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
 
Prep time
Total time
 
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

7 Healthy Holiday Recipes (GF, dairy-free)

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

I wanted to share some of my favorite healthy holiday recipes with you. My definition of a great recipe is one that is simple (not too many ingredients), wholesome (fresh, whole foods), and hearty (nutrient dense, nourishing), and one that you feel good about feeding to your whole family.

In the fall, we are blessed with an abundance of wonderful ingredients– a true harvest time. Fresh rosemary and thyme, fragrant apples, juicy pomegranate seeds, sweet winter squashes, brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens are just some of my fall favorites! With Halloween and the World Series behind us, it’s time to start planning some holiday get togethers and make some delicious, homemade food that nourishes the body and soul.

Here are 7 of my favorite holiday recipes that I gathered together for you to try. If something isn’t available in your part of the world, feel free to substitute another ingredient. Please share your cooking adventures in the comments section of each recipe or at the end of this post. I look forward to hearing from you!

Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing is amazing to bring to a potluck or include in a festive holiday menu:

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

Creamy Corn Soup with Dulse is comforting, soothing, and super sweet. Pan-fried dulse is crispy and savory garnish to compliment the sweet soup. This soup satisfies the sweet tooth without eating any refined sugar!

photo of creamy corn soup

Wild-Caught Salmon with Fresh Rosemary is a great alternative to turkey, or can be prepared the day after Thanksgiving to go with all of the leftover side dishes!

photo of wild caught maple roasted salmon, green beans, and rice

Maple-Roasted Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a hit with adults and children alike!

Photo of Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn is a great gluten-free side dish instead of stuffing! Leftovers can be heated up for breakfast (like old-fashioned grits) after your holiday meal.

photo of creamy corn polenta

This zesty Cranberry Sauce wth Orange and Ginger is so much better than canned varieties and you can use leftover sauce for a cranberry-apple pie or to add to turkey sandwiches!

photo of cranberry sauce with orange slice

For a sweet treat that is easy to make ahead, try these dairy-free Chocolate-Coco Truffles:

photo of chocolate coco truffles

Enjoy these recipes and others found in the recipes section of my blog. You can type in a search word (like salad, soup, or avocado) and recipes on my site containing those keywords will come up.

Interested in learning how to cook and meeting others that love healthy food? I teach group classes in Austin, Texas (see schedule) as well as private classes, workshops, and dinner parties (contact me below for more information). If you have a group of friends that you’d like to host at your home for a cooking class or dinner party, I’d love to help you with that.

images for healthy holiday recipes

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

Mmmm… fresh figs! Late summer and early fall is the height of fig season. Right now in Austin, the grocery stores have been fully stocked with varieties of figs from California that range in color from dark purple to bright green on the outside, to various shades of pink on the inside. They are best when heavy, plump, unblemished, and slightly soft on the outside. Figs that are squishy are probably overripe. Check out this article to learn more about how to choose figs.

Varieties of ripe figs
Varieties of ripe figs. Photo Credit: Photo © Patrizia Savarese/Getty Images

In this recipe, I have chosen to marinate the fennel in citrus, olive oil, and salt before adding it to the salad. This slightly softens the fennel and makes it more flavorful. Fennel bulbs are easy to slice if you first trim the stems and fronds from the bulb, cut into quarters, and then thinly slice each quarter. If the stems are juicy and flavorful, they can also be thinly sliced and added to the marinade.

FennelTrim fennel root and stems. Cut in half.

fennel- quarteredCut each half in half.

Fennel-4Slice off the hard core from each fennel quarter. Slice thinly.

I recommend using a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar that is less acidic and slightly sweet. I used the Central Market brand Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Italy for this recipe. It costs about $16 and can be bought online or in the Austin Central Market stores.

balsamic vinegar

I used a tangerine-infused olive oil from Vom Faas specialty store. You can sub a good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can’t find this ingredient.

Be creative and try substituting ingredients that are seasonal in your area. For example, as winter approaches, pomegranates will be in season and can be used instead of figs. Mango can be used in place of oranges, celery for fennel, and toasted pecans for almonds.

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 small or ½ large fresh fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 cups mixed field greens with baby arugula
  • up to 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • up to 2 tablespoons citrus-infused olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 fresh figs, sliced in quarters
  • 1 small avocado, cut into chunks
  • slices of 1 orange or 2 clementines
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds (toasted and salted)
  • black pepper, freshly ground (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together fennel, orange juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Allow fennel to marinate for at least 20 minutes. This step can also be done up to one day ahead, storing the fennel mixture covered in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad.
  2. Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Spread evenly onto large platter or into large salad bowl.
  3. Drizzle greens with balsamic vinegar and citrus-infused olive oil. Top greens with marinated fennel, figs, avocado, orange or clementine slices, and Marcona almonds.
  4. Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
Variation
  1. Use mango chunks in place of orange slices.

Salad at Sami & Lorraines (3)

Bon appetit!

Winter salad with dried figs, pomegranate, avocado, and pecans

The inspiration for this salad came from the earth’s bounty in December in the South. The contrasting colors, flavors, and textures from the fruits, nuts, and greens make an irresistible combination. You will need to get the seeds out of a pomegranate for this recipe. My favorite, least technical, and least messy way to do this involves cutting the pomegranate in half, submerging the halves in a bowl of water, and gently opening each half and removing seeds under the water (see method 3 in wikiHow article: http://www.wikihow.com/Open-a-Pomegranate). It is well worth the effort. The extra seeds keep well for later, refrigerated in a glass container. The kumquats are optional in this recipe, but are a fun ingredient to use when they come into season in the wintertime. The entire fruit is edible, and in fact the peel is sweet and the inside is sour (the opposite of an orange). Look for kumquats that are firm, as they should be juicier.

Winter salad with dried figs, pomegranate, avocado, and pecans
 
Prep time
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This salad is perfect for holiday gatherings or any meal that needs a colorful side dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 4 cups mixed field greens or baby arugula
  • 4 dried figs, soaked in warm water
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small avocado, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 2 kumquats, thinly sliced (optional)
Maple Balsamic Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange or tangerine juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 small clove fresh garlic, minced (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
Salad
  1. Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Place on large platter or into large salad bowl. Drain figs and slice thinly, removing any tough stems. Decorate greens with fig slices, pomegranate seeds, avocado chunks, and toasted pecan halves. Garnish with kumquat slices, if desired.
Dressing
  1. Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Gradually whisk in olive oil, one drop at a time, until well incorporated.