This Sesame Vinaigrette has an intoxicating aroma! I’ve made sure that the sesame flavor is prominent by using toasted sesame oil, toasted black and white sesame seeds, and a little tahini (sesame paste). The addition of lime for tang and garlic for additional savoriness makes this a great dressing for peppery lettuces and anise flavors.
Substitute Belgian endive (above) in lieu of the fennel. This was an accidental discovery and a delicious one! My husband bought an endive instead of fennel. He gets ingredients confused sometimes, but likes to do the grocery shopping (and clean up after dinner – isn’t he a love?) and sometimes we have to make adjustments. 😋
Pop the sesame seeds in a small skillet over high and toast for 1-2 minutes. Toss or stir frequently to prevent burning; remove to a mixing bowl or jar immediately to stop the toasting.
Add the sesame oil, lime juice, peanut oil, tahini, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper and whisk or shake until combined.
Refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors meld. Shake well before using.
I served this Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with a Sherry Wine Vinaigrette for dinner the other night and my girlfriend Lynn loved it. She had never had raw escarole before.
Blue cheese goes nicely with the bitterness of escarole, it adds a salty creaminess, the cranberries a little tartness, and the crunchy walnuts add more crunch. The tangy vinaigrette brings it all together. While there’s lots going on in this salad, it’s very simple to make.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this salad is an excellent way to start or accompany your menu. The refreshing crispy escarole with a coating of the zesty dressing is a great foil for all those rich and tasty traditional Thanksgiving sides.
A simple mix of olive oil, Sherry wine vinegar, Dijon, shallots, salt and pepper.
Use two tablespoons minced shallot for this dressing. If the shallot is large, mince only half.
Place the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Thoroughly wash the escarole, it grows in a sandy soil.
Spin dry and stack the greens and slice across the leaves.
Place the sliced escarole in a salad bowl. Shake the vinaigrette and drizzle the greens with just enough dressing to coat the salad but not pool at the bottom of the bowl.
Sprinkle the top of the salad with the nuts, cheese, and cranberries. I like to add the toppings last because they always fall to the bottom of the bowl. Sitting on top of the dressed salad makes a lovely presentation.
Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend made up of sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds and salt. Sumac is slightly tart and reminiscent of lemon. This is a great spice to use on chicken, fish or pork and here’s a recipe for Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad.
Optimize your time by using these tips. Start the quinoa while you prepare and cook the chicken. Let the quinoa sit and cool a bit. Move on to the dressing, which you should make in a bowl large enough to hold all the quinoa salad ingredients. Prepare the vegetables, add to the dressing, and thoroughly combine. Let sit at room temperature until the chicken is done.
The salad can be made ahead and refrigerated; let sit out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving to warm up a bit. Give it a stir occasionally to even out the temperature.
Roast, grill or sauté the chicken and add the lime juice as soon as the chicken is done cooking, which allows the juices to absorb, adding a nice tanginess. Avoid adding the juice to the raw chicken to save a step; the flavor dissipates in the heat.
I chose red quinoa, black quinoa is good too, because it adds color to the dish. This grain has a slightly firm texture and nutty flavor and is a nice change from rice or orzo. A green lettuce leaf adds a splash of green and crunch on the plate and the cilantro complements the all the flavors nicely.
This Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad makes a great lunch or dinner.
Serve our as a delicious accompaniment Here’s a great accompaniment for this dish, Spelt Flatbread and Roasted Spiced Carrot Purée, a spread of carrot puree over flatbread, topped with crumbled feta cheese, crushed pistachios and a drizzle of cilantro oil.
Watch the Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad Video Here
Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend made up of sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds and salt. Sumac has a slight tartness to it, reminiscent of lemon. The chicken can be roasted, grilled or pan sautéed. Adding the lime juice as soon as the chicken is done cooking allows the juices to be absorbed while the chicken rests. I chose red or black quinoa for the color it adds to the dish.
3 tablespoons minced cloves garlic (about 6 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
20 turns of the pepper mill
zest of one lime
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 container (7 ounces) Greek yogurt, such as Fage
3 tablespoons tahini
zest of one lime
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups cooked black or red quinoa (see recipe above)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 large carrot)
1 cup cucumber cut into ½ inch cubes
1 bunch scallions (light green tops included), trimmed, rinsed and thinly sliced on the bias
½ teaspoon coarse salt
6 large butter lettuce or Romaine leaves
For the Quinoa
Bring 2 cups cold water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan with a cover.
Stir in the quinoa, lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the little green sprouts are showing.
For the Chicken
Combine the coconut oil, za’atar, garlic, salt and pepper.
