For a long time various people have referred to me as a rabbit. Not because I’m covered in fur and have long floppy ears (obviously….because that wouldn’t be weird at all), but because I have always loved munching on fruits, veggies and salads. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but growing up, I could often be found hiding out in my Grandfather’s garden nibbling on a handful of berries, beans or tomatoes. Today, not much has changed. I may not be in my Grandfather’s garden, but more often than not you’ll find me munching on some kind of produce, like this cobb salad, for example. Salads are one of my favorite meals no matter the season. I like that they can be big and filling, kind of like a casserole, but without all the prep work and typically with a lot less calories. I also love that the toppings and combinations of toppings are incredibly versatile and varied based on the season. The traditional cobb salad isn’t known for being the healthiest of salad choices, but this version is loaded with flavor, healthy fats, lean proteins and lots of veggies. It uses kale and arugula in place of regular lettuce, a turkey burger in place of chicken, and ham in place of bacon. It might not be exactly like the cobb salad you’re used to, but in my humble opinion, it might just be better.
A cobb salad made with kale and arugula in place of lettuce, a turkey burger in place of chicken, and ham in place of bacon
3 tablespoons golden Carolina BBQ sauce (I used Trader Joe's)
For the salad
Kale (washed and cut into pieces with the thick stems removed)
4 slices of lean ham, sliced
1 turkey burger, cooked or grilled & cut into strips
1 avocado, sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Optional produce: mushrooms, peppers, onion, green beans, grapes
First, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add in the ham pieces and sauté for about 7-10 minutes, or until the ham starts to turn golden brown and get crispy. Set aside.
On a large platter (or in a salad bowl), layer the kale and arugula. I used about 2 cups of each per person for a total of 4 cups.
Next, start adding on the toppings. Order is not important, just keep each topping grouped together.
Lastly, mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Use a for or whisk to stir until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the salad and serve immediately.
Serve with warm, crusty bread for a heartier meal.
We like to use the pre-made turkey burgers from the frozen section of Trader Joe's (the chili lime ones are especially good). Using a pre-made turkey burger is a warm (and quick) alternative to using chicken or deli meat. However, you could also use ground turkey that has been sautéed.
From here until the end of time (ok, just the end of summer) don’t be surprised if I talk about how sad I am that summer is basically over in every single post. Guys, I’m so sad! Like, how did this even happen?! Can’t deal. Summertime sadness aside, there is one thing that I won’t be sad to see go- eating in swimsuits. I know that sounds weird, but I have to be totally honest, there is nothing that I dislike more than being dripping wet in a bikini for a cook-out at someone’s pool/beach/lake. I always feel weird, gross, and judged 10 times more than usual for eating that second cheeseburger….with bacon….with potato salad (it’s ok, I know you’re just jealous because you want to be eating that too!). Also, I find it highly comical that girls won’t eat to fit into bikinis to wear to places where they’re going to be eating. Anyone else with me on this? Obviously, barbecues in bikinis are nearly unavoidable so this grilled vegetable salad is part of my solution. It’s quite possibly one of the easiest salads you can make as it is simply grilled vegetables chopped up then topped with a light dressing made from hummus (a great base for creamy dressings when you don’t want to use mayonnaise). This salad is healthy, light and fresh and definitely swimsuit approved! And since swimsuit season is almost over, don’t worry, this salad is also clothing approved!
P.S. This would make a healthy side dish for this coming Labor Day weekend’s barbecue and cookout festivities!
Grilled Vegetable Salad
A vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free vegetarian salad that's perfect on it's own or as a healthy side dish
First, wash and slice your squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Toss it with a little olive oil and proceed to grill as you normally would. The vegetables should take about 5-7 minutes per side. Once they're done, remove from the grill and set aside to cool.
To "grill" the corn, add a dash of olive oil to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat. Add the corn and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until it begins to char, making sure to stir every few minutes. Remove the corn from the pan then toss the tomatoes in and cook for a few minutes.
Once the grilled vegetables have cooled, chop them into small pieces. Add to a serving bowl and toss with the corn and tomatoes.
To make the dressing mix the hummus, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice together. Stir until well combined.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad, sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with shredded dill on top. Toss right before serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week.
This salad is tasty on it's own for a lighter meal, but it would also be good with a nice crusty bread (almost like a bruschetta), served alongside fish or steak, topped with grilled tofu, or sprinkled with some goat or feta cheese.
This recipe can easily be doubled or cut in half. The vegetables can also be substituted based on preference.
The vegetables can be grilled the night before and stored in the fridge until you are ready to use them the next day.
If you do not have a grill, or it's too cold outside, you could also use a grill pan or roast the vegetables in the oven.
One of the most common lunches we had growing up was pasta salad. There was no set recipe. It simply consisted of whatever veggies we had on hand, dressing, maybe some cheese and/or meat, always a bit of lettuce (which I hated at the time), and pasta (obviously). Because this is how I still make my pasta salads, I’ve never felt the need to write out an actual recipe (also, because the recipe would read something like “Take everything you have in your fridge and toss it in a bowl with some pasta.”). I lie. I did write down one pasta recipe, for this healthy deli-style pasta salad. It was so good that I knew it needed to be replicated and that was only possible with a recipe. But all other 27,895 pasta salads I’ve made in my lifetime are pretty much a one time deal. Until I made this salad. It’s kind of like the pasta salads I’m used to making where everything gets thrown into a bowl, except the things I threw into the bowl this time were so good, that like my deli pasta salad, it just had to be written down.
