Simple Creamy Fennel Salad

This salad happened by default as I came home from food shopping without the cucumber that was on my list. I wanted to make a creamy mizeria, a Polish cucumber salad that is so easy, just blended with sour cream and dill, that goes just great with fish dishes. I love this salad, it’s cool and refreshing. But here I was making baked cod in the oven and was craving that creaminess that goes so well with fish. So I looked into the fridge, hoping to find a sad cucumber somewhere but no…a fennel bulb stared back at me…and it made a great stand in for the salad. It was creamy, bright and delicious. I will surely be making it again and I hope you give it a try! Enjoy!

  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
  • sea salt

Combine everything in one bowl, while you do a happy dance, as this is done in no time. ;) Season to taste and garnish with those pretty fennel fronds and include some in your salad too. Serves about 2-4.

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Shrimp & Celery Salad

Ohhh I know it’s the middle of winter and about a foot of snow fell yesterday and that little cute chubby groundhog predicted another six weeks of winter. Maybe that’s what pushed me over the edge, towards a healthy shrimp salad? I’m not sure what did it but it’s such a good salad because it’s the best of both worlds, hearty from the shrimp, light from the lemon vinaigrette and full of flavor with olives and sweet peppadews. This salad transports you to sunnier days with roses blooming outside and a nice tall glass of icy lemonade, enjoyed outside. To wishful thinking that cutie Phil is wrong. ;)

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 4 celery sticks, sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 6 sweet red peppadews, sliced
  • about 6 Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon

In a small bowl, pour the vinegar over the red onions and allow to sit, while you get the other preparations underway. Bring a pot of small water to a boil, add in the shrimp. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside. In a non-reactive bowl, combine the shrimp, celery, olives, peppadews, sliced onions and vinegar, olive oil and the juice of the lemon. I like to enjoy this right away. Serves about 3.

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Simple Tomato & Feta Salad

It’s the simple things in life that can put a smile on my face, a sunny day, a pile of pumpkins sitting on a front porch, a cola in the afternoon, (I know, I know) a spoonful of Nutella before bed (I know, I know…trust me, I know, lol), the last bits of tomatoes from a garden…I took a small trek to the local general store by me, (to burn of the cola and Nutella) and found a sweet pile of garden grown cherry tomatoes, waiting just for me. The woman at the counter put the tomatoes in their container into a brown paper bag and I dug my hand inside to give her back the container, so she could reuse it. She said, “Oh…I don’t think I’m gonna be needing it, I don’t think there are too many tomatoes left…”

Ohh..the bittersweet end of summer…

I came home, to rip open the bag and make this simple tomato and Feta cheese salad. It’s so rich and indulgent, it can also be used as a condiment, topping grilled chicken, eggplant or steak. Enjoy!

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  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 2×3 inch square good Feta cheese (made from sheep and/or goat) crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine everything and serve. Serves 3-4.

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Tomato & Chickpea Salad

The end of summer always makes me sad and I try to let it linger as long as I can, walking past the pile of pumpkins as quickly as I can. And I don’t dare give the mums a second glance. I’m always in denial this time of year. The scent of cinnamon pine cones are inviting but I press onto the pile of end-of-summer tomatoes; slightly green and cracked. It brings me to a happy place, letting summer smile a little longer. The best part of this salad is its’ ease; no cooking required. You can serve this with grilled chicken or fish for a main meal or with a green salad on the side for a light lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

  • A couple of handfuls of tomatoes, roughly chopped to the size of the chickpeas
  • 1 1lb & 13oz. can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 4 kirby cucumbers peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 1/3 cup Castelvetrano olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon preserved Meyer lemon
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • sea salt if needed

Combine all of the ingredients and serve at room temperature. The amount of tomatoes in this recipe is up to you but with juicy, ripe tomatoes, the more the better. Serves about 4-6.

