Pear and Pineapple Salad (Sesame Dressing)

Pineapple and pear salad with sesame dressing.

Pear and pineapple salad with sesame dressing.

What gave me the inspiration for this salad was a ripe pear that was sitting on my kitchen counter, and in the refrigerator, the remains of a fresh pineapple.

I had prepared a baked casserole for dinner and wanted a light citrusy, fruity salad to go with it.  So, out of the refrigerator came some lettuce–iceberg and romaine, the pineapple, crumbled goat cheese and from my cupboard, some dried cranberries  because this salad seemed to need a pop of color.

IMG_6773 So, I started by chopping a mixture of lettuces and made a bottom layer on salad plates.  Then I placed a slice of pineapple on top of the lettuce and cut it into wedges.  Over that I put pear slices, arranged in spoke fashion, scattered a few dried cranberries on it, and crumbled the goat cheese on top.  Very pretty!   Now,  what to use for dressing??

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Something with an Asian flavor, I thought.  Thumbing quickly through one of my vegetarian books, I found this recipe for a sesame dressing.  Yes, perfect!   The dark sesame oil, the sesame seeds and rice wine vinegar provided an interesting flavor that paired especially well with the fruits and lettuces.  Sometimes the greatest ingredients just seem to find each other and blend so well.  I’m recording this recipe here so I don’t forget it.  Keep it in mind when you want a light, refreshing, fruity salad with a subtle Asian flair.

PEAR AND PINEAPPLE SALAD WITH SESAME DRESSING

Makes 2 salads.  Adjust ingredients accordingly for more.

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 leaves iceberg lettuce, and 2 – 3 leaves romaine lettuce.  Heavy ribs removed, leaves sliced into ribbons.
  • 2 slices fresh cored pineapple cut into wedges
  • 1 ripe fresh pear, cored and quartered, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberriesIMG_6770
  • 2 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese

For the salad dressing:    Makes 3/4 cup

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • dash of salt to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar or shaker with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake vigorously to combine and chill until ready to use.  This dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or more.

To assemble the salads,  layer the ingredients in the order given.   Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

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SOURCE;  for the dressing;  Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

 

Happy First Day of Spring, Everyone!

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Onion and Arugula Frittata with Goat Cheese

Onion and Arugula Frittata with Goat Cheese

Onion and Arugula Frittata with Goat Cheese

Frittatas are omelets for people who have too many things going on.  Heat an oven ready pan, put in the garnishes, pour the eggs over, pop into the oven and let the oven finish the job while you get the rest of the meal ready.

A frittata can be transformed by a variety of ingredients.  In this one I’m using caramelized onions and arugula, but any number of other inclusions will work.  Mushrooms, asparagus, ham, broccoli, cheese, whatever floats your boat for flavor combinations is ok.  Frittatas are suitable for any time of the day – or night!   Snuggled up to some toast or an English muffin, it’s breakfast.  Pair it up with a salad and roll and call it lunch.  Add a bowl of soup to expand the meal and it becomes supper.   For a dish that’s so simple to make, it has a pretty swanky reputation.

For any dieters among you, a frittata is the perfect food.  Load it up with veggies and some extra egg whites, and it becomes about as healthy as it can get.  Serve it warm, at room temperature or cold (hello, 20-second breakfast of leftovers.)

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One final thing I love about a frittata…..  It’s an oven to table meal.  Just take the whole darn thing from the oven to the table and serve it straight out of the pan.    Wonderful, indeed!!

With this recipe it’s the pairing of sweetly caramelized onions and the peppery arugula with the silkiness of eggs and creamy goat cheese that really puts this one over the top.  I had a very hard time limiting myself to just one serving.  I ate the two pieces that were leftover, one day for lunch, and the other,  one morning for breakfast and  had just as much enjoyment as the first time around.

