This time of year, there’s an amazing abundance of fresh vegetables, and it’s a great opportunity to get your children to try some new produce. Think about hitting a farmers market this weekend, and let your kids pick out something new to try. When you get home, make this recipe. With it’s grown-up and child-friendly versions, everyone in your house is guaranteed to eat dinner. The adults get to enjoy a delicious dijon vinaigrette while the kids sample the new vegetables with the buttery pasta they always enjoy.
The slow-roasted tomatoes and onions are delicious, but this dish will be tasty even without them. Although they do take a while in the oven, it’s hands-off cooking time, and the tomatoes and onions can be made up to a day in advance. I specify orzo, my personal short pasta favorite, but you can use any short pasta that’s popular with your family.
1 (5 oz bag) Arugula or Baby Spinach, stems removed, divided (optional ½ bag for kids)
4 cups Vegetables, cooked or raw - seasonal, divided
½ cup Cheese of your choice - grated Parmesan, blue cheese, goat cheese, etc, divided (optional ½ cup for kids)
4 tbsp Fresh herbs, optional (oregano, dill, thyme or basil would all work with this recipe), divided (optional 2 tbsp for kids)
Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions:
Set oven to 250 degrees and cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. On the sheet pan, drizzle the onion and tomatoes with olive oil and Kosher salt, stir to combine. Slowly cook the tomatoes and onions until somewhat shriveled, 1¾ - 2 hours.
Save the juice from the tray to mix with the pasta salad. Tomatoes and onions can be made up to a day ahead.
Cook the Orzo:
Make a double batch, following package instructions - 1 cup each, so you can tailor one half for grownup flavors and the the other half for a more kid-friendly meal. Whole wheat orzo will take longer. Once drained in a colander, separate the orzo into two large bowls.
In a Mason jar combine Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, honey, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified.
Pour cooked orzo into 2 large bowls. While the pasta is hot - in one bowl toss the vinaigrette and slow-roasted tomatoes (if using) and in the second bowl toss the butter with the pasta. It will seem like there is too much vinaigrette, but it will all be absorbed by the hot pasta.
In the bowl with vinaigrette, add arugula (or spinach), vegetables, cheese and fresh herbs if using and toss until combined.
In the bowl with the butter, add vegetables, and if using arugula (or baby spinach), cheese and fresh herbs and toss until combined.
Add additional salt or pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 4 hours, let come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.
Chicken salad with dill is just a summertime classic…ideal for a lunch at the pool, a picnic, dinner on the deck. Not only does dill taste like spring and summer to me, I always think of the first time I had chicken salad with dill. It was at Cafe Hon in Hampden. I know lots of people go for their comfort food, but for me, that chicken salad with the dill vinaigrette, it’s the only thing I’ve ever ordered.
Curry chicken salad…a marriage of my deep love of Indian food and good chicken salad. This builds on my classic chicken salad recipe with a few Indian twists. While deep in chicken salad recipe development a few weeks ago, I had a craving on my curry version, but not sure Jeff would like it, I still made a traditional one for him. Surprise! The person who claims not to like Indian food couldn’t get enough of this salad!
We love bacon in our house…me, Jeff, all the kids…it is consumed on almost a daily basis (I probably shouldn’t confess that). So how about bacon, shallots fried in bacon fat AND roasted beets? I don’t know about you, but for Jeff and me that equals food heaven! If beets are not in season feel free to swap in whatever vegetables are fresh at the market. You could simply slice the vegetables are add them to the salad, but consider roasting or grilling them, it adds a flavor dimension and textural contrast you don’t get from raw veggies. What makes this salad sing is the combination of the bracing vinaigrette, the bacon, the fried shallots and the goat cheese. All of the other parts of the salad can be changed according to the season. This salad is truly spectacular, make this and show your family some food love, or serve it for company and add some seared scallops, grilled steak or chicken…an easy and elegant dinner with friends.
Consider this recipe the template for your new salad showstopper. Some ideas for pairings are grilled asparagus and radishes, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas...the list goes on and on. It just has such a terrific mix of flavors and all of the components can be made ahead of time. Happy cooking!
