5 Recipes: No- Lettuce Salad, Homemade Dressing, Pico De Gallo, Homemade Salsa and Greek Tomato/Cucumber Recipe

January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Here are the 5 recipes/experiments I’ve tried lately.

First let’s discuss salad.

After so many years of salads, I got sick of them.  I have eaten enough lettuce  over the past few years that there are times I never want to see it again.  My salads have consisted of iceberg lettuce, romaine and spinach.  I tried to start using different kinds of lettuce hoping that alone would help me keep eating it.  I topped it with various things and different dressings but the LETTUCE was the main event of that meal.  The “hero” I guess you could say.

And that’s a term I learned from cooking shows.  The “hero” being the part of the meal that is supposed to stand out the most.  I know this from having recently watched the show Master Chef Jr.   It’s a show where children compete to become the last chef standing.  And they are often talking about how something was supposed to be the “hero” of the meal.  I’ve learned a few things from watching that show but the main one being this—

8 Year olds can cook gourmet meals.  Kids that have to stand on a stool to even see over the counter.  Meanwhile, I can barely cook an egg and my youngest kids are still asking me to pour their bowl of cereal for them.  And they’re 10 and 11.

I’m still concerned they’ll spill the milk.  And I would never let them use a knife.  But on Master Chef Jr they have 8 year olds cooking amazing food!  This is shocking. If you had asked me to bet money that an 8 year old could make a 3 course meal I would never have believed it.  But they are.   And I’m complaining about recipes being confusing to me.  Consider me put in my place.

I have NEVER watched cooking shows.  Again I must point out the irony of that but as I’ve said before—it’s the eating that enjoy.  Not cooking.  And to watch someone cook food that I can’t eat??!  UGH! TORTURE

But I have learned quite a lot from these shows.  I’ve also been watching Worst Cooks In America.  Now THAT one I can relate to!

So let’s get back to the hero.   Lettuce has been the hero of my salads and I guess that’s normal.  But I’m sick of it.  All of it.  And so therefore salads have not been something I’m willing to eat much of lately.  And then I decided to make Pico De Gallo and it was SO easy.  Not that it is a salad but just making it got me thinking.

 

Pico De Gallo (Also called Salsa Fresco I think by many)

All I did was cut up the following things:

  • 5-6 roma tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 red onion (depending on what you like)
  • Fresh Cilantro chopped up
  • Lime juice (squeezed from the lime)
  • 1 jalapeño  (Seeds out and chopped up)
  • Salt and pepper
  • If you want you can cut up a garlic clove or mince it if you know how!

photo-61

 

As far as telling you how much to use, it’s really up to you and how much you want to make.  The point is it’s super easy!

I like to put it on eggs, chicken, fish as well as anything taco-related.

 

Homemade Salsa

I used the following  ingredients:

  • Roma Tomatoes ( use whatever you like)
  • Red onions
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime

photo 2-27 photo 3-14

I put the onions, jalapeños,tomatoes and garlic cloves under the broiler until it looked like it was pretty brown. Yes that’s my very technical explanation!  It didn’t take very long.

Then I blended the tomatoes first in the Vitamix (another item I bought awhile back but only recently started using).  After I got most of the tomatoes blended, I threw in the jalapeños and garlic in whole.  I held onto the onions.

After everything was blended, I put the salsa mixture on the stove in a small pot, added some cumin and boiled it.  After it boiled for a minute or so, I turned it down to a simmer.  In the meantime I cut up my onions and stirred them in.  Then I added about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro and the juice from a lime.  Then some salt according to what it seemed like it needed.

I basically watched about a thousand videos on making salsa and read a million recipes.  Then I took some ideas from all of them and just decided what seemed to be the easiest for me.  This seemed to be about as easy as it gets.  Of course you can also make salsa without cooking it at all.  Which would be even better no doubt as anytime I turn an oven on there is a risk involved!! But this is my recipe for now and I fully plan to test out others.

 

Greek Tomato/Cucumber Salad

That led me to try the Greek Cucumber Salad and it’s equally easy to make.  The process is very similar

  • 2-5 roma tomatoes
  • 1  cucumber cut up
  • Red Onion (diced)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  •  feta cheese, crumbled

You can also add the following to make it different

  • Mozzarella balls (From Sam’s Club)
  • Pepperocini cut up (also from a jar)
  • Olives (various kinds)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (different colors)

 

photo 2-25photo 1-18

 

 

Making these two things really got me thinking about how a “salad” does not have to have LETTUCE as the hero!!  You can have a salad without it including lettuce.  I also have realized that you can make a dressing on your own.  I have watched enough cooking shows lately and browsed enough websites to notice several of the same ingredients that people put in their dressings.  In fact a lot of people just get creative and throw things together.  So why can’t I do the same thing?

This morning I decided to pull whatever I could find in the refrigerator out and see what I might do with it.

I don’t really dice, core, peel or deseed things usually.  Except jalapeños. THOSE I deseed! But I’m just not that fancy.  Instead,  I just cut it up in whatever size pieces I want.  And I do it all with this AMAZING life changing knife that one of my readers recommended.  It has been utterly life changing.  So triple thank you to the awesome person who recommended it.  It is called Victorinox Fibrox ( 8″ chef’s knife) and I got it off Amazon.  Here’s a link if anyone is looking for a killer knife! (No Pun intended)

Finally I have a sharp knife that can cut through anything.  That alone has made the act of cutting up vegetables so much easier.  No more fighting with it.  I had no idea how important a really good knife is!

