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Tuscan Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Tuscan Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

acinato kale with creamy avocado dressing and watermelon radishes on white plateIf you are up on your leafy green trends or just caught this scathing kale obituary in The Atlantic last month, you might be convinced that kale has had its day in the sun. If kale-bully Amanda Mull is to be believed, nobody really liked it anyway. As a pro-bono promoter of kale, I’d like to speak to my client’s intentions. Chock full of vitamins, with nutrient-rich fiber and low calorie to boot, kale has always had your back. I particularly love Tuscan kale. It’s much less bristle-y and mouth-scratchy than curly kale which can be downright aggressive from plate to mouth. I, a committed kale-lover, find myself begging kale to just get new handlers. Or more accurately, to stop crying out to be handled. Let’s face it – we’d rather get a massage than give a massage, and all those needy recipes calling out for massaging kale were just a bit too much! #AmIRight? Bad PR, in my mind, is the ONLY reason kale gets the cold shoulder. We are smart enough to eat ugly fruits and vegetables to minimize food waste. We should be able to dismiss this nay-sayer dissing my beloved leafy green. 

This time of year (actually most times of year, but it goes so well with fall dishes that it’s more noticeable now), Tuscan kale pops up on every menu. To my tongue, Tuscan or black kale is less woody than curly kale and less in need of a massage…though my pal Mike swears he enjoys beating the kale into submission with a meat mallet. (It’s not entirely clear to me that this is really just about the kale.) Simply trim the stems and remove the rib from the lower end of the leaf, then stack and roll into a tight bundle and cut thinly cross-wise. That’s called a chiffonade. Voilà! Now you speak French. You’re welcome. I recently came across a bag of pre-chopped Tuscan kale at Trader Joe’s, and it was not salad-worthy. The chop was too coarse and it made for quite an unrefined salad. Save the pre-chop for a soup or stirfry. 

Tuscan Kale

lacinato kale in the market

You may also know this dark, wrinkly leaf with a blue-green cast by names other than Tuscan: Lacinato, dino, dinosaur, Cavolo Nero…..even palm tree kale, because the growth pattern resembles the fronds atop a palm tree. It’s been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is a key ingredient in the Italian soups ribollita and minestrone.

Bunch of Lacinato Kale

Creamy Avocado Dressing

All the nooks and crannies cry out for a creamy dressing that will gently nap the leaves. I grew up with Seven Seas Green Goddess, but have never actually tracked down an authentic recipe for one made from scratch. I, as always, simply grab what is on hand. It won’t keep long with the acids taking their turn on all things that start out green, so just make it with what you have today and make it differently tomorrow. With so much flavor in the dressing, I keep salad toppings to a minimum – some sliced radishes for a color contrast and a handful of croutons for added crunch. Tasty!!

Creamy Avocado Dressing with avocado, lemon, and parsely

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lacinato kale with creamy avocado dressing and watermelon radishes

Tuscan Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing; salad serves 4. 1x

Description

Tuscan kale, very thinly sliced, is the perfect dark, leafy green with nooks and crannies to grab this tasty, creamy avocado dressing. Add a few colorful and crunchy garnishes and you have yourself a salad. 


Ingredients

Scale

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (non-fat, full-fat, etc. – your choice)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgen olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped chives
  • 1 clove of garlic (or more to taste)
  • Handful of arugula
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • bunch of Tuscan kale, very thinly sliced
  • radishes, thinly sliced – watermelon radishes if you can find them
  • croutons

Instructions

Make the Dressing:

Put the dressing ingredients, and/or anything else green and flavorful you have on hand, in the Vitamix or food processor and let ‘er rip. Scrape down the sides as needed, and taste and adjust seasoning.

It will keep in the fridge for a few days before losing its bright green.  Simply press plastic wrap directly on the surface and seal tightly.

Make the Salad:

Thinly slice the kale by trimming the stems and removing the ribs from the lower end of the leaves. Stack and roll into a tight bundle and cut thinly cross-wise.

Top with sliced radishes and toss with dressing. (You will have dressing left over.)

Garnish with croutons before serving.

