Christine’s "X-Treme" Beans

I love being able to make my own versions of “craveable” grocery store, restaurant or bakery items. I’ve whipped up marshmallow fluff, creme eggs, apple fritters and pretzels over the years, as well as a Baked Haddock and Seafood recipe my mom couldn’t get out of her mind after enjoying it out east. Whenever I try to do these “copycat” style recipes, I always want to make them better – fresher ingredients, varied flavour or texture profiles and most importantly, tailored to the intended eater’s tastes!

One of my co-workers (the Christine of the recipe title) brings a jar of spicy pickled green beans (adequately called The Extreme Bean) regularly to have with her lunch, and I have to admit, they’re delicious! Since our garden was nice enough this year to give us not only beans, but a couple different hot peppers, I couldn’t resist the urge to whip up a batch for a future Christmas gift! The quart jar makes for a gorgeous and delicious addition to any gift basket, showcasing the prime ingredients in all their glory. Now it just comes down to filling out the rest of the basket!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday
Christine’s “X-Treme” Beans
Makes a 1 quart jar (including brine), 3 cups beans only
1 cup water
2 ½ tsp coarse sea salt, divided
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 red Hatch chiles, sliced crosswise
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced crosswise
3 cloves whole peeled garlic
1 ½ tbsp minced garlic
1 lb string beans, trimmed

  1. In a small saucepan, over high heat, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add half the salt and the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside while
  3. blanching the beans.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the remaining salt and add the beans.
  5. Cook until the beans begin to turn bright green and are just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water, then transfer to canning jars.
  7. Add the vinegar, peppercorns, chile peppers and garlic to the sugar mixture and pour over the beans.
  8. Process in a waterbath for 5 minutes.
  9. Allow these to marinate for 48 hours before eating.

Amount Per Serving  
(based on 6, includes average absorption of brine ingredients but not peppers or garlic)
Calories: 23.5
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 198.3 mg
Total Carbs: 5.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 1.4 g


Mix & Match @SanJTamari Sauces for an Asian Twist This Grilling Season

Recipes are all courtesy of San J. For more information on San-J products and to find great gluten-free recipe ideas, please visit their website or Facebook page!

The bright sunny days and ever-warmer evenings mean one thing: grilling season has arrived! San-J is inviting everyone to fire up their gas, charcoal or even electric grills and get ready to create endlessly innovative recipes with their whole line of premium, gluten-free Asian cooking sauces. Dishes will get an instant kick of flavour from the sweet, tangy and slightly spicy Asian BBQ, Mongolian and Orange cooking sauces, livening up your family barbecues or dinners-for-two on the patio in a wink.

Orange Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Citrus Salsa

San-J definitely has your summer recipe needs covered too – with brand new ideas for main meals and side dishes created by Chef Carol Kicinski. Try the fresh and fruity Orange Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Citrus Salsa (hint: this also works with tofu!), an Asian Pasta Salad with sweet Mongolian Sauce and a burst of Sriracha heat or a Fire Roasted Grilled Vegetable Salad packed with the best of Summer’s produce and tossed with a lemon and Asian BBQ Sauce dressing.

Don’t feel like grilling (or the sky rained on your parade?) stay tuned this week for a vegetarian, gluten free recipe of mine using San-J’s Orange and Teriyaki cooking sauces!

Orange Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Citrus Salsa
Serves 6
½ cup plus 1 tbsp San-J Orange Sauce, use divided
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 ¼ – 1 ½ tsp chipotle chili powder, use divided
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any excess fat
3 oranges, peeled and chopped (or use 5 clementines)
½ red onion, diced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together ½ cup San-J Orange Sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp chipotle chili powder. 
  2. Pour into a large food storage bag, add the chicken thighs and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 tbsp of San-J Orange Sauce, chopped oranges, red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and ¼ – ½ tsp chipotle chili powder (depending on hot spicy you want it). Reserve.
  4. Heat grill to medium-high and brush the grates with oil. 
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. 
  6. Pat the chicken dry and grill covered for 6 – 8 minutes per side. Serve with the citrus salsa.

