Spring Spinach Salad

This is a salad I used to make when I worked at the cafeteria 3+ years ago. I love this salad. Very easy to assemble, and you can pair it with all kinds of fruit-based vinaigrettes you want to use. (We used to sell it with Raspberry vinaigrette packs.)

This salad makes me want to eat better all year long. Enjoy.

Spring Spinach Salad:
3 or 4 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
6 canned Mandarin slices, drained
3 Cucumber slices, 1/4″ thick, quartered
3 or 4 Strawberries, cut into quarters
1 ounce Carrot sticks, julienne’d
Small pinch Almond slices

Stuffed My Face Veggie Delight

Catered Grub

(From the archives.)

This is why I loved working in the food industry — leftovers from a catering gig. I got to take all the fabulous veggies I can fit into a takeout container and call that dinner at the end of each one I work. Yum!

Here we have a stack of widely cut veggies that include eggplant, three pepper colours, zucchini and portabella mushroom – all pre-soaked in balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and then baked in rich tomato sauce, some delicious asparagus stalks drizzled with unknown ingredients and steamed to perfection. One of two stuffed tomatoes (I ate the other before I thought of taking a photo – please forgive!) that was hollowed out and stuffed using the guts mixed with all kinds of yummy goodness before being baked to the perfect softness to dig into with a fork without the risk of it falling apart.

Oh.my.gawd… This was the best dinner! I got full after a bit of it so I have some leftovers from the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Yee-haw!

This entry was posted on April 19, 2007.

Auntie Stacey’s Taco Bowls

l love any recipe that cleans out my fridge. This is one I keep returning to over and over again. I know it seems like a lot of prep, but it’s fast, easy prep. Nothing too complicated or even expensive. Give it a go when you’re craving Mexican rice bowls but don’t want to leave the house or even pay $15 for one serving.

Auntie Stacey’s Mexican Spice Blend:
2 tea each: Onion Powder / Garlic Powder / Ground Cumin
1 tea ea: Black Pepper / Seasoning Salt
1/4 tea Ground Red Hot Chili Pepper Flakes

Auntie Stacey’s Mexican Rice Bowl:
1 cup Jasmine Rice, rinsed twice + 1 1/2 cup water
Pinch Salt
2 tea Mexican Spice Blend
1″ x 2″ knob of Unsalted Butter, cubed
1/4 cup Red Pepper, diced
3 fistfuls Frozen Corn
1/3 cup Pinto Beans, canned/rinsed

Basic Mexican Ground Beef:
1 tbsp Oil
1/4 small Onion, diced
1 lbs Ground Meat of choice
1 tbsp Mexican Spice Blend

Topping Selections:
1/2 Roma Tomato, diced
1/3 cup Marble Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Leaf Green, 1″ x1″ torn pieces
Pickled Jalapeno Rings (optional)
Pickled Red Onion Slices (optional)
Salsa of choice (optional)

And if you have any leftover ingredients like the cheese, the meat and the rice blend,  mix them together and stuff them into some steamed bell pepper halves. Top with a bit more cheese grate if you have it.

Santa Fe Salad

I discovered this one watching a tv cooking show. It’s going to be in heavy rotation around here this summer, me thinks. I can already imagine it plated beside the smoked ribs we are going to make on our charcoal bbq. Oh, boy!

Santa Fe Salad:
1 sm can Black Beans, rinsed
1 1/2 C Frozen Corn, rinsed to thaw quickly
1/4 C Red Onion, diced
Pinch Cilantro leaves, fine chop (garnish)

2 Limes, Juices
1/4 C Olive Oil
1 Tea ea: Chili Pepper Flakes, Garlic Powder, Honey

Shake the dressing up in a mason jar. Pour over veg mix. Toss in the bowl right before serving.

Auntie Stacey’s Tabbouleh

tabbouleh[ Click to embiggen ]

Tabbouleh is a great salad for the summer months when the heat is intense and the stove is ignored in our house. I really love eating it at room temperature, too. I’m weird like that. It makes a wonderful addition to salad bars, so keep this in mind for your next brunch. It’ll be a lovely unexpected surprise for your vegetarian guests. We all get stumped when planning meals for those who have specific eating habits, right? It’s all ok because tabbouleh is here to save the day, and your dinner parties!

Years ago I worked with a chef named Sami. Sami is from Lebanon. Sami’s mother taught him how to cook as a little boy. Many of the recipes she taught him he still uses today at work and at home. He used to make the best tabbouleh I have ever eaten, so one day I begged him to teach me the ways of his magical salad. Surprisingly, he was happy to pass it along to me, imparting some great home cooking philosophy along the way.

Here is a version of his mother’s tabbouleh based on my calculations and ingredient choices. He never gave me increments, just suggestions and steps. His feeling is that tabbouleh should be a free flowing salad that has some basics for structure but lots of freedom for using the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on, so feel free to look at this recipe as I do – as a guideline.

