Tag Archives: salad

Panzanella Salad

Considering I’m a true adult now and all, I figured I should start expanding my salad repertoire and get a little fancier.

Just kidding. I just had some rock hard bread that I didn’t want to go to waste.

Truth is I love carbs as much as the next runner gearing up for a big race, but when it comes to my salad, I’d rather have a side of bread to accompany it than to have it mixed in. But this. This crunchy, grainy goodness is worth a try.

panzanella salad recipe, salad, italian, bread, summer, vinaigrette, recipes,

Panzanella Salad

  • 1 C mixed greens (arugula, spinach, etc)
  • 2 C cubed day old bread (I used half of a loaf of Trader Joe’s multigrain ciabatta)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBL feta cheese
  • 2 TBL thinly sliced red onion


  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 TBL champagne or cider vinegar
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (can sub garlic powder)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil and feta. Set aside.

In a skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread cubes and toss until crispy and brown.

Whisk vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Toss all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes or so to let flavors combine.

panzanella salad recipe, salad, italian, bread, summer, vinaigrette, recipes,

panzanella salad recipe, salad, italian, bread, summer, vinaigrette, recipes,


A great lunch for a warm summer day. Enjoy!

Soba Noodle Salad

I know what you’re thinking. Soba what? Soba who? But before you pass judgement and contribute to my bounce rate, hear me out.

I’ve never been a picky eater. I come from the motto of trying anything at least once. Then, decide if you like it or not. After all, what if that new food is the best thing you never tasted? This belief may or may not be the reason that I have a love/hate relationship with buffets. But that’s another post entirely.

Perhaps it’s a birth order thing? Growing up my sister (first-born) was always the particular one when it came to food. I remember years and years of chicken sandwich orders and a nothing but cinnamon toast stage as well. I’ve noticed that my older nephew, Owen, is the same way. He politely says no thank you whenever you offer him a taste of something new. He sticks with his comfort zone of pop-tarts and chicken like his momma. Now my younger nephew, Jake, is another story. Morning Glory mystery muffins? Don’t mind if he does. Chippies and hummus? Absolutely, yes. A few weeks ago he even picked up a piece of Finn’s kibble and told me matter-o-factly:

I eat this dog food, Sarah?

Oh, Jake. I don’t think you’ll like that. 

Oh yes I will. I’ll try it. (pops kibble in his mouth and crunches down)


(a few minutes pass)

Sarah? That Finny food was yucky. I said it was yummy but it was really yucky. 

Yes, Jake. It was yucky. But I suppose I should give you credit for at least trying it once.


My mom and I leave for Europe next week and between my recent work travel, packing for the trip and not wanting to waste food, this week I’ve taken to throwing random meals together with whatever I have on hand. Monday was everything but the kitchen sink pizza night and Tuesday I opted for the soba noodle salad.

I’ve made a similar soba noodle salad in the past but the new Bon Appetit had a peanut sauce I wanted to try so I threw what veggies I had together made a double batch. If you’ve not tried soba (buckwheat) noodles or are scared they will turn you into a skinny jean and granola-loving hipster, fear not. Just think of them like a whole wheat spaghetti. Or, if you like granola and skinny jeans like me, accept them as they are. Sobawesome.

soba noodle salad

Soba Noodle Salad

  • 2-4 oz (1 inch round bunch or so) soba noodles 
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 1/4 C carrots
  • 2 tsp green onion
  • 1 TBL Cilantro

In a small sauce pan bring water to a boil. Cook soba noodles for 5-6 minutes being careful not to overcook. They don’t take long at all. Strain and rinse under cold water.

While noodles are cooking, chop radishes, red pepper, carrots, cilantro and green onions. Feel free to add other veggies as well. I’ve used fresh green beans, sprouts and cucumber in other versions. It really depends on your taste. I do recommend adding crunchy veggies as the noodles are soft and it off-sets the texture.

Peanut Sauce

  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/4-1/2 C peanut butter (I used mostly chunky and a teaspoon of creamy)
  • 2 TBL reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TBL rice wine vinegar
  • 1 TBL fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • dash crushed red pepper

Blend ginger and garlic clove until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and vinegar and blend until smooth. Note: add water to thin if needed. Sauce can be made ahead but is best served at room temperature. 

Spicy Seared Tofu

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBL rice vinegar
  • 1 TBL soy sauce
  • dash sesame oil

OR just use

Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Pat tofu dry and slice into 1 inch cubes.

