Garbanzo Bean Salad

Hello there. It has been a while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry it has taken a while to get back around to here. There is no excuse really. I have been doing lots of cooking, experimenting, and baking in my kitchen. With all of that I have had no time to sit with my computer and tell you all about it. The other week I was so gung ho to write you about a cake I made….and within minutes I was asleep on the couch with the computer on my lap. I had gone to a Zumba class earlier that evening, I guess you can say it took all my energy. But I will write you about the cake next time. No cake today. Today I want to tell you about a garbanzo bean salad.

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I know you are probably questioning how I went from cake to salad??? Maybe that Zumba class is to blame? Something healthy verses sugar and sweetness!?! Healthy or not this salad is delicious and that is what counts in my book. A garbanzo bean salad is great to whip up on these warm spring days. Tossed together without much fuss, devoured in minutes, and satisfying to your taste buds. The beauty of a salad like this one is that it can be made ahead of time. It develops more flavor as it sits together, and it is one of those things that can be doubled easily and be brought to a BBQ or picnic and holds up to warmer temperatures.

I have been making a salad similar to this since I was in my teens. I use to have a subscription to a teen magazine when I was young. I cannot remember if it was YM or Seventeen; either way, and not surprisingly, my favorite part of the magazine were the recipes they sometimes featured in the back of it. There was a recipe for a garbanzo bean salad that I showed to my mom and we made it. My family loved it and it became a family staple in the warmer months. Over time, like most recipes, I have tweaked it a bit. What can I say? Time, like taste buds, change. Below is the way I enjoy it the best. The different textures, favors, and light dressing will compliment just about any meal. I hope you give it a try. In the meantime I will get back into a grove of writing…I promise, that cake recipe will be up next time.

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Garbanzo Bean Salad (feeds 4-6)

1 (15oz) can of Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 red bell pepper, chopped small (seeds and core removed)

1/2 cup red onion, chopped small

1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed small

1 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

First, place your garbanzos, bell pepper, red onion, and mozzarella in your serving dish. Sprinkle your olive oil and red wine vinegar over it all and toss it well. Sprinkle it all with a bit of sea salt and black pepper and toss again. Cover with some plastic wrap and chill at least and hour. You are looking for the flavors to mingle and marinate a bit together.

Next, remove your salad from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before eating. Sprinkle the lettuce over it all. Toss again and set aside until ready to eat.

Finally, before eating, season it again with sea salt and fresh black pepper if needed.

Summer Chopped Salad

I think that if there was one thing I could make and eat until the end of time, it would be salad. Yes, if given the chance I will have a salad at each and every meal. I love them so much I think it is quite possible I was a rabbit in a past life! All the ingredients chopped and ready.

Why do I love them so? I am not quite sure. Although let me clarify - I am not talking about a romaine lettuce salad at every meal. I tend to cook with the season, no matter what the season is, you can always match up what is fresh and ripe brilliantly in a salad! But the fun is in how you prepare and serve it together.

Salad plated and awaiting it's dressing.

The other day, with the heat of summer a salad was second nature. But I thought to myself…Chop! Chop it all! A chopped salad! Yes!!! A chopped salad is fun, festive, pretty to look at, and satisfyingly refreshing from your average tossed salad. So I gathered what I had picked up from the farmers market. I chopped them all and had each item organized for plating. To keep things cool and refreshing I whipped up a dill yogurt dressing to tie it together. On platting I lined up all the ingredients in neat rows, not plating two like colors next to each other; you'll impress whomever you are sharing it with. Even if it is just for you, impress yourself! Treat yourself because you deserve a great and tasty salad like this one. Not to mention it is too perfect on those muggy summer nights!

Yougurt Dill Dressing over the Summer Chopped Salad and ready to be enjoyed!

Summer Chopped Salad (serves 4)  

1/2 bunch arugula, dried and washed well

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 carrot, peeled and chopped small

1/2 - 1/4 cucumber, sliced

1/2 cup of quinoa, cooked

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

2/3 cup feta, crumbled

3 green onions, trimmed and chopped small

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

1/4 cup fresh dill, minced

sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

First, as you get all your ingredients together place them on separate plates and bowls as needed. set them up on your work space in order for your plating to go smoothly.

Next, in a bowl place your olive oil, yogurt,dill, and vinegar and whisk it all together. Season it with sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste and refrigerate until needed.

