Super Quick Italian Bean Salad

Italian Bean Salad

This is my weeknightified version of a Foster’s Market recipe. It’s super simple and really hits the spot when I want a tasty deli-style salad with next to no work. You could dress it up as much as you like with fresh veggie add-ins. The original recipe is lovely, though not super fast (you cook the beans yourself and make their delicious dressing from scratch, among other things). Again, this is more a list of ideas than a real recipe, but it’s not hard to eye the proportions.


Rinsed and drained canned white beans (I like navy beans)

Italian dressing—-I like the Penzey’s mix


Sundried tomatoes

Chopped fresh parsley

Mix beans with enough dressing to coat and enough capers and tomatoes to give it a little color. Let marinate a few hours if you have time. Add parsley. Enjoy!

Got some more feedback on my nonfiction manuscript this week. Things are finally moving forward. So excited.

And in other news this week, I’ve been talking to 4th and 5th graders about writing an early reader (i.e. Slowpoke). Fun times! Love getting their questions.

For more food-related posts, click here. Have a great rest of your week.


Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Chickpea SaladThis is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. As I may have mentioned, I’m not doing wheat these days (long story), and in general I’m trying to eat more veggies and fewer grains. I miss my tabbouleh, though (usually made with bulghur wheat).

So, I changed up Mark Bittman’s tabbouleh recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Instead of bulghur wheat, I used a can of rinsed chickpeas, then added chopped cucumber and tomato as well. If you do dairy, you could add feta. Mmmmm…

As usual, the full-of-fresh-herbs dressing is the key ingredient, and it tied everything together nicely. Even got a thumbs up from the hubs. I planted a whole hedge of parsley this year and have been so, so happy to have it for salads like this. It’s really easy to grow from seed (basil, too).

For more of my recipes and cooking posts, click here. You’ll notice I seem to have a thing for chickpeas.

What about you? Made any interesting salads lately? My new herb garden is keeping me inspired.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herby Green Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I was craving a rice salad, but without the rice. Something that’s all about soaking up a good sauce. Roasted cauliflower has been my recent go-to sauce-soaker-upper, and I was really happy with what I came up with. Here’s the skinny:

Olive Oil

1 head Cauliflower, finely chopped

2 or 3 handfuls Grape or Cherry Tomatoes


2 cloves Garlic

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

1 T Dijon Mustard

tiny drip of Honey (or something else if you’re vegan)

Lemon Juice

a few tablespoons or more Minced Chives

a few tablespoons or more fresh Oregano, chopped (basil or parsley would be good, too)

1 T Capers

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Oil a baking sheet and throw the cauliflower on it with a couple of garlic cloves. Roast at 375F, for about 20 minutes. Halve the tomatoes and roast them for about 20-30 minutes as well. This brings out their flavor like crazy.

I’m not really a measuring kind of person when it comes to dressing (or, let’s be honest, for a lot of things). If you really want measurements, you could use a basic vinaigrette and add the extras. I think I’d add even more herbs next time. I really wanted something that was so green it would color the cauliflower, but my herb garden wasn’t quite in full swing when I made this.

Chop up the roasted garlic and whisk it together with the other dressing ingredients.

Toss the cauliflower with the dressing and tomatoes. Add walnuts. Yum. I realized later that the dressing flavors were inspired by the broccoli gribiche recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

What are you cooking this summer? I’m always on the lookout for interesting salads. Hope you had a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day.

Spring Recipe Roundup

Sesame Noodle Salad

Has it been a little cool where you are? It kind of went from salad weather to soup weather, then back again, and it’s thrown my cooking mojo off. At least, the weather is what I’m blaming it on. It’s time for me to get inspired again.

Do you change up your menu according to the season? I really prefer (mostly) to eat colder-type items in the warm months and vice versa. I thought I’d do a little recipe roundup, mostly salads, though I realized after thinking about it that most of my spring recipes come from one source: The Foster’s Market Cookbook. I get hungry just thinking about that book. The binding in mine is literally falling apart.

Below are links to some of my favorites from Foster’s and a few others. I’d love to hear what your favorite spring salads are, too. I need inspiration!

Jeweled Rice Salad, from the great Mollie Katzen. I’ve been making this for 10+ years. It features the strange-sounding combo of grapes and chickpeas with rice, marinated in a lemon dressing and tossed with parsley, scallions and (optional) pecans. Somehow more than the sum of its parts, and *bonus* won’t be dangerous after sitting in the sun a little while. So I take it to picnics.