Summertime Italian Pasta Salad
A light & healthy pasta salad loaded with the fresh flavors of Italy
Truffle cheese (optional; I used about 1/3 cup of mini cubes)
Olive oil (a generous drizzle)
Salt & pepper (to taste)
Toss all ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for up to 2 days in a tightly sealed container.
I put the amounts I used in parentheses, but please keep in mind all of these ingredients are completely adjustable, based on taste preference as well as what you have on hand. Feel free to leave anything out and/or add anything else in. I think this would taste great with some roasted corn or cauliflower as well as goat cheese.
I’ve always been a fan of the popular feta watermelon salad, even before it was popular. But in true Alyssa fashion, I can never leave well-enough alone, especially after something has become too popular. So when we recently picked up a hulking watermelon (and I do mean hulking, as it did indeed look like the Hulk), I decided I had more than enough watermelon to play around with some new salad combinations. I have to say I’m pretty peachy keen (pun intended) on the peach adjustments and prosciutto additions I made to the watermelon salad and I know this healthy and refreshing salad will be regularly appearing on our summertime menu…or at least, until I get bored again!
P.S. You can find the recipe for quick pickled onions here.
Peach Watermelon Salad
A light and refreshing salad that's perfect for a hot summer day or night
1/2 a medium-sized watermelon, or about 4 cups of watermelon cubes
3 slices of prosciutto
1/4 cup pickled onions
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup grated manchego cheese
A sprig of mint, chopped
Chop the peach and watermelon into cubes and place in a large bowl. Set aside.
Chop (or free-hand shred) the prosciutto into small pieces. Toss the pieces into a frying pan over medium-heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the pieces turn slightly crispy, making sure to toss them a few times while they're cooking. Let the pieces cool for a few minutes, then toss them on top of the fruit.
Next, add on the pickled onions, feta cheese, and mint. Finish the salad off with a heavy drizzle of balsamic vinegar, some fresh black pepper and the manchego cheese.
This can be made ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until serving time. Just leave the prosciutto off until you're ready to serve the salad. Please note, though, that as this salad sits, it will become juicer.
This salad pairs nicely with grilled chicken or steak and a crusty bread.
You can also toss some crusty bread cubes or farro into this salad to make it a bit heartier of a meal.
Bleu cheese can be substituted for the feta and manchego cheeses.
I chose not to add any additional salt to the recipe because of the salt from the meat, the cheeses, and the onions, but feel free to add more salt per your tastes.
Up until we went to Greece, I typically thought of Greek salad as rather blah. With bland produce and a basic dressing, about the only thing the salad had going for it was the feta cheese (give me all the feta!!). And then, in Santorini, I had the most life-changing Greek salad ever. Literally, my life will never be the same (you can see the salad here). I have visions of this salad while I eat lunch, or nightly dreams where I’m back in Santorini eating it, and to this day I can still taste the sweet, crisp vegetables, the crunchy bread, and the salty feta all topped off with the slightest hint of oregano. The vegetables alone would have been life changing. They were literally bursting with juicy flavor unlike any I had ever experienced (even homegrown) and the green pepper (which I’m normally not a fan of) tasted like candy. Now, every time we go to a Greek restaurant, I order a Greek salad, in the hopes that it will somehow magically be like the one in Santorini, and every time I’m so let down by the plate they bring out, that I just want to send the plate back. I’ve informed Mr. RC that the only remedy to this problem is to go back to Santorini so I can get my Greek salad fill (and hoard about 50 pounds of it back on the plane). He had to go and be all practical and suggested I just recreate it at home. Obviously, my idea is much better, but to tide me over I’ll go with his idea. Of course, it’s not exactly identical (the vegetables aren’t quite up to par in flavor and mine is missing scallions), but this Greek salad is still, most definitely, life changing.
A light and fresh dish based on a traditional Greek salad served in Santorini
First, make the "croutons". I like to use a cast iron skillet, but a regular skillet would work as well. Place the pan on a burner turned to medium heat. Add in some olive oil, and let it heat for a couple minutes before adding the bread. Toss the bread in the oil, and cook for a few minutes, tossing the whole time, until the bread is crispy and golden. Turn the burner off and set the pan aside.
Next, prep and cut the vegetables and cheese. The feta cheese I like to cut into thick triangles and the tomatoes I like to cut into sixths. The peppers and cucumber I cut into thin, matchstick strips that are about 3-4 inches long.
To begin assembling the salad, place a generous handful of croutons on the bottom of a large plate. Next, arrange the cucumber and pepper strips on top of the bread. Add on a few tomato slices and pieces of feta. Drizzle the entire plate with olive oil and squeeze on the juice of half a lemon. Finish the salad off with a sprinkle of oregano, salt and pepper, and garnish with parsley.
This salad is great as an appetizer, a light lunch, or as a part of a dinner meal. We love to have this with grilled chicken and a glass of red wine.
This can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Any leftovers can be refrigerator but keep in mind the bread will get soggy, so I would recommend storing the two separately if you do happen to have leftovers.