Category Archives: Salad

Lentil, Sweet potato and Apple salad

This recipe came together as a result of trying to use up some pantry ingredients.  I remembered a lentil and apple salad that I had made before, and it seemed like adding some roasted sweet potato would be a good addition.  I wasn’t disappointed.

As soon as I made it, I was kicking myself for not having written down the measurements as I went along – I knew I’d want to make it again. So I immediately went up to the computer to type up what I could remember. This is the result of that effort, and I hope that it’s at least close (dressing may need a little tweaking to your taste).

lentil apple salad

Lentil, Sweet potato and Apple salad

1 large sweet potato

Peel and cube sweet potato. Drizzle generously with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar and toss well. Spread out into one layer on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown. Sprinkle with a little salt.

8 oz. dried lentils

Rinse lentils. Add 2 cups of water and about ½ tsp. salt. Bring to a boil in a medium pot, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain well.

2 small apples (I used Gala), diced

¼ c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
3 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. rice vinegar
2-3 tsp. Dijon mustard, to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients, taste and adjust.  Add lentils and mix, then add apples and sweet potatoes. Toss to cover all with the dressing, and serve.


Pine Nut Salad Dressing

Pine nuts are apparently a common ingredient in Korean cooking, who knew? Just a quick salad dressing recipe today. Homemade vinaigrette salad dressings are so much more delicious than store-bought ones, and this recipe has no oil or fat added – other than the fat in the pine nuts – so it’s also very healthy.


Pine Nut Mustard Dressing
1/2 c. pine nuts
6 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. honey
1  1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. water

Blend all ingredients together. Toss with your desired salad ingredients. I kept it simple with red pepper, celery and mixed greens.


I made a healthy and delicious meal with this salad and the Braised Tofu from my last post.


Recipe adapted from: The Korean Table, by Chung and Samuels

Veggie Salad with hardboiled egg and viniagrette

This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. The great thing about this recipe IS it’s adaptability – you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have available, toss it with the viniagrette dressing and some hardboiled eggs – and you have this salad, from the Murcia region of Spain. The recipe itself called for leeks, potatoes, artichoke, asparagus and tomatoes. I don’t like asparagus so I substituted green beans, and decided to also add more variety and color by also adding red pepper, zucchini and cauliflower.

Veggie Salad
1/2 head cauliflower, split into flowerets
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 large leek, sliced thickly
1/2 lb. green beans
8 oz. frozen artichoke hearts
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 eggs
1 c. olive oil
5 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt. Blanch the cauliflower, green beans, potato, leek, zucchini, and artichoke hearts until just tender, maybe still a bit crunchy. Then remove each from the water and put in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Leave the red pepper and tomato uncooked.

Toss all the veggies together with the eggs. Make a dressing of the olive oil, vinegar (or substitute lemon juice for a slightly different flavor), parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss all veggies with the dressing and serve immediately or preferably within 2 or 3 hours. Any longer and the salad starts to get discolored (especially the green beans and parsley).

I’m guessing this would also be really good with a bit of feta cheese crumbled in there, and the recipe also recommends adding capers or olives.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Raleigh old-timers (at least those who have been here the past 10-15 years) may remember the Rathskeller restaurant on Hillsborough St. I was recently reminded of the delicious lemon-tahini dressing from that restaurant, and mentioned it to some of my friends. My friend Deniz (she’s Turkish) described to me how she makes a similar dressing, so I decided to give it a try. Here’s an approximate recipe I ended up with below. Other recipes I found online have various ratios of lemon juice to tahini, most  with equal amounts or slightly more lemon juice than tahini. I personally like this ratio with more tahini, though it makes for a pretty thick dressing. Then again, I’ve always been partial to the flavor of sesame – so feel free to play around and find your favorite ratio.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper
water to desired consistency, 1/2 c. or more

Whisk together everything except water, then gradually add water while whisking.  The water not only helps to thin out the dressing to a reasonable drizzling consistency, but it also tones down the tart of the lemon and slightly bitter flavor of the tahini. Serve with a salad or as a vegetable dip.

