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In the dead of winter, it’s hard to think about BLTs. ’cause as much as bacon’s the star in that sandwich, where is it without the supporting role of a nice native tomato? I loathe the cold and lack of sun this time of year. Apparently, tomatoes do, too, since they don’t grow here now (well, nothing does, that’s part of the problem, but I digress).

Luckily, grape tomatoes always taste good. Sure, they are sweeter to me straight off my deck in the summertime, but no matter where they come from, they never disappoint. And working them into a sexy salad is a fun way to get your off-season BLT fix. I should mention, I invited avocado to the party by making a little bacon guacamole. It’s more of a formula than a recipe. Let me show you how.

KATTY’S BLT SALAD
for two, or barring someone to share with me, I eat the whole thing myself 🙂

spring mix (or whatever lettuce combo you like best)
2 slices of your favorite bacon, cooked and chopped (mine comes from M’town’s Meadow Meat)
1 ripe avocado
a wedge of lemon or lime
a handful of grape tomatoes (maybe 5-7, depending on size, doowutchyalike)
a slice of sweet onion, diced
a kitchen teaspoonful of mayo (i.e. grab a teaspoon from the silverware drawer and don’t be shy)
Kosher salt to taste

Cook the bacon, drain, set aside to cool and chop.

Meantime, chop a slice of sweet onion and cut up the grape tomatoes–add to a medium bowl. Dice the avo and add to the bowl. Squeeze the lemon or lime over the top. Add chopped bacon and mayo; add salt to taste.

Plate your spring mix (or lettuce)–spoon the bacon guac over the top. Toss together–it’s your dressing, so enjoy it!

Counting the days till spring (45!), I remain, your friend,
The bacon-loving Kat >>^..^<<

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The sexy Italian salad!

 A SEXY ITALIAN SALAD WITH PROSCIUTTINI, SOPRESSATA AND CHAMPAGNE HAZELNUT VINAIGRETTE 

It is hot as you-know-where here in the Land of Steady Habits, so, in an attempt to beat the heat, I headed to the shore yesterday. That didn’t work so swimmingly, but while in Old Saybrook, I stopped in at Fromage on Route 1 to buy some new treats for Katty’s Kitchen:  hazelnut oil and champagne vinegar.  How did no one clue me in sooner about such deliciousness?! 

 

Inspired by my Foodbuzz friend PachecoPatty and her very tempting Grilled Chicken with Herbs and Arugula Salad with Raspberries, I knew I could really beat the heat by making a salad with these fine ingredients, some tasty goat ricotta salata (yum!) along with some prosciuttini and sopressata from Public Market. 

I found a lovely champagne vinaigrette recipe from Southern Living and simply swapped out the olive oil for hazelnut oil. I also didn’t measure nearly that much salt–just a series of grinds from the salt mill to taste. 

mesclun and arugula

 Here’s what I picked for the salad, fresh from the deck: 

two lettuces–Ruby Red and Black Seeded Simpson
mesclun
arugula
flat-leaf parsley
lime basil–if you don’t have some in your herb garden, please add to your shopping list immediamente!
hot & spicy oregano 

Then I added:
sliced avocado (a.k.a. “the fancy avo fan”)
goat ricotta salata
kalamata olives 

Growing up in an Italian restaurant, we always made antipastos and chef’s salads semi-artistically; thus my little ring of prosciuttini atop the sopressata around the perimeter of the plate. Please tell me you know about prosciuttini–peppered ham. My very favorite, both in salads and in Italian combos. 

Nothing beats a freshly picked salad on a hot, hot day. In fact, I might need to have one right now! Ciao! 

Lettuce please you? 🙂

 

chicken salad

chicken salad over avocado

How ’bout we dress things up with a new twist on an old, much-loved family recipe? My mom gave this to me on a recipe card labeled “Dressing for Potato Salad” from Nanny/Ma. And how I loved Nanny’s potato salad! It’s a classic. The original recipe can be used to make potato salad for 5 pounds of taters!

