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Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

As usual around this time of year, I find myself in a bit of a food rut.  It feels like we should be eating local fresh asparagus and ripe sweet strawberries, but our finicky Minnesota climate just can’t decide if it wants to launch into full-on Spring or not. So, I wait patiently for these beautiful gems to show up at the Farmers Market– because, nothing comes even close to tasting as good.  In the meantime, lighter fare is slowly creeping into my subconscious and I find myself using my Dutch oven less and less.

Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

Back in my college days (many years ago), I worked as a caterer.  I really enjoyed working the events and learning about different foods.  One of my favorite dishes we did was one that is similar to the salad I’m sharing today commonly known to us then as the “President’s Salad”, because it was the President of the University’s favorite salad and he always requested it for his catered functions.  It was delicious.

Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

This is my version of that salad.  I like to keep things simple and light and pack it full of robust lemon flavor.  It is definitely customizable, adding pasta stretches it a bit for larger crowds (just double the amount of sauce), which is nice for summer gatherings.  Some people may prefer the sauce in more abundance, so adding a bit more mayonnaise is completely do-able.  Surprisingly, the combination of lemon, artichokes, and carrots are a fantastic match and can make it feel like you’re eating Spring, even if you are still waiting for it to fully arrive.  Finishing it with creamy cashews add a nice crunch that this salad definitely needs.   I hope you are all enjoying a lovely Spring in your parts!

Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

The Recipe: Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots

(serves 4)

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, roasted and shredded or about 2 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded

4 large carrots, peeled and julienned (or coarse grated)

1 small celery stalk, chopped

1 14-ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed

handful of cashews and extra cilantro, for garnish

The Sauce:

1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more, if desired)

juice of 1 medium lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 40 minutes (the time will vary depending upon the size of the breasts) or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F.  Remove from oven.  Cover with foil and let rest for about 10  minutes.  Shred with forks or your hands, when cool.

In a small bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Combine the shredded chicken, artichoke hearts, carrots, and celery in a large bowl.  Pour the sauce over the contents and use tongs to gently fold everything together (so the chicken doesn’t fall apart too much).  Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary. This salad is best if it spends a little time in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld.  Serve with cashews and additional cilantro sprinkled on top.  Enjoy!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by Relishing It!  Take care.

Laurie

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Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

By now you must have heard of socca, right?  Well if you haven’t, it’s simply garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour made into a pancake or flatbread.  It’s a nice gluten-free alternative that tastes fantastic– I bet I eat it about once a week.  Chickpeas are a great source of protein with a wonderful flavor.  A while back I posted a different recipe for socca.  It’s still one of my favorites– especially with the sweet potatoes, kale, italian sausage, and creamy buttermilk dressing.  That one is more of a pancake, while this most-certainly is not.

Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

This version is thinner and crispier, with the characteristics of a flatbread.  I like to eat this one as a piece of “bread” piled high with delicious toppings– usually vegetables.  Today I made a lovely little greek vegetable ensemble that works so well with the socca.  Other times, fresh corn, tomatoes, scallions, and cotija cheese serve the purpose.  You get the idea.  Use whatever you have around the house/garden and let the socca be the instrument to get it into your mouth.

Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

It’s nice in that the ingredient list is small to make socca and the cooking time is barely five minutes.  The longest part of this process is waiting about 30 minutes for the flour to fully absorb the water.  Believe me, I’ve rushed this part before, and it’s not a huge deal.  But, if you can wait– you’ll end up with perfect, crispy-edged flatbread that is sturdy enough for toppings.  Rather than frying the flatbread, you cook it under the broiler– a technique that my friend, Angharad (another fellow socca lover), introduced me to.  It works really slick.  All sides get browned and crispy.  This meal is perfect to whip up on a moments notice and you’ll love it.  Trust me.

Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa | Relishing It

The Recipe: Socca with Greek Vegetable Salsa

(serves 1)

For the Socca:

1/2 cup chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)

1/2 cup water

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for the pan

For the Greek Vegetable Salsa:

1/2 large cucumber, diced

2 radishes, diced

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 red scallion, diced

2-3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled

3-4 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped

2 peperoncinis, diced (optional)

handful fresh parsley and sprig of thyme, minced

drizzle of olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, salt, and olive oil.  Let rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the Greek vegetable salsa in a medium-sized bowl.  Set aside.

After the batter has rested for 30 minutes, place the oven rack in the position closest to the broiler.  Heat a cast-iron skillet under the broiler for 5 minutes (this helps cook the bottom of the socca quickly).  Remove from the oven an add enough olive oil to coat the pan when swirled.  Then add the batter and swirl around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated.  Place under the broiler and cook until the top is a deep golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  You will probably have to move the pan around once or twice during this time, to bake evenly.  Remove from oven and use a spatula to carefully remove from the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.  Cut.  And serve with the greek vegetable salsa, or any other topping you would like.  Or eat it plain– it’s all delicious!  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great day.

