Sweet Strawberry Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Sweet Strawberry Salad! Whenever you feel the need to change things up a bit from your ordinary salad, think strawberries! Did you know the strawberry is actually a cousin to the rose family? Truth. In history, they represent love, purity, and perfection. Hmmm. And of course, everyone knows how deliciously sweet they are. Okay, I’m in. Serve a strawberry salad and watch everyone’s face break into a smile. Think strawberries! 🍓

SWEET STRAWBERRY SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound Spring Mix, gently torn

1 quart strawberries, caps removed and halved

4 green onions, snipped

1 cup harvarti cheese, grated

1/2 cup sugared pecans, chopped

1/3 cup bacon pieces

1/2 cup lemon olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic reduction

Instructions:

Combine Spring Mix salad greens, strawberries, and green onion snips in a large bowl. Gently add cheese to mix. Top with sugared pecans and bacon. Toss with lemon olive oil to coat. Drizzle balsamic reduction over all.

Mandarin Orange Side Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Mandarin Orange Side Salad! Whenever I serve this colorful side salad to my guests, they rave about the dressing. I create my own version of infused garlic oil, but it can be purchased at your local grocery. Dark, leafy watercress can also be found at the area Farmers Market this time of year. A little bit goes a long way in adding a surprisingly light peppery taste. When partnered with oranges and tomatoes, it refreshes the palate for the next course. If you like a tastier and fresher alternative to an ordinary garden salad, give this one a whirl.

MANDARIN ORANGE SIDE SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup watercress

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

18 mandarin orange segments

1/4 cup bacon pieces

1/4 cup almonds, sliced

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Divide the romaine lettuce, watercress, cherry tomatoes, mandarin oranges, bacon, almonds, and cheese evenly between 6 salad bowls. Serve chilled with dressing. (See dressing recipe below.)

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup garlic vegetable oil

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

Instructions:

Combine garlic vegetable oil, wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, sea salt, dry mustard, and onion. Whisk well until blended. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Lime Cilantro Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Lime Cilantro Dressing! The first time I tasted this unique dressing with a southwestern kick, I wanted to put down my fork and literally guzzle it by the spoonful. Then again, I’m a fan of fresh cilantro. It’s one of those herbs, I’ve discovered, people either love it or hate it. If you can’t handle it….well, I’ll see you tomorrow when I bake something sweet and decadent. For those who choose to remain, grab a spoon and hang on!

LIME CILANTRO DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut in quarters

1 garlic clove

3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup natural honey

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Combine the jalapeño pepper, garlic clove, and ginger root into a mini chopper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add lime juice, natural honey, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. Pulse to mix. Add cilantro leaves. Pulse a little longer to blend. With the mini chopper on Low, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing until it is completely blended. It is now ready to serve.

Fennel Honeydew Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Fennel Honeydew Salad! One final “hurrah” before you leave warm weather behind may be this tangy fruit salad sprinkled with niblets of sweet corn and a hint of anise. Are you intrigued? Ripe honeydew, in my opinion, emits a gloriously sweet fragrance that practically makes my mouth water. Once I cut into it, I find myself wandering back to the refrigerator for tidbits the way a bird eats at a feeder. One bite, close the door, visit a blog, get up, return for another snack, check Twitter, meander back, and peck at it again. Finally I surrender my willpower and stand at the kitchen sink taking in small bits until another wedge is gone. What’s a girl to do?

FENNEL HONEYDEW SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1/4 section ripe honeydew, rind and seeds removed, then sliced

3-4 fennel stalks, cut into 2” pieces with ends split

1/4 cup fresh sweet corn

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

1/4 cup cilantro dressing

Fennel fronds, for garnish

Instructions:

Divide lettuce between salad bowls. Arrange sliced honeydew melon over lettuce. Tuck fennel stalks around fruit. Sprinkle fresh sweet corn kernels over all. Top with chopped pistachios. Give it a dash of Everything But Bagel seasoning. Drizzle cilantro dressing over salad. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve chilled.

X-quisite Caesar Salad Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: X-quisite Caesar Salad Dressing! Ever wonder why restaurants add an upcharge when customers order a Caesar Salad? One of the reasons is the time involved. Fine restaurants will have the server make it table-side for presentation. That’s pretty cool. Another reason is the high quality of ingredients required, especially if you don’t cut corners. Romaine is the lettuce of choice, not iceberg. Anchovies are also a key ingredient, not sardines. Do you see a pattern here? Plus olive oil, parmesan cheese, and homemade croutons are in there. I see you nodding your head in agreement. Naturally, this all adds up for the restaurant so they need to pass it along to you. That’s why I’m here to offer you a tasty alternative. Just like cooking at home is less expensive than eating out, every once in awhile you get the urge to satisfy that food craving right where you live. Make sense?

