Kitchen Sink Salad

Over Christmas break, my mom and I set out to recreate my great Grandma's recipes after they were mailed to me, packed snugly in a graham cracker box. It wasn't hard for us to figure out the one we should try first, as page one of Good Housekeeping Institute was marked with a handwritten note, "chicken pie 96." Page 96 was the only page bookmarked. Page 96 was also the only one marked with another handwritten note, "good pie." Great Grandma Lauer couldn't have given us any clearer of a sign. 

chicken pie || planting my roots

What wasn't as clear was what side to pair with this "good pie." We knew we'd need something light and with texture to contrast with the warm, soft biscuit topping and vegetable sauce. We weren't totally sure what sides Grandma Lauer preferred, but a chopped kale salad at the salad bar kept catching our eye. It marked all the boxes for us - crunchy, fresh and bright. It also seemed easy enough for us to recreate!

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

With that as our "launchpad," the salad took on a life of its own with some other ingredients we picked up along the way - a fresh pomegranate instead of dried cranberries, thinly sliced radishes for extra crunch, and crumbled goat cheese with apricot and thyme. One thing that stayed the same was the matchstick carrots - doesn't that seem identical at every salad bar??

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots
kitchen sink salad || planting my roots
kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

This salad is worthy of the title "Kitchen Sink Salad" for two reasons: 1) Essentially all prep can happen over the kitchen sink if you have a big colander and 2) The recipe is forgiving enough that you can toss in everything...but the kitchen sink. You can swap red onions for radishes for a bit of bite and crunch. Kale can easily be substituted with any other leafy green. If you prefer cranberries to pomegranate seeds, go for it! The sky (err fridge) is the limit. 

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

The first step is to grab a large colander and place it in the sink. Then, chop the kale into bite size pieces and toss into colander. Rinse thoroughly and shake dry. As remaining water dries on kale leaves, prep your other ingredients and toss them into the colander as each one is prepared - peel and matchstick the carrots, thinly slice the radishes, deseed the pomegranate, chop the dates and crumble the goat cheese. This does require a bit of prep work, so think of it as good meditative time or turn on your favorite album. Enjoy the process.

When you're ready to serve, toss in the walnuts and a dressing of your choice. I've paired it with both a raspberry vinaigrette and cherry balsamic dressing. Something fruity pairs well with these flavors, but I think a poppy seed dressing could also work wonderfully. As with the other ingredients in this recipe, the dressing is also chef's choice - it is forgiving!

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

Kitchen Sink Salad

serves 4

what you'll need:
1 head kale, roughly chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 pound radishes
seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate
1/2 cup mejdool dates or apricots, roughly chopped
3-4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup walnuts
salad dressing, to taste (recommend flavors of raspberry, cherry or poppy seed)

what you'll do:

  1. In large colander, rinse chopped kale. While kale is drying, rinse carrots and finely chop into small matchsticks. Rinse and thinly slice radishes into quarters or bite size pieces. Add both to colander.
  2. Remove seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate, dropping directly into the colander.
  3. Add chopped dates or apricots to colander, then add crumbled goat cheese. Finally, use hands to toss all ingredients in colander. Pour into large serving bowl. 
  4. If eating immediately, toss in walnuts and dressing of choice to taste. Mix thoroughly and serve. If making in advance, add walnuts and dressing when ready to serve. This salad can be made one day in advance. 

summer peach panzanella

Twenty-six years old today - another trip around the sun complete! And that's pretty fitting as today also marks the solar eclipse. Also fitting for today is finally posting - on its one year anniversary - my recipe for summer peach panzanella. I made this up on a bit of a whim for my birthday party last year, and have been meaning to write it down pretty much every day since then. So, at long last, my favorite summertime salad! 

summer peach panzanella | planting my roots
summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

So much has changed since my last birthday. I've seen a best friend get married, said see ya later to a handful of dear friends as they started new chapters in their life, and made new friends along the way. Matt and I discovered a deep love for Carmel (and reaffirmed our love of burritos in San Francisco), explored Minneapolis by bike and discovered new corners (and restaurants!) of DC. There's been an election that has caused more than its fair share of turmoil, and as such, I've never participated in more marches, sent more letters, or made more calls to Congress.

I've totally - and officially - taken a deep dive into the world of food too. I've launched this very blog, become much more involved in efforts to support women in food thanks to Pineapple DC, and become completely enthralled with my Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. All of these have had such a massive impact on the way I eat, cook and think about food. And as a result of that deep down passion, I'm about to start a new chapter professionally, so there's no doubt my 26th year will be filled with much more learning, food, new friends and mentors. 

summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

But, if there's at least any proof of the saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same," this recipe can be it. I've been making a variation of it since last year and it never disappoints. The blend of juicy peaches with creamy, rich poppy seed dressing alone is perfect, but pairing it with red onion and goat cheese is just out of this world. I promise this isn't a sponsored post, but Brianna's Rich Poppy Seed dressing is the only one I'll spend money on. For any other salad, I'll make my own balsamic but this one is worth the $$$! 

summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

This recipe makes excellent use of a cast iron skillet too. First, you'll want to lightly toast bite-size chunks of bread. You can use fresh or day old bread here. In this case, I was using fresh bread that I had baked the previous day. And truly, any kind of bread will do. This was just a basic white bread, but I imagine sourdough would work wonderfully. Rye would also probably be pretty tasty with this flavor combination! After toasting the bread, then you'll cook the peaches in your skillet. They get browned in a mix of honey, extra virgin olive oil and salt. 

summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

From one year to the next, I wouldn't mind at all having it as a staple at each and every birthday dinner. it time for cake yet?

summer peach panzanella | planting my roots

Summer Peach Panzanella

serves 2

what you'll need:

1 thick slice of bread, cut into bite size cubes
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large handfuls arugula
1 peach, cut into large chunks
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
heavy 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 tbsp honey
non-stick spray
small handful fresh basil leaves, julienned, optional
Brianna's Home Style Rich Poppy Seed dressing, to taste

what you'll do:

  1. In small bowl, toss bread cubes with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Pour coated bread cubes onto cast iron skillet and toast until golden brown (about 6-7 minutes). Toss occasionally to brown all sides equally but be careful not to burn. Remove from skillet and set aside. 
  2. While you let skillet cool for a few minutes, in a small bowl toss peach chunks with honey, remaining extra virgin olive oil (1/2 tbsp) and a pinch of kosher salt. Spray cast iron skillet with non-stick spray, then pour peaches onto skillet. Cook peaches over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss as they cook to ensure they don't burn. Remove from skillet and set aside. 
  3. In large bowl, toss arugula with basil, red onion, goat cheese, toasted bread and peaches. Either mix poppy seed dressing directly into serving bowl or serve dressing separately. 

fattoush feasting

a few months back, when the days were much warmer and we could have backyard picnics, matt and i hosted a birthday dinner party. we were hosting what grew into a feast of lebanese food. while matt smoked lamb for kebabs and made mixed drinks, i was in charge of everything surrounding said kebabs. that meant heaping bowls of smooth hummus, fresh, lemony tabbouleh and my take on a summer panzanella salad. the salad was (biased as i am) delicious in its own right, filled with peaches, goat cheese, poppyseed dressing and buttery, crunchy toasted bread. but, in retrospect, we had a definite theme going on and since we *needed* a flavorful bread was fattoush not on the menu?

fattoush || planting m roots
fattoush || planting my roots

have you heard of fattoush? hailing from the middle east, fattoush is a fresh, crunchy and crisp salad. the "fresh" and "crisp" comes from fresh vegetables and herbs, and the "crunch" from dried or toasted pita. the recipe i've included here is adapted from one published in a cookbook handed down by my family, called "the art of syrian cookery." the ingredients in that recipe are fairly simple, calling for just syrian bread, green onions, cucumber, lemon, olive oil and a mix of parsley, thyme and mint.

in my version, i've added in colorful cherry tomatoes, sumac (more on that later) and pomegranate molasses. pomegranate molasses is something i've recently gotten into in a big way ever since discovering muhammara. in this recipe, it adds a perfect tang to complement the vegetables. i really love the pomegranate molasses recipe by tori avey!

fattoush || planting my roots
fattoush || planting my roots

what sets fattoush apart from other salads is 1) its crunchy bites of dried or toasted pita and 2) its sumac dressing. sumac is irreplaceable in this recipe, but once you have your first taste of it, i have a feeling you'll find it's irreplaceable in many recipes you never knew needed it. sumac actually comes from dried berries, and the flavor itself is tangy, sour and lemony and the color is a beautiful, deep red. the flavor and color of sumac pops off the palate and plate. 

fattoush makes for a wonderful accompaniment to deliciously aromatic meats, like a kibbeh or chicken shawarma. a perfect bite of food - in my opinion - is fattoush, chicken shawarma and hummus. if you are serving this at a dinner party, hold off on adding the dressing and toasted pita until about 15 minutes before you serve. that will allow the pita to soak in the dressing to soften a bit, but won't totally drench it. 

fattoush || planting my roots


serves 2
what you'll need:

2 small pitas, torn into bite-size pieces
1 persian cucumber, quartered
8 cherry heirloom tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stem
kosher salt, to taste
sumac, to taste

juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

what you'll do:

  1. preheat oven to 350° fahrenheit. place bite-size pieces of fresh pita on baking sheet and place in oven. bake for 11 - 12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy, but not burnt. set aside to cool.
  2. in large bowl, toss cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, fresh mint, parsley and thyme with a few pinches of kosher salt and sumac, to taste. set aside.
  3. in small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.
  4. drizzle over vegetables and herbs, mixing in toasted pita chips. adjust salt, pepper and sumac to taste.

sunny and simple

this salad is a breeze to make (i feel like there's a windy city pun in there somewhere...) and is perfect for when you need to hit the reset button. not only is it packed with fruits and veggies, but meal prep goes fast for this once since you can roast the sweet potatoes and toast the walnuts ahead of time, separate out the leafy greens into single serve containers, and dice up the apple (but give it a hit of lemon juice to keep from turning brown).

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back to basics

this recipe is exactly that - minimal ingredients (and ALL recognizable), fresh and favorable. it's protein-heavy, so you'll feel fuller longer, and brininess of the feta pairs perfectly with all the veggies. at first, i thought i'd top this salad with my standard tahini dressing, but when i realized i'd have extra cucumber to spare, i was inspired to whip together a very simple, four ingredient tzatziki dressing. 

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