Tag Archives: Salad

Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad


I recently went on a cucumber buying spree because my local grocer had so many beautiful cucumbers on sale. In the summer months the store features produce from local area farmers. I try to support farmers as much as I can because when you get produce direct from a farm you know it was grown with tender loving care. Plus, the fruit and veggies are usually huge!


Anyway, my grocer had some really nice cucumbers and after eating a bunch of them all week I needed to find one more way of serving them besides with lettuce. I decided to keep it simple and incorporated a few items from my little garden like small cherry tomatoes and mint. In the end, I made a Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad.


The cucumbers were crisp. The tomatoes were sweet. And the chick peas were light but filling. To top it all off, the mint made the dish taste refreshing. If you like cucumbers and want a light refreshing salad, try making this Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad. I doubt you will be disappointed.


Chickpea and Cucumber Mint Salad

1 15oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 large cucumber peeled in into stripes and cubed
12 small cherry tomatoes
4 – 5 mint leaves chopped
4 tbsp Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
juice from ½ lemon
pinch of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed. Chill for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend together.






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Shrimp and Pasta Salad


Pasta salads are one of the most versatile dishes anyone can prepare. A pasta salad basically consists of pasta and any vegetable, meat or seafood you can think of tossed with a nice dressing. Since there are such a variety of pasta noodles available it is easy to be creative. Even if you use the same basic ingredients when you prepare a pasta salad it can become new all over again by using a different type of pasta. Shells, gemelli, bow tie and cavatappi are a few of the pastas I like to use in cold salads. They have little ridges that absorb whatever dressing you use and most of them just have a cool shape.


For my Shrimp and Pasta Salad I used small pasta shells because I wanted the pasta to cuddle some of the dressing and provide a subtle burst of flavor with every bite. The veggies I used with this pasta salad were meant to make the dish colorful with the deep green of the asparagus and the bright red of the peppers and tomatoes. The shrimp added a pretty pink hue that pulled everything together.


Most of us are first attracted to a dish because of the way it looks. If a dish looks weird, we figure it will taste weird too. Although that is not always true it is human nature to judge certain things by the way they look. That is way it is important to add rich vibrant color to every meal. My Shrimp and Pasta Salad is both appealing to the eye and tasty on the tongue. Try it as a main course or side dish. Either way I think you enjoy this simple flavorful salad.



Shrimp and Pasta Salad

2 lbs ex-large shrimp peeled and deveined
2 boiled eggs chopped
1 bunch asparagus cut into 1” pieces
1 bag arugula
1 box small pasta shells
1 large tomato seeded and diced into cubes
1 shallot sliced thin
½ cup red pepper diced
½ cup black olives chopped (optional)
½ cup vinaigrette
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1juice from ½ lemon

Prepare pasta shells according to the package – al dente. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat butter with olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and lemon juice. Stir and then add ½ tsp salt, ½ black pepper and old bay seasoning. Cook until shrimp are pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Add veggies (except for tomatoes) to the same skillet and add remaining seasonings. Cook for 2- 3 minutes until veggies soften slightly but still crisp. Do not over cook.

In a large bowl add pasta, shrimp, veggies, arugula, eggs, tomatoes and olives. Drizzle with vinaigrette and gently mix. Serve with a nice side salad.

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Chopped Salad


Salads! A quick and light meal during warm weather. A refreshing side dish with heavier meals during cooler weather and good for you all year round. I am in salad mode which means I am into preparing some type of salad for my family almost every night for dinner. Fortunately, my family loves salads as long as I give them variety.


It really isn’t hard to come up with new combinations of of ingredients when I create salads. However, I do have to make sure the combination of ingredients work as a salad. A few times I have had some wild salad ideas but I decided against posting them because although I like sauerkraut it just didn’t seem to work well with tomatoes, cheese and carrots.


One of the best things about chopped salads is that chopping up everything that goes into the salad keeps it simple. The only thing I worry about is making sure there is a great combination of flavors and textures. Like the crunch of salty bacon and the smooth creamy taste of boiled eggs and avocado. Plus, lots of sweet tomatoes and just the right bite from carrots and red onions.


There are so many options of veggies to use when making a chopped salad. If you like certain veggies and they compliment each other, go for it. Chop them up. Put them in a bowl and dress it up with a nice salad dressing. You cannot go wrong.


