Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

Stop mashing, baking and frying your potatoes and experiment with a classic Spanish tapa, patatas alioli. Spaniards drool over these tender potatoes covered in a smooth and rich mayo-like sauce made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil. Eggs give it extra body and a richness which, when cut by a bit of acid, is delicious. Olive oil, garlic and potatoes just might be Spain’s culinary holy trinity. Make them once and you’ll be eating them religiously.


  •  6-7 small Potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (how much do you like garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Fill a large pot with cold water and bring it to a boil with the skin-on potatoes. Lower the heat enough to stop the boiling and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.

2. While they cook, prepare the sauce. In a bowl using a whisk, electric hand mixer or immersion blender, mix the eggs, garlic, salt and the vinegar or lemon. The acid serves to stabilize the emulsified sauce’s texture by preventing protein coagulation and, therefore, separation. It also cuts through the richness of the olive oil from a flavor standpoint.

3. Keep the mixer on and add a steady stream of olive oil, slowly at first, until you reach a consistency that is thinner than a store-bought mayonnaise, yet still has body.

4. Peel the potatoes with the back of a pairing knife and cut into bite-size pieces. Cool to room temperature. If you do not cool them, the potatoes will soak up too much sauce and become overly soft. If you cool them too much, they will not soak up any flavor. Mix with the alioli and garnish with the parsley.

Note: While Salmonella does not grow in acidic environments, the egg yolks in this recipe are raw, so use proper caution if it is of concern in your area.










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Photo by Jordan Emont

You don’t need a stove to make a delicious seafood dinner. By marinating diced tilapia and shrimp in an acidic mixture, the seafood flesh actually cooks. Well, it’s not cooking per se, but the denaturing of the proteins mimics the process. With fresh ingredients, the South American dish is perfectly safe. In fact, my Peruvian ceviche is both low in calories and high in vitamins and protein. The seafood has a tender, yet resilient texture, which, along with ripe diced avocado, tomatoes, and red onion, soaks up the flavor of the marinade, tangy with lime juice and slightly sweet from fresh coconut water. Served in a coconut bowl, the only other perfect accompaniment would be Peru’s national cocktail.

Sneak Peek: Check the blog next week for my take on the Pisco Sour.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1 coconut/ ¼ cup coconut water
  • 1 tilapia filet, diced
  • ¼ pound peeled rock shrimp meat, diced
  • ¾ cup lime juice
  • 1/8 habañero pepper, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons small-diced tomato
  • 3 tablespoons small-diced diced red onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • ½ avocado, diced

Important: Because the ceviche marinade will only kill surface bacteria, the tilapia and shrimp must be extremely fresh. It is best to prepare the ceviche on the day of purchase.


 1. To make the coconut bowl, use a screwdriver to make a whole in the base, drain the water and reserve.

2. Place the coconut on a towel in your palm. Use the blunt side of the knife to whack it forcefully where a natural line is visible—be sure to wear protective eye gear. Once a crack forms, continue to pound it until the crack spans its entirety. Pull it apart and fix jagged edges.

3. Generously salt the equally sized tilapia and shrimp cubes and mix with ¼ cup of the coconut water, the lime juice (with habañero and garlic added), the tomatoes and the red onion. Make sure everything is submerged in the marinade. Refrigerate for 40 minutes, mixing at least once.

4. Generously salt to taste and add chopped cilantro, and avocado. Add fresh ground black pepper. Scoop into the coconut bowl, draining the ceviche of excess marinade. Serve immediately as it will continue to “cook”.

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Parsley isn’t just a pretty garnish; it’s the basis for the Middle Eastern salad Tabbouleh. My Lebanese friend taught me this recipe, which is both simple and inexpensive. It’s also extremely nutritious and has been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for many centuries. I served the extremely addictive dish with lettuce leaves.


Half cup of bulgur
4 bunches Italian flat-leaf parsley, de-stemmed
1 bunch mint, de-stemmed
5 large tomatoes
4 lemons, juiced
Olive oil
Romaine lettuce leaves


Soak the bulgur until it is tender and thoroughly drain the excess water. Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley and mint leaves. It helps to grab a bunch of leaves with your fingers and cut them all at once. Slice the tomatoes into quarter-inch discs and make small cubes out of each slice.

