Celery Root and Apple Slaw

Celery root has historically been the vegetable the appears each fall in our farm share box, and I stare at it and think “Huh?”…and wonder what to do with it. When cooked, it tastes of celery and has a texture somewhere between a parsnip and potato. Lots of people seem to mash it up with potatoes, but I don’t care for mashes, so I usually just peel it, cube it and chuck it in a stew, where it stays in the background.

Over the holiday weekend, while we were comatose on the couch after who knows how many leftover turkey sandwiches, I was watching the Food Network (dreaming of more food, even in my food coma), and saw one of the chefs prepare a celery root and apple slaw. Her salad was far fancier than this one – complete with pan roasted mushrooms sauteed in duck fat – I don’t have that, but I can tell you that this salad is super-healthy and has an unexpected lightness from this ugly root veggie. The light, earthy celery flavor against the tart, sweet apple is perfection, and the vinaigrette balances the two with a savory note.

Oh, and I served this excellent salad with my slow roasted BBQ pork shoulder tacos with handmade tortillas. Oh, Yeah. Not bad for a Monday night dinner.

Celery Root Apple Slaw
Serves 2

1 large celery root
1 apple – tart/crisp variety
1 tangerine, juiced and seeds discarded
1 T olive oil
1 T stone ground mustard
salt & pepper to taste
garnish with cilantro

  1. Make the vinaigrette – in a small bowl, combine the tangerine juice, olive oil, mustard and whisk to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste – I like quite a bit of pepper in my slaw.
  2. Clean the celery root by cutting off all the rough edges and tough ends. Use a mandoline with the thin-cutting blade and slice the celery root and apple into lovely moon-shaped slices. Stack the slices up into small piles and cut the pieces into thin matchsticks. Place the apple & celery root in a medium mixing bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Let slaw marinate in the fridge for a half hour before serving.

157 cal per serving, 60 cal from fat, 7.1g fat, 380 mg sodium, 75mg potassium, 24g carbs, 4g fiber, 15g sugars, 1.7g protein

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Chipotle Vinaigrette

On our first day in Denver, my brother took us up to Boulder for the afternoon. We didn’t have any particular agenda in mind, just to wander Pearl street, and visit some of the wonderful shops there. After we’d wandered around and worked up an appetite, it was time for a late lunch.

Mike took us to his favorite brewpub, Mountain Sun. We’d been there before on our last visit and remembered it as a friendly, homey spot with good food, and good beer for the boys. I was a little more anxious on this visit, as my gluten sensitivity has become quite severe, and eating out can be a real challenge. Mountain Sun was packed when we arrived, as it was also the first day of Great American Beerfest, and the beer geeks were there supporting their favorite establishment and talking brew. But once we snagged a table, I was very pleasantly surprised with the care that our very busy server took to ensure that I would eat safely.

I ordered a spinach salad topped with roasted butternut squash with a warm bacon-chipotle vinaigrette, and topped with fresh feta cheese. It was amazing, and if I could have licked the plate I would have. I knew that when we arrived home, I’d have to make this salad soon, so that I’d have the recipe on file. I made a few changes – making it a bit meatier for Mark, and roasting the squash with a bit of bacon fat, herbs and some chipotle puree. I didn’t have any spinach (which would have been my preference), but we did have some beautiful romaine on hand from our farm share that fit the bill nicely. Next time you’re looking for a different twist on a dinner salad – give this one a try!

Spicy Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Serves 2
700 cal per serving, 30g fat, 69g carbs, 38g protein, 6g fiber, 2000mg sodium, 680mg potassium

Half a butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cubed into 1/2″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 strips bacon, cooked, chopped and fat reserved
2 tsp chipotle puree
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
4 cups of romaine lettuce, torn
1oz feta, crumbled
3oz cooked chicken breast, cubed (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
olive oil spray for cookie sheet

