A Simply Delicious Spring Salad from Across The Ocean

Edamame, Pea, and Avocados in Spicy Sesame DressingLast month while in London on spring break, my husband and I opted for a quick lunch one day at one of the many Prêt à Manger fast food restaurants located throughout the city. After a few bites of a simple but unusual salad, I pulled out my phone and starting taking photos. My spouse looked on, surprised that I was snapping shots in this popular eatery, not exactly a foodie destination.

The dish that caught my eye was a salad prepared with edamame, peas, and diced avocado tossed with cilantro sprigs and dressed in a spicy sesame dressing. The taste was light yet satisfying, and the varied verdant hues of the ingredients gave the dish visual heft.

Back home, I devoted a morning to trying to reproduce the recipe and came up with a close facsimile. The sesame dressing assembled with both rice vinegar and lemon juice for tart notes, gets some heat from red pepper flakes and a hit of saltiness from soy sauce.

Three cups of loosely packed cilantro sprigs replace lettuce greens in this dish, and can be cleaned several hours ahead and refrigerated.

Pair this spring green salad with grilled chicken or lamb, roasted salmon fillets, or pan-seared scallops for dinner or serve it with soup for a light lunch or supper.



A Great Salad for Winter Entertaining

Frisée Salad with Scallops, Haricots Verts, and BaconI’ve hosted two meals since arriving in Paris a few weeks ago. The first was a festive New Year’s Eve dinner that included several courses, while the second was a casual soup and salad supper for three millenials in Paris for studies or work. On both occasions, our meal began with a delicious winter salad prepared with frisée, scallops, haricots verts, and bacon lardons–so versatile it fit easily into each of these distinctly different menus.

Ron and our young guests in ParThe recipe is based on Salade Lyonnaise, a celebrated French dish in which bitter greens are combined with bacon lardons, tossed in warm vinaigrette, and then topped with a poached egg. For my version I added blanched haricots verts and sautéed sea scallops to frisée (curly endive), and replaced the egg with a little cream in the vinaigrette. Continue reading

Post Thanksgiving Lighter Cooking

fall-salad-of-roasted-cauliflower-grapes-and-red-onionThis year I didn’t get to make rich turkey stock or use the leftover bird in my After- Thanksgiving Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Bacon Chowder (from my new Soup Nights). If you follow me on Facebook, you know that our family’s wonderful shelter dog, Oxford, decided to treat himself to a midnight snack of surplus turkey that was unwisely set out on the kitchen counter!

So, instead of turkey sandwiches and soups, I’ve turned to other post-holiday fare this week. One dish in particular—a salad prepared with roasted cauliflower florets, red grapes, and red onions tossed in an unusual curry vinaigrette— turned out to be a real winner. Continue reading

Spring Salad with a Delicious Za’atar Dressing

Spring Greeens with Za'tar Dressing 1 4032x3024Za’atar refers to a plant whose leaves have been used in cooking since ancient times in the Middle East, but it is also the name for a very popular spice mix used throughout that part of the world. A fragrant blend of dried herbs, often including thyme and oregano, as well as sesame seeds and sumac (a spice with a tangy lemon taste made from ground berries), za’atar adds a robust flavor to many dishes. Rub it on grilled meats or chicken, or sprinkle it over yogurt or hummus. Or use it in a delicious dressing for a spring salad like the one that my friend Joy Howard created.

I first spotted this dressing on Joy’s Instagram feed, and immediately wanted to try it. Instead of using dried herbs she chops fresh thyme and oregano, then combines them with sumac, sesame seeds, and garlic. Mixed with lemon juice and olive oil, the za’atar quickly becomes a dressing. For this salad, soft, tender greens work best. You toss them Continue reading

Eating Lighter In Paris

Haricots Verts, Pear, and Shaved Fennel Salad 3 3918x2944Foie Gras, truffles, mushrooms, chestnuts, sausages–you’ll find these winter staples on restaurant menus throughout Paris at this time of year. And, since my husband and I have been eating out almost every night while here, we have indulged far too often in these rich specialties, We’ve savored foie gras and mushroom soup at Prémices in the 9th, tried pan-seared foie gras at Semilla in the 6th, sampled risotto with truffles at Les Fables de la Fontaine in the 6th, sipped cream of lentil and sausage soup at Anicia in the 6th, and enjoyed guinea hen with chestnuts at Le Casse-Noix in the 15th. After that gastronomic tour de force, we needed to lighten up, so for lunch  recently I prepared a slimming yet delicious main course salad.