Laurie

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Healthy Brown Rice Noodle Salad | Relishing It

There is a lot to be excited about this week.  First, my kids come home from spending a few days in North Dakota with my Mom and Dad.  This is the second summer that they have spent time away without Radd and me.  It’s hard for me to be away from them, but to be honest, I think it’s important for kids to get to know their grandparents without parents (i.e. me)  interfering all the time.  They get to be properly spoiled and make their own memories and that’s wonderful.  There is nothing quite like the love of a grandparent.  I’m excited to see my little ones– I’ve missed them.  But, my gosh!  It’s amazing what I can accomplish with an entire day without distractions!  There’s just so much…time to get things done.

Healthy Brown Rice Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Healthy Brow Rice Noodle Salad | Relishing It

The other super exciting event this week is that our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) starts delivery this week.  And I am thrilled!  It’s been a crazy June here in Minnesota– we’ve had record rainfalls and lots of flooding.  In fact, the farm that our CSA, Bossy Acres, resides on received almost 7-inches already this month.  Joining a CSA this year has had me feeling like a farm-girl all over again– stressing about the weather.  It’s exhilarating and terrifying.  At any rate– we’ll get our box of goodies on Thursday and I’m more that a little excited to create some meals with it.

Healthy Brown Rice Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Speaking of meals, today I’m sharing a quick one that you can put on your (hopefully outdoor) table in no time flat.  I know, two noodle salads in two weeks?!  I can’t help it– I’m addicted.  This one is cold, refreshing, and basically tastes like a giant spring roll, without the fuss of that rice paper.  I loaded it with cucumbers and radishes.  I would have added grated carrots, but we were out.  The cilantro and mint make the dish in my opinion, as do the peanuts–so load it up!  Mint is one of my favorite summertime additions to cold salads.  I’ve been fortunate enough to find delicious fresh bean sprouts at our farmers market and they are brilliant in this dish.  What a refreshing crunch!  The meal can be served without a meat, of course.  If you want to make it a bit more filling– chicken, shrimp, and especially grilled pork work extremely well.  The dressing is simple and subtle.  It’s not at all “saucy”, in that it pretty much disappears into the noodles leaving you with its subtle influence.  Feel free to make a tad more if you like a bolder flavor.  I hope you are enjoying many outdoor meals this summer and that this dish finds it’s way onto your table.  Enjoy!

Healthy Brown Rice Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Healthy Brown Rice Noodle Salad | Relishing It

The Recipe: Healthy Brown Rice Noodle Salad

(serves 4)

For the Sauce:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandolin)

5-6 radishes, thinly sliced (using a mandolin, as well)

2 red scallions, thinly sliced

large handful of fresh bean sprouts

about 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

about 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

about 2/3 cup chopped salted peanuts

8 ounces brown rice noodles

serrano peppers, thinly sliced, optional

lime wedges, for serving

grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork– optional

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce.  Stir and set aside.

Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions (they will only take about 3-4 minutes).  Rinse immediately with cold water.  Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid to loosen pasta, if necessary.  Separate the rice noodles with your fingers, so they are loose and airy– this is a fun process.  Get your kids involved to help!

On a large platter or bowl, add the rice noodles, vegetables, herbs, and bean sprouts.  Pour the sauce over and toss with tongs.  Top with grilled meat, if using, peanuts, and a bit more cilantro, mint, and a squeeze of lime.  I used simple grilled chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Sliced serrano peppers would be lovely here, alas my son doesn’t love the heat from them.  This dish is best eaten on the day it is made.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

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Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

I love taking a favorite meal of mine and tweaking it just a bit to create something entirely different.  Equally as delicious, just in a different way.  That’s what I’ve done here with this recipe.  I can’t even count how many times I’ve made this slaw.   I basically suggest it to everyone who asks me for a warm-weather meal idea and they end up loving it.  It’s one of the high points of being a “food blogger”– finding out that one of your favorites has become a favorite of so many other people.

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Sometimes, I want something more filling than just slaw, or more to the point– something hearty to chomp on.  Adding soba noodles to the mix was the perfect solution here, and I love that it’s still accompanied by a ton of vegetables.  The heat is going to crank up here this week, so peanuty cold soba noodles will be on my menu again.  You should make it, too.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, it certainly doesn’t have to be this exact combination.  You may find that you need a bit more soy sauce or salt in the sauce when adding soba noodles to the mix.  I re-season after it’s been mixed, so not to overdo it with the salt.  A squeeze of fresh lime is essential when serving.  Hope you enjoy!  And stay cool.