Bulgarians are taking over the world

Coincidentally over the past month, we’ve had two Bulgarian women join our staff of ~80 at the Center where I work. When I mentioned that to another friend, they wisely said “ahhh… the Bulgarians are taking over the world!” :) Of course, one of my first questions for them both was – “do you like to cook?”  Thankfully Anna said yes, and invited both me and Boriana over to her house to cook a traditional Bulgarian meal together!  I should probably stop inviting myself over to people’s houses like that :)

Anna and Boriana met together before our cooking session to choose the best recipes that would be representative of their culture. Both women grew up in Bulgaria, and Anna has a book full of handwritten family recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother.  Boriana is still learning to cook, but was happy to join us and helped me translate the recipes as Anna was cooking. They decided that we would make Tarator (a chilled yogurt cucumber soup), Shopska Salad, and Mousaka.  Since there are three recipes to share, I’ll start with the soup and salad in this post and address the more complicated Mousaka recipe in a Part II post later this week. Both of the recipes below serve about 6 people.

1 English cucumber, peeled
4 garlic cloves, minced with a garlic press
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
3 c. plain yogurt
1 1/2 c. ice-cold water
Good quality olive oil

There are two traditional ways to prepare the cucumber for this dish, either coarsely grated or diced very small. The small dice is the method preferred by both Anna and Boriana, so that’s what we did. The cucumber, garlic, dill, walnuts and salt were placed in a bowl.

Add 3 c. yogurt and mix well. Gradually mix in about 1 1/2 cups ice-cold water, or more or less to your desired consistency for the soup. Taste and add more salt if needed. Drizzle with olive oil and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Note: in the summer, the dish is sometimes served with ice cubes in it to keep it very cold!

Shopska Salad
3 green bell peppers
2 English cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
6 medium tomatoes, large dice
1 bunch green onions, both white and green parts thinly sliced
1/2 bunch parsley, finely minced (about 1 c.)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
Bulgarian feta (made with sheep’s milk)

Before preparing the salad, roast and peel the green peppers. If you haven’t done this before, in-depth directions for roasting peppers are provided here on Dice the roasted peppers and place in a large bowl. Add remaining chopped vegetables, salt, olive oil and vinegar. Toss well to mix the salad.

Taste and adjust olive oil, salt and vinegar to taste (we were kind of guessing on amounts while Anna prepared the salad to her usual tastes).  Plate the salad onto 6 plates. Finely grate Bulgarian feta cheese generously over the top of each salad. Grating the cheese adds a smoothness to the salad that you don’t usually get with crumbled feta. Bulgarian feta is also made from sheep’s milk, so it has a different flavor than the typical cow’s milk Greek feta available in most U.S. grocery stores.

We started our delicious Bulgarian meal with these two cold dishes while we waited for the mousaka to finish baking. I’ll share the mousaka recipe in my next blog post. I also borrowed an English language Bulgarian cookbook from Anna (there aren’t many of those), so maybe there will be additional Bulgarian recipes to share with you in the future!

White Bean Salad

I recently shared a pistachio pesto recipe from “Chocolate and Zucchini” – here’s another pesto dish from that cookbook.  This pesto is not your typical basil and pine nut combo, but definitely worth trying – a warm white bean salad with arugula and walnut pesto.

The original recipe calls for cooking dried white beans. I don’t have a lot of patience for cooking dry beans, and somehow they rarely end up as soft as the canned variety. In this dish, firmer beans would probably be ok – but for ease, I started instead with 2 cans of cannellini (white kidney) beans. I served the beans over a bed of fresh arugula tossed lightly with my favorite citrus viniagrette dressing. Delicious!

Warm Bean Salad with Arugula and Walnut Pesto
1/3 c. toasted walnuts
2 loosely-packed cups arugula leaves (about 2 oz.)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. good quality olive oil
1 shallot
2 cans white beans (I prefer cannellini)

In a food processor, blend together walnuts, arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, shallot and 1/2 tsp. salt to form the pesto.

Warm the beans in the microwave or a saucepan. Drain the liquid from the beans. Toss warm beans in pesto, taste for salt (adjusting if necessary), and serve.

Adapted from: Chocolate and Zucchini, by Cloitilde Dusoulier

Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad

So now that I’m flitting around the world in my cooking (rather than focusing on one country per month), one thing I want to do is try out some recipes and cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years but never actually made. After spending the morning gleaning sweet potatoes on Saturday, this sweet potato salad seemed like a really good idea – and I wasn’t disappointed!

Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are mixed with corn, cucumber and onion, tossed with a mustard vinaigrette and garnished with cilantro and peanuts. The tart viniagrette does a nice job of balancing the sweetness of the potatoes and corn, and there’s a nice level of crunch from the cucumber and peanuts.  It may not really be ‘Caribbean’, but it’s delicious and highly recommended.

Looking at the formatting of the recipe in my notebook, I realized that I originally copied it from  So rather than typing it all out again – here it is – Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad   The only change that I made was to increase the amount of vinaigrette a little bit, since I started with a really large sweet potato.