Wild Rice Salad with Kale, Pecans & Blueberries

This salad is so beautiful to look at, and packed with deliciousness in every bite.  The contrasting textures work so well together – a meal in a bowl but also an amazing side to pretty much any barbecue.  Take it to a potluck and watch it disappear!

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

1 1/2 cups wild rice
1 cup raw pecans
6 large kale leaves
3 T walnut, pecan or vegetable oil
1T brown rice vinegar
2t brown sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the wild rice and cook until tender to the bite, about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 350F. Lay the pecans in the single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 mins. Watch carefully or set your timer – they go from golden brown to burnt in the blink of an eye! Let the pecans cool, then roughly chop them, set aside.

Trim and discard the thick stems form the kale, then chop the leaves.  Use your hands to massage and squish handfuls of the leaves until they soften and turn a darker shade of green, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked rice and toss to coat.  Add the kale, bell pepper and green onions and toss again.

At this point the salad can be kept, covered and chilled for up to 2 days.

Add the blueberries, and pecans just before serving.

Vinaigrette

Try either of these vinaigrettes, easily done and keeps in the fridge to be your own "house dressing".

Try either of these vinaigrettes, easily done and keeps in the fridge to be your own “house dressing”.

I love making my own salad dressing vinaigrettes – and when the herbs are fresh and growing right outside my back door it is even more fun.

These recipes are written for whisking by hand – but if you have an immersion blender they will create a deliciously creamy dressing.

Here are a couple of my herby delicious faves.

SCALLION VINAIGRETTE

In a small bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 chopped scallions (about 1/4 cup)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt

Whisk well, and then slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.

HERB & GARLIC VINAIGRETTE

In a small bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
3 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, tarragon)
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp honey
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk well, then slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil. Taste!! Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Thai Noodle Salad with Chicken and Peanut Lime Dressing

This refreshing salad is delicious! A total meal in a bowl, but you will also find this to be the perfect salad dressing or dipping – go crazy and try it with sate also!

This refreshing salad is a meal in a bowl, so delicious and complete with crunch, salad and protein.

This refreshing salad is a meal in a bowl, so delicious and complete with crunch, salad and protein.

Peanut Lime Salad Dressing

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 -2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

In food processor – blend all ingredients, with the exception of the cilantro – taste and adjust for seasonings. I can’t say this enough – every brand of each ingredient is different, and will have a different profile. I start with the ingredient amounts listed above, and then continue to adjust as I taste. When smooth, creamy and you LOVE the taste, blend again with the cilantro. You want to see little bits of the cilantro.

SALAD

cooked, shredded chicken

spinach
red leaf lettuce
grated carrot
slivered coloured sweet peppers
slivered snow peas
cucumber – halved, seeds removed and sliced into half moons
bean sprouts
toasted cashews, peanuts and sesame seeds

Cooked, cooled noodles, either rice or wheat – (toss with a little sesame oil when cooled to prevent them sticking)

When cooking for a crowd, I like to place the salad in one bowl, shredded chicken in another, and the nuts, green onions and bean sprouts in separate bowls. Everybody can create their own, and drizzle the dressing over. If working with a smaller group, just blend it all and mix the dressing in.

Try serving this with my Thai Chicken Wings, and leave out the chicken from this recipe.

Sesame Miso Vinaigrette

I decided to do a play on Roger Mooking’s cooking show – with an obedient ingredient ….. Miso! Our halibut is marinating in a miso based dressing, and this seemed the perfect accompaniment.

Miso Sesame Vinaigrette

1/2 tsp chile flakes (to your taste of course – depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients in a jar, and shake well. Delicious served over steamed vegetables or a bowl of crispy greens.

Greek Salad

I’m always puzzled by anybody using a bottled jar of dressing …. it is so easy to make your own and nail the taste down just the way you like it! Greek salads are so amazing at this time of year … full of fresh vegetables out of the garden mixed with tangy, salty olives and feta cheese.

Greek Salad

SALAD

cubed cucumbers, tomatoes, colored sweet peppers and sliced red onion
crumbled feta and black olives
torn fresh basil and oregano leaves

DRESSING

I like to make my dressing right onto the salad … gives me an excuse to keep tasting the salad in the event I need to make adjustments …

Over salad squeeze:
juice of 1 lemon
1 crushed garlic clove
drizzle of your best olive oil
sprinkle of salt and pepper

Now taste it …. enough balance? If not, and you aren’t eating it all immediately while you taste, just keep adding bits at a time until it is perfect.

