Summer Fruit and Vegetable Salad

This salad tastes as splendid as a beautiful summer day feels, with sweet melon, refreshing cucumbers and juicy cherry tomatoes. Freshly chopped produce this time of year is delicious served uncooked and the combinations are endless. The addition of cantaloupe takes this salad from simple to spectacular. It is a great dish to pack for a picnic or enjoy at home along with grilled chicken on the patio.

Ingredients:
½ medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 medium cucumbers, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ small red onion or 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine equal amounts of cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and red onion or shallot on small salad plates.
  2. Top with feta cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4

Strawberry Salad with Baked Brie and Champagne Vinaigrette

You can skip the cheese plate and go straight for the salad, because this salad is served with creamy and decadent baked Brie with a sweet and nutty bourbon glaze. This salad is elegant enough to delight your dinner guests, but quick and simple to prepare. Add grilled shrimp or chicken to turn this side salad into a main dish.

Baked Brie Ingredients:
9.5 ounces Brie
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients:
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Salad Ingredients:
1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place brie in a Brie baker or small baking dish. In a small bowl, combine pecans and brown sugar. Spread pecan and sugar mixture on top of cheese and drizzle with bourbon. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. In a mason jar or small container with a tight-fitting lid, combine strawberry jam, champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. With lid securely tightened, shake vinaigrette until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Serve lettuce and strawberries on salad plates and top with a wedge of baked Brie. Drizzle with strawberry champagne vinaigrette and serve.

Servings: 4

Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Massages are the ultimate way to relax and unwind. Kale responses similarly to the human body after a massage as its tough leaves chill out and become smooth and soft. It sounds a little silly to massage kale, but it is worth the extra work to transform this hardy vegetable into a more delicate leafy green.

A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar go a long way when massaging kale, but I like to serve it with extra oil and vinegar at the table to let family or guests drizzle more if desired. Cranberries, blue cheese and roasted sweet potatoes turn this salad into a meal that’s satisfying enough on its own. It also makes a nice side dish with roasted turkey or pork tenderloin.

Roasted Sweet Potato Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Salad Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and chop. Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Massage the leaves with clean hands for about two minutes, until well coated and kale begins to soften and wilt.
  3. Add blue cheese, cranberries, salt, pepper and roasted sweet potatoes. Toss to combine and serve.

Servings: 4

 

Steak and BLT Salad

Meat lovers rejoice for this salad that was made for you. The classic bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwich is one of my favorite meals to make with farm fresh tomatoes. As an alternative to this time-honored dish, I created a salad and took it up a notch by topping it with grilled steak and blue cheese dressing. This hearty salad is perfect for a relaxing summer weekend and pairs well with your favorite red wine.

Ingredients:

2 (4 to 6 ounce) boneless rib-eye steaks, well-trimmed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons blue cheese, divided
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups spring mix lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, diced

Directions:

  1. Bring steak to room temperature and season with salt and pepper. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and cook steak to desired doneness. Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes before carving into thin strips.
  2. Combine yogurt, vinegar and 2 tablespoons blue cheese in a mason jar with a lid and shake until salad dressing is well combined.
  3. Add equal amounts of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes to two plates. Top with steak, remaining blue cheese and salad dressing.

Servings: 2

Winter Vegetable Salad

Butternut squash is the star of my Winter Vegetable Salad, creating a hearty meal that is satisfying for lunch or dinner. Caramelized onions, toasted pecans and creamy goat cheese give this salad a mixture of sweet, savory, crunchy and velvety goodness.

This colorful bowl of nutritious ingredients will brighten your mood, even on a cold and cloudy winter day. Enjoy it with ingredients warm from the oven and stove top or with chilled squash and onions that you have prepared in advance.

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
2 ounces (about 4 tablespoons) goat cheese, crumbled
Bottled salad dressing, such as Champaign vinaigrette

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, add butternut squash and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over squash and toss to evenly coat. Arrange squash in a single layer and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and lightly brown, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
2. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add onion slices and sprinkle with sugar. Stirring occasionally, let the onions cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown.
3. Add 2 cups of lettuce to each plate and top with equal amounts of squash, caramelized onions, pecans and goat cheese.
4. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing and serve.

Note: You can substitute baby spinach or your favorite leafy greens for romaine and any type of winter squash for the butternut. Use whatever fresh produce you can get your hands on in February.

Servings: 4