Archives for category: Salads


To complete the Thanksgiving menu for two, I made a Kale and Apple salad with crunchy pancetta bits and candied pecans. This was such a fun salad to make and really beautiful to look at. You can skip the pancetta and cheese, substitute olive oil for pancetta drippings, and make this a delicious vegan salad as well. Read the rest of this entry »


A dish is like a play, each ingredient has a role, and the special attention taken to the ingredients are like clothes and makeup for the players. In a good dish, all the ingredients play off each other in such a way that they enhances each others flavors, but not lose themselves in the crowd.

In this salad, grilled eggplants are tossed with cognac poached pears, along with walnuts and slivers of pecorino cheese, in a garlic and herb vinaigrette, dotted with honey. Sweet, sharp, smoky, salty, there are so many possible permutations of flavor in this salad. Sometimes too many ingredients can make a dish confusing, but in this case it was perfect. Read the rest of this entry »


In my effort to eat healthy during the week, I’ve exhausted myself eating Asian dishes. Mexican dishes have a bad reputation of being greasy and unhealthy, but through a quick search through food and wines 30 day healthy meal menu, I found a delicious sounding chicken taco that was also very low in calories. Read the rest of this entry »


When all types of beautiful vegetables come into season in the summer, I always make this farmers market salad. Tomatoes, green beans, baby potato, basil leaves and olives are tossed in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette, and topped with creamy goat cheese rounds coated with a cumin and sesame spice mix. This hearty and healthy salad is best served with BBQ or grilled meats.

The spiced goat cheese rounds can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge until the salad is ready to be served. The spice mix is made from Read the rest of this entry »


Beautiful food always taste better, and when I say beautiful I don’t mean pastry or baked goods. I love letting the natural color and shape of ingredients shine through a dish, but sometimes it’s hard to retain these qualities after the cooking process. I’ve made this black rice salad twice now in the past 30 days, and that’s a rare occurrence for me since I always say there is not enough time for me to make all the dishes I want to try. This is one of those dishes that leave your eyes satisfied as well as your stomach. Read the rest of this entry »

To go with the Tunisian style grilled chicken kebabs, I made two light and refreshing vegetarian sides, one of which is also from Susan Feniger.

I’ve always wondered what the difference between Israeli couscous and regular couscous are, Read the rest of this entry »


It’s getting close to the summer, but the temperature has already been hitting the high 80s and 90s in Austin. Summer also means many fruits and vegetables coming in to season. Peaches usually come into season between May and July, depending on the variety. Because of the unusually warm winter for us this year, our Central Market was already carrying locally grown peaches.

For our Tuesday dinner, I wanted to make something special since Mark was having a big meeting at work. I started with a very simple peach, Burrata and Proscuitto salad with arugula. The recipe I found actually called for apricots, but those were not yet in season enough to be carried at Central Market, so I used peaches instead. I also substituted Proscuitto for the country ham since I love Proscuitto.

Instead of grilling the peaches, I brushed them with mesquite smoked olive oil, and charred them in a stove top pan on high heat.


Burrata is a fresh Italian mozzarella cheese made from cream and mozzarella. The cheese has a harder exterior like mozzarella, but when you break into the center is soft and creamy.


To assemble the salad, a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil is whisked together in a large bowl, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The arugula and any other greens are tossed in the oil and lemon juice dressing.


The greens are transferred to a serving bowl, with torn pieces of Burrata, Proscuitto, and charred pieces of peaches are tossed in. The salad is drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and it’s ready to be served.


Grilled apricot, Burrata, and country ham with arugula :

One of my best friends from my teenage years was visiting Austin with her BF and we had a little dinner party to celebrate. My parents loves to throw dinner parties as well, and they always had a seafood dish, a poultry dish, and a red meat dish. This is also a rule that I adhere to most of my dinner parties.

I composed the menu last week, and here is what I came up with.

Raw oyster on the half shell
Snow Crab Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado
Sake and Riesling Steamed Sea Clams with Ginger and Scallions
Roasted Fig-and-Proscuitto-Stuffed-Quail
Braised Beef Shortrib with Red eye gravy and Polenta
Concord Grape Granita
Homemade Nutella-Chocolate Tart

The menu goes from light dishes to heavy dishes, and I decided to cook and serve each course as the dinner went on, instead of doing it family style like I usually do where everything is served at the same time.

For the salad course, I chose a crab, grapefruit and avocado recipe I tried a few months ago, and I substituted snow crab legs for the king crabs that the recipe called for. This recipe is very quick and easy, which is another reason I picked it.

The crab meat are picked clean from their shells, and quickly seared in a hot pan for about 30 seconds until heated through.

Then fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is added to the pan to deglaze and cooked for a few minutes until the crab meat is caramelized.

To assemble the dish, slices of grapefruit and avocados are arranged on a plate.

Then the crab meat is arranged over the fruits, and topped with red onions that has been marinaded in a mixture of olive oil, grapefruit juice, and soysauce.

The salad is finished off by drizzling extra dressing on top of the crab and fruits, and sprinkled with crushed roasted almonds and fresh cilantro leaves.

This was a great light start to a 6 course meal, and I love the way the creamy avocado, crunchy almonds, and the juicy grapefruit textures and flavours play together.

