Tag Archives: salad

Caprese Salad – A Summer Classic

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is one of those things I take for granted. I think of this the way some people think of an iceberg salad – simple, fresh and super quick to make. I almost didn’t want to post this, because I figure everyone already makes Caprese salad. This post is for the folks who have never tried this delicious salad, or had it at a restaurant once and thought it must be more complicated than it looks (it isn’t).

The basic recipe contains very few ingredients: tomatoes; bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella; fresh basil and is dressed with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and sometimes (but not always) balsamic vinegar. This is a perfect salad for the summer, and a great break from leafy greens.

Cluster Tomatoes

Wee tomatoes growing in my balcony garden. So darn cute!

The star of the Caprese salad is the tomato. You really need to have the freshest, tastiest tomatoes that have no mealiness to them (so, really, beefsteak tomatoes are kind of out). I like to use Campari tomatoes (like the ones shown below), romas, cherry or grape tomatoes from the local farmers’ market… but my favourite new thing is to use tomatoes out of my own garden. This is the first time I’ve grown tomatoes, and I giggle every time I pick a tomato off of my plant. Nice.

There are many variations on this salad, but this follows the most basic set of steps. One really important thing to remember is that the slices of tomato should be a similar shape and size to that of the cheese. This can result in a salad made up of layered rows of ingredients, or a toss of chopped ingredients. It’s really up to you. I generally like the layered look. I really like the look of big slices of tomato layered with big slices of cheese — but that can be harder to eat, so I usually get the smaller balls of bocconcini to pair with cherry or grape tomatoes.


Campari tomatoes, still on the vine.

Recipe after the jump!

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Indian Chickpea Salad

Indian Chickpea Salad

Today’s salad is inspired by Indian spices and flavour combinations. I’m obsessed with my collection of spices, and I was happy to be able to pull out some of my (recently ignored) Indian spices today.

Possibly the most exciting part for me is the amchoor powder. Amchoor is powdered dried mango, and it has a really neat tart flavour. I have to say that I don’t use this one all that often – it’s not that in many recipes that I come across, and I sometimes forget that I have it. Today was very different – this was the first thing I thought of when I decided to make chickpea salad.

It started with me coming across my stash of dried chickpeas. I decided to try cooking them up again, even though I have never been successful at this task. The price of canned legumes keeps going up so I thought I should give it another go. More on that later. Jump to a couple of days later, nicely cooked chickpeas at hand, and me coming up with ideas for my Indian-inspired chickpea salad. Summer salads should be fun, fresh, zesty, and exciting… ding, ding, ding!! I thought of the sour amchoor powder at the back of my spice drawer.

Mixed with other spices, such as cumin, coriander, tumeric and cayenne, I was able to make a very flavourful dressing that wasn’t heavy or creamy. I opted to add in some fresh veggies and fruits to round it out, including some just perfectly ripe apricots for a little more sweet and sour – I would have used mango, but apricots are in season here, and I thought something fresh and local would be best.

Dried Chickpeas

Dried Chickpeas

About the cooking of the chickpeas… in the past, I have failed miserably at cooking up dried legumes. They often came out mushy or mealy and just plain terrible. That said, buying them dried is much cheaper than buying them canned, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try again.

I started with 2 cups of dried chick peas, soaking them in a LOT of water in the fridge. I read to soak them overnight, but I ended up soaking them for two (only because I didn’t have time to do anything with them right away). I discarded the soaking water each day, and just before cooking. I cooked them in a large pot of boiling water and it only took about 40 minutes (brought to a boil, then simmered). I tested along the way, just to ensure I didn’t overcook them. I should also add that I didn’t add anything to the soaking or cooking water – no salt, flour, baking soda… nothing. They cooked up perfectly. As good as canned, if not better. Two cups of dried chick peas probably yielded 5-6 cups of cooked, and it cost less than a 19oz can of chickpeas, which would only contain about 2.5 cups.

Recipe after the jump!

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Grainy Mustard Potato Salad

Grainy Mustard Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those typical summer things. I love a traditional potato salad, full of cooked egg and mayo, but sometimes you want something a little different. This potato salad contains no mayo, instead using deliciously tart yogurt for the creamy dressing. Like the traditional, this salad gets much flavour from mustard, but this time using grainy mustard for added texture. To top it off, some fresh tarragon (from the garden! woo!) and sour green apples give it a little kick.

When I first made this dish, modified from one we saw on TV many many years ago, I used Kozlik’s “Sweet & Smokey” mustard, purchased from the St. Lawrence Market here in Toronto. I don’t happen to have any on hand this time around (if only I had planned this in advance a little!), so I’ve added a couple of sweet & smoky elements to make up for it. If you are lucky enough to be able to find Kozlik’s mustards, I highly recommend using “Sweet & Smokey” in this recipe.

This dish reminds me of the first time I had the salad that serves as inspiration for this one. It was made for my university graduation, alongside some incredible grilled portabello mushrooms. That version of the salad had mayo, and a few other differences that I can’t recall (it really has been that long…), but it was a great starting point for me to explore alternatives to ye olde potato salad. I’ve been making it ever since.

Recipe after the jump!

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Twice as Nice! BBQ Corn to Summer Corn & Rice Salad

BBQ Corn and Mahi Mahi

When the summer hits, you really want to cook as infrequently as possible. On a hot week like this, I’m grateful for leftovers that I can use in another dish. This post revolves around sweet and juicy grilled corn on the cob, and how to transform the leftover kernels into a fantastic summer salad!

Last night’s dinner was pretty simple and yummy – some corn on the cob and mahi mahi (marinated in piri piri sauce) done up on our wee BBQ. Soo tasty and filling!

After dinner, we had two ears of corn left so I carefully cut the kernels off of the cob and cooked up the rice for my salad. This salad is a mix of sweet, fresh, salty and savoury. You can substitute any of your favourite fresh or grilled veggies, as well as any dressing you like. Keep in mind that the rice will absorb most of the dressing.

Corn & Rice Salad

Try not to overcompensate by drowning the salad in dressing – that will leave your rice gummy and possibly with too strong a taste. The dressing I used is a mild blend of orange juice, very green tasting hemp oil, a wee bit of apple cider vinegar and fresh herbs. It gives a light coating and flavour without covering the smokiness of the grilled corn, the light anise flavour of the fennel,  and the freshness of crisp vegetables.

BBQ Corn & Rice Salad


  • 1 cup mixed rice, cooked (I use a fun blend of brown, red and wild rices)
  • 1-2 cups grilled corn kernels
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh green onion (green part sliced, white part finely minced)
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cucumber, chopped


  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp hemp oil
  • 2 Tbsp Piri Piri sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Combine the rice with the corn, onion, basil, mint and fennel. Toss with olive oil.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Be sure to mix well enough that the garlic powder dissolves completely.
  3. Toss the salad mix with the dressing. This can sit overnight if required.
  4. Slice and mix in the rest of the veggies just before eating.