Mandarin, Almond & Spinach Salad with Gluten Free Asian Vinaigrette

Mandarin, Almond & Spinach Salad with Asian Vinaigrette

I have a tendency to buy things in bulk. It’s next to impossible to say no to three pounds of baby spinach at Costco for under 4 bucks. The only downside is three pounds of baby spinach is a lot of baby spinach. So in another effort to clean out the fridge, I have attempted to add spinach to everything. This isn’t a recipe so much as it is an idea of flavor combinations and the possibilities are really endless.

I really love this dressing, especially when paired with the sweet mandarins. It was a great combination. I also found this salad to be surprisingly filling. It made for a great lunch. I think the addition of grilled chicken or shrimp would easily make it into a wonderful dinner. If I was to make this salad again, I think adding crumbled feta and dried cranberries would be delicious. Strawberries, granny smith apples, or pecans would also be good substitutes (or additions too).

Mandarin, Almond & Spinach Salad with Asian Vinaigrette

Mandarin, Almond & Spinach Salad with Gluten Free Asian Vinaigrette

Ingredients

For the Salad:
  • 2 large handfuls spinach, washed
  • 1 mandarin orange (or clementine), peeled and broken into segments
  • 1 small red onion, thinly cut into circles
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
For the Asian Vinaigrette:
  • 3-5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon low-sodium gluten free Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

For the Salad:
  1. Place spinach on plate. Top with orange segments, as many onions as desired and almonds. Top with vinaigrette.
  2. Serve and enjoy!
For the Asian Vinaigrette:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until throughly mixed. Use immediately. Will keep for 1 week in fridge.

Gluten Free Smoky Black Bean Dip

Smoky Black Bean Dip Here’s a quick and easy dip that’s perfect for any of your last minute cinco de mayo needs! All you need is a food processor and a few ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. This dip is easy to make and easy to serve, plus there’s not absolutely no cooking involved, which makes it a perfect summertime dip. I recommend serving it with tortilla chips and veggies, but you could use it with nachos or on quesadillas as well.

I felt that three chipotles was the perfect amount for this dip. It gave it a nice smoky, spicy taste, but it wasn’t spicy to the point that you couldn’t eat the dip. You notice the spice, but it’s subtle. I thought the dip was delicious when I made it, but it tasted even the better the next day. If you have the time, I would really recommend trying to stick it in the fridge for a few hours and let the flavors mingle.

Smoky Black Bean Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (leaves & stems)
  • 2-4 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek, you can use sour cream too)
  • 2-4 chipotle chiles in adobo (depending on your heat preference), coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except salt & pepper, and process until smooth. Taste for seasoning, add salt & pepper to taste, and if you prefer a thinner dip, continue processing, adding lime juice 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Garnish with 2 Tbsp. of chopped cilantro (if desired) before serving.

Roasted Garlic Guacamole

Roasted Garlic Guacamole

It took me nearly a quarter century to realize that avocados weren’t absolutely vile, disgusting and gross. Up until the time I was about 24, I would act like a three year old anytime an avocado came near my food. If avocado or guacamole touched anything, I refused to eat it. Luckily I have since learned the error of my ways and have grown to love guacamole (I’m still working on plain avocado (it’s totally a texture thing)). This is an ever so slight twist on my favorite guacamole recipe and I have to say it’s pretty amazing.

This guacamole recipe is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t love garlic, you should just skip this one, but if you’re like me and insist on adding inappropriate amounts of garlic to everything, this will be the perfect guacamole for you! Roasting garlic might seem like a bit of a hassle to do, but really it couldn’t be easier! And trust me, it’s definitely worth it. The extra flavor it brings to the guac is out of this world.

Roasted Garlic Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 2 whole garlic bulbs
  • 3 large avocados
  • 2-4 limes
  • 1/2 large red or white onion, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced (include seeds if you want heat!)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (be generous)

Instructions

To Roast Garlic:
  1. Heat oven to 400. With a sharp knife, chop off top 1/4 to 1/3 of garlic head, so that the bulbs are exposed. Place in small oven safe dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and roast in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.
For the Guacamole:
  1. Cut avocados in half, remove pit and scoop out flesh into large bowl. Squeeze in lime juice. Remove all the garlic cloves from bulbs and add to bowl. Mash together (you can use a wooden spoon, fork, potato masher, etc.).
  2. Add cilantro, onion, tomato, jalapeño, and salt and pepper. Mix together until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Feel free to add more lime juice or salt and pepper to taste.

