Grilled Zucchini Salad

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon Thyme 2014Summer is in full swing and we’ve been having very garden-friendly weather in Colorado. It’s been wet and not too hot and things are really taking off now. Zucchini has been making an appearance in more meals than I can count lately and when I’ve fired up the grill, I almost always toss some on. If I don’t use it right away, I’ll stick it in the fridge and either have it for a snack or add it to something later on. It’s such an easy veggie to have on hand for snacks, but then again, I love just about any vegetable at any time. Except okra, in case you were wondering. I absolutely abhor okra. Maybe one day someone will convince me otherwise but for now, if a recipe calls for okra, I’d probably substitute zucchini. ūüôā

The herbs that I planted this year include basil (lots), dill, and lemon thyme. To be honest, I don’t always know what to do with thyme other than add it to soups and stews, mostly in the fall. And lemon thyme is a bit different – mine at least has a pretty big punch of lemon. I have a lot of it though, so I’ve been adding it rather randomly to see what I think. In this case, I¬†knew that I wanted a citrusy counterpoint for the zucchini and I also wanted to add¬†some dill, which is good friends with lemon too. The combination was bright and lively and it really felt like a summer evening by the grill to me. If you¬†have different herbs that you need to use, by all means do that! These¬†vegetables and the lemon vinaigrette are very friendly and would go with just about anything – basil, parsley, chives, rosemary. Whatever you have on hand would probably be delicious. I thought this salad improved with a little sitting time and was perfect next to eggs the next morning so don’t hesitate to make a bunch and save some for¬†leftovers.

Grilled Zucchini Salad

4 zucchini

2 tsp. + 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

pinch of garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper, plus more to taste

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

about 8 kalamata olives, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

juice from 1/2 a lemon

about 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

3-4 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme, about 1 Tbsp. chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Slice the zucchini lengthwise into quarters. Place in a bowl or plate and toss with 2 tsp. olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for about 10 minutes.

2) Grill the spears over medium heat until soft and charred on all sides. Time will vary depending on heat, etc. so just keep an eye on them and grill to your liking.

3) Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Chop into one-inch chunks and place in a bowl.

4) While the zucchini are cooling, mix the mustard, lemon juice, and Tbsp. of olive oil in a small bowl and chop or slice the tomatoes, onion, and olives. Add these to the bowl with the zucchini.

5) Add the chopped fresh herbs, the dressing, and toss everything well. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes before adjusting salt and pepper and serving. This salad can be eaten slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold. They’re all delicious!

Serves 4

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Zoodle Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil

Tomato Basil Salad on Zucchini Noodles 2014Having a garden is amazing and¬†rewarding and to¬†actually eat things that I planted just weeks ago gets me excited every single time. There is something truly fulfilling and gratifying and I can’t wait to experiment with other vegetables next year.¬†This year, however, the learning piece has included zucchini plants. I had a bit of a debate with the person at the nursery where I purchased my little seedlings about how many to plant together because the little stick said to plant two. My neighbors have since smiled…and locked their doors. Apparently, they don’t want to share in my bounty! ūüėČ

I am not intimidated, though, since I have a million ways to prepare zucchini. And a spiral slicer, which helps immensely. Zoodles rule and I really can’t imagine getting sick of them so you might see a few more recipes over the course of the summer. I hope they serve as launching pads for your own ideas and that you’ll share whatever magic you are making happen in your own kitchen!

Zoodle Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil

3-4 zucchini

1 Tbsp. salt

1 c. tomatoes, chopped

6 kalamata olives

1 tsp. pinenuts, toasted

2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

small clove of garlic

1/3 c. fresh basil chiffonade

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Spiral slice or julienne the zucchini and place in a strainer over the sink. Toss with salt and allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse well and cut into shorter zoodles, if necessary.

2) In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, oil, and garlic and set aside.

3) Place zucchini in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, and basil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well to combine.

4) Chill the salad for about 15 minutes, then add pepper and additional salt, if desired. Enjoy!

Serves 2

*Note: The proportions in this salad are totally flexible. Use what you have and what you like!

