Category Archives: Salad

Meatless Monday: Pesto Pasta Salad


We are into the swing of little league season, since Silas made the minor leagues this year. That generally means there are at least a couple games weekly, including one mid-week game. Not a huge deal, except those mid-week games tend to fall just late enough into the evening that prime dinner hour comes and goes as we’re sitting at the ballpark while the sun goes down.

No biggie. As it turns out, bringing food to an outdoor sporting event makes the time pass by much more quickly. It almost works as a distraction from the cold weather that loves to roll in halfway through the game, if it wasn’t there to begin with. I have never been particularly good at picnic meal planning, however. Perhaps it’s the overexcitement of wanting to make everything good tasting and flamboyant. I’m not generally an easy slap-together-sandwich kind of girl (this is not an attempt at bragging; if anything it causes me great stress when trying to plan a picnic).

That said, when we were facing a 5:30 game, I knew we’d be there until at least 7:00, if not 7:30. Dinner to go seemed the smart way to plan things. I decided on Italian style pressed sandwiches filled with tofurky, piquillo peppers, fontina and muenster cheeses, pesto, and pepperoncinis. Then as I tried to decide on things to eat with the sandwiches, pasta salad rattled around my head. I knew it would be filling, but the flavors seemed to work with the sandwich fillings, too. This salad is very easy to throw together, but tasty nonetheless. You can make it 24 hours ahead (the flavors melt together better the longer it sits anyway).


Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8.

8 ounces dried penne pasta
1/3 cup vegenaise
1/4 cup prepared pesto
3 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup sweet peppers, diced small
1 cup monterey jack cheese, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to your liking


Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until just slightly past al dente. Pour into a colander and allow the cooked pasta to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the vegenaise, pesto, gorgonzola, milk, vinegar and minced garlic until thoroughly combined.

Gently toss the cooled pasta, tomatoes, sweet pepper, cheese cubes, and basil together in a large mixing bowl. Add the pesto dressing to the mixture, stirring everything together until well mixed. Taste, then add salt and fresh ground pepper to your liking.

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.



Smoked Salmon Salad with Smoky Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette


I have been extremely slow at getting into our gardens this year. Perhaps it’s the cold that doesn’t quite seem to go away. Maybe it’s the number of hours in a day and balancing everything that needs to get done simultaneously. Maybe I have just been lazy. Regardless, I made myself go out and fix the bamboo fencing around what one of our garden spaces will be, the same space that grew everything in wonderful abundance last year.

Were you around for the excitement of this space last year…

Or the bigger excitement when that space turned into this…

And provided us with…


Well into early fall…?

I am looking forward to growing our food again. There are few things more satisfying than deciding on a menu based out of things you’ve planted, cared for, grown, then harvested. (Do I sound like a hippie? It’s okay. I understand. And don’t give any flying you-know-whats.)

That said, I have been craving salad a lot recently. Salad, ice cream, and pasta if we’re going to get real here. So, I share the following salad with you! You can make things vegetarian by omitting the salmon and replacing it with more veggies, or perhaps some smoked tofu? Salads offer lots of room for creative options.


Smoked Salmon Salad with Smoky Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Serves 2-3.


For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons sunflower, or other lightly flavored oil


For the salad:
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup chopped green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup microgreens (I used broccoli micros)
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 roma tomato, diced
1 carrot, peeled then grated
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
2-3 ounces hot smoked salmon, broken into bite-sized chunks *

  • Hot smoked salmon is different than the cold smoked salmon that results in lox-like smoked fish. I use a brand that is semi-local, but feel free to use whatever variety is available to you. I’ve heard rave reviews of Cap’n Mike’s alderwood smoked salmon, if that interests you!



Make the dressing:
In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, honey, sour cream, salt, paprika, granulated garlic, and pepper until completely combined.


Make the salad:
In a large bowl, gently toss together the salad ingredients. You can dress the salad with as much or as little dressing as you prefer. Serve immediately.



Meatless Monday : Tempeh ‘Tuna’ Salad


The deli in our food co-op boasts an impressive number of vegetarian and vegan options.  The salad options are vast and generally you’ll be able to find a cold tempeh salad choice — my favorite being the curried tempeh, which I have made several times.  Although I’ve not seen it recently, the co-op also concocts something called “tempeh by the sea,” which is not a name I am particularly fond of… regardless, this cold tempeh salad was alright.

When it comes to naming tuna salad, perhaps you are familiar with the Jessica Simpson’s infamous question, “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it’s tuna, but it says ‘Chicken of the Sea.’” While trying to decide what to call this tempeh, Tuna of the Dirt cracked us up, but I wasn’t certain that was the best idea if I actually planned on folks trying the recipe.

That said, I present you with boringly named and deliciously tasting tempeh “tuna” salad.  I used ground kelp in the sauce, hoping to provide some ocean-y flavor. While 15 year old Vincent has never had a single bite of tuna salad in his life (as far as I’m aware), I was also curious if he’d even eat let alone like this tempeh.

I made sandwiches filled with tempeh tuna, colby jack cheese, raw spinach, broccoli microgreens, tomatoes, and sliced avocado. Vincent demolished his sandwich in a matter of minutes, Craig did the same. They both assured me it was delicious… and absolutely should be called “Tuna of the Dirt.”


Tempeh “Tuna” Salad
Tuna of the Dirt

Yields 6-8 servings.

16 oz. tempeh, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 heaping tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
3/4 cup Vegenaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon ground kelp
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (I used homemade spicy garlic dill pickles)
salt and ground pepper



Place the cubed tempeh into a medium pot. Cover with water and stir in one tablespoon of the Old Bay seasoning. Bring to a boil, cooking the tempeh until it’s tender but not falling apart (15 minutes or so). Drain the tempeh, then place on a large cutting board and chop roughly, then place the chopped tempeh into a large mixing bowl.


In a bowl, whisk together the Vegenaise, mustard, kelp, parsley, dill, garlic, onion powder, celery seeds, and the remaining tablespoon of Old Bay. Mix thoroughly.

Pour the sauce over the chopped tempeh, working quickly while the tempeh is still warm. Fold in the pickles, then taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

You can cover the tempeh and refrigerate until cold, or eat it as is.

Lasts up to 3 days in the fridge, in an airtight container.




2013: My Favorite Recipes


We’re getting close to the end of 2013. I am not one for making resolutions, as I fully believe in working to make myself better year-round, without set deadlines. It’s an ongoing challenge. Of course there are things I’d like to do – change things up here a bit, add new weekly posts, monthly posts. I plan to work out equally as much as the last year, if not more. I hope to maintain balance between business and downtime, as well as decadent recipes and healthier recipes. I plan to be grateful, daily, for this life. But as I said – I don’t make set goals, save for incorporating all of these things into daily life.

That said, to wind up the last year, I’ve compiled a short list of my personal favorite recipes from the last year:

photo 1photo 4 photo 2 photo 3
 1. Summer Corn Salad : I love the freshness of this salad in the summer. It’s super easy to throw together, even at the last minute.

2. Olive Oil Poached Albacore Tuna Salad : My favorite thing about this tuna salad is, hands down, the connections its brought into my life in 2013. I am grateful for the ladies at Sammich, who reached out after reading this post I wrote.

3. Vegetarian Mediterranean Pizza : Its taken a number of tries, but this Mediterranean pizza is the best I’ve made. As far as cost efficiency for feeding my family, this was spot-on, too.

4. Vanilla Bean and Pear Vodka Cocktails : I enjoy the crisp sweetness of this cocktail. Generally I’m more of a bourbon on the rocks kind of lady, but if cocktails are what I’m in the mood for, this is a simple, tasty one.

5. Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese : This recipe was born out of an abundance of pumpkins I was gifted from one of the water polo moms. Pumpkin mac and cheese was a huge hit with the kids and adults, alike.

6. Tomato Potato Tart : I love the simplicity of this tart, which showcases the flavor of ripe tomatoes. Plus the colors are so happily vibrant.

7. Crockpot Yogurt : The best part of this recipe was that it was so much simpler than I expected. I anticipated this yogurt-making to be difficult, but really most of the work happened overnight while I was in bed.

8. Blueberry Nut Overnight Slow Cooked Steel Oats : My husband is a huge fan of overnight oats for a number of reasons. One, the smell throughout our house overnight is overwhelmingly intoxicating. Two, in the morning when I am still sleeping (and also because I don’t generally eat breakfast), he has a filling breakfast waiting. This is my favorite version, hands down.

9. Toasted Coconut Cardamom Rice Pudding with Blueberries : I could eat rice pudding daily. This version is creamy, flavorful, warming, and delicious!

10. Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu : Coming from Kaua’i, saimin or ramen, is something I crave all the time. After going back to the islands in August, I got back to Ashland only to wind up super homesick for all the foods I grew up eating. This saimin is a vegetarian version of Hamura’s Special Saimin.

11. Gluten and Grain Free Banana Pancakes for One : I love the ease of this recipe, especially when I am cooking breakfast or lunch for just myself. Plus the pancake is filling without being overly heavy, which I also enjoy.

12. Vegetarian Moussaka : This particular recipe is labor intensive, but the layers of flavor are rich, deep, and delicious. This moussaka pushed my culinary comfort levels in new directions, especially since it’s based on a type of cuisine I know little about. I loved that aspect as much as the final meal.

13. Vegan Chick’n and Herb Dumplings : I developed this recipe to submit for a Field Roast’s Cooks in the Field position this year. Although I didn’t win the position, I was pleased with the outcome of this dish. I don’t typically cook vegan, as I thoroughly enjoy dairy products… But for the sake of this contest, I had to make something vegan and wanted to rely on comfort food, thus this version of chicken and dumplings. I was proud of the effort and care put into this recipe.

14. Spicy Bloody Mary : I know I just told you cocktails aren’t my thing, especially over a good shot of bourbon. However, a good, spicy bloody mary is quite tasty from time to time. And this, this is a goodie.

15. Vegetarian Chicken Sausage with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto : Although there is a photo in this post that warrants a comparison to cat turds, I was happily surprised with the outcome of these homemade vegetarian sausages and look forward to experimenting with more flavors in the new year.

16. Gluten Free Oatmeal French “Toast” : This french “toast” as a happy experiment I entirely plan on doing again and again…

Potato Macaroni Egg Salad


I’m not a stranger to insomnia. I do some of my best work in the wee morning hours. I have since I was about 12 years old. But sometimes it’s a pain in the ass when you’re wide awake at 4 in the morning, knowing you’ve got to be up at 7 because you promised to bake X, Y, or Z in time for your husband to be fed before showering and getting to work by 9. Sometimes, like on the fourth of July, you decide that naps are overrated. Then comes 7:30 PM and you’re supposed to be up at 10 for a certain city fireworks show…You think about the margaritas you’ve had for the afternoon shenanigans, the mimosas you had post-dinner… and then comes the fine line of do I drink more mimosas or go to bed? And you say f— yes, I’m having another g–damn mimosa!

The thing about drinking margaritas and mimosas is, what do you eat when suddenly you realize you’re absolutely in need of food to balance out the alcohol mess going on inside your body? I found myself eating a lot of the following salad. I call it an indecisive salad. It’s not just macaroni salad, nor potato salad, nor egg salad. Friends, it’s a deliciously disconcerted combination of all three salads. I absolutely condone eating this as breakfast, or a midnight snack. Perhaps alongside some grilled veggie dogs and raw sweet corn? That’s where we went with this business. Leftovers are even more delightful on day two or three.


Potato Macaroni Egg Salad

Serves 10-12


1½ cups uncooked elbow pasta
4 cups diced red potatoes with skins (about 5 medium taters)
5 hard boiled eggs
½ cup dill pickles, diced
½ a small sweet onion, minced fine
1 cup Vegenaise *
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly chopped chives
¼ tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. ground coriander
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

* I use Vegenaise mostly because I prefer the flavor. If you want to use regular mayonnaise, feel free!


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Place the diced potatoes into a pot of salted water until they’re covered by about 2 inches. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender (12-15 minutes). Drain.

Peel the hard boiled eggs. Cut them in half. Place the yolks in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Dice the egg whites to bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the pasta, potatoes, egg whites, and pickles.

Use a fork to mash up the egg yolks you previously set aside. Add the minced onion, Vegenaise, mustards, chives, celery seed and coriander. Mix together until smooth and very well combined. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.

Add the Vegenaise mixture to your pasta and potatoes. Fold everything together semi-gently so you don’t break up the potatoes too much. Taste again, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.