If there’s just one thing that makes Idaho famous, it’s the potatoes. And no picnic is complete without a Creamy Idaho Potato Salad. Since the 4th is just around the corner, I thought I’d share my tried-and-true recipe that keeps everyone coming back for seconds.
What if I told you there was an easy, not to mention creamy, crunchy, cheesy delicious way to feed vegetables to your family that they will devour? We all need to eat more of this colorful food group. Heading in to the Fall season, many squash varieties are at their peak. So what better time than now to try out a new recipe?
A seasonal neighbor dropped by the other day with a huge sack of large squash and potatoes. I had to figure out something to do with them. The idea of a casserole came to mind. Putting together a simple blend of herbs, prepared Alfredo sauce, shredded mozzerella, and french-fried crispy onions started sounding pretty good. This is what I came up with.
Hubs literally inhaled the bowl I placed in front of him. And it’s a challenge to satisfy him in the vegetable department!
There’s nothing like a fresh-picked bounty, yet you can find beautiful produce at your local market just the same. The sky is the limit as far as what to put into this dish. You can use what you have on hand, or sneak some new varieties in that will be camouflaged by the herby comfort mix.
Iceburg, Romaine, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Spinach, and Arugala lettuces. That’s all I’ve been using in salads. It occurred to me that I hadn’t had Butter Lettuce in like, forever. I didn’t even remember seeing it at the local market.
Yesterday, I searched the aisle for this velvety smooth head of greens. It was nowhere to be seen. I asked the produce manager if he happened to have any. He sprinted with a spring in his step clear to the other end of the department and proudly handed me a see-through box of Butter Lettuce. It was beautiful. Like green gold. It even had it’s roots still intact. It was as if it was in a display case all of it’s own. In the cart it went.
In addition to what I had on hand and from the garden, I washed it and used it to put together a nice, healthy salad upon returning home. Just in time for lunch.
For those of you who have never used it, butter lettuce has a smooth, sturdy texture so the leaves hold up well when they’re torn in to pieces when making a salad. The surface of the leaves is just like butter. I would guess that’s how it got it’s name.
On the bed of torn lettuce I added sliced cucumber, fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden, fresh eggs that were hard boiled from the girls, and a chopped avocado.
This simple medley begged for a simple dressing. Remembering the basics to a good vinagerette, I whisked together a blend of red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Lightly drizzled over the bed of greens, this was a perfect combination for a midday lunch. Super fresh and super easy.
I plan to use the leftover portion to go with roasted chicken for dinner. It’s a habit of mine to make twice the amount the two of us need for one meal. That way the remainder can be used for another one.
I realize what it’s like to be dragging at the end of the day. It’s so easy to pick up a bag of pre-washed, pre-torn lettuce at the store for convenience sake. If you will just spend the extra time, roughly fifteen minutes, to pull together a fresh salad for a change, your family, your friends, and your stomach, will thank you for it.
Here’s the simple combination.
- For the salad:
- 1 head butter lettuce, leaves torn in large pieces
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or left whole
- 2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the torn lettuce in a large bowl.
- Arrange the avocado, cucumber, tomatoes and eggs over the top.
- Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard.
- Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly, until thoroughly mixed.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle lightly over vegetables and greens. Do not over saturate.
- Toss thoroughly and serve.
With the mercury rising, who wants to slave away in the kitchen to prepare a meal? It’s hot. Very hot. I don’t mean we should all run out to eat. Please, stay in by all means. Save your pennies. Just make it simple, healthy, and delicious.
The best thing to turn to is crisp, leafy greens. Perhaps you have some growing in your vegetable garden. If not, the local marketplace has lots of varieties that are fresh, fresh, fresh. I look to both resources for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
This is what I’m talking about. Yum!
The cherry tomatoes are ripening like greased-lightening on the vines. They add a shimmering pop to the bowl, bursting with freshness. A few snips of herbs provide a hint of aromatics and flavor.
Do you have any leftovers in the fridge? What did you have for dinner last night? Maybe there’s a piece of chicken or beef in there you could dice or shred up and throw in to the mix for protein. You know you’re probably going to end up throwing it in the trash eventually, right? Like when you have to make room for more leftovers.
The sky is the limit when it comes to salads. There are a ton of options. Start with a heaping layer of greens at the bottom of the bowl. Then start adding in different colors, textures, and flavors. And don’t forget about scavenging your pantry cupboard where you keep the canned goods. Beans, corn and olives make excellent add-ins.
It wasn’t until we moved to the middle of nowhere that I had to start looking at the supplies on hand a little differently. I used to never think of putting black beans or corn in a green salad. Go figure. Now, it’s kind of fun to “color shop” the canned goods. Light beans, dark beans, anything that will compliment the fresh veggies and meat.
I’ve also started making my own dressings, a lot. This time of year especially. It’s all about fresh.