I thought I’d change it up ever so slightly by subbing rice vinegar for white vinegar and adding celery seed and a little sesame oil. I really enjoyed it both in my chicken salad and blended into broccoli slaw as a side dish.

DRESSING FOR CHICKEN SALAD, SLAW & POTATO SALAD
1 cup mayo
½ cup rice vinegar (white vinegar if you want to do it the original way)
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Add ½ cup dressing per pound of meat. Don’t forget to try this dressing on broccoli slaw, too!

I  added ½ cup of golden raisins and ½ diced pecans to a pound of chicken tenders I had roasted with salt, California seasoned pepper (Penzey’s) and rosemary. I served it over ½ a sliced avocado and really liked it…which is a good thing since I’ll be having it for lunch AGAIN. 🙂

I’m still working on my avocado fan. It is one of many self-assigned development opportunities. Let’s face it, it tastes good even if it isn’t picture-perfect. I learned I was supposed to present the avocado fan bottom up and fanned over the top. What did you expect from amateur hour? The good news is, this is definitely another sexy salad.

My not-so-fancy avocado fan–a work in progress!

Wait, wait! I did it! I made a fancy avo fan. Lookie here!

avocado fan

I did it! I did it!

Just goes to show ya, you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Thanks, coach!

Katty’s note: 1/2 cup of dressing is just the right amount for a 12 oz. bag of broccoli slaw. 🙂

The sexy salad takes an Asian turn!

Can you stand another sexy salad? 🙂 Warmer weather calls for more green lunches–or green dinners! This tasty potsticker salad is an easy meal you can throw together quickly without sacrificing a bite of deliciousness.

Pick up your favorite dumplings. In my neck of the woods, I’m very happy with Stew Leonard’s. They make pork, chicken and veggie–pork being my personal fave. Of course, if you have the time and talent to make your own, so much the better.

Next, make sure you have your favorite salad fixin’s on hand and dinner is just a squeeze, stir, chop and saute away!

ORANGE SESAME DRESSING

¼ of an orange, squeezed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½  teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon sriracha (or hot sauce of your choice)

HOW WILL YOU MAKE YOUR POTSTICKER SALAD?
Start with spring mix, baby romaine or lettuce of choice, then add any of these:
diced red pepper
crumbled bacon
seaweed salad
sliced cucumbers
grape tomatoes
diced avocado
parsley
shredded carrots
chopped cashews or peanuts

Steam or pan-fry the dumplings and arrange them across the top of your salad. Drizzle the orange sesame dressing over the salad bed, then add a bit of ginger-soy over the dumplings. Make it your own…and make it part of your warmer weather dinner rotation. You can’t go wrong with a sexy salad.

It’s winter, I’ve had spring fever since January…and isn’t it amazing how a pound or two can creep up on you when you’re stuck in the house snacking on your Valentine’s candy?! Time for a green lunch.

Why can’t it be just a little sexy? How about a delicious turkey club without the bread? It’s a nice way to make a meal out of a salad and not feel deprived.

turkey club salad = sexy green lunch

I made blue cheese dressing for the first time, by halving a recipe Nancy (Phurstluv) kindly provided on Chowhound, adapted from Fine Cooking. I’ve been wanting to try this since the summer. Here it is, halved, for those of you who are cooking just for you–or for two–as I often do!

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream (I used Daisy Light)
a few splashes of half-and-half
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
(try Buttermilk Blue from Wisconsin–mmmmm–see link below)
1 clove garlic, run through garlic press
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼  tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Yields 1 cup

Here is the original recipe:
http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/grilled-hearts-romaine-blue-cheese-dressing.aspx

About Buttermilk Blue:
http://www.rothkase.com/blue.html

And now, the salad! A mound of spring mix, topped with grape tomatoes, slices of turkey from the deli, 2 slices of crumbled bacon, sliced cukes, half an avocado, decorated with a few dollops of homemade blue cheese dressing. So I had two cookies after that. Is that wrong? 🙂