Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

French Lentil Salad

I’m not sure I have a whimsical anecdote to go along with this post, but lets see what I can manage…

I’m tired in the evenings when we get home from the gym, and if Jake isn’t around to wrangle Gemma while I cook something up, my dinnertime ends up being somewhere around 9:30pm.  That’s usually about the time I decide that a bowl of cheese puffs and a big glass of wine will do because who the hell wants to cook right before they go to bed??  Not me.  It has been getting warmer here in the ABQ, which makes cooking even less palatable.  (Jake made a pizza on Monday night and having the oven on made me feel like I was back in my Bikram Yoga days.  Seriously.  Sweating.  To.  Death.)  I’ve been playing around with different kinds of cold salads that I can prepare earlier in the day (hopefully during a 3 hour nap) and have waiting for me in the fridge after the gym and after I’ve gotten my Schizophrenic Toddler Terrorist down for the night.  This is one of those salads.

French Lentil Salad

Adapted from French Vegetarian Cooking:  A Step By Step Guide


*1 1/2 cups Le Puy lentils (you can always use another brown or green lentil, but the Le Puy have a great flavor!)

*2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (still essentially whole)

*Champagne Vinaigrette (Combine 1 heaping tbsp of mustard with about 3 tbsp champagne vinegar.  Stream 1/4 of olive oil into the mixture while whisking steadily.  Salt and pepper to taste.)

*Several sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, minced

To Make:

*Simmer the lentils and the garlic cloves in a large, uncovered pot of water for 25-35 minutes (until the lentils are tender).

*Remove the garlic cloves after about 15 minutes.

*Prepare the Champagne Vinaigrette in a large serving bowl.

*Add the parsley to the vinaigrette.

*When the lentils are ready, drain off the liquid and add them to the vinaigrette.

*Gently incorporate the lentils with the vinaigrette and parsley and adjust seasonings to your taste.

*Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Survey Says:

This is incredibly easy and incredibly good!  Gemma ate it for dinner last night with her beloved tomatoes (the dish pictured above is hers) and loved it.  Just give it a try.  You’ll like it.  I promise.  There’s something about the vinaigrette with the lentils that is just so perfect!  It’s definitely hearty enough to stand on its own as the main part of your meal, but could also be a great side!


Weekend Eating Chez Nous!

I am the queen of what I like to call “buffet eating” when it comes to what Gemma eats! Blueberries, cheese, yogurt, frozen peas, bagels…these could all be on her menu for any breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Every so often I am struck with the motivation to cook a cohesive meal for my child, and Friday was one of those days!

Medium pasta shells with peas, grape tomatoes, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese!


She was a happy baby!

Last night, after Gemma went to bed, I roasted zucchini, about half a bunch of gorgeous (& super thin) asparagus, & some grape tomatoes in some olive oil, salt, & pepper. I threw them in a bowlful of baby spinach (dressed in a homemade vinaigrette) and some (relatively) local feta cheese…

(this pic is obviously pre-feta)

SO good!! Another good way to use up any veggies you may have! Jake told me it was awesome about six times in the course of eating…I think he liked it! 😉

Consider the Vegetarian…(at Your Next Cookout) & Grown Up Potato Salad (with Vinaigrette and Olives)

This past Sunday we had a barbecue to celebrate Jake’s birthday…the first of many over this season, I’m sure.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cookout season, but in my many years of experience on the subject, I have come to the astounding conclusion that it is often really. freaking. difficult. to be a vegetarian at a barbecue.  The focus is always on the meat and everything else (except for the booze, mind you) is merely an afterthought.  There is always meat on the grill, which makes grilling veggies or a veggie burger without contaminating them damn near impossible.  Yes…it totally grosses me out to have my veggie burger touch meat on the grill.  Don’t tell me to get over it.  I won’t.