At the market, I found tiny haricots verts, and then picked up a ripe pear, a Belgian endive, and salad greens. The beans were blanched, the pear thinly sliced, the endive chopped and then all combined with the greens. I dressed this mélange in a refreshing lemon and shallot Continue reading

A Sublime But Simple Salad from Paris

Mache Salad with Crispy Camembert Croutons 1 3490x2560 3490x2560In Paris last winter I met a friend for lunch on a chilly January day. The right bank bistro we chose was called Clown Bar, the name a clue that it was located near the city’s famous circus, Le Cirque d’Hiver. The landmark restaurant had been recently revitalized by a young team, and its menu reflected this with an offering of new, inventive dishes. One of the first things I spotted on it was a Salade de Mache et Croquettes de Camembert. The waiter explained that it was prepared with tender mache lettuce and garnished with warm crispy Camembert croutons.

Clown Bar Paris 1 3264x2448

The salad tuned out to be my favorite dish among many good ones that day. It was a brilliant pairing, both for its simplicity and for its contrasting textures and tastes. The tender mache lettuce tossed in a vinaigrette made a great counterpoint to the crunch of the fried Camembert. Continue reading

Goodbye Summer! Hello Fall!

Fall Salad with Apples in Cider Honey Vinaigrette 1  1816x1320In the space of a week our weather here in New England has gone from reaching a high in the 90s during the day to a low of 40s at night. Fall is definitely making an early arrival this year! The markets are also beginning to reflect a change of seasons, especially in the produce aisles where the bins are filled with apples. Macintosh, Mollie’s Delicious, Ginger Gold, Gravenstein, and Macouns (my personal favorite) are all on proud display.

I’ve been buying them in varying hues, slicing them thinly, and using them along with fresh sage leaves (from my herb garden) to garnish wedges of local blue and aged goat cheese. This week I branched out and used them in a robust fall salad.

A Fresh Market Salad for Hot Summer Days

Summer Market Salad 1 1824x1368 1824x1368 1824x1368 In Brittany a few weeks ago, my husband and I had just finished gazing at a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean from Cap Fréhel (one of the most visited and certainly one of the most gorgeous sites in that region of France) and wanted to have lunch. If we had blinked our eyes as we drove down a narrow country road, we would have missed La Ribote, a small (think 25 seats) restaurant. The menu announced that the cuisine was prepared with local ingredients, and even listed the names of their suppliers, including fisheries and farms. The single waitress waltzed through the room carrying platters of mussels and oysters, but it was the large bowls mounded high with an incredible salad that caught my eye. Continue reading

Eating Lean After Too Many Indulgences

Winter Greens Salad with Apples, Smoked Trout, and Walnuts 1It’s hard to turn down delicious temptations when you’re in Paris. This week alone, my husband and I have dined out with friends at five different restaurants. At Semilla, the stuffed pintade (guinea hen) served with white polenta and fresh truffles was irresistible, as was my creamy risotto with chorizo and fresh orange segments at Muxu, a Basque restaurant. Petite grenaille potatoes sautéed in duck fat at La Laiterie Sainte-Clotilde, and an incredible apple dessert garnished with lime ice cream and a streusel crust at Pirouette were good for our spirits, but hard on our waistlines.

After eating without counting calories, we felt the need for a light entrée such as the winter salad of mixed greens, sliced apples, and smoked trout that I made a few days ago. It takes only about 20 minutes to assemble, and bursts with flavor and color. I marinated sliced apples, Belgian endive, and radishes in a lemon/mustard dressing, then tossed them with mixed greens. For serving, the salad was mounded on dinner plates, garnished with smoked fish, and sprinkled with coarsely chopped walnuts. Continue reading

Two Recipes with Two Super “Good For You” Ingredients

Farmers' Market Kale Salad with Raisins and Pine Nuts 1If asked to describe this winter, I wouldn’t talk about the snowfalls, the ice, or even the below- normal temperatures we’ve had in New England. What comes to my mind first is the incredible number of friends, family, and fellow workers who have come down with flus, stomach bugs, and debilitating colds. One week alone in my kitchen, two assistants arrived with colds and spent more time coughing and taking drops than cooking. I finally told them to go home and rest!

