Bright Crunchy Thai salad with Peanut Lime Dressing

Brighter skies, longer days, and warm temperatures mean I’m looking for meals that are lighter and feel so good to eat!  The flavours of this dressing are so good you are going to want a big batch to keep in the fridge – use it to dip any fresh vegetables in.

Sesame chli lime cashews 3

Served tonight with some lightly garlic buttered prawns …. a perfect meal.

Dressing

  • juice of 2 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Ponzu sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 – 2 tsp grated or minced garlic (to your taste)
  •  1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (the stems are perfect for this, they pack so much flavour – just mince a bit before putting in the blender
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts

Combine all ingredients in blender and whiz up until smooth and creamy.

Gather up all the vegetables that scream fresh to you and make an awesome crunchy salad.

Lightly seasoned cashews make a fantastic crunchy topping!

In a frypan combine:

  • 1 1/3 cups cashews
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Sesame Chili Lime cashews

Toss and heat until cashews are lightly browned and then cook for a further minute with:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Sesame chli lime cashews 2

This dressing makes more than you will need.  If you want to make a complete meal out of this, then scoop out about 1/2 cup and marinate a protein for grilling.  It works equally well with flank steak or chicken.  I haven’t tried it with tofu, but I’m sure it would be great.  Grill steak or chicken and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Cool before serving with the salad.

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad 3

Love the textures of a great Caesar salad – contrasting fresh crisp greens, crunchy bacon and croutons, soft parmesan and a creamy dressing.

Everybody needs a great Caesar dressing in their kitchen, try this one and adjust to your families taste.  My grandkids don’t love garlic, so when they are over I usually go light on the garlic cloves but that’s totally up to you!

  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup mayonnaise)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup oil (I like to use a combo of vegetable oil and really good extra virgin olive oil)
  • dash hot sauce (totally optional)

Combine all ingredients except oil in jar or blender.  Shake/blend really well until smooth, and slowly add oil until emulsified.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, adding more if necessary.

Caesar salad 1

Everybody helps make dinner around here, and Stella is learning the fine points of knife work!  Don’t worry, she quickly learned to rest the knife against her knuckles to avoid trimming her fingers……

Caesar salad 2

Assembling that cheese grater has all Sloan’s attention.

  • Wash your lettuce leaves and spin dry (you can do this ahead of time, wrap in clean kitchen towel and keep in fridge until ready to use, it really crisps up the lettuce)
  • Cook bacon until crisp and crumble.
  • Toss stale bread chunks in olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and toast until dry and crunchy.  (This is also a great place to use dried herbs, and some garlic powder)
  • Grate Parmesan cheese

Toss lettuce pieces in very large bowl with the bacon, croutons and parmesan cheese.  Just before serving toss with dressing just until everything has a delicious coating.  Taste and squeeze a bit of lemon over if you like.

This easily goes from a side dish to a whole meal if you serve Caesar salad with grilled chicken or shrimp, and a side of garlic toast.

 

 

Sesame Maple Vinaigrette

An amazing trick to get complex flavour in a vinaigrette is to use more than one acid and more than one oil.  In this case, I’ve used balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar for the acidic hit and sesame oil combined with a light grapeseed oil but you can also use a really good quality olive oil.

Sesame Maple Dressing

If your garlic cloves are home grown like these beauties, you may only want to use 1, unless you are trying to ward off a cold……

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)

Put all ingredients in jar and give it a whiz with your immersion blender, or put it in a blender.  Slowly add the oil while blending to emulsify it and make a delicious creamy dressing.

Serve with your favourite tossed green salad, or it goes equally well with warm roasted vegetables.

Summer Salad

Summer Mexican Cobb Salad

Mexican Cobb Salad

Chipotle Chicken and Cilantro Vinaigrette give this one dish dinner a real taste of Mexico.

Combine the taste of cilantro dressing with fresh and lively salad crunch, and top it with grilled spicy chipotle chicken – you’ll have the best summer salad … this one will be on repeat.

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, or 8 boneless, skinless thighs
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Blend all ingredients until smooth, and pour over chicken.  Marinate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

Grill until cooked through, and set aside.  Do not slice until chicken has rested at least 15 minutes.

CILANTRO VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 huge bunch cilantro – chopped up
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 loved garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Put all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

This vinaigrette is delicious!  Use it on a salad, or as a topping for your steak ….. dip your prawns into it …. the list is endless.

SALAD

Summer Salad

include any number of ingredients to create texture, bright, crispy crunchy fresh vegetables as well as creamy avocado, tasty fruit and toasted nuts

 

  • salad greens
  • spinach
  • cucumber
  • sweet peppers
  • snap peas
  • corn, grilled and sliced off the cobb
  • avocado
  • sliced strawberries
  • cooked bacon
  • toasted nuts

Toss salad ingredients together, and drizzle with cilantro vinaigrette.

Top with sliced chicken and drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the chicken.

 

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing & Dip

This smooth, creamy and herb packed dressing packs a bunch of flavour into any salad – don’t use as much buttermilk and it doubles as a fan fave for vegetable dip (or chips, but who would do that????…)

P1090588

Served this year at the Wittal/Steli Family Reunion 2017, and it was a real hit.

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup mayonnaise (use the best quality you can find)

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 – 2 tsp fresh minced parsley

1 – 2 tsp fresh chopped dill

1 – 2 tsp fresh chopped basil

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

just a few dashes of hot sauce

Taste and adjust for seasonings ….. everybody has different condiments, and the level of freshness of your herbs will also affect the taste.  I think I went through a whole serving of salad dipping lettuce leaves in and adjusting for taste!

 

Blend everything together really well and allow to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.  This keeps really well for a week or so in the fridge.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

 

Green Bean & Tomato Salad

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website, and with both beans and tomatoes at the market it was a quick and easy side dish – loved it!

Serves 6

1 pound green beans, though if you can find a mix of green and yellow beans, it will be all the prettier
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Basil or other herb (optional)

Prepare the vegetables: Top and tail the beans and cut them into large segments. Parboil the beans in salted water until just tender, about four to five minutes. Drain and immediately spread them out to cool. Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.

Make the vinaigrette: Peel and mince the shallot and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes in with the vinaigrette; this can sit for a while. Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. For variety, the salad can be garnished with basil or some other fresh herb such as parsley, chervil or hyssop.

Do ahead: Beans and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time. Simply toss with the dressing only at the last minute, as it can discolor the green beans after several hours.