Whenever Anita and I go antiquing we like to pack a light lunch for the trip. Taking our lunch instead of eating out means that way we maximize our antiquing time. But just because lunch is hauled in a cooler doesn’t mean that it’s going to be boring. I made a few fantastic Italian cold-cut wraps and this absolutely delicious creamy pasta salad for our last trip. We both could’ve eaten the salad all afternoon long, but that would’ve meant little time for looking for antiques! Perfectly creamy, with a little crunch from the onion, peas and pickles. Oh, and cheese.
For a great twist on this creamy pasta salad substitute chopped green or black olives for the diced pickles. Another great change is to use smoked cheddar cheese instead of extra sharp cheddar.
This salad is even better (I wouldn’t have thought it could be any better!) the next day.
Creamy Pasta Salad
Servings 10 servings
- 2 cups dried elbow macaroni
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 7 ounce block of extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced
- 1/2 cup sweet pickles diced
- 1/2 cup sweet onion diced
- 1 4 ounce jar pimentos, drained
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta per package instructions. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to cool.
Add the peas, cheese, pickles, onion and pimento and fold to combine.
In a separate bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, cream, mustard and sugar. Fold into the pasta mixture.
Season with salt and pepper and serve.
I love when avocados are in season here. They’re perfect on a salad, be it sliced, chopped or in the dressing itself. This avocado Ranch dressing is quite easy to make. It packs a nice subtle avocado flavor, with the wonderful creamy herb flavor of Ranch. I like my dressing pretty thick, so that’s how I made it. But if you prefer yours a little thinner, just add some more milk.
Avocado Ranch dressing isn’t just for salads either. It’s perfect as a dip, or use it as a substitute for sour cream on tacos or nachos.
For a little more kick, try my jalapeno ranch dressing.
Avocado Ranch Dressing
Servings 4 cups
- 2 ripe avocados halved, seed removed
- 1 cup Ranch dressing
- 1/2 cup milk plus more, if needed
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons or more hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt to taste
Scoop out the avocado and place into a blender or food processor.
Add remaining ingredients except salt and process until smooth.
Taste, add salt as needed, and pulse a few more times to mix.
Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Note: If the dressing gets too thick, stir in a bit more milk before serving.
This oriental chicken salad is by far our favorite meal-sized salad. I can never eat just one little ole serving. It’s addictingly good. The dressing is just the right combination of acid and sweet. Instead of croutons there are crunchy yummy tried Ramen noodles. They make for the perfect topping over the just-as-crunchy cabbage.
I love the dressing for this oriental chicken salad so much that I always double the recipe for it. The Ramen noodles stay crunchy in the dressing so you don’t get down to the bottom of the plate only to discover sad, soggy ‘croutons’. Don’t be afraid to double the amount of Ramen either.
Also try my southern fried chicken salad.
Oriental Chicken Salad
Note: The dressing is crazy good. Double the amount and you won't be sorry.
Servings 4 servings
For the salad
- 2 packages Top Ramen noodles spice mix discarded
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cups cooked chicken chopped
- 1 head green cabbage shredded
- 1 bunch green onion chopped
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
For the dressing
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Crunch the noodles into the skillet and brown, 2-3 minutes.
Add the almonds and cook another minute. Remove from heat.
Place the remaining salad ingredients into a large bowl.
Add the Ramen noodles and toss.
Drizzle with the dressing, toss, and serve.
A spiral slicer is a great fun toy, specially when it comes to radishes. I’ve made another radish salad, which I really love. I thought I’d try something different with the big bag of radishes I picked up at the farmer’s market last weekend and make a spiralized radish salad. Oregano is really what makes this salad fantastic. I used dry, but if you have fresh, substitute 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano for the dried.
This salad holds up well in the fridge so you can easily make it the night before you need to serve it. Just toss it a bit before serving so that the dressing covers the radishes.
Spiralized Radish Salad Version 2.0
Servings 6 -8 servings
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 15-20 large radishes
In a large bowl, whisk together all but the radishes.
Rinse the radishes.
Cut the ends off and make a cut 1/2 way thru the radish, length-wise.
Insert the radish in tho the slicer.with the largest end toward the blades.
Slice the radishes and then add to the vinaigrette.
Toss to coat.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Toss lightly before serving.
This is it. My absolute favorite black-eyed pea salad. I could eat it all day. I could slurp up the dressing with a straw. And I could dream about it. And I have. It has everything I love in every (big) bite. A bit of heat. Hints of mustard and vinegar. Crunchy fresh vegetables. There’s nothing boring about this black-eyed pea salad.
As with all great pea or bean salads, this one gets even better the next day. And the day after that. So make a double batch because you’ll want to have this salad on hand as long as you possibly can.
If you weren’t raised on black-eyed peas or love them as much as I do, you could substitute kidney beans instead and you’ll be just as happy as I was using black-eyed peas.
Also try my broccoli cauliflower salad.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Servings 4 servings
For the salad
- 1 10 ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained
- 1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 1 medium jalapeno seeded, minced
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
Place all ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the dressing ingredients. Toss to coat.
Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Toss again before serving.
Sometimes you just come across a recipe that really hits you as something you absolutely must make immediately. This Churchill Downs butterbean and radish salad was just that for me. I had to make it immediately. But I had to change it up a bit and spiralize the radishes because, well, I love spiral radishes. A little crunch and a hint of citrus and you have a great tasty salad.
This spiralized Churchill Downs butterbean (er, lima bean) and radish salad also travels really well. It’s the perfect salad for a pitch-in, and it’s something different. I bet you haven’t seen too many butterbean salads. Well, I haven’t. Maybe it’s the pitch-ins I go to….
