salad

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Raise your hand if you’re a diner fan! Growing up in NJ, where the best diners in the world are, I ate at these cozy, sometimes greasy establishment for breakfast, lunch, and late-night throughout my entire life. When I visit home, I don’t get to diners often enough, but I often crave favorite diner dishes like chocolate chip pancakes, iceberg salads with homemade dressings, and Reuben and Rachel sandwiches.

I don’t crave the not-so-healthy, salty corned beef that results in feeling not-so-great. Enter the Tofu Reuben. Sure, sandwich purists will laugh at this one, but our dinner last night was one to remember. It gave me the same flavors and textures of a traditional comfort food in a slightly healthier version. Served up with mixed greens and a light, homemade blue cheese dressing, it was a perfect meal. All it needed was a big slice of pie from a rotating dessert display.

 

Ingredients

1 block of extra firm tofu, liquid pressed out

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 cups of red cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup rice vinegar

4 pieces whole grain bread

thinly sliced Swiss cheese, as much as you’d like to melt over your Reuben

1 cup Russian dressing

The magic of this recipe starts with tofu that’s been pressed and drained, sliced into thin slices, and marinated overnight in Worcestershire sauce. When ready to get started on the sandwiches, get a nonstick pan nice and hot, and use tongs to place tofu slices in the pan. You’ll want to hear a nice sizzle.

Let the tofu sit perfectly still on high heat for a few minutes before flipping. The outside should have a nice crust. Once both sides have a nice sear on them, pour remaining Worcestershire over and let it cook down.

marinated tofu

While your tofu is sizzling, mix up the cabbage and vinegar and simmer on low until it cooks down. It will be tangy and vibrant with a little bit of crunch.

Before you’re ready to assemble your healthy Reuben sandwiches, you’ll want to make sure the bread is nicely toasted so it doesn’t get soggy. Either  a toaster or oven works perfectly. I let my bread toast up at 375 while I prepped everything else.

pickled cabbage

The last step is building your sandwiches, tofu, cabbage, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese slices. I popped these in the oven at 375 for about eight minutes. Swiss cheese melts quickly!

healthier Reuben sandwich

While the sandwiches were baking, I made a delicious, homemade blue cheese just by mixing up buttermilk, Greek yogurt, blue cheese crumbles, garlic powder, and salt. This definitely rivaled any restaurant dressing I have had recently and made for a light topping for fresh mixed greens.

homemade blue cheese dressing

Our Reuben sandwiches were out-of-this world, crazy good. We definitely didn’t miss the meat because all of the flavors were there, and these sandwiches were very filling.

Do you have a favorite diner food?

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Tags: diner, homemade, recipe, salad, sandwiches, tofu, Vegetarian

Once we’ve stuffed ourselves full of Thanksgiving goodness, there might be the need for a some lighter meals until the next indulgent holiday event arises. Thanks to Pamela from the fun and tasty blog My Man’s Belly for this lighter version of one of my favorites, grilled Caesar salad.

grilled caesar salad

grilled caesar salad

I’m thrilled to be doing a guest post for Meghan today, but with that comes a little pressure. What to write? What to make? How long? How short? Yes, I have probably over analyzed this, which is my nature.

If you’re wondering who this neurotic mess is that you’re reading right now, my name is Pamela and I write a blog called My Man’s Belly. If you give the site a visit, you’ll find recipes and relationship advice because I believe that food and romance are very intertwined.

Since we’re getting into that time of year when we’re all looking for comfort foods, or at least food that will help to warm us up, I thought I’d show you the recipe I use for making grilled Caesar salad. Yes, I live in sunny California and can use my grill year round, but this can just as easily be made in a grill pan on your stove top.

I realize that Caesar salads, while popular, are not usually the lowest of calorie salads. It’s also a salad that most people don’t make at home without resorting to buying a bottle of Caesar dressing. Maybe it’s the raw egg, called for in the recipe, or just the amount of time it takes to make up the dressing. Either way, I’ve got you covered with this grilled Caesar salad recipe.

Instead of the usual Caesar dressing, which basically requires you to make your own mayonnaise, I’ve lightened this up by starting with fat free plain yogurt. From there, the ingredients are easy to find and easy to make into the dressing.

A quick grilling of the lettuce, followed by a light coating of dressing and another fast trip on the grill and you’re ready to eat. Oh, and did I mention that you’ll be making your own croutons at the same time using the same dressing (which, by the way, makes THE BEST garlic bread)?