Notes

Without the croutons, the kale, even when dressed, will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator. Enjoy your sturdy salad greens!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Tuscan Kale Salad, Creamy Avocado Dressing

Krazy for Kale?

Give these other kale delights a whirl:

Bunch of Watermelon Radishes

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Everything but the Farmer Farmers’ Market Corn Salad

Everything but the Farmer Farmers’ Market Corn Salad

There’s still time to lend an ear, grab an ear, shuck an ear, do what you must…to make this peak-of-the-season fresh corn salad that was on the menu at last week’s Summer Harvest Bounty feast. I have shared this recipe before and while it’s a no-recipe recipe, I’ve been ask to fill in some blanks. 

Farmers Market Fresh Corn Salad

Nothing is better than late summer tomatoes and corn. Local farmers here in west Michigan know that I am a bit of a fiend when it comes to sourcing products. I have been known to hit four different markets and source my meal from half a dozen farmers in any given week. So much for reducing the carbon footprint from eating local. Gotta have corn from Ham Family Farm. Arugula only from Grandson’s Garden. (Don’t miss the world’s best $2 pot scrubber from 9-year-old weaver Liam!) Bacon from Creswick Farms (THEY have zero carbon footprint). Organic salad mix with nasturtium blossoms from Summer Blend Gardens. And don’t get me started on Laughing Tree Bakery breads. For the love of all that’s sacred, Charlie and Hilde, make more Elbridge Parmesan Olive bread!! It gets a little competitive most Saturdays.
Fresh Picked CornWith all that commitment to sourcing ingredients, who has time to follow a recipe? Truthfully I am a bit ambivalent about recipes. I think there is nothing sweeter than a well-tested recipe that works every time. They are worth their weight in culinary gold. (I’m talking about salt, people!) However, this time of year and with perfect ingredients, they can get in the way. There are no right or wrong ingredients for this dish. And no right or wrong amounts. What’s in season? What’s picked at the peak of perfection? What sounds good today?? But for those that prefer it, I have updated this recipe to show how I make it. You do you; I’ll do me.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh Corn Salad – Yes, Please!

My go-to must-haves for this corn salad are always the basics – obvs corn and tomatoes. And I almost always include tomatillos. The grilled or roasted tomatillos provide the acid, and the bacon and avocados provide the fat, thereby eliminating the need for a dressing.  It’s a self dressing salad – pure genius!!!  The rest of the ingredients always vary and the proportions are flexible to taste. You can assemble all the ingredients except for greens and bacon well in advance.  Just toss the more fragile ingredients in at serving time and don’t overmix – I love the big chunky pieces of corn cut from the cob. It tells everyone you got your hands dirty.  That makes it taste so much better. What are you waiting for?

Farmstand Basil

As always, check the seasonings. If anything, I usually grab a generous sprinkle of smoked serrano salt. That’s salt and pepper in one-stop shopping – almost as brilliant as the self-dressing salad. Or Maldon salt – my flaky favorite. Fresh cracked pepper. Done.

IF by some miracle you have leftover corn salad, it makes a fabulous addition to a quesadilla.  But more than likely, you too will have a guest that grabbed the serving bowl and polished it off using a giant serving spoon. 🙂

Hey hey hey – I said everything BUT the farmer. 
But anyway here’s my corn guy from Ham Family Farm – always good for a recipe or produce update.

Corn and the Farmer

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Farmers Market Fresh Corn Salad with tomatillos, avocado, and microgreens

Everything but the Farmer Farmers’ Market Corn Salad


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8. 1x

Description

This farmers’ market fresh corn salad is a real crowd pleaser. Serve it when corn and tomatoes are at their peak, or sub out for other in-season ingredients.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 tomatillos, husked and thrown on a hot grill until charred; chopped when cool
  • 4 cobs of corn, shucked, rubbed with a little olive oil, then grilled until a bit of color; cut from the cob
  • 3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 2 Tablespoons peppadew peppers, or other brined spicy peppers, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, charred over a hot grill, then sweat and peeled; discard seeds and chop
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup halved cherry heirloom tomatoes or chopped larger tomatoes
  • 4 pieces crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 2 cups arugula, whole leaves if small, otherwise coarsely torn
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

Prepare all ingredients per details above.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding the bacon, arugula and basil when you are ready to serve. Gently stir to toss, keeping the corn chunks intact.

