Category Archives: Salads

Copy Cat Primal Kale Salad

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My slightly different version of Smitten Kitchen’s featured recipe this week! If you aren’t familiar with the Smitten Kitchen, I highly suggest stumbling over and getting sucked into her vortex of endless fresh seasonal recipes and heavenly indulgent baked goods. I love this perfectly simplistic kale salad, especially to take to the Santa Monica beach concert to share with friends! And if you are dairy free or paleo simply leave out the pecorino cheese or swap it for a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and you’ve got yourself a delicious dairy-free salad.

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Primal Kale Salad (Slightly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen) (Difficulty-Easy, Serves 4-6)

  • 1/2 c walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/4 c organic dried cranberries
  •  1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 c almond meal
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Coarse or kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch purple kale, washed and patted dry
  • 2 oz pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully rubbly (1/2 cup total) (optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 7 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Prepare cranberries: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and cranberries for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.

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Prepare crumbs: Toast almond meal, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.

Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and tear leaves off of the ribs by hand. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise.

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Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino (if using), walnuts and cranberries (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the cranberries, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with almond meal crumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil.

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Asian Pear Quinoa Salad

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Here’s another Asian inspired salad that you can whip up in less than 20 minutes on a hot summer evening–I am really on a roll with Asian cooking and summer salads these days and I have to say I’m thoroughly enjoying it! I have my mind (and heart) set on a South Pacific Asian adventure as soon as I can save up enough vacation time to Bali and Thailand, so I think I’m subconsciously gearing up for it and my taste buds are very appreciative. But back to the salad–most people tend to think of pears as a winter fruit, but their season actually lasts most of the year from September to July, and the amazingly juicy organic pears I bought at Trader Joes for this salad were certainly in season. I love the contrast of their sweetness against the buttery toasted walnuts and salty bacon and soy sauce or liquid aminos. I also have been using a lot of red quinoa lately, but I definitely think white quinoa is the way to go with this dish–it has a more subtle less bitter flavor that pairs well with the dressing.

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Asian Pear Quinoa Salad (Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4-6)

Salad:

  • 1 c. uncooked organic quinoa
  • 2 organic Bartlett pears, diced
  • 2 organic green onions, sliced
  • 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 c. organic spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 1/3 c. extra virgin organic grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1/3 c. organic rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp.  Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce, though beware it is not gluten free)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp. raw honey
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  •  ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions–generally, boil 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt for 15 minutes. I like to let it rest in a covered pot away from any heat for an extra 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork for ideal texture. 1 cup dry quinoa should yield over 4 cups of cooked quinoa. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, pears, green onions, bacon, spinach, bell pepper and walnuts.

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Meanwhile prepare the dressing: Place the garlic clove on a cutting board and season with about 1/ 4 teaspoon of salt. Smash the salted clove with the flat surface of a chef’s knife and finely mince–this helps to soften some of the flavor since it is raw garlic. Combine remaining dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa mixture. Toss gently. You might not want to use all of the dressing depending on how wet you want your salad so add a little at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Almond Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad

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You can never have too many summer salad recipes. When the weather is nearing 110°F in good old Topanga Canyon, I will be searching high and low for new salad combinations. While this one does require that you use your stove, the salad is still deliciously refreshing with the juicy seasonal nectarines and full-flavored buttermilk dressing. It feels like something I should be eating on a one of those giant wrap-around decks on an old Southern estate with a tall glass of iced tea. Ahhh…summer!

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Almond Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad (Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk, plus 1/2 tsp. organic distilled white vinegar (non-dairy buttermilk)
  • 1 Tbsp. full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. white  balsamic vinegar (I only had regular balsamic on hand which tastes just as good, it will just make the dressing a different color)
  • 1/2 tsp. raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp. organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced organic parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken:

  • 1 large organic free range egg
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c. almond meal
  • 1 1/2 lb. organic free-range chicken tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

Salad:

  • 8 oz. organic mixed greens
  • 3 ripe organic nectarines halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the dressing: In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the coconut milk, white vinegar, greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Slowly whisk in the oil to blend. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Make the Chicken: Lightly beat the egg in a wide, shallow dish. Pulse the almonds and almond meal together in a food processor until the almonds are chopped; transfer the almond mixture to another wide, shallow dish. Season the chicken on all sides with 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Dip one piece of chicken at a time in the eggs. Shake off the excess and dredge in the almond mixture, pressing lightly to help it adhere. Set aside on a wire rack.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches, cook the chicken until light golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a foil lined baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven for an additional five minutes.  Between batches, remove any stray almonds from the pan and add more oil if necessary.

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Assemble the Salad: In a large bowl, toss the mixed greens and the nectarines with about half of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 4 dinner plates. Divide the chicken among the plates, overlapping the pieces on top of the salad. Drizzle additional dressing over the chicken and serve.

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Southwestern Watermelon Salad

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Nothing says Summer like a sweet juicy watermelon! Although this fruit is not really Primal since it is so loaded with sugar, I just had to make it as a side to my barbecue pulled pork and spicy cole slaw for a pool party I hosted. I typically make a Mediterranean style salad with lemon juice and feta, but my brother inspired me to put a more Mexican or Southwestern spin on it and voila! A great success!

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Southwestern Watermelon Salad (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 10-12)

  • 1 medium-large seedless watermelon, diced (about 6-8 cups)
  • 2 organic cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 ripe avocados, diced
  • 12 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1/2 c. organic cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 c. lime juice (from about 3 organic limes)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Slice the red onion and place in a small bowl of cold water and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Soaking the red onion mellows the flavor a bit so it doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. Combine the diced watermelon, cucumber, sliced red onion, and cilantro. Add the lime juice, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste, and mix well. Lastly, add the crumbled queso fresco and diced avocado. Serve with a slotted spoon to drain the juice.

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Grilled Shrimp, Peach and Arugula Salad

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On my Memorial Day weekend visit to Boston I found myself far off the Primal path. Surrounded by several days of rainy weather and wonderful friends, I indulged in all of my old favorites–Sunset‘s South of the Border Giant Fiesta nachos, great craft beers, brunch full of chicken and waffles, Lord Hobo’s mac n cheese, pizza…ugh! This dish was exactly what I needed to kickstart my detox and jump right back into my wonderfully healthy, sunny, Primal, fresh California lifestyle that I’ve come to cherish so much! As soon as I got home I set out for the hiking trail and followed it with this super clean meal. This dish is full of vibrant Summer flavors that will leave your taste buds and belly very happy. I was pleasantly surprised how sweet the peaches were so early in the season too, so if you’re in the southern California area, you’re in for a treat (as with any other day on this beautiful coast)!

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Grilled Shrimp, Peach and Arugula Salad (Adapted from The Kitchy Kitchen) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

  • 1 lb. wild caught jumbo shrimp (~12-16 large pieces) 
  • 2-3 organic yellow peaches, sliced thin
  • 1 small bulb organic fennel, sliced thin
  • 1/2 c. loose organic cilantro leaves
  • 1 7oz. bag organic arugula
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice (from about 2 organic limes)
  • 1/2 c. organic extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Hungarian or smoked paprika
  • sriracha (optional)

Prepare the shrimp with salt, pepper, and Hungarian or smoked paprika. Heat a grill pan over medium-high and spray with natural cooking spray or brush with a little olive oil. Cook the shrimp on the grill pan, about 3-4 minutes on each side depending on size.

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Assemble the arugula with peaches, fennel and cilantro. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the grilled shrimp on the assembled salad and drizzle with the lime dressing. Add a few squirts of sriracha for some extra spice if desired.

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