Watermelon, Avocado, and Feta Salad

7-23 Watermelon, Avocado, Feta Salad 2

TGIF for real today.

For the past few months, I have only really had to worry about classes, and my summer courses have not been so bad.  And really, right now I am probably the least busy I will be within the next 4-5 years.  Help. But having 4 hours straight of classes is killing me.  And it’s only 3 days a week. So, Friday, you are most welcome, my friend.

Summer is not sitting in class.  Summer is lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and eating your weight in watermelon.  Summer is staying up too late doing nothing in particular.  Summer is eating at least one s’more.  Summer is taking the time to read lots of good books.  Summer is hitting up lots of happy hours to get as much free food as possible (I have gotten a few completely free dinners with this).  Summer is spending time outside, whether at the park, by the pool, or beach.

Well, since all sunscreen gives me a full body rash for 3 days after using (I am mess, yes), so some of my summer plans may need to be adapted a little bit.  I should probably invest in one of those big floppy hats I will have to stick to all the other summer activities.  I have been doing lots of reading, and  I have done my part to eat lots of good summer food.  This watermelon, avocado, and feta salad was like summer on a plate. Salty, sweet, and juicy- this salad is awesome.

Please do yourself a favor and put all work aside this weekend (at least for a little while) and have some great summer fun.  Then you can re-fuel with this salad to be ready to get back to the grind next week (Ugh).

7-21 Watermelon, Avocado, Feta Salad

WATERMELON, AVOCADO, AND FETA SALAD
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Poppy Seed Vinagraiite:
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

For the Salad:
6 cups lettuce
1-2 small avocados, sliced
3/4-1 cup chopped watermelon
1-2 cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:

Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds.  Set aside.

For the Salad:

In a large bowl combine lettuce, avocados, watermelon, and cucumber.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss with vinaigrette.  Sprinkle feta on top.

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish.

Fig and Walnut Salad with Breaded Goat Cheese

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It is officially hot.  Really hot.  Really, really hot. So hot that I get a very attractive brow sweat when I walk to class each day.  I apologize for talking about brow sweat on a website about food, but it’s the truth.

I eat a lot of fruit and veggies most days but especially during the warm summer months.  Something about the cool crispness of veggies and sweet juicy fruit is very satisfying during summer.  I am so ready to go buy my first watermelon of the season soon.

Salads get very little credit in the food-world. Sure, sandwiches are delicious, and desserts are basically sugary gifts from heaven. Salads are relegated to a side dish you have to eat out of politeness often.  But often during the summer I just want something cool and refreshing while I am  melting into a puddle on the sidewalk because of the heat or getting third degree burns from touching my black steering wheel. So that leaves salads or frozen yogurt.

Salads sometimes get a bad rep. They are often thought to be boring and blah, or the exciting salads filled with toppings are secret caloric black holes. But here ye: salads can be fun! And healthy! I promise.

This salad was inspired by a salad my mom had at a French bistro when we visited New York a few summers ago.  At the restaurant I was hot and hungry, and I breezed past the salad section of the menu, straight to the mussels, frites, and desserts sections. Salads had some tough competition with all the other delicious food at my fingertips. Luckily, my mom noticed a little gem of a salad with breaded warm goat cheese on the menu and fell in love. Everything gets a little better with goat cheese, right?

I incorporated the flavors from a favorite tapenade dip, and this delicious salad came to be. It makes a great light lunch, a good side dish, or a wonderful first course.

Consume while standing directly under your AC air vent.  Then follow it up with some frozen yogurt.

FIG AND WALNUT SALAD WITH BREADED GOAT CHEESE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Goat Cheese:
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1 egg white

For the Salad:
6 ounces dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped kalamta olives
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Walnuts, chopped
Lettuce/Greens
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Goat Cheese:

Cut the goat cheese into 12-16 pieces. Roll into balls and flatten into disks. In a bowl combine the bread crumbs, salt, and herbes de provence. Working with one piece at a time, dip goat cheese into egg white then breadcrumbs. Place on plate. Repeat with remaining goat cheese. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray pan with nonstick spray (this works better than using olive oil or melted butter). Cook several pieces of goat cheese at a time, 1-2 minutes per side. Keep warm in oven.