In a large bowl, toss tofu in marinade. Cook over medium heat until browned.

The rest is up to you. Add a few teaspoons of peanut sauce to your serving of noodles and garnish with your choice of veggies, tofu or chicken.

Dig in. Try something new and then go shopping for some skinny jeans. Everybody’s doing it.

Alternative Salads

When I was little I had a rabbit named Fluffy. Well, technically he wasn’t mine. He belonged to my classroom at Montessori Children’s House but I volunteered to take him home over breaks so it counts just the same, right? I mean the holiday guardian is bound to develop a bond that only a foster parent can relate to and fluffy and I were tight. At least he never told me otherwise.

An animal lover from a very young age, I was always first to volunteer to bring home the animals over long weekends. We had a variety of species in our classroom and on the grounds to teach us zoology and responsibility. Fortunately my parents were kind enough to put up with my guilt-induced fostering, allowing leopard geckos, cats, rabbits, turtles and other lizards as assigned to visit the Murphy household regularly. I only recall them cringing once when I showed up with a set of corn snakes. Duly Noted. We draw the line at snakes.

I could probably credit my mother for my love of fruits and veggies, but as a child with a vivid imagination, I like to believe my affinity developed after a past life as a rabbit, or maybe a turtle. Probably not an anole although I do think crickets are pretty high in protein.

You might be questioning where this post is going as you thought it was about salads. And it is, but the cool thing about writing a blog is that you get to control the completely random tie-ins to your subject matter. And when I think about my love of salads I think about Fluffy.


This is not Fluffy but he did look like this

You see, like Fluffy, I think I would be perfectly content to live off of greens and fresh vegetables for the rest of my life. In fact, I crave them. I know not everyone does and I feel fortunate that I do. Don’t get me wrong I love a good carbohydrate every hour once in a while but give me some ruffage and I’m good to go.

Even a salad lover needs to mix it up sometimes. And when I’m bored with my usual mixed greens versions, I like to add in my go-to ingredients: Quinoa and Beets. Now don’t run away thinking I just went all foodie on you. I know you’re seeing beets and quinoa in restaurants everywhere but believe me these buzzwords are actually easy to prepare at home, too.

I’m sharing these recipes for my Sunday post because they are a great alternative to the standard salad and can be eaten hot or cold. Make a big batch on a Sunday and you have lunch or dinner for the rest of the week.

roasted beet salad

Roasted Beet Salad

  • 3 large beets, peeled
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

roasted beet salad

Chop peeled beets into 1 inch cubes. In a medium bowl, drizzle olive oil over chopped beets and add salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes or until beets are fork tender.


In a multi-tasking moment I decide to throw a few pitas in the oven towards the end and make some homemade pita chips. The temp was a little high but since the oven was already hot I figured why not. I just put them on my pizza stone with a little olive oil cooking spray and salt.

homemade pita chips

Homemade pita chips

  • 2 large whole wheat pita pockets 
  • cooking spray
  • kosher salt


Quinoa Salad

  • 1 C uncooked Quinoa
  • 2 Cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/8 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/8 C sliced red onion
  • 1/4 C cucumber
  • 1/4 C chopped tomato
  • 1 TBL feta
  • 1/2 C spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

While the beets were roasting in the oven, I cooked 1 Cup of quinoa in my dutch oven over medium heat with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vegetable broth. I’ve found that the dutch oven works best for cooking quinoa as it doesn’t stick and steams to a light and fluffy texture. Be sure to vent your lid and it should take less than 15 minutes.


While cooked quinoa is cooling, chop vegetables of your choice and mix up the vinaigrette. I opted to use the same dressing for both the beets and the quinoa salad (adding it to the quinoa when you are ready to serve as it absorbs a lot.


Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 TBL spicy brown mustard
  • 3 TBL Red Wine, Apple Cider or Balsalmic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic

So there you have it. The next time you are bored with your salad routine or looking for something a little heartier, try one of these versions. Both are great for these winter months when our access to fresh vegetables is somewhat limited.

As for me I may have to make a trip to the Montessori School in my neighborhood and see what kind of animals they are working with. Finn looks like he could use a friend to keep him company while his parental guardian is working in the kitchen.

I have 3/4 of the couch but I prefer mom's spot

3/4 of the couch is prepped for me but I prefer mom’s spot

Have a wonderful week!