The Ever-Changing Salad

Today, in Colorado Springs, we have a high of 68 degrees F (20 C) with (praise God) rain. It’s by no means the end of summer, but is for sure the harbinger of fall. Our jeans and fleeces never get put away as they do in Chicago or Minneapolis because we never know if we’ll have that bizarre August snow or just the run of the mill welcome and chilly summer evening when we sip a little stronger something out at the fire pit watching the stars. (Remember watching the stars?)

This time of the year, we’re so happy with our Palisades peaches, Rocky Ford cantelope and watermelon, Pueblo or Hatch chiles, jalapeños, home grown tomatoes, fresh herbs, and Olathe sweet corn that sometimes we celebrate our soon-to-end warm weather by making dinner out of just those ingredients. A few additions like salt and pepper, arugula, Sherry vinegar, goat or mozzarella cheese, and maybe a little oil make the meal just what it ought to be. One night there’s a version starring ruby red watermelon and the next day it’s Halloween-orange cantelope instead; sometimes a berry of some sort gets thrown in. I call it, “The Ever-Changing Salad,” not because it must change, but only because by nature, it just does. And we’re so glad of that.

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Wild Goose Breast Salad

On long days of cooking or testing recipes, I’m blessed to have a TV in my kitchen and I often have it tuned to PBS: Create TV. I’m not that picky; I leave it on and whatever happens happens. It may be Rick Steves. A stellar quilter whose name I can’t quite remember. Sicilian chef Nick Stellino. Cool travel woman Samantha Brown. And if God is good– really good — Jacques Pépin may make an appearance. Of course, I live for that moment and stop what I’m doing to watch. So maybe I AM picky. One day, making dinner awaiting my husband’s return from building a house for Habitat for Humanity , my friend Jacques came on making a duck breast salad. (Don’t we all feel we’re friends with Chef Jacques Pépin?! I know I do.)

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Chimichurri Pork Salad

If it’s high summer and there are tomatoes (and it wouldn’t be summer without tomatoes), I’m making caprese of some sort. Maybe every week. I don’t stir up chimichurri quite that often, but unlike caprese it shows up throughout the year mostly with pork (love it with ribs!), but sometimes on beef or shrimp or ________. A couple of weeks ago I made three of my Chimichurri Pork Chops only because the package had 3 in it–weird, I know. What to do the next day with the lonely fellow left on the platter? I had fresh mozzarella, zucchini to grill, plenty of tomatoes, and why not serve a hybrid of caprese and chimichurri pork layered with grilled zucchini? Since chimichurri is packed with other fresh herbs, the basil could be skipped. A big handful of fresh greens at the center would set the seal on this stunning deal. I’m wanting it again already.

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Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches for Picnic Time

Being known as a cook within your varied social circles has its distinct advantages. You get to bring what you like ( or make best) to the neighborhood potluck, the family birthday, or the church funeral lunch. Not terribly long before Covid (Are we saying that now?), I catered a funeral meal. The family involved was generous about letting me know their much-loved patriarch LOVED things like ham salad, chicken salad, etc. To keep the buffet interesting, I included CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICHES. One lady — someone I’d trust — approached me to allow that my CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD was better than a top-shelf local restaurant’s version. I didn’t forget that. Who would, huh?

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Salad Class: How to Up Your Game in 3 Easy Ways — Part 3, STYLE!

Post and recipe Did you know arugula is an herb and one of the most nutritional greens to eat?

Readers’ Note: This is the 3rd and last segment (STYLE!) of a three-part blog cooking class about making your salad a better place to eat!  Click on the red links below to read the other two segments and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad! While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens! Salad on, my friends.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

― Laurie Colwin

3. STYLE!  MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU WANT TO EAT IT! “Wow, that looks good!”

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Salad Class: How to Up Your Game in 3 Easy Ways — Part 2, SEASONINGS

Recipe and post here for GRILLED ZUCCHINI AND CORN SALAD (another colorful mixture of cooked and fresh veggies with fresh herbs)

Readers’ Note: This is the 2nd and middle segment (SEASONINGS) of a three-part blog cooking class about making your salad a better place to eat!  Click on the red links below to read the other two posts and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad. While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens. Salad on, my friends.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

― Laurie Colwin

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SALAD CLASS…How to Up Your Game in Easy Ways — SUBSTANCE, SEASONING, AND STYLE. Part 1: Substance

Mixed cooked/fresh ingredients give your mouth a break from chewing + create the interest your eye and stomach crave.

