Posts Tagged ‘Ricotta Salata Cheese’

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

If you’re like me, this time of year you may go a little overboard with salads.  It’s hard not to with all of the fresh, crisp produce popping up in gardens and farmers markets.  I absolutely love a good leafy-green salad, but sometimes I want more than just a lettuce version– something a bit more substantial than those delicate little leaves.  When I’m looking for something heartier, I often turn to my favorite un-lettuce salad.  It’s my favorite way to incorporate a load of healthy vegetables into a meal.

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

Alright, this “recipe” is more of a suggestion– an idea, if you will.  You can use what you have, but this is the combination that I like best.  All of these vegetables are currently available in Minnesota.  The pea tendrils give this dish it a nice slightly sweet flavor.  If you can’t find them, a few spinach leaves make a lovely replacement.  Roasted red peppers add a brilliant kick.  If you can’t find fresh ones, feel free to buy a jar.  Sun-dried tomatoes would be perfect in this salad, too.  Ricotta salata is my go-to cheese for summer salads– I love it’s subtle flavor, but parmesan, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue would all work.  I used pepitas here, though I often turn to sunflower seeds for a nice crunch.  Load it up with herbs, if you want.  I like dill with this combination.  Are you feeling me, here?  Use your imagination, you’ll be happy.

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

Sometimes I make a simple vinaigrette with this salad.  This one works well.  But, more often, I choose to do something creamy, so I enjoy this simple herbed buttermilk dressing.  It’s less gloppy and bad for you than the bottled versions.  I like a dressing that lightly coats my greens, instead of sits on top of them.  I still use full-fat mayonnaise, but just less of it  (even better if you make your own completely out of olive oil– recipe coming soon on that).  The reduced-fat versions tend to have a sweetness to them that makes for an off-flavor.  And honestly, don’t even get me started on the fat-free bottled dressings that are on the grocery store shelves.  If you have them in the refrigerator, do yourself a favor and toss them out.  They are loaded with a bunch of junk (corn syrup to replace the fat?  Seriously?).  Not to mention, your body needs a little fat to absorb all of those healthy things that you eat a salad for in the first place.  Make your own and use less.  Hope you enjoy!

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing via Relishing It

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

The Recipe:  The Un-Lettuce Salad

(Make this as big or as small as you like)

Handful of pea tendrils, large stems removed

english cucumbers,



garden peas, left in the pod or not


roasted red peppers

ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

pepitas or sunflower seeds

dill or any herbs you prefer

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing:

2/3 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons mayonnaise (full fat)

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped dill, oregano, and parsley

kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste

To make the Dressing:  Combine all of the ingredients into a small jar and shake.  Make sure to season properly with salt and pepper.  If you prefer a thicker dressing, and a bit more mayonnaise.

Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Place into a large salad bowl and coat with a bit of dressing.  Top with the cheese, nuts, and dill.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it today!



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Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota!  And by Spring, I mean it officially reached 80 degrees here yesterday.  Last night we grilled for the first time this season, and it was wonderful.  My husband is one of those guys that would be happy eating cereal for dinner several nights a week if I let him, yet he considers the grilling of a steak a sacred process.  He’s a master, and the New York strip that he grilled-up last night was heavenly.  I mean this now, I’d put it up against any fancy restaurant’s offering.  Anyway, I know we’ll be doing a lot more grilling now that the weather has turned, so I came up with this carrot salad that is a fantastic side dish.  It’s also perfect if you’re in the mood for a light lunch.

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

It seems as though carrots are often just an afterthought in most dishes.  Need a little color in some soup, throw a carrot in!  (Well, except in this soup– one of my favorites– where they’re the star.)  I happen to love carrots.  They have that nice slightly-sweet flavor, a wonderful crunch, and amazing longevity.  In this salad they take center stage.  The flavors are bright, yet there is a nice, complex, smokiness to give it depth.  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made that homemade Harissa?  It is brilliant combined with these ingredients.  The ricotta salata cheese lends a bit of saltiness to this dish.  If you can’t find ricotta salata, feta is a good substitute.  Personally, I prefer ricotta salata for most salads, because its subtlety allows the other flavors to be more pronounced.  And the creaminess is a welcome addition to most any salad.  The cilantro and lime add that little zing of acidity that compliments the harissa and carrots wonderfully.  If your Harissa is a little on the thick side, feel free to thin it out with a few drops of water or olive oil.  Don’t overdo it though, since there is a squeeze of lime juice at the end that loosens everything up.