Finally, line up your plates and center your arugula in a row in the center of each. Follow with the garbanzos, and other veggies as you like. End each plate with the feta on one end and the green onions on the opposite.  Serve with your yogurt dressing to be spooned over. Mix as you enjoy it all!

 

Curry Chicken Salad

When it is hot out, and quite possibly just as hot indoors, do you really want to cook anything? I never minded cooking in the height of summer while I lived in New Jersey or even while I was living in Phoenix. In both of those places we had central air conditioning! Here in Seattle cooking in the summer is completely different, case in point - no air conditioning at all! To be honest, the summer hear in the pacific northwest is beautiful. It generally is mild and there is almost always a breeze. That is until the last week or two, we have been in the 90’s along along with a slight increase in humidity. By the time I walk home from work in the afternoons with the sun beating down on me, and I climb the four flights of stairs to my apartment, I am ready for a cool shower followed by sitting in front of the fan for a bit. Cooking is the last thing from my mind. Salads, quick meals, and grabbing takeout have been the answer to this heat.

Prepping the ingredients for the salad. (Apricots when dried naturally are brown in their approach but just as sweet as the orange ones.)

But Brian came home explaining that he had lunch club at work. The theme they came up with was Summer Salads and Sandwiches. Very fitting given the heat. He explained he was going to make the Curry Chicken Salad I would make for lunch when we owned our bakery. He said to me: “It is always so good. I really love the balance of spice to sweetness and creaminess with it’s crunch.” Unfortunately, Brian had nonstop meetings, worked the weekend, and had business dinners. This evolves into I am now making the Curry Chicken Salad. But I don't mind really, there is not much to chopping the ingredients. While Brian was at one of his business dinners I chopped the celery, shallot, and dried apricots. I mixed them into the curry, mayo, and yogurt to let is all marinate together. I left the baking of the chicken and toasting of the almonds for Brian. I knew he would be home once the sun went down and once the temperature would drop in our kitchen.

When Brian got home he did just that. He baked off the chicken cutlets and let them cool. He toasted the almonds and chopped them and put them aside. When the chicken was done baking and cooled he chopped it up into small pieces and tossed it with the reserved mixture I made and let it all marinate together. He said he tasted it in the morning to adjust the salt and packed it up for lunch club. He said the salad went over well as many of his coworkers took a little bit and either ate it on it’s own with greens or made a sandwich with it. It makes me happy to see others enjoy this salad, not to mention my kitchen did not swelter in heat to make something. Make it for yourself and keep cool this summer. I hope you have breezy days and cool nights!

Curry Chicken Salad with almonds over the top. Served and ready to dig in.

Curry Chicken Salad (makes enough for 6 people)

**Notes: curry powder can vary depending on brand, and region of origin. For this I use a traditional Indian curry. I personally love a south indian curry if available. But if you are weary of the curry then adding just 1 tsp at a time to build a flavor that you are comfortable with.

4 chicken cutlets

2 large ribs of celery, chopped small

1 large or 2 small shallot, chopped small

8 - 10 dried apricots, chopped fine

1/2 cup of almonds, tasted ad chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1/4 cup of mayo

1/4 cup greek yogurt

sea salt, to taste

Olive oil, for baking

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Coat the chicken with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over it, place it on a prepared baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Check on the chicken after 12-15 minutes. You re looking for the chicken to be cooked though and slightly golden in hue. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Next, in a bowl place your shallot, celery, and dried apricots. Mix it together with your mayo and yogurt. Sprinkle the curry over it all and toss it together and set in the refrigerator to chill and marinate.

Meanwhile, chop your chicken into bite sized pieces. Once all chopped add to your curry mixture and toss well. If serving right away taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If not serving right away cover it all and store in the refrigerator for at least a day, but taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Finally, when ready to serve you can stir the almonds into the mixture, or you can serve them along side. Also, if you feel the salad mixture is not creamy enough feel free to add more mayo and yogurt in equal amounts. Serve it with lettuce or with slices of bread to make sandwiches with.