Asian Pasta Salad
Serves 8, vegetarian
1 pound gluten free pasta (like penne or fusilli), cooked jusst to al dente and drained
¾ cup julienned carrots
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ red cabbage, julienned
8 oz (1 small can) sliced water chestnuts, drained
½ cup mayonnaise (use vegan mayo to make this vegan)
¼ cup San-J Mongolian Sauce
2 tsp Sriracha
2 tsp lime juice
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
black pepper, to taste

  1. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with all the vegetables.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, San-J Mongolian Sauce, Sriracha, and lime juice. Whisk until smooth. 
  3. Pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables and stir to coat. Add the cilantro and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

Fire Roasted Grilled Vegetable Salad
Serves 6, vegan
3 tbsp San-J Asian BBQ Sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
6 ears corn, shucked but left whole
4 green onions (I added some green garlic too!)
2 poblano peppers (I used cubanelles and added a pinch of ancho chili powder because I couldn’t find poblanos)
2 red bell peppers
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups arugula (or baby spinach)

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the San-J Asian BBQ Sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk together. Set aside.
  2. Heat grill to high. Mist the corn lightly with canola oil and place directly on the grate. 
  3. Roast, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mist the green onions with oil and roast for 2 minutes per side. Remove from grill and let cool. When cool enough to handle, chop, and add to the corn kernels.
  5. Place the peppers on the grill and roast, turning occasionally, until the skin is fully blackened, about 15 minutes. Remove from grill, place in a bowl and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, then skin, halve and seed. Chop the flesh and add to the corn along with the cucumber, tomato, and arugula.
  6. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate, covered, until serving time.

Note: San-J provided me with samples of their sauces for purposes of testing and review. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Find San-J online here

Dinner and Dessert with @GayLeaFoodsCoop Coconut Whipped Cream #giveaway

Whenever the holidays rolled around at home, you could count on my mom, grandma or I baking up grandpa’s favourite pumpkin pie, to be served with lashings of just sweetened whipped cream. Now, I was not a pumpkin lover by any stretch of the imagination, so the more cream I could pile on the better (sorry mom).

As the years went by, I made my peace with the squash, but developed an allergy to dairy products – leaving me “whip-less” when all I really wanted was a tiny dollop on my coffee or hot cocoa. Thankfully, those sad days are long behind me, and dairy substitutes are getting better than ever – even our go-to “butter and sour cream guys” Gay Lea have come out with a fabulous brand new topping option for vegan, cholesterol-free, lactose-intolerant or otherwise milk-avoiding folk – Coconut Whipped Cream.

Gay Lea’s Coconut Whipped Cream is made from pure coconut cream, which makes it a delectably flavourful topping for fresh fruit, shortcake, bread pudding, pancakes, drinks and (of course) pumpkin pie! Not only is it a fantastic (and easy to use aerosol) topping for your sweet treats, but it’s even great in savoury recipes too – just check out the Island Coconut Sweet Potato Mash featured below! Dollops frozen on a baking sheet make to-die-for “sneak treats” that melt in your mouth better than any ice cream (tip: freeze “topper” sized dollops and add them to a mug of cocoa or coffee – it’s a heavenly burst of creaminess that cools the drink to the perfect temperature!). With all that creamy texture and decadent flavour, you would never believe that is healthier than regular whipped cream, being cholesterol free, low in sugar and only 13% fat.

Think you’d like to try this twist on conventional whip yourself? Well all my Canadian readers (sorry US), can enter TODAY through Friday, December 5th for a chance to win a Gay Lea dessert prize pack! You’ll get 4 gorgeous dessert plates, 4 dessert forks, 4 napkins, 4 napkin rings, a pie lifter, and two vouchers for Gay Lea Coconut Whipped Cream! The RaffleCopter widget is below the recipe – enjoy, and good luck!

Island Coconut Sweet Potato Mash
(adapted from Gay Lea)
Makes 4 (1/2 cup) servings
2 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp jalapeno powder (or chili powder)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 green onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups Gay Lea Real Coconut Whipped Cream

  1. Pierce sweet potatoes several times and microwave on HI for 10 to 12 minutes – until very soft. Cool just until easy to handle.
  2. Scrape potato flesh into a bowl, discarding skins, and mash with spices, salt, green onion, garlic and lime. 
  3. Fold in Gay Lea Real Coconut Whipped Cream until combined. Serve immediately.