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro

(serves 1)

2 carrots, peeled, then thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler

1/2 cup long ribbons of red cabbage

handful of cilantro

1 tablespoon Homemade Harissa or store bought

lime wedges

2 tablespoons of crumbled ricotta salata cheese

sea salt, to taste

This is more of an idea, than a recipe.  Make as much or as little as you want.  This amount will serve one beautifully.  Cut the carrot anyway that you want, though I prefer long beautiful ribbons made by using a vegetable peeler.  They’re just so pretty that way!  Toss all of the ingredients, except the ricotta salata and lime into a large bowl.  Using tongs, gently incorporate the Harissa onto the vegetables.  Add more if you like.  If your Harissa is a bit on the thick side, add a bit of water or olive oil to thin it out.  Plate your salad and top with crumbled ricotta salata cheese and a couple squeezes of lime juice.  Add a sprinkle of salt, if necessary.  Enjoy!

Have a lovely week and thanks for stopping by Relishing it!



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Just in case I haven’t been clear, I LOVE the colorful array vegetables available this time of season.  For today’s recipe, I put together one of my favorite beautiful, delicious salads.  Panzanella is an Italian salad that usually consists of soaked stale bread and tomatoes.   My version includes a greater variety of ingredients, and a little more crunch from the bread.  Now a purist may say that it isn’t panzanella, but when it tastes this good, why quibble over the name?  Panzanella it is, and it’s marvelous.

This was the first week that I finally found red peppers at the farmers’ market.  My kids and I love them as a snack.  Here I used mini sweet multi-colored peppers.  Cute and tasty!  Since fresh cucumbers and red onions are plentiful now, I added those as well.  For the cheese, I used (surprise!) ricotta salata.  Yes, it’s my go-to addition, but the creamy texture and saltiness work perfectly in so many dishes.  It seems I’m always poking around for another piece of it with every bite.   The ricotta salata also makes this salad a bit more substantial– we ate it as a light meal rather than a starter.

Of course the star of the salad is the crusty bread and red wine vinaigrette.  I like to tear my bread rather than cut it– more dressing seems to get into the crevices.   I could eat the bread and dressing alone, which I guess that’s the point of the salad— it’s nice to get some healthy vegetables in there, too.  When assembling the salad try to keep most of the vegetables relatively the same size.  I love this combination of flavors– it’s one of my favorite things to eat during the summer.  It makes a nice, light meal that I find myself eating pretty much every day for lunch.

The Recipe:  Panzanella

(The measurements are vague — make as big of a salad as you want.  You will have plenty of dressing.)

2 large cucumbers, chopped

2 cups mini multi-colored peppers, chopped  (or 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped)

6 Roma tomatoes, chopped

3 mini – red onions, thinly sliced  (or 1 small red onion)

handful of fresh garden lettuce, torn

12-15 basil leaves, whole

1/3 cup cubed ricotta salata cheese  (feta can be substituted)

1 baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped  (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

To Toast the Bread:  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Toss the torn bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil,  1 teaspoon fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  Put onto a baking sheet and bake until the bread chunks are golden brown and have a nice crunch to them — about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To Make the Vinaigrette:  In a medium-sized bowl, mix the vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and mustard.  Using a whisk, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil, whisking all the while.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To Assemble the Salad:  In a large salad bowl, add the garden lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese, red onion, basil, and toasted bread.  Pour some of the dressing onto the salad.  Toss.  Let sit for a few minutes before eating so the dressing has a chance to soak into the bread a bit.  Add more dressing, salt, and pepper, if necessary.  Enjoy!

I hope you are enjoying your summer produce as much as we are.  This is a beautiful time of year!  Have a great weekend.  Take Care.


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I love when I can make a meal entirely out of ingredients that I have on hand.  No trip to the market required.  I love it even more when everything–with the exception of the olive oil and curry powder–is organic and locally-produced.  For today’s post I made this delicious, hearty frittata by raiding only my refrigerator and pantry.  This dish works well as either a breakfast or dinner option.  Even better, its both filling and healthy.

The two major components are vegetables and fresh eggs.  The vegetables can be easily adapted to fit taste– like I did, you can use whatever you have on hand.  I used onions, potatoes, and broccoli, though summer squash or asparagus would make a tasty variation.  Since I  seem to always have ricotta salata cheese on hand, I relied on it as well.  It added a nice creaminess.   Goat cheese or feta can be substituted as well.  Finally, I wanted something a little out-of-the-ordinary, so I turned to curry powder.  The spice added a nice complexity to this dish.  We really enjoyed this simple meal, and I hope you do too.

