March 08, 2009

Tossing a Salad and Other Fun Kitchen Activities

Spring Break is right around the corner so I’ve been working on getting bikini ready. I’ve been exercising more but have also been eating smarter in hopes of losing those last few pounds of winter weight before I head to Mexico and gain them all back.

In order to lose those last few pounds, I’ve replaced a few traditional dinners of meat, starches and vegetables with some amazing dinner salads. The veggies are great but only because they are dressed to the nines with some of my favorite vinaigrettes.

These dressings are so easy are much better tasting (and better for you) than those additive-laden store bought varieties. Make double batches and keep some in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Dinner Salad with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette and Pan-Seared Sea Scallops

In this salad: Baby Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Red Onions, Red Bell Pepper Strips, Carrot Ribbons, Sliced Mushrooms, Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles, Pecan Pieces and Dried Cranberries.

For the Scallops: Dry each scallop completely with paper towels and then sprinkle with a dash of freshly ground pepper. Heat a sauté pan on medium-high and add about a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. When oil is hot, gently place the scallops in the pan, careful not to put them too close to each other. Let them cook on one side for 3-4 minutes without moving them (set a timer and back away from the stove or you won’t get the caramelization!). Using a metal spatula and/or tongs, flip them and then let them cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add to a salad tossed with maple-balsamic vinaigrette.

Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

½ cup tomato juice (or ¼ cup tomato paste and ¼ cup water)
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup real Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon fresh Rosemary, Minced
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2½ Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all ingredients except oil, stirring well. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk until well combined.

Tossed Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette

In this salad: Baby Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Red Onions, Baby Carrot Coins, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Pine Nuts and Dried Cherries.

Herbed Vinaigrette
¼ Cup tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar and 1 Tablespoon Dried Tarragon)
4 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 cloves fresh Garlic, Minced
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or ¼ dried rosemary)
3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with a whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Slowly drizzle in the oil while continuing to whisk. Mix until vinaigrette thickens.

A little bit goes a long way with this dressing. Gently drizzle about a tablespoon or two over a bowl of mixed greens and other fresh chopped veggies and toss until all ingredients are lightly coated. Serve with a piece of naan to round out the meal.

1 comment:

The Husband said...

Yum. Looks good to me!