Appetizers, Salads

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-2


“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder was right on.

The freshness of your ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, fresh basil – make this simple salad so beautiful and delicious. Ideal for late summer gatherings with friends or family.  Pair with a good bottle of wine and fresh bread.

A simple post for a simple salad. I’d like to think Laura would wholeheartedly enjoy this. I’m certain you will.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-1Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese SaladHeirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-3



  • 3 large Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 2 balls burrata cheese (8 ounces total), torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


  1. Wash, dry, and slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.  Discard ends and season tomato slices with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange tomatoes on a platter, overlapping slightly.  Top with burrata and fresh basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4 (side-dish) or 2 (main-dish with some crusty bread)

Salads, Side Dish Recipes

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and Pecorino

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and Pecorino


I’ve eaten this salad three days in a row.  Here’s why.

Unique texture, delicious taste, and high levels of vitamins and nutrients.  You know I love versatility in dish, especially in a salad.

I am, indeed, a salad girl.  It’s easy to be when cheese and bacon are involved, right?   Well, it’s just as easy to categorize yourself  a salad “person” when kale and Brussels sprouts are involved.  Not only do both these veggies taste great, but they’re good for you and they stand up to many added toppings, ingredients, and variations (seeing a theme here?).  Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and rich in calcium.  Brussels sprouts contain high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K.

This salad works well as a main dish for 2, serves 4-6 as a side, or can easily be doubled to serve a crowd.  I may be eating it again tomorrow!

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and PecorinoKale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and PecorinoKale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and PecorinoKale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and Pecorino



  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large bunch (approx 3 cups) Lacinato kale, finely shredded
  • 1 lb (approx 4 cups) Brussels sprouts, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled into bite sized pieces


  1. First, make the dressing by combining minced shallot, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, olive oil, salt and a freshly cracked black pepper.  I like to place the ingredients in a mason jar, secure the lid, and shake.  Reserve dressing.
  2. In a large bowl, combine shredded kale and Brussels sprouts.  Note: I shred my veg in a food processor, but you could also finely chop by hand.
  3. Toss the kale and Brussles sprouts with the reserved dressing.  Use only as much dressing as you need to coat the kale and Brussles sprouts.  Note: I used about 3/4 of the dressing.
  4. Add almonds, Pecorino Romano cheese, and crumbled bacon.  Toss again, adjust seasoning to taste, adding more dressing if needed.

Servings: 2 as a main, 4-6 as a side


Summer Salad Round-Up

The 4th of July is almost here!  Although according to my assessment of downtown Chicago, most people have celebrated “Independence Eve” by taking the 3rd off as well.  Bravo!

In preparation for the festivities, I put together a list of my favorite go-to summer salad recipes.  These recipes are perfect for BBQ’s, picnics, and potlucks … or pretty much any summer day.

Here’s wishing you and yours a holiday filled with fresh and simple summer eats.  And, plenty of cold ones!

Lentil Orzo Salad

Lentil Orzo Salad


Greek Quinoa Salad

Greek Quinoa Salad


Corn and Kale Salad with Basil Lime Vinaigrette

kale and corn salad


Mexican Couscous Salad

Mexican Couscous Salad


Mediterranean Farro Salad

Mediterranean Farro Salad


Charred Corn Salad with Peppers and Feta

Charred Corn and Pepper Salad with Feta


Tabbouleh Pasta Salad

Tabbouleh Pasta Salad


Greek Balsamic Orzo

Greek Balsamic Orzo Salad




Salads, Seafood Recipes

Lentil Orzo Salad with Shrimp and Feta Cheese

Here’s a clever little twist I came up with.  I added a couple ingredients to this lovely lentil orzo salad recipe from my archives.  This time around, I topped it with sauteed shrimp and crumbled feta cheese.  Yeah, I hear ya … “Real clever, Emily.  Adding crumbled feta and sauteed shrimp to most anything will make it delicious.”  Well … you’re right, it IS delicious.

Round out this terrific summer meal with a glass of sauvignon blanc and al fresco dining.

Lentil Orzo Salad with Shrimp and FetaLentil Orzo Salad with Shrimp and FetaLentil Orzo Salad with Shrimp and Feta



  • 2 cups green lentils, uncooked
  • 2 cups orzo, uncooked
  • 2 cups carrots, spiraled or chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley (1 large bunch), chopped
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tbsp butter or cooking oil
  • 1 lb large (16-20 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 6 oz block feta cheese (crumbled by hand)
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


Prepare lentils: Place lentils in a colander and rinse under running water.  Sort through to remove any small rocks or shriveled lentils.  Combine rinsed and sorted lentils to a pot with 4 cups of water.  Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer (you should only see a few small bubbles and slight movement in the lentils). Cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.  The lentils are fully cooked when they are  just tender and still have a bit of a bite to them.  Be careful not to overcook your lentils because they will become mushy.  Drain lentils and return them to the pot and add a pinch of salt.  Cool and reserve lentils.  At this point, if you are not preparing the salad right away, you could add your cooled lentils to a container and refrigerate up to 1 week.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add orzo, stir orzo to prevent noodles from sticking, cook uncovered for 9-11 minutes until al dente.  Drain, cool, and reserve orzo.

Combine cooled lentils, orzo, carrots, red onions, and parsley in a bowl.  Wisk together lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, dried dill, salt and pepper, and pour over salad.  Toss to combine. Note: You may not use all of the dressing.  Let salad rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour so flavors develop before serving.

Season shrimp with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Heat a large saute pan to medium-high heat and add butter or cooking oil.  Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until cooked through.  Reserve.

To serve, pile lentil orzo salad high on a plate and top with shrimp and crumbled feta cheese.

