Tomato and White Bean Salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Spring has sprung. Although most of the country is still covered up with snow, the calender says that Spring is here. I know it has sprung here in Florida. Everything has a golden layer of pollen on it. Allergy season is here. Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, I’m sniffling and sneezing. Yup, it’s Spring.

To welcome the change in seasons, I made this light and refreshing salad. It’s been a particularly hot past couple of days and I wanted something easy. Something I could whip up and let chill in the fridge while I was out mowing the grass. That, is this bean and tomato salad. So, while I’m waiting for my allergy pills to kick in, I’ll teach you how to make it for yourselves.

White bean and tomato salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Here’s the fixings.

white bean and tomato salad

Let’s get started!

You’ll need 2 cans of cannellini beans, a pint of cherry type tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, agave sweetener (or honey or any sweetener), some salt and pepper, and some white balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have any white balsamic vinegar, got ahead and get some. This stuff is so good. Sprinkle a little bit in with the yolk mix, the next time you make deviled eggs! You’ll be amazed at how good this stuff makes them. If you’re sure you don’t want to go out and buy the white balsamic vinegar, use a white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar. Stick with something clear. Regular balsamic vinegar will make the salad an unpleasant dark color. We don’t want that.

Start off by draining the cannellini beans. Rinse them off, if they have a lot of bean starch in the can.

drain beans

Drain the beans

While they drip dry, get out your cutting board. Time to cut the tomatoes in half.

halving the tomatoes

Slice the tomatoes in half

Get out a large bowl and dump the drained beans into it.

Bowl of beans

Put the beans into a bowl

Dump the tomato halves in there, too.

add the maters

Add the tomatoes

Measure out a half cup of feta cheese and dump it in also!

adding feta

Add in the feta

Stack up about 20 basil leaves, roll them up and slice them thinly. That’s called a chiffonade.  I learned this from the television cooking shows. They love to chiffonade things!

Chiffonade the basil

Chiffonade the basil

You know what’s next, don’t you? That’s right, add them to the bowl.

salad

Pretty colors!

Now, to make the dressing. You’ll need a small jar. I just reuse an old salad dressing jar. Measure out the white balsamic vinegar.

making dressing

White balsamic vinegar

Then, pour it into the jar. Measure out the extra virgin olive oil. Oh, do yourself a favor. Find one of these tiny measuring cups. They make measuring multiple table/teaspoons so much easier. They’re easy to find. I found this one at my grocery store.

evoo

EVOO!

Pour it into the dressing jar, too. Measure out the agave sweetener.

agave

agave syrup

Pour it into the dressing jar, too. Measure out the salt and pepper. I’m into Pink Himalayan salt right now. Why? It’s pretty to look at. That’s why. It’s supposed to have more minerals and be better for you than regular table salt, but, salt is salt, use it sparingly. Too much salt is a bad thing. I also use a four color peppercorn blend. It’s pretty, too.

salt and pepper

pretend this picture is in focus

Add it to the dressing jar. It makes a cool glop in the bottom. Hey, I’m easily amused!

dressing mix

See the salt & pepper glop?

Close it up and shake it up!

Dressing mix

Dressing mix

Pour the dressing over the tomato & bean mix.

dressing the salad

Mix in the dressing

Pour the salad into a pretty serving bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

put into serving bowl

Put into a serving bowl.

This mix travels well, if you have a covered dish dinner to go to. To serve, place a few lettuce leaves on a plate and add about a cup of tomato bean salad mix over it.

tomato and white bean salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Tomato and White Bean Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A light and fresh salad. Perfect for lunch, brunch or a light dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 -15 ounce or 19 ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained
  • ¼ cup shredded fresh basil
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. Place halves in a bowl. Add in the drained cannellini beans, basil and crumbled feta cheese.
  2. Pour vinegar and extra virgin olive oil into a small jar. Add in the salt and pepper. Cover and shake vigorously. Pour over bean and tomato mixture. Combine well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Arrange a few lettuce leaves on a plate. Top with ¾ cup of the tomato and white bean salad.

This tomato and white bean salad also pairs will with fresh cooked orzo pasta. That makes a tasty dinner.

 

 

Sesame Ginger Slaw

Sesame Ginger Slaw

Sesame Ginger Slaw

Cole slaw. I love it. When we go out for dinner and I’m offered the choice of a side salad or slaw? I’m going with the slaw. Maybe, I just love cabbage. What I don’t love, is a mayonnaise based dressing, all-the-time! Change it up. Give me something different. Something that will make me go – wow! I like wow. Wow is good. This sesame ginger slaw is wow. Try it, you’ll be hooked. I needed something to serve to my vegan friends, and that left mayonnaise out of the question. I know there are vegan options available. But, the store was so far away, and I’m kinda lazy, so I went with what I had on hand. The result was a light, refreshing, simple to make slaw, that will make you go wow!

