Tag Archives | salad

Thoughts on Potlucks + Baby Arugula and Oregon Berry Salad

baby arugula and berries

This post is sponsored by the folks at the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission. Nobody grows berries like Oregon does!

All week now, I’ve had potlucks on the brain. It’s in part because I’ve been reading potluck-centric comments all week on that The Homemade Kitchen giveaway (have you entered yet?). However, it’s also because with fall-like weather finally here, it just feels like the time to make a shareable dish, and gather with friends to eat.

Stahlbush Island Farms berries

Whenever I plan a dish to bring for a potluck, there are a few things I keep in mind. First in my mind is to make something flexible, that could make up the bulk of a meal (if offerings are sparse) but that can also be comfortably eaten alongside a wide array of other items. To me, that means that I want to make something that includes both a vegetable and a protein, but that isn’t too strongly flavored.

Oregon berries

I also want to plan something that can travel well, needs minimal assembly, holds up well at room temperature, doesn’t take up too much space on the table, and can be eaten with a fork (there’s also a subset of things I consider when taking food allergies into account).

What this typically means is that I often opt for either sturdy salads, a whole grain bake, or if I’m rushed for time, a multigrain baguette, a log of goat cheese, and a jar of jam or chutney (what good is a homemade pantry if you don’t use it?).

berries to defrost

When it comes to building a salad to take to a potluck, I have a steadfast formula. First, I pick a tasty green base (young kale, baby arugula, chopped romaine hearts, or a combination of all three). Then I choose something sweet (berries, apple slices, slivers of pear, or roasted beets are some favorites).

Finally, I choose a protein source (cheese, nuts, tofu, or chicken), something creamy (cheese or avocado, mostly), something crunchy (slivered onions, nuts or seeds, cucumbers, or carrots) and a dressing (homemade vinaigrettes made with fruit shrubs are the best).

defrosted berries

This time of year, most of us think that we have to wave goodbye to berries on our salads, but thanks to the clever folks at the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, I’ve learned a trick for defrosting frozen berries that keeps them whole and perfect for tossing into salads.

Essentially, you spread the berries out on a lined plate (paper towel or clean kitchen rag), and the use the defrost setting on your microwave in short spurts, until the berries lose their frostiness. It’s impressively effective and the berries keep their shape beautifully.

tossed berry salad

I wasn’t on top of things enough this summer to freeze local berries, but have been employing this microwave trick to prep frozen Stahlbush Island Farms berries for my salads. As a former Oregonian, I love knowing that I’m eating berries from my beloved home state.

The salad you see above included baby arugula, slivered almonds, sliced shallots, raspberries and Marionberries, crumbled feta, and a dressing of blueberry shrub, olive oil, salt, and pepper. While it was big enough to take to a potluck, this was one I didn’t share. I ate the whole thing for lunch instead.

For more information about Oregon raspberries and blackberries, look for the commission on Facebook, Twitter, or by searching the hashtag #ORberries.

Disclosure: The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission is the sponsor of this post. They provided the berries, the OXO salad dressing shaker, and covered ingredient costs. All my opinions are my own and I’m honored to shine a spotlight on the berries grown in Oregon. 

Comments { 3 }

CSA Cooking: Shredded Everything Salad

shredded salad

I have a problem with produce management. A big part of the issue is that when confronted by a lovely array of fresh vegetables at a farmers market, I forget entirely what it is I already have at home and fill my totes with more delicious things. Add an occasional CSA share to the situation and it’s madness.

Happily, I have a relatively simple solution for the overabundance. A giant shredded salad. The genius is two-fold. First, it takes all the difficulty out of eating a giant homemade salad because the bulk of the prep work is already done. Second, it keeps for about a week, so you can make a truly giant batch and eat it for days.

You start by pulling out all the sturdy vegetables you have in your fridge. In the case of this recent batch, that included radishes*, small white turnips*, sugar snap peas, fennel, green onions, cucumber, and cabbage (other good additions include green beans, golden beets, red and green peppers, carrots, celery, and asparagus).

shredded salad for dinner

Once you have a nice selection of veg, start chopping. You can use a food processor fitted with a slicing or shredding blade, but I find that a sharp knife and one of these inexpensive handheld slicers is all the gear I need for something like this. Your only goal is to cut the vegetables thinly and in relatively similarly sized pieces.

I tend to keep the finished salad in a big ziptop bag, so that I can squeeze the air out after portioning out a serving, but a big bowl with a tight-fitting lid also works. We eat it heaped on top of greens if they’re handy, or tossed with feta, cooked farro, and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

If Scott needs something to take to work for lunch, I make a simple batch of tuna salad and pack it on top of a bowl of this shredded salad. When he’s ready to eat, he stirs the tuna into the vegetables and it serves as both protein and a dressing of sorts. When in need of a potluck or picnic contribution, I dress it the same way I would cole slaw and it is good.

*Both from my June Philly Foodworks share.

Comments { 8 }

Dark Days: Roasted Potatoes, Local Greens and a Cast Iron Frittata

Dark Days dinner

Scott and I spent the weekend away, and by the time we rolled back into town tonight, I was hungry, tired and totally weary of eating food prepared by others (admittedly, part of my fatigue came from the fact that we didn’t plan particularly well and ate more fast food than I typically eat in a month).

On the drive home, I took mental stock of my fridge and pantry, and cooked the meal you see above three times over in my head before we had even crossed back into Philadelphia.

Roasted purple potatoes (they’ve been kicking around for nearly a month now, so they were a little wrinkled but cooked up just fine), a little salad (I was praying that these greens, which I bought a week ago, hadn’t turned to sludge in the crisper, and aside from a few wilt-y pieces, were just fine — a testament to their freshness upon purchase) and a frittata made from Meadow Run Hill Farms eggs, some of the ham from last week’s pizza, a hunk of hard goat cheese from Hail Family Farms and some buying club onions and chard.

We were sitting down to eat within an hour of getting home, without calling for take-out or resorting to a heat and serve option. And most of that wasn’t active time, I de-stickered and washed all those jars I bought over the weekend while the potatoes roasted and the top of the frittata set up in the oven. Proof positive that eating local can be quick and simple, even in these dark days.

Comments { 7 }