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Grilled Chicken Chopped Thai Salad

12 May





This weekend I convinced myself (with much encouragement from my mother) to complete the gaps in my lawn with sod. I don’t recommend this act solo, however, it comes with much self accomplishment once complete (my mom was right, as always). So, when the lawn was filled with lush grass around my new brick walkway, I decided it was only appropriate for have friends over for a dinner in the garden. I bragged about the dirty duty until the rain came… crushing the dream of my garden party. Instead, we enjoyed this super easy Grilled Chicken Chopped Thai Salad with a nice bottle of rose wine inside listening to the rain fall….nourishing my new sod. Winston, my pup, managed to say clean during all the sandy sod moving and muddy rain fall.

This salad is a winner. A nice spicy peanut and soy dressing evenly coating juicy grilled chicken and a variety of fresh crunchy vegetables. I used The Fresh Market’s Thai Curry Cashews for an extra sweet and savory crunch. This salad has enough substance for a dinner party but would be perfect for a lunch gathering too.


Grilled Chicken Chopped Thai Salad


  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced


  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 4 cups napa cabbage, choppers
  • 2 medium carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 cup edamame, cooked
  • 1 cup red bellpepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted cashews, chopped (I used The Fresh Market Thai Curry Cashews – also admiring their new Siracha 5 O’Clock Crunch Mix)

Peanut-Chili Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. peanut butter (creamy)
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (use less or more per taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, pressed
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon siracha (optional for spice)

Grilled Chicken: Marinate the check for 8 to 12 hours in marinade mix.

Peanut-Chili Vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Salad: In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning to taste. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo Mexican Steak Salad

5 May



Last night I celebrated Cinco de Mayo a bit early with this healthier twist on a Mexican dish. A variety of Spring market veggies and lettuces dressed in a lighter Greek yogurt based Green Goddess Dressing with sharp cheese and a spice rubbed grilled steak. Margaret and I toyed with using “organic dorrito nacho chips” as croutons but thought that they didn’t add much to the aesthetics of the presentation. Add a margarita to the mix and you’ll be set for tonight’s festivities!

Mexican Steak Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1 NY Strip steak
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1 handful grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 4 radishes, sliced

Mix together cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne pepper. Rub all over the NY Strip steak. Grill to your desired temperature. Allow to rest and then slice thin.

Meanwhile, prepare the salad with a variety of colorful spring lettuces and fresh veggies. Mix together with Mexican Green Goddess Dressing. Top with cheese and sliced steak.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

  • 2/3 cup Greek non-fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • ½ jalapeno, roughly chopped, or a drizzle of hot sauce
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. The dressing can be kept in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

29 Apr



This salad is so delightful. Crunchy sugar snap peas and radishes with silky and salt feta cheese with a tangy lemon dressing and fresh mint. Hello Springtime! It’s perfect for a Spring dinner or picnic lunch. Dig in!

Sugar Snap Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds sugar snap peas, trimmed, stringed
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint

Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Cook peas in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to bowl with ice water to cool. Drain peas; transfer to a kitchen towel-lined baking sheet to dry. Whisk oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, vinegar in a small bowl. Toss peas, radishes, and cheese in a large bowl.  Add dressing to salad and toss to coat. Season salad with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with mint.

Grilled Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette

25 Apr


A couple weekend’s ago I was preparing a fancy meal for friends and wanted a different vegetable side dish idea with lots of luxury. This is it! Grilled seasonal asparagus with sweet grilled tomatoes with salty cheese and an truffle oil vinaigrette. So delicious and perfect for this time of year. Everything becomes sweet and salty and drizzled perfectly with the stand out truffle oil.

Grilled Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped shallot
  • 2 Tbs. apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. white truffle oil
  • 1/2 oz. finely grated pecorino (1/2 cup using a rasp grater)

In a small heavy saucepan, boil the balsamic vinegar until reduced to about 3 Tbs., about 15 minutes.

Heat grill. Drizzle asparagus and tomatoes with  2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. reduced balsamic vinegar, and season with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Skewer tomatoes for easy grilling – or use a grill basket.

Grill until asparagus is tender and tomatoes begin to char and pop.

In a small bowl, whisk the shallot, cider vinegar, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil and the truffle oil until blended.

Arrange the asparagus and tomatoes on salad plates. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. reduced balsamic vinegar, and then the truffle vinaigrette. Sprinkle the pecorino on top.



Masha’s Lemony Hearts of Palm Salad

24 Feb



When planning last weeks dinner party, I decided a hearts of palm salad would be a fun spin on the same old salad. And then…I assigned the task to my Russian friend, Masha, who had never heard of a heart of palm. What a friend I am! A challenging one, yes.

Masha did an excellent job coming up with a recipe. This salad is full of bite – crispy onions and celery mixed with bitter greens and a citrus dressing. Plus the unique star, the heart of palm.

This salad would be perfect for a summer picnic. It holds up extremely well over time. I had the leftovers the next day for a lunch.

From the photo, it looks like even Winston thought the salad looked delicious!

Lemony Hearts of Palm Salad

  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 2 cups sliced heart of palm
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • chopped parsley
  • arugula
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Mixed together all the vegetables. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Dress the salad. Toss and enjoy!



Reinventing Ensalada de Kale

2 Feb




A couple days before I ventured back into my office for the start of 2015, my friend Andrew and I treated ourselves to dinner in Durham at Mateo. I had been dying to go and the extra long New Years weekend allowed enough time to make a trip. If you haven’t been to Mateo, make a date of it. From the small cozy atmosphere to the classic tapas menu – it’s practically perfect for any occasion. I also just love tapas and I’ve been lucky enough to visit Curate in Asheville and Mateo in Durham in the last six months.

