Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

This recipe started off as a way to use up some fresh dill that wasn’t my favorite egg salad and somehow ended up morphing into a riff of an old Summer family favorite: seafood salad. Which I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with y’all for yet. I c-r-a-v-e it every tomato season.

The original (to my family at least) salad included Krab, shrimp, hard boiled eggs & lots of mayo. Sometimes, depending upon which Aunt got a wild hair, chopped up bits of lettuce. Which is weird, but good.

Anyways. I gave myself an aversion to fake crab my first Summer out of high school (reminder, kids: check your expiration dates), so that was out. I swapped with flaked salmon but kept the shrimp in this version; I also sadly forgot the egg until I was eating trying to figure out what was missing. I was also wanting a little more mustard punch, so adjust yours as necessary.

And a note on seasoning: I happen to love this salad with way too much pepper and salt, because that’s how my family usually served it. This recipe includes a normal amount of each (depending on how HAM you go with the cracked pepper); I had to go back twice for more after the salad hit the fridge.

gluten-free, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan with substitutions

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

Dressing:

1 avocado (mine was small and I could have gone for more)

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salad:

4 – 6 cups pasta of choice (I used rice spirals)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 smallish cucumber (about 2/3 cup chopped)

1 smallish bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)

2 – 4 stalks celery (about 3/4 cup chopped)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if using celery salt instead, you may not need to salt the salad – taste, taste, taste)

Loads of fresh cracked black pepper

Salt

Shrimp (I used 13 medium), peeled, cooked & chopped (optional)

Krab, crab or salmon (also optional)

2 – 3 Tbsp. your favorite mayo (optional)

Start you pasta boiling according to package directions, taking care to salt the water. When almost done, chuck your shrimp in to cook. Drain and set aside.

Pull the shrimp and chop. Add to a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, scallion and parsley. Add to the big bowl.

Mince the shallot and add. Halve the tomatoes and add those too. Add the celery seed.

In a blender or food processor, blitz all dressing ingredients until smooth. If you want your dressing a little runny, add more water until desired consistency is reached. Mine turned out a bit thick, which I liked, but I ended up adding 2 – 3 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo to the salad to loosen it a bit.

Add the cooled-ish pasta and dressing to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Hit with a bunch of pepper. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or some mayo to finish off.

Stash in the fridge for a bit to chill and let the flavors get acquainted.

Serves 4 – 6 for a meal or more if a side

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

I love a good end-of-Summer savory fruit salad. It’s kind of a yearly thing with my brain, and I’m here for it.

Stone Fruit Salad

Lots of peach salad recipes

This is no exception to that rule. This salad is about as light as one would expect, but works well. I worried that the zucchini wouldn’t be great, but it was; even raw. The key here is to peel it into ribbons. I used my regular vegetable peeler. My ribbons weren’t even, but they were delicious.

So much so, I can’t really say this is more than a 1-person meal. I mean, sure, you can feed 2 if you want to throw a main in, but I managed to knock it out in a second helping at lunch.

If you can’t find the Kewpie dressing, a nice sesame would be good. So would my love pomegranate molasses. Balsamic would also work really well. Grapefruit would play nicely.

I had also meant to grab some good vegan Feta for this salad but forgot. It would be nice and would definitely help fill this out to more of a meal, but wasn’t necessary.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

1 large zucchini, ribboned thinly

1/2 shallot, minced

1 plum, chopped

3Tbsp. Kewpie no-oil Yuzu dressing

1Tbsp. your favorite neutral oil

2Tbsp. smoked almonds, chopped

1.5tsp. fresh thyme

1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped

1/2tsp. red chili flakes

Ribbon the zucchini thinly and add to a large bowl.

I tossed any ribbons that were purely peel to the pups, and stopped when I hit all-seed strips. A bit is wasted here, but can be easily chopped and chucked in a pan for a quick little pop of veggie later in the week. I ended up using mine in a breakfast zucchini & fried egg rice with browned butter and snipped chives.

