Dinner Salad

Breakfast Salad

“I’m cooking some spaghetti and that 1 1/2 links sausage with red sauce for dinner. If you want a salad, make one, I don’t care.” Carol announced dinner plans while I watched “Sportstalk Live” a show on Comcast Sports Net Bay Area and picked up on my Direct TV. Gotta keep in touch, and the 49ers whupped up on the Seahawks yesterday.

When I saw her put the water on to boil, I started thinking about the salad. We both like what we call Israeli Salad, which is basically chopped vegetables. The true Israeli Salad (or Arab salad) has a base of tomatoes and cucumbers, but I make it with whatever — and tomatoes and cucumbers aren’t exactly in season (there’s six inches of snow out the window).

I started by littering the kitchen counter with all things choppable and started chopping. I know I started with three cornichons and that didn’t look like enough, so I chopped one more. This gave me a basic quantity to match for each vegetable. To chop a cornichon as wide as its diameter, gave me a size to work with. So… the rest of the vegetables are listed in alphabetical order. I can’t remember in what order I chopped and added, and it doesn’t matter.

  • • pickled asparagus from a jar
    • celery, the very very tender inner heart left from using stalks to make soup
    • green olives
    • mandarin orange, sectioned and chopped
    • red radishes
    • scallions
    • sugar snap peas
    and lastly, a sliced endive. Last because I didn’t know if one would be enough. It was.

I tossed those with Newman’s Own salad dressing and there you have it. (OK, I coulda shoulda made my own dressing, but I did the whole salad while the spaghetti was cooking. Besides, I like Newman’s.)

dinner — chopped salad, spaghetti with red sauce

That made more than enough for Carol’s and my dinner salad and I had a cup and a half or so left for my breakfast (that was not unplanned, I love salad for breakfast).

Salad out of the fridge. I like salad for breakfast, but not cold salad. I dumped it on a plate and put in the countertop convection oven for a while at 150°F while I fried some cubes of Spam (I chopped one slice, about 1/2 ounce). Added the Spam to the salad plate and fried a flat egg to go over.

plate of not cold chopped salad

with a flat egg



Salad and Sugo

How do you like YOUR salad?

By now, I’m resigned to the fact that I usually eat differently than other folks. You’ve seen plenty of examples in my BKFST posts. Now for salads.

I think my best salad experiences were in Jerusalem, where Israeli or Arab salads were the norm. As you can see, the wikipedia definition for each is pretty similar. Indeed, chopped tomato and cucumber is the base salad. In practice, many small plates of chopped vegetables often found our table, and one would take something from each. At breakfast in the hotels, the buffet followed the same principles.

I’m not a fan of lettuces or greens (derisively called leafs, by some non-foodies); although a good ceasar salad, properly made, is pretty hard to beat. At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco — oh, how I miss that — hearts of romaine were available most of the year, and endive — crunchy and mildly bitter — for much of the year. Those kept well in the crisper drawer of our refrigerator and formed the basis for salads that I made. Arugula and frisee and radicchio — especially grilled — are okay, too.

Carol’s sugo with spaghetti and my salad

Last night, Carol got a container of her Sugo out of the refrigerator and said, “We have two endive, why don’t you make a salad for dinner?” At about the time to put pasta in water, I chopped the endive, threw it in my favorite wooden two-person salad bowl and rummaged around to see what else to throw in. I sliced some red radishes and tiny baby carrots we get from a guy at the winter market — Sundays 10am to 2pm, indoors at the Garden Shop Nursery. Reno is cold just now, but there is plenty of sun and he grows his vegetables (including chard) in a heated cold frame.

those baby carrots and radishes

Core, peel and cube a pear, that’s good for something sweet. If I didn’t have a pear, an apple would do. Slice in a couple of scallions and cube a fabulous pickled yellow beet.