Memorable Warm Cabbage Salad

There is a restaurant in Sedona, Az. called The Heartline Cafe that Brian and I really enjoyed over the years. While living in the dessert we would annually make a trip up to Sedona during the holiday season. We would enjoy a touch of the cooler temperature, take in christmas light displays, treat ourselves to a great meal, and head back home. Sedona was a bit of a drive from where we lived (at least an hour and a half); but it was always well worth it. While eating our dinner this past Christmas Eve I kept thinking about the last time we were there. It was five years prior and I almost didn’t go. You see right after Thanksgiving that year my father ended up in the hospital. By the time Christmas rolled around he was still there. His health was touch and go for a while, we were all scared, and could not get into the holiday spirit in the least. I can remember looking at Brian and telling him we should cancel our plans and stay home, I was not in the mood for anything holiday related. But he insisted we make the trip. I can remember him expressing to me that I needed to do something other than worry about my family.

Cabbage ready to be wilted and dressed.

To be honest, I really don’t even remember the drive. I slept most of the way there and it felt good. I had not had a full nights sleep since before this whole ordeal with my father started. Once we were in Sedona we walked through a Christmas light display and being out in the cool air felt so good. We then headed over to the restaurant and had a wonderful meal. I can remember I had a deliciously warm and comforting red cabbage salad. It was out of the ordinary from what I normally would eat, and that is quite possibly why I remember it so well. It had crunch, nuts, and some delicious creamy goat cheese, it was a very well rounded salad if you ask me.

Warm Cabbage dressed and waiting to be plated.

Fast forward to present day. My father is much better now thank you. As last Christmas passed, New Year’s went by, and I still had that warm cabbage salad on my mind - yes, five years later. Once Brian and I were back into our grove of normalcy last week, I stopped by the market to pick up a head of purple cabbage so I could recreate the salad in my memory. The result was just as good as I remembered. And might I add…What better on these winter evenings than a warm salad that still has crunch? Plus, it is so pretty on the plate with it’s deep hue that it will impress others you serve it to. Trust me, this salad is a memorable one.

Warm Cabbage Salad

Warm Cabbage Salad, with Hazelnuts, Goat Cheese, and Pears (serves 4 - 6)

***Note: when choosing a cabbage, be sure to pick one that is dense, crisp, and deep in huge. This salad will work fine with a green or red cabbage but I personally like the hue the purple cabbage lends to the dish.

1 medium head of purple cabbage; peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tbsp honey

sea salt to taste

fresh black pepper to taste

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off

2 oz fresh goat cheese

1 - 2 pears firm and crisp

First, place a large sauce pan over medium heat and warm through. Poor the vegetable oil in the pan and warm through. Add the cabbage to the pan and keep stirring and tossing until cabbage is slightly wilted but remains its crunchy texture.

Next, once cabbage is wilted slightly add the vinegar and honey and keep stirring and tossing until well coated. Season the cabbage with sea salt and black pepper to taste along with 1 tbsp of the thyme over it all. Stir it well.

Then, roughly chop the hazelnuts. add them to the cabbage mixture and toss it well. Slice your pears in half, removing the core, and slice them evenly. Break up or slice your goat cheese evenly, and set aside.

Finally, with cabbage still warm divid it among your plates. Arrange the pear slices along the side of the salads, place your goat cheese on top of your cabbage, and sprinkle each plate with the remainder of the thyme leaves. Serve while still warm.

Roasted Squash Salad with Chive Dressing

With all the craziness of non-stop family, friends, and entertaining for Brian’s birthday weekend it was time to sit back and enjoy life for a bit. Time to take it all in and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather we were experiencing. Roasted Squash Salad

The fun part of all the autumn and fall foods are the squashes that you start to see. Acorn, delicata, pumpkin, or butternut – there are so many I can go on and on.  Roasting any of them is great. I love the simplicity of coating them in a bit of olive oil, sprinkling them with sea salt and black pepper, then placing them in a hot oven to roast for a bit. Doing this lets their flavors intensify, and the natural earthy sweetness is more prevalent. In my personal opinion the only other thing that has a “fall” or and “autumn” flavor as much as the squash are nuts.

Now I love the bold flavors of roasting any of these squash, but we just came off of a week of eating and indulging in more than we possible should have. Something simple, something like a salad was more in order. So I decided on using what was freshest at the farmer’s markets this past week representing a last of the summer harvest and the newest of the autumn. A lovely head of red leafed lettuce, the first of the delicata squash, a great bunch of chives, and some freshly pulled mozzarella. When you put it all together with some crunchy croutons are all the makings of a great salad. It was fresh and bright. It was satisfying and refreshing to eat. Not to mention real easy to mix up. Put one salad together and see for yourself. It is perfect for these great autumn days.

Plated Roasted Squash Salad with Chive Dressing drizzled over the top.

