Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

Happy Friday friends! Sorry for the blog silence yesterday. It was a holiday here in Bavaria {these wonderful Catholics seem to have a holiday for everything!} and, while it was not my intention to take the day off, sometimes spending quality time with the Kiwi just trumps.

During our day off yesterday, I started reading Inferno. While the Kiwi has some strange hatred for Dan Brown books {despite having never picked up a singe one}, I quite like them, so I’m pretty excited to read this new one. I knew it was set in Florence, but man, its like I’m there again, except for the whole being on the run from an assassin. {That’s not a spoiler it’s on like page 2. Plus what else is Robert Langdon going to be doing? Sightseeing?} Really though, its making me miss Florence, Italian food, and wine. Mostly the wine…and the truffles.

Obviously this Tuscan salad was happening. I was inspired by a recipe one of my absolute favorite bloggers {seriously, Emily’s blog was what introduced me to this wonderful world of blogging} posted a long time ago.  We tweaked it a bit based on what we had on hand and some of the salads we had in Florence, but either way it is a phenomenal salad.

Kiwi+Peach: Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

{inspired by Emily from Jones Design Company}

The Prep
10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
1 bulb of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil

The Salad
150-200 grams {2 cups or so} of mixed greens, washed
8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced
10 fresh black olives, pitted
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, crumbled
1/4 of a small red onion, sliced

The Croutons
4 thick slices of ciabatta bread
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of roasted garlic, pureed
1/4 cup pine nuts

The Dressing
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. spicy dijon mustard
1/4 of a small red onion
1 clove of roasted garlic
3-4 leaves of fresh oregano
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil

First thing we have to do is put the tomatoes and the garlic on to roast. Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. For the roasted tomatoes, slice the tomatoes in half and in a large mixing bowl combine with olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix well and then put them on a lined baking tray.  For the roasted garlic, cut the garlic bulb straight across on the stem end. Set it root side down on a piece of tin foil and pour the olive over the top. Wrap it up in  the tin foil and place on the tray with the tomatoes. Pop them in the oven for an hour.

Go chill out for 45 minutes. Read Inferno, or I guess you could be productive. Anyway…

About 15 minutes before the tomatoes and garlic are finished, come on back to the kitchen and combine all of the salad ingredients in that large bowl you were using before. Also, go ahead and slice your ciabatta bread and brush on the olive oil.

When the tomatoes and garlic are finished take them out and put the oven on broil {or grill for y’all Kiwis}. Toss the roasted tomatoes in with your salad mix.

Pop out 2 cloves from the garlic bulb and puree them in the food processor. Then spread the puree on your ciabatta bread. Place the slices on the baking sheet along with your pine nuts and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the pine nuts. You just want them to be a bit toasted, not charred. If they are toasted before the bread, just take them out, add it to the salad mix, and put the bread back in the oven.

While the bread is a toasting, let’s make that dressing. Put all of your dressing ingredients in the food processor and pulse until you’re happy with the consistency.

When the bread is toasted, take it out, chop into bite sized cubes, and add it to your salad mix. Pour the dressing over to whole thing and toss well.

Kiwi+Peach: Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

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Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad

It. is. so. hot.

I’ve started writing this post 5 times today and had to stop to go stick my head in the fridge. {TMI?} Come on, you know you do it too when it’s 50 million degrees outside. It’s days like this I miss air conditioning the most.

Our apartment is on the top floor of our building and we have huge windows in each room and the ceiling in the hall is a sky light. Please don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love all of our windows, but it’s a little like living in a green house and right now, that blows. Or rather doesn’t. Naturally we have all of the windows and doors open to create a cross-breeze which would significantly cool things down if the wind was blowing–which it’s not.

So I’ve resorted to sticking my head in the fridge and wishing it was big enough crawl inside. And while I’m there I might as well eat some watermelon, yes? And now that I’m thinking about watermelon I’m reminded that we have a lot of it. And since there is no way on God’s green earth I’m firing up that stove tonight, so I should probably figure out a salad.

Melon+mint is always a winner, right? Yes. Yes, it is.