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Pineapple

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Pineapple

Fresh pineapple is probably my favorite fruit. I always think raspberries are, but then I have fresh pineapple and raspberries just can’t even compete. Plus fresh-cut pineapple smells amazing and doesn’t leave any annoying seeds in your teeth. The one and only time I was in Hawaii (for a grand total of 36 hours), I managed to consume pineapple at every meal and what a delicious 36 hours it was. Apart from my mild obsession with pineapple I was fairly certain I was going to love this recipe since I also like spicy things and really like the combination of sweet/spicy/salty. I found this recipe ages ago and I have wanted to try for forever, but only got around to it recently. I should have made it sooner. Sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, this super easy recipe had just about every flavor profile you could imagine.

Word to the wise, do not scoff at the 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I did at first, and was quite tempted to add more to my chocolate, but that would have been at huge mistake. The heat is subtle at first and it grows. Wait until you are popping your third or fourth piece of pineapple and you will see what I mean.

I think an easy variation on this recipe would be substituting chipotle and smoked sea salt (Maldon also makes a smoked version of its sea salt). I think the smoky, spiciness would be amazing with the pineapple and chocolate.

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Pineapple
Recipe from Whole Foods.

  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 24 chunks
  • 2 (3.5-ounce) bars dark chocolate
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
  1. Thread a short skewer (4 or 6 inches) through each pineapple chunk and arrange on a large, parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Working over a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring constantly, until just melted; stir in cayenne. Working with one skewer at a time, pat pineapple dry with a paper towel, and then dip in chocolate, covering about halfway. Transfer to baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and repeat with remaining pineapple and chocolate. Chill until set, about 45 minutes.

 

Veggie Protenia Salad

Veggie Proteina Salad

I’ve recently discovered Red Brick Pizza. They have amazing gluten-free pizza. It’s quite a luxury to go to a pizza parlor and have a real, wood-fired pizza straight out of the oven. I have watched them like a hawk every time I have been and they take so many precautions when preparing a gluten-free pizza (I would also recommend going for a very early lunch when they first open to avoid further cross contamination risks). Every employee I have interacted with has known exactly what ‘gluten-free’ is and what is and isn’t safe on their menu (in extreme detail; I was very impressed). So far my favorites only pizzas I’ve tried are the Hawaiian (the addition of cashews is quite amazing) and the Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Arugula (a drizzle of balsamic and a dash of red pepper flakes; fantastic). Unfortunately, the closest restaurant is 35 miles away, which means I only get to go on the rare Target trip I make (yes, our closest Target is also 35 miles away, I live in a desolate hole), but between Target and pizza, it makes any trip almost as exciting as going to Disneyland.

As amazing as the pizzas are, and they are fantastic, I have absolutely fallen in love with the Veggie Proteina Salad. I never could have dreamed up a more perfect salad, but lucky I don’t have to try anymore, Red Brick has figured it out for me.

From the Red Brick Pizza website:

VEGGIE PROTEINA 
napa mix, artichoke hearts, red & green peppers, mushrooms, onions, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, mozzarella, croutons, choice of dressing

Obviously to make it gluten-free, don’t get the croutons. I also leave off the corn, but keep everything else. The salad is so flavorful and so delicious and so easy to make at home, so that’s exactly what I did. I’ve made it at home several times now and every time it’s been fantastic. At the restaurant, I’ve only tried the salad with balsamic vinaigrette, but at home I’ve tried it both with balsamic and ranch dressing. I really can’t decide which is better. Unfortunately in the pictured version here, I forgot to add the cheese, it definitely wasn’t missed. I have to say that in my homemade version I usually use Monterey jack or white cheddar. I just find them tastier, but the cheese isn’t needed at all.

A little more on Red Brick. They also have gluten-free beer and ciders on tap. There are also gluten-free dessert options as well. Gelato and gelato truffles seem to be the main gluten-free dessert options, but last time I went they also offered gluten-free ice cream sandwiches made with GF chocolate chip cookies and gelato. They all look amazing, but between salad and pizza and dessert, I have to prioritize and pizza always wins in my book.

