Black Bean and Farro Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

With a long weekend quickly approaching, my mind has been on summer and everything that comes with it: warm weather, cold drinks, and plenty of cookouts. I love this time of year because we do so much cooking and eating outside.

It’s never hard to decide what to grill as the main course, but choosing sides isn’t always as easy, especially when it comes to choosing something for a group of people.

Mayonnaise-based dishes are common cookout staples, but the thought of those sitting in the heat for too long makes them less than appetizing to me. Don’t get me wrong, potato salad is one of my favorite summer sides. When it comes to eating outdoors, though, I prefer something much lighter and with no dairy. Enter farro salad. Light, refreshing and endlessly adaptable, this may just be my favorite recipe for summer.

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Two make-ahead mason jar salads {for winter}

It’s back to school and work this week, with a portable lunch line-up for us all: salads in jars.

Last spring I sliced radishes and shelled peas for a weeks worth of jarred salads. Today’s winter edition is decidedly less pretty, but boy, do these salads pack a punch of flavour and protein.

Make-ahead mason jar salads are good strategy for healthy lunches whether enjoyed at school, work, or at home. The salad dressing can be added right in the jar and when the ingredients are packed correctly, everything stays very crisp and fresh. All you need is a quick shake, a fork and you can crunch away to your hearts’ content.

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Apple Pomegranate Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I‘ve been mourning the lack of produce at the farmers market in the last couple weeks.

It seems as if overnight the overflowing stalls of tomatoes and carrots disappeared, packing up their tables and baskets for the season and leaving a selection of local meat vendors and a few farmers that have access to hoop houses and green houses or specialize in winter squash and root vegetables. Long live the root vegetable.

At home, my garden is in the final days. Just this week we pulled the last bits of ever-hardy kale from the ground, cleaned them, and tucked them into the refrigerator alongside a collection of celeriac, daikon, and turnips. There the pile of evergreen leaves sat on the shelf just above the pomegranates, meeting me multiple times a day under the glaring bare bulb as I pulled breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the depths of the refrigerator.

Finally, after lamenting again over the lack of fresh-from-the-garden lettuces, I spotted the red and green and inspiration hit. It’s time to embrace fully the winter salad season.

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Roasted cabbage salad with brown butter croutons

If there is one essential ingredient that I have easy access to here in Montreal, it would have to be the baguette. Yep, the bagels are renowned, the croissants swoon-worthy, but I definitely sleep better knowing that a really great baguette is readily accessible.

It’s fair to call a baguette an ingredient if it is headed for the oven in buttery cubes. Baguettes make the best croutons, and croutons make the best salads, I think that is safe to say.

And while I’m on a roll with generalizations, I may as well go ahead and say that brown butter croutons are the best kind of all. They certainly bring the necessary crunch to today’s recipe – a very simple roasted cabbage salad.

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Roasted Beet and Blueberry Salad to embrace the end of summer

Yes, I did indeed just use “embrace” and “end of summer” together. You see, the way I see it, June is for the planning, July the languishing, and August the embrace at the end. Think of it as a warm hug goodbye, until next year.

While I’m three weeks out until the official end of my children’s summer vacation and school commencing in September, I know that August is the last chance to really find that feeling I search for each summer. I am searching for an elusive moment when the kids are all smiling, still wearing their swimsuits from water play in the sunshine, the backyard table set for alfresco dining, piled high with fresh salads and roasted vegetables, the garden at the outskirts of the yard bursting with ready-to-be-picked produce.

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