Brussel Sprout, Burrata & Bacon Salad

I made this amazingly fresh and satisfying salad for a friend’s birthday and I was unbelievably surprised how well the flavors of cheese, bacon, brussel sprouts, and the sweet and tart dressing balance each other out and are flat out delicious! My husband and I love brussel sprouts, but cooking them whole or halved can get boring and I was looking for a new way to eat these. A raw preparation was definitely not at the top of my mind since I’ve become so used to cooking them in my cast iron pan like my recipe of ‘Roasted Brussel Sprouts‘. However, I found so many burrata and brussel sprout salad recipes online and realized that for my taste, something major was missing – that was bacon!! Bacon makes everything better, yes. However, this salad REALLY is complete with the added salty-crispiness added by the cooked bacon.

Share this salad with your loved ones – if you are vegetarian, you can substitute the bacon for crispy tortilla chips (which you can buy from the supermarket as ready-to-go salad topper strips), or you can also add toasted sliced almonds for that extra crunch!

Love,
Priyanka

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Ingredients

10-15 slices of bacon
1 red onion, finely sliced
5 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shavings
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra to taste
1 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 balls burrata cheese (or good buffalo mozzarella), room temperature

Directions

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook until browned and beautifully caramelized (about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally).. Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl. Add balsamic vinegar and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soak in the flavor.

In a separate pan, cook bacon until crispy (but not burnt). Set aside for later once cooked.

Meanwhile, wash the brussel sprouts and remove outer leaves. Trim off the bottom nubs with a knife and cut each brussel sprout in half. Using either a mandoline (careful not to cut your hand!) or with a sharp knife, cut the sprouts into paper thin strips. trim nubs and halve sprouts. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut sprouts paper-thin. (An awesome shortcut is to use the slicing insert on a food processor to skip this step and save yourself a lot of time!).

Transfer shaved leaves to a mixing bowl. Add onions and mix until evenly combined.

In small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of honey and salt and pepper, to taste. Taste the dressing and adjust honey/lemon juice/salt/pepper as needed to reach the balance you want. It’s ok if it’s a little salty and tart as it will even out when tossed with the sprouts.

Toss slaw with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Taste and adjust seasoning with extra salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. Let sit at least 10 minutes so sprouts can absorb the flavors.

Put the marinated slaw in your serving bowl. Place burrata balls on the side in the serving bowl (so that your guests can take as much (or little) cheese as they want), and season the cheese lightly with salt and pepper and the last tablespoon of olive oil. Add in cooked, crispy bacon on top of the slaw.

Enjoy along with the rest of your meal! 🙂
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Beet Salad with Yogurt

The experts say beets are a superfood, and greek yogurt is supposed to be good for you too – so what better than a creative salad that is creamy, tangy, robust in flavor, yet easy on your waistline? This is a Middle-Eastern recipe that I have had at an Iraqi restaurant. I fell in love with this dish so much, that I had to recreate it and I LOVE this salad! For me, this is a great one-bowl meal that works as a great lunch at your desk. However, This is also a great side-dish to kebabs, hummus, or anything else that has a middle-eastern touch 😉

The hardest part of the recipe is getting the beets cooked, so a quick cheat on this is to go to a store like Trader Joe’s and buy their packaged, pre-cooked red beet (can be found in their refrigerated section near their cut vegetables). Or, you can take the longer route if you have the time!

Enjoy this recipe, my loves. And enjoy the health benefits, while treating your stomach to deliciousness!

Love,
Priyanka

Red Beet Salad with Mint PK
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 red beets, washed and leaves removed (or you can use pre-cooked beets that are available at many grocery stores)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (e.g. Fage or Chobani works great!)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
the juice of one lemon (or one tablespoon of lemon juice)
Fresh-ground pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: sumac, lemon wedges, cucumber slices, pitted olives

Directions

Bring a large pot to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of Kosher salt once it is boiling. Add the whole beets and boil on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, until fork tender (not mushy!). Tender, yet firm is the perfect consistency for these cooked beets.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside.

When the beets are cooked, drain them and, while still hot, slip off their skins (if you are afraid of staining your hands, wear disposable gloves during this step!).

Place peeled beets in the ice water bath for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the beets. Chop the peeled and cooked beets into small, bite-sized cubes.

Add the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch Kosher salt and pepper.

