Category Archives: Salads

Roasted Golden Beets with Feta, Basil and Pumpkin Balsamic Drizzle

Roasted Golden Beets with Feta, Basil and Pumpkin Balsamic Drizze

Roasted Golden Beets with Feta, Basil and Pumpkin Balsamic Drizzle

I’m kind of bummed that this doesn’t look that great in the photo because my “roasted beet loving friend” and I loved this new creation. I’m a huge fan of roasted beets, and an even bigger fan of roasted golden beets – they don’t turn all of the other ingredients pink, and they have an earthy less sweet flavor. If you can’t find golden beets, by all means use red/purple beets. You could also substitute mint for the basil, but I prefer basil. For the drizzle, I used pumpkin oil and cherry balsamic vinegar. Again, there are plenty of options for substitutions here. In fact, when I was first thinking about a drizzle, I thought I would use walnut oil, but I didn’t have any. However, the pumpkin oil adds a great contrast to the beets, so it’s worth trying to find. I love fruit flavored/infused balsamic vinegars because I feel like they have a little more depth than just plain balsamic, but if you prefer, use plain balsamic or any other hearty vinegar. The measurements here are not exact and don’t need to be – adjust all according to your taste. Serves about 6.


  • 6-8 Medium to Large Golden Beets (can substitute red/purple beets)
  • 2-3 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 2-3 TBS. Pumpkin Oil (can substitute walnut oil or other favorite oil)
  • 10-12 Basil Leaves – chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
  • 2-3 TBS. Cherry Balsamic Vinegar (can substitute regular balsamic or other favorite flavored vinegar)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Place unpeeled beets on a foil lined baking sheet and coat generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover beets with another piece of foil and crimp edges to seal and form a packet. Roast beets for 30-45 minutes (depending on size of beets) until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Peel off skins, cut off ends, and slice beets into bite-sized pieces. through Sept 24 014When beets are completely cool, add crumbled feta and chopped basil. Through October 9 011Gently mix – adding more feta or basil as desired. Season with oil and vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Mixed Green Salad with Beets, Fennel, Orange and Greek Yogurt Dressing

Mixed Green Salad with Fennel, Beets, Orange

Mixed Green Salad with Fennel, Beets, Orange and Greek Yogurt Dressing

I served this salad about a year ago when our visiting author Julie Otsuko came for dinner. I still don’t know why I feel the need to experiment when I entertain guests, but I do. I mean you really can’t go wrong with a salad if you have a good sense of complimentary flavors. I love beets, and while they’re earthy and rustic, they are also sweet. The orange, obviously, adds another level of sweetness, but the citrus balances it. The fennel, which has a mild but distinctive licorice flavor adds a really nice contrast. The creamy, cool Greek yogurt dressing just brings everything together. This was really one of my favorite salads – as I say that, I wonder why I am just now getting around to publishing it. As with all of my salad posts, I only list ingredients, not amounts. Adjust according to your preference, whether your salad is a starter or main dish, and how many you are serving.


  • Mixed Spring Greens (or your favorite greens)
  • 2-3 Beets (combination of purple and golden)
  • 1-2 Oranges – sectioned, membrane removed
  • 1 Fennel Bulb – sliced thin (use a mandolin if available)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Greek Yogurt Dressing:

  • 3 TBS. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 TBS. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1.5 TBS. Finely Chopped Chives
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Cut the ends off of the beets. Brush beets with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Wrap in a foil pouch and roast in oven until tender but not too soft – about 20-25 minutes depending on size of beets. Remove beets from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, peel and slice into 1/4 inch slices. In the meantime, prepare the dressing by adding yogurt, Parmesan, vinegar, olive oil and brown sugar to a blender. Blend on medium until all ingredients are well combined and sugar is incorporated. Season according to taste with salt and pepper, and mix in chopped chives.
Assemble the salad on individual plates, adding the beets just before serving. Drizzle generously with dressing and serve.