 ONION AND ARUGULA FRITTATA WITH GOAT CHEESE

Yield:   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1  Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Heat the olive oil in a medium oven-safe skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, reduce the heat to low and cook the onions until they’re golden brown and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.

Slowly caramelize the onions until they're fragrant and golden.

Slowly caramelize the onions until they’re fragrant and golden.

2.  Season the onions to taste with salt and red pepper flakes, if using.  Add the arugula and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium high.

Next add the arugula and stir a bit till it wilts.

Next add the arugula and stir a bit till it wilts.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites and milk to combine.  Pour the mixture into the pan and let it cook  2 to 3 minutes to set the base.  Sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the egg mixture.

Pour in the egg mixture, and sprinkle on goat cheese.

Pour in the egg mixture, and sprinkle on goat cheese.

4.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the frittata is set, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.  The frittata can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled.

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 Onion and arugula frittata with goat cheese.

Onion and arugula frittata with goat cheese.

Additional notes: 

1.  Be sure to allow enough time to properly caramelize the onions.  Onions caramelize best in a large skillet with plenty of room over very low heat.  Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.

2.  This frittata may be made with a variety of other healthy leafy greens.  Try subbing in collards, spinach, chard or kale for the arugula.

SOURCE:   The Incredible Egg

Beet and Orange Salad with Goat Cheese

Beets are one vegetable that I’ve had a complete turn-around on.  That is to say,  I didn’t used to like them and now I love them.  Roasting is what brought about my change of heart.  Once beets have been roasted they taste like a completely different vegetable.  I’ve described my method for roasting them in an earlier blog post that you can find here.  I frequently use them in salads as they combine well with other vegetables and some fruits.

Beet and Orange salad with Goat Cheese

Beet and Orange salad with Goat Cheese

Oranges are one of the fruits that play well with beets.  Their citrusy sweetness goes well with the sweetness that roasting brings out in beets.  Then I add some greens for color and texture contrast and nuts for crunch, in this case, pistachios.   Over the top is drizzled a Dijon vinaigrette dressing and some crumbled goat cheese.  Mr. D. loves this salad and asks for it on many occasions.  I kind of like it too!

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Please note, in the recipe below, directions are given for quickly cooking beets in the microwave if you are short on time for oven roasting them.  This works well in a pinch.

BEET AND ORANGE SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE

Yield:   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 pounds halved, peeled beets  (wear gloves for peeling or you will have stained fingers)
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sectionedIMG_5271
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios
  • 2 Tablespoons goat cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper

Directions:

1.  Wrap beets in parchment paper.  Microwave on HIGH until tender, about 7 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and place in a salad bowl.

2.  Section the orange and place the pieces in the salad bowl with the beets.**

3.  Add the salad greens to the salad bowl with the beets and orange sections.

4.  Whisk together all the dressing ingredients till well blended.   Add to salad bowl.  Toss  to coat.

5.  Top with the  pistachio nuts and crumbled goat cheese.

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** When I make this salad for two of us, I construct it on salad plates, as you see pictured.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Fresh Herbed Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Crostini

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini

Today’s post features tomatoes used as a salad.  Everyone it seems is familiar with Caprese Salad, that includes mozzarella cheese and basil along with the tomatoes, but this one depends on the tomatoes alone to carry the responsibility for the whole salad. Fresh tomatoes are dressed with a flavorful drizzle of lemon and herbs, and served with toasted baguette (crostini) spread with goat cheese.    This is so good, I can’t wait to make it again, and again while fresh tomatoes are still available.

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Please try to use heirloom tomatoes, in varied colors if possible, for the most beautiful presentation.  Of course, any fresh tomatoes will do nicely, but I really like the colors you get in heirlooms.  This recipe certainly illustrates the phrase, “less is more”, because the simple lemon-herb dressing perfectly enhances the sweetness of the tomatoes, and that would be enough.  But don’t stop there;  make the crostini because the crunch of toasted baguette and the smooth tanginess of goat cheese is a perfect companion to the tomatoes.    In my version, seen here, I used herb-seasoned goat cheese.

