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Red Potato Ranch Salad- Simply Yummy

23 Aug Red Potato Salad 8

With the upcoming Labor Day Weekend, many folks will be enjoying a BBQ cookout at the park, in someone’s backyard, or their own pad.  Whether you are the host or a party goer, you’ll want easy-to-make, tasty side dishes to go along with those burgers or hot dogs.

Enter this super easy, fuss-free red potato salad.  It is tender, tasty, and simple.  Dare I say, fail-proof?

Red Potato Salad 8

Red Potato Salad – just a few ingredients

This tasty red potato salad is comprised of just a few simple ingredients.  If you love ranch dressing, you’ll adore this potato salad, as its base is ranch rather than the traditional mayo or sour cream.  Throw on green onions, bacon, and season to taste!  It’s tastes as great as it looks.  The red skin on these potatoes is gorgeous.

Red Potato Salad 7

Red Potato Salad – creamy ranch, chives, and bacon

I usually make this red potato salad a day beforehand and let it sit in fridge until I am ready to pack it for a picnic or potluck.  The flavors meld together when it has a little time to sit.  It’s one less thing to worry about on picnic/party/BBQ day.

Red Potato Salad 6

Red Potato Salad – crowd pleaser

Even those who don’t usually like potato salads (me) go back for seconds on this one.  Potatoes, ranch, and bacon?  What’s not to like?   Bonus: It somehow just looks and feels like this potato salad is a little healthier than most, since it doesn’t rely on loads of mayo and sour cream.  I can’t guarantee it really is much healthier, but it gives off that vibe 🙂

Red Potato Salad 5

Red Potato Salad – serve it up this weekend!

If you have any leftovers, red potato salad keeps very well in the fridge for a couple of days, as long as it hasn’t been sitting outdoors too long.  Happy Labor Day Weekend, and take some time to rest!

RECIPE (10-12)


3 lbs Red skinned potatoes, skin on, washed and cubed to bite-size
3-4 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
1 large bottle good ranch dressing (Hidden Valley Ranch or other good ranch b/c it makes a diff!)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
optional:  dashes of garlic powder


Fill a large, heavy pot with salted water about 2/3 full.  Bring to boil.  Boil cubed potatoes for about 8-9 minutes or to desired tenderness.  Do not overcook, or results will be mushy.  Drain and rinse potatoes with cold water to cool it down.  Gently work in as much ranch dressing as needed, to desired consistency.  Mix in sliced green onions and crumbled bacon.  Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Add a dash or two of garlic powder, if desired.  Chill and enjoy!

Asian Glass Noodle Salad with Shrimp

19 Jul asian glass noodle salad

The sweltering mid-summer weather has many locals diving for cool bars and restaurants, shying away from the stove at home.  I’ve had my share of dining out during this month of record-breaking heat.  Last weekend, though, I decided we would beat the heat with a refreshing, cool meal.  Asian Glass Noodle Salad with Shrimp = cooling grub.

asian glass noodle salad

Asian Glass Noodle Salad – light, refreshing, cool summer meal

Versatile, super easy to make, and every flavorful bite refreshes you.  It’s hard to describe in mere words how good this noodle salad is.

asian glass noodle salad

Asian Glass Noodle Salad – perfect with a crisp, dry Riesling

This Asian glass noodle salad features fresh lettuce, julienne carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, tender shrimp, and scrumptious dressing over glass noodles (aka, Asian vermicelli.)  Pair it with a very dry, chilled Riesling.

asian glass noodle salad

Asian Glass Noodle Salad – shrimp can be swapped for any other proteins

The Asian dressing can be made ahead of time, stored, and used for this salad plus whatever other salads you want.
The shrimp can be subbed out for shredded chicken (try rotissere), thin sliced pork, or just eggs and more nuts if you want to go meatless.  Did I mention “versatile?”

Asian Glass Noodle Salad

Asian Glass Noodle Salad – you’ll eat more than you planned to

Yeah, you’ll go back for seconds.  You can afford to.  This noodle salad is healthy, packed with veggies and protein, and will so jive with your fitness goals.  But, be forewarned that it is not light on flavor!  In fact, the dressing is not for the faint of heart – dare I say, it might even seem strong at first, but be fearless!

