salad

spicy peanut carrot and cabbage salad

I’m sure that I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite little kitchen gadgets is a simple julienne peeler.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

The one I have is a sturdy dishwasher-safe stainless model by Kuhn Rikon that I found at Whisk for about $20, but there are a lot of other options out there on the market. The basic idea is sort of similar to a regular vegetable peeler, but with teeth running along the blade so that in one motion you end up with perfectly julienned strips of whatever you’re using it on.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve also used vegetable spiralizers that produce similar results, and while spiral slicers offer more options and variation, my julienne peeler is sturdier, smaller, and cheaper than even the smallest handheld spiral slicer.

Although it has tons of uses, my favorite use for this nifty little guy is to peel strips of carrot for salads, slaws, asian dishes, and garnishes.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Now that the weather is warming up I’ve been looking for light summery (I know we’re not quite there yet, but a man can dream) salads and cold dishes to eat on hot days. One of my favorite warm weather meals is a soba noodle salad with lots of veggies and a spicy peanut dressing.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was thinking about making that very dish, it’s one that I make a variation on at least once or twice every summer, but I thought it might be fun to try it without the noodles this time. Instead of the cold soba noodles I opted for long thin julienned strips of fresh carrot, and thinly shredded savoy cabbage.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’re looking to add a little extra protein to this salad I think that laying some thinly sliced grilled chicken breast or lean steak over the top makes for a gorgeous presentation. To make things even simpler, you could just pull the meat off of a store bought rotisserie chicken and toss it all together with the other ingredients. My local grocery store recently started doing air-chilled organic chickens on their rotisserie too, which I think is a really nice option to have. Easy, delicious, and good quality!

If you wanted to keep the salad vegetarian, I think some roasted chickpeas would also be a really nice option!

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Added protein or not, this salad is pretty stellar.

The cabbage and carrot softens ever so slightly but still offers a pleasant crunch in every bite. The peanut dressing is thick and creamy and ever so slightly spicy and tangy from the vinegar and lime juice. The green onions and basil add even more green earthiness and flavor, and the toasted peanuts add great texture and flavor. It’s the perfect meal for the warm weather to come, and keeps well for a day in the refrigerator if you want to pack it for lunch. It would also be the perfect make-ahead meal for a picnic!
If you do decide to make it ahead, just be sure to wait to add the toasted peanuts until serving or they can absorb the oils in the dressing and lose their crunch.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Carrot and Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Dressing:
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (reduced sugar or sugar free is best)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 garlic clove, finely minced or crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges of an additional lime for serving

Salad:
4 cups thinly shredded savoy cabbage, loosely packed (about half a head)
3 cups julienned or shredded carrots, loosely packed (about 4-6 large carrots)
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted or pre-roasted

Combine all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and lump free. If using sweetened peanut butter, taste before adding the honey.

Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. If making ahead, reserve the peanuts and wait to add until just before serving. Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and toss like mad until well combined. It may seem like there isn’t enough dressing but the cabbage will begin to wilt once tossed and the dressing will stretch. Of course, if you like a heavily dressed salad you can increase the dressing recipe. Serve with lime wedges if desired

Salad will keep, refrigerated and well covered, for at least a day.

If desired, top with thinly sliced lean steak or chicken breast, or toss with pulled rotisserie chicken meat or roasted chickpeas.

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

I love beets. There’s just something about that sweet and earthy flavor, al dente firm yet tender bite, and intense color that I just can’t get enough of.

Growing up beets were never on the menu, and I’m not sure that I knew what a beet even was until I went off to college. My grandparents were always big gardeners, so you might think that beets would have been part of my childhood experience, but for whatever reason, they weren’t.

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

I don’t really remember the first time I ever ate one, or whether or not I liked it at the time, but eventually I realized that they’re amazing. Oddly enough, part of that beet love may have had something to do with my favorite author. I was in college the first time I heard of Tom Robbins. I was sitting at the bar after a long night waiting tables, sipping on my shift drink and shooting the shit with one of my coworkers about whatever I was reading at the time. Someone a few seats down at the bar overheard us and chimed in, “Have you ever read any Tom Robbins?” I hadn’t, but at the time I wasn’t convinced and didn’t take any steps to change that.