Cajun Broccoli Salad

Cajun Broccoli Salad 2014I know! I know! Another salad!¬†I keep thinking I need to cook more main dishes for the site, and I definitely will, but you always need something on the side. Right? And as I go through my day and cook for my family, I make salads like this one that I just love and feel are worth sharing. Especially since it’s summertime so it’s nice to have something cooler alongside whatever you’ve grilled. But I’m probably not fooling anyone – I’d eat this salad all through winter too.

What got me going was that we were invited to a friend’s house for a Cajun boil and I was in charge of bringing a salad. I love broccoli salads and I started wondering if they were typically Cajun. I still don’t really know the answer to that because I couldn’t find a definitive answer. Instead I used my imagination and made my own. If you’re Cajun and reading my blog, I apologize in advance if I’ve overstepped my bounds. I hope you like the salad anyway!

Cajun Broccoli Salad

3 med-large broccoli crowns

1 large red bell pepper

5-6 mushrooms

2 large stalks of celery

3 scallions

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Dressing

3/4 c. Paleo mayo

1/2 lemon, juiced about 2 Tbsp.

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)

Directions

1) Blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil and throw in a handful of salt. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Add them to the boiling pot for 3 minutes. Remove and run under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep the bright green color. Place in a large bowl.

2) Chop the bell pepper into 1/2 in. pieces, very thinly slice the mushrooms and the celery (a mandoline can come in handy here), and thinly slice the scallions. Toss all the veggies in the bowl with the broccoli.

3) Make the dressing in a small bowl by mixing all the ingredients together well. Toss the salad with the dressing and taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt or Cajun spice as desired.

4) Serve garnished with bacon crumbles.

Serves 4-6

Beet Salad with Radishes and Dill

Beets with Radishes and DillI confess. This picture is deceiving. When you toss the salad with the dressing, the entire thing becomes a glowing pink. It’s beautiful, but if you have an aversion to pink food, you might want to steer clear of this one. If, however, you are a fan of pink – or you don’t care because you love beets – then this salad is for you. The first night I made it, my husband couldn’t even wait to let this one get to the table. I said something about it being pink and wondering if that would be a problem for my blog readers and he just said, “It’s delicious!” Twice. While taking another bite. I ended up having to recreate it almost immediately because I like to have my salads carry over to the next day so I can eat them at breakfast with my eggs. So I did! Once you have your beets cooked, the rest is a snap.

There are a lot of different ways to cook beets. I respect people who roast them and I think steaming is a great way to maintain the nutrients, but I usually end up cutting off all but an inch or so of the stem and root ends, plopping them in a pot of salted water about half-way up the beets, and simmering them with the lid on until they’re tender when poked. I’ll turn them over during the process so they cook evenly and when they’re done, I stick them in a container and peel them once they’ve cooled. I’ve found that to be the simplest way for me to cook beets. If you have a favorite method, feel free to share it – I’m always willing to try something new!

Beet Salad with Radishes and Dill

7-8 small to medium beets

4 scallions

10 radishes

Dressing

2 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

3-4 sprigs of fresh dill, about 1 Tbsp. minced

Directions

1) Cook the beets using your preferred method. See notes above for how I typically do it. When the beets are cool, peel off the skin, and chop into 3/4 in. pieces and place in a bowl.

2) Thinly slice the scallions and radishes and add both to the bowl of beets.

3) Mix the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl and then spoon over the salad. Toss well, marveling at how bright and pink it is, and sprinkle dill on top.

Note: This salad could also be plated first with the dressing drizzled over the top to keep the colors separate. Momentarily anyway.

Serves 3-4

Simple Celery Salad

Paleo Celery and Raisin SaladSometimes the simplest ingredients are all you need. A couple days before making this salad, I was slicing up some celery and decided to do the entire bunch. I put what I wasn’t using into a glass jar, added water about 1/3 of the way up, put a lid on it and stuck it in the fridge. I wasn’t expecting miracles; I just wanted a way to easily store the celery and have it ready for a salad when the feeling struck. It worked like a charm.

Lunchtime rolled around today and I needed a little something extra on the side. Out came my presliced celery while I rummaged around to find a few other things that would make my palate happy. And voila! This little salad was born. Sure it would be delicious with some apple or walnuts added, a bunch of chopped parsley would be really good too (in fact I might do that next time), but this was so fresh and each ingredient had its own special place in the mix, that I hesitate to mess that up. But don’t you be afraid! If you have something that you think would be good, add it! And then let me know how it went. Enjoy!