Roasted Squash Salad (feeds 4)

1 medium Delicata Squash; trimmed, seeded, and sliced

1 small head of red leafed lettuce (like butter or romaine); trimmed, washed, and chopped

1 – 2 balls of Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thin

¾ cup of Pistachios

2 cups of Freshly Made Croutons

1 bunch of chives (about ¼ cup)

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1 tsp of Dijon mustard

1 tbsp of Honey

Olive Oil

Bread (day or two old is best), sliced into 1 – 2 inch cubes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Toss your squash with a bit of olive oil (enough to cover) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt and black pepper over it all and roast about 3 minutes, rotating it half way through. Roast it until tender when pierced with a knife and set aside to cool.

Next, in a bowl place your bread cubes. Drizzle it all with a bit of olive oil and toss a few times to coat them evenly. Sprinkle them with sea salt and black pepper and toss again. Spread you bread cubes on a sheet pan and place in the oven to “dry out” and toast. Timing will depend of type of bread and how dry it was to start. Bake them tossing them every so often until they are golden and toasty; set them aside to cool.

Meanwhile; on a platter arrange your salad by layering your lettuce, squash, mozzarella, and sprinkle it all with the pistachios and croutons. In a blender or food processor place your vinegar, Dijon, honey, and chives. Pulse it all together to begin to break it all down. While doing this drizzle in about ½ a cup or more of your olive oil until it is all emulsified and you end up with a slightly thick dressing. Sprinkle it with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Finally, divide up the salad on your plates. When serving the salad keep the dressing on the side so that guest can add as much as they like.

Rita's Tortellini Salad

My mother has several rock solid recipes that she is known for. One of them is Tortellini Salad. She has been making it for years.  It is often requested when she goes to family and friend gatherings. It is bold and bright in flavor. It has the crunch from the many veggies that are in it, not to mention a punch from the fresh garlic and crushed red pepper she always adds. I can remember once making a large batch of it with my mom for one of our family gathering that my husband attended when we were dating.  About a week later my husband had a pot luck at work and called me asking for the recipe. I laughed and gladly gave it to him, and not too long after he told me one of his co-workers called him asking for the famous salad recipe.  I guess you can say the recipe has made the rounds.

Veggies, olives, and garlic ready.

Just last week we had plans to go to a friend’s place for a roof top BBQ. I was contemplating what to make. I really do not like showing up with a dessert all the time because I feel like people expect it coming from a pastry chef. When you bake and make pastries all day long I sometimes feel like I need to branch out and make something different to break the chain of it all. I opened up my freezer when I noticed I had tortellini – ahh haa! I knew what I was making!

I had everything I needed for the recipe, it was a no brainer. I started chopping, roasting a pepper, and cooking the tortellini. I had it all made, and marinating in the refrigerator when I received a call from Brian. Unfortunately, our plans had been cancelled because not everyone could make it. But the salad was ready and Brian’s response was – More for us! So that evening we enjoyed some of my mom’s famous salad. It was delicious, and enjoyed the next day for lunch as well. Trust me with this recipe. It is full proof, crowd pleasing, and super tasty. I am sure you will not be disappointed, and you will make my mom proud if you make it.

My mom's (Rita) Tortellini Salad, dressed and ready.

Rita’s Tortellini Salad (feeds 4-6)

*This recipe is easily doubled and tripled when needed. Also, this is the way I like to make it. My mom makes it with the addition of some chopped black olives (canned olives) and a  few tablespoons of capers.

1 pound of Cheese Tortellini (I personally use the frozen ones)

1 large carrot

2 stalks of celery

1 bell pepper

1 roasted pepper (freshly roasted or jarred)

2 cups green Sicilian Olives

*all the above chopped small

1 clove garlic minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

First, place a four quart pot full with salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling gently add you tortellini and cook per packaged instructions. Once cooked drain and toss with about a 1 tbsp of you olive oil and set aside.

Next, in your serving bowl place all your veggies, olives, and garlic. To this add your mustard, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and vinegar.  Toss it all together and then add your tortellini to it.  And toss it again. Place it in the refrigerator, covered; to chill and marinate together.  (Best when sits anywhere from an hour to overnight.)

Finally, before serving remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. (I like to let it sit for at least twenty minutes.) Upon serving sprinkle it with your basil, sea salt, and black pepper. Toss it all together and it is ready to enjoy.