Once you pour it over everything else, this is one of those mysteries that really come together amazingly as a finished product.  Trust the process and try it!   However, if the word “fish” puts you on the border of a panic attack, then you can go light on the fish sauce or omit it.  Disclaimer – if you do omit said fish sauce, the end result will be drastically altered – i.e., not as good.  Just keeping it real 🙂



For the Dressing:
4 garlic cloves, minced to tiny bits
4 TB fresh ginger, peeled, and minced finely
8 TB fish sauce (found in Asian aisle of most supermarkets)
3-4 TB  light soy sauce (I like Kikkoman)
Juice of 2 limes
8 TB water
4 TB sugar
3 tsp sesame oil (pure sesame oil, usually golden brown in color, found in Asian aisle)

For the Salad:
1/2 lb cooked small shrimp
6 oz dry glass noodles (sometimes called vermicelli or cellophane noodles, found in Asian aisles)
4 oz bean sprouts

1 small carrot, peel and julienne

1 small cucumber, peel and julienne

1/2 head romaine, shredded
2-3 TB chopped cashews, for garnish
scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Dashes sesame oil to prevent noodles from sticking


Whisk all dressing ingredients together and blend well.  Set aside in fridge, and mix again before using.  Can pre-make this a day or two ahead of time, to keep in fridge.  Again, dressing may seem strong by itself, but it will be perfect once poured on top of the noodles & salad.

Pre-soak dry noodles in large pot of water for 1 hour.  Once it’s pliable and softened, boil for 5 minutes (or according to package instructions).  Drain immediately, and rinse with cold water.  Work in a few dashes of sesame oil to prevent sticking.

Assemble all salad ingredients, except for chopped nuts, in large bowl.  Mix most of the dressing in.  Toss it together, blending dressing into the entire noodle salad.  Portion noodle salad onto individual plates, and sprinkle the rest of dressing on top of each plate.  Sprinkle on chopped cashews and cilantro for garnish.

Wine Pairing Note:  Perfect with a crisp, dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Summer Shrimp Ceviche

6 Jul

We’re in the midst of summer, and it is hot!  Shrimp Ceviche is, hands down, one of my favorite summer recipes.  It is one of those appetizers that is both refreshingly light and full of flavor.  Bonus:  It’s full of antioxidants and good for you!   Around here, we can eat so much shrimp ceviche that we’re nearly sated by the time we’re supposed to be digging into the main dish.  This ceviche is fabulous either as an appetizer or a salad by itself.

Shrimp Ceviche, cool and refreshing for summer

The best part about Shrimp Ceviche is that there is little to no cooking involved, depending on how you prefer to prepare it.  You can avoid the stove and let the lime juice do all your cooking.  However, I usually get the shrimp to just barely-cooked before throwing the ceviche together.  The reason I don’t let the lime juice do all the “cooking” is that the shrimp tends to become rubbery and tough when done that way.  If you cook the shrimp a little bit before assembling the ceviche, your seafood will reward you and stay tender.

Tender shrimp, lime, tomatoes, and all the fixings: Shrimp Ceviche

The glorious part of this dish is that it’s extremely flexible.  In fact, I can implement my Dad’s scientific cooking technique with this one:  just a dash of this and a pinch of that.  Configure this shrimp ceviche to your taste buds, and it will come out delicious every time.

Because I eyeball it whenever prepping Shrimp Ceviche, the recipe below is one of approximates.  Go ahead – toss in as much or little of the ingredients as you like and enjoy!

RECIPE (serves about 6, give or take)

1 lb raw shrimp
1 red onion, diced
1-2 limes
chopped cilantro (1/3 – 1/2 cup)
2-3 large, vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (or a bunch of cherry tomatoes sliced in halves)
1 ripe avocado
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
2-3 T butter or oil

De-vein and remove shells from shrimp.  If shrimp is large, cut into thirds.  If small, cut into halves.  Heat up butter or oil in large skillet.  Cook translucent shrimp just until barely opaque.  This happens quickly, so watch carefully and do not overcook!  Once shrimp turns orange, immediately remove it from skillet to cool.  Set aside.

Generously squeeze lime juice over onions and coat.  Onions will “cook” slightly in the lime juice, giving it a softer flavor.  Dice avocado and coat with lime juice to prevent browning.