Steak Salad

Sirloin Steak SaladThis is a classic kitchen sink recipe – it was a combination of ingredients I had available; the result was great. My daughter came home while I was eating my salad and I thought she was going to steal it right out from under me – instead she just said “I know you’re planning on making me one of those.” As always, I encourage you to modify based on the ingredients you have on hand, but remember to include a variety of flavor elements, including, if available, savory, sweet, salty, spicy. One unique ingredient that I used which may be hard to find is a rosemary pistachio cracker which I broke into small pieces and used almost like a crouton. I loved the crunch and the flavor it added – see what happens when you experiment with what you have in the cupboard? I’m including a picture of the crackers – they’re worth looking for – they are delicious smeared with goat cheese. For my local followers: they are available at Westborn Market.Pistachio rosemary crackers 002While the steak would appear to be the star of this salad, I would argue that it is the veggies that make the salad. The steak was a simple NY Strip seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked to medium rare on the grill. You can use a variety of cuts (or even substitute chicken or salmon), but make sure you use a tender but flavorful cut. As for the veggies and other toppings – I used yellow tomatoes from my garden (love the low acid and sweet flavor), English cucumbers, fresh radish slices, goat cheese, and mixed spring greens. I topped the salad with a homemade cherry balsamic vinaigrette, but use your favorite dressing. My daughter suggested using more cheese – I would agree. I think it would have been even better with blue cheese crumbles, but goat cheese is what I had. Again, I loved the addition of the rosemary pistachio crackers, but as an alternative, you could add nuts and croutons. As with most of my salad recipes, I haven’t included measurements – use whatever amounts suit you.


  • Spring Salad Mix (or your favorite greens)
  • Radishes – thinly slices
  • Fresh Tomatoes (yellow, or your favorite variety)
  • English Cucumber – sliced
  • Goat Cheese
  • Rosemary Pistachio Crackers – crumbled
  • NY Strip Steak – grilled to desired temperature (shown medium rare)- trimmed and thinly sliced

Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  •  1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 5 TBS. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a jar or container with a lid. Shake well until all ingredients are well combined.

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad

Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad

I figured since my next post is going to be another ice cream post, I’d better post something a little healthier. This salad is super easy and very delicious. I served this with a citrus vinaigrette, but I’ve had it with a walnut vinaigrette dressing which is also delicious. (I intended to make a walnut vinaigrette, but I was out of walnut oil). The star of this salad is the roasted beets. Two keys: buy good quality beets – try to find heirloom varieties if you can- and roast the beets rather than boiling them. The roasting process really amplifies the flavor of the beets and when you season them in advance with salt and pepper, you end up with a great combination of savory and sweet flavors. I used goat cheese, but you could use feta or another good semi-soft or crumbly cheese. I also used straight arugula because I love the peppery flavor, but you could use any good combination of mixed greens (even something hardy like kale would be good).


  • 4-6 Medium Sized Fresh Beets (Purple, Golden, or other Heirloom variety)
  • Fresh Arugula or other Greens
  • Goat Cheese or other semi-soft or crumbly cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vinaigrette (citrus vinaigrette recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Clean beets and cut off both ends (leave skin on). Rub beets with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place a piece of tin foil (large enough to easily cover beets) and add the beets. photo (88)Place another piece of foil on top of the beets to cover and crimp the two pieces of foil together to form a sealed packet. Roast beets for 20-35 minutes (depending on size and freshness of beets) until they are fork tender. Allow cooked beets to cool enough to handle and then peel off the skins and slice to desired thickness (or cut into chunks if you prefer). Assemble the greens on salad plates, add the beets, and cheese; drizzle with vinaigrette.

Citrus Vinaigrette:

  • 3 TBS. Olive Oil (use orange, blood orange, or lemon infused olive oil if available)
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 TBS. Orange Juice
  • 1 heaping tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a jar or container with a lid. Shake well until all ingredients are well combined.

Southwestern Pasta Salad

photo (84)It’s still summer and I am still inventing recipes which utilize leftover fresh Michigan corn. This one might be one of my new favorites (although you can never go wrong with risotto or salsa). Not only did I use leftover corn, I used my leftover chimichurri sauce. This is one of those “so easy, but such a big hit” recipes. I chose to use orzo as my pasta, but really you could use any type of pasta – whatever your favorite is or whatever you have in the cupboard. You could also mix in a variety of other vegetables, I stuck with tomatoes and corn. I also added queso fresco, but it would be great with feta cheese (that would take away a bit of the southwestern flavor, but it would sure taste good). My measurements are approximate – add or reduce as you enjoy. Keep in mind that the chimichurri sauce is loaded with garlic, so this pasta salad packs a good punch. If you’re serving this at a party and are worried about the garlic content, certainly reduce the amount used in your chimichurri sauce.