Check seasonings, adding salt and pepper, if needed.

Notes

Leftovers are fantastic in a quesadilla or omelette. 

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: corn salad

Everything but the Farmer

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Cobb Salad with a Spin: Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad with a Spin: Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

It’s no secret that Cobb Salad is a personal fave. But how to turn up the flavors, yet keep the bacon, egg, and cheese goodness? Enter Sriracha Grilled Shrimp and Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing. Say hello to your new best friend –  the Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad. Perfection!

Southwestern Shrimp Cobb

If you only need to know one thing about me, know this. I am mad for late summer farmers’ markets. I will probably go to five this week. Okay, I agree…..a little obsessive. But, I have a favorite farmer (plus The Cheese Lady) for every ingredient in this salad. I’m not saying you have to do the same – or that you can’t just go to the supermarket for all this – but I AM SAYING you have to make this NOW. Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad is all about the season at hand! Fresh sweet corn. Heirloom tomatoes. Sprouts. Flowers. Herbs. Oh my!

Sweet Corn

The Classic Cobb Salad

Instead of debating where this salad came from and why it is so called (almost certainly a 20s- or 30s-era salad from Hollywood’s Brown Derby, owned by Robert Cobb), what do you say we just dive in? The classic has greens – often iceberg or romaine, chicken, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg, Roquefort and bacon. In other words, what could be bad? You may find it already tossed, as well as deconstructed with tidy little rows of ingredients. While it barely needs a dressing, the rich cheese and bacon beg for a quiet whisper of shallot vinaigrette. 

Heirloom Varieties

The Shrimp Cobb Salad

I’m not gonna lie. I am a bit conflicted here. I have a passion for spins and tweaks and making the old new again. But the Classic Cobb is pretty much as good as it gets. I was having a party and wanted a make-ahead all-in-one salad-entree and I thought this would fit the bill….a real crowd-pleaser. But I decided as long as I keep all the favorite components, I could give it a global palate spin. Enter shrimp, corn, and chipotle.  Some of the ingredients were direct swaps – chicken for shrimp, roasted for marinated and grilled, Roquefort for Hatch Gouda, and shallot vinaigrette for Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing. Others were too good to mess with – bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and avocado. Then there were a few things I decided to slide in because I could. 

Plum Varieties

Look at these stunningly gorgeous plums. What a perfect sweet and juicy foil to all that buttermilk tang and chipotle smoke! Michigan produces a wide range of both Japanese and European varieties. Those yellow/green beauties are Shiros; the golden/orange-ish rounds are Bubblegum; the small red orbs are Methley; and the violet-blue ovals are Vibrants. I also added some corn which brought some more lovely sweetness, but bonus……….a nice crunch and texture contrast, as well. 

Deconstructed Shrimp Cobb Salad

I think deconstructed salads are among the few places where more is more. Most often in food, less is more. But if you are going to let people decide what to add to their plate, why not give them a variety to chose from? 

Marinating the Shrimp

Shrimp is an-oh-so simple thing to throw on the grill, and of course is good grilled and chilled, making this the perfect make-ahead entree. The marinade is dead easy – lime juice, olive oil, Sriracha, Tabasco and some spices. If you haven’t tried the Chipotle Tabasco, give it a whirl. It adds a nice smokiness to the marinade. I never like to marinate any seafood or fish for too long, because the acid will start to “cook” it. If you prep the marinade first, and add the shrimp while prepping the rest of the salad and getting the grill ready, you will time it just right. Then only a few minutes on the fire for each side, and you and your shrimp will be ready to chill.

Grilled Shrimp

Composing the Salad

The directions for the marinade and creamy dressing are sufficiently detailed, but I am leaving the quantities for the fixin’s – or even whether or not to add them at all – up to  you. How big is your platter? How many are you serving? How much do you love/hate sprouts? 

Just keep in mind colors and textures as you go to arrange your platter. It’s a bounty of beautiful ingredients so this should be the fun part once your chopping is done. If you need to prep things further ahead than when you want to compose it, just bag each ingredient separately and arrange closer to serving time. Your guests will be dazzled! Enjoy!!

