Tip: You don’t have to use a separate bowl to make homemade salad dressing. I mix the dressing at the bottom of the bowl I use to serve the salad. You can prepare the salad ahead of time by mixing up the dressing and then adding the lettuce or greens followed by the vegetables and then cheese. Just wait to toss the salad right before you serve it. You will see that it works nicely to distribute the dressing across the greens and vegetables using this method as opposed to pouring the dressing on top of the salad.


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Balsamic Vinaigrette and Salad

Thank you everyone for being so supportive of our new blog! Lisa and I feel very encouraged!

Here is the salad recipe that we have at least twice a week. I know it seems hard to believe but my eight year old and six year old eat large quantities of this salad as do my husband and I. When I first started making this, I only used garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It was my sister (the cooking genius) who taught me that dijon mustard is needed to emulsify the dressing and since I started doing this a few years ago, we haven’t changed it since.

We have this salad with pasta, with Mexican food (is great with enchiladas or tamales), pizza, and soup, and sandwiches.

Feel free to use whichever type of lettuce or green. It works well with mixed greens, romaine, arugula, or spinach.  Also feel free to experiment with different types of vegetables. Avocados add creaminess. Cucumbers add crunch.

Tip: You don’t have to use a separate bowl to make the dressing. I mix the dressing at the bottom of the bowl I use to serve the salad. You can prepare the salad ahead of time by mixing up the dressing and then adding the lettuce or greens followed by the vegetables and then the feta cheese. Just wait to toss the salad right before you serve it. You will see that it works nicely to distribute the dressing across the greens and vegetables using this method as opposed to pouring the dressing on top of the salad.

A word about garlic: I absolutely LOVE garlic. Garlic is so tasty and so good for you. It has been known to boost immunity. I read reports that garlic was selling out in markets in Asia when the swine flu epidemic began because everyone knew it helps the body fight infection. Don’t worry about the garlic being too strong. As you will see in the recipe, the garlic “cooks” in the balsamic vinegar for several minutes and this tempers the garlic so it is not so powerful to those who aren’t used to large amounts. I believe that eating this salad keeps my family healthy and will keep you healthy too!

Ingredients for dressing:

1 and 1/2  tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove or two small garlic cloves

Salad:

Mixed greens or lettuce of your choosing (about 1/2 of a 5 oz. box of pre-washed greens)

2 chopped carrots

a handful grape tomatoes (sliced in half)

1/3 to 1/5 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper

a handful of mushrooms chopped

1/2 avocado diced (optional)

8 calamata olives chopped

1/8 to 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled

Add balsamic vinegar into a large bowl. Crush garlic into vinegar with a garlic press. Allow the vinegar to “cook” the garlic before adding the dijon mustard and olive oil for at least 10 minutes. Make sure the crushed garlic is immersed in the balsamic vinegar. After you have waited for a few minutes, add the olive oil and the dijon mustard. Add the lettuce and chopped vegetables. Then add olives and feta. Toss well. Serve and enjoy!

I think you will love this salad!

-Cynthia M

Roasted Vegetables

I love to cook vegetables. It has always been my goal to make vegetables that are tasty and I know when I have achieved this when my kids ask for more. I went through a phase where I mainly sautéed vegetables. Then I went through a phase where I blanched them prior to sauteing. But recently, I have cooked vegetables, a variety of vegetables, by roasting them and I must say that this is my new preferred method. Lisa gave me a wonderful cookbook Barefoot Contessa: back to Basics by Ina Garten. I used her method of roasting in her recipe Oven Roasted Vegetables with a variety of vegetables. In Ina Garten’s recipe, she uses fennel bulbs, potatoes, string beans, and asparagus. I am using her method with vegetables that I can find that are in season (mostly). Here is my adaptation of her recipe using mushrooms and zucchini.

Recipe:

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms (your choice) sliced in half

2 zuchinni cut into 1/4 inch slices

Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

2-3 cloves of fresh garlic sliced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Drizzle Olive Oil at the bottom of a pan and spread around with a brush. Place cut vegetable on the pan and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Sprinkle with salt and two types of pepper. Add as much or as little pepper as you like according to taste. Toss vegetables. Cook for 30 minutes. Place garlic slices in a small bown and mix in enough olive oil to coat garlic. (Garlic tends to burn easily). Add garlic to vegetables in the oven and toss. Cook for additional 10 minutes. Remember that cooking times may vary depending on the pan you use (dark pans will cook vegetables more quickly), and the size of the vegetables (resist the urge to cut the vegetable into pieces that are two small as they will decrease in size greatly during the roasting process).

Serve and enjoy!