Lay the chicken on a flat surface and cover with plastic wrap. Pound the thicker ends with a meat pounder or a heavy frying pan to an even thickness.
Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken and place on a baking sheet.
Place the seasoned chicken in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F, about 20 minutes. Time may vary depending on the size of each breast.
Combine the lime zest and juice.
NOTE: While the chicken roasts, prepare the dressing and salad.
Remove the chicken from the oven and immediately douse with the lime juice on all sides. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.
Cut on the bias into ½-inch slices. Leave on the pan with the juices until ready to plate.
For the Dressing
Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime zest and juice, salt and cayenne in a large bowl.
FOR THE QUINOA SALAD
Add the quinoa, tomatoes, cilantro, carrot, scallions and salt to the dressing and stir to combine.
Place one lettuce on a plate and fill with a cup of the quinoa salad.
Lay a few slices of the chicken next to or over the top of the salad. Drizzle a little of the pan juice over the chicken and top with a few cilantro leaves.
Start the quinoa while you prepare the chicken. Let the quinoa cool a bit off the stovetop. Move on to the dressing, which you should make in a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients. Prepare the vegetables, add to the dressing, and thoroughly combine. Let sit at room temperature until the chicken is done.
Fresh artichokes are delicious but time consuming to prepare. This recipe for roasted artichoke hearts with lemon parmesan vinaigrette works well with frozen artichokes, a quick and easy alternative and thawing is not necessary. Avoid canned or jarred artichokes; they are too soft and don’t hold up well in a cooked recipe.
Fresh artichokes are delicious, but time consuming to prepare. Frozen artichokes are a quick and easy alternative and thawing is not necessary. Avoid canned or jarred artichokes, which are too soft for additional cooking.
Complex salads are tossed salads that have more than one ingredient. A great example is the classic Italian Tri-Color Salad, which uses three peppery lettuces: arugula, radicchio and Belgian endive. Pair with a balsamic vinaigrette; the sweetness of the balsamic is a delicious foil for the bitterness of the lettuce.
Oftentimes this salad is topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. I thought it would be nice to share a little twist on that — Parmesan crisps!
Use 2 tablespoons grated aged cheese, such as Parmesan or Asiago, per person. Drop onto a lined baking pan and use the back of the spoon to spread into a circle. Finish with a little freshly grated black pepper, if desired. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool and add to salad or a bread basket.
A wilted salad is typically an unappealing one, with old, brown leaves. An intentionally wilted spinach salad, however, gently “cooks” the leaves with a warm vinaigrette and is delightful to the eye and palette.
I prefer baby spinach in general, because it requires less work. The stems are delicate, edible and usually less sandy than their mature counterpart. Mature spinach needs a thorough wash and rinse and the tough stems have to be removed. A tedious job.
The best way to cook bacon is in a cold pan to prevent sticking and promote even browning. Place the bacon in the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
The bacon, scallions and vinegar release aromas that are smoky, savory and tangy all at once. For added texture, don’t hesitate to add toasted or seasoned nuts for an added crunch.
Watch the Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette Video Here
2 slices bacon, diced 4 sliced scallions, green tops included 2–3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar a pinch of coarse salt
a few cranks on the pepper mill
6 cups baby spinach 2 cups, about 6 ounces, button mushrooms, washed, woody stems removed and thinly sliced ½ cup thinly sliced red onions, rinsed and dried 16 cherry tomatoes, halved ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
Place the bacon in a cold pan over medium-high heat and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the scallion and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk.
Place the spinach, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes in a salad bowl.
Whisk the hot dressing one more time and pour over the salad.
Toss and top with the blue cheese.
Use as much olive to the bacon fat to make 1/4 cup.
The best way to cook bacon is in a cold pan to prevent sticking and browns evenly. Place the bacon in the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
I love beets, but this is another food my husband won’t eat. For some reason, he doesn’t like spring vegetables: asparagus, beets, peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas. Roasted beet salad with sherry wine vinaigrette is quick and easy to make. Eat it by itself or toss into salads.
Spring vegetables are transition vegetables from the hearty winter gourds and root vegetables that bring a welcome lightness and color to the table after a long, cold, snowy winter. They reflect the rebirth of nature and, of course, they’re all delicious! Except to him.
Beets, are small and the greens are plentiful in spring. As the season continues, the beet bulb grows bigger and, fortunately, they are pretty frost resistant making them a year-round staple.
Candy Cane Beet
Roast and peel the beets, cut into any shape you like: slices, quarters or cubes. Watch our video on roasting beets and sautéing beet greens here.
