The Little Green Salad

The Little Green Salad

Sometimes I think of this blog as an ever-expanding cookbook and try to fill in the holes. What’s missing? The other day, as I was throwing together my standard green salad to accompany some leftovers, I realized that my blog is missing a side salad recipe. Every cook needs a little green salad recipe in her repertoire, in the same way as every lady needs a flattering little black dress in her wardrobe. They’re both fundamental building blocks.

lemon vinaigrette and arugula salad

This simple green salad is my default. I love the combination of peppery local arugula tossed with lemon vinaigrette, savory grated Parmesan and toasted nuts. I often serve it as is or dress it up with some seasonal ingredients. I thought I’d share a few of those variations to serve as inspiration.

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Kale, Black Bean and Avocado Burrito Bowl

Kale, black bean and avocado burrito bowl

Last week, Cookie and I zoomed up to Minneapolis to visit a friend. It was a long drive, long enough to justify lots of seat squirming as all the hills and trees started looking the same, but we made it there and we made it back. In between, we explored the city with my college roommate/tour guide. She took me to all the cool places to eat and drink, and shop, and hike and bike. She introduced me to the Minnesota delicacy known as fried cheese curds. (Cheese and beer at midnight is hard to beat, am I right?) It was a wonderful extended weekend and I didn’t want to come back home to a mountain of laundry and unanswered emails.

marinated raw kale

I composed this burrito bowl in my head on the drive home, somewhere between my stop at Ikea (first time!) and Iowa. I was feeling a little off balance after all the eating, drinking and shopping. I wanted a hearty meal with greens, one that would keep well so I could eat leftovers for a few days as I got caught up on work. I wanted something economical and practical, yet so tasty that I could forget about all of those factors and enjoy every bite. Mission accomplished!

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Buckwheat Pancakes

Buckwheat pancakes with roasted strawberries

Meet my new favorite pancakes, buckwheat pancakes. I’ll admit they aren’t the sexiest pancakes around, but they make up for their humble appearance with wonderful flavor and texture. Buckwheat, a gluten-free relative of rhubarb, has a delicate, almost nutty flavor all its own. Thanks to the buckwheat flour, these pancakes possess a light and airy consistency that quietly surrenders to the pressure of a fork and soaks up maple syrup like a sponge. The pancakes pair well with roasted strawberries, as shown here, or with a healthy swipe of peanut butter or almond butter.

strawberries and buckwheat

This recipe was adapted from a fun new cookbook called Pancakes, by fellow food blogger Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen. I visit Adrianna’s blog any time I need some creative recipe inspiration or a laugh, which is often. Her new (and first!) cookbook is bursting with 72 brilliant pancake recipes, half sweet (honey and oat, ginger pear, cinnamon-sugar popovers) and half savory (jalapeño corn cakes, goat cheese quinoa cakes, sour cream and chive latkes). If sky-high, fluffy pancakes are your jam, she offers a ton of options based on her buttermilk pancakes recipe. This book would be the perfect gift for the pancake/latke lover in your life. Congrats, Adrianna!

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Oaxaca Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Oaxaca chocolate banana smoothie

This getting older business is rough, isn’t it? I’m only beginning to notice the effects. My smile lines seem just a little deeper. Silver strands are infiltrating my dark hair. Hangovers hurt more than they used to. I’m even shopping for comfortable shoes (who am I?!).

On the upside, I’m getting wiser, too. I’m not taking failed relationships quite so personally, because most aren’t meant to be. If a job doesn’t suit me, I’ll find a better one. If a “friend” makes me feel small, out she goes! It’s never easy, but every time I take a leap toward the brighter side, I’m better for it.

spiced chocolate banana smoothie ingredients

Take this smoothie. I used to sip on a similar smoothie at a raw, vegan restaurant where I worked for a brief time. I waited tables on the weekends just to learn from the chefs, and I learned a lot about food presentation and vegetable preparation. It wasn’t a happy place, though, so I was glad to leave once I had learned enough.

I got this smoothie out of the deal, too. It’s rich and creamy, gently spiced with cinnamon and cayenne pepper (hence the Oaxaca, Mexico reference), and naturally sweetened with ripe bananas. It’s a nutritionally redeeming, grown-up chocolate frosty—my favorite frozen summer treat.

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Cashew Milk

Cashew milk recipe

Let’s talk milk. Do you like milk? Milk and I have a tumultuous past. As a kid, I boycotted milk for a solid ten years, during which time my mother fretted about my calcium intake and swore I’d turn into a decrepit, brittle old lady. May the record show that I have not once broken a bone.

These days, I’m still not much of a milk drinker. I like a splash of it in my coffee, but I accidentally stopped drinking coffee two months ago. I can’t say I’m a fan of store-bought milk alternatives, either. Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk all have a funky aftertaste that I can’t abide. Homemade almond milk is pretty good, but straining the pulp from the liquid mixture is more trouble than it’s worth.

cashews

Homemade cashew milk, however, is a different story. It’s my one exception. It’s easy to make and it’s absolutely delicious. Cashew milk is the creamiest of homemade nut milks and the most refreshing, in my opinion. Since the nuts blend entirely into the water, no nuts go to waste in the process. That also means that the cashew milk retains all of the fiber and nutrients present in the cashews. Did I mention that you don’t have to strain the mixture? I’m a fan.

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Strawberry, Basil and Balsamic Pizza

Strawberry, basil and balsamic pizza

My heart is so heavy for those affected by the tornadoes in my home state that I can’t really talk about anything else today. In case you haven’t heard on the news, a tornado two miles wide wiped out a swath of Central Oklahoma twenty miles long. It was a monster. The tornado came within 200 yards of my best friend’s home, where she lives with her husband and their sweet little girl, Ruby. Fortunately, they were safe in their storm shelter and her home is still intact.

strawberry pizza

I want to run back to home and help, but I know there is already a surplus of volunteers. Oklahomans are exceptionally compassionate and generous people. Oklahomans take care of one another.

If you want to help their efforts, you can donate to the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund here. The Central Oklahoma Humane Society is trying to connect lost pets with their owners and you can donate to their efforts here (designate OK Humane Disaster Relief Fund on the donor form). I thought I’d share these links because I know how many kind and caring people make their way to this blog. I don’t know how it happens, but it makes me happy.

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