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I think this would make a light, appetizing and different appetizer, and If I were to serve it in that way, I would dice the tomatoes instead of slicing them, and serve them in a small glass to be eaten with a small spoon, with the crostini on the side.

HERBED HEIRLOOM TOMATOES WITH GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:

Heirloom tomatoes in many sizes and colors.

Heirloom tomatoes in many sizes and colors.

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp.  water
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 8  (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
  • 4 tsp. goat cheese, divided ( used goat cheese with herbs if possible)
  • 20  (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

2.  Place the first 5 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

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3.  Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350*F for 7 minutes or until crisp.  Spread 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese over each slice.

4.  Divide tomatoes evenly among 4 salad plates.  Drizzle each serving with 1 Tablespoon herbed oil.  Sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper.  Garnish each plate with 2 crostini.

In my rendition of this delightful salad, I served the whole salad on a large platter, so all the colors of the tomatoes would be seen.

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I just love this,  it’s so pretty; almost too pretty to eat!

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Olive and Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.

Olive and goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.

These little stuffed tomatoes were a real hit at our weekend cookout.  They’re cute to look at, and make a great pop-in-your-mouth appetizer.  Scooping out the insides of cherry tomatoes can be a little tricky, and time consuming, but well worth the effort.  The best tool for the job – I think – is a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon.  If using the small tomatoes is too labor intensive, then try using grape tomatoes or the Campari variety for an appetizer that is 2-3 bites in size.

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These tomatoes provide bright spots of color on a tray of appetizers, or also included on a cold salad plate.  For the diet conscious, its reassuring to know that each tomato is only 14 calories, with 1 g. fat, and  1 g. carbohydrate, but  43 mg. potassium, ( a good thing) and 21 mg. sodium, ( not great, but not too bad).  So these can be enjoyed pretty much guilt-free.  I hope you like them and will give them a try real soon.

OLIVE AND GOAT CHEESE STUFFED CHERRY TOMATOES

Yield:  Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

Hollow out small tomatoes, fill with a goat cheese and olive mixture.

Hollow out small tomatoes, fill with a goat cheese and olive mixture.

  • 24  cherry tomatoes,  about 1 pint.
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped olives.  I used Calamata olives, but green olives may also be used.
  • 1 Tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped parsley

1.  Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of each tomato.  If necessary, trim a sliver off the bottom so the tomato sits flat.  Gently scoop out the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a small knife.

2.  Mash the goat cheese, olives, milk and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.  Fill each hollowed tomato with a generous 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with some of the chopped parsley and more pepper, if desired.

Bright and appetizing!

Bright and appetizing!

SOURCE:  Eating Well

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

A salad of spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and almonds.

A salad of spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and almonds.

Some spring seasons have come and gone when I haven’t devoted much time to utilizing strawberries.  This year for some reason I feel as though I’m on a mission to use them in as many ways as possible.

When I was growing up we lived next door to a farm where every year one large field was planted with strawberries.  When they began to ripen,  several of us teen-agers were hired to help with picking and the berries were sold at a road-side farm stand.  Picking strawberries by hand is an experience not to be missed (or forgotten, either).  The work is hard on the knees and back,  but the opportunity to sample warm, sweet, juicy strawberries, right off the plant more than made up for the aches and pains in the back and knees.

Strawberry Field

Strawberry Field (Photo credit: timtak)

On most days when I got off work, I was sent home with a basket of berries for my folks.  As I recall the only ways my mother served strawberries was as a shortcake or fresh strawberry pie.