I tossed all that together and put on a little more than a tablespoon of Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing, just enough to coat and moisten everything, but not add a lot of taste. If I hadn’t had that, I would have used Newman’s Own salad dressing — or my own concoction of vinegar and oil and lemon juice. I seasoned with salt and pepper and just a pinch of sugar to make the beets and pear happy.

You’ve seen these beets on my breakfast plate. We get them at the Great Basin Coop, roast them for about 50 minutes at 400°F, cool, peel and put them in a jar. I mix 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 ounce Pastis and a good pinch of salt and pepper mixture in a saucepan, heat to boiling and pour over the beets. Refrigerate for a day and they’re ready to eat. (That’s for the yellow beets, for red beets the vinegar of choice is balsamic.)

the next morning’s breakfast of egg, beet and leftover salad

Tomato Peach Salad?

I’m doing some picture editing for a piece on breakfasts and I came across these pictures of a salad I did in August. Yes, I know it is now November and there are no fresh, juicy peaches or tomatoes, but you can revisit this next summer… I may even remind you.

Carol was reading from her iPad as I had finished my walk and was thinking about breakfast. “Here’s a thing about a peach and tomato salad,” she said.

“Sounds weird,” I said; “Why would anyone want to do that?”

“I’ve seen quite a few recipes,” she said; “This one from Food Network and I saw one in Cooking Lite.” She handed me her iPad. The recipe was two sentences:

Tomato-Peach Salad Recipe
Toss tomato and peach wedges with red onion slices. Drizzle with cider vinegar and olive oil; season with sugar, salt and pepper.

red onion, two kinds of tomato, peach

I had a beautiful O’Henry Peach, a Cherokee Purple tomato and an Early Girl tomato, and a swell right-size red onion. Peeled all and tossed as above, but with Balsamic vinegar. Pretty good breakfast, but I would say that the tomato doesn’t enhance the flavor of the peach, nor does the peach enhance the flavor of the tomato. Red onion is good and all together, the salad is quite refreshing.

all dressed and tossed

served — I slipped in a few bits of ham, just because

So here’s the proper recipe.

Tomato-Peach Salad Recipe
courtesy Food Network Magazine
Toss tomato and peach wedges with red onion slices. Drizzle with cider vinegar and olive oil; season with sugar, salt and pepper.

After, I looked on the internet and found a few other such recipes. It is interesting how they vary in style of writing, but are basically the same. Here are some other peach and tomato salad recipes. Who knew? Continue reading

Looed Chicken

… and a swell macaroni salad
… and a vibrant rice salad for good measure.


Back in the day, Looing Sauce was a staple in our household. It is a soy sauce based liquid used for poaching meat, primarily chicken, never fish. We glommed onto it back when Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China – Greece – Rome was brand new, 1990. I was a big fan of his TVw_the-Frug show and bought the book when I was home on R and R from Jerusalem. I kept jars of Looing Sauce in the refrigerator and used it – at least – once a week. I transcribed it and included it as an early entry in my developing eats4one cookbook.

Years passed and it kind of got lost in the shuffle when we moved to San Francisco in 1992.

Recently, I bought a small half chicken – just 1.8 pounds – at the Mountain Ranch stand at the Saturday Market.

What to do with it? Hey, we haven’t had Looed Chicken for a while. I couldn’t find it in my computer recipe files. I still have the book, of course, but its gotta be somewhere on the computer. I went into the archives and found it in the original eats4one and made a copy for my active files.

I had to go out and find star anise. I still had some broken pieces in my spice cupboard, but its gotta be 20 years old. How else does one use star anise? So I whipped up a batch, and poached my little chicken.


OK, it ain’t pretty, but it sure tastes good and looks way better on the plate.

I served it over rice with a side of Romano beans and tomatoes. Oh my… it was nice and moist and flavorful.; better than I remembered. Way to go Frug.


