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Category Archives: Salads

Tangy Pasta Salad

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This was the first recipe I ever pinned from Gina’s blog, At Home My Way, and that was years ago.  I’m so glad I finally got around to making it because it’s mega delicious, easy, and perfect for summer potlucks!  I’ve already made it for two of them in as many weeks and might have traded a few meals to enjoy an extra big bowl of it. LOL!  It’s really good stuff – not the typical dressing with oil or mayo (which means it won’t go bad in the heat!), but nice and tangy and fresh.  Love it!

Tangy Pasta Salad

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1 (16 oz) package tricolor spiral pasta
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1 medium green pepper (or red or yellow or orange, or some of each!)
1/2 red or white (sweet) onion, finely sliced and the rings cut into 1/4ths

Dressing
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook the pasta according to package instructions to al dente. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch. Add to a large bowl along with remaining salad ingredients.

In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, ground mustard, salt, and garlic powder. Mix in the vinegar and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, 2-5 minutes. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-6 hours; serve cold with a slotted spoon.

Veronica’s notes: you can use a smaller package of pasta – I used both 12 and 14 oz packages and both salads turned out fine. Unfortunately the leftovers aren’t great so this is best eaten between 2-6 hours after making it. The pasta is fine the next day, but something happens to the vegetables and they just aren’t’ as good – the salt probably draws a lot of water out of them, and they just don’t seem as fresh or tasty.

Recipe source: At Home My Way

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American Potato Salad

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Haus and I grilled a ton of meat last Saturday (we feel like we’re wasting the charcoal if we don’t load the grill up at least twice) and while it was grilling, I made up a batch of this potato salad from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Reader Kerry C. gifted me with a subscription to Cook’s Country (LOVE it!) for Christmas, and they sent me a complimentary issue of the regular Cook’s Illustrated mag this month-lucky me!

We were starving since we started grilling late, and as soon as the potato salad was mixed together, I took a big bite and hollered for Dennis to come taste it. We agreed it was the best potato salad EVER! We polished off the entire batch, which equals about a pound of potato salad each, and ended up skipping the meat. This potato salad was so good, it turned into our dinner for the night and we just refrigerated all the meat to eat as leftovers throughout the week.

The potato salad was so good I made a second batch within an hour of making the first one, because I knew we’d want it to go with our leftover meat. Luckily we made the second batch last for two whole days, which is like a miracle, people. This potato salad is good. If you don’t have a great recipe for classic American potato salad, Cook’s Illustrated has got you covered. They tested every ingredient, every method, and every amount to get it just so for us. Thank you Cook’s Illustrated!

American Potato Salad

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2 lbs. (3-4 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 medium celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise (see note)
3/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
3/4 teaspoon celery seed*
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (optional)

*You can use celery salt in place of the celery seed, omitting the 1/2 teaspoon salt from the dressing.

Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are just warm, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together celery, onion pickle relish, parsley, mayonnaise, powdered mustard, celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Using rubber spatula, gently fold dressing and eggs, if using, into potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour; serve.

Veronica’s Notes: We actually ate the first batch warm and I prefer it that way, though it’s great cold too.  Cook’s Illustrated says the salad can be refrigerated up to one day. Well ours was just fine after two days and I’m sure it would be great after three or four days.

Recipe source: Cook’s Illustrated

Cheeseburger Salad

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Usually when I want to enjoy a cheeseburger in salad form, I make a hamburger salad and just top it with some shredded cheddar.  But I knew I had to try this Pampered Chef version when PW featured it a while back.  So glad I did because it’s so much better than my old stand-by!  I love how the sauce is mixed into the meat so that you don’t need dressing.  Saucy, flavorful meat, crisp lettuce, pickles & onions, juicy tomatoes, cheddar cheese–this salad just can’t be beat!

OK, now Pampered Chef and PW get all crazy and actually turn hamburger buns into croutons by baking them.  So cute, right?  But grizzle, puh-lease!  I may be crazy in certain ways, like adding way too much butter and sugar to my desserts to where they are literally swimming in evil, but I’m not the kind of crazy that likes to bake my own croutons in the summer for a simple salad.  If I’m turning on my oven, it’s for something sweet, not for croutons.  If you’re not my kind of crazy, you might want to just go to the original recipe for the crouton instructions.  As for me, Texas Toast croutons suit my salad just fine.