At Mateo, we sampled almost everything on their menu from their signature deviled eggs with chorizo to a perfectly decadent farm egg with crispy manchego and romesco. My heart was literally heavy on the way home. An unexpected surprise was a simple salad of marinated kale, crispy artichokes, migas, chorizo, manchego, grapes, lemon vinaigretta. I’ll admit, we just ordered the salad to make ourselves feel better. Nothing offsets two egg and pork dishes like a kale salad. But, the salad stole the show. Crispy artichokes, spicy chorizo with a tart salad dressing and sweet bite of grape. It was a surprise to my taste buds and I put the recipe on my list to recreate.

I made a less fancy version on Friday night to pair with Bon Appetit’s new recipe for Spicy Lamb Handpockets. I whisked a lemon vinaigrette to coat over kale, grapes, jarred artichokes, slices of manchego cheese and slivers of good quality cured chorizo. It was almost the same as Mateo with the comfort of my home fireplace. Make this at home soon and book a reservation to Mateo as soon as possible.


Brussel Sprout Thanksgiving

26 Nov


It’s almost Thanksgiving! My folks are already in town doing shopping and advance preparations for tomorrow’s cooking and feasting. This year, we are excited to welcome my friend Margaret’s family over for our celebration on Mendenhall. Merging of traditions is always a fun time – especially, when mixed with North Carolina oysters, Florida stone crabs and a bourbon cocktail. I can’t wait to report with recipes, photos and stories.

Now to brussel sprouts. There is no doubt that both kale and brussel sprouts have been at center stage on Mendenhall this year. I love their hearty nature and I’ve recently discovered their perfection in almost all forms – cooked and raw. I’m looking forward to preparing my favorite Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon tomorrow. They are now famous too – featured in this week’s Triad City Beat! Check out the article today on local foodie’s favorite Thanksgiving sides. And, if you’re interested in the recipe – check it out here.

Now, back to my love of kale. Lately, I’ve been making an extremely delicious and healthy salad with raw kale and raw brussel sprouts. I found the recipe on Just a Taste.  It’s crunchy, has a wonderful dressing of lemon and shallots and will shock anyone with it’s deliciousness. If you’re looking for a last minute Thanksgiving recipe – this might be it. Or, you could commit to only eating this salad the day-after-turkey-day for an appropriate cleanse.

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Dressing, Just a Taste

1 Tablespoon minced shallots
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup olive oil

4 cups finely shredded Lacinato kale (loosely packed)
4 cups finely shredded Brussels sprouts (loosely packed)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey. Stream in the olive oil while whisking continuously until well combined. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. (You can add more lemon juice or agave nectar to adjust the acidity or sweetness to your personal taste.)

In a large bowl, toss together the shredded kale, shredded Brussels sprouts and toasted almonds. Add as much dressing as desired, tossing to combine, then add the cheese and toss. Serve immediately

My New Favorite Kale Salad

14 Oct






Hey Friends! I’ve had a crazy couple of days between a research trip to Richmond, VA for the Richmond Folk Festival, to back home to enjoy Elsewhere’s annual fundraiser, to a catch up sprint at work. Life is moving quickly, sprinting through Fall with travel and friends  and lots of hustle in the workplace. I’m having to schedule time for cooking in addition to improvisation on week nights post work and gym.

I recently came up with a tasty new salad of Tuscan Kale, dried cranberries, walnuts and chopped hard boiled egg. The dressing is simple too – a teaspoon each of honey and tahini, the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper and a good drizzle of garlic infused olive oil. It’s quite tart and savory but stands up well to the bitter kale. The cranberries and honey are an absolute must to balance the flavor.

This salad is great one it own but also good with shredded chicken, a nice piece of grilled steak or a roasted and sliced turkey sausage. Oh, and a glass of red wine, obviously.

Here’s to civilized meals in the midst of chaos!

Coriander Carrot Salad

10 Oct



If you’re looking for a different spin on a side or salad, this coriander carrot salad might just be the trick. A healthy crunch of carrot and pistachio, a nice bite of acid and spice from lemon juice and coriander, you’ll need to season to taste – I thought it needed more salt and lemon juice. This would be delicious on a leftover sandwich the next day – BBQ, Bahn Mi, you know.

Coriander Carrot Salad 

¼ cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios
¾ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ garlic clove, finely grated
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
⅓ cup olive oil
Kosher salt
1 pound carrots, peeled, julienned or coarsely grated
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.
Toast coriander in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool; coarsely chop.
Whisk garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and coriander in a large bowl, then whisk in oil; season with salt. Add carrots, toss, and let sit at least 30 minutes. Toss with cilantro and pistachios just before serving.

Warm Fresh Summer Corn Salad

21 Aug


I hope you’re eating enough fresh corn right now. If not, you’re going to regret it. It’s so delicious raw, cut off the cob and sautéed or grilled and slathered with compote butters. I highly suggest getting creative. Or just using this simple recipe for a warm salad of corn, onion, feta and lime juice.

Hop on it. Pronto.

Sweet Summer Corn Salad

  • 5 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 3 tablespoons (or more), olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion
  • salt & pepper
  • parsley, chopped
  • feta cheese crumbles
  • 1 lime

Sauté onion in olive oil. Once tender, add corn and cook until bright yellow and sweet. Season with salt, pepper, parsley, feta and a good squeeze of lime juice.


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