Dilly Romano Beans

Every year is an adventure in the backyard for us – my stepdad is forever saving seeds from not only the past year’s crops at home, but also from random plants he comes across in his travels. As a result, we have grapes and flowers from B.C., fern-like flower vines from Quebec to the East coast and vegetables from generations of seeds once brought over from Italy and planted by his mother. While not all of the plants thrive (Winter squash being an example), the bean population is never lacking during the warmer months.

The type we grow are Italian flat beans, or fresh Romano beans, long and wide but incredibly tender while young. My stepfamily uses them mostly for salads, blanched and tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, but in my opinion they’re delicious done any which way regular green beans can be. Chopped into pieces, they’re like snow peas in stir fries and are delicious simply steamed with lemon or sauteed with onions, garlic and mushrooms. I haven’t had a chance to try them roasted (I love green bean “fries”) but it’s definitely on my to-do list next year.

Dilly Romano Beans

One of the things I did attempt this year was pickling the last of our bumper crop, since my stepfamily was off on various vacations and I already had buckets of zucchini and eggplant to go through myself! Knowing that a few people on my Christmas giftee list like “dilly beans”, I went that route, simply pairing the fresh herb from the farmer’s market with homegrown garlic and pepper in the brine. After setting aside a smaller, uncanned jar (for taste testing!), I sealed the rest of them and set them aside for the holidays. Along with my Sweet and Tangy Pickled Beets, they’re definitely the “lookers” of the produce bunch this year – and taste fabulous too!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Dilly Romano Beans
Adapted from Pick Your Own
Makes 2 pints, 16 (1/4 cup) servings
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 lb fresh Romano (flat) beans, washed and cut into 2” pieces
1 large bunch fresh dill
4 garlic cloves, halved

  1. Heat water, vinegar, salt and peppercorns in a pot until boiling.
  2. Add beans and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Place even amounts of dill and garlic in the bottom of each pint jar.
  4. Carefully fill the jars with the beans and brine, leaving ¼” headspace.
  5. Seal jars and process 5 minutes in a waterbath canner.

Amount Per Serving (accounting for 16% brine absorption)
Calories: 5.1
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 36.7 mg
Total Carbs: 0.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
Protein: 0.6 g

Sweet and Tangy Pickled Beets

You know, with all my yakking lately about zucchini this and zucchini that, it’s easy to think that the squash is the only thing my garden blessed me with this year. While the zucchini, eggplant and cucumber were definitely the most abundant crops we had this year, colder-weather treats like my heirloom carrots (yellow this year!) and beets are just coming into their prime and I couldn’t be happier (we did get a few tomatoes this Summer, too, but the weather was too wonky for a sizable harvest). While the carrots are definitely my go-to sweet and crunchy snack during the day, the beets are my pride and joy – this year I grew a variety called Lutz, a heritage breed that stays rich and tender even when it gets to it’s average size of 5-6″ wide! Not only are their roots delectable, but the greens (especially those from thinning early in the year) are perfect leafies without any of that minerally bitterness I normally associate with dark greens.

Sweet and Tangy Pickled Beets

Wanting to save some of my bounty to share with others this Christmas, I opted for the most classic preservation method for the roots: pickling. To jazz them up a bit, though (I am the first to admit standard pickled beets are, well, blah) I raided my pantry and spice cabinet, spiking the vinegar brine with dark, luscious honey, BC red wine, cinnamon, allspice, black peppercorns and turmeric. Roasting the beets brought out their natural sugars for contrast, and once canned they were shelf ready to last the Winer (or at least as long as it takes for us to get through them!). The colour is as rich as the flavour too, providing a gorgeous addition to any gift basket this year that only tastes better the longer it sits on the shelf.

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Sweet and Tangy Pickled Beets
Makes about 2 pints, 8 (1/4 cup) servings
1 ½ lbs beets, topped and scrubbed
2 cups apple cider vinegar
¼ cup red wine
2 tbsp dark honey (like buckwheat)
2 tsp raw sugar
½ tbsp Kosher salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
¼ tsp turmeric

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Wrap beets in foil and place on a cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 30-45 minutes, until tender. Cool until you can handle them, then peel and cut into eighths.
  4. In a large pot, combine vinegar, wine, honey, sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, pepper and turmeric. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add beets and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes.
  6. Ladle into pint jars (top off with more vinegar if needed) and seal. Can in a waterbath 30 minutes.
  7. Let sit at least 2 days before enjoying – these get better as they age!