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Southwestern Cobb: overhead view on a large white platter; deconstructed piles of avocado, corn, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg slices, limes, bacon, micro greens, grated jalapeno cheddar, grilled shrimp, salad greens and plums

Cobb Salad with a Spin: Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Description

This Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad is a kicked up spin on an old classic. A few simple ingredient swaps, along with a zesty marinade for the shrimp and a creamy Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing, and this one-platter-is-a-meal comes together quickly. What a great way to celebrate with the bounty of late summer!


Ingredients

Scale

Marinade (makes enough for two pounds of shrimp):

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing (makes 2 1/2 cups):

  • 1 cup Greek non-fat plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • chipotles in adobo – one big and one small, more or less to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves

Salad fixin’s (mains):

  • shrimp, raw, deveined, peeled and tail on
  • Little Gems, baby Romaine lettuce, trimmed and halved
  • heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes, halved
  • eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and halved
  • bacon, crispy and crumbled
  • avocado, peeled and chopped
  • Southwestern cheese, grated (I found Hatch Chili Gouda)
  • corn, shucked, boiled, and cut from the cob
  • plums (or other stone fruit), pitted and sliced

Salad fixin’s (garnishes):

  • cilantro leaves
  • limes, cut in wedges or halved, if small
  • edible flowers, like Nasturtium
  • fresh sprouts, like radish, watercress and sunflower
  • crunchy topper (see note)

Instructions

Prepare the marinade: Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate, up to one hour, while you prepare the other ingredients.

Prepare the Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing:  Place all ingredients except the cilantro in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop, then process until creamy. Add the cilantro and pulse several times to chop roughly. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate until  you are ready to serve. 

Grill the shrimp: Drain any excess marinade from the shrimp and grill over high heat for 2 – 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and reserve until cooled.

Assemble the salad: Once the shrimp is cool enough to not wilt your salad, compose the salad using all the main ingredients, with an eye toward color and textures.  Arrange the garnishes on top. If you are serving later, reserve the bacon and crispy topping until serving time. Cover and refrigerate. 

To serve: Add the bacon and crispy topping and serve with the Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing. 

Notes

Crunchy toppers: there are a lot of different crunchy toppers available in the crouton section these days. I used the fried jalapeno slices, but you will also find the basic fried onion rings, as well as red peppers, tortillas and more. Chef’s choice.

Marinade is enough for two pounds of shrimp and Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing makes 2 1/2 cups.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cobb Salad, Shrimp, Chipotle Dressing

An Update:

I want to take a moment to send a heartfelt note of gratitude for all those that supported me spiritually, morally and physically in my Ration Challenge journey earlier this summer. Your generous financial support of this campaign put us at the very top of the fundraising leaderboard among the 40,000 challengers from around the world. Together we raised enough to feed 35 refugees for an entire year. Globally, that number is 16,829! Way to go!! With deep gratitude. xoxo, kk

Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

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Thanksgiving Harvest Salad & Menu Must Haves

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad & Menu Must Haves

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad

Before you hit delete thinking “Who needs a Thanksgiving Harvest Salad when I can have fat, fat, and more fat on Thanksgiving?” I am here to tell you – YOU DO!! I talked my friend Cozy into this a couple years ago and I know it was a hit because she called me brilliant. I don’t often forget those who think I am brilliant. 🙂  As she quickly found out, this is all about the herbs. If I didn’t have to measure them for a printed recipe, I might just call for a crap-ton. You’ll want just that much. 

The Thanksgiving Harvest Salad is everything you want in a salad, lots of green goodness with just enough rewards to make it not quite a salad and a bit more of an indulgence: fall fruit, tangy cheese, and sweet and spicy nuts. Think of it as your cheese board dumped on some greens. Genius, right? 