For the Salad:

In a sauce pan over medium-high heat combine figs and water. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 5-8 minutes. Stir in olives, vinegar, and olive oil. Keep warm.

Combine your greens and fig mixture in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Top with additional balsamic vinegar if desired. Place several goat cheese rounds on top. Top with walnuts.

Thai Pork and Cabbage Salad

 
Sriracha, known to me as rooster sauce, has scared me for years.  When placed on our family dinner table, it was always situated as far away from me as possible. I knew that rooster sauce was spicy, and I knew that I was not ready to handle it.
 
Well, imagine my own surprise when I was shopping in the grocery store many years later and felt the sudden urge to buy sriracha sauce.  The big bottle that was cheaper per ounce than the smaller bottle even.  I began by slowly adding a few drops to dishes like Pad Thai, but I was not fully utilizing that spice.  Then suddenly I got the urge to put some hot sauce in my scrambled eggs (is it normal for someone to be surprised by themselves so often?).  It was delicious.  I kept adding more, and I think I may now officially be a fan of spice.
 
This dish is perfect for anyone on the spice spectrum: a spice newbie, a spice hater, or a spice lover.  Adjust your rooster sauce to taste.  The crunchy cabbage, the browned pork, and the cool cucumber all come together in a quick meal that is sure to satisfy all.  I highly suggest surprising yourself and trying a lot of sriracha sauce.
 
THAI PORK AND CABBAGE SALAD
Adapted from The Sweets Life
 
INGREDIENTS
 
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
Salt and pepper
1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
Sriracha sauce, to taste
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
Honey roasted peanuts, for topping
Fresh torn mint, for topping
 
DIRECTIONS
 
Heat a large wok over medium-high heat.  Brown pork, seasoned with salt and pepper, until cooked through.  Drain and set aside.  Keep some of the grease in the pan still.
 
Put wok back over medium-high heat.  Cook cabbage, seasoned with salt, until slightly cooked but still crunchy, 4-5 minutes.  Return ground pork to pan.  Add fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and sriracha.  Cook until liquid has mostly evaporated, 3-5 minutes.  
 
Season cucumber slices with salt.  Mix cucumber into salad.  Transfer to a serving bowl or plates and top with peanuts and mint.
 
Serves 3-4 as a man course.

Warm Greek Eggplant Salad

It is a magical time of year with the holiday spirit all around us, when people are friendlier (and tip more).  I am full of winter and holiday cheer around this time- that is until I start trying to take pictures of dinner.  My new apartment was only so-so as to lighting even when I ate dinner while the sun was out, but now that it is dark when I get home, it is even worse.   Now, I love the dark normally- I am one of those people who love overcast days and sometimes gets annoyed by the sun- but this is unacceptable.

Basically, take all this rambling to mean this: the picture may not always look the most appetizing, but sometimes ugly food can be very tasty.  And this is.  Since it’s cold outside, I usually want something warm for dinner, so the typical cold lettuce salad just won’t work.  However, this warm eggplant salad with cabbage, onions, and olives fits the bill.  And on the plus side, you get to turn on your oven as some additional heating power.  I discovered this combination out of necessity having to clean out my fridge.  I wish all my household chores were this delicious.  For some reason, cleaning the bathroom and mopping the floor doesn’t give my mouth the same tasty reward.

And for all my fellow students out there working on papers and exams like me, use this recipe as a quick dinner break to fuel you up for more studying.

