Watercress Composed Salad with Citrus Dressing ~ March Daring Cooks


I haven’t been living in one place for a long enough period of to really concentrate on joining any cook-alongs. It’s been over 6 months with this back and forth stuff! I’m so excited t his month to not join one of The Daring Kitchen’s challenges, but TWO!

For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

I’ve always made my own dressing. Probably because my mother always made her own dressing and my grandmother always made her own dressing. I will occasionally buy a dressing in a bottle, if I want a quick marinade for something, but otherwise I just find them … hmmm, ICKY! Thick and gloppy and off-tasting.

This challenge was right up my alley!

Many, many moons ago, Erie and I went to a Spanish restaurant in Queens (the name escapes me at the moment and perhaps she will chime in and let us know). We had the most wonderful composed salad – and I was surprised as I’m not usually a fan of composed salads.

Since then, this is my go to company is coming, steak themed dinner, salad. It’s simple with lots of great ingredients.

  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 can hearts of palm
  • 1 shallot
  • juice from 1/2 an orange, lime and lemon
  • 3 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • s&p

NOTE: I used plum tomatoes, use whatever tomatoes make you happy.


Wash watercress thoroughly and cut off stems. Place watercress on a platter

Quarter hard boiled eggs into wedges.  Scatter over watercress.

If using Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges. If using other tomatoes, cut into chunks. Scatter over watercress.

Slice hearts of palm into 1/4″ rings. Again, scatter over watercress.

Thinly slice shallot into rings. Scatter over salad.

Dressing salad

In a bowl, whisk together citrus juices, oregano and s&p to taste. While whisking, stream in olive oil. When ready to serve salad, drizzle dressing over the top.

Fattoush Salad #SundaySupper

Ready to serve

One of the things I long for during the long, cold, dreary winter is meat on the grill.

Nothing smells better. Nothing tastes better. Well, only if you’re a carnivore at heart, of course.

One of my favorite things on the grill is lamb … lamb chops, to be exact. And to bring this end-of-the-winter, let’s-celebrate-the-spring feast together for me nothing is better than a Fattoush Salad from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson.

The salad is bright and fresh. Great, simple ingredients, simply dressed.

To make the salad gluten free,  just skip the last step and don’t add the pita bread.

This is another one of those do-ahead dishes that just gets better as it sits waiting for you to devour it! And devour it you will!

  • 2 pita breads
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • Generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 6-8 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt
  • 1 t Sumac powder to sprinkle over finished salad


NOTE: I used an English cucumber and had to cut it into eighths, not quarters. I find they’re much less watery.


Gently, but thoroughly, mix the chopped red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and garlic together.


Dress the salad with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt.  Refrigerate until almost ready to serve.

You want to have the pita bread still slightly warm and crisp, so this final step should be done just before serving.  Split the pita bread in half and toast or put in the oven for five minutes.  They should be crisp, but not completely brittle.

Using scissors, snip, or just break apart with your hands, the toasted pita bread into medium to small pieces and stir into the salad mixture.

NOTE: This was a lot of salad for two people. Knowing I’d be using the rest of this salad for lunch the next day, I sprinkled the pita shards on top so they would be eaten then and wouldn’t be a yucky, soggy mess in the salad the next day.


Sprinkle over the sumac so it is noticeable but not too thick.

This is part of another wonder Sunday Supper. This week’s theme ‘Free for All’ hosted by Beate at The Not So Cheesy Kitchen. Check out the rest of the posts if you get a chance!

  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut & Soy Free Brown Rice Breakfast Pudding by girlichef
  • Dairy & Nut and Sugar Free Blueberry Tangerine Muffins by Vintage Kitchen
  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut, and Soy Free Homemade Mango Jam Recipe by Masala Herb

Main Courses




sunday supper Sneak Peek: 45+ Fabulous Summer Berry Recipes for #SundaySupper

Corn and Black Bean Salad

I know. It’s been a long time. I just haven’t been able to get my head in the game. But I am back. And it’s Thursday. Which means it is Every(thurs)day Food Recipe day!

I loved the July/August 2011! Then again, I love anything that is chock full of simple, it’s-to-hot-to-cook recipes!

So here I was making these fabulous Burgers al Pastor – you have to make these, they were seriously slammin’ – with Cilantro Fries – yet to come! – and needed some sort of salad to tie it all together, but within in my FIESTA theme! Everyday Food and Corn and Black Bean Salad to the rescue!

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 C corn kernels
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 t seeded, and minced Serrano chile
  • 4 t chopped cilantro
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced medium
  • coarse salt & pepper to taste

NOTE: Obviously, fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice. I couldn’t find Serrano chilis – well, the husband couldn’t – so I used jalapeno. You will get about 2 cups of corn from 3 ears of fresh corn. Go with the fresh if you can.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is browned in spots, should be about 3 minutes.

Transfer corn to a large bowl. Add balance of ingredients. Stir well. Serve immediately.

Really, does it get easy than this!?

Tuscan Potato Salad

I LOVE POTATO SALAD. I LOVE MAYONNAISE. I don’t like the 2 in the same dish.

I am not a fan of hard boiled eggs in my potato salad, or macaroni salad for that matter. I don’t like mayo in my potato salad. I do like mayo on my french fries, though. Yes, I know, picky, picky, picky!

I like a salad that is room temperature friendly and is not likely to spoil or taste funny if it’s too hot outside.

I love this recipe. It started out as a Paula Deen recipe. It was the first non-mayo based potato salad I had seen that I found intriguing. It has changed now – through tweaking and tweaking – to be my recipe.