Amount Per Serving*
Calories: 40.6
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 115.4 mg
Total Carbs: 8.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 1.4 g

*Accounting for average brine absorption

Harvest Ragoût-Filled Zucchini “Marrow”

It surprises a lot of people that in a previous life I was a total meat-aholic. In particular, I loved all the “end bits” left over from a dinner mom would cook – the cartilage, fat, skin and (in particular) bone marrow of that night’s chicken, pork chop or steak were beloved treats, and things like oxtail soup were high on my “like” list (I always wanted to try beef heart before getting sick, too – not so much now!). Vegetables? I could take them or leave them, really, unless drenched in a sauce of some kind or smothered in salsa, hot sauce or lemon juice.

Harvest Ragoût-Filled Zucchini “Marrow”

Of course, now the tables are drastically reversed! I crave and covet veggies above all else, finding I like ones I never considered before and loving the various configurations they can be formed into. with our recent glut of zucchini, I’ve been making zucchini boats with various things, but when we had some truly epic-sized beasts come in I turned to the internet for more inspiration. It was good ol Mr. G that reminded me that large summer squash are often called “marrows” (although “real” marrows are a different veggie), and that label got it into my head to try a different type of stuffed zucchini variation: mock marrow bones.

The Weird Characters
Two weird characters: celeriac (L) and kohlrabi (R)

A trip to a few farmer’s markets turned out to be gold for inspiration and sourcing what we didn’t grow out back, too. Leeks, kohlrabi and celeriac joined the freshly-picked haul of eggplant, beets, carrots, herbs, arugula and summer squash, which I then rounded out flavour-wise with lentils, sun-dried olives, tomato paste and white wine. Finally, I took a peeler to a wedge of Parmigano Reggiano cheese for piquant ribbons that browned ever so slightly in the oven, making for a vegetarian main or elegant side dish! If you need this to be vegan / dairy free, I’d suggest a dusting of ground almonds or panko for that little bit “extra”.

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays and Friday Frenzy

Harvest Ragoût 
Makes ~6 cups
4 large zucchini

1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 medium beet, peeled and diced into 1/8-1/4” cubes
6 oz eggplant, peeled and diced into 1/8-1/4” cubes
4 oz celeriac, peeled and diced into 1/8-1/4” cubes
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8-1/4” cubes
1 medium head kohlrabi, diced into 1/8-1/4” cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
¼ cup white wine, divided
1 cup cooked lentils
¼ cup minced gourmet black olives (I used sun-dried)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup fresh arugula or spinach, chopped finely
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Cut the ends off each zucchini and slice into 2-3” inch long pieces (I got 3 pieces per large zucchini).
  2. With a small, sharp spoon, apple corer or melon baller, hollow out the centre of each zucchini slice, leaving about ¼” inch of zucchini flesh intact. Set zucchini tubes aside for “marrow” recipe (see associated recipe below).
  3. Finely chop the extracted zucchini flesh and reserve.
  4. In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  5. Add the leeks and cook until softened, then stir in the beet, eggplant, reserved zucchini, celeriac, carrot and kohlrabi and cover.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes, covered, then uncover and sauté until almost tender.
  7. Add the garlic, thyme, basil and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add half the wine, stirring vigorously, then add the lentils, olives and tomato paste.
  9. Heat through, then add arugula and remaining wine.
  10. Re-cover the pan and cook just until the arugula wilts. Season to taste, then remove from heat and cool slightly. 

Note: you will have a lot of extra filling left over if making the “marrow” – use it on another night to stuff peppers, potatoes or more zucchini(!), or mix into rice or pasta for a rich tasting meal in a snap!

Amount Per Cup
Calories: 148.9
Total Fat: 4.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 161.1 mg
Total Carbs: 21.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.5 g
Protein: 5.7 g
Harvest Ragoût Filling
Zucchini “Marrow”
Makes 6 servings of 2 pcs each
⅓ cup crushed tomatoes (I used roasted)
4 large zucchini, prepared as directed above
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ¼ cups Harvest Ragoût (see above)
1 ½ oz Parmigano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler or cheese slicer 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread crushed tomatoes over the bottom of a 9” pan.
  2. Place each hollowed zucchini piece upright on the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and set aside
  3. Spoon filling into each zucchini “hollow”, slightly overfilling the cups (the filling cooks down slightly).
  4. Cover pans with foil and bake 25 minutes, then uncover, top with shavings of Parmigano-Reggiano and bake another 20 minutes, until zucchini is tender.
  5. Let stand 5 minutes before serving alongside lemon-herb rice or couscous.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 88.8
Total Fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 4.8 mg
Sodium: 193.0 mg
Total Carbs: 11.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g
Protein: 5.9 g
Harvest Ragoût-Filled Zucchini “Marrow”