Mince the shallot, de-stem the thyme, and chop both the parsley and plum. Add to the bowl.

Add the red chili flakes, along with the dressing and oil. I’d start with 2 Tbsp. dressing, toss, and see if it needs more. Hit with a few grinds salt and pepper.

When it’s time to plate, add the chopped almonds and toss quickly so they don’t go soggy.

Serves 1 – 2 for lunch depending upon what all else you have going on

Delicata, Pomegranate & Arugula Salad

This salad is sweet, tart, fatty & salty and strikes a great balance between the carbs & fat you want when the weather turns cold, and more virtuous things like fresh greens.

Vegetarian, vegan & paleo with omissions; gluten-free with none

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Delicata, Pomegranate & Arugula Salad

1 delicata squash
Arugula
1 pomegranate
Pecorino, romano or other salty aged cheese
Pomegranate molasses
Optional pulled meat of some sort – I used pork like this, this would also be fantastic
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

First, start your squash.

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Slice the ends off your squash and push the seeds out with a spoon. Slice into 1/4-inch rounds.

Lay squash rounds in a single layer on your prepared sheet – making sure not to crowd; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Bake 20 minutes, flip, and bake another 20 minutes or until browned and nutty on both sides.

While the squash is working, de-seed your pomegranate (my favorite method is to roll the pomegranate on a cutting board to loosen the seeds, cut in half, and whack with the back of a wooden spoon. Not only cathartic, this method is really quick and only a little splattery).

Reheat your pork (I prefer crisping it up a bit either under the broiler or in a pan on the stovetop) and gather the rest of your ingredients.

When the squash is crisped, pull from the oven and start assembling your salad. I used about a cup of arugula, 6-8 slices of squash, a hand full of pomegranate arils, a Tablespoon or so of cheese, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Enjoy.

Depending upon the size of your squash, serves 2-4. My squash was on the small side and I was hungry, so it served 2. 

 

Arugula & Orange Salad with Pulled Pork and Tomato

This salad came about because, here in January, I couldn’t stand not eating tomato any longer. Enter Fresh Direct. They tempted me with a beefsteak tomato – that while fairly costly, was actually fresh and actually tasted like tomato. Not sure if it was hot house (there was no mention in the description and it certainly didn’t taste like it), magic fairy house, or teleported from somewhere warm – but it was delicious. Just the breath of warm I was craving.

I ate this for lunch on my second day of Whole30 Take 2 – and didn’t feel deprived in the least.

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Arugula & Orange Salad with Pulled Pork and Tomato

2 cups arugula
1 tomato – I used a big beefsteak
1 orange – I used a Cava Cava orange, which was delicious – blood orange would also be great here, or clementine — any orange with a lot of taste
2 Tbsp. gremolata
2 tsp. grapeseed oil
4 ounces leftover pulled pork 

Supreme (cut off the outer rind and slice out each wedge individually – for video instructions, click here) your orange and cut the pieces into bite-sized chunks.

Cut the tomato into bite-sized chunks.

Warm your pork if needed.

Chuck the arugula, pork, tomato and orange into a big bowl and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with gremolata, the juice from the orange middle, and grapeseed oil.

Serves 1 for lunch.

Roasted Beet and Avocado Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette (paleo, Whole30)

Reformed beet-hater now occasionally craves the color and majesty that is a perfectly roasted beet every once in awhile. When I have those days, I’m happy someone in the health food biz decided to offer pre-roasted beets for sale at Whole Foods.

The recipe is written with a single lunch serving in mind. Feel free to scale up to feed your desired number.