I was thrilled to see potato salad as this months’ challenge at the Daring Kitchen! I have decided that with my changes that this is a Tuscan-style potato salad.

It’s really quite simple and can easily be doubled or halved.

  • 14 or 15 large red potatoes (about 5 pounds)
  • s&p
  • 1/2 C chopped basil
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 C chopped scallions
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C white wine vinegar
  • 1 T marjoram

I switch this around quite a bit. Sometimes I substitute tarragon or thyme for the marjoram; or basil for the parsley; or simply add basil in with the parsley.

Give potatoes a good scrub. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water and boil until potatoes easily pierce with a knife and are tender – about 30 to 40 minutes.

Once done cooking, drain potatoes and let sit until cool enough to handle. At this point, you can peel the potatoes if you want.  Cut potatoes into bite sized chunks.

Place cut potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle the parsley (or basil) and scallions over the top.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the warm potatoes. Mix. Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or all day, mixing every hour. Do not refrigerate before serving. This is best served at room temperature.


My favorite part of any BBQ.

Don’t get me wrong. I love grilled burgers and hot dogs. And great ribs tickle me pink. Nothing better than a steak or sausage on the grill. But with very few variations, they’re all the same!

The salads are the champs. At least to me. They can always be different. There are 100s and 100s of recipes for coleslaw alone.

Over the years I have tried probably a dozen recipes for coleslaw, but there was always something missing in each.

I took my favorite part of each recipe and made one recipe that makes me happy ~ Well, my family too, but truthfully, they will eat anything that stops in front of them!

  • Bag of shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 t caraway seeds
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 C cider vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

NOTE: It’s hot. Too hot to stand in the kitchen chopping cabbage and carrots. Certainly too hot to be standing in the kitchen chopping away when there is a solution right in the grocery store. Bags of coleslaw mix. Perfect.

Please the coleslaw mix, scallions and bell peppers in a large bowl. Sprinkle with caraway seeds.

In a smaller bowl, mix balance of ingredients. Pour over vegetables. Mix.


I usually let mine sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is without a doubt my son’s favorite side dish. Winter or summer, makes no difference at all. When I have bought macaroni salad in the past, he would hide the container in the fridge and then keep it directly in front of him, doling out meager portions to everyone else.

Honestly, it never occurred to me to make this for him before. Can you imagine? I make butter to see how it’s done, or ricotta because I am curious, or English muffins just because it’s cold out, but I am buying macaroni salad!? This needed to change  – and quickly!

This was so simple to make and came together in a snap! (I am still sitting here grumbling and shaking my head in disbelief at my – well, LAZINESS is the only thing that would fit here!)

  • 2 cups of dry pasta – a small shape like elbows, shells or Barilla Piccolini Fusille (which is our fav)
  • 1/4 C diced celery
  • 1/4 C diced carrot
  • 1/4 C chopped scallions
  • 1/4 C chopped bell pepper
  • 1 T minced parsley
  • 1/2 C diced tomato
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 3/4 t dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cider vinegar
  • 3 T sour cream
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Pepper to taste

NOTE: Remove the seeds and pulp from the tomato. The bell pepper is the color of your choice. The peppers and tomatoes are optional, really, but the colors are pretty, the crunch is nice and it adds to the overall flavor.

Cook the pasta, rinse and drain well.

NOTE: Yes, rinse the pasta. The only time I will ever tell you to rinse the pasta is for a cold salad. While the starch that’s on the pasta helps a sauce cling to the pasta, it don’t taste too great cold!

Add the pasta, celery, carrot, peppers, scallions, parsley and tomatoes to a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, sour cream and salt together. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.

Season with s&p.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Saturday was food shopping day. Every Saturday is food shopping day. Two hungry boys and a husband, I am amazed I can actually make it from Saturday to Saturday without shopping again for anything more than milk.

I am, much to my husband’s chagrin, one of those shoppers that needs to go up and down every aisle, even though I have a list that I TRY to strictly stick to – never successful at that one, I can assure you.

I am always amazed at the salad dressing section. I can understand purchasing – okay, forget I said that. I cannot understand buying salad dressing. It is so easy to make and so much less expensive and so much better for you than ‘junk in a jar’.

The dressings in a bottle that perplex me the most are Balsamic Vinaigrette and Italian dressing.  The Italian dressing is simply oil, vinegar and dried herbs.

Balsamic Vinaigrette is slightly different, but just as simple. Once you try this, you will never buy bottled vinaigrette again.

  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste

Let me start by saying the recipe for this usually calls for taking out the blender of food processor. I have an old Grey Poupon jar – you know the large kind that you get Costco or Sam’s Club. I use this to mix up my dressings and marinades. It weighs less, is easier to clean, and emulsifies just as well as the blender.

Mince the garlic or use a microplane hand zester. I use the zester. For me, it’s faster and more fine than I could ever hope to mince it.

If you are using the blender or food processor , combine the balsamic and red wine vinegars, mustard and garlic in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil through the opening in the lid to process into a thick dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
If you are using the jar method – pour the vinegars, mustard, garlic, s&p, and oil into the jar. Cover. Shake!
The dressing will last about 1 week, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Stir well before using. Again, mine stays in the jar, in the fridge, and a quick shake has you ready to go.
Tonight I steamed green beans, topped them with some chopped tomatoes and chopped red onion, poured the vinaigrette on top.Simple. Healthy. Quick. Perfect side dish.