  • 8 oz. (1/2 a box) of Orzo Pasta (or your favorite pasta, but larger pasta will shapes will require more pasta)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Grape or Cherry Tomatoes cut in 1/2 or 1/4s)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Corn (leftover fresh or canned or frozen)
  • 1.5 Cups Queso Fresca- crumbled (or substitute your favorite cheese)
  • 1/4+ Cup Chimichurri Sauce


Cook pasta (according to directions) to “al dente” phase. Drain pasta and run under cold water to cool completely and stop the cooking process. Combine pasta and vegetables in a large mixing bowl – adjusting vegetables and chimichurri sauce; mix and adjust ingredients to desired amount). photo (77)Add cheese and mix again until well combined. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Caprese Pasta Salad

capreses pasta saladThis is one of my favorite pasta salads – it combines two of my favorite dishes: caprese salad and pasta. What’s not good about that? I have served this at several concert in the park picnics, and have taken it to many barbeques gatherings. As you can imagine, this is a super easy pasta salad to assemble, and, if you use store-bought pesto, it’s even easier. You can buy mozzarella that comes in small balls, or you can use fresh mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes – I slice them in half so that they absorb more of the dressing. In addition to using pesto, fresh basil is a key ingredient in this salad. As with all salads, and particularly pasta salad, adjust the ingredients and seasonings (dressing, herbs etc.) to your liking.


  • 1 Lb. Shaped Pasta (Rotini, Ziti, Cavatapa, or whatever you like or have on hand)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Mozzarella balls – cut in half (or mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chopped
  • 1/4 -1/3 Cup Pesto
  • 6-8 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (use white balsamic if available)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese- shredded
  • Salt -to taste (it will take a generous amount)
  • Pepper- to taste


Cook pasta according to directions, but only until al dente. Run pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, add pesto to pasta and mix until pasta is coated to your liking. Mix in tomatoes,  mozzarella,Parmesan and basil (adjust amounts as desired). Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Chopped Kale Salad with Tuna, Feta, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Kale salad with feta and tunaIt seems that I’ve been making a lot of ice cream, cupcakes, muffins, scones and pies this summer. Yum!!! But to keep balance, salad for dinner is my go-to. My kale salad eating friend was telling me about her favorite chopped kale salad. I’m not really sure what was on it, but it involved a lemon vinaigrette; that was enough for me. I returned from vacation to some beautiful ripe tomatoes in my garden (the yellow variety are featured here), so I had to include those. To make the salad an entree, I had to add some protein – I had feta and tuna available, so that decision was easy. I would add red or green onions, but I didn’t have any available. Kale is like the super super food, but it is coarse and a little bitter, this is why it’s best to chop it into small strips. I’ve read on-line about “massaging” the kale, but I didn’t do that – I figure if I didn’t get a massage, my food isn’t getting a massage. For the vinaigrette, I used pumpkin seed oil – because I had it and thought it would be a nice touch, which it was- but I’ve listed olive oil in the recipe.


  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 1-2 Tomatoes (Heirloom, Romas, or Cherry/Grape)
  • Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • White Albacore Tuna
  • Red or Green Onion – chopped

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil (or specialty oil- such as pumpkin seed or avocado)
  • Juice of 2-3 Lemons
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic- chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and shake well. Chop kale into fine ribbons and arrange on a plate. Add remaining ingredients and top with vinaigrette.


Israeli Couscous and Roasted Beet Salad

Israeli Couscous and Beet Salad

Israeli Couscous and Beet Salad

It’s Tuesday again (time flies in the summer), so it was concert in the park night. As has become tradition, I made a cold salad and sandwiches (pulled pork with pickled fennel). The salad was inspired by my friend Geaneen’s recent trip to her sister-in-law’s organic farm; she returned home with beautiful petite beets and some fabulous green onions. I did have to supplement with extra beets, so I added some gold beets. I tried to use some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients – including those in my beloved Greek salad. I was a little worried about how the salad would be received, not everyone is a fan of beets, but  it was an instant hit.