1 T warm bacon fat
1 T champagne vinegar
1 T stone ground mustard
1-2 tsp chipotle puree, to taste
1/2 tsp maple syrup
salt to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 450, turn on the convection if you’ve got it. Meanwhile, slice the squash in half, lengthwise. Cover half with saran wrap and stash it in the fridge to cook another evening. Peel the half you’re going to use with a wide Y-shaped peeler, then scoop out the seeds and guts. Slice the squash lengthwise into 1/2″ wide slices, then cube the squash into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Toss the squash into a medium sized bowl, and pour 1tsp of bacon fat over the squash, and toss to coat. Add the rosemary and garlic, 1-2 tsp chipotle puree, salt, and stir to coat. Spray a sheet pan with olive oil, and pour the squash onto the sheet pan in one layer. Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and roast for 20 more minutes.
  3. While the squash is finishing roasting, make the dressing. Combine all the dressing ingredients (make sure the bacon fat is warm, so it’s liquid), and whisk. Taste, and adjust seasoning – if it’s too tart, add a bit of olive oil to smooth it out a bit.
  4. When the squash is done, and a bit carmelized at the edges, assemble the salad. Toss the greens with the dressing and pile the lettuce on the plates. Top with the bacon, feta, chicken and squash, then dig in!

Spicy Salsa Green Bean Salad

I know you’ve already heard me say this (and if you read my friend Emily’s blog, you’ve heard it there, too), but Rick Bayless is my culinary hero. It was thrilling to see him with Top Chef Masters last week – not just because he was a gracious competitor, but because his food is top notch, and just as deserving of adulation as all the prissy French food that seems to win on these shows.

And just when I thought I couldn’t love Rick anymore – they toss in a gluten-free, vegan challenge! Rick embraced the challenge (unlike another chef), and knew exactly how to handle it, mentioning that his daughter is gluten-free. Given that Rick’s specialty is Mexican food, cooking gluten-free isn’t all that difficult, and I’ve dined very happily and safely in his restaurants. But still – to handle restricted diets with grace under fire – I heart Rick Bayless forever.

Tuesday nights at our house often provide interesting meals. We receive our farm share box on Wednesdays, so I’ve usually got an odd assortment of veg left in the crisper that need eating. This week, the leftovers included a small bag of green beans. It was a warm night, and we were having steak tacos for dinner, so I wanted a cool, crisp salad to go with the meal…and wouldn’t you know it – Rick Bayless had a simple green bean salad recipe for me!

This salad is delicious, and comes together in a matter of moments. It has some nice tartness from the lime juice, and a little heat from the salsa. Toss in a handful of cilantro and sliced onion, and you’ve got a fine salad! We had a little leftover, and the salad was even better the next day, as the beans tasted a bit pickled – yum!

Green Bean Salsa Salad
Serves 3

109 calories per serving, 6g fat, 11g carbs, 2g protein

3 cups green beans, ends trimmed and cut into pieces
1/3 cup tomatillo or red salsa (I used homeade chipotle tomato salsa, but jarred would work fine, too.)
juice of one lime
2 T grapeseed oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, and blanch the beans for 2 minutes. Then, scoop up the beans with a wire basket and plunge them into an ice water bath to stop them from cooking further. Once they are cooled, drain the beans in a colander and set aside.
  2. Combine the salsa, lime juice and grapeseed oil in a small bowl – season with salt to taste.
  3. Place the beans in your serving bowl with the sliced onion, pour on the dressing, and toss to coat. Taste, and adjust seasoning again if needed. It’s good to make this an hour or so before you plan to serve it, so the flavors have a little time to marry.

Fresh Herb Ranch Dressing

The blog world has been on fire this summer with dozens of recipes of homeade ranch. I have to confess a long-held love of ranch that began at Denny’s. Yes, that Denny’s – of the 24-hour diner and Grand Slam fame. I worked at Denny’s for over two years when I was in high school, and mostly I really liked my job there. I worked with a great bunch of women, learned how to tie a men’s tie (and how easy it is for said tie to end up in a ramekin of pancake syrup), and sharpened my serving and selling skills, which led to later working in fine dining restaurants.

But back to ranch. One of the “sidework” jobs after shift was to make the gallon buckets of salad dressing…one of those being Hidden Valley Ranch. You’d take your bucket and pour in 2 gallons of buttermilk, one gallon of mayo, the packet of ranch seasoning and a cup of lemon juice. Yeah, that’s a LOT of calories. And then you’d take a giant whisk and get your upper-body workout for the week and whisk for ages until it magically turned into ranch dressing. And it was good. In my time at Denny’s I’m scared to think of the amount of ranch I consumed on salads, dipping chicken fingers in it, or….dipping mozzarella sticks in it. Yeah – all of those things would pretty much kill me now in the gluten-free era.

