make larger or smaller batches too, depending on what you want.

I’m looking forward to some tasty salads this summer! How about you?

Have a great week!

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

HEY YOU GUYS! (Goonies anyone? Anyone?)

I’ve had a great morning! What about you? Happy weekend to you all.  I had been trying to make this salad for about a week now and finally got it made this morning.  I was looking around at foodgawker a couple weeks ago and saw it there.  Never heard of foodgawker? You should totally Check. It. Out.  Especially if you love and appreciate food.  Be warned, though – you can completely lose track of time and everything around you because you will be 100% absorbed.  One day I hope to have a picture on there of something I made.

Anyway, I saw a picture of this salad and after clicking on it found I had all the ingredients except one.  I was a bit skeptical because the kale was raw and I’ve always thought of raw kale as being kinda bitter.  However, I had kale from my garden to use up so after Matt picked up a can of chick peas for me from the store (thank you, dear!) I was all set to make this pretty salad.

And it was good.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

 

Talk about pleasantly surprised! This salad is really good! Even after I accidentally put in a tablespoon of honey in the dressing instead of the one teaspoon it called for and even though I didn’t quite have enough butternut squash and even though I didn’t have couscous and used quinoa instead…it turned out great and I’m so happy because it’s also good for me! Yes, this is healthy and tasty.  And that makes me happy.  That and it’s pretty.  Oh, and the kale’s not bitter at all!

Okay, here’s how you can make it too!

Butternut Squash Salad
from An Edible Mosaic

Ingredients
Dressing
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Salad
1 (1 1/2 lbs/680 g) butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cups (315 ml) water
1 cup (170 g) whole wheat pearl couscous
1 medium sweet onion, diced
5 oz (150 g) kale, washed, de-stemmed, and finely chopped
1 (15.5 oz/439 g) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

 

What To Do
Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.Preheat oven to 425F. Toss together the cubed squash, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper on the baking sheet and then spread the squash out in a single layer. Roast the squash until tender and golden in places, about 20 minutes, tossing the squash once halfway through. Cool.Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then add the pearl couscous and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring back up to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer; cover the pot and cook until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.Add the butternut squash, pearl couscous, onion, kale, chickpeas, and salad dressing to a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

Serve or keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.

My Comments
So, as previously mentioned, I used quinoa instead of couscous.

Keep an eye on your squash as it’s roasting.  Mine didn’t take 20 minutes, I’m assuming because of the size of the pieces.  When I took it out after 10 minutes to toss, it was tender and I didn’t want it to get squishy in the salad so that was it.

You can make this in stages and even out of order.  I didn’t make the dressing until later in the process.  While the squash was roasting I got the quinoa going on the stove (just follow the directions on the bag).  Everything has to cool down before you put it all together anyway so this is a great recipe to make over time or if you have distractions you won’t feel stressed out.  Just relax and have fun with it!

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

 

I never really think of eating salad when it’s not summer but this is a great Fall salad.  I’m glad to have found it and I hope you give it a try!

Green Bean Salad

Brrr…it’s a bit chilly out this morning.  It does certainly feel like a fall morning.  I know Labor Day happened and all but I’m not quite ready to let go of summer yet.  Plus, my calendar says Autumn doesn’t begin until later this month.  If you feel the same way, this recipe is for you! I know there are still fresh green beans and cherry tomatoes out there!!

 

Green Bean Salad

 

Green Bean Salad
from The Food Network

Ingredients
Kosher salt
1 pound slender green beans, ends trimmed
1 cup feta cheese crumbles
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

What To Do
Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a spider to remove to a bowl of ice water. Drain well, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl. Combine with the feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions.

Toast the almonds in a small skillet, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, garlic and some salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the green beans and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

My Comments
Well, so…Matt and I really really like this salad but we altered it just a bit…first, we cooked our green beans (in unsalted water) all the way because neither of us like crunchy green beans.  So that means, no ice bath needed.

Clearly, from the picture, you can see we did not slice our cherry tomatoes in half and really, at this stage of the garden game, mine are smaller now anyway – there’s really no point in halving them.

We skipped the almonds.

And we used dried basil instead of fresh because my basil never really took off this year.  It reached maybe 5 inches tall with a few leaves and that’s it.

And…the first time we did not let it marinate for an hour because we didn’t have time.  The second time we did.  Either way, it tastes great!

 

Did you ever see the movie, UP? They say “adventure is out there!” and I feel like saying “summer is out there!” because really, it is and we can still eat delicious fresh green beans and cherry tomatoes in wonderful salad form…even if we need to wear a sweater while doing so.

Enjoy your day!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad

Woo Hoo! I never thought I’d be saying “woo hoo” when it’s cold and windy out.  BUT…there are sweet potatoes galore at the farmer’s market and that means good eatin’ is just a chop and a stir away.

Take this Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad, for instance.  It’s so delicious and goes so really well with any pork dish, like a roasted pork loin or pork chops cooked on the stove.  The first time I made this salad I was blown away at how good it was.  I really hope you try it out while sweet potatoes are plentiful and readily available from your friendly local farmer.

 

black bean and sweet potato salad

 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad
from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
4 T vegetable oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 lb total), peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

What To Do
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with red-pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Roast on lower rack, until tender, tossing once during cooking, 25 to 35 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk lime juice with remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes, beans, onion, and, if using, cilantro; mix gently to combine.

My Comments
I leave the red pepper flakes out.

I definitely put the cilantro in – it adds such a great flavor.  I don’t recommend leaving it out.  If you have to buy cilantro from the store, here’s a TIP I posted a while ago on how to store cilantro to make it last.

I’ve made this with canned black beans and also with black beans I cooked myself.  I know canned beans are much more convenient but if you have time, try cooking your own beans (directions should be on the bag).  The salad tastes great either way but it tasted even better using raw beans that I cooked myself.

 

So there you have it.  A great tasting salad that’s also great for you.  How sweet is that?