Chopped Salad

2 heads of romaine chopped
2 salmon fillets blackened and flaked
6 slices crisp bacon chopped
3 boiled eggs chopped
1 avocado diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ cup green or red peppers diced
½ cup shredded carrots chopped
½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
¼ cup oil based dressing
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp red onion small diced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently.

grilled chicken chopped
grilled turkey chopped
grilled shrimp

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Grilled Chicken Salad


Grilled Chicken Salad is another family favorite when the weather is warm and no one wants to eat a real heavy meal. Chicken of course is good any time of the year but chicken salad is one of those dishes I tend to make when I need a quick meal and I am too tired to turn on the oven or stove. I like to make Grilled Chicken Salad when my hubby is in the mood to do a lot of grilling. Grilling is his territory not mine so I take advantage whenever hubby is ready to fire it up.


That being said the last time I made Grilled Chicken Salad for the family I didn’t wait for hubby to grill the chicken for me. Instead, I went to Trader Joe’s and purchased packaged grilled chicken which is actually very tasty with a great grilled flavor. Home grilled is wonderful but if you are short on time check out the grilled chicken at Trader Joe’s.


Most chicken salad is just chicken and a few veggies. I kick it up another level by adding fruit. Grannie Smith apples, fennel, green grapes and golden raisins provide both a sweet and slightly sour taste to the salad. The combination of sweet and sour along with different levels of texture from the chicken, walnuts and tomatoes made this one of my signature dishes.


To really put a smile on my family’s face I served the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce then sliced up a little brie and served it with crackers. De-li-ci-ous!

Grilled Chicken Salad

2 pkgs grilled chicken cubed (approximately 2 cups)
2 boiled eggs
½ cup sliced apples
½ cup sliced fennel
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
½ cup green grapes sliced in half
¼ cup golden raisins
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dill
¼ tsp celery seed
¼ tsp cilantro
¼ tsp parsley
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp ranch dressing
1 tbsp sour cream
juice from ½ a lemon

Remove yolks from boiled eggs and then chop the egg whites. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix until chicken, veggies and fruit are well coated with dressing. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour then serve on a bed of lettuce or with crackers.

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London Broil Salad with Crispy Fried Onions


Steak, potatoes and salad is a hearty meal that real meat eaters love. I must admit I am a meat eater but I am not big on eating red meat. My friend Girly Girl is a true meat eater especially when it comes to beef. She loves a good steak and savors every bite. I cannot remember a time when she didn’t order some style of beef whenever we would go out to dinner. Recently, Girly Girl and I were talking about recipes and I told her I was working on a variety of salads since the weather was getting warmer and I preferred preparing lighter meals in the summer. She immediately asked if I had a steak salad. At the time I did not but Girly Girl got me to thinking about creating one.


The elements of a good steak dinner are a tender steak (of course), sauteed onions, a baked potato and salad. Creating a salad that incorporated all of those ingredients didn’t quite work for me. So, I decided to make a basic salad that included thinly sliced pieces of London Broil instead of a hearty steak just to keep it light. Some of you might be thinking who has time to fix London Broil just to put it on a salad? I certainly don’t. It was easier to go to the deli at my local grocer. They always have delicious London Broil that is tender, cooked to perfection and full of flavor. After layering the salad with the London Broil, I topped it off with crispy fried onions.


There were only two things missing when I finished pulling the salad together. Dressing and potatoes. To elevate the salad I drizzled a little blue cheese over the crispy fried onions then I added a small buttered baked potato on the side to make the meal complete.


I think Girly Girl is gonna like this one.


London Broil Salad with Crispy Fried Onions

½ lb London Broil
1 – 2 heads romaine lettuce sliced
1 large onion sliced thin
1 cup panko bread crumbs
4 cups vegetable oil
½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
½ cup green pepper sliced thin
½ cup flour
¼ cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Adobo seasoning (optional)
blue cheese dressing

Place sliced onion rings in a Ziploc bag. Season with salt, pepper and Adobo seasoning. Add flour and shake to coat the onion rings. In a bowl beat eggs and milk together. In a second bowl place panko bread crumbs.

Heat vegetable oil in a large pot until lightly smoking. In batches dip floured onion ring slices in egg mixture then panko bread crumbs. Shake off excess crumbs. Add to oil and cook until golden brown flipping onion rings to evenly brown. Drain on paper towels.

Layer romaine lettuce, green peppers, tomatoes and London Broil on a dinner plate. Sprinkle with onion rings then drizzle with blue cheese dressing.

Feeds 3 – 4 people.