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad from Kiwi and Peach

Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad

The Salad Fixings
100 grams of mixed field greens
3-4 mint leaves
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds {or sunflower, or flax, or etc.}
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-2 cups watermelon, cubed {It’s kind of hard to actually measure. I used about 10 pieces on each salad.}

The Dress
{adapted from Tupelo Honey}
1/4 of a sweet onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic
juice from 1/2 of a lemon {about 1 Tbsp.}
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2-3 fresh oregano leaves
3-4 fresh basil leaves
big pinch of sugar
pinch of salt and black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Wash and dry your greens and mint leaves well. Thinly slice the mint leaves, and then mix them, the greens and the rest of the salad fixings together in a large bowl.

Toss all of the dressing ingredients {except the olive oil} in the food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add half the olive oil and process for about 10 seconds. Then add the other half and continue processing until it’s a consistency you like.

Pour the dressing over the salad fixings and toss well. Enjoy!

Strawberry Red, White, and Blue Cheese Salad

Last summer the Kiwi and I took a trip to Amsterdam, and while we were there, we got some of the tastiest blue cheese in the world. Since the cheese was special {tastiest in the world I tell you}, I didn’t want to use it on just an average meal. I wanted whatever we were going to make with it to be excellent in its own right, but, at the same time, complement the blue cheese perfectly. And that, my friends, is how the idea for this salad was born. The dressing is the Kiwi’s brain child via a Gordon Ramsey TV show he saw once. He originally made it for me as a syrup for my birthday pancakes, so calling it a dressing is a bit generous, but you won’t be disappointed. The amounts of powder sugar and balsamic vinegar here are just guidelines. Feel free to be a bit liberal, it will reduce and thicken either way.

Are you like this too with special ingredients {or any product for that matter}? Do you ration it and only use it on special occasions? I ration pecans too because we can’t find them here in Germany.  We got two bags when we were in Ireland this past fall, but we are down to our last few nuts now. Sad day.

Anyway…

Last month, the Kiwi had a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam on his way back from a business trip. Instead of sitting around at the airport, he decided to head into the city and go in search of more of that blue cheese. Luckily he found it, so naturally the first thing I made with it was this beauty. {Obviously, we’ve made this with blue cheese from the shop and its great too.  I’m just telling you about the Dutch blue cheese because its out of this world and if you’re ever there you should get some.}

This would be a great addition to any summer cookout. It’s really simple to whip up and I promise people will rave!  {Plus you’ll get props for bringing a salad!  You healthy thing you–just don’t mention all the sugar in the dressing.}

Kiwi+Peach: Strawberry Red, White, and Blue Cheese Salad

Strawberry Red, White, and Blue Cheese Salad

The Salad
mixed field greens {I usually use a whole 500 gram bag, but it depends on how much you like rabbit food.}
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped pecans

The Dressing
1 pound of strawberries {3 1/2 cups}
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Before getting started, wash and dry your greens and return them to the fridge. This will make them nice and crisp.

Start heating your frying pan over medium high heat. Wash, core, and cut your strawberries into fourths. Throw them in the hot pan and add the maple syrup. Stir it in and then add the balsamic vinegar. Give it a stir and then let it simmer away for about 3-5 minutes or until it is thickened a bit and the strawberries are soft but not completely broken down. At this point I transfer it back to the bowl and put it in the fridge to chill a bit so that it doesn’t wilt the lettuce too much.

While the strawberries are cooling down, you can assemble the rest of the salad. Plate up your lettuce and generously sprinkle with the blue cheese crumbles and chopped pecans. Top with strawberries and eat up!

Orange Chorizo Man Salad

A rule of thumb in nutrition is the more colorful your plate the larger variety of nutrients you’re getting from your food. Following that logic, this salad is the king of nutritional variety. With lots of dark leafy greens, bright red peppers, black olives, and juicy chunks of orange, its as full of nutrients as it is taste, and the chorizo adds that savoriness {and protein} that many salads lack. I lovingly call this the man salad because its salad that even your carnivore can get on board with. In fact, this was actually in the Kiwi’s rotation long before he met me. What good taste he has.

Orange Chorizo Man Salad

{adapted for two from the Company’s Coming 30 Minute Meals cookbook}

The Protein
1/2 of a large chorizo sausage {about 4 ounces/125 grams}
5 or 6 walnuts {or pecans}

The Goodies
8-10 leaves of romain lettuce
1 orange
1/2 of a small red onion
1/2 of a roasted red pepper
2 Tbsp olives

The Dressing
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
dash of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Shell your walnuts and pop them in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes.