The Recipe:  Seasonal Frittata

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,  plus more for drizzling (melted butter would work, too)

1/2 onion, chopped

8 ounces new potatoes, unpeeled, sliced very thin

8 ounces chopped broccoli (or any other seasonal vegetable you prefer)

4-5 green onions, thinly sliced

9-10 large eggs, well beaten

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (or goat or feta)

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a ovenproof 12-inch skillet (cast-iron worked great) over medium – high heat.  Stir in the onions and potatoes and a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked.  About 5 minutes.  Stir in the broccoli and green onions and cook for a few more minutes until they are soft and to your liking.    Remove half of the mixture from the pan.

Whisk the eggs together with the curry powder and pour the eggs into the skillet.  Cook over medium-low heat until the eggs are just set and there isn’t much liquid in the pan.  To make sure this happens, run a spatula underneath the perimeter of the frittata and tilt the pan so the undercooked eggs run to the underside.  You want to avoid browning the bottom of the frittata.  Top with the set aside vegetables and sprinkle with the cheese.

Place under a broiler for a couple of minutes, until the top of the frittata is puffed and set and it has a somewhat golden look to it.  Keep a watchful eye, as it can burn quickly.  Remove from the broiler and let rest for a couple of minutes.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve either warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted fro Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Thanks for stopping by today — see you soon.


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Minneapolis/St. Paul was buzzing this weekend.  There were so many things going on!  On Saturday alone, the Twins won, U2 played an amazing outdoor set in the driving rain, the summer Aquatennial festival wrapped up with fireworks, and one of our favorite bands– local blue-grass boys Trampled By Turtles– put on a fantastic concert.  While Radd and I only had time to catch the last of those events, we had a great night.  My brother and sister-in-law took in both the baseball game and the U2 show, and said both had this incredible vibe.  What a great weekend!  It makes me so happy to live here.

How does this relate to food?  No clue, but I’ll do my best to tie them together.  Summer is a busy time and often you need quick, healthy meals that you can simply pull from the fridge–or ones that you can make at the beginning of the week and eat over several meals.  For that, I offer you this filling, fabulous salad.  Quinoa (KEEN-wa) is one of my favorite grains.  It’s quick, easy and sooo healthy.  Chickpeas are a nice compliment, as they’re full of protein, healthy, and don’t leave you hungry.  There’s real heft to this salad– you’ll know you’re eating something substantial.  I used black quinoa in this version, but you can use whichever kind you have.  As for the recipe, think of it more as a list of suggestions– play around a bit to find the mix that you like best.  Add ingredients that are your favorites, or that you simply have on hand.  Fresh cucumbers come to mind.  Also, while I love mixing fresh garden lettuces into the salad, if I know I’m going to have leftovers I don’t mix them into the whole batch.  The lettuce tends to wilt.  Instead, add it to the other ingredients just prior to serving.     Hope you enjoy– let me know what wonderful combinations you come up with!

The Recipe:  Summer Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

1 cup black quinoa, rinsed

1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked

1 cup small cherry tomatoes, halved

1/3 cup ricotta salata cheese, cubed

Fresh garden greens, torn

Fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, mint, or thyme

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1/2 cup (or more to taste) of extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

sprinkle of sugar, if desired

To make the chickpeas:  Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with water.   Bring to a rolling boil.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.  Cover with lid.  Leave the chickpeas in the pan of water, covered for 2 hours.  After that, check for tenderness.  Cook a bit longer if needed.  Drain and sprinkle with a tiny bit of kosher salt.   Allow to cool.  (Note:  Feel free to make more than needed for the recipe and keep extras in the freezer.  They are a wonderful addition to many salads, or like my two year old daughter– you can just eat them for a snack.)

To make the quinoa:  Rinse quinoa and place in a medium saucepan.  Add 1 – 3/4 cup water to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to a simmer.  When most, but not all of the water is absorbed, remove from heat and cover.  Forget about it for a for about 10-15 minutes.   All of the water should be absorbed and the quinoa should easily fluff with a fork.  Cool.

To make the Vinaigrette:  Add all of the ingredients in a bowl except the olive oil.   Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

To assemble the salad:  Place chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese, herbs, and torn lettuce into a bowl.  Pour most of the dressing over the salad (I usually reserve some because I dislike a salad that contains too much dressing — more can be added, but never taken away).  Gently fold the  ingredients together.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today — see you soon!


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