1 bunch of Beets (2-3 beets per bunch), stems and tops cut off
Olive oil (1 tbsp for each beet)
4 Slices of Bacon, thick-sliced works best
1-2 Shallots (decide on the quantity of fried shallot garnish you want), thinly sliced
2 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp Kosher salt
¼ cup Apple cider vinegar
1 cup Olive oil
1 (5 oz) bag of Arugula (or lettuce of your choice)
2-3 oz Goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 375 and make a foil packet for the beets. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil for each beet (bunches vary from 2-3 beets). Seal foil packet, place on a sheet pan and roast for 1 hour.
Remove tray from the oven, carefully open packet and allow the beets to cool. Once cool, peel skins (you can use a vegetable peeler but I find they come off easily using my hands which I wash right away). Slice beets into thin wedges or small chunks depending on your preference. (You will have some extra beets for another salad)
In the meantime, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Fry until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper-toweled plate. Once bacon is cool, slice into ¼ strips (I use kitchen shears for this).
Fry shallots over medium heat in the bacon fat until golden and crispy, about 15 minutes. Turn down heat if they start to brown too quickly. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
In a Mason jar add the garlic, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Shake vigorously to combine. (see note).
In a large bowl toss arugula with dressing to taste.
Plate salad and top beets, goat cheese and fried shallots. Add protein if serving as a dinner salad.
Using the vinaigrette - The extra dressing can be used to make additional salads, or as a marinade for seafood or chicken. You can store this in the fridge for up to a week, let come to room temperature before using so the olive oil, which hardens in the fridge, can turn back to a liquid.
Bacon is big in our house, and while I love to add it to salads I had never thought of bacon in the context of Asian food. Inspiration struck while reading a Food & Wine cookbook – why not marry bacon with Asian flavors? With that idea I was off! Jeff says learning to cook bacon in the oven is one of the three most important things he has learned from me (I am absolutely serious). I choose to interpret the fact that this food lesson is in the top three as evidence of our shared passion for bacon. Once you have cooked bacon in the oven you will never go back – it’s so hands-off and you get perfectly crisp bacon everytime. Combine honey bacon with arugula and a bracing vinaigrette…side salad heaven!
Cooking bacon in the oven might be one of the best things you ever learn on WKC. Using the oven eliminates all the work and mess. A sheet pan with aluminum foil, add the bacon and pop it in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until perfectly crsip. Drain on paper towels and you are done. Easy enough for a weekday morning and a lifesaver when you are feeding a crowd on the weekend. Happy cooking!
6 slices Bacon (I use low-sodium)
2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Soy sauce, low-sodium
5 oz bag Arugula
2 tbsp Sweet chili sauce
1 tsp Honey
1 Lime, juice and zest
½ cup Canola oil
¼ Cup Rice vinegar, unseasoned
Vegetables for salad (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
In a small bowl whisk together 2 tbsp honey and soy sauce.
Lay 6 slices of bacon on the sheet pan and brush with honey/soy mixture.
Cook in the oven until crisp, 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully because the honey makes the bacon more susceptible to burning. Once cooked, remove bacon to a plate to cool (do not put on paper towels because the honey will make the bacon stick).
In a Mason jar combine sweet chili sauce, remaining honey, lime, canola oil and rice vinegar. Shake vigorously until dressing is emulsified.
Place arugula in a medium bowl and add vinaigrette to taste.
Once bacon has cooled, slice into small pieces (I use scissors for this task).
Divide dressed arugula among 4 plates, adding any vegetables (optional) and top with bacon.
Any regular reader of WKC knows I am obsessed with my food processor. Not all of us have a food processor, and frankly sometimes it’s easier to just be simple – enter humble and wonderful Mason jar. One of my greatest pleasures is watching Ridgely run wild making a Mason jar dressing. She chops herbs and maybe a shallot, pours her oil and vinegars, shakes the jar and then the alchemy – a delicious vinaigrette! There are so many studies out showing kids are more bought-in when they have a hand in choosing and making a family meal. It’s not only being on-board with dinner, it’s that they are proud of their contribution. They become excited to share their creations and we, as parents, want them engaged.
A perfect recipe to make with your kids! It has a short ingredient list and you can't really mess this up! If your children aren't ready for a knife, just give them a pair of scissors to chop up the herbs. I have 4 pairs designated just for my kitchen and they go right into the dishwasher. Consider this recipe a template - I used a mixture of dill and scallions, but this dressing is equally delicious with chives. Parsley or thyme would also be great. Happy cooking!
