Recipe: Salad Dinner or Dinner Salad

I love salads. I don’t mean that I love them more than lasagna or German Chocolate cake, but being the in the profession I am in, I can’t eat as much lasagna and cake as I would like (every day). So over the years I have searched and found and reinvented simple salad recipes that I love almost as much as pasta and sugar. I make them when people come over for dinner and they are always a big hit, even with the meat and potatoes crowd (there are still some of those in L.A.). A couple of days ago I made them for my husband’s birthday dinner. So I took or few pictures (or Bill did) and thought I would share them all with you.

If I need a little protein or added heft to any of the salads below, I make a batch of quinoa, keep it in the fridge and just add it on top. This makes me sound so healthy, I kind of want to slap myself, but just so we have full disclosure, I then eat ice cream with my husband after the kids go down. Or if I am really mad, I sneak outside and smoke a cigarette.

Avocado and Cherry Tomato Salad

This couldn’t be simpler, but it tastes luxurious and rich. It is great alone or as a topping to other salads.

Box of Cherry tomatoes
2 ripe Avocados
2 ounces of Feta Cheese
Pine Nuts (sometimes use toasted walnuts)

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet until they are pretty brown and set aside to cool. No need to put any oil in the pan, the nuts never sticks. Then chop tomatoes in halves or quarters. Cut up avocados in medium chunks –but big enough that they are not in danger of mushing when you stir all the ingredients together. Add the toasted pine nuts and sprinkle with feta (I always add more feta). Then add a light sprinkling of kosher salt. You can eat as is, or add a dressing of your choice.


Black Bean and Arugula Salad
Even toddlers like this salad and the secret is the dressing, which is so good you kind of want to eat it with a spoon. I found this recipe on the cooking blog: 101 Cookbooks. I made a few alterations to their recipe, as I am sure you will to mine, but have always found it delicious.

Lime Dressing:
I always double this recipe, because everyone loves it and we keep it for a few days, adding it to everything. But I have learned, the hard way, that altering the ratios even a little, really messes with the perfection. So, in a blender add:
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt (do this to taste –maybe less, maybe more)
1 small garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salad Ingredients:
2-3 big handfuls baby arugula (or other salad greens), well washed and dried (I chop this up a little bit, for easy eating)
3 cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
(1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted)

Just before you are ready to serve the salad, gently toss the arugula with a bit of the dressing. Arrange it on a platter. Now toss the beans and most of the almonds with a generous splash of the dressing. Arrange the beans on top of the arugula and finish by sprinkling with the remaining almonds and the crumbled feta cheese.


Hearts of Romaine Salad
I found this on and left out the bacon and a few other ingredients. It couldn’t be easier and is surprisingly satisfying. Again, the dressing is key with this salad.

1/3 a cup of olive oil
3 tbsps. of white wine vinegar
¼ cup of grated Pecorino (or some kind of parmesan) cheese (add more or less based on your tastes).
Mix it up with a fork pretty well, but do not put in blender.

Salad Ingredients:
Two bunches of hearts of Romaine (or one bunch if there are not many people)
2-3 hardboiled eggs
Chop up the lettuce, chop up the eggs, and toss them both together in a bowl. My youngest daughter loves this recipe but only with egg whites – which is a good low calorie version as well.
Toss in the dressing until pretty well coated. Add a sprinkling of cheese on top, and that’s it.


Daniel’s Kale Salad
I have been looking for a kale salad recipe that doesn’t taste like you are eating medicine or really thick paper. My friend Daniel, who seems to make everything taste good, came up with this and I pass it on to you. I made this the first couple times and it wasn’t good. Then I realized that there are different types of Kale, you need Curley Kale and not Dino Kale. Also, you have to chop the Kale into bite size pieces.

A bunch of Good Kale
1 Fuji apple ( if you love apples add another)
½ cup of Goat cheese ( or more, I like a lot)
½ cup of Toasted Walnuts.

Toast the walnuts, just like the pine nuts, in a frying pan until they are really brown, I even like them a little burnt. Then set aside to cool. Peel the apple and cut into bite size chunks. Add apple to the cut up Kale, add walnuts, then crumble the goat cheese on top and toss gently. Then drizzle olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of kosher salt.