Every year about this time, there’s a flurry of interest in fresh and easy meals — which translates to, “Let’s just have a salad.” (It happens on January 2, too!) I’m all for that, but I’d skip the word, “just,” and shout out, “SALAD!” Out of all the cooking classes I’ve taught over the last 12 years, there are the most questions about salads: what goes in them, how to make a vinaigrette, what kind of oil to buy, the sort of salt I like, and how to make salad a meal. In fact, I taught a two-hour class about making salad a couple of years ago and the fun we had together still resonates whenever I think about it. Folks want a great salad; they want easy and fresh, healthful meals, but they’re often a bit stuck in their I-buy-this-every-week greens and goodies. This summer, I decided it’s time to organize an online lesson on salad savvy and give you the skinny on how to bring it all together. As the information I wanted to share was entirely too much for one blog post, I’ve divided it into three (simultaneously published) posts so that you can read them all in a row if you like–or not– and then it’s off to the farmer’s market, the deck, the store, or backyard garden for you to get started! Click on the red links below and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad!

  • SUBSTANCE — Part 1 (This post–all about ingredients.)
  • SEASONINGS — Part 2 (Next post on blog–spices, herbs, oil, vinegar, dressings, balance, etc. )
  • STYLE! — Part 3 (The last post in a row of the 3 — what makes you say, “Wow, that looks good!”)

While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens!

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

― Laurie Colwin
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Air Fryer Cauliflower Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

No air fryer? Links below for oven or pan roasting the cauliflower.

I’ve been working for a few weeks on ideas for a Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 10, 2020) post featuring new and/or newer books I’m recommending for great gift-giving, especially since a lot of it will need to be done long-distance in some way. (Books ship easily. Amazon will even wrap them.) Could even be for Father’s Day, right? Or graduation? Or wedding? (I’m unsure how those last two are being accomplished this year. Lord, Lord.) And lest you think I’ve given up on it, I haven’t. I bought the books, have pored over them happily and have been, ingredients being what they are these days, cooking the books to coin a phrase. I’m just not done. Soon. It’s gotta be soon as we’re getting full cooking this stuff! Two of the books lean French; the other veers toward the Brits, though my version is written for Americans. It is too fun to cook from other people’s recipes, to see how they put the book together, and do little but enjoy the whole process from looking at the photos to eating or drinking the beautiful victuals. Writers who’ve recently published a book are simply not getting the chance to promote their work as they have in other years; there are no book tours, many fewer media opportunities, and so on. It’s a good time for food bloggers to step up to the plate and lend a hand promoting our favorite authors. It’s just that I’ve a few things left to do before you see it all!

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20 Main Dish Salads to Continue Your Healthy January Adventure

{print recipe for Kalamata Egg Salad with Charred Red Peppers}

If you’re not trying to get healthy this month, you might still want to read this week’s post featuring main dish salads.  Even if all you managed to accomplish was to clear out your entire cellar’s store of Pinot Noir but skipped every red, green, and silver Hershey’s kiss you encountered (and so didn’t gain an ounce in December), you could drum up interest in hefty, heart-warming and filling whole meal salads–if nothing else but to figure out what to do with leftover steak (leftover steak?!), those couple of lonely pork chops, an oh-so-sad single portion of salmon, one languishing chicken breast with wing attached, or perhaps only a drawer full of vegetables and cheese with little else to recommend them but a poached egg or two and maybe a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Sheet Pan Dinner: Chicken Fajitas (with Tortillas or Salad)

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I think of fajitas as a summer meal.  It’s a hot night on the deck.  There are margaritas along with chips and guac to start.  Icy cold Dos Equis to go with the meal and just made cinnamon ice cream to finish.

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Steak and chicken could both make an appearance and I’d probably even twist Dave’s arm to grill all of the vegetables and heat the tortillas.  What’s a husband for?

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