Quarantine Make Along: Salad + Dressing

The one thing I crave the most often is a really delicious salad. I often get weird looks when I tell people that, but it’s true. I’ve always loved vegetables and a really good salad always hits the spot for me. My favorites are ones loaded with fresh and dried fruit, some nuts for texture, and a puckery but balanced vinaigrette.

Vinaigrettes are really easy to make at home in a mason jar. We haven’t purchased that kind of dressing in years, and it’s nice because you can customize it based on what you’re feeling.

Dressing Recipe

  • 1:1 ratio of citrus juice (lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime) and extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • If you like extra flavor:
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Your favorite vinegar of choice, to taste

Shake up everything in a mason jar until well emulsified, taste, and add to your favorite salad! Keep in mind that your greens and vegetables are not seasoned so you’ll want to compensate for that by salting your dressing a bit more than you think.

Day Old Bread Croutons

In my endeavors to make less waste in the kitchen, I’ve been taking day old bread and making them into croutons, one of my favorite snacks! While stale bread may not be particularly enjoyable, just adding some olive oil and seasonings instantly transform it into a delicious snack or topping on salads.

For this batch, I used the butts of the whole wheat challah I made.

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Ingredients

  • Day old bread, cut or ripped into small pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Additional seasonings like paprika, chili powder, parmesan cheese, whatever you want!

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Layer your bread pieces on the sheet into a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings, to taste.
  3. Toss with hands to make sure all the pieces are evenly coated.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until croutons start turning brown and crisp, around 10-15 minutes.
  5. Let cool and then toss in salads or eat as a snack!

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad

This is one of the most tasty “salads” I’ve ever made. I really like the flavor combinations and the roasted eggplant gets nice and caramelized. It’s a perfect summer meal, especially if you get fresh tomatoes from the farmers market!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled and divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
  • Brown rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes and put in a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and set aside while making the marinade.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, smoked paprika, and cumin. Dab away any extra water that has beaded up on the eggplant and toss with the marinade. Stir in the garlic. Spread the eggplant on a large baking sheet, lined with parchment and slide onto a rack placed in the center of the oven. Roast for 40 minutes, or until very tender and slightly browned. (Stir every 15 minutes and check after 30 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning). Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  3. Whisk together the lemon juice and soy sauce. Return the eggplant to the bowl and toss with the lemon juice mixture. Stir in the parsley leaves, tomatoes, and most of the cheese, reserving a little.
  4. Spread the finished salad in a serving bowl and sprinkle the reserved cheese crumbles and scallions on top.
  5. Serve alongside brown rice, if desired.

Adapted from The Kitchn.

Orzo Salad with Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

This is probably my favorite, most versatile pasta salads. You can interchange the pasta and basically put whatever veggies or meat you’d like and call it good. I eat it a lot in the summer when there’s a lot of fresh produce from the farmers market. Even though it’s now winter, we had it for dinner yesterday…just slightly warmed. No one says you can only have pasta salad in the summer, anyway. 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • Assortment of vegetables (broccoli, cucumbers, celery, kale, roasted eggplant, bell peppers, etc. I used a bunch of warmed kale and broccoli)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, or similar cheese
  • 1/2 lb meat, if desired (I usually pan fry it with salt and pepper until cooked through then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and honey)
  • 8 oz orzo or other dry pasta (cooked in salted water and drained)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to directions in salted water. Drain and set aside (this can be done while preparing other things).
  2. Place all of your chopped vegetables, pasta, cheese, and cooked meat (if desired) into a large bowl.
  3. In a mason jar or a salad dressing shaker, add the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, honey/maple syrup, red chili flakes, and oil. Cover and shake until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste (make it a little saltier since the rest of the veggies and such are not seasoned).
  4. Drizzle dressing over the prepared ingredients and toss until well coated. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s totally versatile. Change out the lemon juice for another acid like rice or balsamic vinegar. Add more sugar if you’d like a sweeter taste to your dressing. Use orange juice or pomegranate juice for a fruit vinaigrette. Add fresh apples or berries to the salad for a summery harvest salad. The options are endless!