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

 

The Recipe: Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad

(serves 2-3)

Follow this Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw recipe (this time I used broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, cilantro, and radishes)

With Additions Of:

1 bunch soba noodles cooked according to directions, then rinsed with cold water (reserve a bit of cooking water)

scallions, for garnish

black sesame seeds, for garnish

limes

Follow the directions to make the Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw.  Combine the vegetables, sauce, and cold soba noodles together using tongs.  Loosen with a bit of cooking water, if need be.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings, if needed.  I often add a bit more soy or salt when adding soba noodles to the mix.  Squeeze lime juice onto the final mixture and top with peanuts, scallions, cilantro, and black sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

Laurie

 

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Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes | Relishing It

Finally.  Warm weather is finally here in Minnesota!  I know parts of the country have been having ridiculous heat waves recently, but we’ve been waiting (not-so-very) patiently for the weather to get nice here.  Yesterday  it finally did, and it was glorious!  It’s remarkable to see the change in attitude and manners once decent weather shows up.  Everyone– and I mean everyone– is just so much happier and more pleasant.  It’ll be another story once the high heat and humidity eventually find their way here.

Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes | Relishing It

Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes | Relishing It

I did my best yesterday to blind people with my extremely white Minnesota legs.  Not that this is any different than later in the summer.  I basically vary between stark white and just very pale.  Years ago I wished I had more color, but now I’m fine with my lack of sun-induced color, so I’ll continue to lather on the sunscreen.

Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes | Relishing It

Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes | Relishing It

Where was I going with all of this?  Oh yeah… summer, heat, shorts….potato salad!  Grilling last night was a no-brainer, so I made a bowl of one of my favorite summer potato salads to kick off the season.  In this version, I’ve accompanied the potatoes with spring ramps, radishes, celery, and parsley.  Ramps are fabulous, but are around for such a short time, scallions replace them when they are no longer available.  A delicate dressing of lemon, olive oil, garlic, and anchovies is poured on the warm yellow potatoes to really saturate them with flavor.  The crunchy vegetables are added later, once the potatoes have cooled a bit, then the remaining dressing is added.  This potato salad gets better and better the longer it sits.  And it’s perfect for picnics since it doesn’t contain any dairy.  I hope you give it a try!

Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes | Relishing It

The Recipe: Spring Potato Salad with Ramps and Radishes

3 pounds yellow potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

1 bunch radishes, chopped

1 bunch ramps or scallions, chopped

handful of fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

For the Dressing:

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

juice of 2 lemons (about 5 tablespoons)

3-4 small anchovies, smashed into a paste

1/2 cup good quality olive oil  (California Olive Ranch gets my vote)

salt and fresh cracked pepper

good crunchy sea salt to finish

Place a steamer in a large saucepan.  Add a bit of water to the bottom.  Add the potatoes and steam until potatoes are nearly done.  Turn off the burner and keep the cover on for an additional 10-15 minutes to ensure the potatoes are fully cooked.  This technique keeps the potatoes from being loaded with water, which sometimes happens when boiled, and from being over-cooked which can lead to mushiness.  Check them after 10 minutes, and if they’re tender, remove the lid.

Meanwhile, make the dressing.  In a medium bowl, add the garlic, anchovies, Dijon, lemon juice, and pinch of salt and pepper.  Whisk.  Then slowly add the olive oil, whisking the entire time.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Remember that potatoes require a bit of salt to let their flavor shine through.  However, the anchovies will supply a lot of that saltiness, so I generally wait to make a final judgment about adding more salt until the potato salad has been refrigerated and the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

When the potatoes are done steaming, add them to a large bowl and pour about 2/3 of the dressing over them while they are hot.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the potatoes and dressing together.  Let sit until mostly cool, then add the vegetables and the remainder of the dressing.  Fold everything together, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  When ready to serve, let it come to room temperature– the flavors are brighter when they are not completely cold.   Sprinkle with a crunchy sea salt before serving.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette with Spinach | Relishing It

Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter (for those of you that celebrate it).  We had a fabulous week.  My parents made the trip to St. Paul to take care of our kids, while Radd and I took a quick trip to Chicago.  We went to see the rock band The National play at the Chicago Theater.  We’re slightly obsessed with this band.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re the best band of all time.  I know that’s a bold statement, but I stand by it.  So there’s my little musical recommendation for you.  Chicago was fabulous and so was time away with my husband. The kids were spoiled by their grandparents, so everyone was happy.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette with Spinach | Relishing It

Let’s be honest, vacationing usually includes throwing caution to the wind and eating whatever one wants.  We did that.  And we drank too many craft beers and cocktails.  Getting back on track is always in order when we return home.  I’ve been eating lots of salads this week.  I had a few spinach salads with this strawberry balsamic vinaigrette and it is– as my five-year old would say “Amazin!”  I’m always hesitant about posting such easy recipes on my blog (this dressing only contains 3 ingredients).  I generally figure that everyone already makes it or uses this trick.  My sister-in-law (whom I chat with everyday on the phone) assures me that is not the case.  I was telling her about this dressing and I think she’ll be making it very soon.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette with Spinach | Relishing It

