Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Restaurateur Salad

We drove up to the restaurant and parked at an empty meter on the opposite side of the street. The faded sign above the door spelled out the name 'Rainbow' in slanted letters, and a purple awning draped down leisurely over the entryway like the brim of a wide sun hat. Rectangular cafe style tables jutted out invitingly into the sidewalk, like window boxes waiting to be filled. It was early Sunday evening, and all the restaurants on Nicollet were relaxed and breezy.

Nature's Treasures Salad

"Have you guys seen Tammy's garden behind her restaurant?" I asked Shari and Don of Heinel farms.

"Yes she is growing our kale!!" Shari said, excitedly. "I gave her some to plant over there" Don chimed in "How is it doing?"

Hayride Salad

The wagon bounced from side to side, it's giant wheels catching on patches of grass and causing us to hop in our seats the way one does when trotting on horseback. The air had a snap to it, and smells of hay and pumpkins huddled inside my nose, as though they too were trying to keep warm. I nestled my head in the crook of your neck and listened to the crunch of the leaves as we turned off of the field and onto a woodland path. I half expected to see a headless horseman jump out of the woods, or bats soaring overhead, and so I crouched down low in my seat and tried to make myself into less of a target. From my huddled position, I marveled at how sweaters are the perfect armor for this kind of ride, allowing just enough chilly wind in to keep oneself alert in the event we should encounter a hay ghost or a live scarecrow.

Wild Rice with Apples Salad

Growing up, I remember how excited my mother used to get when some Midwestern relative or childhood friend would send us a package of wild rice as a gift. As she cooked the rice, she would emphatically tell us about what a nice treat we were about to receive. I would peer over the stove, waiting to taste the mysterious concoction that was releasing woodland odors into our family room. It was black, and creepy looking, and I half expected the stuff to come alive and attack me. My mother's excitement was convincing, contagious even, it was fueled by the fondness of childhood memories.

Reminiscing Miso-ginger Salad

90 salads have come and gone, like visitors stopping along a journey. Each one has delivered a story, some had tales of cold mornings and long days of laboring, some travelled through forest paths speaking of the business of woodland chatter and the sounds of feet pounding against the scratchy dirt, some spoke of lazy blue skies and summer sun in company of the carnival atmosphere of friendship.

Grilled Corn and Edamame Salad

Grilled Fresh Sweet Corn Is The Star Here...
Straight From Confreda Greenhouses and Farm in Cranston... Picked That Same Day!

Accompanied By Some Other Colorful and Healthy IngredientsPerfect for a light and satisfying lunch.
Packed with nutrition and most importantly, flavor!

Topped Off With Some Tri-Color Torellini~ Makes A Great Hearty Dinner!

This recipe was inspired by my local Stop & Shop market. I often see an Edamame Salad in the prepared food case in the deli section. It caught my eye because it is so colorful. It was pretty easy to deconstruct and make my own with some special touches.

I love making salads like this in the summer. And this one is refreshing and light, yet really is packed with nutritious ingredients. Plus, who can resist fresh sweet corn in the summer? Well there's no need to resist, since it is a good choice in any healthy diet. According to the World's Healthiest Foods Website, corn is a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B5, folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese. It is especially good for cardiovascular health due to the great source of folate it supplies. The edamame (soy beans) are also super healthy to eat. They are a great source of protein and contain loads of healthy fats. The red bell pepper contains a huge amount of vitamin C and the black beans add more protein and of course, fiber.
This salad can be served as a light lunch, a side dish with grilled chicken or fish, or served with pasta as a main course entree.

Grilled Corn and Edamame Salad
by Mixed Salad Annie~ Serves 4-6

2 corn ears, silks and outer husks removed (leave a thin layer of husks on)
8 ounces (1/2 of one pound bag) frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to instructions on bag and cooled
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small shallot, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (parsley or basil can be substituted)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Heat a gas grill to medium-high, light a charcoal fire or place indoor stovetop grill over medium high heat.
Place corn directly on grill and cook for around 15 minutes, rolling corn occasionally so all sides get grill marks. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
Pull off charred husks and discard. Stand each ear on its wide end, and using a serrated knife, remove grilled corn kernels from cobs. Add kernels to a large bowl.
Add all remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld together. Serve at room temperature.

Zucchini Side Dish

So it's summer and there is plenty of zucchini to go around. If you're growing it, you are probably sick of looking at it. And if your not, you probably have neighbors dropping by with bags full of this summer squash or courgettes. Either way, here is a great recipe that I found online and adapted from Recipe Zaar. It's a very flavorful and fresh way of using up all that zucchini!!