Auntie Stacey’s Tabbouleh:
1/2 C Bulgur
1 C Water, boiled
1 Tea Salt

1/2 Yellow Onion, medium sized, chopped to small dice
1 C Water, very hot
1 C Water, very cold

2 Tomatoes, medium Hot House (or 1 C chopped Grape Tomatoes)
1/4 C Herb of choice, fresh, washed and chopped up, packed down *

1/2 Tea Pepper, fresh cracked
1-2 Tea Lemon or Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 C Olive Oil

* Note: I have made this salad over the years using the following herbs: parsley (flat or curly – doesn’t much matter except for presentation aesthetics), mint (lovey when in season and the herb Sami liked to add a sprinkling of along with the parsley when it was in season), and cilantro (I love cilantro so I tend to use this a lot). This will be the first year I’m growing sorrel, and with its lemony tinged taste, I will be trying that in this salad as soon as I can, so I’ll report back at a later date about how well it worked, or didn’t.

Bring the water in a small sauce pot to a simmer and place the bulgur, salt, and any aromatics (bay leaf, star of anise, etc) into the boiling water, Lid the pot and set a timer for 12 minutes to cook. In the meantime, prep all the other ingredients.

In a bowl, place very hot water from the tap over the small diced onion bits and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to take the sting off. Afterward, drain the hot water and cover with very cold tap water. Let it rest the same amount of time before draining and dumping the onion into a large container. Set this aside.

While the onion is bathing in the hot and cold baths, wash and chop up the fresh herb and measure it out to a packed 1/4 cup. Top the onion with it. Cut and seed the tomatoes. Dice them to a small but not too small size. Top the herbs and onions with the diced tomatoes. Crack the pepper over top and pour the juice of half a lemon (about 1-2 teaspoons) and olive oil over that.

When the bulgur is finished cooking, fluff it up and dump it over the other ingredients in the large container. Using a spatula or gloved hands, till all of the ingredients well in the container, until everything is sure to be covered by the citrus juice and cracked pepper. Taste the overall flavour, and adjust the amount of salt and pepper as desired at this point.

Cover and chill this salad for at least 24 hours before serving. It will be hard (I know!), but the ingredients need time to rest and marry with each other. Trust me, the wait will be worth the time and resistance.

Auntie Stacey’s Chickpea Salad

chickpeasalad1 1/2 – 2 C Chickpeas, brine drained and rinsed
1 Shallot, halved and thinly chopped
1/8 C Roasted Red Peppers, brine sopped off with paper towels
1/4 C Cilantro, leaves washed and dried
Salt & Black Pepper, freshly cracked
1/8 C Oil
White Vinegar, generous splash

Assembled the ingredients in a medium bowl and lightly toss. Top with the seasonings, and mix well. Store in the fridge for at least an hour so the flavours have time to marry.

My Summer Salad & Dressing Love Affair


This is going to be my new Summer salad dressing jam this year. It’s a riff on a poppy seed dressing I found online. I added, subtracted, and of course, divided to get to this perfect equation of creamy goodness, and I’m sharing it with all of you.

Creamy Summertime Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/4 C Mayo
1/4 C Sour Cream
1/4 Tsp Sugar
1/4 Tsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Vinegar
1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
Dashes of Salt & Pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid so you can shake it up, or in a small bowl using a whisk. It will yield enough for 4-6 salad servings.

Enjoy this over the following salad I put together tonight. It was so tasty, I couldn’t stop eating it even after I finished everything on my plate and my stomach screamed, “I’m full. You can stop now!!”

Summertime Salad:
1/4 Sm Red Onion (finely diced; tempered in a bowl of water for 15 mins)
1 Med Zucchini, peeled into ribbons (until you see seeds; then dice core into medallions)
Sea Salt
1/4 Yellow Pepper (rough cuts are fine)
1 Med Carrot, peeled into ribbons
6 C Loose Leaf Lettuce (washed 4 times and dried off completely)

Fine dice the red onion and drop it all into a small bowl of water to temper for 15 minutes while you peel the fleshy portion of the zucchini into ribbons. Place the ribbons in a salad spinner basket sitting in its reservoir bowl and sprinkle sea salt all over them to draw out excess moisture; let this stand for 10 minutes. While waiting, dice the pepper and zucchini core, and then peel the carrot into ribbons.

Place the diced pepper, the zucchini medallions, the carrot ribbons and the loose leave lettuce in large salad bowl. When the 15 minutes are up, dump the onions over the zucchini ribbons and rinse them well under the tap. Run them through two passes in the salad spinner to get rid of all the water to avoid diluting the dressing in the final salad presentation.

Add the onions and the zucchini ribbons to the main bowl, top with all of it with the dressing, and toss to coat all of it well. Serve immediately. By the way, I served this salad with baked fish in case you were wondering.

Have fun stuffing your face. I know I did! 🙂