  • 2 Cups Israeli Couscous (regular or tri-colored)
  • 4 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/4 Cups Water
  • 4-6 Medium Beets (Golden or Red)
  • 4-6 Green Onions (or 1/2 medium sweet onion)
  • 6 Oz. Feta Cheese (more or less to your liking)
  • 3/4 Cup Kalmata Olives
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Mint – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Oregano – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Basil – finely chopped

For the Vinagrette (makes extra – save and use for other salads)

  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 4-5 TBS. Red Wine Vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2-3 TBS. Olive Brine (from Kalmata Olives)
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
  • Salt to taste (will depend on your olive brine)


Preheat oven to 300 Degrees. Remove stems and any roots from beets – rub with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Place on a foil covered baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes. In the meantime, remove the green parts and roots from green onions (or, if using sweet onions, slice into 1/4 inch rounds) and rub with olive oil – set aside. After beets have roasted for 35-45 minutes, add onions to baking sheet and return to the oven. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes until beets are tender when a fork is inserted. Remove beets and onions from oven and set aside. Prepare the vinagrette by combining all ingredients in a jar or tupperware container with a tight fitting lid; set aside. Heat 1 TBS. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and toast, stirring frequently,  for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Through June 25 2013 078Add chicken broth, water, and salt. Cover and reduce heat to low – simmer for 15-20 minutes until all water is absorbed. In the meantime, when beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut onions into small dice. Slice kalmata olives in half. When couscous is fully cooked, fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly. Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the vinagrette (to taste) to the couscous. Add beets and onions. Add feta cheese and fresh herbs once couscous is completely cooled. Through June 25 2013 085Mix well, add more vinagrette if desired and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta SaladMy little city (I like to call it “Mayberry”) has free concerts in the park every Tuesday night in the summer. We often take a picnic dinner – I like to keep it simple; usually a gourmet sandwich and a side salad (often pasta salad). I can’t remember which sandwich I paired with this pasta salad, but I do remember that the pasta salad was a big success. Because this side salad includes meat and cheese, it’s particularly filling and would pair well with a light sandwich. I purchased the provolone and salami from the deli at the grocery store and just asked them for the whole piece unsliced – then cut it into bite sized chunks. Cut into cubesSalami and ProvoloneIt’s super easy to make and is even better if made a day in advance.



  • 1 Lb. Tri-colored Fusili or other dried Pasta
  • 1/2 Lb. Hard Salami – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 Lb. Provolone – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 Cup Cherry/Grape Tomatoes – cut into 1/2s or 1/4s
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion – roughly chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Black Olives (I like Kalmata) pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Sweet Basil – roughly chopped
  • 2-3 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pinot Grigio Vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar)
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – minced
  • Salt and Pepper to tasteChopped ingredients


Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), drain, and run under cold water until completely cooled. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper until well combined. Pour vinagrette over cooled pasta, add remaining ingredients and toss until well-combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (the salami and provolone are quite salty).

Ready for transport


Mixed Spring Green Salad with Pear Grilled Shallots and Fried Gorgonzola

Through March 15 134It seems strange to post a simple salad recipe, but this is a classy little salad that always seems to please guests. I start with good fresh spring greens; you can buy them loose, but there are pretty good mixes available in bags. You can add a variety of vegetables, but I usually include a bit of red onion (in this case I browned some shallots), some sweet grape (yellow or heirloom if possible) tomatoes and the key ingredients – pear and fried Gorgonzola bites. You can use whatever type of pears look best, but I prefer either the Bosc or Asian pears because they are crisp and flavorful. The fried Gorgonzola discs always delight guests. You can use any type of blue cheese, but I just love the Gorgonzola flavor and it’s a softer cheese, so it’s easy to form into discs. The difficulty with sharing this recipe comes with the dressing. I love a good vinaigrette and almost always dress my salads with a simple vinaigrette – the problem is that I just kind of make it up as I go along.  Sometimes I will use a flavor infused olive oil (blood orange and Meyer lemon are two of my favorites), and other times I’ll add a flavored vinegar (I just used the last of my cherry balsamic). I always use two parts oil, one part vinegar (or combination of vinegar and other citrus like lemon juice), a squeeze of Dijon mustard (equal to about 1/2 part), and salt and pepper. You can add herbs, garlic, or minced shallots as a nice addition. The key is to taste as you go and adjust accordingly. To make the Gorgonzola bites: form Gorgonzola into small balls (about the size of a large marble) and then flatten. Dunk in an egg wash (beaten egg) and then roll in Italian Bread Crumbs (you can substitute regular bread crumbs and add your own seasoning if you prefer.Through March 15 118 You can do this in advance and allow to chill in the refrigerator. Through March 15 119Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a small saute pan and heat over medium high. Fry the Gorgonzola discs until browned on both sides (turning once). Drain on paper towel and add to salad.Through March 15 132