Mix gently with your glove-covered hands (or two spoons) until the mixture turns a fuchsia color. For a creamier salad, add more yogurt. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with sumac, serve with a lemon wedge and garnish with cucumber slices and pitted olives for an extra bite, if desired. Enjoy! 🙂

Can be kept in the refrigerator for one day.

Elegant Arugula and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Who said that we can’t get fancy in our own kitchens? I certainly think that it is a lot of fun to dress up a meal by simply enhancing the presentation. After all, if the eye likes what it sees, then it is more appetizing, and in turn, tastes better to us too!

One of my favorite seasons is heirloom tomato season, and right now, Trader Joe’s has these beautiful mini heirloom tomatoes that are perfect in every way. The blend of colors of these different-colored tomatoes creates such a beautiful salad that is anything other than one-note. The pepperiness of the arugula paired with the earthy cannellini against the sweetness of the tomatoes is delicious. And the crispy toast topped with the tangy, yet creamy goat cheese seals this dish as the perfect start to any meal, fancy or informal!

The flash fried bread (feel free to oven toast for a healthier version!) adds the perfect amount of crispiness and smokiness that I think lends beautifully to this dish.

Try this at home and you don’t regret it! Just don’t forget to serve it immediately after dressing your salad, or you’ll end up with a very soggy (and sad) salad! 🙂

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Yields: 4 individual appetizer portions

Ingredients

4 slices of bread (can be wheat, white, whole-grain, whatever you prefer!)

Topping
1 cup grape, cherry, or small heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on their size
1.5 cups loosely packed baby arugula
1/4 cup of organic, canned cannellini beans, washed and drained
2-4 tablespoons goat cheese, depending on your taste
2 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive-oil, extra to drizzle if desired
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
Variation: Add thinly sliced red onion to the salad mixture for an extra crunch!

Directions

Cut out circles out of the slices of your bread using one of the following: a metal ring mold, the open end of a glass jar (the kind tomato sauces come in at the grocery store), or even an empty metal can (from the cannelloni beans!).

Heat olive oil in a small pan and when the oil is hot, flash fry the circles of bread for about 5 seconds on each side until golden brown. Drain and set aside on a napkin-topped plate to allow it to crisp.

Combine all of the topping ingredients EXCEPT the goat cheese, and toss well to coat.

On your serving plate, place the crisp bread and spread a dollop of goat cheese over it. Top with the salad mixture. If you like cheese a lot, feel free to add another dollop of goat cheese on top of the mixture! Serve immediately and enjoy! 🙂

Colorful Cole Slaw

Cooking is about details, and to me, details mean side dishes. We often overlook side dishes to our glorious, attention-grabbing main dishes and entrees. However, a corned beef sandwich sometimes really needs a fried pickle next to it or a little bowl of creamy cole slaw! This side dish is not only easy to make and beautiful to look at, but it’s tasty and family friendly too! The tanginess of the vinegar mixed with the creaminess of the sour cream and mayonnaise is blissful.

A good cole slaw can be used in so many ways – in a sandwich, mixed into cold leftover pasta for a pasta salad, as a a filling in grilled or fried fish tacos, and so much more. Would love to hear your favorite ways to serve cole slaw!

PS – Thanksgiving is around the corner. Here is another great idea to add to your spread!

Enjoy! 🙂

Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, finely shredded
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 tablespoons grated white onion
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

Mix both types of shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Add your dressing to the cabbage mix and combine well. Taste for seasoning, and adjust salt, pepper, and/or sugar seasoning to your desired taste.

Chill in the refrigerator and enjoy! Can be made up to 1 day ahead.

Greek Quinoa Salad

Happy Sunday night! What better way to start the week than with a healthy, make-ahead lunch idea! Fresh, easy, simple, and easy on your waist line! 🙂 If you enjoy meat, feel free to add rotisserie chicken for a more filling meal! Enjoy!


Ingredients
2 cups of cooked quinoa (according to package directions), cooled
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup cubed (or broken up) feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced red onion (or finely diced)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and serve! Can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Enjoy!

Fancy Wedge Salad with Avocado, Strawberries, Bacon & Shrimp

This is a ridiculously easy, no-cook recipe (the ingredients I use are already cooked) that is crispy, fresh, sweet, savory, salty, and anything but boring! This is a great dish to take to a potluck (everyone will be so impressed with you – the beautiful colors of this salad jump out and the presentation with individual wedges is unique and appealing to the eye!). And, regardless of what people might say, yummy-looking food is always more appetizing.

