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Corn and Salmon Salad Recipe and Grilling Tips

A winning combination of ingredients for this chopped salad is salmon, corn and cherry tomatoes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

A winning combination of ingredients for this chopped salad is salmon, corn and cherry tomatoes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

 

Seattle’s smoked salmon, grilled corn and fresh garden ingredients make this salad a full dinner

It’s sweet corn time. As a girl who grew up in Iowa, we always bought sweet corn from a pickup truck on the side of the road after the farmers had picked the corn that morning. So it’s only natural that I find myself buying numerous ears of corn in July and wanting to create different recipes in addition to just putting them on the grill.

I’ll never forget a surprise gift from my dad several years ago when he was visiting Seattle. When he arrived he opened an extra piece of luggage and about two dozen corn picked that day from an Iowa farm spilled out of the bag. My heart was warmed by my dad’s sincerity and we ate plump, juicy corn for days. With sweet corn being grown throughout the U.S., almost anyone can get fresh corn from their farmers market or produce store.

Quick grilling tips for corn

Pull back husks of corn and remove any hairs, then season with salt, cumin and chili powder. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Pull back husks of corn and remove any hairs, then season with salt, cumin and chili powder. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Grill corn for 8-10 minutes in the husks to keep them moist. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Grill corn for 8-10 minutes in the husks to keep them moist. Photo by Christine Willmsen

To successfully grill corn, prep and season it. That means you need to pull the husks back, remove all the silk (fine hairs) and spice it up by rubbing a mixture of salt, chili powder and cumin.

Try your own spice combination. Rewrap the husks around the corn and grill for 8-10 minutes on medium-high heat. I always poke the corn with my fingernail and if it pierces the soft kernel and the juices explode then it’s time to pull it from the grill.

While I may eat an ear or two for dinner, I’ll grill another one so that I can use it for a salad the next day. I’ve created this recipe that combines Seattle’s finest smoked or cooked salmon with garden ingredients that are ripe right now including arugula and cherry tomatoes. This is a hearty salad that’s perfect for one person for dinner. To see The Solo Cook assemble the salad, watch King 5’s New Day Northwest show. The recipe below is inspired by the restaurant Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I had a memorable salad. I know once you try my salad you will be hooked on cooking extra ears of corn for this chopped salad.

Hot in the Kitchen: Corn and Salmon Salad Recipe

Cut all your ingredients and line them up to place them in a line on your plate, then drizzle dressing on top. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Cut all your ingredients and line them up to place them on your plate, then drizzle dressing on top. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of corn or kernels from 1 grilled corn cob

1/2 cup chopped arugula

1/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped smoked salmon or cooked salmon

1/8 cup slivers asiago cheese

3 tablespoons pepitas

1/4 cup cooked pearl or Israeli couscous

Pesto Buttermilk Dressing:

Gently stir dressing in with the salad ingredients. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Gently stir pesto buttermilk dressing in with the salad ingredients. Photo by Christine Willmsen

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup pesto (store bought if easier)

Half of shallot chopped

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 lemon squeezed for juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, pesto, shallots and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into food processor and blend thoroughly.  As food processor continues to run, add buttermilk, remaining lemon juice and salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare salad for presentation: place each ingredient in a line such as 1/4 cup arugula, 1/4 cup corn, tomatoes, asiago, salmon, pepitas, couscous, 1/4 cup corn and 1/4 cup arugula. Drizzle dressing on top of the ingredients. When ready to serve, lightly fold dressing into the ingredients. Leftover dressing can be stored for several days. Use the remaining dressing as a dip for fresh cut vegetables.

Cheers

Christine

Two Beet Salad Recipes that are Quick and Healthy

Try these two quick and healthy beet salads; each is a perfect serving for one

Roasted beets can taste like candy when added to salads. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Roasted beets can taste like candy when added to salads. Photo by Christine Willmsen

It’s time to go beyond the traditional roasted beets your mom boiled or cooked in the oven and think of beets as a way to beef up your salads.

Go to the store and get two or three beets and start by cleaning them and trimming the green tops off.  Leave about one inch of the stems intact to prevent the beets from bleeding. But don’t throw away those green tops; use them in my chicken soup recipe I posted last week. Beets are superfoods, stocked with high levels of folate and potassium, according to Self Nutritional Data and the USDA.

I often cook several beets on a Sunday night so that I have them ready for these salads throughout the week. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then rub each beet with a bit of olive oil and wrap them in aluminum foil.  Place them on a cooking sheet so that their juices won’t ooze to the bottom of the oven and make a mess. Cook them for at least one hour or until a knife can easily slide through the beet. Cool them to room temperature and peel them.

Now let’s have fun with two different salads that I promise will make your beets taste like candy from the earth. The first salad combines the sweetness of beets, the crunch of cucumbers and the salt of feta cheese to make this a savory and sweet salad. The second salad is all about combining fresh, simple ingredients. Each of these recipes is a perfect serving for one person for lunch or a side dish at dinner.

Hot in the Kitchen: Beet, Cucumber and Pea Salad with Feta

The sweetness of the beets, the crunch of cucumbers and the salt of feta cheese make this a great salad. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The sweetness of the beets, the crunch of cucumbers and the salt of feta cheese make this a great salad. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1 cooked beet cut into squares

½ cucumber peeled and sliced

¼ cup peas defrosted

1/8 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to your taste. I used peas from my garden that I froze earlier in the year.