Gently mix the parsley, mint, lemon juice and bulgur in a large bowl. Drizzle in olive oil and salt generously. Allow the flavors to marry in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour. Serve with romaine lettuce leaves or pita chips.

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I literally made this salad because there was no room in the refrigerator for the cucumbers, but it turned out lovely. The cucumbers stay crisp, cool and refreshing while the dressing is light and complex. 


  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 red onion
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh basil
  • ginger paste
  • wasabi paste
  • rice wine vinegar (Mirin)
  • honey
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil
  • salt

1. Peel the cucumbers and cut in half longways. With a spoon, remove all the seeds and pulp with a gentle scraping motion. Flip over  (cavity side down) and cut strips—about 1/4″—on a bias. For the onion, slice in half and remove the skin. Take one half, place cut-side down on the board, and cut off the very top and root end. Angling the cut will make it easier to dislodge the core which is the next step. Make thin semicircle slices and add to the cucumber.

2. De-stem cilantro and mint leaves and roll inside a basil leaf. Make a chiffonade cut (very thin ribbons) and add to the veggies. Hint: slicing with a backwards motion is the most effective way to cleanly cut herbs.

3. For the dressing, whisk ginger paste and a little wasabi paste with rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil (only a little is needed), olive oil and salt. The dressing is perfect when every ingredient’s flavor is pronounced. Keep in mind that the cucumbers will only get a thin coating of the dressing, so make it more pungent than fits your taste. If you like it sweet, add more honey. If you like heat, add more wasabi, etc.

4. Mix the dressing with the cucumbers and onions and marinate for a short time in the refrigerator (10-15 minutes). Before serving, break off fennel fronds and mix in for garnish.

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Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a staple grain in South American cuisine; the ancient Incas even called it “the mother grain”. Its high protein content and delicate flavor make it nutritious and versatile. My roommate and I cooked this together and we thought it was good enough to eat as a meal by itself.


  • 2 cups Quinoa
  • 1 package of dried cranberries, golden raisins, and blueberries. (Trader Joe’s)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 1 head of garlic
  • chopped basil
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Bring 2 cups of quinoa with 4 cups water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the grains soak up all of the water. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and mix in the dried fruit. Also add chopped, sautéed garlic. Mix in the lemon juice, orange zest, salt, pepper, chopped basil, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Also add the garbanzos. Immediately stop the cooking by transferring the quinoa to the fridge. Allow the quinoa to sit for a few hours. Add chopped avocados before serving.The time is necessary for the quinoa to absorb the flavors. Leftovers will be even sweeter.

For such a mild grain, this dish is super flavorful. The quinoa really absorbs the sweetness of the fruit and the orange zest adds a lot of fruity flavor. The avocado, lemon, basil, and garlic are great counterpoints to the sweetness. The chickpeas add an extra textural dimension too.

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This was the first meal that Jordan and I made at school this semester. All the ingredients are from Trader Joes.


  • lemons
  • grapeseed oil
  • feta cheese
  • fresh figs
  • balsamic vinegar
  • honey
  • rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • romaine
  • mache (lamb’s lettuce)
  • English (seedless) cucumbers
  • apples
  • almonds

1. Chop 1/2 the figs and, over medium heat, reduce with some water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Really try to macerate the fruit. Sweeten with a drizzle of honey. When it is starting to thicken, strain the figs while using a wooden spoon to push the liquid through.

2. Whisk in the grapeseed oil. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and a sprig of rosemary, chopped. Season with a little salt and pepper and taste. You can add more lemon, balsamic vinegar, or honey at this stage.

3. After an hour or two, strain out the rosemary and garlic. Roughly chop the Romaine and pull apart some of the mache leaves. Chop the cucumbers and apples and add them before serving. Chop almonds and toast, in a pan, until fragrant. Mix in the dressing and top with feta cheese.

Sorry, no picture. It was eaten way to fast—a combination of good food and starving students.