Summer Salad Recipes with #Marzetti Simply Dressed

May was National Salad Month. I missed the boat on that one, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been enjoying my favourite meal regularly! I love how versatile salads can be, easily composed from anything – from the (not so) plain-jane greens to the spectrum of proteins, a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, and/or a field of grains. Unlike my mom and I (the veggie-holics in the family), many Canadians don’t eat enough vegetables. That’s a shame, since with July nearing with it’s bounty of fresh, local produce there’s no better time to be chowing down on it!

The problem with most salads is the dressing. Most commercially prepared dressings are packed with fillers, additives and preservatives, which makes it difficult for the ever-growing number of Canadian label-readers to ensure that the products they buy are wholesome and simple. Bridging the dietary need for more vegetables with the desire for simplicity are new Simply Dressed® salad dressings from Marzetti®™.

Simply Dressed® refrigerated salad dressings are made with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, canola oil and other fresh, bright ingredients. They have many gluten free options too What they don’t have are preservatives, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, MSG or artificial flavours. In Canada, we can find 354 ml bottles in six flavours in our stores: Balsamic, Ranch, Ceasar, Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Greek Feta. All of them cost around $3.99, and are found in the produce section of the grocery store with the refrigerated salad dressings. Hungry Canadians can find the full variety at Loblaws, Superstore, Zehrs, Valumart, Your Independent Grocer, Coppa’s Fresh Market, Concord Foods and FreshCo.

The Marzetti®™ team sent me a delicious assortment of salad recipes to share, so take a look below – you’re bound to find something to make you love your veggies!

First up is the Exotic Vegetable and Chickpea Salad. The exotic flavours of this veggie-packed, greens-free salad will wow your next dinner guests, even if it’s just your family! I bring the farmer’s market home to make this, since local cauliflower, beets, cucumber, red peppers, onions and feta are a world of flavour onto their own. Paired with nutty chickpeas, briny olives and and Simply Dressed® Greek Feta Salad Dressing, I dare you to not take a second bite! The main change I made to the original was roasting the beets alongside the cauliflower for more sweetness and eliminating the roasting oil – there’s enough richness as it is.

Exotic Vegetable and Chickpea Salad
Serves 8
2 large golden beets
4 cups fresh cauliflower florets
3/4 cup Simply Dressed® Greek Feta Salad Dressing
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, slivered
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup diced cucumber
One (15 oz.) can chick peas, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup slivered and pitted Kalamata olives (I would use sun-dried olives for richer flavour)
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese (I suggest goat or sheep’s milk feta)
fresh dill, to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. 
  2. Wrap beets in foil and place on a small baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Spread cauliflower in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  4. Place in the oven alongside the beets and roast both for 15-18 minutes longer, until cauliflower is golden and beets are tender. 
  5. Cool slightly, then peel and dice the beets. 
  6. In a large bowl, combine Simply Dressed® Greek Feta Salad Dressing with ground cumin. 
  7. Add all remaining ingredients and toss well. Garnish with fresh dill.
  8. The salad is best served right after it is tossed.

Up next is the Layered Multi-Grain Salad. Serve up layers of goodness in this scrumptious salad, which contains brown rice, quinoa, celery, carrots, edamame, dried apricots, queso fresco and Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing. This is a perfect use for brown Basmati, since it adds a delicate but definite flavour. If, like me, you don’t groove on quinoa, millet or amaranth make a great substitute.

Layered Multi-Grain Salad
Serves 10

1 cup Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing

2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked red or white quinoa
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cups edamame, thawed
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup crumbled chevre or feta cheese
6 cups of your favourite salad greens
  1. Transfer each grain to a separate bowl and toss each with 2 tbsp dressing. Season each with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Line up large canning jars (for individual, portable portions) or use a large clear bowl and begin to layer the salad as desired.
  3. If using individual jars, place 2 tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of each jar before beginning layers of vegetables and grains. Leave 1 1/2” open space at the top of each jar. To serve, secure lid and shake the jar to distribute the dressing.
  4. With a large bowl, pour the remaining dressing over the assembled salad and gently open spaces with a chopstick to allow the dressing to seep into the salad.  