Servings 6 (Serving size: 1 1/2 cups salad, 3-4 shrimp, 1 oz feta cheese)

Note:  Leftover salad will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.


Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta


The classic example of seasonal fruit.  When strawberries are in season, I can not resist.  I say hello to these beauties during May and June when they’re plump, sweet, and juicy.  Then, I say goodbye until the following Spring.  Simply delicious this time of year.  Yup, I’m a strawberry snob and proud of it.



Perfectly ripe strawberries make a tasty and beautiful addition to a salad.  Here’s the perfect example.

When the temperature outside rises, I lack the motivation to stay inside and turn on my oven.  However, I gain plenty of motivation to head outdoors for grilling and salads. I incorporate the grilling aspect of warm weather, with my love of seasonal fruit in this beauty.  Garlicky-lemony-juicy grilled chicken, spring greens, strawberries, avocado, feta, toasted pine nuts … all tossed together with a homemade vinaigrette consisting of apple cider vinegar, Dijon, and honey.

Fire up your grill. Throw together a salad that gives proper respect to the seasonal strawberries.

Can’t beat it!

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta


Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 2 large chicken breasts)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 10 oz baby spring greens mix
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • A small squeeze of honey (approx 1 tsp)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


In a medium size bowl, combine olive oil, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix to combine and add chicken.  Cover bowl and allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.  Remove chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you plan to cook it.  Heat grill to medium-high and grill chicken for 5-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through and no longer pink.  (Note:  The 5-8 minute cook time is for larger chicken breasts. If you are cooking thin chicken breasts, cook for 3-4 minutes per side.)  Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Slice chicken into thin strips and reserve.

Add salad dressing ingredients to a small mason jar.  Secure lid and shake to combine.  Alternatively add ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, layer spring greens, chicken, avocado, strawberries, feta cheese, and pine nuts.  Top with salad dressing, toss, and serve.

Servings: 4

Note: The strawberries in this post were gifted to me from Driscoll’s.  Thank you for the gorgeous little beauties!

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta



Arugula Salad with Butternut Squash, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese

Arugula Salad with Butternut Squash, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese


Butternut squash in my salad tonight?  Yes. Yes please.

When in season, butternut squash frequents my oven at least once a week.  It’s inexpensive, flavorful, and  oh so versatile.   I prefer to cube it, roast it, toss it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and eat it by the bowlfuls.  Another favorite delivery method of mine is to add butternut squash to tasty salads like this one.

The hardest part about cooking butternut squash is peeling and cutting it.  Here is a nice tutorial to point you in the right direction.

This salad works for any occasion.  Make it for your next dinner party, or for a simple and tasty weeknight dinner for 2.    This delicious salad combines sweet, salty, and tangy together beautifully and deliciously.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash (approximately 1 1/2 lbs), cut into small 1 inch cubes (you can also buy pre cut squash at the grocery store)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • arugula, 7 oz bag
  • 4-5 slices prosciutto, each slice cut into quarters
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup candied walnuts, homemade (recipe below) or store bought
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I add dried cranberries to this salad if I have them on hand!)

Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


First, roast your butternut squash cubes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place cubes on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.  Toss with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes stirring half way through.  Remove from oven, set aside to cool.

Next, make the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.  In a small bowl combine balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Stir until well incorporated.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until dressing is emulsified.  You can also combine vinaigrette ingredients into a mason jar, secure lid, and shake away.

Next, make the candied walnuts.  (Note: You will only use 1/2 cup of the walnuts from this recipe.  The leftover walnuts can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)  If you do not want to make your own candied walnuts, you can use store bought.

In a large bowl combine arugula, butternut squash, shallot, and dried cranberries (if using).  Toss with the vinaigrette until well coated (you will not use all of the vinaigrette).  Add the prosciutto, and candied walnuts.  (Note: I like to twist the prosciutto into small spirals and place them neatly on top of the arugula.)  Top with goat cheese, and serve immediately.

Servings: 4-5 as a side dish, 2-3 as a main dish

Salads, Vegetarian Recipes

Greek Quinoa Salad

Greek Quinoa


Quinoa is an ancient seed from South America. When cooked, it takes on a mild nutty flavor.  Although it is technically not a grain, it cooks similarly and can be substituted in many recipes if you’re looking for a healthier alternative.  Quinoa is rich in protein, potassium, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

When cooked, the seed expands 4 times it’s size. Thus, 1 cup of dry quinoa yields 4 cups cooked.  The usual recommendation is to soak and rinse quinoa before beginning the cooking process. However, many brands are now pre rinsing their quinoa, which is such a time saver.  Quinoa preparation is very easy. Combine 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water or broth and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered for 15 minutes.  You can also refer to package cooking instructions as a guide.

In this recipe, I combined cooked and cooled quinoa with crisp vegetables, feta cheese, and herbs. This results in a delicious combination of Mediterranean flavors.  I am a sucker for cold and refreshing salads, especially during the hot summer months.  I add feta cheese and a yummy herb lemon vinaigrette to this dish, making it one of my go-to’s.  This recipe is incredibly easy to whip up and a true crowd pleaser!  Make it at your next BBQ or prepare on a Sunday to eat throughout the week for lunch. The flavors are even better the next day.


  • 4 cups of cooked and cooled quinoa (1 cup of dry quinoa)
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 small bunch parsley, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Herb Lemon Vinaigrette  (recipe below)


Combine cooked and cooled quinoa with the next 7 ingredients, through parsley.  Toss with herb lemon vinaigrette and add crumbled feta.  Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Herb Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe: Combine the juice of 2 small lemons, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp fresh chopped dill, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.