Winter Salad: Stay well this winter!

In addition to wanting to keep up with our 2013 fitness goals, it is also good to eat healthy food to ward off the sickness which so often comes with the winter months. This salad is packed with vitamin a, vitamin c, fiber, and protein. It makes a great complete meal, or can work as a side along with a main dish. This yummy salad was a collaboration with Brown Vegan. Make sure you watch her video for a delicious Asian tofu salad and subscribe to her channel!

I Heart Summer Salad

I have for as long as I can remember loved summer—the smell of barbecues, sun-kissed skin, vacations, delicious sweet fruits, and the sun staying out longer than any time of the year. This salad is light, yet filling– and adds enough sweetness to appeal to your sweet tooth, yet just enough fiber to keep you right on track with your health. I am celebrating summer, because even if most of us are too old to enjoy summer vacation from school or all day pool parties, we can all use an extra hour or two of sunshine. Happy 1st day of summer, everyone!
Ingredients (per salad)

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • ¼ cup cubed cucumber
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small plum, seeded, sliced
  • 1 apricot, seeded, sliced
  • 1 thin slice of red onion, rings separated
  • 1/8 cup of mint leaves
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 8 to 10 Kalamata olives
  • 1 TBSP grapeseed oil or olive oil

 

Instructions

 

In a large mixing bowl, toss spinach, arugula, cucumber and mint leaves with 2 TBSP lemon, sea salt and 1 TBSP grapeseed oil. Once well tossed, move salad to the plate or bowl in which it will be served. Top the salad with layers of plum and apricot slices, thin onion rings, feta, olives and additional lemon juice for added flavor. Last, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the entire salad and serve.

 Check out the video below to find out about the delicious dark cherry balsamic vinegar I used for my salad for from Pastamore:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hul3HMEZERo&feature=plcp

All About Balsamic Vinegar

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you’ll have noticed that an item I use very often in my dishes is balsamic vinegar. This vinegar’s rich dark color is a nice indication of its equally rich and dark flavor. It’s a flavor enhancer, base for sauces and marinades, and an extra dimension of flavor. It can be your secret ingredient in stir-fry dishes, and it can also work to lower the amount of salt needed in a dish. Many have grilled peaches or other stone fruits with this vinegar, and topped it with a delicious reduction which thickens and becomes even more powerful in flavor. My preference is aged balsamic, so I use a good quality 8 year and it really lasts a long time! I highly recommend adding this to your pantry as soon as possible.

Below is my latest video discussing aged balsamic vinegar. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly posts!

Balsamic Sauteed Eggplant

When I began making dinner on Saturday night, my intent was to roast eggplant and bell peppers, but I did not have a baking sheet. My modification was to use a large skillet and saute the vegetables instead. I used balsamic vinegar because I love it for its sweet yet tart properties. If you did not know, this type of vinegar is made from the juice of fermented white grapes. The flavor is distinct, strong and sweet. It has been carefully aged to perfection and has a dark coloration. It is wonderful for marinades, salad dressings, reduction sauces and more. The trick is to not overpower the dish with the flavor, but to allow it to intensify the other flavors that are present. I’d like to mention that I am fully  aware of the fact that people either love or hate eggplant. Most food likes and dislikes are associated with texture. Be sure not to overcook your eggplant to avoid the slimy texture. Always blot eggplant with a dry paper towel after washing. The excess water can also contribute to an undesired texture.

You will need:

  • 1 Medium-sized eggplant
  • 1 Large skillet or wok
  • 2 Bell peppers, any color is fine
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Garlic salt
  • Sea salt

  1. 1. Cut eggplant into halves and then fourths and then cut into 1/4 inch slices. Cut bell peppers in half, seed them and then rough chop. Pieces should be about approximately 1×1 inch.
  2. In a large skillet on medium high, heat EVOO. Once heated, spread eggplant evenly in the skillet. It will only need to cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side; any longer, and they will become a slimy texture which can be attributed to why so many are not fond of eggplant.
  3. Generously pour (2 to 3 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar over vegetables while they cook. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp of sea salt over the vegetables.
  4. After  flipping the eggplant pieces over, add bell pepper. Bell pepper will cook for just a short time so that it remains crisp and flavorful. Cook as a stirfry at this point making sure all pieces are cooked well.

*We served this dish with garlic mashed potatoes, which were a great compliment to the sweetness of the sauteed vegetables, and very thin pan-seared porkchops cooked with sea salt, garlic and olive oil.

Please email questions, comments or pics to thedivinehostess@gmail.com or tweet @divinehostess