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

A month or so later I noticed a Tom Robbins book on a shelf in a friends apartment, and curiosity finally got the better of me. I asked if I could borrow it, and was instantly hooked. At this point I’ve read almost everything he’s ever written. A few titles I’ve read over and over to the point that my paperback copies are covered in masking tape and would probably disintegrate if I tried to give them another go. The first title I read still remains my favorite, and Jitterbug Perfume is definitely the one title I’ve read more than any other.

It’s also the title that I’ve recommended most, and every time anyone has actually taken my advice and read it, they’ve come back to tell me that they LOVED it with a capital LOVE!

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

I won’t spoil it for you, because I urge you to give it a read yourself if you haven’t already, but I will say that the subject matter is a bit more “fantastic” than I usually go for. I’m not someone who normally enjoys reading fantasy, but Tom Robbins’ fantasy is somehow more about the fantastic and less about the unbelievable or childish. He writes so intelligently and poetically and passionately that I’m completely sucked into Jitterbug Perfume‘s tales of time travel and immortality and individuality and old pagan religions and magic and sex and… perfume.

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

One craggy old root vegetable (the beet) plays an oddly important role in the story. After reading the book for the second (or may it was the third) time, I briefly contemplated getting a beetroot tattoo. I’m sure my mother will back my story up, as she was equally confused and horrified by the idea.

Robbins waxes so poetic about the humble beet that I was immediately, deeply, passionately in love with them. Even if I’d hated them (I didn’t) I’d still have been in love with the idea of the beet. It’s funny. He doesn’t really point out any profound detail about their history, or their nutritional value, it’s just that he uses beautifully vivid language to romanticize them and use them for a metaphor for something bigger. Nothing changed about the reality of beets, but the way I picture them was forever altered.

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.
The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.” ― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Perhaps one of my favorite ways to prepare (and preserve) beets, is to pickle them. There’s something about adding vinegary acidity to their earthy sweetness that just elevates them.
You can pickle your own easily enough, but pickled beets are increasingly easy to find at the grocery store these days too. My own stash from this summer has already run dry, so for this recipe I bought some locally produced beets pickled with fennel.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy pickled beets is to pair them with other sweet, earthy, robust flavors in a bright filling salad. If you want to make this salad feel even more substantial, just top it with some thinly sliced grilled steak or seared chicken breast.

There’s nothing about this salad that isn’t amazing. Peppery fresh arugula, acidic sweet and earthy pickled beets, creamy earthy crumbled goat cheese, bright juicy pomegranate seeds, crunchy buttery cashews, and pungent yet delicate sliced shallot; all tied together with a quick and easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It doesn’t get any better than this y’all.

pickled beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Pickled Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 2 dinner salads, or 4 side salads
  • Print
5 oz (about 4 or 5 cups) arugula
3/4 cup pickled beets (cut into bite-size pieces if not already packed that way)
Seeds of 1/2 a fresh pomegranate (about 1/2 cup) *see note
1 cup toasted cashews
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2.5 oz crumbled goat cheese (about 1/3 cup)

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a dressing shaker or small bowl and shake or whisk vigorously until well combined. Set aside.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss with about half the dressing. Try not to completely mix in the goat cheese or it’ll kind of just disappear. If you’re happy with the amount of dressing, you’re done. Otherwise, add a bit more until you’re satisfied, and gently toss again. Divide between serving bowls or plates and enjoy.

Any extra salad dressing should last several weeks tightly covered in the refrigerator.

*cook’s note:
My favorite way to get the seeds out of a pomegranate is to cut one in half, firmly grasp one half cut side down over a large bowl in one hand, while firmly whacking the skin side of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon held in the other hand. It may take a few good whacks to loosen the seeds, but they’ll eventually start falling out with each coming whack. You’ll need to rotate the pomegranate as you go so all sides get their fair share of abuse, and once all the seeds are removed you’ll want to pick through them to remove any stray yellow membrane that fell out with the seeds.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing

Okay so the holidays are fast approaching and we are all surrounded by sweets and cookies and cakes and rich hearty indulgences.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

With all the temptations at your fingertips this time of year, it’s easy to go overboard, and as much as I love to indulge, after a while your body just craves something fresh and bright and healthy. Of course, it’s also important to maintain a balance in your diet, to keep your ticker ticking and all. The thing about writing a food blog though, is that you tend to want to write about beautiful foods that make your mouth water just looking at them. While a lot of healthy foods certainly can taste great, “health food” ain’t sexy.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