Try my spiralized potato salad with green goddess dressing and my easy spiral zucchini salad too!
Spiralized Churchill Downs Butterbean and Radish Salad
Servings 8 -12 servings
- 1 pound frozen lima beans
- 1/2 pound radish sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 - 2 teaspoons cumin I used a 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Add the beans and blanch for 3 minutes.
Transfer beans to an ice bath and let cool for 5 minutes. Drain well.
In a large mixing bowl mix the beans and radishes.
Add oil, lemon juice and cumin.
Combine until well mixed.
Add parsley and cilantro.
Season with salt and pepper.
Farm-fresh vegetables and fruits scream Cobb salad to me. Add a few smoked shrimp and a great (spicy!) creamy dressing and I’m a happy guy. Any toppings will do, and the more variety, the better.
The spicy shrimp and cool, but still spicy dressing really go well with the coolness of the vegetables and the pop of the cherry tomatoes. There’s no point in having a boring salad.
I think artichoke hearts (and hearts of palm for that matter) should be a required ingredient in every Cobb salad. And shrimp. The shrimp don’t have to be smoked, of course, but that smoky flavor really changes up a salad.
My favorite salads when I eat out are the Buffalo chicken salad at Max and Erma’s and the tossed Cobb at The Ram, topped with Buffalo chicken. Yes, I like spicy salads.
Also try my grilled shrimp Cobb salad.
Smoked Shrimp Cobb Salad
Your favorite Cobb salad ingredients, I used
- Green leaf lettuce
- Chilled canned small artichoke hearts drained, chopped
- Cherry tomatoes
- Chopped radishes
- Boiled eggs halved
- Diced avocado
I set out to make a great side salad for last night’s dinner. Nothing too complicated, though. A mix of greens, of course. Topped with sliced roasted beets (a favorite in our house!). Next, I needed croutons. Oh, but not the ‘usual’ croutons. Not dried crunchy bread croutons. Nope. Cheese croutons. Glorious fried goat cheese croutons, to be exact! Oh, what wonderful little bites these are. Decadent. Delicious. Dangerous.
I wouldn’t make these croutons every day, but I could. They’re very tempting. The only way I kept from eating more of them was to convince myself that by being ‘good’ I could have them again tomorrow.
Also try my copycat of Ruby Tuesday’s croutons, my favorite thing on their salad bar.
Fried Goat Cheese Croutons
Servings 12 -16 croutons
- 3 4 ounce goat cheese logs
- Oil for frying
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
To make them a bit easier to slice, place the goat cheese logs into the freezer for 30 minutes. Then slice into 1/2" thick slices.
Heat 1" of oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 375 F.
Place flour in a small bowl.
Place beaten eggs into another small bowl.
Place breadcrumbs in another small bowl.
Working in batches, dip the cheese slices into the flour.
Shake off the excess then dip them into the eggs.
Finally, roll the cheese in the breadcrumbs.
Add to hot oil and fry 2-3 minutes per side, flipping once.
Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to cool and drain.
It’s not like you have to have a spiralizer to make pretty salads, but it sure does help. And it’s fast and easy. This spiralized radish salad took only minutes to make. It tastes very much like a slaw, with a great radish crunch and a perfect citrus vinaigrette.
This was my first time spiralizing radishes. I was afraid it wasn’t going to work, but they came out perfectly. First, you have to start with big radishes. No wimpy long thin ones. Second, you need to make a shallow cut down each radish. If you don’t you’ll end up with one really long radish spiral that goes on and on and on. Then, just cut off the ends, insert into your spiralizer, and get to turning!
For a slight variation on this salad, try my spiralized radish salad version 2.0.
Spiralized Radish Salad
Servings 4 -6 servings
- 2 tablespoon orange juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pound large radishes spiralized (make a thin slice down the sides of the radishes first so that you don't get one long spiral radish) or sliced thin
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together the orange and lime juices, olive oil and sugar in a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss to coat before serving.
I have to admit, a spiral slicer is a rather fun kitchen gadget to have. You can take just about any recipe you would normally make with pasta and make it low-carb by substituting zoodles (zucchini noodles). You can use the slicer for other things too, but I pretty much use it mostly for zoodles.
These garlic butter zoodles with Brussels sprouts are about as easy to make as you can get, and they taste fantastic. I cook the zucchini noodles to the point where they are soft, but still have some crunch. The butter and garlic add some needed flavor. Zucchini isn’t exactly packed with flavor… it’s good, but butter and garlic make it fantastic. And nothing beats crunchy Brussels sprouts. I love them. Topped with a bit of cheese and toasted sesame seeds, this makes for a great side dish.
You can get pretty creative with this dish just by swapping a few ingredients. Use toasted pine nuts or even peanuts instead of sesame seeds. Leave off the Parmesan cheese and add French-fried jalapenos for a kicked up dish, or just add a few (big) pinches of dried red pepper flake to the zucchini when you are cooking them.
Or just add cooked crumbled bacon. Now we’re talking good!
Also try my sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts.
Garlic Butter Zoodles with Brussels Sprouts
Servings 2 -4 servings
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts tough parts of stems removed
- 3 small zucchini cut into noodles using a spiral slicer
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sesame seeds toasted (optional)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the sprouts and boil for 4-5 minutes or until just starting to soften.
Drain and rinse under cool water.
Cut sprouts in half along the stem.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet.
Add the zucchini noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Let noodles rest for 3 minutes to release any liquid, then drain. Remove noodles to plate.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and melt.
Add the garlic and sprouts and saute for 5 minutes.
Add remaining butter and melt.
Add the zucchini noodles back to the pan, stir and warm through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve garnished with toasted sesame seeds and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.