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I decided to make a strawberry dressing for a salad. If you want to make the salad, here are the ingredients:

Salad Ingredients: serve chopped or unrefined

  • chopped romaine
  • sliced strawberries
  • chopped walnuts, toasted (heat in pan until fragrant)
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • thin slices of red onion
  • sliced celery

Dressing Ingredients: Be sure to taste and adjust

  • strawberries (5/10)
  • honey (2/10)
  • olive oil (3/10)
  • lime juice (1/10)
  • splash of white vinegar optional
  • sprinkle of salt

This is a very—I won’t say pretty—colorful dressing. It’s nice to have something on the sweeter side instead of an overly pungent vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the alfalfa sprouts too. It’s good to have a salad dressing that’s not Thousand island or made of a thousand ingredients.

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I boiled beats for a beat salad that I will make with dinner tomorrow. I couldn’t throw away the ample amount of red-veined greens and found that they were definitely edible. Beet greens are very similar to spinach and are good substitutes. Like spinach, beet greens have oxalic acid, which can prevent the absorption of the calcium in the leaves. Cooking can slightly reduce the oxalic acid in the food. Thus, cooked spinach and beet greens are actually healthier than, for example, a spinach salad. For future reference, the addition of calcium is a great way to remove the slight bitterness of these greens because it reacts with the oxalic acid. Cooking with olive oil can also help reduce the bitterness.


  • 2 bunches of beet greens (about 8 small beets)
  • 1/2 can of Northern Beans, thoroughly washed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic sliced (depending on size)
  • 1/2 a large white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • enough beef broth to coat the pan (You can substitute water… just adjust seasoning)

Just thoroughly wash the beet leaves, as they contain a sufficient amount of grit. Rip off the stems, and wash again. Then, roughly chop the greens (they do not have to be perfectly dry). Sauté chopped white onions in olive oil until they just begin to brown. Add three to four cloves of garlic, cut into slivers. After seasoning the onions with salt and pepper, add the greens: about two big bunches; they will completely fill a large pan. Also, add 1/2 a can of Northern beans and the beef broth. Round off the dish with some more seasoning and a tablespoon of soy sauce.

This is a great healthy side dish with lots of vitamin A and calcium. The greens are a little less mushy than spinach and the soy sauce adds a great savory flavor. Beans are a good match as well. This preparation suits escarole, swiss chard, and kale too!

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“Chai-Oh-Tay”  is a plant that belongs to the gourd family. It is also known as a Mexican squash. It is pear-shaped, green, and has a texture similar to water chestnuts or potatoes. Some say its texture is like cucumber. I disagree. Nonetheless, it has a great texture and can be eaten raw or cooked. It lacks substantial flavor and is usually marinated in lemon or lime juice. I found it at the market and had to try it, so I could put a taste to the name. I wanted to try it cooked and raw.

Chayote Salad:

I just julienned the chayote (very thin strips) with similarly cut celery and carrots. I tossed the vegetables with minced red onion—the one I grew—, olive oil, lime juice, fresh chopped mint, and minced ginger. A little salt and fresh pepper and you have a simple, light, crunchy salad.

Sautéed Chayote:

I sautéed Chayote cubes in olive oil—you could use butter—with garlic, my homegrown white onions, fresh parsley, lime juice, and Old Bay seasoning. I will admit, when cooked, chayote has the texture of a cucumber. I’m partial to the raw chayote. I will buy it again to add great texture to salads.

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This was the first course of a five course meal that I prepared for my friends. The theme was class, sophistication, and elegance. This dish embodies them all. Served in a Martini glass, this salad is colorful, light, and refreshing.

  • Cut the avocados, mangos and tomatoes into similar sized cubes. A good ratio is 1:1:1. This will yield mostly mango, some avocado, and a little tomato. This creates the best balance. They should be, at most, half of an inch in length, width, and height.
  • Make sure that the fruits are as ripe as possible. Ripe mangos are usually a bit yellowish in color, tender to the touch, and fragrant. The avocado flesh should give a little when pressed, yet should not feel mushy. After this test, take the stem off the avocado; if the flesh is a green color, you’re in business.
  • Make a dressing by chopping a large handful of fresh cilantro very well. Add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of Extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of one lime (The zest is a great addition as well). Season with salt and pepper and, for sweetness, add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or agave syrup.
  • Slowly add the dressing to the salad, while mixing. It is important that the dressing only coats the fruits. Serve in an elegant cup and wow your guests. Heck, put some on a burger and eat it, alone, in your underpants.

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