The idea for trail mix on cobb salad came to me a few years ago while I was vacationing with my family on Turks and Caicos. Every January, in order to decompress from the holiday madness, we rent a condo on this beautiful island, fully equipped with a fantastic kitchen. Turks is a blissful place to visit and about the only negative thing I can say about this tropical paradise is that food there is dreadfully expensive. As a result we eat breakfast and lunch at our condo and only go out for dinner. This is the lunch salad that has become my family’s favorite while we are there. I make a variation of this salad at home quite often and usually include dried cranberries and candied pecans. However, without my normal pantry items available in a vacation rental, I once improvised and used the trail mix we bought for snacking as a topping. We liked it so much that this is what I now use at home on our salads. Aside from the trail mix the other thing that makes this salad unique is that I substitute two of the ingredients typically found in cobb salad – bacon and blue cheese – with goat cheese and crispy prosciutto. I like the milder flavor of goat cheese and think it pairs nicely with the fruit and nuts in the trail mix. And the crispy prosciutto in lieu of the bacon works well because it has the same general texture and flavor profile as bacon (crispy, salty, pork). For this reason, I often use crispy prosciutto in recipes that call for bacon because it is so much easier and less messy to prepare. You roast it in the oven on a parchment lined sheet pan. It’s done in under 20 minutes and there is very little grease so clean up is a breeze (see below for directions). (more…)
When I developed this recipe I wanted it to be as colorful as possible so I called upon the mnemonic device we used in grade school to remember the colors in a rainbow – Roy G. Biv – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. If you look closely at this salad you’ll see that the array of whole foods used in this recipe represents all the colors in that mystical spectrum of light. I’m counting the flecks of cabbage in the broccoli slaw for indigo and violet – maybe that’s cheating a bit but the important thing to remember about this salad is that it is beautiful, healthy, AND delicious. Save this recipe to make for your first picnic or backyard barbeque of the season.
Microwave the frozen corn and peas on high for about 2 minutes, stirring, and checking their temperature after each 30 second interval. You want to defrost them but not heat them through. Once they are at room temperature, blot away any excess water with a clean paper towel. If don’t own a microwave, or don’t want to use one, simply leave the peas and corn out on your counter, at room temperature, until they are completely defrosted.
I usually use grape tomatoes for this salad but you could substitute cherry tomatoes, just make sure you cut them into bite size pieces. My grape tomatoes were kind of big the day I made this salad so I cut them into quarters. Once they are cut up add them to the bowl of peas and corn and set aside while you make the vinegariette. (more…)
I was in Vermont recently, the maple syrup capital of the U.S., where I purchased a jar of maple walnut peanut butter, which quickly disappeared. Before I tossed out the empty jar I checked the ingredient list and saw that it contained just a few ingredients – peanuts, maple syrup, walnuts, and salt. Easy enough to make I thought, but since I’m more a fan of almond butter than peanut butter I decided to make Maple Walnut Almond Butter instead. The results were fantastic.
Put the walnuts and almonds on a sheet pan and roast them at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly toasted. Check the oven after 5 minutes to make sure they are not browning too quickly. I keep the walnuts and almonds separate on the sheet pan so that if one is toasting more quickly than the other I can remove them easily and return the pan to the oven until the other nuts are done.
Once you try this recipe it’s highly unlikely you will ever buy ketchup at the grocery store again. It’s so simple to prepare and you won’t believe the difference it makes in the way your food tastes. There is none of that harsh tang and excessive sweetness you get with store bought ketchup. It is simply the essence of tomato with a few savory additions that heighten the natural tomato flavor. It’s great on burgers and fries but also makes a delicious cocktail sauce for shrimp (just add horseradish if desired) and is a great base for barbeque sauce too. Pretty much anything you’d put store bought ketchup on will taste better with this as a condiment. And it’s a lot healthier too. It’s no secret that most ketchup is made with high fructose corn syrup – a refined sweetener that is unhealthy to consume. More and more food companies are replacing high fructose corn syrup with less refined, more natural sweeteners, yet it’s still found in most mass produced ketchup. All the more reason to make your own! One tablespoon of this ketchup has less than 1 gram of sugar versus 4 grams of sugar in your typical store bought ketchup. It also has 50% less sodium. Once I discovered this recipe I started buying the 6 oz. cans of tomato paste by the case at my warehouse store. Since the rest of the ingredients are, for the most part, pantry staples, I almost always have what I need on hand to make this.
You probably already have most of what you need to make this ketchup in your pantry right now.
Drizzle olive oil over the head of garlic before wrapping it up in aluminum foil. Some recipes will tell you to slice off the top of the head of garlic prior to roasting. This isn’t necessary. The garlic roasts just fine left intact so I eliminate this step to simply the recipe.
The right balance of colors on a plate can rouse the senses before even the first morsel of food is put into your mouth. We taste with our eyes first. This salad is a perfect example of how just seeing a dish can fire up your taste buds and ready them for a delicious meal. Whenever I’m serving an entree that’s lacking in color I can always count on this salad’s bright and vivid ingredients to make an otherwise bland looking plate come alive. Using the peppers as a serving vessel provides an extra pop of color and makes beautiful presentation.
If you prefer, you can serve this salad without the pepper cups, as pictured above. In this case, you’ll only need 1 orange bell pepper for the recipe.
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white part and green parts)
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons organic blue agave
cilantro (optional garnish)
Place the frozen corn in a microwave safe container, microwave on high for one minute, and then blot with a paper towel to remove excess water. Set aside to cool completely.
Make the lime citrus vinaigrette. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, agave, cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the top off of each of the four peppers. Remove the stems, ribs and seeds from each pepper and then chop the tops only.
Rinse and drain the black beans and add to a big bowl along with the chopped pepper tops, corn, avocado, grape tomatoes, and scallions.
Re-whisk the lime vinaigrette and pour over the black bean mixture. Combine thoroughly.
Spoon some of the black bean salad into each of the four peppers and garnish with cilantro if desired.
Serves 4 in the pepper cups with an additional 10 - 6 oz. servings. If you don't want to serve the salad in pepper cups simply eliminate all of the peppers except for the orange bell pepper. Then chop the whole orange pepper (in lieu of 4 pepper tops) and present the entire salad in a serving dish. Honey or maple syrup may be substituted for the organic blue agave.