It’s true that other kinds of greens (think: arugula, spinach, chard, etc.) are more nutrition-rich than iceberg lettuce. However, the crunch and crispiness of the iceberg cannot be replicated any other way.

I LOVE this salad, and my friends have enjoyed it with me. I hope you share this with your loved ones and become your next party’s superstar chef with little effort!

Yields: 12 servings
Ingredients
2 heads of iceberg lettuce
~1lb cooked shrimp (peeled)
2 ripe avocados, cubed
6 slices of crispy, cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer thick-cut)
1/2 cup of either finely sliced red onion or finely diced red onion
1 cup of thinly sliced strawberries
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
Salad dressing of your choice

Optional: Sliced, toasted almonds

Directions

Wash and dry the heads of lettuce. Remove the outer layer of lettuce. Split each head in half through the ‘root’. Then cut each half into three wedges. Each head of lettuce will yield 6 wedges.

Skewer the shrimp and avocado, alternating if desired for better presentation, and spike each wedge with your loaded toothpick.

Top each wedge with the bacon, red onion, strawberry slices. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest evenly over all 12 wedges.

Drizzle the dressing of your choice (blue cheese dressing or poppy seed dressing are my favorites!) and enjoy! 🙂

Panzanella – An Italian Bread Salad

It’s been a few years since I was first introduced to this delicious, colorful, and healthy salad. I was invited to an outdoor play a little north of Berkeley, California (CalShakes, for you locals!), and they allow you to bring your own picnic dinner. My friend’s contribution was a panzanella salad and it was so good (Thanks E!)!

Flash forward a few years and here I am sitting in a phase of my life where I am pretty obsessed with tomatoes (all kinds: heirloom, cherry, beefsteak, early girl, etc.). And then I ended up with half a baguette of a few-days-old bread and didn’t know what to do with it. That was when my love for this salad was truly reborn.

The acidity of the balsamic, against the buttery quality of the olive oil, paired with the freshness of the tomatoes and basil, with a soft earthiness of the red onion, finished off with the crunch of the roasted bread can best be described in one word: heavenly. 🙂

To be honest, I never asked my friend for her recipe and don’t know if my recipe is truly ‘authentic’ the ways Italians do in Italy. But my goodness, is this EASY and SCRUMPTIOUS! I made this two times already in the past one week (once for a family style dinner and once for a July 4th potluck) and it has always proven to be a beautiful vegetarian dish that is easy on the eyes and the stomach. So here we go, ladies and gentlemen – and I don’t doubt you will be surprised just HOW easy this recipe is. 😉

Sometimes the best things are life are the simplest ones.

For you foodies who are history buffs too, here’s a bit on the history of panzanella – who know that it started out as an ONION recipe?!? 🙂

A note on this recipe: try to use high-quality extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar – it really makes a huge difference since olive oil can have odd bitter after tastes and balsamics can have a strong acidity that can overpower this entire dish!

Enjoy!

Yields: 6 generous servings, family style

Ingredients

For the ‘bread’ part of the recipe
4 cups of cubed baguette bread (can be sourdough, batard, anything you enjoy eating really!) – best when it is 2-3 days old
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

For the ‘dressing’
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To finish off the recipe
4 cups of ripe tomato wedges (cut each tomato into 4 pieces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 cups cubed mozzarella cheese (Optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, add the cubed bread, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Using your hands, mix the ingredients well so that the bread is well-coated evenly. Pour bread cubes onto a parchment paper or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for approximately 15 minutes (or until cubes are browned). Take the sheet out halfway during this period, and using tongs, carefully toss the bread cubes once for even roasting. Once roasting is complete, cool the bread cubes.

[Note: you can grill the baguette on a hot grill or indoor grill pan and cube it after if you wish to bypass the oven step!]

Meanwhile, on a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to your taste. (Remember to always taste test your marinade before adding to the serving bowl with bread!). This step can be made ahead and be stored at room temperature for 2 days.

In the bowl you will serve this dish in, add the cooled bread cubes, quartered tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, red onion, and basil. Add the marinade 20 minutes before you want to serve it, and toss to combine.

Serve immediately and Enjoy! (Although, I have enjoyed this recipe 24 hours after making it, and thoroughly enjoyed the juicy bread cubes that had soaked up all the wonderful flavors overnight!). So don’t throw away your leftovers thinking they will be awful and soggy! 🙂