From Foster’s Market:

Lentil Salad with Spinach and Feta As with many a Foster’s Market gem, the fabulous dressing is the key. Here is my version with some minor changes.

Sesame Noodle Salad (pictured above) Again, fabulous dressing, this time with a nutty, citrus vibe. My take (gluten-free!) is here. Btw, does anyone know if such a thing as gluten-free soba noodles exist? I would so love some.

White Bean Salad–I do love a good marinated bean salad, and this one has sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. I haven’t made it with olives yet, but I might be ready to try. I’m only a recent olives convert.

Black Bean and Yellow Rice Salad. Think Tex-Mex beans and rice but fresher, lighter. I made this one here.

Really, just go and check out the whole salad section on Foster’s Market website or better yet buy the book. Chicken salad faves: with Tarragon, Granny Smith Apples and Red Grapeswith Tomatoes, Spinach and Dijon Vinaigrette; with Provencal vinaigrette.

This last one I recently made with half chicken, half roasted cauliflower (it has a bunch of other veggies, too), and it was most excellent. Hmmm….I wonder about subbing in roasted cauliflower in full for a vegetarian version of these. All of these chicken salads are on the lighter side, with little or no mayo, plenty of veggies and flavor.

Chicken Curry Kebabs are always a hit. We often make it for guests because everyone loves it.

Falafel (from the box—it’s all I have time for) and Tabbouleh with Tahini Sauce and sometimes also Yogurt Sauce. The two sauces and tabbouleh come from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I’m practically addicted to the Tahini Sauce, which is basically tahini thinned with water and lemon juice, plus salt + pepper and cumin.

What are some of your warm weather favorites? I’m hungry!

Potato-Broccoli-Egg Salad

Broccoli Gribiche

This is Heidi Swanson’s recipe (Broccoli Gribiche) from Super Natural Every Day. But it’s basically a potato salad with more stuff plus a delicious dressing. Check out the recipe here if you don’t have the book.

I’m sure mine would’ve been even better if I’d had the fresh herbs—this was just before we put in our new herb garden. I added roasted cherry tomatoes, and for the dressing, I cooked the shallots on low to soften them up a bit before adding them. I’m sure this cranked down the flavor a bit, but we just don’t do raw onion relatives around here very well.

Anyway, if I make it again, and I probably will, I’ll definitely do the fresh herbs and maybe add a wee bit more vinegar….or a squeeze of lemon.

But the basic idea (roasted veggies and eggs with dressing) is pretty simple and really effective. Also very filling. If you couldn’t tell, I’m really into roasted vegetable salads right now. For more of my posts on less-meatarian cooking, click here.

Hope you have a great weekend! So sorry, friends in northern climates, about the weather. I hope spring will make its way to you very soon. I hear you could use it.

Black Bean and Rice Salad

This one is another Foster’s Market goodie, really delicious. Though I have to admit it was more work than it seemed it should’ve been. And I didn’t even make the from-scratch salsa or the cornbread croutons!

Thinking it over, I’m wondering if there are any other shortcuts I could’ve taken without sacrificing flavor. I guess chopping is chopping, and I’m just not very fast or neat about it. It’s a hazard of cooking with a bunch of fresh vegetables.

The interesting twist with this dish is really the rice- and-beans-as-room-temp-salad concept instead of as a kind of warm stew. I’m fond of both, but the salad option definitely preserves a kind of freshness that’s hard to resist. I think you could mimic a version of this using plain rice and canned beans, scaling back the chopping work and just relying on a good salsa, avocado, and cilantro to do the work.

That’s only if you’re short on time, though. Otherwise I say do the whole shebang.

Another Foster’s Market goodie I’ve enjoyed lately was this Coconut-with-Lemon-Curd cake, which the Hubs made for my birthday. Oh joy! I am less and less a dessert person these days, but this cake makes me weak. It’s a lot of work, too, so thank you Hubs 🙂

It’s finally getting cooler here, so I’m moving on from salads back into my soup menus.

Meanwhile, had a great time at the SCBWI Carolinas conference (SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and got some good revision shots in the arm. I’m back to revising, revising, revising, and trying to resist temptations to craft during writing time. It’s hard.

Currently reading On the Shores of Plum Creek (Laura Ingalls Wilder). What about you? What are you reading? Found any great fall soup recipes?

