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.

Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad

Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad

It’s been super hot here. And humid. If there are 2 things I hate, they would be hot weather and humidity. Southern California’s only redeeming quality is the year-round 70 degree weather with a slight sea breeze. If this keeps, I’m leaving. The weather also means cooking is one of the least appealing activities ever. Being in a hot, stuffy kitchen is just miserable these days. The only recipes that are appealing are those with little to no heat or actually cooking involved. This meal is great for hot weather. Very little cooking is involved and being outside at the grill is much more enjoyable than a being stuck in a hot kitchen.

The bean salad was the definitely the best part of this meal. It was tasty and tangy. The grilled onions gave it a nice smoky taste, which was great with the salty capers. I would probably make the bean salad again, before I made the tuna. I think that the salad would be great with grilled chicken or shrimp as well.

Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light

For the Tuna:

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks
  • Cooking spray
For the Salad:
  • 1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Southwestern Chicken Salad

Southwestern Chicken Salad

It’s been a while. There have been many deterrents to blogging (and cooking) in the last few weeks, including, but not limited to: chopped off fingers, emergency room visits, a sick dog, two well dogs, another sick dog, summer school, party planning, and other assorted things. But enough of all that.

Let’s get back to business.

This salad is wonderful. It comes together quickly and is great for a summertime meal. It’s light, tasty and requires minimal effort, which makes it close to perfect in my book.  I also think that you could toss this into a tortilla and you would get a great, light(er) burrito or taco. If you left the chicken out, it would be even easier to prepare. I think it would make a great starter or side salad for a Mexican meal as well. I thought that lime juice and a bit of olive oil made for the perfect dressing. You really don’t need to add anything more to it. The dressing was even better when it mixed with the spices from the chicken. They blended together perfectly.

Southwestern Chicken Salad (adapted from Real Simple)

For the Chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • chipotle or cayenne pepper powder, to taste
  • olive oil

For the Salad

  • 2 small heads romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces (about 12 cups)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (cut from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen and thawed)
  • 2 avocados, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and black pepper

For the Chicken

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken breasts with garlic powered and chipotle to taste. When oil is hot, add chicken and cook until done, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly. Slice into pieces.

For the Salad

  1. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, corn, avocados, beans, onion, and cilantro.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, cumin, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Add chicken.
  4. Drizzle dressing over the salad and gently toss.

Cheesy Bean Dip

Bean Dip

I really wanted to make 7 layer dip, but none of the recipes I found were really doing it for me. I decided to just throw what I was in the mood for all together and hope for the best. It worked out perfectly!

I had intended to include guacamole in this dip as well, but only one of my avocados was ripe. I mashed up the avocado with a little Kosher salt and some lime juice and spread it out as best I could. I also decided to dress up my diced tomatoes a bit by making pico de gallo. Simplest salsa ever. Tomatoes, diced white onion, cilantro, lime juice, kosher salt, done. I also like to include a bit of garlic (minced or powder) and freshly ground pepper to make it even tastier.

Bean Dip

Cheesy Bean Dip

  • 2 cans of refried beans
  • 1-4 ounce can of diced chiles
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese, divided (I would recommend sharp cheddar or a Mexican blend)
  • sour cream
  • 1-2 avocados, chopped, or guacamole
  • 2-3 tomatoes, chopped, or pico de gallo
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • mix of green and black olives, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C. In a small bowl, mix the beans, chiles and 1/2 cup of cheese together. Spread on the bottom of a large baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove dish from oven and spread remaining cheese over beans. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes until cheese on top is melted.
  2. Remove dish from oven and top with remaining ingredients or anything else that makes you happy.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.