(Also it scared the children enough into cleaning their rooms without me asking!)

photo-63

 

So today I pulled these items out of the fridge and made the following ‘salad’.

No-Lettuce, No Tomato, No Cucumber so Whatever Was Still In the Fridge Salad

  • Bag of mini peppers
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 lemon
  • Spicy Mustard
  • Feta cheese  (I’m kind of obsessed with that lately)

It reminded me of the mystery box competition on Master Chef Jr where they have to just make something out of a hodge podge of ingredients.

photo 1-19

 

I also got this from the counter

  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Curry Powder
  • Garlic Powder

photo 3-13

 

 

I cut up the vegetables  (kind of pretty right?)

photo 2-26

 

For the dressing, I whisked together about 2 or so tablespoons of spicy mustard (the kind that comes out of a bottle for your hot dog) with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, juice from lemon and the spices.  I really just poured it in a bowl and whisked it up.  I’m saying “whisk” again because it makes me sound fancy.  And also I’ve never whisked anything other than eggs before.

Then I mixed it all up and poured it onto the vegetables then added the feta cheese

photo 5-9

And it was really crunchy and filling.  Plus it was my first time not eating a tomato in a ‘salad’.  It had no lettuce and no tomato and a dressing that I made myself.  I’m kind of getting into this idea of cutting up all kinds of raw vegetables with my shiny new knife and then making my own dressing.  And totally omitting the lettuce.

I think I could also make other versions of these types of things (similar to pico de gallo) that could be used as more creative toppings for tacos, meat and eggs.  I might also try to make slaw.

I’m really enjoying this new adventure.  I am actually now looking forward to when vegetables come in season as for once I can go to the Farmer’s Market and actually know what to buy! I had never really eaten a raw zucchini before.  They’re not bad.  I was out of cucumber so that was nice for a change.  I think switching it up is a good idea to keep from getting bored.  I really can’t believe how many vegetables I’ve eaten lately.  I just think I got so sick of eggs, chicken,lettuce… eggs, chicken, lettuce….that it was time to try something new.

Happy Friday!!!

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie January 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Looks really yummy! I don’t care for raw Zuchinni, but substitute cucumber and I’m all there!

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Anneli Byrd January 23, 2015 at 6:52 pm

YUM!!!!! I’m reminded of one of other favorite bloggers, Sean from losingweighteveryday@blogspot.com. He HATES salads and lost nearly 300 pounds without ever eating one. I’m a big supporter of honoring what you like and don’t like. I’ve noticed naturally skinny people go through phases all the time—where they might eats lots of salad for a while, and then suddenly hardly any until it sounds appealing again. Hooray for embracing a skinny behavior and hooray for great cooking! Thanks for the recipes!
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ophir03 January 23, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Nice job! You’re a pro! I’m so glad the knife worked out for you.

I often use canned tomatoes for making salsa in my blender. (Something similar to Pioneer Woman’s restaurant salsa, only I roast jalapenos and garlic like you did.) They are cheaper and since they’re canned right after they’re picked, they usually have a lot of flavor. And there’s the added bonus of being able to store them in the pantry for salsa anytime the craving hits, which for me is often!

I love reading about your cooking. It looks like you’re off to a great start.

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Karen P January 24, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Really glad you are eating real, fresh whole foods. As a Paleo-ish food template person- I learned early on about “Big A$$et Salads” lots of veggies, some meat and some good oils (olive oil or avocado oil) paired with some garlic sea salt and/or small amount of balsamic

Here’s to continue to cook yourself and teach your kids. Bravo. And bravo for not junking up your salad with a ton of grains and processed foods. 🙂
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Mrs. Abella January 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Great job! You are doing awesome!

Our salads are usually seasonal, based on what we grow or what’s on sale. We fell in love with Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, which you may find at farmer’s market, but we grow yearly. It doesn’t taste anything like what’s in the stores!

Pico de gallo is a big thing in Cuban cooking. It’s very yummy! Something you might like is a little onion, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro sauteed together until just a tiny bit caramelized, and it is great with rice, over eggs, meats, and so on. It is a base to a ton of Cuban meals, and really adds little to no calories but does add color and flavor, especially if done in a drizzle of olive oil.

You’ll get the hang of cooking, and you’re opening up a new door that you’ll enjoy the rest of your life!

Happy cooking!
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Shay from Trashy Blog January 25, 2015 at 3:30 pm

OMG, the Greek Tomato salad looks DIVINE!!! It’s what I always get when I go to our local Greek restaurant, except they add lamb meat–which I hear isn’t the leanest meat AT ALL. Perhaps I should try making it at home and eliminating that step…? 🙂
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John (Daddy Runs a Lot) January 26, 2015 at 3:53 pm

I’m convinced that American is the only cuisine where “a salad isn’t a salad without lettuce.” I think it’s because us-Americans, we, um, enjoy our salad dressing — and lettuce holds salad dressing far better than anything else. Of course, American influence has reached every corner of the globe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right.

Lettuce, well, I can take or leave it . . . nutritionally, it might as well not be there. Spinach, I enjoy – but I FAR prefer it cooked. Most lettuces, I like, well enough, but I don’t love. So, for the most part, I leave it.

Glad to see that I’m not alone 🙂
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