The ingredients:

sesame slaw ingred

The line up

You’ll need 8 cups of shredded cabbage. There’s also 4 scallions, a knob of ginger for grating, some dijon, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, black sesame seeds and agave syrup. There’s no need to haul out the heavy food processor. All you need is a cutting board and a knife. Turn the cabbage upside down, cut through the cabbage on each side of the core. Next, cut the core out of the center silce and toss it (the core) away. Lay one half, face down and slice it into thin strips.

shredding cabbage

Shredding the cabbage

Then, cut in half in the opposite direction.

shredded cabbage

cut,cut,cut it up

Cut up the rest of the cabbage in the same manner. Dump it all in a large bowl. Take your scallions and slice them on the diagonal, very thinly.

slice scallions

slice, slice, slice it up.

Throw them in the bowl with the cabbage.

cabbage

Use a big bowl!

Time to make the dressing. Get out a nonstick fry pan. Use at least a 10 inch pan. Heat it over medium for a bit, then, add the black sesame seeds. I used black because the color contrasts against the cabbage nicely.

toasted sesame seeds

Toasting the black sesame seeds.

Don’t walk off! This only takes 2 to 3 minutes. Stir them around and when you smell the toasty goodness, they’re done. Pull them off the stove. Save a teaspoon for garnish, just before you serve the salad. Time to grate the ginger.

grated ginger

grate ginger

I don’t waste time peeling it. I keep the ginger in the freezer and just pull out a chunk when I need it. I just run it across the grater and the brown peel just stays on the top. Nothing but great, grated ginger on the other side!

Get out a small bowl. To it, add the dijon, toasted sesame oil, grated ginger, agave syrup and rice vinegar.

sesame slaw dressing

sesame slaw dressing

Add in the toasted sesame seeds and whisk it all together.

sesame slaw dressing

Dressing is done

Now, if you’re not going to serve the slaw right away or you’re going to take it somewhere, cover up the dressing and stuff it in the fridge. You don’t want to dress the slaw until you’re ready to serve it. Cabbage does funky stuff to dressings. It makes them all watery and yucky. So, wait to dress. The slaw, not yourself. Unless, that’s how you roll. When you’re ready to serve the slaw, pour the dressing over the cabbage scallion mix and toss to coat. Sprinkle those reserved toasted sesame seeds over the top to purty it up.

Sesame Ginger Slaw 2

It’s right purty!

You can eat this by itself, like I did, right after I took it’s picture or serve it as a side for sandwiches, grilled tofu, dinner omelettes, or whatever! It’s a wow slaw, so wow somebody with it!

Sesame Ginger Slaw
Author: 
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A simple, refreshing vegan slaw that's easy to make.
Ingredients
  • 8 cups of chopped cabbage
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds – divided.
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon agave syrup
Instructions
  1. Place chopped cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the scallions on the diagonal. Add to the cabbage and toss to combine.
  3. Using a dry, nonstick fry pan over medium heat, toast the black sesame seeds. Stir occasionally 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, Dijon mustard, grated fresh ginger, toasted sesame oil and the agave syrup. Add in the toasted black sesame seeds, reserving 1 teaspoon for garnish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, whisk dressing and pour over cabbage mix, tossing to coat. Sprinkle top with reserved sesame seeds and serve.
  5. NOTE: If you are not serving to vegans, honey may be substituted for the agave syrup.

 

Pasta Caprese

Pasta Caprese salad

Pasta Caprese

Sometimes, it’s just to hot to spend much time in the kitchen. In Florida, that’s pretty much all the days between May & September. The air conditioner is running all the time. So, you either cook something on the grill or crank the ac down to freezing and fire up the oven. I like to take the middle and pick something that doesn’t need cooking or doesn’t use enough heat to turn the kitchen into a super nova. Salads! While this isn’t your lettuce type of salad, it’s still a salad and it uses minimum kitchen time. Plus, this has the bonus of being a perfect dish to take to a cook out.

Let’s get the cooking done, so we can go sip cold beverages on the front porch.

Pasta Caprese ingredients

the goodies

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Dump in the farfalle pasta and let it cook.

boiling pasta

Looks hot.

If you can’t find farfalle, use something else. Get some fusilli, macaroni, rotini, whatever! I wouldn’t use lasagna, though. That would just be silly.  When the pasta is cooked to your desired doneness, drain it. Don’t bend over the sink. That steam will melt your face.

draining the pasta

free facial steaming

Shake off the excess water and pour the pasta in to a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool. (and open the freezer and let the coolness waft over you)

While that pasta is cooking, let’s get the rest of the stuff ready. Take 1 cup of cherry tomatoes and cut them all in half.

cherry tomatoes

maters!