Prepare the vinaigrette, coat the beets generously and marinate in the refrigerator at least four hours or overnight. The beets keep up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator and are best served at room temperature.
This recipe for beet salad includes peppery arugula, and chunks of warm goat cheese. Add some toasted nuts, such as pistachio or walnuts for a little texture.
A simple salad uses one vegetable, such as lettuce, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, or roasted beets and is dressed with a vinaigrette or creamy salad dressing. This simple salad with French vinaigrettes uses Romaine lettuce and the vinaigrette is made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, chopped shallots and a few minced fresh herbs.
A simple rule of thumb for a basic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid, such vinegar or citrus juice, salt and pepper.
Want a tangier dressing? Use 4 parts oil to 2 parts acid, salt and pepper.
Dress up the vinaigrette by adding minced garlic, shallots, fresh or dried herbs, spices, tomato paste and/or grated cheese, such as Asiago or Parmesan.
Food Safety Tip:
Make small batches when using fresh aromatics, such as garlic, shallots or herbs. The bacteria in dirt is anaerobic, meaning it survives in oxygen-free environments like vinaigrettes or salad dressings. Keep in the refrigerator only for up to five days.
Use the dressing sparingly – just enough to coat the vegetable and nothing pooling in the bottom of the bowl.
Watch the Simple Salad with French Vinaigrette Video Here:
True French vinaigrette isn’t creamy, orange or sweet. This is a classic recipe, made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, chopped shallots and a few minced fresh herbs. Use at least three herbs, such as parsley, thyme and tarragon.
3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon minced shallots 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
a few turns of the pepper mill 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon and thyme
Place the oil, vinegar, shallots, mustard, salt and pepper in a covered container, such as a Mason jar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Add the fresh herbs, shake and pour over 4 cups shredded lettuce.
Four Bean Salad is a standard summer dish from my childhood. It’s typically made with three beans, canned green and wax beans and kidney beans, I add chickpeas to make that fourth bean. I also like to make this when the fresh beans are available in the summer. So nice to have that fresh flavor and a little texture in the green and wax beens from a quick blanch.
To start, bring a large saucepot filled with cold water and a heaping tablespoon of Kosher salt to a boil. Trim and halve the beans.
Plunge the beans into the boiling water and cook for three minutes. Remove the beans with a long-handled mesh strainer and plunge them into an ice bath. The beans retain a bit of a crunch, which makes for a nice texture in the salad.
Drain and thoroughly rinse a can each of kidney beans and chickpeas. Drain the string beans. The beans are a bit moist and the excess water dilutes the vinaigrette; place some paper towels in the bottom of a two-quart serving bowl and dump in the string beans. Add some paper towel and cover with the kidney beans and chickpeas. It’s only water on the beans, the towels can be dried and repurposed.
Slice the onion lengthwise into thin strips. If it’s a strong onion, don’t worry, the vinaigrette mellows the onion nicely.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.
Remove the paper towels leaving the beans in the bowl, add the onion and toss with the vinaigrette.
Refrigerate for at least two hours, occasionally tossing to marinate all the beans. The salad can be made a day in advance, even though the dressing is slightly acidic it won’t turn the green beans that awful gray-green color.
This is a great side dish, but don’t hesitate to have a bowlful for lunch!
In June, we visited my brother, Tom, his daughter, Rebecca and her family (husband Dominic, daughters Emma – 4 1/2 and Marla – 2 1/2). The first day we spent at Rebecca’s in Malsch. We made up for the language differences with the little girls with a variety of activities, including making a clay picture. See the snails in the lower right-hand corner and stay tuned!
Art project with Emma and Marla.
Rebecca made a delicious angel food cake covered in vanilla pastry cream with handpicked strawberries. The strawberries were deep red, sweet, juicy and full of flavor. As usual, we had this in the afternoon before dinner. This seems to be a tradition, because we had ice cream on Saturday before dinner. Dominic made a mixed grill of wursts, pork belly and chicken and we had a variety of salads for dinner. It was a great day and a great reintroduction to the little ones after 22 months!
The next two days we spent at Tom’s. He has a spectacular yard, great for picnicking and he and I love to cook together. We especially like to cook some of the favorite things from our childhood. Macaroni salad was a staple of our family’s summer eating. We had it at home for dinner or lunch, or for picnics at the lake or at the various parks where we went hiking. Over the years, Mom became a bit of a “health trend” follower and the mayo went to light mayo or some other concoction. Regular macaroni became whole-wheat pasta. It just wasn’t the same. But Tom and I make it the traditional way. We also made potato salad and three-bean salad, also family favorites.
