Category Archives: salads

Garlicky Flat Bread Panzanella Salad


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I love panzanella, the classic Italian bread salad. With ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and crusty bread it is hard not to love it and I’ve been known to eat a bowlful or two as dinner on a hot summer evening. But sometimes even the most classic of recipes needs to be kicked up a notch. And with that you have a garlicky flat bread panzanella that was inspired by the Yankee Kitchen Ninja.

Flat bread is easy enough to make from scratch but my local grocery store carries a fabulous garlic and olive oil drenched one that is just too good to resist. When warm, the bread is perfect for absorbing the juices of the salad. For added color I like to use multi-colored grape tomatoes but feel free to use whatever flavorful variety you prefer. And because the beans add an added burst of protein, with a glass of Chianti, this salad is substantial enough for a light dinner on a hot summer night. Enjoy.


2 small garlic flat breads, heated in the oven and cut into bite-sized pieces

Scant 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup pickling cucumbers, cut into coins

2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup orecchiette shaped fresh mozzarella or other small balls, drained

1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed

1/4 cup sliced green onion

  • Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the flat breads on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into bite sized pieces.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, beans, green onion and stir to combine.
  • Add the flat bread, toss well and serve immediately.

Serves 3-4

Barbecue Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

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Are you grilling this weekend? Perhaps you are grilling up some chicken slathered in your favorite barbecue sauce. That is what we are doing to celebrate America’s birthday and introduce some of our European friends to the wonders of an American cookout. We’ll be serving hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, and of course barbecue chicken topped with an old family recipe for a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Naturally there will be the traditional side dishes, salads and desserts as well. What would a barbecue be without lots of food?

But as I have a tendency to do no matter how many times I host an event, I over anticipate and cook too much food, resulting in a refrigerator of leftovers that need to be eaten. So what do I do with those leftovers? My favorite way to use up my barbecue chicken is to make a chicken salad. While you can use any leftover chicken you have on hand, or even buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken if you want to skip the cooking, my favorite chicken salad uses barbecue chicken. The sauce adds a nice tang to the salad and ensures that the entire dish is flavorful. Celery is added for crunch and the grapes add a surprise sweetness. You can eat the salad as is or pile it on a roll to make a sandwich. However, I love to roll up a scoop of the salad inside of a lettuce leaf. It is cool, crispy, and makes for a perfect summer lunch.


4 large lettuce leaves

4 cups cold, cubed barbecue chicken

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

2 stalks celery, diced

1 shallot, minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste (I like Miracle Whip)

Salt & pepper

  • Combine the chicken, grapes, celery and shallot in a large bowl.
  • Add the mayonnaise and stir well to combine. Depending upon how moist you like your salad, you may want to add additional mayonnaise.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Scoop approximately 1 1/4 cups of salad onto each of the four lettuce leaves. Roll the leaves to encase the salad and enjoy.

Serves 4


Grape & Watercress Grain Salad

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Grain salads are a great alternative to your traditional pasta or potato salad. I may be a bit late to the game but recently I’ve been experimenting with both bulgar and quinoa, two quick cooking grains that are nutty and bring an interesting twist to the table. Since I love them both I decided to combine them for this salad that is adapted from Cuisine At Home magazine. The grapes add a bit of sweetness to the salad while the watercress contributes a touch of bitterness. This salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It can be served either cold or at room temperature but I prefer eating it at room temperature, making it the perfect addition to a summer picnic table.


1 1/3 cups apple juice, divided

1 cup water

1/2 cup bulgar

1/2 cup quinoa

Pinch of salt

1 cup watercress

1 cup green grapes, halved

2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/8 teaspoon salt

  • Combine1 cup of the apple juice, water, bulgar, quinoa and salt in a medium saucepan.
  • Set over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender, about 14-16 minutes.
  • Move the grain mixture to a large bowl and add the watercress and grapes. Mix well to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup of apple juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, and salt.
  • Pour over the grain mixture and gently stir until well combined.
  • The salad can be served either cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4

Black Bean, Corn & Quinoa Salad

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Are you looking for a side dish for your next potluck picnic or cookout? Coleslaw, pasta salads, and potato salads have been done before and chances are someone else will already be bringing one. So why don’t you bring something different? This black bean, corn and quinoa salad is sure to please everyone in your crowd and can easily be made in half of the time of the above mentioned side salads.