X-QUISITE CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 anchovies

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

Romaine lettuce, gently torn

Buttered croutons*

Parmesan cheese, shaved

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

Instructions:

Combine grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, lemon juice, anchovies, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Run on Low speed. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil another 30 seconds until thick and creamy. Divide the torn romaine lettuce between salad plates. Add buttered croutons. Drizzle Caesar Salad Dressing over all. Top with shaved parmesan cheese. Garnish with a sprinkling of Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste. Serve immediately.

*To make buttered croutons, warm 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce in a medium skillet. Add 3 cups of day-old artisan bread cubes or sliced bagel pieces. Cook over medium heat, gently tossing to coat, until croutons are golden brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towel-lined platter. Lightly season with Everything But Bagel seasoning.

Fried Goat Cheese Rounds

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Fried Goat Cheese Rounds! Now you’re speaking my language. Something fried, something cheesy. And throw in a salad for good measure. Goat cheese, to begin with, is similar to feta but with a nuttier tang to it. Does that make sense? When it’s coated with a dusting of Panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning, then quick-fried in an olive oil-butter blend, the results are amazing. The outside is crunchy while the inside melts in your mouth. I prefer an oil and vinegar dressing, but certainly you can opt out for your favorite bottled dressing if you’re short on time. Either way, the cheese is the main attraction on a plate of mixed salad greens. You know you wanna try it. Permission granted.

FRIED GOAT CHEESE ROUNDS

Ingredients:

4-ounce log goat cheese, refrigerated

1 egg white, beaten

1/2 tablespoon water

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Mixed Salad Greens

Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 tablespoon olive oil, for frying

1 tablespoon butter, for frying

Ingredients for Dressing:

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Cut the cold goat cheese into 1/2” thick slices. Whisk the egg white (save yolk) and water together in a small dish. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine Panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning. Dip each slice of cheese in the beaten egg white, then coat both sides with breadcrumbs. Place cheese rounds on a wax paper-lined platter. Refrigerate 15 minutes. To make the dressing, use a small food processor. Combine apple cider vinegar, garlic wine vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, and egg yolk. Blend for one minute. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the top of the lid. As it seeps through the holes, the vinaigrette will thicken. Toss the salad greens and tomato halves with enough dressing to moisten. Divide among salad plates. Warm 1/2 tablespoon olive oil plus one tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Do not scorch. Quickly fry the goat cheese rounds until golden brown on both sides. Do not melt the cheese inside. Top each salad with 2-3 fried goat cheese rounds. Serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter W

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Wayward Wedge Salad! I get so excited when I come across bleu cheese at the Farmers Market! Recently, I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on a nice creamy chunk of Amish Bleu Cheese. And rather than nibble the entire portion away, I thought I better do something healthy with it. Does anyone else struggle with an internal tug-of war?

WEDGE SALAD

Ingredients:

1 head iceberg lettuce

6 slices bacon, precooked

2 eggs, hard cooked and chopped

Blue cheese crumbles

Blue cheese dressing

2 Campari tomatoes on the vine, quartered

Instructions:

Chill 4 salad plates in refrigerator. Cook bacon until crisp; let cool and crumble. Set aside. Quarter and core lettuce. Place one wedge on each chilled plate. Top with dressing, bacon, tomatoes, and chopped egg. Garnish with cheese crumbles. Serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Unique Greek Salad Dressing! For those who are addicted to that dab of tzatziki sauce you get on a gyro, now you have a way to make a variation of it yourself. Simply made, it’s a refreshing low-fat alternative to the creamy classics. Top off your sandwich or salad for lunch and then try it on baked potatoes later on. Win, Win!

UNIQUE GREEK SALAD DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

2 green onions, snipped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and grated

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh dill weed

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Cracked pepper to taste

Instructions:

Peel cucumber. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Grate and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Put in strainer over a bowl to drain excess water. It takes about one hour. Then squeeze more water out of cucumber and pat dry. Put yogurt, onions, and chives into a medium bowl and set aside. In another bowl add cucumber and whisk in vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dill, sea salt, and pepper. Mix well until blended. Fold into the yogurt until combined. Chill one hour to enhance flavors.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter S

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Sombrero Bread Bowl! OMG, this is the best kept secret! Go to your nearby Bakery and choose a savory artisan bread, small loaf. I chose Rosemary Olive Oil. From there, the biggest challenge is waiting for your mouth-watering seasoned creation to come out of the oven! Repeat after me, “All good things come to those who wait!” You can thank me later.

SOMBRERO BREAD BOWL

Ingredients:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

1/2 cup ranch salad dressing

1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 green onions

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

14.5-ounce round loaf of artisan loaf

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. In medium bowl, blend Neufchâtel cheese, ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, red pepper flakes, and bacon until well mixed. Stir in onion snips. Cut off top of bread bowl. Hollow out insides. These may be used for dipping later. Fill center cavity with creamy mixture. Replace top. Wrap entire loaf in foil. Bake for 90 minutes. Peel back foil to expose bread bowl. Bake 30 minutes longer. Serve warm with bread cubes, multi-colored tortilla chips, and green onions. Enjoy!