Kitchen Quickie: I died and went to Rouge Salad

Back in college, Mike worked at the swanky and marvelous restaurant Rouge on Rittenhouse Square. Mike learned so much about food and I got to partake in amazing, gourmet meals. One of my favorite dishes: the Bibb and Endive salad. This salad was topped with crunchy, spicy cashews and creamy roquefort cheese. It is simple and yet tastes complex and well, to quote Lily, “fancy!”


My version of this salad pulls together in less than 5 minutes! It is a quick and sophisticated side dish–perfect for Fall meals and for company. Instead of cashews, I use pre-packaged sweet and spicy pecans from Trader Joes. I love these pecans–they retail for $3.99 in South Jersey and really add a wow to the salad. You can find various sweet/spicy nuts at your local grocery store if there is not a Trader Joes nearby.


Ingredients:
  • Spring Mix (I love the versions of pre-bagged spring mix that include fresh herbs. Trader Joes has a version as does Earth’s Best Organic)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sweet and Spicy Pecans (from Trader Joes or substitute something you find locally!)
  • Gorgonzola cheese (or you can use plain jane bleu cheese. Not a fan of the bleus, try feta)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette or, if you want to be super fancy, truffle oil and balsamic vinegar

Pile a generous handful of Spring Mix onto your salad plate. Top with a sprinkling of cranberries, pecans and cheese. Drizzle about 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette on top OR drizzle with truffle oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt/Pepper to taste.
Advertisements

Came-home-from-vacation-and-there-was-nothing-to-eat Taco Salad

After our fabulous mini-break last week, the last thing I felt like doing was going to the grocery store. I was also sick of take-out and my wallet was sick of paying for a meals out. We always seem to have something rattling around in the freezer and pantry. And this time of year, the garden typically has something to offer.


I went foraging through the reserves and found all the perfect ingredients for this fantastic (and meatless!) taco salad. The best part–you can make this salad with what you have–toss new stuff in or leave out items you don’t have.

Ingredients:
Lettuce (we had some romaine in the fridge and some red leaf in the garden), torn in bite size pieces
Cucumber, sliced
Sweet onion (a great cool, dark place staple), chopped
Red pepper (i had a some bit of red pepper that I chopped and froze before we left.
I just took it out of the freezer and thawed it before adding to the salad)
Shredded cheddar (I keep blocks of cheese in the fridge and shred as I need it. keeps me from eating too much!)
Black olives
Morning Star Meal Starter Crumbles (from the freezer. greatest, easiest item ever)
Envelope of taco seasoning
Can of fat-free refried beans
Pico de Gallo or salsa
Tortilla chips
Your favorite vinaigrette (I used Good Seasons Italian)

Directions:
Place lettuce on large dinner plate, leaving a hole in the center (like making a wreath of lettuce).

Sprinkle all veggies, cheese and black olives on top of lettuce. Warm up refried beans. Prepare MS Crumbles according to package directions (swirl of olive oil in a pan, add the crumbles). Then add taco seasoning with water to Crumbles.

Put a scoop of refried beans in the center of your lettuce wreath, add a scoop of MS Crumbles on top, followed by some pico de gallo and garnish with a tortilla chip. Serve with extra tortilla chips and salad dressing on the side.

And enjoy. It rocks and tastes way better than take out!

An oldie, but a goodie: Seven Layer Salad

This is from my fabulous mother-in-law, Olga, who is living a fabulous life as a Grammy, wife, mother and friend. She is one of my best friends and one of the best cooks I know.


I think Seven Layer Salad is comfort food. It reminds me of potlucks and barbecues. I’ve experimented with other modernized versions, but nothing quite beats the original.

One note: if you have fresh peas–this absolutely rocks. Just steam the fresh peas and chill them for a couple hours before layering in your salad.

The directions are super easy:
Tear up one head of romaine lettuce in a large bowl and layer over that in order.
1/2c.celery
1/2c.green pepper
1/4c.onion
10oz. frozen peas. Thaw and dry on paper towels (or use fresh, as noted above)
1pt real mayo
2Tsugar
dash of salt
1c. grated cheddar cheese
8 strips of bacon fried crisp and crumb
Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Serve the next day. It rocks!