Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

baby arugula salad


I’m in love!

In mid-June, I started teaching kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars in Austin, TX and was transported into the world of amazing, high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Europe. A few weeks before my classes started I got a tour of the store and sampled a variety of their products. I fell head over heals with everything I tasted, and was especially taken with the white balsamics which are lighter in color and flavor than the dark varieties (which I also love). It was the Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic that I ended up using in this recipe.

Summer is a great time for salads

In summer, I do a lot less cooking, but still like to eat at home. The simple solution is making more salads and using the grill to avoid heating up the kitchen. This Baby Arugula Salad is great for either lunch or dinner with something like a creamy vegetable soup (try Creamy Broccoli Soup or Creamy Butternut Squash Soup) and some fresh bread with olive oil. Make the soup early one morning before it gets hot, and quickly heat it up for meals later in the day or serve chilled.

How to make arugula taste great

This salad took me by surprise. I made during the first week of kids’ cooking camp at Con’ Olio and EVERYONE liked it– even those children that swore up and down they didn’t like vegetables. The key to this salad is finding a dressing that balances the peppery flavor of the baby arugula and the tartness of the berries. On the recommendation of the manager at Con’ Olio (who is also a chef), I used a combination of a mild olive oil and their lemongrass-mint white balsamic vinegar for the dressing. It is just equal parts of each with a little sea salt and black pepper. It was unbelievably delicious! I look forward to trying some of their dark balsamics (like strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, or fig), maybe when the weather cools down a bit.

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass-Mint Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (optional), shaved
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Dressing
Instructions
  1. In a medium prep bowl, mix together arugula and spinach.
  2. Prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with a few pinches sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup.
  3. Using a pair of tongs, toss salad greens and Pecorino Romano (if using) with dressing until evenly coated.
  4. Divide greens onto 4 salad plates. Top each salad with a variety of berries and sliced almonds.

baby arugula salad
Baby Arugula Salad from Kids’ Cooking Camp at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars- June 2018

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF, soy-free)

Asian mushroom lettuce wraps are the perfect start to an Asian-themed meal or any plant-based gathering. I brought these to a potluck last week held in honor of a friend visiting from Asheville. By the end of dinner, all that was left was one lonely lettuce leaf!

I wanted to make these lettuce wraps healthier than the restaurant variety, so added more vegetables, and left out the soy, sugar, and gluten! Instead of soy sauce or tamari I used Coco Aminos (I like the Big Tree Farms brand) which is naturally sweet and savory. If you like your filling a little sweeter, you can always add a dash of maple syrup or agave, but you probably won’t need to.

 

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF)
 
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This recipes is a vegan, gluten-free version of Chicken Lettuce Wraps served at Asian restaurants.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian, Vegetarian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons untoasted sesame oil
  • ½ cup leek, spring onion, or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 cups mushrooms (crimini, shiitake, and/or oyster), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • ½ cup water chestnuts or celery, finely chopped or sliced
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (Big Tree Farm brand recommended)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, or Romaine lettuce
Instructions
  1. Heat large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Make sure all ingredients are prepped so they can be added to the pan quickly. Add sesame oil and swirl to coat pan.
  2. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for about a minute. Reduce heat a bit to prevent burning.
  3. Add carrots, zucchini, and another pinch of salt and sauté a few minutes more.
  4. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are cooked through.
  5. Add water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.
  6. Season with brown rice vinegar, coconut aminos, and sea salt (to taste).
  7. Put mushroom filling into a serving bowl in the middle of a large plate or platter. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. Place lettuce leaves around the bowl or on a separate plate. To serve, take a lettuce leaf, place a spoonful or two of mushroom filling onto the leaf, and eat like a taco.
Variations
  1. For a heartier appetizer or main dish, add ½ lb. cooked chicken thigh cut into bite-sized pieces. Adjust seasonings.

 

Chef Rachel Zierzow is available for group classes, private dinners, and corporate team building sessions. Contact her below to find out more.

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Over the years, this Italian Chickpea Soup has been a family favorite and has always gone over well with children visiting our home.The addition of pasta makes the soup heartier, like a minestrone, and can definitely be considered a one-pot meal.

I recently had the opportunity to teach a cooking class at my daughter’s elementary classroom where I decided to serve the soup with pasta and bread, which was a real hit! An added bonus is how economical this recipe is. We made this recipe X4, which fed about 35 people, using all organic ingredients, for under $2 per person including soup, pasta, bread, and butter.

Day 1 of our cooking class involved walking to the grocery store, selecting our groceries, and carrying our groceries back in a wagon! When we got back to the classroom, we soaked the chickpeas so they would be ready to cook the following day.

Day 2 of our cooking class involved cooking the chickpeas in the pressure cooker, and slicing, dicing, and sautéing vegetables for the soup.