Combine shrimp, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and avocado in a bowl.  Squeeze juice of 2-3 lime wedges over entire thing and gently toss to coat.  Now the fun part – generously sprinkle kosher salt and fresh back pepper to taste.  Add more lime if needed.  When it tastes good to you, it’s ready!  Serve cold, with crispy tortilla chips.

Wine pairing note:  Shrimp ceviche goes super well with a Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontes.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Roasted Pear Gorgonzola Salad

26 Jun Savory Gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and pecans smothered in a light, lemony dressing

Around here, we love our pears.  Hubby eats them super ripe, I eat them crunchy, and the kids just eat them.   The leafy greens?  Still working on getting the young’uns to chow down on arugula, but for today I’m happy that they devour their pears!  With the beautiful, warm weather here in June, I wanted to make a light and refreshing salad that we could enjoy Al fresco.  Thus, the Roasted Pear Gorgonzola Salad makes its well-timed appearance.

Juicy, sweet, roasted pears atop baby greens and arugula

Savory Gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and pecans smothered in a light, lemony dressing

The saltiness of Gorgonzola, sweetness of dried cranberries, and the crunch of toasted pecans marry gorgeously under a lemony sweet dressing.

It sounds like work to roast pears, but it is quite simple.  The individual flavors of this salad go so well together, it is as if they were meant to meet.  Definitely Gourmet Dinner Club worthy.

RECIPE (Serves 6)

1/2 cup apple cider
3 TB very sweet dessert wine, such as Port or Framboise
1/3 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola (or Roquefort works well, too)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted and chopped pecans
3 semi-ripe pears
1 pkg baby greens
1 pkg arugula
fresh cracked pepper


For the Basting Sauce:  Combine apple cider, dessert wine, and brown sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.  Can be made up to 1-2 hours ahead of time.

For the Dressing: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the basting sauce.  Set aside at room temp.

Peel and slice pears in half lengthwise.  Carefully remove core and seeds from pears, leaving a rounded well for filling later.  Trim away a tiny slice from bottom of each pear so they sit flat on roasting pan.  Spoon some basting sauce over each pear, and bake until tender (approx. 30 min).  Baste pears with sauce a couple more times while baking.

Prepare individual plates by dividing the baby greens mixed with arugula.  When pears are partly cool, place on top of the greens.  Fill each pear with a mixture of crumbled Gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and pecans.  Sprinkle remaining mixture over rest of the salad.  Generously drizzle lemon dressing on top of pears and greens.  Sprinkle with cracked pepper and enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Mango Caprese With Basil

19 Jun Mango Caprese with Basil

I lived most of my life in Los Angeles, where fresh tomatoes can be found year round.  Here in Minneapolis?  Not so much.  When my Gourmet Dinner Club met up in April (think rain/snow), I wanted to make a fresh caprese for the salad course.  With farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes still far in the distant future, I went for a substitute… mangoes!  Bon Appetit showed off an idea of mangoes paired with mozzarella, and I gave it a whirl.  The result was outstandingly delicious!  The best part is you can prepare most of it ahead of time and assemble when you need it.

Mango Caprese with Basil

Mango Caprese with Basil – mangoes are delicious year-round

Super ripe, sweet mangoes.  Little radiccio leaves for that slightly bitter crunch.  Fresh, savory mozzarella.  And tons of freshly picked basil over homemade basil dressing.  Oh my, the basil vinaigrette is unbelievable.  This is soo good, soo refreshing, and a crowd pleaser!

mango caprese

Mango Caprese with Basil – use the ripest, sweetest mangoes you can find

Needless to say, the Gourmet Dinner Club loved this one.  The best part is that most of it can be prepared ahead of time, and assembled right when you need it.  I love that.  Being able to prepare most of a dish ahead of time is awesome.  I plan to make this again soon.  I still love you, tomatoes, but sweet mangoes are giving you a run for your money.

RECIPE (4 servings)

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus some whole leaves
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T white balsamic vinegar
radiccio leaves, thinly sliced (I used round Chioggia radiccio)
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8-oz fresh mozzarella cheese ball, sliced into 1/4 in. thick slices
salt & pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette:  Blend chopped basil, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar until it is well blended and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  This can be done ahead of time, even the day before.

To assemble:  Overlap mozzarella, mangoes, radicchio, and basil leaves on plates (all except basil can be pre-sliced ahead of time).  Drizzle with the basil vinaigrette.  Pass around leftover dressing.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Bon Appetit