Just as I was last making this salad, I found a new produce vendor on its maiden voyage to Michigan’s organic Sweetwater Market. I was squealingly happy! I thrived all summer on Summer Blend Gardens’ lettuce mix which included colorful nasturtium flowers and more. Highlight of the summer. But ba-bye, Marty. It’s fall now. Meet my new besties Caleb and Cindy-Beth at A Garden in the Woods. They bring the most gorgeous array of produce to this indoor winter market after spending their summer outdoors in Pentwater. How lucky am I? Even if you don’t live in the area, treat yourself by checking out their Instagram. Gorgeous. Stunningly beautiful!

Picking the Greens

For this salad, pick any assortment of greens you want, but I like a mix of colors and textures. Some salad blends at the grocery, like baby romaine, are heavy on young greens that don’t have much texture. So if that is your base, be sure to throw in some arugula or watercress. These add both pepper and bounce.

More Salad Greens

Even though I had no intention of adding radishes to the harvest salad, once Caleb told me these were not baby beets, but purple radishes, I had to. I just had to. Check out the cut radish in the salad photos – a gentle sponging of lavender fading across the cut surface. 

Purple Radishes

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad

I see this wave of comprehension starting to wash over you, yet I still feel your skepticism – salad with lots and lots of herbs for Thanksgiving? I wasn’t kidding about the crap-ton of herbs. For 8 ounces of greens, I would add up to a cup of chopped, mixed herbs. I know I am still in sales mode on this herby addition, so I am ratcheting the herbiage down to a mere 1/2 cup in the recipe below. But be bold. Go for it. Add additional herbs if you are so called. Cozy reported that she ended up with arugula and spring mix with lots of fresh herbs. “You were right! The herbs made the complexity of the greens jump.” So trust us on this. 

Lots of Herbs

Now that you have a base in place, my go-to accoutrements are fall fruit, bits of cheese and sweet & spicy nuts. I used apples here, but if you have ripe juicy pears, they would be wonderful, as well as figs or persimmons. And while I used Barber’s Vintage Cheddar 1833 (it’s white) in small cubes (more interesting texture than grated), a perfect pearing (get it??) might include a blue like Roquefort or Stilton. Persimmons and fresh goat cheese anyone? I made that once at the request of Florence Fabricant of the New York Times, using Indiana’s Wabash Canonball, so if it’s good enough for her…………

Like most things in food and in life, winning combos are based either on similarities or contrast. Remember my celery root slaw? It was both! I made all the ingredients look the same (similarity), so you didn’t know til you tasted that there were three very different textures and tastes (contrast). Celery root, white cheddar and apple – all white, all grated. Surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrprise! Similarity and contrast all rolled into one humble slaw.

For the vinaigrette, I chose a lemon olive oil and a maple Balsamic. Gobble! Gobble! I have also used a pear Balsamic when using fresh pears. When using flavored Balsamics, I tend toward a one to one ratio with the olive oil because they are so much sweeter than a traditional vinegar and don’t require a lighter hand. In this case, the maple Balsamic is quite dense, so I scaled it back. If you are choosing your own flavors, start testing with a two to one oil to vinegar ratio and add more vinegar, as you need. Because this dressing is special to this menu, I am only making a small batch, and I short-cut the prep by putting it all in a bottle and shaking before serving. A proper vinaigrette, as you know, has the oil added last in a drizzle so that it can incorporate and emulsify. We are streamlining today because we are busy!! Of course you can prep all your ingredients and the dressing a day or so ahead, except any fruit that would oxidize like the apple. Just keep the ingredients wrapped separately in paper towels and zip bags, and assemble toward serving time. 

Harvest Salad with Apples & Cheddar

Now that we have settled on this glorious, fresh and palate-cleansing salad, there are a few other things that you might need to get on that table. Perfect roast turkey and gimme-more gravy? Check. Goat cheese and thyme mashed potatoes. Done. Brussels sprouts and prosciutto. You bet. And some delish cranberry ginger kumquat chutney. Done,done, done. All that is left is a winning Tennessee whiskey pumpkin ginger cheesecake. I have got you covered. All these recipes, complete with tips and must have equipment – looking at you potato ricer – are linked below. 