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Cleansing Fennel Salad

This is so simple it’s almost embarrassing to share but it’s such a helpful recipe whenever you have an upset stomach or heartburn. I had some heartburn last night and I had about a cup of this simple salad and I almost immediately felt better. This isn’t a salad for everyone’s palate as it is tart and full of that signature fennel flavor. It’s nice added to a salad or if you are a fennel lover, served alongside roasted salmon or chicken.

  • 1 fennel bulb with some fennel fronds reserved along with a fennel frond branch for garnish
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • sea salt to taste
  • a generous drizzle of olive oil

Begin by trimming up your fennel, using just the bottom portion. Quarter the bulb and slice using a mandoline slicer on the thinnest setting. (Be careful as mandolines are one of those therapeutic kitchen tools that once you get into the rhythm of it, you kind of forget how it can do some damage to those pretty fingers of yours.) Add in the lemon juice, fennel fronds, sea salt and olive oil. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Garnish with the fennel frond branch. Serves about 3-4 or if you need some major cleansing, 1. Enjoy!

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Quick Steakhouse Salad

Now and then, I make a quick steakhouse salad for lunch; using roast beef from the deli counter, crisp greens and decadent Roquefort cheese, for that added special touch. It doesn’t take long to get this salad together but the flavors take you to a good steakhouse dinner in the middle of the day. Enjoy!

  • romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
  • seedless cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • a few cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • a few baby arugula leaves
  • a few roast beef slices
  • thinly sliced or crumbled blue cheese
  • raw pistachio nuts, chopped
  • pistachio nut oil
  • a good sweet and fruity balsamic vinegar or even better a glaze

There is no right or wrong way to make the salad or correct amounts. But a good tip is to mix the salad greens. I love red onions, so I always add a little extra. Not a fan of tomatoes? Just leaves them out and then top your greens with a few slices of the roast beef and top with the blue cheese and pistachios. Serve with the oil and vinegar on the side.

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Creamy Old Bay Flounder Salad

The other day, I was really in the mood for a crab salad, slightly sweet with a little bit of Old Bay flavor and thought why not try to make a faux crab salad using flounder? Thinking it’s equally subtle in flavor; maybe not as sweet as crab but I thought it would do. (And maybe I haven’t had crab salad in a while, but it tasted very close, lol.)  And at the very least, this makes a tasty, creamy salad, perfect between crisp toast, topped on a green salad with juicy cherry tomatoes on the side or served with crackers. It’s a nice change from the ordinary lunch, hope you enjoy!

  • 3/4 pound flounder
  • heaping spoonful of mayonnaise
  • 2 wedges of lemon
  • tablespoon minced dill
  • sea salt
  • a few dashes of Old Bay seasoning

Bring a pot of water to a boil,(about half a full pot is just fine.) Add in your fish and and one of the lemon wedges, giving it a good squeeze before tossing it into the water, along with some sea salt. Allow it to simmer on low for about 5 minutes, until it flakes with a fork. Drain, and rinse with cold water or allow to cool on its’ own. Flake the fish with a fork, giving it a good look-over for small bones and gently squeeze dry with your hands. To the fish, add the mayonnaise, dill, Old Bay seasoning, the juice of the remaining lemon wedge and give it a good stir. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Serves 2.

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Nasturtium Leaf, Juicy Fig and Manchego Salad

My nasturtiums haven’t bloomed in a while now. They are a big pot of greenery, which I’m grateful for. I have to come to terms that summer is shining the last of its’ deep sunshine. And today was true gift with the temperatures in the nineties. But just because my nasturtiums haven’t come to flower with their bright orange bursts of beauty, doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy them. The leaves are a nice change from usual salad lettuces and if you like arugula, you will enjoy nasturtiums’ bite. And this salad is just beautiful and is nice to enjoy on a day such as today, a day of remembrance where slowing down and being grateful for the simple things in life takes precedence. Get a beautiful plate and enjoy this salad with someone special. Enjoy!

