Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

After a long weekend of delicious heavy food (in my case, a whole lot of chip and dip and chocolatey desserts), I need a bit of a detox. I've never been one to just give up - or I guess some people would say just the opposite - and go full-healthy. I'm always going to need an extra few treats to eat normally most of the time, and if I don't have cheese at least once, usually twice a day, I feel like my body would just self-destruct. I think this salad is a healthy balance of salty warm cheese and light leafy greens, something that will make you feel a bit less bloated but also keep you from feeling like you're magically a better person. Food is not going to make you a better person.*

So pop on some Tuesday morning tunes and let's get going! It's snowy and dreary in New England right now so I'm putting on a sunny and warm song from a lady I only became a fan of after listening to. If it's not Tuesday morning, pick some new tunes these ones are no longer in vogue.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 log of goat cheese (or in the UK: "goat's cheese" *heart-eyes emoji*) cut with unflavored dental floss into wedges
  • 1 toasted piece of gluten free toast, crumbled in a food processor with 1 clove garlic, salt and pepper OR - and let's be real here - 3 tablespoons gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 cups packed leafy greens or spinach
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar (Modena!)
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Pinch eat salt, pepper and sugar

Instructions

  1. Pour your crumb of poison - and seriously unless you have magical amounts of free time and aren't hungry (who thinks of cooking before they're hungry though? Psychopaths) it's the gluten free breadcrumbs - into a bowl. Gently dip each cheese wheel into the breadcrumbs, pushing into the crumbs to coat evenly on all sides.
  2. If you didn't buy a premix of salad, why? Seriously. Go wash and dry your greens and feel embarrassed that you didn't just take the easy way out. The rest of us are waiting and pouring our mix into our bowl.
  3. Heat nonstick pan at medium heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add cheese, turning to toast for about 1-2 minutes each side until it looks warm and ~melty~.
  4. Add cheese to salad and top with the rest of your vinegar, olive oil, salt pepper and sugar. Some people top the salad with each individual piece, some combine in a small bowl and pour over. I'm not going to tell you what to do, since honestly I do both depending on my mood. Today's mood votes the latter option, but I trust you.**


*Unless you share with me

**Unless you like skim milk more than 2%


Roasted Beet Salad

 

I feel like there hasn't been a lot of middle ground here. The food I make (and eat) is either super healthy or really unhealthy. That might be my perfect life balance though - simple and quick food that is super rich and dense and usually also salty, battled with very light meals or snacks that make you like yourself again. Or maybe that's not the best way to phrase it. Liking yourself is why you have those treats, and wanting to keep liking yourself and not feel like an oompa loompa is why you switch over to healthy food on occasion.

IMG_8598.JPG


If you've never heard of this save it for a time you don't mind being totally freaked out by an animated clip.

This lunch is part of that healthy end. As I mentioned before, I'm not really into salad (except quoting Salad Fingers) unless there are a lot of fatty and salty items on top - bacon, heavy dressing, handfuls of cheese. Cobb salads are where it's at. This little guy though is for when you're in between meals or planning on a big holiday feast for dinner and want to feel like you can go, well, H.A.M.

 

Beets are like the easiest thing to make, and they are insanely delicious. There's something about making everything you eat them with a little pink mess that is just a blast, from a full salad with Craisins and veggies to some mixed greens and feta or goat cheese, which is what I've done here. I like to make my own salad dressing for this since I've found prepackaged ones are a bit too heavy here and don't hit the beet/cheese combo just the way I'd like, but feel free to skip my steps and use whatever you have on hand!

In the past I've cut the tops and bottoms off of my beets, slathered them in a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and peeled and cut them after they're out of the oven. I went a little Ina Garten (I have a lot of mixed feelings to share about Ina another day) and cut off the skin and chopped them before roasting, which I have to say was pretty genius. In about an hour you'll eat so well you'll feel like you deserve a big plate of nachos or tub of ice cream for dinner.

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 medium beets
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pinch crushed black pepper
  • 3 cups packed mixed greens
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Vinegar (I use white Modena for feta and Balsamic for goat cheese)

Instructions

A little wrap example/size comparison

A little wrap example/size comparison

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut tops and bottoms off of each beet, then wash and dry thoroughly with the rest of the skin on. Some people recommend washing and using the beet greens, but I've never been impressed enough with the ones I get to follow through.
  2. Cut off remaining beet skin. I bet you could use a vegetable peeler, but I had a good knife and found it came off pretty easily once you're underneath the skin to cut everything off. Cut beets into smaller pieces that are about double what you would deem bite-sized.
  3. Add beets to the center of a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap at the top. Cover with 1 tablespoon of EVOO and sea salt and pepper. Mix around with your hands to coat.
  4. Close aluminum foil up tightly, and place inside/on another pan lined with foil (broken foil drippings in an oven are no joke! Trust.). Bake in oven for 40 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes before serving or you will burn your tongue off.
  5. Prepare mixed greens - I go for a prepackaged, prewashed deal that encourages me to live my sloth life - with your choice of cheese and other veggies or toppings. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of EVOO with your choice of vinegar, salt and pepper (honestly I sneak a little sugar in there too to give it some warmth), and pour over salad. Add warm beets and enjoy!

I've found the best way to store beets is to put them in a bowl that you put inside a large resealable bag. This keeps them fresh and keeps beet-colored juice from destroying everything you love. Anyone else make this salad? Any different ingredients or salad dressings I should know about?


Kale Salad

Only within the last two or so years have I become a big kale fan. I thought it was one of those super earthy-crunchy snacks, and I'm a little too mainstream foodie to buy into anything super outside of the box. But I realized my mistake as soon as I tried it - kale is really just what lettuce should be. Less listless than iceburg and with the extra crunch you wish romaine had.

Now, it should be noted that I am really not a soup and salad gal. A salad is pretty much never a whole meal for me. It's a great side, but unless I just had a big Chinese-food lunch or ate a hundred burgers, I am not going to have a salad as a standalone. What's (probably) worse, my kinds of salads include heavy dressing, lots of cheese, and a few flavorful standard veggies.  So..."healthy" but not really healthy. Whatever gets you to eat some vegetables though right? Right?

For this salad, I had already had a big breakfast at noon, and I wanted a little something before dinner that wouldn't make me feel like I'd eaten a days worth of food before three o'clock. I had some kale and some local eggs in the fridge, and there's really nothing easier than that.

Serves: 1

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • A few leaves of kale, dependent on size
  • 1 large or 2 small eggs
  • Lots of cheese (I used shredded Cabot cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing (Marie's gives you the homemade flavor but I do love some Hidden Valley)
  • Black pepper to taste

 

 

Instructions

  1. Add egg(s) and enough water to cover by an inch in a small pot. Put on burner and set to High.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry kale, and rip into small bite-size pieces. Add to bowl and cover with some cheese and dressing.
  3. Once water in pot starts to boil, place on a cool burner and cover. For medium farm-fresh eggs leave for 9-10 minutes, for large store-bought leave for 12-13.
  4. Empty water from pot and run cold water over drained eggs. Refresh water in pot and add ice, let eggs sit to cool for 5-10 minutes (as long as you can stand, really). Dry and crack eggs to peel, and cut however your little heart desires.
  5. Add eggs to salad, cover with black pepper and extra cheese/dressing/whatever makes you feel like your salad is more or less healthy than it actually is.