You'll never miss the anchovies in this vegetarian Caesar salad. (Wait, you knew about the fish in the salad dressing, didn't you?) I love to use anchovy paste in traditional Caesar salad dressing, but in this recipe, plain Greek yogurt and sharp, salty Romano cheese stand in for the sharp, salty bite from the fish. Plenty of garlic, giant crunchy croutons made fresh in a frying pan, and crisp, sturdy lettuce combine for a simple salad that relies on big flavor from every ingredient. Add some grilled chicken or shrimp, as restaurants often do, or pile on tomatoes, or bell pepper, or asparagus... well, you get the idea. I always blend some extra dressing, which keeps in the refrigerator for a week, so I have the basic salad for several lunches in a row, with different add-ons every day.
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For years -- well, for decades -- I cooked barley only one way: in soup, with mushrooms and carrots and rich beef or chicken stock. So I missed out on decades of amazing warm and cold barley salads, and now I'm making up for lost time. Or for lost tastes. This barley, artichoke, sun-dried tomato and feta salad came together after a quick pantry raid and a short hop to the herb garden for some of the curly parsley I'm growing this year for the first time. The strong, salty flavors of the artichokes, tomato and cheese, plus the lemony flavor of a zahtar-based dressing, provide just the right counterpoint to the creamy barley. For a vegan salad, omit the cheese, and add some kalamata olives.
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When it comes to salad, I fall in love easily and often, and when I do, I eat the same salad for days until my affections find another to love. I fell hard for this bacon, lettuce and tomato salad, tossed with a creamy dressing made with fresh basil from my herb garden. You'll want to use fairly robust lettuce, the ripest tomato, and just enough bacon to remind you of the best BLT sandwich you've ever had. Don't skimp on the basil; the dressing should be vibrant and herby. If you absolutely need the bread for your BLT, add some large homemade croutons. This is an in-season salad, so enjoy it now with the end of the summer tomatoes and basil. Then, save the recipe for next summer. You'll fall in love all over again.
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As you might expect, we cook a lot around here. Most of the time, I make the food, and my husband Ted makes sure it's good enough to share with you. Every now and then, however, I come up with something so thoroughly irresistible that we don't even want to share with each other. After photographing this shrimp and bell pepper stir-fry, I left the bowl on the kitchen counter. Despite the fact that it was 9:00 in the morning and we'd just finished breakfast, we couldn't stop nibbling, a shrimp here, a pepper there, until we were running our fingers inside the empty bowl to capture every last drop of the Asian cilantro vinaigrette. Fortunately we had some of the dressing left over (I made it with a mix of cilantro and a little bit of flat-leaf parsley, from our herb garden), and I used it the next day on a grilled flank steak, lettuce and avocado salad. We licked that plate clean, too.
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