Today I prepared this salad for a dear friend who came to the house on her lunch hour from work. I made it ahead of time so we could enjoy our visit without being in a hurry.
For this particular bowl I started with a layer of romaine and green leaf lettuces torn in pieces. Then I quartered some grape tomatoes from the garden, sliced some black olives from a can, diced an avocado, drained some black beans, and shredded leftover pork from a roast hubs and I had enjoyed the night before. A sprinkling of queso fresco cheese topped it off along with fresh parsley.
That’s it. No saucepan required.
It was delightful, though the time went by way too fast. If you have friends you cherish, you know what I’m talking about. There never seems to be a loss for words.
Oh, the salad dressing. It’s a standby I love that you have heard me rave about before. Here’s the link to the recipe for Tomatillo Ranch Dressing.
I could drink this stuff. Really. It’s that good!
In the quest to find a recipe for a salad dressing that was like the fabuloso one they serve at the Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, I found that there are copycat ones all over the internet. What was interesting to me was that the majority of the ones ever posted are the same as the next. Which leads me to believe, that after all of the tweaking and experimenting with numerous variations, most concluded that there is only one formula that even comes close to the real deal.
It’s a mystery who lays claim to the recipe, so any credit due must go to all of those before me.
By the way, did you leave your blender out on the counter? I hope so, because you’ll need it to whip out this delicious dressing in short order. Here’s all you have to do. Start by chopping up two husked tomatillos and one large jalapeno pepper with seeds removed. Like so.
Put them in the blender along with a big handful of chopped cilantro, buttermilk, mayo, a packet of ranch dressing mix, crushed garlic, and lime juice. It will look like this.
Give it a whirl until it’s completely blended and creamy.
Select an airtight container to store it in. This is where mason jars come in so handy. I actually save the ones that spaghetti sauce comes in and just buy the plastic lids to fit. Yes, it’s true, I cheat sometimes. Not everything has to be made from scratch, does it? Besides, I don’t consider it cheating. There are some things best left to purchase premade for convenience sake. Though I do make a mean pasta sauce in a big pot when I have the time, and it’s cold outside. So there.
You’ll want to be sure to refrigerate it for at least two hours before serving. Try to use it within 3 days or so. The more it sits, the stronger the jalapeno and cilantro will get. If you end up loving it as much as we have, it won’t be around long enough to worry about.
The beauty of this dressing is there are so many foods that it will compliment. It’s like adding a crown jewel to whatever you end up putting it on.
Last night, I had some leftover shredded pork that I made salads with. I poured the dressing over a bed of chopped romaine, avocados, and tomatoes topped with the pork and sprinkled with queso fresco crumbles.
Hubs and I were in heaven with each savory bite.
So what are you waiting for? Give it a try. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Here’s the recipe as I made it, as have many, many others.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tomatillos, quartered
- 1 pkg Ranch dressing mix (1 oz)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, diced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 clove Garlic
- In a blender place the buttermilk, mayonnaise, cilantro, tomatillos, ranch dressing mix, jalapeño, lime juice and garlic. Blend until smooth. Pour into a jar with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Even though the calendar says it’s Spring, the mercury says otherwise. The heat is rising, and when it hits 80 degrees or above, I’m all about easy meal preparation. With the Memorial Day weekend ahead, no one wants to be spending time slaving away in a hot kitchen. So with that in mind, I’d like to share with you an easy side dish that’s perfect for potlucks or served up with your favorite grilled meats. Certainly many of you will be firing up the barbeque. It happens to be my best friend this time of year!
The great part of this salad is it’s versatility. Once you cook the pasta and add your favorite dressing, the sky’s the limit for adding just about anything that fits your fancy. Within reason of course. After all, you want it to taste good.
Today I was thinking that some tropical fruit of some type would be refreshing in the mix. In the pantry was a can of sliced mandarin oranges and diced pineapple. There was also a little bit of “this-and-that” leftover dry pasta in boxes and bags I had used for dishes previously sitting on the shelf. Best they go in a salad than be tossed in the trash!
So here’s what I came up with by just checking the cupboards for ingredients.
It’s the perfect summertime pasta that you can prepare ahead of time, and put in the fridge for a day or two prior to serving. Super easy. And super flexible for ingredients on hand.
- 4 cups assorted dry pasta
- ¾ cups prepared poppyseed dressing
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 1 10.5 ounce can mandarin orange slices, drained
- 1 8 ounce can pineapple bits, drained
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dry pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Drain immediately in a collander and rinse with cold water.
- Place pasta in a large bowl.
- Toss with prepared dressing.
- Add fruit and toss lightly.
- Chill for at least one hour before serving.
Feel free to experiment with different combinations of dressings and add-ins. Like a ranch dressing with sliced black olives, bacon bits, green onion, and shredded cheese. Doesn’t that sound good? I’ll share my versions with you throughout the season. So stay tuned!
Happy Thursday everyone!