I will be back in a few days with another dessert idea – a Bourbon-laced Apple Crisp – so check back in. Above all, remember we are giving thanks in an extra special way right now – so take a deep breath, be grateful that you have food to cook with and people to cook for, and leave that stress at the grocery check out lane. And if Dear Abby were around, she’d probably ask you to put a basket at the door for cell phones and ask your friends and family for the gift of presence. Enjoy this week with a heart full of gratitude. Be back soon. 

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Harvest Salad overhead shot On a white plate with candied pecans, mixed greens, apple chunks and cheddar chunks, with purple radish slices

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad & Menu Must Haves


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

Description

The Thanksgiving Harvest Salad is everything you want in a salad, lots of green goodness with just enough rewards to make it not quite a salad and a bit more of an indulgence: fall fruit, tangy cheese, and sweet and spicy nuts. Think of it as your cheese board dumped on some greens. Genius, right? 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 pound mixed greens, 8 cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs, including parsley, cilantro, dill and mint
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped, or other fall fruit such as pears, figs, persimmons, or dates
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 pound white cheddar, cut into small cubes (I use Barber’s cheddar)
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup lemon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-ounce package of sweet & spicy pecans

Instructions

Combine greens, herbs, scallions, apple, avocado, cheddar and radishes in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Make the vinaigrette, by combining the lemon olive oil, maple Balsamic, salt and pepper in a bottle and shaking to emulsify.

At serving time, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Top with the sweet & spicy pecans.

Notes

The herbs really define this as a special green mix, so don’t skimp here.

I always like to use a fruit for sweetness, the cheese for richness and a tang, and the nuts for crunch. All other ingredients rotate in and out depending on what I have around. The purple radishes were calling out to me and that avocado wasn’t getting any younger. Both were fresh new twists at Thanksgiving.

Trader Joe’s is a good source of several sweet & spicy nut mixes.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Thanksgiving Salad

Menu Must Haves

Thanksgiving Essentials: Roast Turkey Perfection and Gimme-More Gravy

Roast Turkey Perfection

Goat Cheese & Thyme Mashed Potatoes with a Thanksgiving Must-Have: The Potato Ricer!

Pot o Spuds

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Prosciutto

Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto

Spiced Cranberry Ginger Kumquat Chutney

Spiced Cranberry Chutney

Tennessee Whiskey Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

Gentleman Jack Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2018. All rights reserved.

 

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Pot Lucky: Salad Palooza Edition

Pot Lucky: Salad Palooza Edition

Charred Peach with Candied Bacon and Chevre

Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! The Salad Palooza is the mother of all Pot Luckys! What a feast! What a gathering! What fierce women bound together by emulsified vinaigrettes! Ok, there were other things to unite over and celebrate. And this GNO (Girls Night Out) took things to a whole next level. My pal and blog bestie Stacie pulled out all the stops gathering up the gals for a gorgeous summer night at her lakeside cottage. The only call to action was salads – home-made, of course – and to try and not bring duplicates. Sign Up Genius makes it easy to keep track of choices made and helps weed out repeats. Above is Amey’s yumster Charred Peaches & Onions, with watercress, candied bacon and chevre. So good!

Avocado & Tomato Salad + Mexican Street Corn

Avocado & Tomato Salad with Almonds and a Tarragon Balsamic; Gourmet Mexican Street Corn Salad.

Pot Luckys, for those readers that are new, are my answer to the dreaded pot luck. The emphasis is on the Lucky. Menus are curated around a theme and the goal is to avoid the Velveeta cube with frilly pick. Don’t think you are fooling anyone by topping that cube with a chunk of Slim Jim. That does NOT make it special. I’m on to you. I know, I know not everyone that you want (HAVE?) to invite cooks, so there are definitely jobs for them, too….How much wine CAN you carry? Do my dishes – yes, please. Set up? Break Down? Keep my drink cold? Yes, Yes, and Yes.

In addition to the main theme – salads this time – there is always room for an app or two, a signature drink and of course dessert. How much do you love these cheese wafers below? Someone does:) They remind me of Christmas parties, warm from the oven. I have a real soft spot for them.  

hors d'oeuvre

We’ve done about a dozen Pot Luckys so far with a good list of more to come. Some of my favorites include fajitas, soup exchange, sliders, and a nautical theme. For details on how to host your own, link here. Depending on the party (8 kinds of meatloaf and 6 flavors of soup), you can plan on leftovers for your freezer. But for other themes, like salad palooza, you can expect the flowers to get licked right off the dish, with nothing but amazing memories to take away.  