Asian Style Salad with Red Rice

I love salads that make a whole meal – perfect for hot summer nights that let you feel satisfied but not stuffed!

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Tonights version included:

base – cooked red rice
mixed greens and fresh seasonal vegetables
poached shredded chicken (easily substitute prawns)
roasted peanuts and sesame seeds
slivered green onions

DRESSING
2 tbsp Thai sweet chile sauce
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 rounded tsp peanut butter
1 garlic clove

Blend all ingredients until smooth – gradually add in 1/4 cup peanut oil until well incorporated.

Every brand of these ingredients is different. Start from here and then taste it. I usually take a lettuce leaf and dip it in. If I don’t love it, keep adjusting! It should have a balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tangy ….

Corn Season! Summer Salad with fresh Basil Vinaigrette

I love fresh corn, and at this time of year it ends up in so many meals, even a bright summer salad.

Fresh Corn Summer Salad with Basil Dressing

Fresh Corn Summer Salad with Basil Dressing


Right now fresh corn, sweet peppers, cucumbers and green beans are all in season along with delicate greens.

Dress your favourite greens with:

Basil Dressing
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 rounded tsp grainy mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chile flakes (to your families taste)

Blend in food processor until smooth, and then gradually add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil.

I usually start with the 1/4 tsp chile flakes, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Taste once it is all smoothly blended. Add a little more chile flakes if you think you can handle it, and add olive oil as needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Tabouli Salad

This tabouli salad is made with quinoa, so a complete meal for a vegetarian option, or serve alongside a grilled chicken breast …. or tonight’s choice – chicken wings with a Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce …. yumminess.

Tabouli Salad

1 cup quinoa – rinse well
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in rustic pieces
1 small bunch kale, very finely chopped (remove stem)
1/2 English cucumber, cut into fine quarters
1 cup finely chopped assorted colored sweet peppers
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (pickling instructions below)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp orange zest and 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Pickling red onions: Thinly slice red onions and pour boiling water over for 10 seconds – drain off, and cover with fresh squeezed lime juice and a sprinkle of kosher salt. They turn such a great color.

Tabouli
Place the rinsed quinoa in a medium sauce pain, ccover with 1 3/4 cup cold water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook until water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 18-20 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and let it cool.

In a large bowl toss all prepared vegetables and the cooled quinoa.

Dressing
Combine zest and fruit juices, drizzle oil slowly in to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss with prepared Tabouli Salad and taste …season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Torn and Tossed Garlic Bread

Everybody loves the crunchy crust and soft tender bits of garlic bread – why not get more of it?

Torn garlic bread is crunchy and soft all at the same time.

Torn garlic bread is crunchy and soft all at the same time.

I had a loaf of sourdough bread and half a loaf of French bread – rather than tear it I cut it all into approximately 2 inch pieces.

Melt 1/2 cup butter, stir in 2 garlic cloves and 1 small shallot – both chopped fine. Naturally, use more garlic if you feel so inclined (and everybody is eating it…).

In a large bowl combine the melted butter, garlic and shallot mixture – add in the cubed bread, season with salt and pepper and toss well.

This is great made earlier in the day too, just let it sit and absorb all those flavours.

When you are ready to serve, spread cubes on baking sheet – take care not to overcrowd the pieces. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes just until the outside is nice and crispy, golden brown.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve – everybody will love it!

Serve this with as any side dish, or with your favorite soup or salad.

Mexican Chicken Salad

Last night I made a couple of beer can chickens with a smoky rub …. enough left over that I thought it would make a perfect Mexican Chicken Salad tonight! This would be a great vegetarian dinner, just leave out the chicken….

Mexican Chicken Salad

Dressing:
1/2 tsp Mexican Chile powder
1/2 tsp Chipotle Chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried mustard powder
1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 minced garlic cloves
Blend well and slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup grapeseed oil.

Taste it (with a sliver of lettuce) and adjust your seasonings to your preference.

Make a green salad packed with all your favorite ingredients, ours tonight included:

red leaf lettuce
roasted corn
garden peas (uncooked, and shelled)
roasted baby spring onions
cucumber
red and yellow peppers
toasted pumpkin seeds
toasted slivered almonds
(I wish we had avocado but there weren’t any available that were perfect..)

Garnish with:

shredded white cheese
cooked and shredded chicken
crushed tortilla chips
croutons
cooked and cooked Mexican rice
(Mexican rice is easily made substituting the liquid in your rice recipe with chicken stock, a bit of tomato paste, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.

We love salads like this – arrange the toppings around the salad and everybody gets to build their own at the table.