We did not have access to California grown strawberries in the supermarkets as we do now.  So when the berries were ripe (usually end of May through to July 4, if the weather was good)  we ate berries often, made jam, and froze some sliced and ready for recipes in the months ahead.  And since they are fruit they were designated as dessert.  Now-a-days we add fruits to main entrees, and salads, and I like the sweetness fruits add to a dish.   The recipe I have for you today is just such a combination;  a spinach salad with strawberries, goat cheese, or feta, and almonds.  The dressing is a balsamic vinaigrette, which really complements the strawberries and helps to bring out their sweetness.  This is very easy and quick to make, and goes with a variety of main dishes.  With all that spinach, its also healthy and good for you, so try this while berries are “in season” where ever you live.

A pretty salad on the plate.

A pretty salad on the plate.

SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD

SERVINGS:     4

Ingredients:

  • 1  ( 5 – 7 oz. pkg.) Baby Spinach 
  • 2  cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 / 2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper

1.  Combine spinach and strawberries in a large bowl.

2.  Whisk together the vinegar and oil in a small bowl.  Add the basil and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Add vinaigrette to salad and toss gently to evenly coat.  Divide salad among four plates.  Sprinkle each salad with cheese and almonds.

SOURCE:   TASTE OF HOME

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach. 

 

During this time of year as the number of activities and parties increase all tempting us with special foods to eat, I try to lighten up what I prepare for our everyday meals.  My rational is that if we eat light but healthy meals at home then it’s OK to have some treats when we go out.  I’m not sure how that all adds up, but it works for me.

The recipe I’m offering today is one that is very quick to make with just a few ingredients.  It could stand alone with only the addition of a salad to make it a complete meal.  Although the main ingredient is pasta it is kept light with a sauce  that incorporates  goat cheese for creaminess, and also includes spinach and lots of parsley.  The addition of lemon jest and juice provides the brightness that makes the flavors pop.

LEMONY PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SPINACH

EVERYDAY FOODS

Only a few ingredients needed.

SERVES:   4

Ingredients

  •  3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Directions

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook according package directions for al dente.  Remove and save 2 cups of pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta.

2.  In the pot, stir together 1 cup of pasta water and the goat cheese over medium heat to melt the cheese.  Add pasta, spinach and parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cook pasta, then mix everything together in the same pot.

Stir to coat with the sauce.  Add more pasta water as needed to  create a sauce that coats the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with walnuts to serve.

Lemony Pasta with Spinach served with crispy breaded shrimp.

Roast Beets with Goat Cheese Salad

Beets are one of those vegetables that I never used to cook because I didn’t know how to prepare them to make them tasty and interesting.  Then one evening while having dinner out in celebration of my husband’s birthday, our waiter described the chef’s special salad of the day.  It consisted of  roasted beets on baby greens with goat cheese.  It sounded interesting, but neither one of us was willing to venture out and order a whole one, so we compromised and ordered one, which we shared.  BIG MISTAKE!  We were racing each other in our efforts to have the largest portion.  Right then and there I knew I had to find a way to replicate that salad. 

I experimented with several ways to roast the beets, one being to wrap an unpeeled beet ( or beets) in foil, drizzled  with a little olive oil, and bake for about an hour.  Then cool slightly, peel, and proceed with your recipe.  I am not fond of this method, because it adds to the time spent preparing the dish.  I prefer the following method of preparation instead.

  1. Peel about 4 medium beets and cut each in half.  Then cut into 1/2 inch wedges.
  2. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  I like to use a seasoned/flavored olive oil, like one used for dipping bread.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder.
  4. Toss all together so beets are lightly coated. then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish, coated with no-stick cooking spray.
  5. Roast at 450 degrees, stirring once or twice, until crisp tender,  about 35 minutes.

At this point you could serve these beets hot as a side dish, and they are delicious as is:  lightly browned on the edges, and already seasoned; or use them in the salad.

Once cooled, transfer to a bowl; toss with 4 chopped scallions and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

To assemble the salad,  place a serving of mixed baby greens on each of 4 – 6 serving plates. 

Drizzle with a little of the seasoned olive oil used to season the beets, then top with the beets, and lastly top with crumbled goat cheese.  Feta cheese is also a good substitute for the goat cheese.