Even with that little bitty chicken, we had enough bits and pieces of meat left over to make a swell macaroni salad. When I did this year’s Super Bowl Party I fashioned a macaroni salad with ham, based on a Cooks Country recipe for BBQ Macaroni Salad. They add BBQ sauce to the mayonnaise and it was pretty good. In my version using Looed Chicken, I substituted Looing Sauce for the BBQ sauce. Continue reading

Spring Cassoulet

… peach and tomato salad
Gone again… back again

the farm lane

the farm lane

This time we were off to Ohio, a land of heat and humidity, but one of family celebrations, as well. This one was Carol’s brother Alan’s annual pig roast on his farm just south of Lancaster – where Carol grew up – which is just north of Logan – my birthplace – and about 30 miles southeast of Columbus – where I grew up. Having lived in San Francisco for nearly 20 years, a trip “back east” is July is like a hot, wet slap in the face, and Carol tends to obsess over the heat. To my way of thinking, it’s good to go someplace really hot from time to time – not too often. I don the Ohio July uniform of a loose tee shirt, shorts and sandals and live with it. It’s the clammy, usually way too cold air conditioning that gets to me.

dude... check out these Ohio tomatoes!

dude... check out these Ohio tomatoes!

All of that, to say that I haven’t contributed to eats for a while.


I found this recipe for Spring Cassoulet in the CUESA newsletter and though it’s a bit past spring, I had all the ingredients and SF is cool enough just now to enjoy a bean dish.

So, you make a pot of beans and throw some sausages and pancetta on top, and sprinkle that with baby lettuces and edible flowers. How easy and yummy is that? Quite.

But Dominique Crenn of Luce at the InterContinental hotel showed me a few tricks to make this simple thing sophisticated and sublime.

For the beans, she cooked bacon, shallot, garlic, celery and carrot in a generous amount of olive oil and deglazed the pan (I used my bean pot) with white wine. OK so far… that’s the way I start beans. For the twist, she tied up that vegetable bacon mixture in cheesecloth and put it back in the pot for the beans. Viola… no pesky vegetable and bacon pieces in the beans, just their flavor. She used Rancho Gordo White Runner Beans, I used Golden Eye.

Chunks of lamb sausage, pork sausage and chopped pancetta, sautéed with onion and garlic, then cooked with red wine and chicken stock, made it a cassoulet. I used Fatted Calf Merguez and Mild Italian sausages. Continue reading

Noodle Chicken Salad

Asian noodles and sauce meet local vegetables and chicken.


I’ve made a number of noodle salads over the years – love ‘em – but I don’t have a clear favorite. For summer the cucumber orange version is good, but that’s for summer. It’s February and I have some leftover (LO) roast chicken just waiting to be made into a noodle salad. I thought I’d break down my noodle salad recipes and maybe invent a new way to go.


What I have on hand right now is:
Eden Organic Udon whole grain – thin, flat noodles – from Big Apple, a mostly Asian grocery in Polk Gulch.w_nb_somen copy
Dynasty Maifun Rice Sticks – from Big Apple – these are good. Come 3 “pads” in a 6 ounce package. Figure one pad per person.
Somen Noodles: (Available at Whole Food) These thin white noodles, made of wheat, are related to udon noodles but are noticeably thinner — a delicate wisp of a noodle that still manages to retain a distinct texture and delicious taste. They are divided — within the cellophane packaging itself — into neat little bundles, each bound with a ribbon. I’ve used these in the soup-like dishes, Noodle Beef and Noodle Chicken.
And of course, if I’m in the mood, I can make some noodles in the Udon shape.

The Asian sauces use the following ingredients – not all at once:

rice vinegar (not seasoned)
cider vinegar
Chinese black vinegar
Asian fish sauce
vegetable oil
sesame oil
chile sesame oil
chile sauce, like sriracha
soy sauce
tamari sauce
oyster sauce
lime juice
fresh orange juice
garlic, minced
grated fresh ginger
salt Continue reading

Natasza Salad

beets and more


Visiting son Brian in Reno, we were treated to a fine meal of grilled fish and what I will call “Natasza Salad.” It is a traditional Ukraine salad of beets, carrots, potatoes and celery and was prepared by Brian’s friend Natasza from Kiev. It was simple and delicious, so naturally, I wrote down how to make it:
“Roast and dice beets, dice and steam carrots, potatoes and celery, dice cornichons. Combine and toss with oil and vinegar.”