WARM GREEK EGGPLANT SALAD
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

1 eggplant, sliced in 1/2 incch thick
1/2 cup dry wheat berries
3/4 cup water
Salt
1/2 small cabbage, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly slice
4 ounces kalamata olives, sliced
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tablespoon dried dill weed
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Spread eggplant in a single layer on top of paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt.  Let stand at least 20 minutes.  Pat dry.  Toss eggplant with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil.  Spread in single layer on baking sheet.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine wheat berries, water, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 15 minutes, until no water remains.  Set aside

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Coat pan with olive oil and add cabbage.  Toss, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add red onions and olives.  Cook an additional 3-4 minutes (or until your onions reach your desired doneness).  Stir in wheat berries.

In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, dill, and Worcestershire sauce.  Spread yogurt sauce over warm eggplant.  Pour cabbage and wheat berry mixture on top.

Serves 2.

Corn, Green Bean, and Blueberry Salad

This is summer in a bowl.  All of the sweet produce of summer is cooked together and lightly dressed.  It’s fresh, light, and lovely.

I love salads like this where you throw vegetables and fruit together (not necessarily always with lettuce, don’t limit yourself!), but this summer salad is taken to the next level with the toasted hazelnuts.  Don’t forgo the hazelnuts.  I was planning on leaving them out, but by pure chance- or fate- I had some hazelnuts already sitting in the fridge left from my hazelnut macarons (yummm, those are coming soon).  The crunchiness and nuttiness really adds a whole new nuance to this salad.  And if you are feeling a little indulgent, some warm goat cheese stirred in would also be delicious.

Now get a move on- summer is almost over and you haven’t made this yet!

CORN, GREEN BEAN, AND BLUEBERRY SALAD
Adapted from The Chew
INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 ears of corn, shucked
2 cups green beans, cut into thirds
1 spring onion, chopped
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Crumbled goat cheese, optional

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, corn, and green beans.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, until corn begins to develop some color.  Add leeks and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Turn off heat and carefully stir in blueberries, honey, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.  Top with toasted hazelnuts and crumbled goat cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 3-5 as a side dish.

Southwestern Barley Salad

Can you believe it’s August already?  I know everyone always says that about every month (insert some profound statement about the passage of time and human existence here), but for I promise it’s really true this time! I really can’t believe August is here.  August is going to be a huge month of change for me.  A few posts ago I mentioned that I have worked my last day at a urology practice. Why?  Because in about two weeks I am making my first big move of my adult life and starting a new chapter in my life.This fall semester I will start a PhD counseling psychology program in Lubbock, Texas.  For the next five to seven years it will be my new home as I learn how to be a psychologist, as both a researcher and therapist.  I won’t lie: I’m a little nervous.  Pretty nervous.  Actually, really nervous.  A combination of nervous and excited (depending on when you ask me I lean one way or the other).  It’ll be my first time I actually really and truly live away from my parents and my only home, and I am starting my career.  All this sounds a lot more adult than I feel.

All this change has led to lots of reflection about my life and what I want it to be.  All these life musings have also led me to think about my identity as a cook/kitchen frequenter and my blog.  What kind of food blog am I, and what is my “POV” on food?  Even in the past two years and fumbling around the kitchen and past year(!) of posting on this blog, I have already changed and learned so much.  After some thought, here is my sum up of my food world: healthy, affordable, seasonal (most of the time), and fun.  I like making things completely from scratch and easy, no fuss dishes.  I love trying new foods and revisiting classics.

Starting this new PhD program will probably mean posting will become a little more intermittent, but cooking and blogging have become some a big part of my life that I can’t imagine not doing it.  I plan on making myself keep it all up, but I may not be able to experiment as much as I have been able to these past months.   After all, I am about to become a home cook and a grad student with little time, even less money, and will always be on the go.