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Roasted Beet and Avocado Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette (paleo, Whole30)

1 small roasted beet (I took the lazy way out here and bought some pre-roasted beets)
1/2 avocado
1 Tbsp. slivered almonds
3-4 ounces leftover rotisserie chicken (optional but delicious)
1/2 grapefruit
Citrus salt (or other flaky finishing salt)

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. almond oil (or other neutral oil like grapeseed)
1 tsp. grainy mustard
1/2 tsp. organic apple cider vinegar (Braggs ftw)
1 big squirt grapefruit juice

Slice your beets wafer thin, shred the chicken, slice the avocado thin, and toast the almonds in a dry pan until lightly brown. Supreme the grapefruit.

Either add all to a bowl or lay out pretty for a composed salad. Both are equally tasty.

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients and pour over the top. Finish with some tasty salt and eat.

Serves 1 for lunch, but can easily be scaled up to feed more.

30 Minute Meatballs & Red Sauce (paleo, Whole30)

What?! Meatballs in marinara sauce in under 30 minutes? Blasphemy! Well, I’m here to tell you it can be done. It won’t be a leisurely 30 minutes puttering around the kitchen, but it can totally be done if you have a craving and not much time to satisfy it.

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30 Minute Meatballs & Red Sauce (paleo, Whole30)

Quickie Tomato Sauce

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 onion
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. granulated garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. + water
1 Tbsp. grass fed butter

In a medium pan over medium heat, add the tomato paste and stir to break it up some. While the pan comes up to temperature, slice the onions wafer thin and halve the cherry tomatoes, dropping each into the pan and stirring as ready. When the paste starts to sizzle (a little scorching here is ok), add the water and spices. Stir to combine, drop the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently and adding water when things get too dry (I ended up adding two batches of 1/4 cup each) about 20 minutes. Add the butter and stir to distribute.

This would be fantastic with wine, but since wine is a Whole30 no-no, I had to forego. If you are using wine, sub in 1/4 c. for half the water in the first addition.

Quickie Meatballs

1/2 lb. grass fed ground beef
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley and basil – the ratio is up to you
1-2 cloves garlic
1 egg (optional)
Salt & pepper

While your sauce is doing its thing and trying to burn (seriously. stir frequently or you will end up with a hot mess), address the meatballs. Break off about a third of the meat and get into a medium pan. Brown, breaking into small bits as you go. Add to a bowl with the rest of the beef, the herbs & garlic which you’ve chopped, salt and pepper. You might want to add an egg, too. I didn’t and my balls were fine; but could have been less dense with an egg. The browned meat helps alleviate some of the denseness as well. Don’t forget to salt & pepper. Form into 6 balls and sautee over medium heat until browned on all sides.

And there you have it – a long lunch/quick dinner meal that’s satisfying, meaty and hits (at least for me) the right ‘comfort’ spot. And obsession button. I got addicted to ‘red gravy’ this past winter and have never looked back. To be fair, my talented DH started this addiction years ago with his spaghetti, but since I don’t eat pasta any more, I’ve been eating meatballs & sauce like they’re going out of style.

Serves 1 for lunch with enough sauce left over for ‘pizza burgers’ the next day.

Caramelized Peach, Chicken & Tomato Salad with Sriracha Lime Vinaigrette (paleo, Whole30)

Yum. Yuuuuummmmmmmm. Y-U-M. This salad is frickin delicious. On a random Tuesday, I was craving grilled peaches but was too lazy to bust out the grill for a quick lunch, so tossed some peaches along with some cheater roasted chicken from Trader Joe’s and this dish was born. Peaches + heat is a match made in heaven. Why have I been eating them straight all these years?! (oh yeah, because peach juice running down your chin is one of summer’s great touchstones)

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Caramelized Peach, Chicken & Tomato Salad with Sriracha Lime Vinaigrette (paleo, Whole30)