Veggie Protenia Salad

Ingredients

  • MIx of cabbage and lettuce (I used green cabbage and romaine lettuce)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 8-10 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 large tomato (or a pint of cherry tomatoes), diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional) (recommend white cheddar or monterey jack)
  • choice of dressing (recommend balsamic vinaigrette or ranch)

Instructions

  1. Place cabbage and lettuce in a large bowl.
  2. Add in all other ingredients but dressing.
  3. Toss to mix together.
  4. Add dressing of choice and toss again to coat.
  5. Serve immediately.

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad

My wonderful friend Zack sent me this recipe last week and told me to “stop what I was doing and make this”. Zack and I have fairly similar palates, so I had a feeling that I would like this salad. I didn’t just like this salad, I loved it. I have yet to find a combination of cilantro and lime that I dislike, so I might not be the most neutral judge, but this salad was pretty close to perfect. Chickpeas make a really great neutral base, which allows the other flavors to really shine through.

I ended up accidentally doubling recipe. I was trying to use up some use it or lose it spinach, which ended up being way more than the originally suggested four cups. It turned out to be a fortunate accident since I had leftovers for days. I upped the amount of garlic and took it easier on the olive oil. I also omitted the sugar the original recipe called for, but that’s just a personal preference. I never add sugar to any type of dressing.

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad

 

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad
From Heather’s Dish.

  • 4 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 loosely packed cups fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, chopped diced
  • juice from 8 limes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (about loosely packed cup)
  • 4 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Chop the spinach very finely (feel free to use a food processor and pulse 3-4 times). Add the chickpeas, onion, and spinach to a large bowl.
  2. In the same food processor add the lime juice, cilantro, mustard, garlic, chili powder, and olive oil. Blend until it comes together into a dressing, about 30-45 seconds.
  3. Pour over the chickpea mixture and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for at least 15 minutes on the counter (or overnight in the fridge) to let the flavors get friend.

Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup With Spinach & Olives

Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup With Spinach & Olives

This soup is phenomenal. It might actually be one of the best things I’ve made recently. And it’s soup-er easy (sorry, just can’t resist a bad pun)! A bit of chopping and boiling and you have a delicious meal. The flavors are just amazing together. Granted paprika, onion and garlic are probably my favorite flavors, but really they were just made to be in this soup together.

The original recipe called for kalamatas. I ran out last week and much to my extreme disappointment, my Costco has decided to stop stocking them… At the rate I go through olives, kalamatas are just too expensive to be bought in any quantity less than Costco-sized bulk. I used green pimento stuffed olives and they were wonderful. Since they are so salty, I made sure to use low-sodium broth and didn’t add in any extra salt. It definitely was not needed.

I absolutely loved this soup. I definitely plan on making it again, hopefully the poor weather keeps up and it will be repeated sooner, rather than later. Even though this soup was great, I might make a few minor changes. I think the paprika could have used another flavor to combine with. I was thinking a bit of cayenne maybe or a squeeze of lemon perhaps or even a little drizzle of balsamic. Just a little addition could add a whole new layer of depth and deliciousness.

Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup With Spinach & Olives
Adapted from The Punk Post Kitchen.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 6+ cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils (or green lentils)
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 2 (14.5) ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach (or chopped spinach)
  • 3/4 cup roughly salty chopped olives (I used green pimento stuffed olives)
  1. Heat oil a large soup pot over medium high heat. Saute onions in oil until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and saute about a minute or so, then mix in the thyme and paprika.
  2. Add the lentils, broth, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are almost tender. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for another 20 minutes or so, or until lentils are very tender. Add spinach and olives and stir frequently until spinach is wilted and velvetty. Add water or more broth to thin, if necessary.

40 Shades of Green Salad

40 Shades of Green Salad

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! That makes me happy. I happen to particularly enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, but I have yet to meet for an excuse for a party that I didn’t like. That and I’m Irish (thanks ma and da). I have some traditional (Mama CC made/approved) and not so traditional things in store for the week. Unfortunately, my celebrations can’t begin until I’m done with midterms. Hopefully dreams of potatoes and whiskey will be enough to see me through…

This salad is definitely not your stereotypical Irish fare. It’s light and healthy and vegan actually, the exact opposite of meat and potatoes.  It would be a great starter for any dinner party. It would definitely help balance out any and all corned beef and whiskey that might be consumed. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this salad. I really like salads with multiple lettuces and this had a great mixture. The crispy, cool iceberg, peppery arugula, soft butter, and some spinach just because. They all really worked together and made each bite interesting. I basically opened the fridge and grabbed anything green. It worked out to be a festive little number and perfect early spring lunch.