Salads for Days

Salads: beet + super foods salad + Greek pasta

Beet, Orange and Goat Cheese Salad; Wonder Woman Super Foods Salad (vegan); Greek Pasta Salad. 

That middle salad in the large wooden bowl is mine. In case you missed the curried avocado dressing, I’m sharing it again below. This dressing can do just about anything – it’s a real workhorse. But keep scrolling – there are alot more great salad ideas below the recipe!

Salad Savior

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Curried Avo Dressing

Pot Lucky: Salad Palooza – Curried Avo Dressing


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups 1x

Description

This is the kind of dressing you can slather on anything and everything. It is a game changer for a quiet romaine and it balances out the earthiness of a strong bitter green like kale. Slap it on a sammy, add it to a salad jar, or dunk your veggies in it. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water, or as needed

Instructions

In a small sauté pan, toast the cumin, coriander and turmeric for about one minute, until fragrant.

With the motor running, drop the garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Turn off and add the avocados, pulsing a few times to a chunky puree. Add the vinegar, toasted spices, salt and peppers and pulse several times until combined.

With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until smooth, adding water as needed to desired consistency.

Notes

Makes 2 1/2 cups. Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

This dressing is designed for a hearty green and grain salad, so is aggressively seasoned. If you want to use this creamy green goodness in a more delicate dish, cut back on the spices and garlic a bit.

If you don’t have white balsamic, use another mildly flavored and light colored vinegar, like rice vinegar.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Dressing
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: salad, salad dressing

Meanwhile back at the party, the fun continues….

Salads: Cobb

Word must have gotten out that Cobb is one of my favorites – avocado, bacon, blue cheese, cucumbers, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, spinach – what could be bad? 

You will be amazed how creative guests can be when challenged to pull out all the stops. At least I was – once again! I have been to many a party where there were three or four versions of crunchy pea salad or watermelon & feta, but nothing close to overlap occurred here. In lieu of Sign Up Genius, Stacie set up a private facebook page and made a few suggestions, and then guests weighed in on what they had in mind. It really sparked the imagination. Farmers’ Market finds reigned supreme.

Salads: 7 layer + potato+ pasta zucchini

Penne with Chicken, Zucchini, Tomatoes and Corn; Red Skin Potato Salad with Prosciutto; 7 layer Salad.

And bacon – you can never go wrong with bacon. Lest you think these were some girly spa salads, look again. While my salad was vegan, it was hearty and robust and chock-full of plant-based protein, while still feeling indulgent. The variety of colors, textures, flavors and aromas across the buffet was extraordinary. 

Salads: Beef + Broccoli + Spinach & Pistachio

Steak & Goat Cheese Salad: Broccoli & Bacon Salad; Spinach, Pistachios, & Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries, Blueberries & Cranberries.

Go ahead and admit it: you are just a little jealous that the egss in the salad below were just laid. AmIRite? 

Salads: apple slaw + egg + chicken & grapes

Apple Cole Slaw; Farm Fresh (no really – straight from the hen house) Egg Salad; Grapes & Pecans.

ladies who lunch

Thanks to Stacie for hosting and recruiting so many wonderful women who know how to spin a salad. 

Salads: grape + zoodles + shrimp

Chicken Salad with Grapes & Pecans; Greek Zoodle Salad; Mediterranean Shrimp Salad with Artichoke Hearts.

Did you see a salad here that you’d like to try? If so, leave a comment below and I’d be happy to bring more of these recipes to life. Did you know I used to create recipes for CNN and Burt Wolf interviewing chefs around the globe?  I’d watch the 60-second edited video and create a tasty recipe that matched all the action. Shhh – top secret. I’ve already said too much.

With pretty much all 19 bowls licked clean, blueberry pie sent us out and on our merry way. I’ll be dreaming about this feast for summers to come. Many thanks to all that made this night so special. 

So much salad

That glow is just a reflection from this sunset. I swear it!

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