1 breast roasted chicken (or about a fourth of a package pre-roasted olive oil & black pepper sliced roasted chicken from Trader Joe’s)
1 peach
1 tsp. fat of choice (I’ve used both pork fat and coconut oil, and I must say the pork fat was a touch better here. big shocker)
1 c. (or about a third of a pint) grape or cherry tomatoes
A hand full dry toasted pecans
1 scallion
A few leaves fresh mint
A few leaves fresh basil
Juice of half a lime
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 tsp. Whole30 sriracha (aka: food of the gods)
Big fat finishing salt

Cut your peaches and chicken into bite-sized pieces while you’re waiting for a medium pan over medium high to reach temperature. Add a teaspoon fat of choice to the pan and follow with the peaches. Sautee, stirring a minute or two and add the chicken. Continue cooking, stirring every minute or two to prevent too much burning until the peaches are caramelized and everything smells heavenly.

While your peaches + chicken are doing their thing, slice the scallions and herbs thin and add to a large bowl with the pecans. Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sriracha, grapeseed oil and lime juice.

When the chicken & peaches are done, add to the large bowl. Toss with the dressing and finish with a sprinkle of big fat salt.

Serves 1 for lunch – there may be growling.

Sweet, Spicy & Earthy Potato Lunch

Yet again, I have no idea what to title this recipe. It’s a sweet/spicy/earthy/savory pile of sausage goodness heaped on top of a baked sweet potato, and it’s delicious. I made this one day for lunch with a leftover baked sweet potato that came with whatever lunch I ordered Monday from the healthy delivery place, some sausage I didn’t use with last night’s dinner (more on that later), and some of my emergency freezer greens. Dead simple, wholly satisfying, and damn nutritious.

A note on sausage: Buy the best you can. If your town has a butcher, get it there. Your belly will thank you. I grew up eating sausage from the grocery store – I didn’t even know butchers still existed and that they were places I could actually visit – and since I discovered that they a: do exist, and b: are more than happy to help you, I’ve never looked back. Fresh sausage made from good ingredients is a million times better than the mass-produced crap stuffed with fillers you find with a brand on it. Except Neese’s (and to a lesser extent Bass) – if you’re from the south, you know what I’m talking about. That stuff is delicious. When we lived in Miami, my favorite sausage (that I didn’t make myself) was the hot Italian from Laurenzo’s. Now that we’ve made the move to Brooklyn, we have fallen in love with Fleisher’s. Fleisher’s makes better sausage than either my hubbs or I do, and from top quality ingredients – a win-win no-brainer. Don’t think your town has a butcher? Hit Google. I’m willing to bet it does, especially if your town has European immigrants (even “generic” immigrants that have been here for generations). Got Italians? You’ve definitely got a butcher. Eastern bloc peeps? Yup, butcher. Germans? Poles? Old people? Rednecks? Hunters? Anybody that likes traditional style foods? Butcher. Hipsters? Definitely a butcher. Even Whole Foods makes sausage, and it isn’t half bad. Not as good as sausage from a business that has been making it for forever (or a new up-and-comer that thinks outside the box), but still better than something made in a huge factory with a label.

Sweet, Spicy & Earthy Potato Lunch

Paleo, gluten-free & loaded with nutrients

Half of a baked sweet potato
1 tsp. coconut oil
1/2 c. frozen broccoli raab
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 stem rosemary, diced
1 sausage, slipped free from it’s casing
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
Big pinch chili powder
Big pinch curry powder
Sprinkle chipotle powder
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium skillet over medium heat, put your sausage on to cook, breaking it up as you go. Add the onions and sautée until everything is nice and brown. Set aside.

Set your broiler to high and place the sweet potato half a few inches from the heating element (5-6 inches) to reheat.

If your pan is dry, add the coconut oil. If you still have some sausage fat, use that instead. Add the broccoli raab and sautée until well thawed and beginning to brown, adding the garlic about halfway through. Salt & pepper to taste.

By now, your potato should be warm and just starting to turn golden at the edges. Pull it from the oven and sprinkle with the chili powder, curry, and chipotle powder. Top with the broccoli raab and sausage.

Serves 1 for lunch