  • nasturtiums leaves
  • 2 figs, halved
  • honey
  • fresh walnuts
  • a few thin slices of Manchego cheese
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • roasted walnut oil
  • a fruity balsamic vinegar

There really is no right or wrong way to arrange this salad, just drizzle a little honey over the figs and arrange however you like, top with fresh walnuts and fresh ground pepper. Pass around the roasted walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt so you can top it as you like. Serves 2.

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Vegan Mizeria

There is a Polish cucumber salad, that I just love, “Mizeria.” It’s pronounced almost sounding like it would promise misery but I promise you it’s doesn’t. It’s oh-so-creamy, refreshing and is usually served alongside a typical hearty Polish meal, such as a deliciously pan-fried pork cutlet served with chunks of buttery yellow potatoes. It’s a nice salad served at a buffet as it compliments almost every meal. It’s just heaven on a plate and topped with lots of fresh dill, makes it herby and gives it a lightness. It’s such a simple dish consisting of cucumbers, sour cream and dill and I thought making it vegan would be a nice change. I thought that substituting coconut milk for the sour cream would give the salad that signature creaminess and it did. But when opening a can of coconut milk, it usually doesn’t have that sour cream texture of dense white clouds begging to be scooped up with kettle cooked chips, so I had to improvise and remembered a great tip that I came across on the blog, “Pastry Affair.” (An affair it is, decadent recipes accompanied by sexy pictures of heavenly, buttery richness. Go there now.) It was a recipe to make a sweet coconut cream and it requires refrigerating the can of coconut milk for at least eight hours and then carefully flipping the can over, opening it and pouring off the top and whipping the rest. I omitted the sugar and vanilla, added lemon juice and make a surprising bowl of sour cream. I think I need to experiment on this one a little bit but I loved it enough to make it again and it satisfied that mizeria craving. Enjoy!

  • 3/4 pound kirby cucumbers (about 5), peeled and sliced thin, (a mandoline works great for this.)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • a little less than a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh dill, minced plus more for garnish
  • sea salt

Begin by gently salting your cucumbers, tossing them and allow them to sit while you make your “sour cream.” As explained above, take your can out of the fridge and flip it over, open your can of coconut milk and pour off the top liquid which is more of a creamy coconut water and reserve for another use. What’s left is the consistency of a thick creamy soup with the bottom holding more of the coconut cream. I think it really depends of what kind of coconut milk you use. I’ve opened a can of coconut milk and it was very watery and some were oh-so-thick. The bottom should measure out about 3/4 of a cup. Using a hand held immersion blender, blend with the lemon juice, until it is about the thickness of sour cream. Take a paper towel and run it through the cucumbers, so you dry them. Combine the cucumbers, “sour cream” and minced dill. Season as needed with more salt and garnish with fresh dill. Serves about 4. Double the recipe as needed.

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Red Leaf Lettuce, Fennel, Bacon & Egg Breakfast Salad

Breakfast salad? I know what you are thinking but on those really hot mornings where it was about ninety degrees at ten in the morning, it was just what made sense. Craving cool lettuce with salty and smoky bacon, I added fennel for an extra special touch along with an over easy egg and this is one breakfast salad that I’m going to make again, real soon. Maybe even for dinner next time. Enjoy!

  • a few red leaf lettuce leaves, about 2 cups chopped
  • 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced about 2 cups
  • a tablespoon finely chopped fennel fronds with some reserved as a garnish
  • 2 slices bacon, thinly sliced, and cooked until desired doneness1 egg cooked over easy
  • 1 tablespoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, cooked how you like

Whisk the sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice together, season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Adjust the seasonings accordingly and set aside. Combine the lettuce, fennel, (using a mandoline speeds up the slicing process tremendously. I don’t know what I did without it.) the fennel fronds, bacon and dressing right before serving. Top with the egg and garnish with the fennel fronds. Serves 1.

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