So, this past week when my March Better Homes and Gardens arrived, an article on six super foods- rich in vitamin, proteins, antioxidants– immediately got my attention. The nutritious six included blueberries, kiwis, kale, sweet potatoes, edamame, and goij berries. All but the latter–the goji berries–were familiar to me. Turns out these berries come from a medicinal plant that’s easy to grow, and taste especially good when dried and used like raisins.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns 1It didn’t take me long to check my own files (my blog posts, cookbooks, magazine articles) in search of recipes featuring these ingredients. To counter the season’s ills I found two delectable dishes I hadn’t prepared for several years. One was for a kale salad tossed with a simple yet perfectly balanced dressing made with lemon juice, maple syrup and olive oil. (The recipe came to me via a farmer at my local farmers market.) The other was for Roasted Sweet Potato Hash Browns from my book, Sunday Brunch.

Here’s hoping this duo will become part of your repertoire and that they will help keep winter’s colds, flus, and stomach bugs at bay.

Farmers’ Market Kale Salad with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

Several years ago, one of my favorite farmers at the outdoor market in my small New England town, saw me puzzling over her display of kale. To encourage me to put a bunch in my basket, she shared her recipe for a simple kale salad. I loved this creation from my first bite. The kale’s mild, cabbage-like flavor and somewhat crisp texture is complemented by the dressing which has tart, sweet, and slightly hot accents provided respectively by lemon, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. Pine nuts provide more crunch and raisins an additional sweet note.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 ounces kale (See note.)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (See note.)

1.Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, syrup, mustard, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper in a nonreactive bowl. (The dressing yields 1/4 cup and can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

2. Remove and discard the tough stems and center veins from the kale leaves. Then cut the leaves crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips to yield 6 cups well packed kale.

3. Place the dressing in a salad bowl and whisk well. Add the kale and toss to coat greens thoroughly with dressing. Divide salad evenly and mound on 4 salad plates. Garnish each serving with raisins and pine nuts. Serves 4

Note: Kale is available in many colors and varieties. For this salad, use the dark green variety with creamy white stems or the dark green with purple-tinged leaves and stems. Keep refrigerated in the coldest area of your refrigerator for no more than 2 to 3 days before using. Kale contains Vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, and iron.

Note: To toast pine nuts, place in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until nuts are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes or less. Watch carefully as they burn easily. Remove and cool to room temperature.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom

Roasted Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Here’s a modern take on hash browns in which the potatoes are roasted first, which intensifies their sweetness, then browned in a hot frying pan, and finally combined with bacon, red onions, rosemary and garlic. The three primary ingredients—sweet potatoes, red onions, and bacon—are each easily distinguishable yet complementary to one another.
1 1/2 pounds (5 cups) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch/12-mm dice
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
Kosher salt
Coarsely ground pepper
5 thick bacon slices (5-1/2 oz), cut in 1-1/2 inch/4 cm pieces
2 cups thinly sliced red onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary plus a sprig or two for garnish
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, optional

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed, baking sheet/tray with foil and set aside.

2. Spread the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet/tray. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle the dried rosemary over them. Season with salt and pepper, and then toss to coat evenly.

3. Roast until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, stirring after ten minutes. Remove from the oven when done. (Potatoes can be prepared 2 hours ahead; leave loosely covered with foil at room temperature.)

4. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-low heat until crisp. Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the frying pan, but reserve the remaining drippings. Place the frying pan on medium to medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

5. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon drippings back to the hot frying pan. Add the sweet potatoes and quickly sauté until crisp and nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the onions and garlic and the bacon pieces to the frying pan and stir 1 minute more. Season the potatoes with fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. For a slightly richer taste toss the mixture with the Parmesan. Serve warm. Serves 4 to 6

Note: Sweet potatoes are good sources of Vitamin A, potassium, and fiber.

From Sunday Brunch (Chronicle Books 2012) by Betty Rosbottom