Hot in the Kitchen: Beet, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Beet, tomato and avocado salad only takes minutes to prepare. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Beet, tomato and avocado salad only takes minutes to prepare. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1 cooked beet, sliced

5 cherry or teardrop yellow tomatoes sliced in half

½ avocado cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Gently mix ingredients together and sprinkle with sea salt.  If you are craving greens in your salad, add ½ cup torn arugula.

Cheers

Christine

Simple is sometimes better when it comes to food

Building a salad is about tantalizing the eyes with colors from fresh vegetables and fruits. Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated, just be creative with your ingredients.

There are times, after several long days of reporting and writing at the Seattle Times, that I just want a simple and easy dish to eat that doesn’t destroy my clean kitchen. In my younger years that meant grabbing a burger or tacos at a fast-food joint, just to kill the hunger pangs. Since then I’ve learned a few things about single cooking along the way and I hope you can take a few of my ideas into your kitchen.

There are days I’m jazzed about tackling complicated, multi-step recipes, realizing I have the time and patience. But often times we all are in a rush or getting home late from errands or a fun happy hour with friends and we still need to nibble.

If you don’t have the time to cook something elaborate, don’t worry about it. The reason some dinners and snacks are so great is because they are simple and fresh – and that typically means healthy too.

My garden produced golden sweet tomatoes and purple carrots

Visit your farmer’s market or local store and grab fruits and vegetables that are in season. Those fresh foods are the foundation of a flavorful, simple dish. So when I’m in a hurry, salads are my go-to meal. Chopping the vegetables, greens and toppings take only a couple minutes and you can create your salad.

I grabbed fresh greens, tomatoes and purple carrots from my garden. The purple carrots catch your eye with the color and surprise the palate with a spicy, sweet flavor.

Hot in the Kitchen

Mixed Green Salad with Plum Vinaigrette:

Ingredients:

Three cups chopped or torn fresh mixed greens, including any combination of mesclun, spinach and arugula if available

Two carrots sliced into coins

Four cherry tomatoes quartered

Two tablespoons crumbled blue cheese such as Cabrales

One tablespoon fresh herbs like thyme, cilantro, oregano and parsley if available

Any other ingredients from your pantry or kitchen that inspire you

Plum Vinaigrette (Bon Appetit, August 2012)

2 black plums, pitted, chopped and halved

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Dash of salt and pepper

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Bring plums and ¾ cup water to boil in small saucepan and then simmer on medium-high heat, stirring and mashing plums for about 15 minutes until they are broken down. Pour plum mixture through fine-mesh sieve, pressing solids through to make a puree. Let cool. Then add oil, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water and salt and pepper and whisk. Add hot pepper flakes, if you like a little kick. This can be made ahead of time and will last for at least one week in frig.

Toss salad ingredients and drizzle dressing on top.

A plum vinaigrette adds a sweet tanginess to this mixed green salad with blue cheese.

Tailor a salad for your palate

Another great thing about making salads is that you literally can open up the refrigerator and use leftovers or extras from a previous dish. Maybe you grilled salmon the night before and you can add some bites to your salad. When I grill a chicken breast for dinner, I make sure I either buy an extra large one to grill so that I have chunks to add to the next day’s lunch.

Also see what mood you are in that day. Are you craving protein? Then add tofu, salmon or shrimp. If you are craving something sweet, add fruit like strawberries, nectarines or apples. Are you yearning for some salt? Add some olives, pecans, pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts. Be creative by topping your salad with something different. My favorite additions to a simple salad are any of the following: edamame, avocado, hard-boiled egg, peas and dried cranberries. You can also add caramelized onions or crispy fried shallots. If you are like me, I also love cheese as part of my salad, so I usually sprinkle feta or goat cheese on top.

What are your favorite foods to add to your salad? Let the Solo Cook know.

Cheers

Christine

Bold nutty flavor of arugula makes a great healthy salad

Arugula is a fantastic, spicy green to grow in the garden. Arugula has a unique nutty, white pepper flavor that packs a punch.

Arugula fresh from my garden is ready for sandwiches, pasta and my new salad recipe. Grow it or pick it up at a farmer’s market.

In fact, I’ve tossed seeds in the garden and been surprised to see it growing like a weed and then turn into a bush. Just be sure to snip off the buds to prevent bolting, but if it flowers don’t be afraid to eat them too. This healthy green-leafed plant from the Mediterranean is part of the Brassicaceae family and is loaded with tons of vitamins. It’s a cool season crop, also known as rocket, that can grow for months in the Pacific Northwest.

I like arugula in sandwiches, wraps, mixed in with other greens to add zip or thrown in pasta. If you aren’t growing it in your garden, pick up a bunch from the farmer’s market or your local grocery store to make this fast, easy recipe that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. This recipe I created is an explosion of flavors in each bite with the spicy arugula, creamy avocado and crunchy cucumber.

Hot in the Kitchen

Arugula Avocado Salad 

2 packed cups of arugula

Arugula with simple ingredients makes a great spicy salad with a tangy dressing.

½ avocado diced

1/2 of tomato diced

¼ of cucumber diced

wedge of lemon

Dressing: combine the following ingredients thoroughly

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

Dash of salt and pepper

Lightly toss arugula, avocado, tomato and cucumber with dressing and squeeze a wedge of lemon juice on top. To add protein to the salad just add diced firm tofu.

Arugula Avocado Salad is a great lunch or dinner for one person.

Cheers

Christine