When all of these lovely ranch dressing posts started appearing on the internet, it was only a matter of time before I would whip up a batch for myself. And truly – this is the best ranch I have ever eaten…and may be my last.

I should have known better. Dairy and I have a rough relationship, so I’ve rationed my small dairy consumption into homeade ice cream for the last several months, and I’ve done fine with it. Well, after 2 days of eating ranch I felt a little oogey (very techincal medical term). My hands flared up again with painful dermatitis, which is what happens when I either eat gluten, or overwhelm my liver with something else I probably shouldn’t eat – like ranch.

So, if you love ranch dressing (and don’t have a problem digesting dairy), give this a try. It was amazing drizzled over grilled squash and fresh greens, and is revelatory when tossed with crisp, local cucumbers. Enjoy.

Ranch Dressing

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup organic buttermilk
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup 2% greek yogurt
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 T fresh dill, chopped
2 T fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried garlic powder (not garlic salt)

  1. Combine everything in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine until smooth. Store in a quart jar, and drizzle over fresh veggies or salad of your choice.
  2. Note: the flavors will blend and intensify overnight, so don’t over-season on the first day. You can alway add a bit more salt/pepper the next day.

Lemony Chick Pea & Cabbage Salad

I don’t think cabbage gets enough culinary love. It’s a budget-friendly ingredient, as you can get several meals out of a good-sized head, but too often it’s lobbed into boiling water with corned beef, or used to make cloyingly sweet, mayo-laden slaws.

Cabbage is meant for greater things than slaw. One of our very favorite meals is Bacon Egg Slurry, a dish of cabbage sauteed in a bit of bacon fat and seasoned liberally with black pepper and topped with over-easy eggs. Our CSA has gifted us with two HUGE heads of cabbage – we’ve already had 6 meals out of them, and I still have half a head left! I made Rick Bayless’ Achiote Braised Pork tacos last night for some friends, and wanted a side dish that would help cut the richness of the delectable pork. I had cooked some chick peas up to make some hummus, and the cabbage was lurking in the crisper, so I tossed the two together with a lemon-peppery vinaigrette with just a hint of caesar salad flavors due to a dab of anchovy paste. I loved this salad, and happily ate the leftovers today for lunch. This is a crisp, refreshing salad for a hot summer day. Give it a try!

Lemony Chickpea & Cabbage Salad
Serves 6 as a side dish, 3 as a main course

1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 cup celery, sliced paper-thin
1 1/2 cups cooked chick peas
3 T fresh basil, minced
3 T lemon juice
zest of one lemon
2 T olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1/2 tsp salt
lots of fresh ground pepper

  1. Slice the cabbage into fine, bite-sized ribbons and place in a large bowl. Add the cooked chick peas and thinly sliced celery.
  2. Make the dressing: combine the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, basil, mustard, anchovy paste salt and ground pepper in a small bowl and whisk for a minute or two.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and chick peas and use tongs to toss the salad to coat everything in the dressing. This salad can be made a coupe hours before serving, and is good for leftovers, too.

Basil Vinaigrette Potato Salad

Glutenfree Girl posted a recipe for potato salad in May that I have been craving ever since. To say that I’ve been craving potato salad is a big deal. I have never been an eater of potato salad – even passing up my mom’s, which seems to disappear at any summer gathering. But when my favorite German Butterball potatoes showed up at the farmer’s market this week along with the first giant bouquets of basil…I just had to take the plunge and give this salad a try. I’m not going to post the recipe for this one, as you really should just go read Shauna’s post, as I cannot match her beautiful words or photos.

I didn’t have morels or asparagus to add to the salad, as both of those have now passed out of season here. I switched out her Walla Walla onions (local to Seattle), for our own local spring onions and green garlic. I served the finished salad to friends on our balcony on a perfect summer evening, and there were second helpings all-around. I had a tiny bit leftover, which I tossed with some leftover roasted chicken to take for dinner at Relay For Life on Friday night. I also had about 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette leftover as well, which we’ll enjoy on salads this week.