When I saw this recipe for Crunchy Apple Chicken Salad, all I could think of was my grandma’s recipe – a very similar combination of crunchy, sweet and savoury items like roasted chicken, Granny Smith apples, celery, dates, pecans, cabbage and salad greens. Combined with  Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing with chicken, it’s a standout light lunch.

Crunchy Apple Chicken Salad
Serves 4
1/2 cup Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing
2 cups cooked skinless chicken breast, shredded
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped dates or raisins
2 cups chopped cabbage (I suggest Savoy or Napa)
4 cups mixed salad greens
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup coarsely grated (or diced) old white Cheddar

  1. In a large bowl, combine Simply Dressed Balsamic Salad Dressing, chicken, apples, celery, and dates.
  2. Add cabbage and salad greens and gently toss. Season to taste.
  3. Top with pecans and cheese and serve.

This Arugula and Fennel Pomegranate Salad is my family’s personal favourite, and allows us to use fresh, snappy arugula from our garden. The sweet, slightly licorice-y fennel, pomegranates and Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Salad Dressing all speak to my stepfamily’s Italian roots, while the crusted goat cheese adds texture and a great tang.

Arugula and Fennel Pomegranate Salad
Serves 6
1 cup panko
6 oz. goat cheese, cut into 6 discs
2 tbsp lightly flavoured olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, outer layer removed and thinly sliced
8 oz. arugula
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Salad Dressing
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup shelled pistachios

  1. Place panko in a shallow dish. Roll each piece of goat cheese completely in panko and transfer to a plate. 
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan and add goat cheese in one layer.
  3. Cook about 1 to 2 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer cheese to a plate and keep warm (don’t cover or you’ll lose the crunch!).
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine fennel, arugula, onion and dressing, tossing gently. 
  5. Divide salad mixture onto individual plates and sprinkle each salad with pomegranate seeds and pistachios. 
  6. Place warm goat cheese on top of each salad and serve.​

I’m not a huge fan of watermelon, but I know lots of people who will love this Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad. A simple salad made of watermelon, crumbled feta cheese, fresh mint and Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing makes for an unexpected start to a summer meal

Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad
Serves 4
½ cup Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing

1½ lbs. cubed watermelon (about 5 cups)
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (I suggest goat’s milk feta)
½ cup mint, thinly sliced (or whole if small leaves)
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  1. Place watermelon in a medium-sized salad bowl or serving platter.
  2. Top with red onion, feta and mint.
  3. Sprinkle with black pepper and drizzle with Simply Dressed Balsamic Balsamic Salad Dressing.

Finally, there’s the Chopped Spinach, Mint and Cracked Wheat Salad! Hearty, fibre-full bulgur, vibrant spinach, mint and scallions, salty feta and toasted almonds get a punch of fruity flavour from dried apricots, pomegranate seeds and Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Dressing. I added a touch of saffron for colour and more exoticism, used baby spinach and my favourite local goat’s feta cheese, but of course feel free to make the recipe as written! If you like tabbouleh, try this twist, you won’t be disappointed.

Chopped Spinach, Mint and Cracked Wheat Salad 
Serves 10
1 1/2 cups water
pinch saffron (optional)
1 cup bulgur wheat
3/4 cup Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Dressing
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped mint
5 oz. chopped spinach
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (ideally goat’s milk feta)

  1. Combine the water and saffron in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. 
  2. Add bulgur, remove from heat and cover. Let stand 1 hour.
  3. Fluff the bulgur with a fork and pour 1/2 cup Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Dressing overtop.
  4. Fold through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine mint, spinach and scallions in a large bowl. Fold in the bulgur.
  6. Top with apricots, pomegranate seeds, almonds, feta and remaining dressing.
  7. Toss gently and serve

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Disclaimer: This post was solicited by Marzetti®™. I did not receive monetary compensation however I was provided with free product for purposes of testing.