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Salad (Italian Sub Style)


I was eating a small Italian sub the other day and started thinking about my promise to cut back on eating bread. As we all know, eating too many carbs is not good for you. I was feeling guilty since I had already eaten a bagel for breakfast and I was trying to limit my bread intake to once per day if at all.


While eating my sandwich I was thinking of ways I could ditch the roll and just eat what was inside the roll. Then I thought why not turn my sandwich into a salad. Viola! I could still have the ingredients of an Italian sub but no bread. I decided to create a Salad (Italian Sub Style) with lots of romaine lettuce and a sprinkling of meats, cheeses, tomatoes and Italian seasonings. This salad can be either a nice small portioned start to a meal or a meal unto itself. Either way I think you will enjoy it.



Salad (Italian Sub Style)
1 bunch romaine lettuce chopped
½ cup pepperoni sliced into strips
½ cup capicola sliced into strips
½ cup salami sliced into strips
½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ cup provolone cheese sliced into strips
¼ cup sweet peppers (optional)
½ tbsp parsley chopped
½ tbsp red onion chopped small (optional)
¼ cup black olives sliced
¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsp Italian salad dressing
½ tbsp lemon zest
½ tbsp oregano
½ tsp onion powder
½ tbsp dill
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salad dressing, salt, black pepper, oregano and dill. Set aside.

Combine romaine, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, sweet peppers, meats and cheeses in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil dressing then drizzle over salad. Toss gently. Enjoy!

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Wild Rice Salad


I love this time of year when the weather is slightly warm during the day and cool at night. It lets me know summer is coming and our meals will be filled with grilled foods and salads. All kinds of salads!!! I am fortunate that everyone in the family likes eating salads so it makes it easy for me to come up with a variety of warm or cold salads that go well with grilled chicken, fish and barbeque.


My latest salad experiment is a Wild Rice Salad. I liked this one because I could serve it either chilled, slightly warmed or at room temperature. Rice isn’t heavy but can be very filling so it goes well with most entrees. If you don’t want to eat a lot of food but you want to feel like you have eaten a meal, put a little more rice on your plate. You will feel quite full and may not even want dessert. I know, who am I kidding. Everyone wants dessert no matter what. At least you may want a little less dessert.


Whenever I make salads I try to combine both veggies and fruits. Golden raisins are one of the staples in my pantry as well as cranberries. Most of the leafy salads I make include fruits, nuts and cheese. I wasn’t too confident that including all three of those ingredients would work in a Wild Rice Salad so I decided to stick with fruit and nuts. The combination of wild rice, oranges and pecans was perfect. Savory, sweet and crunchy. Not bad if I do say so myself. One more wonderful salad recipe added to my long list of summertime dishes.


Wild Rice Salad

1 box wild rice (approximately 2 cups cooked)
1 10 oz can mandarin oranges drained
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup celery small dice
¼ cup vinaigrette
1 tsp lemon zest
½ tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

Prepare wild rice according to package. Let rice cool then place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Beets with Arugula and Feta Cheese


Beets are one of those vegetables people usually forget about because they are not considered “popular” at least not right now. Foods like fashion are featured as the “in” thing at different cycles in time. Remember when it was said that pork was not good for you then a while later it became the “other white meat” and was the popular thing to eat.


I really do like beets but I also  forget about beets until summer comes and I am in salad mode. I love to have salads with dinner in the summer because there are so many beautiful fresh veggies available. I have thought about growing beets but I have not had the courage to do it yet. I have tried growing cabbage, squash and eggplant without much success so I stick to the veggies I can easily grow. Tomatoes and all kinds of peppers grow in abundance on our porch. I also grow a lot different herbs. Maybe next summer I will plant a few beets and see what happens.


Anyway, beets have their own unique flavor and sweetness. Depending on what we are having for dinner I will pair the beets with some other veggie or lightly season the beets and eat them all by themselves. I have two favorite beet recipes. My old trusty beet salad which is similar to a basic potato salad recipe but substitutes beets for potatoes. Then there is my more recent recipe of Beets with Arugula and Feta Cheese. I have been working on more salad recipes to help shake off the winter blues and get ready for summer. In the winter I focus on hearty meals and soup but spring and summer call for lighter meals with lots of fresh veggies.


Arugula is one of my favorite dark salad greens so I often combine it with several other ingredients to create unique dishes like my Chicken and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce. In my Beets with Arugula and Feta Cheese recipe I mix beets, green apples and arugula which all seem to compliment each other. The sweet beets, sour granny smith apples, salty feta cheese and nutty flavored arugula satisfy all of my taste buds.