King Crab Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado Recipe:

At a dinner party recently, a guest mentioned that their date was someone who was a non-dairy vegan… I got this message 1 hour before the start of the dinner party, and I was scrambling to figure out a plan, until I realized that two dishes that I had planned were already Vegan. This does changes my perception of vegan cooking since I’ve always thought that it would be super hard to eat and make vegan dishes. It was then that I was conscious of the fact that a lot of my favourite dishes are already vegan.

One of the two vegan dishes that I unknowingly made is one of my favourite salads. I found this recipe about a year ago, I had thought that the flavor combination sounded interesting, and when I actually made the dish I absolutely loved it. When I was planning this dinner party, I decided to make it again, and after finding out about the vegan guest, I was very relieved with that decision.

The dish is a salad composed of sliced celery and bibb lettuce tossed in a celery seed based salad dressing, and the greens are topped with a pan roasted grapes and oyster mushroom salad, which are tossed in a almond and parsley pesto.

The recipe calls for actual grilled grapes and mushrooms, but I just pan roasted both the grapes and the mushrooms because it’s easier.

The best part of the salad is the savory roasted almond, parsley, and celery leaf pesto. When you buy a head of celery, sometimes there are some left over leaves on the outer stalks, and most of the times there are a lot of younger, almost light yellow leaves at the center of the head. These leaves adds an additional level of celery flavor to go with the celery seed dressing for the greens.

The grapes and the mushrooms are tossed in the pesto.

The salad is tossed in the dressing, laid over a large plate, and the roasted vegetables in their pesto are spread over the greens.

The roasted grapes lends an unexpected burst of sweetness that really elevates the flavors in the salad.

The other “accidental” vegan dish is a tomato, zucchini, squash, and eggplant bread gratin. This dish is simple, delicious, and so pretty!

The recipe called for zucchinis only, but I decided to add another color to the dish by adding squash. Also instead of regular eggplant, I used Japanese eggplant, which has about the same circumference as the squash and the zucchini. To make the gratin, the eggplant, zucchini and squash are sliced to 1/4 inch thick, tossed in salt, and set aside for 10-20 minutes. This step is important because the salt draws out excess liquid from these vegetables, and because you will be baking this gratin, if the vegetables are baked as is, it will make the dish too soggy.

After about 20 minutes, you’ll notice that the vegetables, especially the eggplant, will have lost a lot of their moisture, and have become more pliable. At this point you want to drain the vegetables and pat them dry with paper towels, and they will be ready for use.

To assemble, some bread pieces are torn and spread on the bottom of a baking dish. Then some olive oil is drizzled on top and torn pieces of basil leaves are sprinkled on top of the bread.

Next the vegetables, along with sliced tomatoes, are placed, over lapping each other, on top of the bread. You can be as creative as you want with the patterning.

The vegetables are drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with some salt and pepper, and sprinkled with crushed garlic and fresh oregano. The dish is baked in the oven until the bread is brown on the bottom.

The finished product is crispy on the bottom and tender on the top. The vegetables are given a chance to show case their natural flavors, with a little enhancement from the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Crisp Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant Bread Gratin:

Celery, Grilled Grape and Mushroom Salad:

For a long time, I had thought that Jambalaya was a gimmicky dish. I’ve had many many bad Jambalayas in restaurants past… ones with under cooked or soggy rice, ones that tasted like a big pot of tomato sauce, and ones packed with fatty greasy sausage. But for something that sounds so similar to Paella, which is one of my favourite dishes, I believe that the dish itself had a lot of promise, just not at the Cajun themed restaurants I had been to.

A while back I tried the recipe from Bon Appetite magazine, pretty much on a whim due to the pretty photograph in the pages. It actually turned out really really well. The recipe calls for Chicken, Tasso (smoked ham), Andouille Sausage, and smoked sausage. I substituted the Smoked Sausage for chicken sausages, and the Andouille Sausage was already smoked. I also added shrimp at the end.

The recipe is quite straight forward, you fried up some bacon in a pot, then add the smoked meats and cook until browned. Add the vegetables which includes bell peppers, onions, celery and cook until softened.

At this point, the raw chicken is added to the pot and cooked, stirring often, until it becomes white. and thyme and chili powder are stirred in.

Rice is then added to the pot, along with a few cups of chicken or vegetable broth, and the whole thing stuck in the oven and cooked for about 50 minutes.

I decided to add shrimp to the recipe, and I hate overcooked seafood. Instead of stirring the shrimp into the pot and keeping it in the oven, I decided to just lay the shrimp on the top of the Jambalaya, close the pot, and let the natural heat from the pot steam the shrimp. It worked like a charm.

Since Jambalaya is considered to be southern cuisine, I decided to make corn bread baked in the skillet. The cool thing about this corn bread recipe is that it calls for a Corn relish that is made from fresh corn kernels, cooked in vinegar and sugar with some onions and roasted peppers, so that when you bite into the corn bread, you get bits and pieces of fresh corn.

Finishing up the menu, I made some Quinoa with Hearts of Palm, which is vegan, and a roasted Asparagus salad with shaved Parmesan cheese.

The Quinoa dish takes about 20 minutes to make and will sit pretty well while you work on other dishes. I added roasted pecans to the dish to give it an extra layer of texture.

The Asparagus are roasted in olive oil and lemon zest for about 6 or 7 minutes, and then tossed with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya:
Quinoa Salad with Hearts of Palm:
Skillet Corn bread with corn relish:
Asparagus Salad: