Have you ever experienced one of those times when your whole life drastically changes with a single decision or day? Times like these don’t happen very often. Sometimes you are expecting the changes and working towards them for year. Other times a single, seemingly unimportant decision may change your life overnight.
I’m going through one of those moments–my whole family is. I can’t go into detail (maybe after the smoke clears), but I’m sharing this moment with you because, while I love blogging, it sure is difficult to keep up with it all right now.
To fulfill goal #1, we are eating lots of healthy salads; emphasizing fresh, local and seasonal fruits and veggies with every meal. Since I am VERY short on time; this works out well. I can throw together a meal in minutes and usually don’t have to cook. This saves me a lot of time cleaning up the kitchen because all I use is a knife and cutting board.
One of my favorite simple salads is this Japanese cucumber salad, also known as Sunomono. It takes minutes to prepare and has so much flavor. This cucumber salad is crunchy, tangy and slightly sweet—all good things when its summer time and you want to eat something yummy that won’t slow you down. You can add all sorts of extras to make this salad into more of a meal like rice noodles, Mandarin oranges, crab and shrimp.
I hope you enjoy this easy cucumber salad as much as we do. Stay tuned for a Vietnamese version that’s just as good but a bit spicier.
If you are using small cucumbers, slice them crosswise. For larger cucumbers, they need to be peeled, seeded and cut in half lengthwise, and them crosswise into half moon shapes.
Add the cucumbers to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine salt, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Mix well.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and stir. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Food Network's Cucumber Salad
With summer heat in full swing, our family meals have shifted primarily to salads. We’ve ditched the bread to shed a few extra pounds and keep up our energy in the frenetic existence that has become our daily life. With all of this salad-making going on, sometimes I need some inspiration and I’m sure you do to! I’ve collected some of my favorite healthy summer salad recipes here and on my Pinterest board to share.
Between working (more) than full time in my husband’s new business, raising a toddler, blogging, keeping up the house and cooking nearly every meal we eat from scratch, I barely have time to rest. That’s where salad-making comes in. It saves me a lot of time because all I have to do is prep. There’s usually very little cooking involved and a salad goes a long way in using up all of the fresh veggies and fruit I keep on hand.
Do I sound a little stressed? Omg, I am. Here I am wanting to write lovingly about healthy summer salads and all I can think about is how I’m going to fit in my grocery shopping for the week in-between my son’s nap, some unexpected dinner guests—and dinner. I have to cook dinner!
Which brings me back to how awesome these healthy summer salads are. I can do a quick sauté of some shrimp, throw a bag of organic salad greens in a bowl, dice up some veggies and fruit and I’m done. The extra bonus is that I still feel full of energy after eating even though I only slept five hours the last few nights in a row. That’s important.
It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy these gorgeous, healthy summer salad recipes on a carefree day at the pool or sitting in a cubicle at the office. What matters is you enjoy the food you eat, and you take that short time to really be thankful for the delicious, fresh produce of the season. Enjoy!
All images used with permission and copyright of their respective blogs and blog owners.
Summer is mango season in Miami. Right now, trees all over the city are dripping with ripening fruit. In celebration of the coming months, I created this simple mango salad with mozzarella and mint. It features mango in all its glory, along with soft buffalo mozzarella, fresh mint and tangy pickled onions. A drizzle of good olive oil, 18 year balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh pepper are the only seasoning needed. This is the type of recipe that focuses on the quality of the ingredients instead of a lot of fuss—my favorite kind!
Mangos start ripening as early as April in Miami, depending on the species. There are hundreds of species and the different varieties continue producing until January. Peak season is during the summer months.
In July, we visit the Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Garden. This botanical garden holds the largest mango festival in the world, featuring hundreds of mango species. You can taste different mango varieties, eat mango -filled goodies and purchase fresh fruit and trees at the festival. It’s definitely a must-see for any foodie family.
Many Miami homeowners have mango trees in their backyard. We planted a dwarf mango two years ago, and this is the first year it fruited. We only harvested three little mangoes, but they were our mangoes. If you don’t have your own mango tree, this is the time of year when you wish you were friends with the grumpy neighbor who’s massive old mango tree is loaded with fruit.
The older trees bear so much fruit, many people hire pickers to come harvest the fruit from their yards; others just let it rot on the ground. If you drive through some of the old neighborhoods, you will see boxes of fruit for the taking, along with a tip jar.
Mangoes can be found cheaply throughout the city right now. You can sometimes find them in the grocery store for as little as $.25. They aren’t in as good condition as they would be straight off the tree, but for that price, I’ll take a few bruises. If you want really good prices and quality, visit the Spanish grocery stores. They get their fruit from small local producers and it is often in better condition than the fruit in the big stores.
I hope you get to try some good mangoes this year. Be sure to come by the Mango festival if you are visiting Miami in July. It’s hot, but there is plenty of good eating!
Yield: 2-4 servings
To prepare the mango, carefully remove the skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cutting lengthwise in the direction of the seed, slice two slices from the mango. Lay the slices cut-side down and cut into thin slices.
Arrange salad greens on plates. Layer a slice of mozzarella, three slices of mango, another slice of mozzarella and three more slices of mango. Add onion and mint leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I’ve shared a lot of recipes so far on Love and Duck Fat, but I can’t believe it’s taken me THIS LONG to share this one. You see, my orzo salad recipe is legendary (in my small circle of friends and family). It has actually made an appearance once on my blog before in photos, but I never got around to posting the recipe. You can see it here at my son’s first birthday party.
Orzo salad is one of the recipes I make over and over. I serve it at parties, I pack it up for lunch, we eat it for dinner, late night snacks and even the occasional breakfast–and we never tire of it.
The inspiration for my orzo salad recipe first came from Whole Food’s orzo salad; which is good. When I lived in Boston, I regularly picked up a pint of it on my way to work. I decided to improve on their recipe, which is why this salad is so much better. I make sure that every bite has something fresh and yummy in it. The mix of tastes and textures make this orzo salad so much fun to eat. There’s feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, baby spinach, artichokes, black olives, roasted peppers, balsamic vinegar and lots of good olive oil. I mix in fresh herbs like rosemary and mint and they really amp up the flavor.
Most of these ingredients are something I keep on hand in my pantry and refrigerator at all times, so it’s easy to make this salad whenever I want. It’s also easy to customize, adding or subtracting whatever you have on hand or desire.
Once made, this orzo salad keeps well too. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and still be as good as when you first made it. Bring it to a pot luck or serve it at a barbecue this summer and see it disappear. Every time I make it, I get asked for the recipe, which is why I’m so happy to finally share it here with everyone on Love and Duck Fat.
If you do make this salad, I would love to hear how much you enjoyed it in the comment section below.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain pasta and add it to a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss. Allow to cool completely.
Using a small skillet toast the pine nuts over medium-high heat until they are slightly brown and fragrant.
Toss the orzo with the pine nuts, tomato, onion, herbs, artichokes, olives, feta cheese, cucumber and red pepper.
Add the spinach leaves and vinaigrette. Toss again. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Spring is here, and even though I’m in South Florida, I feel the change. Not so much in the temperature (we only turned on the heat for a few days this winter), but from what I see around me in the tropical flowers and fruits. Our mango and starfruit trees are full of miniature-sized versions of fruit that will ripen in the summer. The air is warm, but not unbearably humid like South Florida summers can be. The produce isles at the grocery store are stocked with spring favorites: asparagus, radishes and Brussels sprouts.
It’s funny how infectious the excitement for spring can be. I see it in my Facebook feed; all of the northern folks clamoring for some sunny rays after yet another snowstorm. In tribute to spring, I created this asparagus salad with shrimp and grapefruit with citrus vinaigrette. It’s fresh and light, with the perfect balance of subtle sweetness, acid and crunch.
I’m not sure what I love more about this salad. Is it the taste or the beautiful mix of colors on the plate? Pink grapefruit, red-rimmed radishes, purple baby lettuce, bright green asparagus and pink Key West shrimp vie for attention both in appearance and texture. Enjoy it with a cold glass of homebrewed iced tea for the perfect lunch to celebrate spring with friends or loved ones.
I have to give a special mention to the shrimp I used in this recipe. They hail from my hometown, Key West. It’s hard to find Key West pink shrimp—even in Miami. These wild shrimp are sweet and tender and usually more abundant in winter months. If you see them in the store or on a restaurant menu, be sure to try them out.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for asparagus salad with shrimp and grapefruit as much as we did! Happy spring from Love and Duck Fat!
More refreshing salads:
Yield: 2 servings
Note: recipe calls for 6 shrimp per serving (photo shows 3).
Place the shrimp on a paper towel to dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over high heat, and add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. When the butter foams; add the shrimp to the pan. Sear the shrimp on one side for 1-2 minutes, and then flip to the other side for another 1-2 minutes, until they begin to curl and the centers become opaque. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside to cool.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set aside a bowl of ice water. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately plunge into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Carefully remove the outer skin from the grapefruit with a knife. Cut out the grapefruit segments by cutting in-between the membranes. Once the segments are removed, set them aside. Squeeze the juice from the outer skin and the remaining membrane into a bowl. You should have about 4 tablespoons of grapefruit juice.
Add about ½ teaspoon of salt and fresh pepper to the grapefruit juice. Whisk in remaining olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
Arrange the salad mix, radishes, sliced onion, grapefruit segments and asparagus on a plate. Top with the shrimp. Spoon the citrus vinaigrette on top.
I’ve been working on eating more vegetarian meals, which is difficult when my husband gets disappointed when there isn’t some sort of animal on his plate. When I told him this freekeh, parsley and garbanzo bean salad was dinner, he said, “No feta cheese? Just this?”
Yes, just this.
I’ve been hearing a lot about freekeh lately. It seems to be the grain du jour—the quinoa of 2014 (quinoa is technically a seed, but I digress). Freekeh is green wheat; an ancient grain popular in the Middle East and North Africa. Harvested early, the moist grains are sun-dried, and then set on fire to burn off the chaff. The roasted grains are then beaten and cracked into uniform pieces.
It’s this early harvesting that is the key to freekeh’s nutrition, retaining more nutrients than grain allowed to fully mature. Freekeh has more protein, vitamins and minerals than brown rice, a low glycemic index and as much as four times the fiber as brown rice.
With all of the positive press, I had to give freekeh a try! It’s easy to cook—just like any grain; I simmered it on low heat in some water with a bay leaf added for flavor. The result was bland, with a texture softer than brown rice, but much like any grain–nothing extraordinary here. I allowed the freekeh to cool and tossed it in a salad with parsley, garbanzo beans, good olive oil and lemon.
This freekeh, parsley and garbanzo bean salad has all the flavors of tabouli—one of my favorite Middle Eastern salads. Garbanzo beans give the recipe more substance. They add a creamy mouth-feel that turns this salad into a main dish–without the addition of cheese. The mint and tomatoes are light and fresh. The texture of the freekeh is just perfect. After a few bites, even my husband was won over.
Give this recipe a shot for Meatless Monday—or meatless any day. You can find freekeh on many supermarket shelves or buy freekeh on Amazon.
In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together freekeh, beans, parsley, tomato, mint and green onion. Toss with the vinaigrette and taste. Season more to taste. Chill for half an hour before serving/