Cauliflower and Tomato Salad @HuntsChef #GuestPost

I’d like to introduce Julie, today’s guest blogger. Julie is a Midwestern gal from Chicago, IL who writes on behalf of Hunt’s. Like most of us, she is a lover of warm weather and outdoor Summer grilling. When not grilling, her favorite meals are homemade meatloaf and anything with a blue cheese topping! Please check out the Hunt’s website for great tomato recipes perfect for meals with family and friends.

Summer cookouts are the best.  I argue there is nothing better than lounging on the back porch with dinner on the grill, kids playing in the freshly-mowed yard, and neighbors stopping by to say hello.  My husband and I frequently invite friends over for cookouts, which means an abundance of steaks, grilled chicken, and bratwurst in our diets.  As much as all of those foods make me salivate, I always try to balance dense foods out with lighter side dishes.

A new favorite on our porch is Cauliflower and Tomato salad.  This vegetarian-friendly side dish option is light, but still retains a ton of flavor.  The lack of cream or meat makes it perfect for picnics or any occasion where your food may be sitting out for a while.  I can vouch that it pairs amazingly with grilled chicken and a glass of lemonade.
Cauliflower and Tomato Salad
Serves 6
2 cups fresh cauliflower florets
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 tbsp cider vinegar (or to taste)
½ tsp garlic salt
pinch ground black pepper
  1. Drain tomatoes, reserving ¼ cup liquid. Discard remaining liquid.
  2. Combine drained tomatoes, cauliflower, beans and onion in large bowl.
  3. In second bowl, whisk together reserved liquid, oil, parsley, vinegar, garlic salt and pepper.
  4. Pour dressing mixture over vegetables; toss to coat.

Julie’s Notes
  • Other veggies are totally optional.  I’ve tossed in cucumbers and peppers before, which turned out great.
  • I’ve always wanted to try this out with a touch of garlic, but unfortunately my husband is not a fan.  If you’re feeling adventurous, toss your own spin on the dish and let us know how it worked out in the comments.
My Notes
  • If possible, cook your own chickpeas or buy no-salt-added canned versions
  • Use garlic powder to cut down the sodium, since the Hunt’s Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes are pre-salted.
  • Garlic lovers like myself can use Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes Fire Roasted With Garlic
  • I would blanch the cauliflower for 2-3 minutes before making this so they both absorb the dressing and aren’t so texturally distinct (not to mention they’ll be plastic-fork stabbable!).
  • Add a touch of fresh dill for extra pep
  • Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for more flavour – especially if you add black olives too!
Amount per Serving
Calories 128
Total fat 8 g
Saturated fat 1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 434 mg
Carbohydrate 12 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 2 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin A   3%
Vitamin C   33%
Calcium   4%
Iron   7% 
This is not a sponsored post, I do not receive any compensation in any way. 

Spicy Shredded Root Pickle

There’s something about pickles that I love. Give me almost any vegetable and add vinegar, salt and spices or herbs and I’m a happy girl! Since I had a bunch of beautiful carrots from the farmer’s market and a fresh haul of radishes from the garden, I thought I’d try my hand at a new (to me) type of vinegary treat – a carrot-radish pickle a la banh mi sandwiches. 
Like most vinegar-based pickles, making these is dead simple. As a bonus, they won’t heat up your kitchen for very long, even if you can them – most of the “cooking” is done by the salt purge, and the boiling is really just to combine all the flavours and bring the mix up to temperature for safe storage. Adding a good amount of grated ginger gives them a good kick, too – without the need for chiles (although you can certainly add some!) – but even without hot peppers, be careful when you’re leaning over the pot or that pungent heat will clear your sinuses in a snap!
Again, like most marinated or pickled things, this relatively delicate shredded mixture is far better after it’s had a chance to sit and develop the marriage of flavours. While I liked it after a day or two, it was far better after a week! I’ve been adding it to wraps and salads, and my stepbrother had it on his burgers and hot dogs at tonight’s BBQ, but I have to admit I’ve eaten it on it’s own as a type of gingery root “slaw”! I can’t wait to toss it with a “regular” coleslaw to see how it turns out!
Spicy Shredded Root Pickle

Shared with Wellness Weekend, Gluten Free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Spicy Shredded Root Pickle
Makes 20 (1/4 cup) servings