Mango Salad with Spicy Lime Pepita Dressing

This is my favorite Spring salad, and cements my undying love for the culinary genius that is Rick Bayless. His cookbook Mexican Everyday, is definitely one of the few cookbooks I own that I’ve cooked multiple recipes out of. Living in Chicago, we’ve been lucky enough to eat in his restaurants, but I prefer the simpler everyday recipes in this book to eating out. That braised pork shoulder I made a couple of months ago was Rick’s recipe and definitely a winner.

When you finish this salad, you just might want to lick the plate, to get every last drop of the spicy, tangy dressing. The salad is topped with chunks of ripe mango, crumbled bleu cheese, toasted pepitas, and either avocado or whatever leftover grilled or roasted meat you have on hand. In this case, we had some leftover chili-garlic paste rubbed skirt steak from the night before, so we topped the salad with that.

The dressing takes a little more work than your average vinaigrette, but is totally worth it. The dressing makes about a cup, which is good for about 6 entree salads.

Pepita Lime Salad Dressing
Makes 1 cup of dressing

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (from about 4-5 limes)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
spoonful of chipotle puree, to taste
squeeze of honey, to taste
1/3 cup raw pepitas, toasted (some will be reserved to top the salad)

  1. In a small pan, gently roast 4 cloves of garlic in the olive oil over very low heat. Cook until the cloves of garlic begin to soften, and get just a touch of golden color. Turn off the burner and set the oil aside.
  2. While the garlic oil is cooking, toast the pepitas in another small pan, over medium heat. Shake the pan often so that they don’t burn. You’ll know they’re done when you start to hear the seeds start popping as they heat up – this takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size and freshness of the seeds. Set the toasted seeds aside.
  3. Pour the fresh squeezed lime juice into a mini-food processor or blender, then pour in the garlic and oil. Puree until smooth. Add a small spoonful of chipotle puree and 2 T of the toasted pepitas, and puree until smooth. I like the dressing to be thicker than a regular vinaigrette, so if it’s still a bit thin, add another tablespoon of pepitas, and puree again. Next, add a squeeze of honey, and a half-teaspoon of salt – puree, taste, and adjust seasoning to your liking by adding more honey or salt.

To make the salad: toss the dressing with lots of greens (romaine, spinach, butter lettuce are good here), then top with cubes of ripe mango, some of the reserved pepitas, and some crumbled bleu cheese. The addition of meat is optional. Avocado is also a perfect topping, but Mark won’t eat it, so I usually go without.

Mango & Curried Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a gift to the gluten-free people of the world. This tiny, earthy protein-packed grain is as open to inspiration as the other main grain in my life – rice. The ladies I work with are also quinoa lovers. Betsey eats quinoa and ghee for breakfast most mornings, Lori makes a veggie stir fry with quinoa, and I adore this spicy quinoa and black bean salad. Last week, Jen jumped in with her own quinoa recommendation for this curried mango quinoa recipe – and I knew I had to make it. WOW. I think this may be my new favorite spring salad – especially while the mangos are so good.

This recipe is simple to prepare, and completely delicious. I made some alterations from the original recipe (of course), adding carrot and cilantro, and making more dressing than the recipe originally called for. The resulting salad has the tang of the yogurt and limes and a nice heat from the curry powder, and the mangos are a perfect cool counterpoint to the heat. We’ll happily be eating this for lunch the rest of this week.

For lunch-storage purposes, I’ll add the mango each morning before I leave for work, so the fruit doesn’t get all soggy from being mixed into the salad for days at a time.

Mango Curried Quinoa Salad
Serves 6 as a main course

6 Weight Watchers Points per serving

1 cup greek yogurt, 0% fat
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup quinoa
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, scrubbed, then grated
1 fresh jalapeƱo chile, seeded and minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

  1. Optional protein garnish – saute a few shrimp with a dash of curry, minced clove of garlic with a little olive oil, and top the salad with the shrimp.
  2. Rinse quinoa in a bowl using 5 changes of water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off water (if quinoa does not settle, drain in a large sieve after each rinsing).
  3. Cook quinoa in rice cooker along with 1 tsp curry powder, using appropriate amount of water for your cooker. Set aside cooked quinoa to cool. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook quinoa on the stovetop according to the package directions.
  4. Whisk together yogurt, lime juice, 2 tsp of curry powder, ginger, salt in a measuring cup. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, bell pepper, jalepeno, cilantro, carrot and cilantro. Drizzle about half of the yogurt dressing over the salad, and mix with a spatula. Add the rest of the dressing, and mix thoroughly.
  6. When you’re ready to serve, top with the diced mango, and optional shrimp.

