Category Archives: Salad

The Wannabe Gourmet’s House Balsamic Vinaigrette

It’s difficult to make a vinaigrette and photograph it to make it look like something appetizing, so please forgive my indiscretion. – Jonathan

In a mason jar with a tight fitting lid (or in my case, a repurposed pasta sauce jar), combine:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar di Modena (or your favourite type of Balsamic)
1 T granulated garlic (I use granulated roasted garlic)
2 T Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1/2 tsp fresh finely ground black pepper
salt, if needed.

Close lid tightly and shake vigorously. Allow to sit for one to two hours to allow the flavours to meld. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

N.B.: The Dijon mustard acts as an emulsifier, giving the vinaigrette a more creamy consistency, but to use or not is up to you. Purists would not include it.


The Wannabe Gourmet’s Chicken Salad

There’s hundreds of variations of chicken salad recipes. This is my go-to.

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, baked and shredded
4 large eggs, boiled and diced
2 large white onions, diced
2 tbsp celery seed
4 tbsp dill pickle relish
2 cups low fat mayonnaise

Of course, you may feel free to adjust the ingredients, but once you have collected them all, simply put them in a bowl and using a large spoon, fold everything together, making sure you don’t make mush out of the chicken breasts.

Serve on toast, with crackers, as sandwiches, or even corn chips.

As a variation, you can add 1 package of Ranch style dressing/dip powder to the combination.


Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Hearty enough to be a main course in itself, use this recipe as a springboard to your own favourite creation!

1 lb of tri-colour rotini pasta, cooked to al dente.
1 lb artichoke hearts in brine
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion
1 lb white button mushrooms
8 oz sun dried tomatoes in oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
8 oz Kalamata olives
8 oz grated Parmesan
8 oz Zesty Italian Dressing (home made, or store bought; regular or light)

Slice yellow onion in half and then into not too thin wedges. In a wok, heat 2 tbsp olive oil until just shimmering. Add minced garlic and cook until just fragrant (not allowing to brown too dark or it will taste burnt) about 30-40 seconds. Add onion and reduce heat to medium low, cooking until onion is translucent.

Drain sun dried tomatoes, reserving oil for other purposes. Add to onions and garlic, and add 1/2 cup water. Sauté for six to eight minutes.

Remove veggies from wok. Add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to wok and heat until shimmering. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until cooked through and slightly browned. While this is happening, drain artichokes and discard brine. Rinse and roughly chop. Slice half the olives, retaining the other half whole.

Reserving some sauteed mushrooms for garnish, return reserved veggies, artichokes and olives to wok. Cook for 1-2 minutes further in order to allow flavours to meld.

Combine veggies with the pasta in a large bowl, adding Zesty Italian dressing and tossing to coat.

To serve, dish into individual serving bowls, top with sauteed mushroom garnish and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Buon appetito!


Seared Tuna Spinach Salad with Soy Sesame Dressing

Seared Tuna Spinach Salad

16 oz fresh tuna steaks
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz baby spinach, rinsed and drained
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings
12 oz white mushrooms, sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced into coins
2 ribs celery, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Place olive oil in skillet and heat to just to smoking. Add tuna steak and sear on each side for 45-60 seconds (tuna will be rare in the interior). Remove from pan, and allow to cool for 3 minutes, before slicing into 1/4″ slices.

Arrange 3 ounces of spinach on each plate, add carrots, red onion, mushrooms, and celery (you may also add any other vegetables you like). Place 4 ounces sliced tuna on each plate, in a star pattern. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper on the side, along with Soy Sesame Dressing.

Soy Sesame Dressing

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon Asian chili sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Serve in small dishes alongside the seared tuna salad.


Insalata Composta Degli Spinaci

Insalata Composta Degli Spinaci

1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion
1 tbsp honey
4 ounces turkey bacon, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
6 cups fresh spinach
Dijon Vinaigrette
4 large poached eggs
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In pan, heat 1 tsp oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add honey and continue to cook over medium-low heat until golden-brown (about 1 additional minute). Remove from the pan and transfer to a small bowl to cool.

Heat the same pan over high heat and add the turkey bacon pieces, frying until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel (Turkey bacon, being more lean than regular pork bacon, will render off far less fat).

Place the spinach in a large salad bowl. Add onion, and dress with the 1/4 cup Dijon vinaigrette, toss, and distribute among 4 plates. Place a poached egg on top of each, and arrange bacon pieces around edge of each plate before serving. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.

Serves: 4

Dijon Vinaigrette

2 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In bowl, whisk together the shallots, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk as you slowly add the oil. Mix well to incorporate. Keeps in refrigerator up to 2 days.


Mandarin Salad Margherita with Wasabi Dijon Dressing

Mandarin Salad Margherita with Wasabi Dijon Dressing

3 cups of salad greens (spinach, red lettuce, or your favourite mixture)
3 scallions (green onions), diced
1 small white onion, diced fine
1 small red onion, diced (or if particularly sweet sliced into bite-sized pieces)
1 six oz can of mandarin orange slices, drained
Wasabi Dijon Dressing
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon wasabi paste

In a salad bowl, combine all salad ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly. Serve with dressing on the side.

For dressing in a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, mustard, and wasabi paste. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify into the consisting you prefer. Stores well for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Serves 2, generously.