I am getting ready for summer. How about you?


Beets with Arugula and Feta Cheese

1 bag arugula
2 cups cooked beets cut into wedges
½ cup thinly sliced green apples
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup mandarin oranges (optional)
¼ cup pecan or walnuts
¼ cup vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic (optional)
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

In a medium bowl mix together white wine vinegar, seasonings Dijon mustard and garlic. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

In a large bowl place arugula, beets, pecans, apples and feta cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad then gently toss to coat with dressing. Taste and add more seasonings or dressing if needed.

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Gemelli Pasta and Tomatoes


Since my hubby and kids love pasta so much I am always looking for new ways to fix it. I also like to use different types of pasta shells to give the pasta dishes a a new twist. The type of pasta you pick for a dish depends on what you want the pasta to do. If I am making a creamy pasta dish I usually pick pasta that will cuddle the sauce in the nooks and crannies of the pasta like shells or ziti. If I am fixing a dish that is lighter and the sauce just needs to coat the pasta, I will use angel hair, linguine or bow tie pasta.


Gemelli pasta falls into both categories. Because of its shape gemelli pasta is a nice twist (yes, pun intended) for creamy or oil based sauces. When I first started formulating this recipe in my mind I was not sure what kind of pasta I would use. I did not want to use penne pasta because I have seen so many recipes with penne including my own. I was cruising the pasta aisle when I spotted the gemelli pasta. It had been a long time since I prepared any dish with gemelli so I got excited when the light bulb went off in my head to use gemelli as my pasta.


I will admit that I cook a lot of dishes with tomatoes. Another thing besides pasta that my family really loves. For me, tomatoes just naturally go with pasta. Tomatoes add a savory sweetness to pasta dishes. Baking or roasting tomatoes really helps to bring out the sweetness which is how I prepared the tomatoes for this recipe.


In the end, the combination of flavors from the tomatoes, cheese, spinach and gemelli made for a very nice pasta dish. On occasion, to elevate the flavors even more I brown andouille sausage and add it to the recipe to give the dish a kick of spiciness. Yummy!


Gemelli Pasta and Tomatoes

2 pints cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 16 oz box gemelli pasta
1 10 oz bag baby leaf spinach
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup fontina
½ cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix panko bread crumbs, ½ cup of the grated parmesan cheese, parsley and oregano in a small bowl.

Spray a casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Add tomatoes to the casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, basil and olive oil. Stir to blend olive oil and seasonings then top with bread crumb mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until bread crumbs are browned.

Prepare pasta according to package. Drain (do not rinse) and place in a large bowl. Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil. Add remaining grated parmesan cheese, fontina cheese, spinach and tomato mixture. Gently toss together until well blended.

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Tortellini Salad with Arugula


Pasta is something my hubby and youngest son could eat every other day. I on the other hand eat pasta less frequently. But, on the occasions that I really have a taste for pasta I prefer to keep it light if possible. The other day I thought about finally writing up the recipe to my delicious pasta salad (according to some friends) but switched gears when I was looking through the frig and saw a beautiful bag of arugula.


Arugula has a unique nutty taste and I like using it in various salads and in my Chicken and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce recipe. Since making a light pasta dish was my goal I thought tortellini would be a good choice to go with the arugula. Tortellini is small but can be quite filling. Plus, tortellini is fille with wonderful things like cheese, spinach and sun dried tomatoes. I usually buy mixed tortellini just so I can have an abundance of flavors playing with my taste buds.


My son is not much of a salad person so I was not sure if he would even try the tortellini salad. I had two things going for me though. One… he loves any kind of pasta and two…. he loved the Chicken and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce recipe which had arugula in it. True to form, he gave me a thumbs up because of the pasta. Now I know for sure no matter what recipe I make my son will eat it as long as it has pasta. I also know tortellini and arugula make a pretty good salad.


Tortellini Salad with Arugula

1 20 oz pkg of mixed tortellini
1 bag arugula
1 small tomato seeded and sliced thin
½ cup Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup calamata olives
¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese
½ tsp cracked black pepper
salt (optional since olives are salty)

Place arugula in a large bowl. Add olives, feta cheese and tomatoes. Top with shaved parmesan cheese and sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

Prepare tortellini according to package and drain. Add hot tortellini to the bowl then pour salad dressing over pasta. Gently toss pasta and arugula together until well mixed. Enjoy as a warm salad or chilled slightly.

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