Green Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

I made this salad on Saturday evening to go with the cassoulet, and it was the perfect counterpoint to the comforting stew. When I was in college I worked at a small fancy-ish restaurant, and I learned a LOT about food while working there. The chef took me under his wing because he saw that I was really interested in food, and was always having me taste his new dishes, or would save a special dish or two once in awhile for my dinner after-shift. One of my favorite things to eat, though, was this salad. After running around the restaurant for 6 hours, a crisp salad always hit the spot (and was easier on the wallet, with the staff discount).

The salad combines a crisp vinaigrette on mixed greens, with granny smith apples, candied pecans, a sprinkling of dried cherries and bleu cheese. This salad was especially good because I had some special cheese on hand that I got through my meat CSA, Hook’s Tilston Point. The cheese is so good – it’s a little funkier than your average bleu, a little saltier, and a lot creamier. Seriously, I could eat this cheese with a spoon…and it is disappearing from the fridge all too fast.

The vinaigrette really brings the salad together. Champagne vinegar is my new favorite for salad dressings. It’s tart, light, and not too sour, and brightens any dressing. Making your own salad dressing is so simple – if you haven’t done it, give it a try – you won’t be sorry.

Champagne Vinaigrette
serves: 6
3 Weight Watchers points per serving (dressing only)

2 T champagne vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Pour the vinegar, mustard and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Drizzle olive oil in slowly, whisking constantly, until the dressing comes together and the oil and vinegar blend. Season with salt and ground pepper to taste.

Mixed greens, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 granny smith apple, cored, and sliced thinly
3 T dried cherries
2 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
3 T pecan pieces
1 tsp maple syrup, fresh ground pepper

To make candied pecans: Place pecans in a small, nonstick pan, and toast over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Drizzle maple syrup over the pecans and stir quickly. Add pepper, stir, and then pour the pecans out onto a bit of parchment paper, and place in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Making the salad: Place greens in a large bowl, pour some of the dressing over the greens and toss with tongs. If needed, add more dressing, until the salad is perfectly dressed, but not drenched in dressing. Place greens in your serving bowl, then sprinkle the apples, cherries, bleu cheese and pecans over the top. Serve.

Caesar Salad

I love caesar salad…but not that gunky stuff that comes out of a bottle. If you’ve been following along on my blogging adventure, you’re probably not surprised that I don’t buy salad dressings in bottles – it seems silly when you can make something so much better in under 5 minutes, at home. And, its always nice to see that Mark Bittman agrees with me…though I’m sure he stopped buying bottled dressings long before I did. Going gluten-free ended my affair with bottled dressings and improved my salads!

I’m not sure I can really teach you how to make caesar dressing with a specific recipe, I can tell you what to put in it, but you’ll have to whisk it up, and taste for yourself, and adjust the proportions to your own taste. What I can tell you is that once you make your own bright, lemony caesar salad, you may not hit the bottle ever again, either.

Caesar Salad
6 Servings
3 Weight Watchers points per serving

1 egg yolk, coddled
juice of half a lemon
olive oil, about a 1/4 cup
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
anchovy paste, about a teaspoon
dijon mustard, about a teaspoon
dash of worchestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

  1. Heat a small pan of water, bring to a boil. Place egg in the boiling water, and boil for 60 seconds. Remove egg, separate egg, and place the yolk in a small bowl. Add lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, worchestershire sauce and whisk together for a minute. Start drizzling the olive oil in, and taste as you go until the oil balances the lemon flavor. Once the dressing comes together, add the parmesan cheese, and give it one last stir.
  2. Toss with greens, and garnish with more parmesan cheese. I confess to liking Bacos on my caesar salad, too…shocking, right?!