If you’ve never tried quinoa before it is a small chewy grain with a slightly nutty flavor. It can be served plain or as a base for sauces or herbs. It is also the perfect base for cold salads. In this recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma the quinoa is combined with corn, black beans, tomatoes and red pepper to form a flavorful and satisfying side dish. A lime juice and cilantro dressing keeps the salad light making this salad a welcome addition to any  picnic table.


1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2/3 cup corn

1 small red pepper, seeded and diced

  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water. Stir in the salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the quinoa is tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the quinoa to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain thoroughly, then transfer to a large nonreactive bowl.
  • Add the black beans to the bowl with the quinoa. Fold in the cherry tomatoes, corn, and red pepper.
  • Pour in the dressing and stir to coat all the ingredients well.
  • Transfer the salad to a large serving bowl or individual plates and serve.

Serves 6.



Chicken Avocado BLT Salad


Here is a substantial salad idea from Cooking Light magazine that is a dinner entrée unto itself. It is essentially a deconstructed bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and the recipe is more of a suggested method rather than set in stone instructions. The addition of chicken and avocado make it more satisfying with or without a side of bread. (I served the salads with slices of hot garlic bread). Not only is this salad easy to make it is easy to customize dinner to meet everyone’s culinary preferences. The chicken can be served hot or cold; you could use leftover rotisserie chicken. You can also add additional toppings to make it your own; Kalamata olives or even cucumber chips would also be nice. The herbed buttermilk dressing is a nice touch but you can use other herbs depending on your likes and what you have on hand. It is really that easy.

If you want to be particularly decadent, when cooking the chicken omit the olive oil and use 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings to pan sear the chicken breasts before placing them in the oven. Cooking Light most definitely wouldn’t approve but this cook certainly does.


1 cup buttermilk, divided

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

3/4 cup panko crumbs

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 6 wedges

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into slices

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and the egg white in a shallow dish. Place the panko crumbs in a separate shallow dish.
  • Dip the chicken into the egg white mixture then dredge in panko.
  • Sprinkle the chicken breasts with half of the salt and half of the pepper.
  • Heat a ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
  • Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes per side.
  • Move the skillet to the oven and bake for 14 minutes or until done.
  • Let the chicken stand for 10 minute then slice crosswise.
  • Combine the remaining buttermilk, the remaining pepper, mayonnaise, dill and vinegar in a small bowl.
  • Place the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Chop the garlic until a paste forms, scraping with the flat side of a knife to mash it into a paste. Add to the dressing and stir well to combine.
  • Place the lettuce wedges on 6 plates. Evenly divide the chicken, avocado, and tomatoes over the top of each piece of lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the blue cheese and crumbled bacon.

Serves 6


Marinated Bocconcini

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Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are natural partners but when you throw in a few olives and some capers you have Mediterranean extravaganza in a bowl.  This salad, from The Cheese Course by Janet Fletcher is super easy and tasty too.  Fresh oregano is a departure from the typical basil that is usually paired with this cheese and vegetable combination.  The oregano give the dish an earthy touch but you could easily use an equal amount of basil if you wish.  I’ve served this dish as both a salad as well as an appetizer; allow guests to spear their cheese and tomatoes with toothpicks and everyone will be happy. Enjoy!


1/2 cup olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound bocconcini, well drained

1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup black oil cured olives

  • In a small saucepan heat the oil, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes over medium heat until the garlic sizzles and just begins to color, 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Place the bocconcini in a bowl and cover with the seasoned oil.  Add the capers and parsley, stirring to coat.
  • Cover and let stand for several hours, stirring occasionally.  Just before serving season to taste with salt.
  • Arrange the bocconcini on a serving platter alongside the tomatoes and olives.

Services 6 to 8

Mexican Salad

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This super easy side dish is the perfect accompaniment to everything from enchiladas to grilled meats.  The ingredient list is more of a suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule.  Add or subtract other vegetables, or even fruits, as you like.  And because the salad truly takes only minutes to make, it is the perfect side dish for any of my grilled Fast Friday meals.  Enjoy……and let me know what you pair it with.


1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

1- 15 ounce can corn

4 roasted red peppers, diced

1/4 cup minced green onions

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

Juice of 1 lime

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss well to combine.
  • Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes then adjust seasonings and serve.

Serves 4

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