1 lb carrots, coarsely grated
½ lb radishes (any kind), coarsely grated
2 tbsp Kosher salt
2 cups white vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup raw sugar
½ tbsp whole peppercorns
6 cloves garlic, pressed
⅓ cup minced fresh ginger
  1. Combine carrots, radishes and salt in a colander. Let stand 2-3 hours, then rinse and squeeze dry. Set aside.
  2. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  3. Stir in the shredded carrots and radishes and bring back to a boil, stirring.
  4. Spoon into ½ pint jars, seal and process in a waterbath for 15 minutes.
  5. Allow to infuse for 1 week before enjoying.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 35.8
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 357.9 mg
Total Carbs: 8.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.9 g
Protein: 0.4 g  

Super Simple Vegan Taco Salad

Any Guesses?With the warmer months approaching (soon… maybe. Please??) my thoughts are already on the garden. I just finished sorting out my “direct sow” seeds (this year it’s Lutz beetsstrawberry spinach and a rainbow carrot mix), and my heirloom tomato seeds are well on their way. This year’s crop, if Mother Nature is kind, will feature tiny Red Currants, rich purple Gypsies and the lovably hideous Riesetomates, possibly with another group of Indigo Roses if I can find space (and the store that sells the seedlings)!

Of course, at the moment we’re still relying on supermarket produce, which tries to emulate their fresh-from-the-garden counterparts but often comes up short. Lettuce priced at $2.47 a head is crenated and half-slimy, tomatoes are overpriced tennis balls and spongy zucchini is the size of a finger. But still, the call of the sun and the slowly increasing temperatures is a strong one, and I can’t help but crave more fresh veggies and cool, crisp salads.

To compensate for the lack of our market’s quality (and the still-brisk evenings), I turned to the cook’s friend – heat. Just like roasting under-ripe or out-of-season tomatoes concentrates and enhances their flavour, adding a warm, hearty, spicy topping (in my case, a taco filling) to cold veggies, followed by cool, refreshing yoghurt and lime creates a whole new flavour and texture sensation that is so much more than the sum of it’s parts.

I know most taco salads have a tortilla shell (or at least chips), and you can certainly add those, or cooked brown rice, to beef up the bowl a bit more. I opted to have a small bowl of garlicky millet on the side, since for some reason grains on cold greens weirds me out. Plus, I never really liked hard tacos anyway, and the soft ones turn to mush too fast! Either way, this salad is a light yet hearty addition to the Mexican (or Tex-Mex) table, and is a nice way to herald Cinco de Mayo with the rest of the Holiday Food Blog Parties group! Take a look at the delectable treats on display:

1. Alfajores from Roxana’s Home Baking
2. Spicy Fish Tacos with Avocado Yogurt Sauce from Crumb Blog
3. Classic Flan from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
4. Dulce de Leche Milkshake with Coconut Milk Whipped Cream from Chocolate Moosey
5. Lime Margarita Bars from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
6. Shrimp and Avocado Ceviche from Magnolia Days
7. Tropical Fiesta Cocktail from Hungry Couple NYC
8. Paletas – Mexican Popsicles from Pineapple and Coconut
9. Bizcochitos Cookies from Jen’s Favorite Cookies
10. Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes from Gotta Get Baked
11. Super Simple Vegan Taco Salad from What Smells So Good?
12. Gluten Free Tres Leches Cake from Kelly Bakes
13. Queso Blanco from The Messy Baker
14. Gorditas with Picadillo from Juanita’s Cocina
15. Strawberry Margerita Slurpee from Chocolate Chocolate and More

Vegan Taco Salad

Super Simple Vegan Taco Salad
Serves 1
2/3 cup “ground beef” style crumbles (I used Yves’ Ground Round Original, but SOL Cuisine‘s is GF if you need that)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp
garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp oregano
Pinch ancho chili powder
Pinch chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp smoked salt
1 tbsp ketchup
1/3 cup water

2 tbsp plain soy yogurt (or plain Greek yogurt)
zest and juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 clove garlic, grated or put through a garlic press

6 cups mixed crisp greens (I use a blend of romaine and iceberg)
1 plum tomato, diced


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and simmer 15 minutes. Cool while making the topping and the salad.


  1. Whisk the ingredients together in a small dish. Set aside


  1. Fill a large bowl with greens.
  2. Top with tomato, “meat” mixture and lime-garlic yoghurt and serve.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 225.5
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 970.2 mg
Total Carbs: 25.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 22.2 g
Protein: 24.3 g