White Bean, Fennel and Chorizo Salad in a Jar

I have a confession to make.  Over the past several years, I’ve developed quite a jar obsession.

Salad in a Jar Two and half years ago, I was only a few months into dating my boyfriend Jorge.  He was heading up to San Francisco at the time to visit friends, and I asked him to bring me some items from the city.  Can you guess what I asked him for?  Not a loaf or two of glorious SF sourdough.  No chocolate from Ghirardelli.  No artisan, hand-crafted this or that.  Instead, I asked for jars.  Particularly Weck Jars from Heath Ceramics.  At the time, they were a bit of a rarity.  Crate & Barrel and West Elm hadn’t started selling them yet.  I was completely elated the evening Jorge walked through the door carrying two large bags filled with carefully-wrapped Weck Jars.  This obsession has continued ever since.

With such a wide variety of glass beauties at my fingertips, I’m always looking for new ways to use my jars.  And now, I’m jumping on the Salad in a Jar bandwagon.  Here’s the basic idea: salad ingredients are layered inside a large canning jar in such a way that the greens stay crisp and fresh.  Liquids at the bottom.  Greens at the top.  With this framework in place, you can make a number of jarred salads on the weekend to enjoy throughout the week.  Continue reading for my layering technique plus a Salad in a Jar recipe that uses white beans, fennel and chorizo.

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Grilled Kale Caesar with Torn Croutons

Several months ago, I had a grilled kale salad at a special event, and I’ve been dying to recreate it ever since.

Grilled-Kale-Caesar-(smaller) Organic lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or black kale, is the star ingredient of this healthy, summer salad.  When cooked over hot coals, this leafy superfood transforms into something truly delicious.  Crispy edges provide savory notes of smoke and char while the inner portion of the kale leaf stays tender and chewy.  These grilled greens are tossed in a creamy Caesar dressing spiked with lemon, garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Torn croutons add pops of satisfying crunch.  This salad is a delicious mix of flavors and textures.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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The Summer 2014 Backyard BBQ Guide

Summer officially starts this Saturday (June 21), and that means it’s time to host a backyard BBQ.

Jorge's Bacon Cheeseburger Hosting an outdoor event for friends and family may seem like a daunting task, but I assure you that there’s no need to worry.  I’ve got you covered.  This Summer 2014 Backyard BBQ Guide will provide you with all the recipes and techniques needed to throw a fabulous al fresco fête, including drinks, appetizers, sides, mains and desserts.  Without further hesitation, let’s get this party started.

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Raw Kale Salad

Raw Kale Salad Jorge and I just got back from a spectacular trip to Charleston, South Carolina.  Thanks again for all of the recommendations.  Throughout the trip, we had a number of crazy delicious meals including dinner at FIG and Husk, and some damn good soul food at Martha Lou’s Kitchen.  I’ve got a gallery below featuring most of the food Jorge and I ate during our trip (poorly lit dinners not included).

After a vacation where I practically ate my weight in butter and fried chicken, the first thing I was craving when I get back home to California was this Raw Kale Salad.  Gnarled shreds of lacinato kale are tossed in a bright dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese.  The salad then sits for 20 minutes, so the dressing can break down the fibrous texture of the kale.  Finished with a drizzle of EVOO, a dusting of Parmesan, and several grinds of black pepper, this simple salad is healthy, hearty, and packed with incredible flavor.  The first bite will literally smack your taste buds.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Carrot, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad

I love it when a salad is as beautiful as it is delicious.  And this salad is a stunner.

Roasted Carrot, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad Ruby red and glistening, slices of blood orange cozy up with spiced carrot and fennel, salty olive bits, and wispy fennel fronds in a tangle of peppery arugula.  Before reaching the salad, the carrots and fennel are dusted with crushed cumin, coriander, fennel seed and cayenne pepper, then roasted until tender and caramelized.  The dressing here is a lemon vinaigrette spiked with garlic and blood orange zest.  My Roasted Carrot, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad is bold, spicy and incredibly satisfying.  This sophisticated salad would be perfect for a special occasion (Mother’s Day or Easter brunch), or any evening you just want to treat yourself.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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What Is Your Favorite Salad Recipe?

Salad with Pickled Vegetables It’s salad season.  You know that time of the year when everyone’s got the “I really want to lose 3 pounds” New Year’s resolution, resulting in a diet of juices, smoothies and (most of all) healthy salads.  Working in the retail industry, I am constantly keeping up with sales trends and consumer behavior.  I can confidently confirm that January is the most popular month for kale, spinach and all other manner of leafy green vegetables.

During my work week, I like to prepare a more simple salad for lunch (similar to the one pictured above).  This salad is made with tender greens, something crunchy (nuts or seeds), something pickled, and an acidic vinaigrette.  I’ll often serve a protein on the side (chicken breast, shrimp, pork chop).  A tart vinaigrette is one that I almost always like the most.  Usually made with sherry vinegar (recipe below).  There’s just something about a salad with big, bright flavors that fills me up and keeps me satisfied while at work.