Sesame Noodle Salad with Cucumber

Just discovered another Foster’s Market recipe that’s been there all along but I’d never tried. I was looking for the answer to a tofu noodle salad mystery I’d been trying to solve for, seriously, 10 years.

The original salad was from a caterer tasting in Boston (Calla Lily, I think?). I’d never been a tofu person, but that salad was so unbelieveably good. This recipe, while not a perfect match, totally hits the spot for my noodle salad craving.

The recipe actually doesn’t call for tofu at all, but it made a great addition. It’s really a noodle salad with veggies and a great citrusy-peanutty dressing—you can change up the additions as much as you like.

The best part is the sesame oil doesn’t smack you in the face. You know, like in the asian salad from a certain national chain restaurant. It starts out delicious, but then about halfway through you feel like you’re going to die from sesame oil overdose. And then you feel like you never want to see another sesame as long as you live.

Changes I made to the salad: the first time I made it, I used glass noodles, which worked fine as a substitute for the soba (though maybe I prefer the soba, not sure). I also added stir-fried tofu since I was trying to recreate that long-ago salad.

A version of the original recipe is here. This version calls for bok choy but I made it with little baby salad greens. If you make the dressing in advance, the rest of it comes together pretty quickly. Mmmm….getting hungry again!

Okay, have a great weekend. I’m off to finish a few more tasks.

Lentil, Arugula, and Feta Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

I’ve been dreaming about lentil salad ever since having some at a wine bar down the street. That one I think had a lot of bacon in it, though, so I was glad to find  Foster’s Market Cookbook has a great less-meaty recipe that somehow I’d never noticed before.

The original recipe is called “Lentil, Spinach, and Feta Salad with Sour Cherry Vinaigrette.” But spinach is already out of season here in Germany, even though the weather isn’t that hot, so I subbed arugula and feldsalat—literally that’s “field salad” but I don’t know the English equivalent.

Also, I didn’t find any dried sour cherries, so I substituted dried cranberries, as the recipe suggests. Other than that, I made one small tweak which was to cook the red onion a little bit—I really prefer cooked onion to raw.

I loved this salad, but I’m hoping next time I can cut down on prep time. Looking at the recipe, I’m not sure why it took me so long. I guess making the salad dressing the day before might be helpful. Foster’s Market dressings are always so yummy you can really put them on anything and you’d have an instant gourmet dish. The dressing is definitely the key to this recipe, too.

Original recipe here.

My Foster’s Market book is completely falling apart. Anyone know if it’s possible to buy cookbooks with library binding or something like that? What do you do with well-worn cookbooks? Buy a new copy? Put the pages in a binder with plastic sleeves? We have this trouble with a few of our favorites, and it’s getting to be a pain to re-order the loose pages every time they fall out.

Okay, got to run. Lots to do before our move. Have a great start to your week!

Tabbouleh with Red Pepper and Chickpeas

I’ve always made tabbouleh from the box because it’s so easy and quite good, but the box mixes aren’t in every store here in Germany. This time I found only plain bulghur so decided to make it from scratch using Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

I still think box-mix tabbouleh is decent, but making it from scratch definitely kicks things up a notch, and it’s really very easy. The most time-consuming part is chopping the herbs and veggies, but that’s really no big deal. It’s a real herb love-fest.

I added a little red bell pepper and chick peas in addition to the usual tomato and cucumber to give the salad some more heft. I think I may also have used scallions instead of white onion. It was super delicious. Recipe here.

We had our school festival over the weekend, and as always, there’s great international food there. I keep dreaming about these wonderful tamales and salsa and also, some fantastic Egyptian falafel. The falafel was green! And full of flavor. Note to self: Learn how to make tamales and Egyptian falafel.

What about you? Made any good salads lately?

Pasta-Chickpea Salad with Tomato and Basil

I threw this together the other night with stuff we had in the house. I didn’t measure anything, but here are the basics:

  • cooked chickpeas (2 cups or so), marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. I also smashed one clove of garlic in the marinade and later removed it.
  • cooked pasta (I used bowtie pasta made of 25% butternut squash), maybe 2-3 cups?
  • a few diced tomatoes
  • a few chopped scallions
  • fresh basil
  • cubed buffalo mozzarella (I think feta might be a better choice, as the mozzarella’s flavor was lost in the stronger ones)

It turned out really well. I liked the heft the chickpeas gave, though I think I would up the lemon (I only used a half) and lengthen the marinating time.

I’ve been entertaining family and doing a lot of small trips lately. Hope to update you on some of that soon.