We tend to eat a lot of salads at home, though from what I post here you might not know it. Most of our dinner salads are a kitchen sink of whatever produce we can find in the fridge, and while they’re usually delicious, they’re not all that photogenic or imaginative. For that reason, they don’t often make it to the pages of Brooklyn Homemaker.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

This salad though, is different. This salad isn’t just sexy, it’s seductive.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

To get those super long, super thin, super sexy julienned strips of carrot and mango, I used a julienne peeler. In a pinch you could also use a standard box grater, but the results won’t be nearly as long or thin, and if your mango isn’t super firm I fear that it might just turn to mush. I think that getting those perfect thin strands of vegetables makes salads look so much more delicious and interesting and makes you want to just dive right in. These peelers are also really really easy to use, so if you’re looking for a fun and affordable new tool for your kitchen, or a great stocking stuffer for the cook in your life, I’d highly recommend picking one up!

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

To finish the salad and make it feel even more substantial and filling, I added some seared London broil, sliced ultra thin. If you’re not a steak fan though you can use whatever protein you like. I think the steak works really well with the dressing, but sliced chicken breast would be great here too. You could even go for some fresh juicy shrimp, seared salmon fillets, or even some decadent confit duck leg. Or, for that matter, skip the protein altogether. There is such a wide variety of flavors and textures going on that this salad is pretty amazing all on it’s own.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

While it certainly is good for you, the last word that comes to mind when you eat this salad is healthy. It’s bursting with so much flavor and offers such a variety of textures that you won’t be thinking about anything else. The carrots and mango are crunchy and fresh, and every bite is permeated with the sweet, bright, and spicy dressing. The crunchy cashews taste almost buttery against the sweet acidity of the rest of the salad, the cilantro is fresh and green and summery, and the sliced steak stands in soft and tender contrast to all that crispness and crunch.

steak topped carrot and mango salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Steak Topped Carrot and Mango Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Dressing:
zest and juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a dressing bottle or measuring cup and whisk or shake vigorously.

Salad:
6 medium carrots, julienned or grated (about 4 cups)
1 firm (or slightly under-ripe) mango, peeled and julienned or grated (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup torn cilantro leaves
1 cup unsalted roasted cashews
12 to 16 oz London Broil (or other lean boneless steak), optional
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

Julienne carrots using a julienne peeler (I LOVE this one), or grate them with a box grater. Peel the mango and julienne it, stopping where you feel the pit beneath the flesh. You can also slice the mango off the pit and grate it with a box grater. Combine the carrots, mango, sliced shallot, and chili lime dressing in a large bowl and toss well to combine.

At this point you could finish the salad and eat it as is, but I think it really benefits from at least an hour’s rest covered in the refrigerator.
So, if you have time, cover and refrigerate from 1 to 24 hours to let the flavors mingle. Just before serving, add the cashews and cilantro and toss until well combined.

Generously season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a large heavy bottom skillet (not non-stick) over high heat. Once the pan is good and super hot, add butter or oil, and sear the steak for 3-6 minutes on either side, flipping only once. This will depend on the thickness of the steak, but 3 minutes per side should get you to about medium rare, and 6 should get you closer to medium well. Remove steak to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing against the grain of the meat, into super thin slices with a very sharp knife.

While steak is resting, toss the salad again to redistribute the dressing. Plate the salad and top with slices of steak.

chicken BLT caesar salad

There’s just something about a Caesar salad.

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

I don’t know what is, but every once in a while, I just need one. At this point, Caesars are so ubiquitous as to be kind of boring and cliche, but every so often you just have to have one. I can’t even really explain their appeal. They’re not the most interesting salad in the world, containing little more than lettuce, croutons, and dressing; and if they’re bad they’re usually baaaaadddd. It’s not hard to get them right though. When you get the dressing right, and the lettuce is super crisp and fresh, and the croutons are homemade, a Caesar salad is just so damned satisfying

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

I think their simplicity might be what makes them so enticing, but it can also be their downfall. A salad made with sad flabby wilted lettuce, with sweet gloppy bottled dressing, and oily mouth-slicing craggy croutons has nothing to redeem it, and can put someone off Caesar salads for life. When they’re done well though, with crisp fresh lettuce, good croutons, creamy cheesy garlicy dressing. Yes. Just yes.