So what I would like all of my omnivorous readers to glean from this ranting is this:  I guarantee that if on the day of your cookout you show even a little bit of forethought and throw some veggies (eggplant, portobello mushrooms & zucchini are all good choices) on the grill before loading the heaping mounds of flesh upon it, and if you could think about making a valiant attempt to keep a small part of the grill as free from meat as humanly possible in the chance that your vegetarian guest wants to grill a veggie burger, your consideration will go neither unnoticed nor unrewarded.

The potato salad that follows was my contribution to the culinary mayhem that took place in my home on Sunday.  I feel like this post is Part 2 of the Pasta Salad post from a few weeks ago.  I have NEVER liked “traditional” (although whose tradition it is and why it’s never been phased out, I’m not really sure) “Potato Salad”.  Mayo and onions…gag…two of my absolute least favorite things in the universe….and it just always looks and feels so unsophisticated and bland to me (plus dangerous if you’re leaving it outside for an extended period of time)!  The Mark Bittman approach to potato salad is right up my alley, but there were still onions, and I cannot abide by that.  Vinaigrette and Black Beldi olives though…that I can do.  So, without further ado, I present to you what I like to call…

Grown Up Potato Salad with Vinaigrette and Olives

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian App


*3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (I left them unpeeled and it was delicious!)

*40 Black Beldi olives (pitted and halved)

*Champagne Vinaigrette (Mix 1 heaping tbsp of good mustard with approx. 3 tbsp of champagne vinegar.  Stream 1/4 cup of olive oil into the mixture while whisking steadily.  Salt and pepper to taste)

To Make:

*Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and put them in a pot with a pinch of salt and enough water to cover them.

*Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a lively simmer.

*Cook the potatoes until they are tender, but still firm.  (15 minutes or so)

*Drain and then rinse in cold water.

*Toss the (still-warm) potatoes with the olives.

*Add the vinaigrette little by little until everything is dressed as you like.

*Add salt, pepper (and maybe even some red pepper flakes) to taste!


Survey Says:

I love this potato salad!!  The combination of the potatoes, olives, and vinaigrette is one that will not disappoint.  My version of the vinaigrette is a little lighter on oil than is usually specified, but this was really the perfect ratio for this recipe:  oily enough to coat everything but not enough to drown out the flavors.  I’m honestly not sure what anyone else thought of it because I forgot to ask in the chaos of cooking and opening and consuming champagne!  I’m pretty sure that I ate most of it both on the day of the party and the next day.  I did, however,let Gemma share the leftovers with me and she loved it!  She ate both the potatoes and the olives with much enthusiasm.  I am so proud of my little eater!

I bid you all a truly happy and successful cookout season and I would LOVE to hear about any other vegetarian sides or solutions that you’ve come up with for your grilling endeavors!!

The Politics of a (more veggie than pasta) Pasta Salad

Sometimes I think that it’s pretty amusing that I think that I have the right to write a blog that revolves mainly around food because I am not just a vegetarian, but I am a vegetarian who has a list of vegetables (and one fruit) that she just doesn’t like and pretty much refuses to eat.

I do not like:

-onions (red, yellow, white, green, scallions, chives, shallots)

-bell peppers (red are less offensive than green, but still…and roasted red, at that!)

-unfancy black olives (you know the ones I’m talking about, don’t you Mexican food restaurants???)

-avocados (not for lack of trying but it turns out that they do not agree with my delicate body chemistry)


Despite all of this, I am doing my best to keep Gemma from inheriting my issues with these foods.  I feed her avocados and bananas on a regular basis, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job hiding my disgust.  She loves them both with a fiery passion.  The others…well…I just don’t cook with them, so she doesn’t come into contact with them all that often, but I don’t shy away from them when she does.  She has a pretty sophisticated palate for a toddler, and I’m doing my best to keep it that way.  She will figure out where her own tastes lie as she gets older, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I’ve had to deal with being made fun of for being a vegetarian, and for being kind of a picky one at that, and to those people I say…whatever!

I am a grown up for fuck’s sake!  I know what I like!  I don’t have to like everything that everyone makes, nor do I expect everyone to like everything that I make (except for Jake and Gemma who I expect to lie through their teeth at me until the day I die)!  I make what I like, you make what you like…(but don’t be offended when I show up with my own food…)  The pasta salad that follows is what I bring to functions when I’m not sure if there’s going to be enough that I can eat.  Even the most gung-ho meat eaters can never get enough of it!