Scoop out 1 cup of little mozzarella balls. If you get the same kind as I did – hey, we have slim pickings around here – you have to unstick them from each other. If yours are liquid packed, drain off the liquid. We don’t want to use that.

ciliegine

itty, bitty cheese

Tear or snip about 3/4th a cup of fresh basil.

torn basil

basil

Grab that bowl of pasta. Add in the tomatoes, basil and cheese.

bowl of salad

pretty

Pour 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian dressing over it.

dressing

oil & vinegar don’t mix

A home made dressing would be great, if you are so inclined! Once dressed, mix it all together. Transfer the mix to a serving dish, cover it up and stick it in the fridge for an hour. You have to let everything cool down and let the flavors meld. That’s it. A quick, in and out of the kitchen, dish that’s yummy. Now, grab that cold beverage and go chill out! You deserve it after all your hard work.

Pasta Caprese

Think cool thoughts.

Pasta Caprese
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A fresh, simple pasta salad in the caprese style.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of farfalle pasta – dry
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes – halved
  • 1 cup mozzarella pearls or ciliegine
  • ¾ cup fresh basil – torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup of bottled Italian style salad dressing or home made
Instructions
  1. Boil pasta in salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness is reached. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut the cherry tomatoes into halves. Measure out the cup of small mozzarella balls. Tear or snip the basil into small pieces.
  3. Add the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to the bowl with the pasta. Pour the Italian dressing over all. Stir to combine. Transfer to serving dish, cover and chill for one hour before serving.

 

A savory salad

Cornbread Salad

What can I say? The recipe title had me hooked. One word – cornbread. As a girl raised in the south, that was one half of a meal. The other half was beans. And I was happy. I love cornbread.

I also love tinkering with recipes. You know,  just a tweak here and there until you have perfection. Or, at least a dish that the whole family will eat.

After I got done tweaking this recipe, about the only thing that stayed the same was the title. After all, it was cornbread, I can’t improve on that!
Here’s the starting line up.

First off, make yourself a pan of cornbread. You only need a 8 x 8 pans worth, so a box of the mix is perfect. Or, you can go nutso like me, and make a 9 x 13 pan.

I use this masa cornbread  The smell of the dry masa roasting in the oven is enough to send me into a drooling stupor.

This is an easily do-ahead step. It’s a good use for left over cornbread. If there is such a beast. It’s best to start with a cool pan of cornbread so you don’t burn your fingers while cutting it up.

Open your can of black-eye peas and drain them. Set them aside while you make the dressing.

Combine the mayo with the sweet relish and pickle juice. Add enough juice to get a pourable dressing.

Now, bust out the cutting board, you’ve got some chopping to do.

Preheat your oven to 400 º. Cut your cornbread into 1 inch cubes and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, stirring at the halfway mark to ensure even browning. Remove from oven when times up, or when they are toasty brown.

Now for the cold veggies. Give the romaine a rough chop. Core your tomatoes and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. I just happened to have two black krim tomatoes and one pink lady, fresh from my garden. Yum!

Give your pepper a 1/4 inch dice. Here’s where I wish I’d used a yellow pepper. The contrast in colors would have been pretty. Then, halve your leek and slice into thin half moons. If you don’t have a leek, scallions work just fine.

Gather all your chopped, diced and cubed ingredients, cause it’s assembly time! Get out a large bowl. Start with a layer of cornbread cubes to the bottom. Then, add the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and black-eyed peas.

Use approximately 1/2 of your ingredients for each layer. Drizzle on a layer of dressing.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, and dressing, finishing with a few cornbread cubes on top.

Cornbread Salad

Serves 8.  Chill 1 hour before serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cornbread mix prepared or whatever gives you an 8 x 8 pan full             For the salad:
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 tomatoes cored and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, your choice of colors, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 leek, the white and light green parts only or 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 Can of black-eyed peas 15-ish ounces, drained and rinsed                        For the dressing:
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle juice

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut cooled cornbread into 1 inch cubes. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400º. Turn cubes at the halfway mark to ensure even browning.

Remove from oven when toasty brown and cool completely.

Drain and rinse the black-eyes peas.

Mix the dressing ingredients to make a pourable dressing.

Chop all vegetables.

In a large serving bowl, place a layer of cornbread cubes. Top with half the vegetables and a layer of dressing. Repeat layers, ending with dressing and top with the prettiest cornbread cubes.

Chill one hour before serving.

Enjoy!