Everyday Arugula Salad

I recently made this salad for a small wedding reception we held at our home. I was looking for something light yet super tasty at the same time and satisfied the need for something green with all the smoked meats we had. And since the party, I’ve been wanting to eat this every day! It goes with basically every meal, IMHO.

I also neglected to get any pictures of the party or food set-up! Who am I? Maybe it’s just me trying to live in the moment more? Or for a more positive spin, I was just too involved in the people who were there to think about taking pictures – although they would have been nice to have after the fact.

At least I remade one of the salads to capture these shots! And did remake the Raspberry and Whipped Hazelnut Tart for a couple of the desserts. 🙂

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This type of lightly dressed tangy greens reminds me of the salads we ate in France with just about every meal. It’s a great way to eat your greens and get all of the nutrients they provide without needing to be dosed in Ranch or smothered in so many additional toppings the healthiness becomes obsolete.

Everyday Arugula Salad

Serves 1 or a whole table

Ingredients – in no particular quantities

  • Arugula
  • Marcona almonds
  • Golden raisins
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

Vinaigrette

  • 3 T Olive oil
  • 1 T Lemon juice
  • 1/2 -1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place desired amount of arugula in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with almonds, raisins, and cheese. (If making a bowl for one, measure about 1 T of each topping – maybe double the nuts.)
  3. Measure vinaigrette ingredients into a mason jar, seal lid, and shake to combine.
  4. Lightly drizzle desired amount of dressing onto salad and toss to combine. Leaves should be very, very lightly dressed.

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Sometimes simple is just better.

 


Greek Farro Salad

While Greece has made its way into the news within the last 8 years for aspects they’d prefer to move past, it will always be a place that for me is filled with friendly, welcoming people, thousands of years of history, small towns tucked into mountains, and my first real taste of adventure. And I will always remember it and be thankful to this place for turning my fear of food completely around. I realized here what good, fresh food actually tastes like and to not fear gaining a few pounds because life is more important than the size of the waist band on your jeans. In the three months I spent there in 2008, I learned a lot about food – but most importantly that it doesn’t need to be extravagant to be good.

Enter the Greek salad.

Although I like to experiment with making new foods, I find that I sort of stay in a recurring pattern for the lunches I take to work. If I can, I try to make it revolve around a salad or vegetable of some kind. Ideally a salad with a whole lot of protein and healthy fats.

La Pepita Salad usually enters the rotation every other month or so, then occasionally a roasted vegetable and tortellini salad, and then I tended to have a Greek themed salad about every 2-3 months. For the longest time I kept it like a pasta salad with orzo, but after finding whole wheat orzo became too challenging, I began to branch into other similar shaped grains. I landed on farro being the best option. It’s full of fiber and more protein than orzo, and has a great chewy texture while the orzo used to get really mushy soaking up all of the dressing.

Greek Farro Salad

Makes 4 large portions or 6 smaller

Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro, cooked
  • 1 can/15oz garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 3 small or 2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 4oz feta, crumbled
  • 10oz can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1/2 red onion (optional)

Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 c red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the farro – in a large pot, bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil (it doesn’t matter the amount as long as it is at least 2 times as much farro). Add in one cup of farro and cook until farro is tender yet chewy. Most grains will not split open.
  2. While the farro is cooking,  wash and chop the vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain excess water and rinse farro under cold water. Dump into the mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients.
  4. Toss to combine.
  5. In a mason jar or other sealable container, shake up the vinaigrette ingredients until well combined.
  6. Pour about half of the dressing over the salad and mix together. Add in as much of the rest of the dressing as you would like to suit your tastes.
  7. The salad holds well for a few days and potentially longer if you dress is on the day you will be eating it.

And although I like black olives, if you want a bit more authenticity, go for some kalamata. For ease of eating lunch, I go with what is already pitted.

The flavors definitely bring me back to those vegetable salads I ate while studying there almost 10 years ago. (Has it already been that long!?) Contrary to what you will see on Greek restaurant menus here in the US, the typical salads did not have lettuce – unless you ordered a green salad which was different than the regular salad of quartered tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, and a block of feta on top.

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The authentic Greek Salad – and dinning alfresco is imperative.

Most often if you want the traditional style someplace other than Greece, they may call it a village salad or something to that effect. But whatever you decide to do, get as close to the farm fresh vegetables as you can get – they will make all of the difference.

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Greece, I love you and some day I’ll be back. And until that time, I’ll try to recreate some of my favorites to the best of my ability.

What are some favorite foods from your travels and have you tried to re-create them?


Orange and Beet Barley Salad

As part of my work I get to teach cooking class and present different cooking demos to clients – yes I love this part of my job. For an upcoming class I was tasked with using different vinaigrettes and salad dressings. I wanted to show a variety of types of “acids” you can use with a dressing – the most common being vinegar, but adding in a citrus also adds to some complexity and flavor. Rather than dressing only green salads, I also wanted some other type of salad and grain salads with farro and freekeh are pretty popular right now. To change things up I went with barley – yep I know it’s typically thought of in soup, but these are pillows of heaven and should be used more often (I will probably be making a risotto with them in the near future). Since I love beets and oranges together, this salad was born. 

Feel free to get creative with your favorite grain or green for the salad bed. Cooking is all about experimentation! And this is now packed for all of my lunches this week. I’m feeling sort of a winter spring clash with this dish – comforts of winter with the beets and oranges meet the lightness of spring with the arugula. 
 
Orange and Beet Barley Salad

Serves about 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry Italian Barley, farro, or other grain
  • 3 medium oranges
  • 2 large or 3 small beets
  • 2 oz crumbled goat cheese (optional)
  • 6 cups arugula
  • Sliced Almonds (optional)

Dressing

  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c champagne vinegar (or other light tasting vinegar)
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T brown sugar

Directions 

  1. Cook dry barley with 3 cups of water until tender, drain any excess water. Stove top or a rice cooker will do the job. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off the beets, wrap in foil, and bake in 350F oven for 1 hour. Cool slightly or until cool enough to handle. Using a butter knife, remove loose skin from outside of beets.
  3. For oranges, cut off the top and bottom, then using a sharp knife cut along the sides to remove peel and outer pith. Next cut oranges in half and cut into small chunks.
  4. Mix all dressing ingredients together and shake vigorously in a mason jar or other tightly sealed container. Toss barley and oranges with half dressing to start. 
  5. Dice beets and toss into barley along with oranges just enough to mix – otherwise your salad will be pink. 🙂 
  6. Serve over arugula and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. 

*For extra crunch add toasted sliced almonds. 

Enjoy!