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August 9, 2015

Lobster and avocado salad with tomatoes and basil {gluten-free}

Lobster and avocado salad with tomatoes and fresh basil: a spectacular summer salad.

What kind of friend shows up at your door, unannounced, with a two-pound cooked lobster, plus extra large lobster claws and tail? The very best kind, of course! When Mary appeared with a big plastic bag filled with bright red cooked lobster, whole and parts, I'm sure I squealed with joy, protested half-heartedly (oh, no, I couldn't possibly accept this), and immediately began to fantasize about a salad packed with chunks of sweet lobster meat, avocado, and garden-ripe tomatoes. My husband Ted patiently extricated all of the meat from the lobster shells, while I whipped up a creamy dressing for the salad. I left all of the ingredients in large chunks, the better to taste every bite of the lobster. Mary couldn't join us for lunch, so I used the lobster shells to make a quick stock to stash in her freezer; it will be a luxurious base for New England chowder some time this summer. The recipe makes an indulgently lobster-filled salad; you can reduce the amount of lobster meat if it's very expensive where you live. Buy steamed lobster at your fish market. If you don't live in a place where you can get fresh lobster, try this salad with large shrimp.

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July 29, 2015

Greek chicken chopped salad with creamy poppy seed dressing {gluten-free}

Add shredded Greek-flavored chicken to this crisp chopped salad for a meal-in-a-bowl.

One of my pet peeves is a recipe that requires you to make another recipe first (remember the beloved China Moon cookbook, filled with recipes composed of sauces you needed to make before you even got started?). Yet here I am, asking that very thing of you. Forgive me. If you didn't make a batch of shredded slow cooker Greek chicken right away when I shared the recipe last week, you can do it now, or substitute rotisserie chicken or even grilled shrimp in this chopped salad. Or, omit the protein and have yourself a dandy meatless salad. However, trust me when I tell you that the Greek chicken absolutely makes this dish. The hints of lemon and garlic work their way all through the salad, balanced by the sweet poppy seed dressing. It's irresistible. And you can freeze leftover chicken for roll-ups, salads or pasta dishes at another time. My husband Ted and I make the whole salad recipe, and the two of us eat every bit of it for our main course dinner. It's that good.

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July 15, 2015

Sesame ginger red cabbage salad {vegan, gluten-free}

Sesame ginger red cabbage salad, so easy with just one vegetable. [ThePerfectPantry.com] #vegan #glutenfree

A single ingredient can morph into an entire salad if you have the right dressing. In this case, red cabbage does the honors. No matter what I make, I always seem to use exactly half of a head of red cabbage, leaving me exactly half a head in the refrigerator. That's the perfect amount for this salad. Shred it thinly, with a sharp knife; if you go slowly, it's easy to do. Reach into your Asian condiments for the dressing. Sesame oil has a strong taste, and if you're not overly fond of it, cut the amount in half. The brand of condiments you use will affect the overall flavor of the dressing, so think of this recipe as a suggested starting point. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl, taste, and adjust until it's just right for you. Then, toss in the cabbage, and let it absorb the dressing for a while before you're ready to serve. Sesame ginger red cabbage goes really well with grilled fish or chicken. You'll want this salad on the table at your weekend barbecue.

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July 5, 2015

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions {vegetarian}

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats, a picnic-perfect twist on the classic.

When it comes to egg salad, I'm a straight-up gal. Hard-boiled eggs, really good mayonnaise, black pepper, and nothing more. Oh, occasionally I'll toss in a bit of celery. Perfection. And yet... sometimes, I have to cut loose, and when I do, I turn to my spice rack and pantry for inspiration. The combination of eggs and caramelized onions takes me back to childhood, when my grandmother used to combine the two with chopped liver for the classic Jewish appetizer. I think if she'd had smoked paprika on hand (I'm sure she never heard of it), she might have added a pinch of that as well, because I love how just the tiniest bit of smoky pepper plays off the sweet onions. Depending on whether you like your egg salad with a kick, use mild or hot smoked paprika (it also comes in a bittersweet variety, which is midway between the two on the heat scale). If lettuce boats aren't your thing, stuff this egg salad into a pita or crusty roll, or fold it into a tortilla wrap. You can make all of the components a few hours (or days) ahead, and assemble at the last minute, so it's great for picnics.

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June 21, 2015

Baby kale and cabbage salad with feta, olives and Greek dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Crunchy, creamy, kale and cabbage salad, packed with mix-ins, and tossed with Greek dressing.

Just when you think you might be done with kale, here's a crunchy, creamy, kale and cabbage salad (how alliterative!) that will make you reconsider. This particular salad started with a bag of baby kale and cabbage that I found at Costco; it's a convenience, to be sure, but you can mix baby kale with any type of shredded cabbage, in whatever proportion you prefer. Play with color and texture, by using green and purple cabbage and multicolored cherry tomatoes. Add sharp kalamata olives and feta cheese, plus wedges of hard-boiled egg, or keep going and pile on cucumber and bell pepper, and if you're not vegetarian, try some grilled shrimp or chicken. Homemade Greek dressing, lightened up with low-fat yogurt and thickened with a bit of buttermilk, brings everything together in this meal-in-a-bowl salad.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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