But, truth be told, this is the way I prefer to eat my cheeseburger salad:

Sans croutons.  I mean, the reason I like to turn hamburgers and cheeseburgers into salad is to get away from the bread because it gets in my way, and I like the veggies way more than the bread.  Plus, I get enough carbs from sugar. :)

Cheeseburger Salad

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2 lbs. ground beef
1 ¼ cups ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 small red onions, one sliced into rings, the other diced
8 dill pickle spears, sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered and sliced
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
16 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (about 2 heads)
Texas Toast croutons (optional)

Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat, drain the fat, and stir in the ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the diced onions and pickles (you can set some aside for garnish if you like). and stir to combine. Put 2 cups of lettuce on each plate, then divide the burger mixture between them. Top with cheese, tomato, onions and pickles if you set some aside, and croutons if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe source: adapted from The Pampered Chef

Corn Salad with Queso Fresco

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It’s been a while! And I’ve noticed I’m not the only one blogging less–it seems summer time is a busy time for everyone and I’m no exception.  Except I haven’t been busy with obligations–I’ve been busy having fun!  That’s the best kind of busy, right? :)

I’ve been enjoying my nephew’s baseball games, we celebrated my PIL’s 50th anniversary, we’ve been biking and walking, I’ve been baking for bake sales, birthdays, and banana bread experiments, and we’re going to Lake Afton every chance we get.  When it’s this hot, the only thing I want to do is soak in the sun’s heat on the beach (with SPF 1,000 sunscreen, of course) and then cool off in the water.  Love it so so much!

I haven’t been cooking very much, but this corn salad is one of the dishes we’ve enjoyed lately.  I love eating cool foods on hot days and fresh corn in the summer is so yummy in any form!  This salad has a a Mexican vibe to it and the flavors are great.  You can make it as is for a side dish, or turn it into a meal by adding some leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken.  Fabulous!

I added so much chicken and tomato to my salad that the corn was hardly the main feature any more!

Corn Salad with Queso Fresco

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4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
8 ounces queso fresco or cotija cheese
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (and seeded if desired-the seeds will add more heat)
1/2 recipe (about 6 ounces) Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: chopped tomato and leftover rotisserie chicken

Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large stock pot. When the water boils, add the corn and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse and then add to a large bowl. Toss together the corn, red bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno pepper, and crumbled cheese. Toss with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. Chill until ready to serve. Right before serving, gently toss in the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Serves 10-12.

Recipe source: Our Best Bites

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

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1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar*
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed

In the jar of your blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but still maintains some of its texture. Serve with greens, on any type of Mexican salad, or use as a marinade.

*Reduce sugar to 2 teaspoons if using seasoned rice vinegar, which contains sugar.

Recipe source: Our Best Bites

Greek Salad

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Since this is my first blog of the week, I hope you’ll forgive me for skipping Thankful Thursday in favor of a recipe for Greek salad.  I made it months ago and kept forgetting to share it, but now that the weather is heating up and cool, crunchy salads are especially appealing, I knew it was now or never.

I’ve eaten a lot of Greek salads at restaurants and they are always lettuce salads with kalamata olives, red onions, tomatoes, and feta cheese.  This salad has the same elements but the lettuce is replaced with chopped peppers and cucumber.  The result is a crunchy, more fulfilling salad–it really feels like you’re eating something other than air with some toppings.  And it’s so delicious!  My husband’s favorite salad is a Greek salad and he really went wild for this, somehow managing to eat all but the little bit I managed to grab for myself before he basically confiscated the whole bowl and started murmuring, “My preeeecious.”

It makes a wonderful side dish for a Mediterranean meal and I’ll be sharing the recipe for the chicken I served it with tomorrow.