I usually make this dressing when my jam jar is pretty much empty, but there is still a slight film of jam in it.  I hate to waste, so I pour in some good balsamic vinegar and a splash of good olive oil, put the lid on, and give it a shake.  Voilà!  Out comes this delicious vinaigrette.  The strawberry jam and balsamic vinegar are a match made in heaven–cherry works great, too.   Of course you don’t have to wait until you’re nearly out of jam.  And you certainly don’t have to make just one portion, as I’ve given in this recipe.  Make a jar of it– it’ll keep well in your refrigerator.  It’s great poured onto spinach and topped with chopped almonds and hemp seeds, or whatever you happen to fancy.  Enjoy!

The Recipe: Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette with Spinach

(serves 1)

1 teaspoon good quality strawberry jam

1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon good quality extra-virgin olive oil (California Olive Ranch is my favorite)

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake.  Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  And add a bit more olive oil, if you prefer it less vinegary.  Increase amounts for a larger portion size.  Store extras in the refrigerator.  Toss with fresh spinach.  Top with chopped almonds, hemp seeds, or even blue cheese, if desired.

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

Spring is finally here in Minnesota!  Last week I celebrated “Spring” with my kids, who had a week-long break from school.  We didn’t travel anywhere, which was wonderful.  It was a week full of library trips, swimming, coffee shops, board games, and a general feeling of contentment.  We read a ton of books.  We slept in.  We stayed up far too late.  We played video games (yes, I let me kids play video games, and I love that they do). We enjoyed every minute of freedom, and I enjoyed every minute of being with them.  I try not to get overly personal in this space, instead opting to focus on food and all the wonderful things about it.  But, sometimes I feel the need to say how proud I am of my kids.  They have grown into such incredible little people.  They are kind.  They are hilarious.  They are brilliant– and grounded.  They are compassionate.  I love to be with them, and that’s a pretty great feeling.

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing it

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

Changing seasons always has me in a bit of flux when it comes to making food.  Some days are warmer than others.  Soup would probably still be fitting, but I don’t want anymore soup for awhile.  Finding inspiration this time of year, in this particular place, can be a bit challenging.  So I wait patiently– hoping that inspiration comes.  It will.  It always does.  Ideas will pour out of my head soon enough, especially when I see the first asparagus of the season.  Or smell the first ramps.  I won’t be able to stop dreaming of moral mushrooms when I eat them for the first time this Spring.  Inspiration will come.

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

But, in the meantime– I will go for bike rides and long walks with my kids.  We will get muddy and splash in the puddles fed by the last few melting piles of snow.  I will see green emerging everywhere.  And I will eat this Caesar salad.  Because no matter the season, Caesar salad always sounds delicious to me.  Purchased dressing doesn’t even come close to this homemade version.  As with most dressings, it’s a cinch to make.  It’s as easy as putting all the ingredients into a mini food processor and whizzing it together.  Serve it with chicken, if you like.  Make some homemade croutons (which are also a cinch), or opt for a dusting of toasted breadcrumbs, as I often do.  I make my dressing with a raw egg yolk– I love the consistency it gives the dressing.  I use good eggs from local farmers.  You should use good eggs, too.  It will reduce any risks associated with using raw eggs.  This dressing is bright and a little nutty from the parmesan.  The anchovies give it a wonderful umami flavor that is a telltale sign of a good Caesar dressing.  Don’t skip them, as an important element will be lost.  Whip up this dressing and enjoy it on a bed of crisp romaine.  For added flavor, brush the romaine with a bit of olive oil and toss it on the grill for a few minutes until it is slightly charred around the edges.  It adds a whole extra layer of flavor!  Trust me, you’ll love it.  I’ve got to fly– my daughter wants to go pick up trash around the neighborhood.  True story.

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Caesar Dressing

(makes enough for 2 salads)

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 small anchovies, minced

2-3 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

1 egg yolk (free-range/organic)

1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil ( I prefer California Olive Ranch Olive Oil)

sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients, except the olive oil in a mini-food processor ( if you don’t have one, you may use a large bowl and a whisk.  Just be sure to mash the garlic and anchovies into a paste first.  Then, slowly whisk the olive oil into the other ingredients).  It’s best to wait to season this dressing with salt until the very end–the anchovies will provide much of the saltiness that is needed.  Pulse for a few times until the mixture is uniform and creamy.  With the lid on and the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the small holes on the lid.  Be sure to scrape down the sides, as needed.  When it is creamy and completely incorporated, it is done.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Use immediately (this dressing does not have a long life because of the egg yolks, so use it the day it is made).  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

 

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