4 tbsp Fresh herbs
½ tsp Kosher salt
½ of Lemon, juice (You can also add the zest if you have time)
1 cup Buttermilk
½ cup Sour cream
Place all ingredients in a Mason jar and shake vigorously.
Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I was so blessed to spend a wonderful day last summer with two dear friends. Lyn and Melissa have been my friends since 6th grade, it was so special to get to spend the afternoon with them and have all of our kids – 8 of them – get to know each other. I love cooking for my friends, so I had to volunteer to bring some food. Lunch turned out great, and since we had all told our kids we were having “Mommy time” we were able to chat uninterrupted for 20 minutes at a stretch. Bliss! What a fun picnic table lunch and we even got to catch up with our friend Karen. I gave her the leftover dressing for a dinner she was hosting later that night…multi-tasking at it’s finest.
This dressing has a zing to it, which you can temper with more or less chipotle peppers and honey. In addition to being a yummy on a salad, this vinaigrette makes a delicious marinade for pretty much any protein...chicken, pork, steak, fish...Plan on getting your money's worth from this recipe - an amazing salad and fab dinner on the grill later in the week. Happy cooking!
3-4 Canned Chipotle peppers (see note)
1 lime, zested and juiced
4 tbsp Red wine vinegar
4 tbsp Honey
2 tsp Minced garlic
½ cup Canola oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1½ tsp Cumin, ground
½ tsp Oregano, dried
In a food processor, add chipotle peppers, lime zest and juice, and red wine vinegar. Pulse until peppers are throughly combined.
Next add the honey, garlic, canola oil, Kosher salt, cumin and oregano. Throughly pulse until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Use the dressing right away or you can store in the refridgerator for up to 1 week.
Canned Chipotle Peppers - 4 peppers will give a medium heat. I'm not a huge fan of spicy food, and I like the "kick" from 4 peppers. If you prefer even less heat you can start with 2 or 3, the dressing will still be delicious.
Salad dressings are one of my favorite things to concoct. I love the simplicity of the mason jar, the math of the oil versus acid proportion, and the transformation of a handful of herbs tossed into the food processor. Not only are they great on salads, vinaigrettes are one of the fastest ways to answer the what’s for dinner question – marinate a protein in the yummy dressing you have in the fridge and you are halfway to getting a meal on the table. This vinaigrette is so easy to make, all you need is a handful of pantry ingredients and the secret ingredient – Greek whole milk yogurt.
A terrific kitchen shortcut is a jar of minced garlic in the fridge. I rarely cook with fresh garlic, but in a recipe like this one, fresh garlic is essential because it is such a forward flavor in the dressing. Think beyond a salad - this vinaigrette is also a delicious marinade for seafood and chicken. Envision a grilled chicken Caesar salad...you can easily whisk this dressing but I just throw everything in my food processor. Happy cooking!
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lemon, large, zested and juiced
3 tbsp Greek yogurt, whole milk
2 tbsp Mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup Olive oil
½ tsp Kosher salt
Place garlic in a food processor, pulse to mince.
Add remaining ingredients, pulse several times until the dressing in emulsified.
Serve right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Dressings with loads of herbs are just my favorite – the creamy yogurt, a touch of Dijon, chives, tarragon, parsley and cilantro. A food processor is really helpful here, you just throw everything in and pulse it up. This is type of food I want to eat everyday…delicious and healthy. Try this dressing on a salad or brushed on chicken or fish…a jar of this dressing in the fridge guarantees you have an answer to the whats’s for dinner question.
These measurements for the herbs are just a guide - in a recipe like this you need to be flexible. I based the quantities based on the way I buy herbs at my grocery store. When I go shopping I find the chives and tarragon in the small bundles and the parsley and cilantro in large loose bunches. So, my measurements are based on what I find at the store. Can't find these exact herbs? You can play around with all types of combinations, have fun with this recipe! Happy cooking!
½ bunch Chives
½ bunch Tarragon
¼ bunch Parsley, flat-leaf
¼ bunch Cilantro
2 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup Greek yogurt, whole milk
¼ cup Sour cream
Place chives, tarragon, parsley and cilantro in the food processor. Pulse until all herbs are minced.
Add garlic, Kosher salt, mustard, yogurt and sour cream.