Simple Celery Salad

1 1/2 Tbsp. Paleo Mayo

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 c. sliced celery

3 Tbsp. raisins

1 Tbsp. chopped chives

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

2) Add to the bowl the sliced celery, raisins, and chives. Stir everything together and taste to adjust seasonings.

Serves 2-3

 

Tuna-Apple Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Tuna Salad with Tarragon DressingMy husband always gives me a hard time when I make anything with tarragon. You see, back in 2004, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with a bunch of friends in a gorgeous villa in Tuscany. At the time, I loved tarragon and when I came across a tarragon pasta dish in this teeny-tiny, beautiful little restaurant, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, what was served was completely inedible. There was so much tarragon, and I think it had been allowed to grow past the slender leaves into something more bitter, that¬†the¬†whole¬†thing was totally overwhelming. Reluctant to send it back, my husband came to the rescue and gave me his lunch, while he battled his way through mine. True love! Now that a decade has passed, I think I’m ready to start loving tarragon again. This salad is a tribute to that lovely,¬†herb with a¬†hint of licorice.

After a good workout in particular, one of my favorite things for lunch is tuna salad. I love getting some solid protein with a dose of Omega-3s for their health benefits, and¬†tuna salad comes together fast. This salad felt particularly¬†special because I wanted to add a little crunch and decided to caramelize some walnuts in honey for a little something extra. I try not to use sweeteners very often, and this salad was already getting some sweet with the apple, but every once in a while, you just have to go for it. The walnuts were screaming honey and the salad satisfied me all day long. Can’t beat that!

Tuna-Apple Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Salad

2 small cans of tuna (I used albacore)

1 apple, cored and chopped

1/2 an English cucumber, finely chopped

2 scallions, minced

Honeyed Walnuts (optional)

Dressing

1/4 c. Paleo mayo

1 small garlic clove

1 Tbsp. Lemon juice

2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Put the drained tuna in a large bowl with the chopped apple, cucumber, and scallions.

2) In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, minced tarragon, minced garlic clove, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3) Pour the dressing over the salad and mix gently. Taste to adjust the seasonings, plate, and top with a few honeyed walnuts.

Serves 2

Faux-tato Salad

Cauliflower Salad The other day I saw a salad in a deli display with peas and cheese and crunchy things. It got me thinking about deli salads and summertime and all the wonderful fresh veggies that are available. I started going through the fridge looking for a combination of textures that would be reminiscent of potato salad without using potatoes. For the most part, I am happy to use nutrient dense sweet potatoes (as in this German Potato Salad¬†– so good!), but sometimes I really want a bunch of non-starchy vegetables that make me FEEL like I’m eating potatoes.

In comes the chameleon of vegetables that¬†transforms itself¬†into just about anything you’d like. If you use frozen cauliflower florets, you don’t even have to cook them. They’ve been blanched already so, once defrosted,¬†they have a soft crunch that I really like. Perhaps even more important, frozen cauliflower doesn’t make a mess! This salad combines crunch from the cauliflower, celery, and bell pepper with tenderness from the hard-boiled egg and¬†olives. Add a little brininess from the pickle and an indescribably addictive background note from smoked paprika, and this salad is a winner at any table! My husband gave it several mumbled “Mmm…mmms…,” so I think it’s a keeper.

Faux-tato Salad

1 12 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower florets

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

4 baby bell peppers, sliced into thin rounds

1/2 c. snap peas, sliced on the diagonal

3 small pickle spears, chopped

2 scallions, finely chopped

10 black olives, sliced

1/4 c. parsley, minced

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

3/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

Dressing

1/4 c. Paleo mayo

2 tsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

a couple dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco)

pinch of salt

pepper

Directions

1) Start by mixing all the ingredients for the dressing in the bottom of the salad bowl. Set aside.

2) Drop each vegetable (everything but the egg), chopped or sliced, into the bowl with the dressing. Mix well. Then add the chopped egg and mix gently.

3) Let sit for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste to adjust seasoning and enjoy.

Serves 4-6