So I proudly present to you my (actually very famous…at least in our circle of friends)

(More veggies than pasta) Pasta Salad

very loosely adapted from Sunset Magazine a few years ago


 *8 ounces rotini pasta (I use Barilla Plus)

*3 medium zucchini (halved lengthwise, sliced into thirds, then cut into bite-sized pieces)

*3 generous handfuls of baby spinach

*40 Black Beldi olives (pitted and halved)

*3 tablespoons (1+1+1) of extra virgin olive oil

*Champagne vinegar

*Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste

To Make:

*Toss zucchini pieces with 1 tablespoon of olive oil as well as some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

*Preheat oven to 425.

*When ready, roast zucchini (on a parchment paper lined baking sheet) for 25 minutes.  Turn thoroughly and return to oven for about 15 more minutes.

*Add spinach to a large salad bowl.

*Cook pasta according to instructions (10-12 minutes)

*Add pasta directly to the bowl of spinach.  (Do not rinse as your goal here is to begin wilting the spinach leaves)

*Toss pasta+spinach with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil as well as some of the champagne vinegar.

*As soon as the zucchini has finished roasting, add it to the pasta and spinach (to further wilt the spinach), then toss the whole mixture with 1 (more) tablespoon of olive oil and some more of the vinegar.

*Add the olives, mix thoroughly, and put in the fridge until ready to eat!

Survey Says:

 This is awesome!  It is really light and refreshing and so unlike pasta salads from way back when!  You can always add more oil if you feel like you need it, but don’t weigh it down too much!  You can also incorporate whatever veggies you want to…these were just what I had on hand at the time!  This is ALWAYS a big hit at parties!

What’s For Lunch???

This is a question that I often ask myself as Gemma and I get home from the gym and I’m trying desperately to get her down for a nap.  I’ve never been a big lunch person.  I mean…I eat lunch (for the most part), but I never give it too much thought.  It’s usually leftovers or one of a few standard concoctions (beans and rice, salad with faux chicken, scrambled eggs, frozen dinner) that I’ve invented over the past few years that I can throw together in my sleep.  I never make sandwiches.  And I certainly never make cold sandwiches.  They always taste a little “off” when I make them.  Now my mom can make the hell out of a cold cheese sandwich with lettuce, pickles, and mustard.  She should open a sandwich shop with those sandwiches…but I digress.

LUNCH…it’s really important, and I gave some thought to that today and decided to put a really nice lunch together for myself.  This lunch was so nice that it can (and will) be (sometime soon) dinner.  This is not a recipe…nothing was made from scratch, but if you are looking for a way to jazz up your lunch hour, I’m pretty sure that this will do it.  I do, however, take absolutely no credit for the invention of this concoction.  A lovely variation was served to me by the gorgeous Saundra one night for dinner at her house and I felt like an idiot for not thinking it up on my own.

All you need to put this together are really four things:  fresh ravioli, fresh greens, Parmesan, and some olive oil.  Trader Joe’s has an impressive selection of fresh filled pastas (I used the Goat Cheese and Sun dried Tomato today, I have Parmesan and Arugula in the fridge) and greens (I love arugula).  Go with whatever sounds good to you!  Cook the pasta according to the package, and while you’re doing that, put a few handfuls of greens in a good sized bowl and dress them.  I just used a little bit of olive oil, a splash of champagne vinegar (not too much so the pasta isn’t overwhelmed), and just a little salt.  When the pasta is ready, splash the greens with a little bit of the cooking water (just to warm them) and arrange the pasta on top.  Drizzle with a bit more oil and grate some cheese and you have a beautiful lunch that comes out looking like…


It was awesome!  That’s about all I can say!  I’m going to do my best to make myself a nice lunch at least once a week!  How about you?  What are your go-to lunch staples?

%d bloggers like this: