I’m so glad May is finally here–the weather is warming up, flowering trees are in full bloom, and more and more plants and flowers are springing up! And this time of year I start craving more summery kinds of foods–foods that are easy to make with minimal or Continue reading
If you like tart and tangy, savory and salty flavors, then this is a salad you may want to try! I decided to make this when my friend Greg gave me some cucumbers from his garden. You can’t go wrong combining cucumbers with tomatoes, but when you add in some feta cheese and Kalamata olives, that really gives this salad a special zing! The “dressing” in this salad is very simple…just some lemon juice and olive oil. So there are lots of healthy ingredients in this. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can chop up larger tomatoes into chunks and that should work fine. If you have a garden, it’s a great way to use all those cucumbers and tomatoes you’re growing this summer!
TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD WITH FETA by NancyC
Makes about 5 servings
- 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
- 2 small to medium cucumbers, diced into 1/2″ chunks (about 2 cups diced)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced (slice both the white onion part and green stems)
- 1 cup pitted and sliced or halved Kalamata olives
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
In large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the thyme, salt, pepper, and feta cheese.
Add in the cucumber, green onions, and olives; toss with the tomato/feta cheese mixture, tossing everything together well (you can let this mixture sit at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving). Just before serving, add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss everything together well. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
I love using fresh veggies from the garden or farmer’s market in summer recipes! Are you growing any veggies this summer?
It’s always fun trying out different ways to make salads–it makes salad-eating a little more interesting! In the summer months, I like adding strawberries and blueberries to my salads. So I thought I’d try making a more “wintry” salad with apples and pears, inspired by this recipe. There’s also creamy crumbles of feta cheese mixed in, along with some healthy pecans that give this salad a nice flavor and crunch! I learned recently that pecans are rich in antioxidants and contain heart-healthy mono and ployunsaturated fats. They’re also rich in fiber–a handful of pecans contain the same amount of fiber as a medium-sized apple! I had received a complimentary sample of Bergeron Pecans through the National Pecan Shellers Association, and they were a perfect addition to this salad!
APPLE PEAR PECAN SALAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Foods
Makes 6-8 servings
- 8 cups of packaged salad mix (about a 5.5-ounce package) or coarsely chopped romaine lettuce
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries, divided
- 1 medium or large apple, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium or large pear, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese, divided
- 1 cup pecan halves or coarsely chopped pecans, toasted or untoasted, divided (I used Bergeron Pecans)
- 1 bottle of your favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (regular or lite)
In a large salad bowl, toss together the lettuce, half of the dried cranberries (1/3 cup), and all of the chopped apple and pear. Then add in half of the crumbled feta cheese and half of the pecans (1/2 cup) and toss all ingredients together. Sprinkle the remaining dried cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese on top. Serve on individual plates and drizzle each serving with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.
Toasting Pecans: For more crunchiness and flavor, you can toast your pecans in the oven by spreading in a single layer in a shallow baking pan; bake at 350˚ for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. To toast pecans on the stove top, place them in an ungreased skillet and cook on medium heat until golden brown, stirring frequently. To toast pecans in the microwave, place up to 1 cup pecans in a microwaveable shallow dish; microwave on high until crisp, stirring every 30 seconds.
This salad is great with a meal–a larger serving of it can even be a meal in itself! What types of recipes do you like to use pecans in?
Linked to Tidy Mom–I’m Loving It.
If indulging in British delicacies from another era sounds good to you, then you’ll need to check out The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, inspired by the popular Emmy Award-winning series. I recently received a review copy from the publisher and enjoyed looking through this classic recipe collection. There’s a wide range of sophisticated snacks, entrees, and desserts, including Mrs. Isobel Crawley’s Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches, Saxe-Coburg Soup, Potatoes Lyonnaise, Mrs. Patmore’s Downstairs Pork Pie, Decadent Chocolate Almond Cake with Sour Cream Icing, Classic Vanilla Rice Pudding, William’s Bilberry Pie, and many more delicious-sounding recipes.
Author Emily Ansara Baines points out: “In a world where appearance is key, it’s no surprise that each meal served at Downton Abbey is a gargantuan display of opulence.” So trying out these recipes is a great way to treat yourself! 🙂
I decided to try one of the salads, since it was very unique and different from any I had ever made–the Spinach and Feta Salad with Fresh Beetroot. I am developing a taste for beets more and more, so I really enjoyed this salad…and the fact that it has feta cheese in it, too, is appealing to me since I’m a big feta cheese fan! The candied walnuts that top the salad are also a great touch.
Here’s the recipe…
SPINACH AND FETA SALAD WITH FRESH BEETROOT from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
The unique addition of fresh beets–known as beetroot in London–mixed with these ingredients makes for a surprising, but delicious salad that everyone at Downton Abbey would enjoy. The festive mix of sweet flavors (such as maple syrup and orange juice) would provide guests at any garden party or luncheon with an extra excuse to smile.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 4 medium beets, scrubbed, trimmed, and cut in half
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 10 ounces fresh spinach, washed and dried (I used baby spinach leaves)
- 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 oranges, sliced
- Place beets in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool, then cut beets into cubes.
- Place walnuts in a skillet and briefly heat over medium-low heat. Add maple syrup and butter. Cook and stir until walnuts are evenly coated, then remove from heat and let cool.
- In a small bowl whisk together orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and set aside.
- Place a large helping of spinach leaves on plates, then divide candied walnuts among plates over greens. Place equal amount of beets over greens, then top with feta cheese. Drizzle each plate with some of the dressing, followed by orange slices.
Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Or a fan of classic British recipes?
I have many friends who are great cooks, and Matt is one of them–in fact, I fully expect him to go to culinary school one day and become a professional chef! Everything he makes is really good. Like me, he loves baking sweets and rich desserts, but also likes making healthy dishes…like this Couscous and Lentil Salad. He brought it in to work for a special lunch gathering one day and I had the chance to taste some of it. I loved it! Not only does it taste great, it’s also made with lots of healthy ingredients…lentils, olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese…what’s not to like about this? 🙂 I asked Matt if I could have his recipe so I could share it with you. It’s a great side dish for lunch or dinner. It’s actually a good meal in itself if you’re wanting something light and healthy.
So thanks to Matt, you can try this too! Let me know how you like it!
COUSCOUS AND LENTIL SALAD
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
- 1 cup couscous (can also use quinoa)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced and mashed into paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves OR basil leaves
- 1 cup arugula, stems discarded and chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup chopped cucumber, seeds removed
- 3/4 cup feta, crumbled
- optional: can also add sweet peppers and/or kalamata olives, and use with any combination of the vegetables above. Also works well without the cheese.
Cover lentils with water by a couple of inches and simmer approximately 15 minutes, tasting periodically — they should be just tender and not mushy. Drain well and transfer to a bowl, and stir in one tablespoon vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.
Prepare couscous according to package directions using water or chicken stock and the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Fluff couscous after standing for 5 minutes and transfer immediately to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together garlic paste (made with the 2 mashed garlic cloves and salt) and remaining vinegar and oil to make a dressing; add salt and pepper to taste. Combine lentils and garlic dressing mixture with couscous and stir well. Cover and chill in refrigerator.
Before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste. Add more oil and vinegar if necessary.
Matt said this recipe makes 6 to 8 side servings.