Posts in Salads
Caprese Pesto Salad
Fresh and Balanced Kat Marris

I love any recipe that can act as a two for one! This recipe fits that requirement in the most delicious way possible!

This recipe is both the perfect cookout or pitch in side dish AND a lovely meal prep lunch! WINNER!!!

Make the recipe as is and bring to your next cookout or BBQ for a show stopping side dish. Then save some leftover grilled chicken, ribs or whatever you have on hand and add it to the salad for a delicious lunch to take to work!!

The salty olives, mellow mozzarella and tangy tomatoes all work together so well on a bed of crisp zucchini noodles. The final addition of bright and herby pesto really takes it over the edge!

Have fun with the olives as well! I kept it simple with Kalamata, but feel free to go crazy at the olive bar and add green, black, stuffed or any other olive that catches your eye!!!

ENJOY!

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Caprese Pesto Salad

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup pitted kalamata olives

2 cups mozzarella pearls

3 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

3 tablespoons homemade or store bought pesto

1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

5-6 medium zucchini, spiralized

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, gently stir together olives, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto. Add in zucchini noodles and gently toss to combine. Top with chopped basil.

Pasta Review and Kale Caesar Pasta Salad Recipe
Kale Caesar Pasta Salad

Sometimes you get that craving for a comfort food meal of pasta. Pasta anything! And zoodles just won’t cut it! So how can you have your pasta and keep to your healthy eating journey? Thankfully, in the market today there are options in the pasta aisle for almost any need. Here are some tips on how to pick the best one for you, a review of three I tried and a Ceasar Kale Pasta Salad Recipe!

First tip is to read the ingredients list. Look for things that you are trying to avoid. The pasta may be packed with protein, but it may also has whole wheat flour. If you are wanting protein and gluten-free, this would not be the best choice for you.

Second tip goes along with the first. As you peruse the ingredients, look for a brand who uses simple and few ingredients. And ones that you know what they are and can pronounce! Xanthium gum and tapioca are included in some pastas to help them stay in their shape and add texture, so even though you may not have experienced these ingredients before, they are widely used in gluten-free products.

Finally, don’t overcook your noodles. Especially the gluten-free ones. Follow your pasta instructions and check the noodles by tasting them to be sure they are tender but still firm.

Here are the three pastas I am reviewing for you!

  • Modern Table Lentil Rotini had a simple ingredients list, plant-based protein and gluten-free. Cooked well, like a normal pasta in 8 minutes. Con? It has a little bitter after taste and the pasta was a little chewy. I think the taste comes from the plant-based protein. I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

 

  • Next the Barilla Protein Plus Angel Hair is a regular pasta that is infused with 17 grams of protein (the lowest amount of all the ones I tried.) It cooked in about 6 minutes, has a more complicated ingredients list with wheat, eggs and some unidentified pea protein. However, it looks and tastes like regular pasta, very tasty. Add some veggies to up the fiber with this one. It’s a direct swap for regular pasta, but infused with protein.  Four stars of 5.

 

  • Finally, a gluten-free chickpea-based Banza Cavatappi pasta. It has 25 grams of plant-based protein and a good amount of fiber. It has a simple ingredient list and vegan friendly. When cooking, it has quite a lot of foam and will boil over quickly if you don’t watch it closely! Be sure to rinse this pasta after cooking and before eating. Great as a main dish pasta. They had many different styles. There isn’t the bitterness of the Lentil pasta, but the texture was just a little chewy on its own.  I would give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

 

Bottom line is to know what goals you are working to meet and look for a pasta that will help you achieve them!

 

Below is a recipe for a kale Caesar pasta salad you can use with any of these pastas!! Enjoy!!

Kale Caesar Pasta Salad

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Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
Makes 6 servings
Ingredients
1 pound Banza Cavatappi
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Bolthouse Farms Caesar dressing
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes, garlic, oregano, kale and olive oil on a large sheet tray. Roast for 10-12 minutes until tomato skins burst. Cook pasta according to package directions and place in a large bowl. Add roasted tomato mixture, dressing and cheese to bowl with pasta. Toss and refrigerate for 30 minutes before eating.

 

Chinese Chicken Salad
Chinese Chicken Salad-Fresh and Balanced

When I was a kid, I had a salad that I ordered at Applebee's every time my family went. I felt very grown up and sophisticated ordering from the adult menu, no chicken nuggets for me! I always stated my order proudly and couldn't wait to dive into a bowl of what I thought was a very exotic and adventurous Chinese chicken salad. 

I loved everything about that salad! It was crunchy, bright and a balance of sweet and salty that I couldn't get enough of! When the summer temperatures start to climb, I always get a craving for this cool and crunchy salad. 

Sadly, as an adult I learned that the salad I used to order had as many calories as a cheeseburger. So I set out to create a salad that would take care of my craving, but stay on the light side!

The real secret to this salad is to make your own dressing. A bottled dressing works in a pinch, but take an extra minute to whip out this sweet, salty, spicy and savory dressing! 

Enjoy!

Chinese Chicken Salad-Fresh and Balanced

Chinese Chicken Salad

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (caramel brown in color)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

 

For the Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 chicken breasts cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 can (15 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds 
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Instructions

Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Dressing will save in the fridge for 5 days. 

In a large bowl, toss all salad ingredients except lime wedges together. Evenly distribute salad between six plates and drizzle with one tablespoon of dressing. Serve each salad with a wedge of lime to be squeezed over salad before eating. 

 

Winter Quinoa and Kale Salad
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Winter always seems to be a bit of a hard time to eat salads. I don't know whether it's the cold temps or the grey skies, but I struggle to eat salads in the winter! I always end up ditching my salad for a hot bowl of soup or a heavy sandwich. However, after a week of vacation where I basically turned into a human vacuum, I was actually craving veggies and salad! So I whipped up this easy, hearty winter salad. 

I enjoyed eating this salad so much that I meal prepped it for two weeks in a row! The wintery squash paired with the filling quinoa tricked my tastebuds into thinking I was not eating a salad. The cranberries and apple add a sweet zing and the walnuts add a slightly bitter taste that prevents the sweet notes from overpowering the salad. I didn't go crazy with the dressing, just a simple drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar does the trick! 

Enjoy! 

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Winter Quinoa and Kale Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 2 cups spiralized butternut squash (save time and buy them spiralized at the grocery) 
  • 8 cups baby kale/arugual mix 
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small pot on your stove, add quinoa, water and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed by the quinoa (about 10 min). Remove from heat and set aside. 

Place spiralized butternut squash on an ungreased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes until noodles are soft. Set aside. 

In four plastic prep containers or plates, evenly divide kale/arugula mix. Top with cooked quinoa, roasted butternut squash, apple, cranberries, nuts and finish with a drizzle of vinegar. Easily saves for 3-4 days in the fridge.