Tag Archives: salad

Pistachio Apple Salad

DSC_4599You know that feeling when all the stars are aligned and things seem to be coming together?  I’ve been feeling that way recently.  Since my horrible depressive episode a few weeks ago, I have been working hard to get back to a good mental place.  Maybe it’s because that experience shook me so much, but I am willing myself to try and find meaning in as much as possible as I go throughout my day.  I also think having some perspective and cutting myself some slack is key to curbing my anxiety.  I volunteered for City Harvest a couple of weeks ago and was reminded that there are a lot less fortunate people than myself.  I know that for many people, every day is a struggle to simply make ends meet.  Some posit that one of the main reasons people volunteer is for the positive feelings that come as a byproduct of knowing you helped someone.  I believe this to be true, and I don’t think it’s a negative factor by any means.  Human beings need to connect; it’s what keeps us going.
DSC_4588In addition to volunteering, I had my first-ever Reiki treatment last week.  I have been curious about this Japanese practice for many years but just never tried it.  It was yet another experience my depression compelled me to seek out.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  For those of you who have never tried it, I would liken it to a cross between talk therapy and acupuncture.  It focuses on clearing your chakras, or energy pathways, which serve as a connection between the body and consciousness.  When one of our chakras becomes blocked, it can create physical or mental illness.  I had no idea what to expect during the actual session itself.  My Reiki master told me she would be placing her hands along my chakra points while I laid face up on the table.  Well, as soon as I positioned myself on the table and closed my eyes, water immediately began to drain from my eyes and didn’t stop until the session ended.  It was the strangest thing.  I definitely wasn’t crying, and yet I had a distinctive feeling that my body was trying to release something.  I took that as a good sign.
DSC_4594Despite the dreadful stomach virus I contracted over the weekend (I forgot how brutal those can be), my healthier mental state is creating healthier food cravings.  Yesterday I couldn’t stop thinking about avocados.  All day long, images of avocados kept popping into my head.  I’m sure whatever nutrients avocados possess, my body was simply craving.  That said, I opted for a turkey burger for dinner.  I did make this Pistachio Apple Salad for lunch yesterday and it was perfectly delicious.  There aren’t many salads that I want second helpings of, but this one is one of them.  It hits all of the major taste profiles: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami.  Because it calls for a Granny Smith apple, it’s not super sweet.  However, if you want to use something sweeter, I think dried figs would be a lovely substitute, as they pair beautifully with blue cheese and pistachios.  Making this salad took all of 7 minutes!  So no excuses, dear readers, for throwing together a quick, healthy lunch!

* I’m not sure which magazine I ripped this recipe out of years ago, so I searched online for something close to it.  I found the exact same recipe on Yummly, so I am including a link to that site in lieu of a magazine name.

DSC_4597

Pistachio Apple Salad
Adapted from Yummly

Yield:  4 side-dish servings

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 of a large orange)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sweet mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups arugula
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts

1.  For dressing, whisk together orange juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and garlic; gradually whisk in oil until well blended.  Set aside to mellow flavors.
2.  For salad, divide greens among four salad plates.  Top with apple slices.  Sprinkle with cheese and nuts.
3.  Whisk dressing; drizzle over salads.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Manchego

DSCF2863

I love the smell of roasted cauliflower.  I am writing this while sitting on the futon in our guest bedroom with the sun streaming in.  I feel like a cat sitting on a windowsill.  (Why don’t I have a cat?  Oh, right:  I’m allergic.)  My husband and I moved out to Astoria over a year ago.  We upgraded to a 3-bedroom from our 1-bedroom in Manhattan and get this…we are paying less in rent!  Oh Manhattan, I would have stayed with you if you didn’t make it so goddamn hard to afford you.  It only took us 10 months to completely unpack and settle in to our new place.  Between my chocolate business stuff and my husband not liking to get rid of things, we had a lot of boxes to go through.  Living out of boxes for 10 months can put a strain on a marriage, especially if one of you (moi) is a bit of a control freak.  But one of the things I’ve learned about marriage is that the ugly times don’t have to just be ugly.  They can actually be a stepping stone to get to the next level of a lasting marriage.   Even though whenever we have an issue my body is taken over with panic and dread at the thought of having to discuss it, I always feel elated after we talk through something.  Happy endorphins rush through my brain like a leprochaun sliding down a rainbow.  I think it’s partly due to the fact that for a short period of time I don’t feel anxious, but also knowing that we came out of it even stronger is an emotion that I cherish every time. DSCF2860

Cauliflower is one of those foods that I don’t care for raw but I absolutely love roasted.  In fact, I think I love any vegetable that has been roasted.  It completely transforms the flavor of food, especially raw veggies.   I made this dish while my mom and stepdad were visiting last week and we all agreed that it was a keeper.  Everyone had two servings and bypassed the pork tenderloin completely.  Now that’s some good cauliflower.   The arugula adds a nice bitter, peppery flavor while the toasted walnuts and Manchego add some nuttiness and creaminess to the dish.  You could probably substitute any other nut if you’re not a fan of walnuts.  If you have another nutty cheese on hand, like Gruyére, that would work just fine too.  It’s also a very pretty salad that would go nicely on your Thanksgiving table if you want to forego that green bean casserole this year.  Sacrilege!  Ok, make it in addition to the casserole.

DSCF2843

This salad is best served warm.  The cauliflower can be roasted one day ahead.   Just slip the roasted florets back into the oven for 15 minutes or so right before serving.  Assemble the salad, dress it, and let your guests swoon over it.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Manchego
Adapted from A Good Appetite, a New York Times column

Yield:  4-6 servings

1 head cauliflower, but into bite-size florets
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
5 oz. arugula
1 cup Manchego, grated
2/3 cup toasted walnuts

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.  In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast, tossing every 10 minutes, until golden, 30 to 40 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar with the remaining salt and pepper, and then whisk in the remaining oil.
  3. In a salad bowl, toss the arugula, cheese, nuts and warm cauliflower.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss until well combined.