Interesting Side Note: According to, in a culinary sense, zucchini is a vegetable. However, from a botanical point of reference, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. (Wild, huh?)

Zucchini Side Dish

Adapted from by Tom Collins

1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
Fine sea salt
Ground black pepper
1 onion (cut into slices, I used Vadalia)
2 celery stalks (cut on the diagonal 1/8" slices)
4 garlic cloves; chopped
1 (4 ounce) can mushrooms; drained and rinsed
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
6 zucchini (small, or 3 zucchini and 3 summer squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick or less)
Zest and Juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 tomatoes (diced into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped


1. Melt the butter and oil in a pan large enough to hold the squash
2. Add the onions, celery, salt and pepper. Saute until translucent on medium heat, adding some of the broth or water if it gets too dry and starts to brown.
3. Add the garlic, mushrooms, broth/water and squash
4. Add more salt and pepper to taste
5. Cook on high until broth boils
6. Place a cover on the pan
7. Reduce heat to a simmer
8. Cook until the squash is crisp tender (only about 3-4 minutes), turning the squash over a few times during cooking (Even if it’s over-cooked, it still tastes great; it just won't look as pretty)
9. Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes, lemon juice and zest and parsley
10. Stir and let sit until the tomatoes are just heated -- You don’t want the tomatoes to cook

Baked Stuffed Shrimp

Ever since I was a little girl, I always loved baked stuffed shrimp. I can remember going out with my family to eat and always ordering it, no matter what else was on the menu. Most kids would be all about the mac and cheese or the hamburgers and fries, but not I. Those juicy, rich, melt in your mouth stuffed shrimp always won! My love has not changed over the years. Yes I do order many other things on the menu now, but whenever I'm unsure of what to get, I always go right back to my favorite.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I have ever cooked them at home myself. My dad actually had a killer recipe but unfortunately never wrote it down or shared it with anyone before he passed. So I looked on-line and found a few recipes that sounded good; then I combined and tweaked them to my liking. I think the end result turned out great. I did lower the fat in the recipe a bit by halving the butter and subbing part with olive oil, but if you want the full fat effect of that buttery richness, by all means go for it!

Baked Stuffed Shrimp
serves 4-5
  • 40 Ritz crackers (one sleeve, plus 5 more), crushed
  • 1 sleeve Pepperidge Farm Golden Butter crackers, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 1/2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 5 T butter, melted, divided use
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • Juice from 1 1/2 lemons
  • 3 T fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 T dry white wine
  • Approximately 2 T water
  • 20 jumbo shrimp, with tails
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Make a cut along the length of the back of each shrimp and remove peel and vein. Cut just deep enough to open the shrimp to lay flat.
  3. Sauté celery and shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and opaque. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix crushed crackers, garlic powder, parsley and pepper. In a small bowl, blend 4 tablespoons butter, remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest and Worcestershire sauce. Add lemon juice and white wine to a 1/2 cup measuring cup; add up to 2 tablespoons of water until full. Mix into the blended butter; add to the the cracker mixture. Add the celery and shallots. Stir until mixture holds together.
  5. Set shrimp backs down in the prepared baking dish. Place heaping tablespoons of the cracker mixture on top of each, pressing with fingers to secure. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over the top of the shrimp.
  6. Bake shrimp 15 to 17 minutes or until they are opaque. Remove from oven and set broiler to low. Place shrimp under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until stuffing is golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a serving platter. Squeeze some lemon on top if desired. Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad

If you've never heard of quinoa it's probably because it doesn't sound like it's spelled. It is pronounced Keen Wa. A whole grain packed full of nutrients and tons of protein, quinoa is perfect for anyone trying to eat a little healthier. It can be substituted in place of pasta or rice in many salad recipes with ease. Quinoa is actually a seed not a pasta, and when it is cooked the outer ring separates from the rest of the grain. It is very bland on it's own, so if eating it plain, you could cook it in low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth for more flavor. One thing to note is that uncooked quinoa has a bitter coating and should be rinsed thoroughly under cold water before cooking.

Quinoa & Vegetable Salad

by Mixed Salad Annie
1 cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup lightly steamed broccoli florets
½ cup lightly steamed green beans
½ jar pickled red beets, quartered
1 medium shallot, minced
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Fresh black pepper and salt, or to taste
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil to taste
Note: You could also use a bottled salad dressing in place of the oil and vinegar, such as Olde Cape Fat-Free Sesame Soy Ginger


Rinse quinoa under cold water for about 2 minutes. Place in 2 quart saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Allow to cool.

Mix together all the ingredients and your salad is ready!