Greek Salad

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Dressing:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic (from a jar is fine)
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Salad:
1 large cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeds removed then chopped
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
12 large kalamata olives, quartered
1 cup diced green pepper
¾ cup thinly sliced red onion
3.5 oz good quality feta cheese, diced

Mix the dressing together and store at room temperature until ready to serve, preferably overnight to allow the flavors to develop. Combine salad ingredients, shake the dressing and add half of it, then gently stir everything together. Add more dressing to taste.

Recipe source: Eat Little, Eat Big

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P.S. As you can see from the video ad below, I’ve been approved for participation in WordPress’s WordAds program.  I’ve been blogging with WordPress for more than two years without having any affiliates or any other monetary support.  I never thought I would want ads on my blog, but I applied for this program on a whim since applying doesn’t mean you’ll get accepted or that you even have to do it if you get accepted.  I was approved and I decided to try it out on a trial basis.  The two commercials I have watched were tasteful and well done, one was actually really informative, comparing our country’s standard of living to other countries with statistics, and I do like that it is optional to my readers to watch them, so I hope you enjoy the ads you do choose to watch.

My reason for not having ads until now has been a fear of turning my blog into work instead of something I do for fun, turning my concentration from creativity to money.  So far there’s no difference in my thinking, so maybe I can make a few cents while I’m having fun without it spoiling my fun. :)

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette


This is another recipe I made earlier in the spring and waited to post until the transition from summer to fall because, while salads are typical summer fare, this one incorporates fall flavors like cranberries, apples, and spiced pecans.

If you want to know how this salad tastes, just read the title.  And imagine all those things together on a plate.  There is a lot going on here and you get such a wonderful symphony of flavors and textures with each bite–salty from the nuts & cheese, sweet & tart from the apples & vinaigrette, crisp lettuce & onions, savory & tender chicken, crunchy spiced pecans.  It’s a glorious thing!

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

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1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3-4 medium)
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8-10 cups)
8 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped or sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup spiced pecans, store-bought or following the simple recipe below

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the chicken and cook until it is nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over, add the water, and cover the skillet. Cook the chicken, letting it poach, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool slightly before carving.

Toss the lettuce, cheese, apple, pecans, onion and dried cranberries together. Divide the salad among the serving plates. Slice the chicken on a diagonal and arrange over the salad. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Quick Spiced Pecans:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon sugar

Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the spices and then the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color deepens slightly and they are lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them cool completely before tossing with the salad.

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette:
*Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing

1/4 cup cranberry juice or water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup red wine or raspberry vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the cranberry juice (or water) and cranberries in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute until hot. Process the hot cranberry mixture, vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender until the shallot and garlic are finely chopped. With the blender running, add the oil and continue to blend until the dressing is smooth and well-combined. Thin the dressing, if needed, with additional cranberry juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Warm Chorizo & New Potato Salad

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This is a very simple summer-friendly recipe that is also, shockingly, husband-friendly. My poor man just does not get the amount of meat and potatoes he believes he requires, so when I served him this salad, he was so ecstatic to be eating meat and potatoes, that he didn’t even care there was a bed of lettuce underneath.

The meat and potato mixture is substantial and satisfying, but I really think you need the egg on top to complete the salad. Jenna said it was optional, but I’m not going to tell you that. You need the warm yolk to run out over the salad and serve as a dressing. It really pulls the whole thing together quite nicely.

Warm Chorizo & Potato Salad

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1.5 lbs new, red, or gold potatoes (I used gold)
Salt and pepper to taste
15 oz chorizo sausage
16 oz mixed salad greens or shredded lettuce
1 lemon
4 poached or over-easy eggs

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks; add to the water and once boiling, reduce heat a bit and continue to boil until fork-tender, but not mushy. Meanwhile, start your sausage to cooking. Add to a skillet and cook over medium heat, breaking it and crumbling with a spatula as you go. Remove from heat if it gets done before your potatoes are ready. Once the potatoes are tender, drain and add to the sausage. Stir well and cook another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. Divide salad greens among four plates, then divide sausage and potatoes on top of each. Top with a poached or fried egg and serve immediately.

Recipe source: slightly modified from Jenna’s Everything Blog

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