If you want to make a meal out of this salad, instead of just a side dish or appetizer, you could toss some chicken breasts on the grill a little ahead of time and everything will be finished at the same time.

Recipe: Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients

Dressing:

2 Anchovies (drained)

1 Clove Garlic

½ Cup Plain, Non-Fat, Yogurt

2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Salad:

4 Heads Baby Romaine Lettuce

Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Directions

Dressing:

Place anchovies and garlic clove in mortar and pestle or into a small flat bottomed bowl. Add a pinch of kosher salt to the pestle/bowl and mash the garlic and anchovies into a smooth paste.

Add the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper to another bowl then add in the garlic/anchovy paste.

Stir to thoroughly combine.

Let sit for 20 – 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using.

Salad:

Preheat your grill or grill pan.

Cut Romaine heads in half lengthwise. Keep the core attached to the lettuce so that it doesn’t fall apart on the grill.

Lightly drizzle the cut side of each lettuce half with some olive oil.

Place lettuce, cut side down, onto grill surface.

Cook for 30 – 60 seconds. You just want a light char on the lettuce leaves.

Using a pastry brush, or the back of a spoon, lightly coat the leaves with the dressing. You’ll want to carefully pull back some of the leaves so that you can get a bit of dressing on the inside of all of the lettuce leaves.

If you’re making the croutons, or garlic bread, spread a bit of the Caesar dressing on the cut side of the bread.

Place the dressed lettuce, and bread, cut side down on the grill.

Grill for 1 – 2 minutes (depending on how hot your grill is). This time, you’ll be getting a bit more char on the leaves. The bread may take a bit longer to cook.

Remove lettuce and bread from the grill when it is slightly wilted and a bit more charred than after the first grilling.

Depending on the size of your Romaine, and the appetites of your guests, this will either make 4 (full head) servings or 8 (half head servings).

Cut bread into cubes, if using as croutons, and sprinkle around lettuce.

Serve with lemon wedges and grated Parmesan Cheese.

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Tags: Food, guest post, healthy, recipe, salad

A brief respite in the cooler weather made for a perfect opening to have a room temperature salad for dinner last night. With warm air streaming through the windows, I got to work breaking down a pumpkin from our visit to Verrill Farm to serve as the star of the show.

sugar pumpkin

The second I cut into the pumpkin, that smell hit me, and I was suddenly standing there daydreaming about sitting around our dining room table as a little kid, newspapers laid out to take the pumpkin guts and seeds. In that moment I literally felt like I shouldn’t be holding the knife, that my dad should be doing the carving while my sister and I drew our designs and our mom brought out cider or snacks.

I hadn’t planned on toasting the seeds, but that happy memory said that I had to, the later taste and crunch again bringing me home. It’s pretty amazing how senses can do that.

pumpkin carving

Once I snapped out of my daydreaming, I got to work once again on dinner, starting with the pumpkin. I simply roasted it at 400 degrees until the flesh was tender, then peeled the blistered skin off and chopped it into cubes.

roasted pumpkin

To finish off the pumpkin, I sautéed it in brown butter and a sprinkle each of cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

roasted pumpkin with cinnamon and brown butter

Next I got my salad dressing ready, mixing apple cider, maple syrup, olive and oil, and hot paprika until it tasted just right.

maple apple cider dressing

I also cooked a cup of lentils and then got started building the salad on beds of Olivia’s Organics baby kale.

baby kale

I topped the mix of pumpkin, lentils, and kale with creamy goat cheese and the toasted pumpkin seeds. The combination was absolutely delicious! It felt great to eat salad without feeling cold inside, and I loved the mix of seasonal ingredients.

roasted pumpkin salad

I saved the remainder of the pumpkin to toss in a smoothie in the morning, a blend of vanilla soy milk, yogurt, cinnamon, pumpkin, and steamed spinach. With less than three weeks until NYC Marathon time, I need all the nutrition I can get!

I am excited to be participating in a Vouvray tasting with TasteLive tonight. So far it’s been a good week, and I hope keeping that positive attitude will only make it get better.

What’s making you happy this week?

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Tags: dinner, easy dinners, goat cheese, healthy recipes, lentils, pumpkin, quick dinners, quick meals, recipe, salad, Vegetarian

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