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

Anyway, most people, when they’re trying to take this salad from light meal or side to filling and satisfying sustenance, tend to add sliced chicken breast. I am one of those people. Whether I’m out to lunch or trying to come up with a quick dinner, a good Caesar with chicken is always a welcome option.

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

This time around though, I thought it might be fun to jazz things up a little. Russell and I tend to eat this salad once a month or more, so I was looking for a quick addition or change that would have a big impact. It’s easy to get tired of eating the same old thing, so it’s great to find simple and easy ways to add a little interest to something you make well and often. In this “BLT” interpretation, the addition of crispy bacon adds a nice saltiness and richness to make it feel like a truly substantial meal, and the sun-dried tomatoes add a nice concentrated sweet summery-ness that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in a Caesar. To dress my Caesars up a little, I also like to use a vegetable peeler to add some shaved parmesan.

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

You can definitely use bottled dressing at home to make things a little easier on yourself, but to be honest, I have yet to find a bottled dressing out there that I like. I’ve tried though. Lord how I’ve tried. It definitely is nice to just reach for the bottle (of dressing, not booze, though that’s nice too) when you get home from a long day and you just want to throw something together. My problem with the bulk of bottled Caesar dressings though, is that they’re usually way too sweet. I think that lemon juice adds plenty of sweetness to Caesar dressing, and even think that too much lemon can go too sweet, so the fact that most bottled dressings have added sugar or corn syrup is bewildering to me. The nice thing about this dressing recipe is that it doesn’t take too long to pull together, and that it makes more than you need and keeps well in the refrigerator.

I totally acknowledge that this is definitely not a traditional, old school homemade caesar with raw eggs and whole anchovies, and I’m sure some people out there in the world will be furious with me for trying to “pass off” this recipe as a Caesar. Thing is, using mayonnaise and anchovy paste instead makes things waaaaay quicker and easier, and gives the dressing staying power, without compromising on flavor.

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

This dressing has a nice creamy texture, but the addition of olive oil thins it out so that it’s not too gloppy or heavy. The cheese is nice and salty and forward, and the garlic gives a nice fresh bite. The amount of lemon juice here adds a nice fresh bright sweetness and acidity without going too sweet or blatantly citrusy. The anchovy paste adds a great depth and brininess without having to bust out the food processor to puree whole anchovies yourself. Anchovy paste, by the way, can usually be found in the same aisle in the grocery store as canned tuna fish. All in all, it’s pretty damned good, and if you have some in the fridge you can throw together a caesar salad in a snap, and dress it up however you like.

chicken BLT Caesar salad | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chicken BLT Caesar Salad

dressing adapted from Once Upon a Chef

Caesar Dressing:
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad:
2 small (1 large) head crisp romaine lettuce
1 small to medium loaf of italian bread
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 to 4 strips of thick cut bacon
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped and loosely packed
1/4 cup parmesan shavings (or grated parmesan)

Dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Refrigerate until ready for use.
This will make more dressing than you’ll need for one night of salads, but it stores well, refrigerated, for a few weeks.

Croutons: Preheat oven to 350. Cut the crust off the loaf of bread using a sharp bread knife. It’s okay if some is still on, but you want to get a good bit of it off. Then cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, trying not to smoosh the bread too much. You want about 3 or 4 cups of loosely packed bread cubes. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crispy and just beginning to brown, about 10 or 15 minutes, checking them often. Set aside.

Salad: Slice your head of romaine into bite-sized stirps, and wash and dry using a salad spinner or kitchen towels. Set aside. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crisp bacon to your liking, and drain on paper towels. Crumble once cool. Sear chicken breasts in same skillet over high heat. Sear on both sides for about 5 or 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. You can use bacon grease to cook the chicken, or you can drain it off, wipe out the pan, and add an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
Let chicken breasts rest for 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips with a sharp knife.

Assemble the salad; you can either toss the lettuce, croutons, bacon, chicken, and tomatoes all together in a big bowl, OR you can just combine the lettuce and croutons together and arrange the other ingredients on top of the plated salad after dressing. Either way, toss the salad with about 1/3 cup of dressing with salad tongs or two large spoons. If you like a creamier, more dressed salad, you can add more dressing, 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup at a time, but this dressing is very flavorful so I’d suggest tasting the dressed salad before deciding.