Potato salad, macaroni salad and three-bean salad.
He picked me up at 9:15 am on a Saturday and we shopped at the Real, a large grocery, variety store (they sell everything like a Costco or Sam’s Club with no fee). The meat, fish, cheese, cold cuts and produce were amazing. We got sausages, steaks and pork spareribs for the weekend, because stores aren’t open on Sundays we stocked up and bought all the fixings for our favorite three salads.
We made a quick stop at a local farmer’s market that sells vegetables, fruit and plantings for your garden. Look how beautiful these “party” tomatoes are. I love that they call cherry tomatoes party tomatoes!
A small Karlsruhe farmers market – party tomatoes!
A small Karlsruhe farmers market – very tender salad lettuce.
A small Karlsruhe farmers market – fragrant strawberries.
We spent the morning cooking and then he left to get my girls, who chose to sleep in, and a few last minute items. In the meantime, I grated these carrot-like radishes that he uses to make a raw tuna appetizer. I like to place the tuna on a cucumber slice, dab a little soy sauce over, add some horseradish sauce and top it off with the shaved radish. Delicious!
Radish – never saw one like this before; it’s quite spicy.
The weather cooperated nicely on Saturday and Sunday and we were able to sit in his yard, barbecue, and hang out all afternoon. The cherries and raspberries are in season and we picked and ate them throughout the day.
Fresh picked raspberries and cherries.
The little ones entertained us by searching the garden for schnecke (snails or more like slugs in this case). They became enamored with snails on their recent vacation to Mallorca. I much preferred their gifts of flowers and fruit to the schnecke!
The girls admiring their new “pets.”
Marla apparently felt that the schencke could use some beautifying and I couldn’t agree more!
We also managed to get in a couple of visits to the Der Vogel, the artisan brewery that’s attached to our hotel. They make an unfiltered Pils that I really like and the specialty beer was Hefeweizen. Tom picked up large take-out bottles for both days to quench our thirst and wash down all his delicious food. We also made it a point one day to have obadtza, a Bavarian cheese spread made of brie and butter, topped with onion rings and a sprinkle of paprika.
We like to spread it on those big fat salted pretzels. It’s outrageously delicious and something I’m glad I don’t have easy access to.
On Saturday night, on the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at Bistro Kiwi This is owned by Stefan, a friend of my brother.
Stefan at Bistro Kiwi
Stefan is a generous host and in addition to the beers we ordered, he comped us a couple of “Jackie’s neat” (Jack Daniels) and shared with us one of his homemade pepperoni wursts. It was delicious and he had Tom take the rest home for later. We definitely had more on Sunday. It was a very special and generous treat. Thank you Stefan!
Stefan’s homemade pepperoni wurst.
As always, the trip comes to an end too quickly. We had a great time in Karlsruhe and look forward to visiting next year for my niece’s 40th birthday and see my two little angels who change too much between visits.
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard, spicy is good too
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to packaging instructions
1/3 cup minced onion
1/3 cup minced celery
1/3 cup diced seeded cucumbers
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus more as needed later
Combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar. Close and shake.
Briefly rinse the macaroni under cold water. It should still be warm. Add to the onion, celery, cucumbers and carrots in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss. Let this absorb for 15 minutes. Add mayonnaise and chill for at least two hours. Add more mayonnaise before serving to moisten as needed.
Roasted vegetables are a delicious side dish. You can mix up a wide variety of vegetables for roasting and use different herbs and spices to flavor them. Roasting intensifies the sweetness of the vegetables and caramelizes the outside. This recipe celery root, red potatoes with the skin on, sweet carrots, shallots, garlic and Brussels sprouts. Each provides a unique texture, flavor and color. Dress them with the vinaigrette right out of the oven so the vegetables soak up the flavors of the lemon and herbs.
Root vegetables take a good hour to cook at a relatively high temperature. Add vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, later otherwise they’re overdone and mushy. The Brussels sprouts I purchased were quite large and took 15 minutes to cook. Adjust time for smaller ones.
Roast for 45 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and roast for another 15 minutes.
Remove the thyme stems and toss with the lemon-herb vinaigrette.
Combine the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, chives, thyme, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in a covered jar and shake well.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Clean, trim and cut the celery root into two-inch cubes. Cut the potatoes, skin on, into two-inch pieces. Cut the carrots on the bias into two-inch pieces. Halve the shallots and garlic. Toss together in a large roasting pan with the oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
Roast for 45 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and roast for another 15 minutes.
Remove the thyme stems and toss with the lemon-herb vinaigrette.