I got around to making it for dinner yesterday as root vegetables are prevalent this time of year. I love beets and get a few about every week at the Farmers. Though I find red beets incredibly beautiful, I’ve taken to buying golden beets lately; they taste the same and don’t bleed, so they’re great for salads.

Carol asked me to get celery root (celeriac) a couple of weeks ago. She does that, saying she wants to make this or that. It’s time to use it or lose it, so I substituted celeriac for the celery. I didn’t have quantities, so I decided to start with a small and a medium beet and match the other ingredients to that.

2 beets cubed – slightly more than a cup
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced Carola potatoes
1 cup diced celeriac
5 cornichons sliced thick
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 head lil gem lettuce, leaves separated

Steam carrots, potatoes, celeriac for 5 minutes. While hot, toss with beets. Fold in cornichons. Dress with vinegar and olive oil.

Arrange lil gem leaves on a plate and spoon salad on to the leaves.


Dressing – I used a traditional mix of 1 part red wine vinegar to 3 parts xv olive oil — olio nuovo in this case. This salad needed more acid. Next time, I’ll use 1 part vinegar, 1 part cornichon juice, 3 parts oil.

Cornichons – 5 cornichons yield less than 1/4 cup. Needs double that amount.

Served with leftover ham loaf, sliced and fried in butter.

Good. Yum.

Farmers Markets. ‘Tis the season.

Bean and Bacon Salad

I live in San Francisco and have my choice of about 20 farmers markets, but in 2008, farmers markets are pretty much everywhere. Besides the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, I’ve shopped at Farmers Markets in San Rafael, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento, Healdsburg, Boston, Newton MA, Portland ME, Belfast ME, Columbus OH, and yes, even Lancaster OH. Look around on Saturday or Sunday, you can find one.

This is a farmers market meal. You could make it with stuff from the supermarket, but fresh, local stuff just tastes better.


Let’s go down the list.
WHITE BEANS. I used Marrow Beans from Rancho Gordo and cooked them the day before. I cook beans half-a-pound at a time. That yields about 4 cups of cooked beans. Well I work at home, so I can cook the beans anytime, you say. I say, put your beans to soak in the morning before you go to work. When you get home, pour your bowl of beans into a saucepan, water and all (you want to change the water, be my guest). Make sure the water covers by at least an inch. (I use a clay pot, which I think is better, but it’s an investment.) Now, bring that to a boil and let it boil for 4 or 5 minutes, cover and turn the heat as low as possible. That takes about 20 minutes. You want the beans to barely simmer. If you have a heat diffuser, that’s good. Set your timer for 45 minutes and do something else.
Continue reading

Salad Niçoise

Salade Niçoise


The first time I remember having Salade Niçoise was in a café in Paris in 1979. I was alone, having lunch on a lovely August afternoon.


Of course August is the time when nearly all Parisians take holiday. My family and I were lucky enough to exchange houses for the month with a French architect, an acquaintance of a close friend. Our flat was a third floor walk-up (69 steps) so we were careful to plan our comings and goings. Situated on the Left Bank near Invalide, we were able to walk or take the Metro nearly everywhere. After breakfast, we could each go our own way (the kids were 11 and 13), sometimes for the whole day before assembling for dinner to exchange tales of our ventures.

The salad was served on an oval plate with a pile of tuna, surmounted by three anchovy fillets in the center. Green beans, tomato wedges, a quartered hard boiled egg, black olives and sliced potatoes were arranged around the tuna and dressed with a vinaigrette. Yellow potatoes! I had never seen yellow potatoes. I carefully took a bite of each ingredient — starting with a potato slice — and savored each bite. I hoped the experience would never end, but of course the plate was not infinite, and when I reached the last bite, perhaps an olive, I was wholly satisfied. Continue reading