Okay, enough rambling: on to this southwestern barley salad.  This is very indicative of my type of food.  With this dish I tried barley for the first time and fell in love.  Barley, a cheap but filling grain that adds a chewy and nutty flavor, is combined with fresh summer produce and tossed in a light vinaigrette.  As I eat mostly meatless now, this is a perfect dinner for me, but  it would also be fantasic as a side with something from your barbeque for you carnivores.  Also, I am not the world’s biggest fan of tomatoes or avocados (I know, for shame), but I love this.

 

SOUTHWESTERN BARLEY SALAD
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS
For the Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime zest
Pinch of salt
For the Salad:
2 1/2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup dried pearled barley
2 tablespoon butter, divided

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 ears of corn
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 small avocados, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, chopped
DIRECTIONS
For the Vinaigrette:
In a large serving bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, and lime zest.  Whisk together.  Season with salt to taste if needed and set aside.
For the Salad:
In a large saucepan combine water, bouillion, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and add pearled barley.  Cook according to package instructions (30-45 minutes typically).  Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon butter.  Add onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook until onion is tender, 7-9 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add corn and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add cherry tomatoes, smoked paprika and cumin.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly broken down.  Season with salt and pepper.
Whisk vinaigrette.  Transfer salad into bowl with vinaigrette.  Add avocado and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with cilantro, if desired.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish.

 

Strawberry and Chicken Poppy Seed Salad

It is official: I am no longer a working girl.  Well, at least for the next few weeks anyway. This past Friday was my last day working as a front desk worker at urology practice.  I got to work with some fun people who I’m going to miss, and I’ve learned also learned a little bit about urology, medical insurance, and the working world.
One thing I learned about being a working girl is that some days you just come home plum tired and burnt out.  And on those nights you are just not into making dinner for yourself.   Those nights are the nights when you constantly ask yourself “How many more days until the weekend?”.  Those are the nights when you should make this salad.  While some chopping is involved, this salad is simple, fresh, and filling. The faster you eat dinner, the fast you get to go to bed and get some sleep, right?
Before we get to the recipe, I have an announcement: Cinnamon Freud is now on FacebookPintrest, and Instagram!  For those of you who are so inclined to learn more about my food centric life musings, hit me up there!
STRAWBERRY AND CHICKEN POPPY SEED SALAD
Inspired by Panera Bread
Vinaigrette adapted from How Sweet It Is
INGREDIENTS

For the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
4 strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Pinch of salt

For the Salad:
4 cups spinach
8 ounces cooked chicken, sliced
1 cup chopped pineapple
8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup toasted pecans

DIRECTIONS

For the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
In a large measuring glass, combine strawberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey.  Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process until is reaches the desired consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and poppy seeds.  Chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes until ready to use.
For the Salad:
In a large bowl combine spinach, chicken, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, and pecans.  Pour strawberry poppy seed vinaigrette over top.  Toss.
Serves 2 as a main dish.

Artichoke Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

With a DVR full of Barefoot Contessa episodes, I always have both entertainment and culinary inspiration at hand in a moment’s notice.  When I was trying to menu plan for Half Thanksgiving I had hit a side dish block.  I needed something that would compliment the turkey and other dishes without stealing the limelight too much.  Luckily for me I watched the episode of Barefoot Contessa when Ina made this artichoke salad.  This dish is light and flavorful without being too bold.  It would be perfect served with chicken or pork for any weeknight dinner and is very easy to throw together.
ARTICHOKE SALAD WITH LEMON BASIL VINAIGRETTE
INGREDIENTS

For the Vinaigrette:
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil

For the Artichoke Salad:
36 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
6 tablespoons capers
4 tablespoons champagne vinegar

DIRECTIONS

For the Vinaigrette:

In a food processor, combine shallot, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Process for 10 seconds.  Add basil and process until green paste forms, about 30 seconds.  While the processor runs, slowly add olive oil.  Set aside.

For the Artichoke Salad:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a large baking sheet lightly coat artichoke hearts with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread out in single layer.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine artichokes, red onion, roasted red pepper, capers, and vinegar.  Toss and let stan for 30 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 5-7 as a side dish.