The Summer Salad

As you might have picked up, I recently moved to the DC area. I’m living in Arlington and working in the city. This is definitely a big change for me because I’ve never spent an extended period of time in the DC area. Everyday I’m learning new things about the area, but I wanted to share my favorite thing so far: the salads. I know this is a little random and perhaps unexciting to many people, but this is a luxury I have not experienced yet.
When I say salads, I mean the several great salad fast food places they have here like Chop’t and Sweet Green. I realize that these places are pretty common in metropolitan areas these days, but they’re relatively new to me. Having lived in Williamsburg, central Connecticut, and Lewisburg, PA in the last three years, I didn’t really get exposed to the trendiest new restaurant chains.
So last summer I raved about the Whole Foods salad bar, but this takes salads to a new level. For those unfamiliar with these places, it’s not like they’re re-inventing the fast food wheel, they’re just doing it with salad. The restaurants typically have about eight or so salads on their menu. They are usually a combination of traditional options like a version of a Ceaser, something kind of Greek, a southwestern option, etc. And then you have the option to make your own where you can pick a certain number of veggies, protein, crunchy things; whatever you want.
I typically go with different options depending on the specific restaurant. For example, Sweet Green is a little more earthy/organic and I love the “Spicy Sabzi” which is a combination of kale and spinach, spicy quinoa, spicy broccoli, bean sprouts, carrots, basil, roasted tofu, and I substitute dried cranberries because I don’t like the beets. And the dressing is Siracha and a carrot vinaigrette. Don’t you just feel healthier reading that description!Sweet Green
The Sweet Green is near my apartment (and conveniently on my walk back from the gym), but Chop’t is in the city just a few blocks from my office. I usually get the “Vegetarian Powerhouse” when I’m at Chop’t. It includes spinach and romaine, edemame, broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, walnuts, dried cranberries, apples, and a “spa” balsamic vinaigrette.chopt
Plus the closet food option to my office, Devon and Blakely, has a great make your own salad option that is perfect for grabbing a quick lunch at work. The make your own option is always a little stressful for me because I never know what to choose, but I usually go with spinach, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, edemame, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Pretty basic, lots of veggies and a little crunch.
So basically, I have turned into a rabbit here in DC and I’m loving it. I’m trying to find some moderation because it’s not always the most economical option, and I kind of wonder if I will burn out on salads. But right now, things are lean and green.
What are your go-to Summer meals? Do you like ordering from the menu or are you a make-your-own fan?

Easy Crispy Goat Cheese Salad

I often see posts on food blogs about recreating dishes from restaurants at home.  While I’m definitely jealous of this kind of ambition, I typically don’t try to duplicate restaurant dishes.  My philosophy is that the reason that I want to go to a restaurant is because I want something that I don’t want to make at home.

But as we know, there is an exception to every rule.  Every summer my family’s favorite vacation spot is Block Island, RI.  Most of the restaurants on this island are the typical burger places or seafood spots.  There is, however, one standout place that is a small hole in the wall on a side street.  The food is a step above everything else on the island, and you can usually tell by the hour long wait for a table any night of the week.

They have a great warm goat cheese salad.  It is an arugula salad with toasted sliced almonds, dried cranberries, sliced piquillo peppers, and warm crispy round of goat cheese on top.  I didn’t try to duplicate this salad exactly because I didn’t have all of the components on hand.  But I aimed to recreate the warm goat cheese and put together a good mix of textures and tastes to make a comprehensive side salad.  This is a great way to dress up your daily does of greens!

Crispy Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

Scale ingredients to number of servings required

Ingredients

  • Arugula
  • Traditional bread crumbs
  • Goat cheese (3 inch disc per serving, about 1/2 inch thick)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Spiced pecans
  • Olive oil (for goat cheese and dressing)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spread about a half cup of bread crumbs on a baking sheet (1/2 cup is enough for about four servings). Drizzle a little olive oil on the breadcrumbs, and toast in oven for about 5 minutes until golden brown.
  3. Allow bread crumbs to cool.  Cut goat cheese into discs that are about 1/2 inch think.  Form patties that are about 3 inches in diameter.  Brush a little olive oil on the goat cheese.  Coat the goat cheese discs completely with the cooled breadcrumbs.crispy
  4. Assemble the salad by combining the arugula, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans.  Season with salt and pepper and dress with oil and vinegar.
  5. When the salad is almost ready to be served, warm the goat cheese up in the oven again for about 5 minutes until warmed through.
  6. Plate the salads, and place a crispy goat cheese disc on top of each salad (it’s easier to serve this plated in individual portions instead of in a big salad bowl).ready for the table

Ramen Noodle Salad

Here is a great recipe for a crowd. It’s quick and easy but will definitely be the hit of your next picnic. It can also hold up in the heat so it’s great for your next outdoor soirée.

Ramen Noodle Salad

Salad Base
1 pkg broccoli slaw
1 bunch scallions chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 pkgs ramen beef noodles (crumbled)

Sauce
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 pkg seasoning from ramen noodles

Mix ingredients for salad base together in a bowl. Mix ingredients for sauce in another bowl. Combine salad and sauce. Best to let the flavors mingle for at least an hour before serving.

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