The secret to making this soup delicious is to make your chickpeas from scratch. Make your chickpeas in advance, as it takes a good 8-10 hours to rehydrate the dried chickpeas (I usually do this step overnight), and some more time to cook them. I use a pressure-cooker to make my chickpeas, but they can be made in a regular pot (it just takes longer). I recommend making a big batch of chickpeas and freezing some away in quart-sized freezer bags that you can use later on to make hummus or another batch of soup. Here is my recipe for Homemade Chickpeas.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Chickpea Soup with Pasta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 recipe Homemade Chickpeas or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into rounds or half moons
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into half or quarter moons
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 organic bay leaf
  • ½ cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (such as farfalle, fusilli, twists, wheels, or shells)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (optional)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Follow instructions for making Homemade Chickpeas. Set chickpeas aside. Do not drain, as the chickpea cooking liquid will be used in the soup. If using canned chickpeas you will need to drain the liquid from the can.
  2. In 3- to 5-quart soup pot, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt for about 10 minutes over medium or medium-low heat. Add rosemary and stir to coat onions. Add another tablespoon olive oil, celery, carrot, and another pinch sea salt and sauté about 10 minutes more. Adjust heat if necessary to prevent burning. Add zucchini and sauté a minute more.
  3. Place chickpeas and chickpea cooking liquid into soup pot and add stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer until zucchini is soft, about 8 minutes. Add half of fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve pasta in soup bowls and pour chickpea soup over the pasta.
  5. Garnish each bowl with remaining fresh herbs and/or grated cheese (if using).
Notes:
  1. Make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free variety of pasta.
  2. If using canned chickpeas, add 3 cloves minced garlic along with carrots and celery.

By noon our cooking crew was ready to serve their homemade soup, pasta, and bread to the class.

Enjoy making soup on a cold winter day and share with some friends!

Winter Greens Salad with Golden Beets, Pomegranate, Pecans, and Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

This special winter greens salad has been my go-to salad for holiday gatherings this year. It’s the perfect thing to make with winter greens that are plentiful this time of year. Bring this salad to a potluck, or serve it at your home with a nice soup and main dish on a cold winter’s evening. Below are a couple of meals I have served the salad with this holiday season.

Roasted salmon, asparagus, basmati rice, and winter greens salad (holiday meals with friends):

salmon-dinner

Beef tenderloin, roasted vegetables, and winter greens salad (Christmas Eve supper):

plate

Give yourself time to prepare this salad. It is a labor of love! You’ll be preparing the greens, various toppings and garnishes, and a warm dressing that gets tossed with the greens. Better to enlist some help to make it fun and less time consuming!

When you get home from the market, you can refresh your greens by trimming about 1-2 inches off the ends and putting them into cold water for about an hour before you start the recipe. This will make them perk up and the stems will be extra crisp and crunchy.

Getting ready to put the beets in the oven…

winter-salad-1

The greens become slightly wilted, but should still be bright and fresh. Beets, greens stems, pecans, and pomegranates are layered on top of the dressed greens. So beautiful!

winter-salad-3

5.0 from 1 reviews
Winter Greens Salad with Golden Beets, Pomegranate, Pecans, and Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
Roasted beets
  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 red beet
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Toasted pecans
  • ½ cup raw whole pecans
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • a few pinches sea salt
Salad greens
  • 1 bunch red or rainbow swiss chard
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
Warm dressing
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice (about ½ orange)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon unpasteurized tamari or shoyu
Garnishes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds (or dried cranberries)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line sheet pan with parchment paper (or grease pan with thin coating of oil).
  2. Peel beets and slice into ⅛-inch rounds. Place into medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt.Place beet rounds onto lined sheet pan in a single layer. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Beets can be turned over once to cook more evenly. Remove beets from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Turn oven down to 350°F. Toast pecans on small sheet pan for about 8 minutes. Toss halfway through to prevent burning. Place toasted pecans in a small bowl and drizzle with maple syrup and sea salt.
  4. Destem swiss chard, reserving stems. Tear leaves into bite sized pieces and place into bowl.
  5. Destem kale and slice leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Gently massage kale leaves with a few pinches of salt for about one minute. Slice chard stems into ½-inch lengths and kale stems into ¼-inch lengths and set a aside.
  6. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and immediately add chard and kale stems with a pinch of salt. Sauté briefly, just until brightly colored. Remove to a small bowl.
  7. Add ¼ cup olive oil to pan and heat on medium until shimmery (this will probably only take a few seconds). Add red onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté until onion is soft and slightly browning. Turn heat to low and add balsamic vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, and tamari or shoyu.
  8. Turn heat off and add kale and chard greens to the pan, tossing constantly to coat with the warm dressing. When all leaves are evenly coated, remove greens to a platter. Top with roasted beets, chard and kale stems, toasted pecans, orange zest, and pomegranate seeds.

This version was made with toasted pepitas and rainbow chard (no beets).

winter-salad