On the weekends, I like to prepare salads that are a bit more involved.  These salads can include roasted vegetables, homemade croutons, broiled meats and/or various shaved or crumbled cheeses.  Sometimes I’ll let loose, and make a creamy salad dressing.  I mean it’s the weekend, so it’s totally allowed ;)

Since salad is going to be on my daily menu for the next 3 months, I am on the hunt for some new inspiration, so please share your favorite salad recipe in the comment section below.  Continue reading for some of my favorite salad recipes plus a recipe for my Sherry Vinaigrette.

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Brussels Sprout Slaw

Brussels Sprout Slaw Often, my Thanksgiving side dishes can be quite involved.  And to be honest, I like them that way.  There’s just something about an over-the-top casserole packed with layers and layers of flavor that makes me swoon each and every time.  Maybe it’s the butter.  Maybe it’s the cream.  Or maybe it’s the cheese.  I don’t know.  I just love them :)

But sometimes, I do crave a simple and healthy side dish during the holiday season.  When one of these cravings comes along, I make this easy Brussels Sprout Slaw.  A colorful mix of shredded brussels sprout and radicchio is tossed with a sweet-tart dressing made of apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and whole grain mustard.  The slaw is then finished with homemade spiced pecans.  Bitter yet balanced, this seasonal salad can be prepared in advance and requires minimal cook time.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Marinated Flank Steak Salad with Feta and Arugula

Flank Steak Salad with Feta and Arugula I love a good flank steak salad.  First, flank steak is fairly inexpensive.  You can get a pound of meat without breaking the bank.  Second, flank steak cooks sooooo quickly.  8 to 9 minutes under the broiler, and you have a beautifully rare slab of meat.  Finally, flank steak is easy to master.  Just know that when cooking flank steak, it’s best to leave it rare or medium rare.  And when slicing flank steak, you need to cut across the grain.  Both of these practices will result in a juicy, tender steak (vs. a chewy piece of shoe leather).

I like to test the doneness of my steak by using the poke method.  Start by gently poking the top of the steak (at the thickest point) with your index finger.  If the act of poking leaves an indent in the steak that doesn’t spring back to place, it is too rare.  If the indent springs back, it is rare to medium-rare.  If the steak feels firm, then it is medium-well to well (aka overcooked).  This method takes a little time to get down, but just keep practicing.  By the way, if you are one of those people who likes their steak well-done, I wouldn’t recommend cooking flank steak.

In this recipe, flank steak is quickly marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, cumin, and sumac, then broiled until the surface is slightly charred.  Slices of tender pink meat are then arranged on a platter, and topped with arugula, scallion, parsley and chunks of salty feta, dressed in the tangy marinade.  This is a perfect weeknight meal that also holds up well for lunch the next day.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Watermelon and Tomato Wedge Salad

Watermelon and Tomato Wedge Salad Several weeks ago, I was scrolling through my RSS feeds when I saw this recipe for a Watermelon Wedge.  Watermelon salads are quite ubiquitous at the moment, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone go the wedge route.  Inspired by Greg’s inventiveness, I decided to make a watermelon wedge of my own.

Utilizing some leftover ingredients from my Summer Crush cocktail, I put together this Watermelon and Tomato Wedge Salad.  Juicy wedges of ripe heirloom tomato are scattered across a landscape of vibrant watermelon, then topped with chopped chive, fresh basil and a creamy feta dressing.  This salad is deliciously seasonal and incredibly playful.  Sweet, salty and so, so fresh, my Watermelon and Tomato Wedge Salad would be perfect for any late summer soiree.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Avocado Caesar Salad [Giveaway]

Avocado Caesar Salad

For those of you following me on Instagram, you know that I am currently on vacation with the man in Portland and (soon to be) Seattle.  But right before I left, I whipped up a super delicious salad that I just have to share with all of you.  This recipe for Avocado Caesar Salad features hand-torn hearts of romaine tossed in an avocado caesar dressing, golden crisp crostini, and paper-thin shards of salty Parmesan.  Classic caesar salad dressing is thickened with a raw egg yolk.  This version uses a whole avocado instead.  I wish I could take credit for this ingenious switch out; however, this dressing is courtesy of Gaby Dalkin’s new book Absolutely Avocados.  Rich and creamy, avocado caesar dressing tastes similar to the classic version with the addition of some grassy notes from the avocado.  It’s pretty darn tasty stuff.

So let’s get back to Absolutely Avocados for a moment.  Can I tell you that I am mildly obsessed with this book?  Living in San Diego, I have easy access to a plethora of avocados.  I have a number of friends who have trees in their backyards, and they love to share any excess fruit.  So I am always looking for avocado recipes.  With recipes like The Ultimate Chorizo Gravy–Guacamole Loaded Nachos and Mediterranean Avocado Pizza, this book is packed with inspiration.  And guess what?  I’ve got a copy to give away to one lucky Kitchen Konfidence reader!!  Continue reading below for a recipe and giveaway details.

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