While they are toasting start heating a pan on medium heat. Peel the casing off of your chorizo and slice it into 1/2 inch chunks. Toss it in the pan and cook for about 15 minutes or until the outside has crisped up. When it is finished cooking, transfer the chorizo to a paper towel and blot the grease off.

While the chorizo is cooking you can prepare the rest of the goodies for the salad and make your dressing.

Tear up your lettuce and put it in a large salad bowl. {For crispier lettuce, wash your lettuce the night before. Pat the leaves dry on paper towels and then layer them between the now damp paper towels. Put it back in the fridge over night in the crisper drawer.} Peel the orange and cut each wedge into thirds. Thinly slice the red onion and roasted red peppers. Rinse your olives. Then toss them all into the salad bowl with the lettuce. When the chorizo and walnuts are finished toss them in as well.

For the dressing, break out the food processor.  Toss in all of the ingredients and process until the garlic is in tiny pieces and its well mixed. {If you don’t have a food processor, mince your garlic and then you can just throw all the ingredients in a jar.  Pop the lid on and give it a shake.}

Pour the dressing in the salad bowl and toss the salad well. Serve it up and enjoy your colorful man salad.

Istanbul Salad with Walnut Honey Mustard Dressing

One of my favorite things about traveling is trying local foods at the places the locals eat.  You learn so much about a culture through their food.  The way it is prepared lends insight to the community built around that preparation and consumption.  Sometimes its awkward {like when the waiter has to come over to show you how to eat your meal} and sometimes you just end up randomly pointing to something and taking a chance, but I’ve yet to have a downright terrible experience.

A few months ago, on our trip to Istanbul, we ate at this great modern Turkish restaurant, Lokanta Maya {website is in Turkish}.  They use all local, seasonal ingredients and come up with a new menu of simple, yet delicious dishes daily.  My favorite bit of the meal was our starter–a salad with pears, figs, fresh goat cheese, and nuts.  It was fresh, flavorful, and surprisingly filling {which was good because my chickpea stew was loaded with carrots}.  My first order of business when we got back, after doing the washing, was to recreate that salad.

I changed a few things based on what I had on hand, and I couldn’t recreate the dressing {I don’t know what magical yumminess they had in that thing}.  As a re-creation it wasn’t a complete success. However, the resulting salad was still amazing–delicious in its own right.  Its different from the original but still fresh, flavourful, and very filling.

Istanbul Salad with Walnut Honey Mustard Dressing

The Toppings
1 firm pear
2 figs
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
5-6 walnuts

The Dressing
{adapted from Tupelo Honey Cafe’s Pecan Vinaigrette recipe}
5 walnuts
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp whole grain sweet mustard
2 tsp whole grain spicy mustard
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil

The Salad
mixed field greens
¼ cup blue goat cheese, crumbled

Get started by shelling all of the walnuts and set them aside.

Start heating the frying pan on medium heat while you peel and slice the pear into thin slivers.  When its hot, melt the butter in the pan then add the pears and half of the brown sugar.  Cover the pan and let the pears cook for 10 minutes to get them nice and soft, stirring occasionally.  While the pears soften up, you can go ahead and crank out that dressing.

Using a food processor, grind up half of your walnuts until they are the texture of course meal.  Empty them into a small bowl and set aside.  Add the vinegar, mustards, garlic, and honey to the food processor and blend.  One tablespoon at a time add the oil, blending in between additions, until all the oil is added.  If you have one of the fancy food processors where you can add it as it blends, even better.  Do that! But I don’t, so I do it one tablespoon at a time.  Put the nuts back in the food processor, give it a blend, and you’re finished.  Now back to the toppings.

Thinly slice the figs and add them, along with the remaining walnuts, to the pears. Sprinkle with the rest of the brown sugar and give them a gentle stir {the figs are a little fragile}.  Let them candy up for about 4 minutes and then remove them from the heat.

While your figs are getting yummy, wash your greens if they haven’t been washed yet and divide them between your two bowls.  Add your toppings and dressing, and top the whole thing off with those delicious bits of crumbled blue cheese.