Johnny Cash wrote a song “Forty Shades of Green,” which I am a bit embarrassed to say that I only discovered yesterday. My Ireland born, Johnny Cash-loving father will be so disappointed. I remember flying into Dublin when I was younger, and shockingly, it wasn’t raining. I think she was trying to get me to shut up, but my mother told me to try to count the 40 shades of green out the window and that’s been the only connotation I’ve ever known until yesterday. 

 

40 Shades of Green Salad

INGREDIENTS:

For the Cilantro Lime Dressing: 

  • 2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Salad:
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 cups butter lettuce
  • 1/4 head iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 8) green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 pound green beans, trimmed, blanched and cut in half
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the Cilantro Lime Dressing: 

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until thoroughly blended.
For the Salad:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuces, green onions, and green onions. Gently toss the greens thoroughly with about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Place the greens onto six salad plates (white looks nice), arranging any of the little pieces that have fallen to the bottom of the bowl on top.
  2. Place several pieces of the diced avocado on each plate. Lightly drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Chili Oil

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

 

I’ve already shared the amazing caesar salad I had at Il Cane Rosso on my last trip to San Francisco. I finally got around to making the other part of that delicious lunch. It was love at first bite (Slurp? Spoonful?) with this soup. I liked the added chili oil drizzle so much that I stopped by Stonehouse Olive Oil after lunch and promptly bought some chili oil so I could make the soup when I got home. The soup came out so brown that you can barely see the chili oil drizzle on top, but I swear it’s there. I let the vegetables get a little too roasted. They would have been the perfect side dish, nice and crispy, but the extra brown color didn’t help the color of the soup.

This soup is so simple to make. The most involved part is chopping and peeling the butternut squash, which can be easily fixed with pre-cut, but I finally discovered a faster way to peel and chop. The vegetable peeler! Had the skin off in no time and made the whole process much easier. The soup is completely vegan. I added some queso fresco I needed to use up to add a little flavor and texture. Definitely not necessary though.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Chili Oil

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 6+ garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • chili infused extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. With a sharp knife slice both ends off the butternut squash. Remove the skin off the squash.
  2. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds of both halves. Then cut the squash into cubes and place in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. After peeling and cutting the ends of the onion, slice into large cubes. Place the onion in the same bowl as the squash. Peel the garlic cloves and place in the bowl.
  4. To the squash, onions, and garlic add the olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix to evenly coat the vegetables with the herbs.
  5. Pour everything in a roasting pan or baking dish. Place in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour until the squash is very tender.
  6. Place the roasted squash, onions and garlic in the blender. Add 2 cups of the vegetable broth and blend on high until smooth. About one minute.
  7. Pour mixture into a large soup pot over medium heat and add the remaining 3 cups of broth. Stir and heat until combined. Top with 1 teaspoon of chili oil per bowl and crumbled queso fresco. Serve.

Carrot-Miso Soup

Carrot-Miso Soup

The second I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, I knew I was going to make it. Every single ingredient in the original recipe sounded soup-er appealing. My end result ended up being a little different.  It may be the sore throat, or the stuffy nose, or the general quasi-illness induced haze I am currently living in, but I set about making this soup and then promptly forgot to include half the ingredients. Oops…

I left out the ginger. I meant to put it in. I even put it out on the counter to peel, but promptly forgot about it until I was ladling it into the bowl. I even dug out my little bottle of toasted sesame oil to drizzle over the top. Neither the ginger, nor sesame oil ended up in the soup, but I was pretty okay with that. I like carrots. I love miso. Throw in some garlic and onions, and I really don’t see how you could go wrong.

One quick note about the Miso, I used Cold Mountain Miso . I can’t find the details on their website, but as far as I can remember all but one of their miso is gluten-free (one is made with barley). I had two different types of miso on hand (I might have a slight miso soup problem), one is Kyoto White Miso and the other is the Light Yellow Miso (Japanese White). I used the Kyoto White to begin with, but I have to say it was super mild, like you could barely taste the miso mild. I had to add the same amount of  the yellow miso to get any miso flavor. If in doubt, go with the stronger miso.

Carrot-Miso Soup
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 4-6 garlic clove, minced (I used double that amount)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5 scallions, very thinly sliced
  1. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  2. Puree soup in batches in blender, or all at once with an immersion blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a small mound of scallions.