Soups & Salads

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Wednesday everyone! I just had the best week with my Aunt Elaine, Uncle Pete and goddaughter, Mikaila. They came to visit Matt and I for a few days last week and we spent two packed days exploring Boston. I’ve lived here my whole life and learned all kinds of things I never knew about our city. I also discovered a store on Newbury Street with the cutest patterned dresses and tops – priorities!

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Their visit got me even more excited for my family’s annual beach week; if that’s even possible. For those of you that don’t know, every year my extended family has a beach week down at the Delaware shore. Last year my Aunt Dottie made a salad for lunch to bring to the beach and it was so pretty I had to take a photo and post it on Instagram. When I was trying to think of something healthy and refreshing to post for 4th of July next week I immediately remembered my aunt’s salad.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This is a Red, White and Blue Spinach Salad loaded with sliced turkey, strawberries, blueberries and feta cheese. You can easily customize it to your own preferences by swapping grilled chicken for the turkey – or even leaving it meatless. Same with the berries and cheese. Not a feta fan? Use goat cheese or mini mozzarella balls. Swap raspberries for the strawberries and blackberries for the blueberries! It’s totally up to you.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part about this salad, both for how it makes it look and how it makes it taste, is the berry balsamic vinaigrette. I love the rich color the dressing gets from the berries. I especially love that you can really taste the berry flavor in the dressing and it pairs so well with the balsamic vinegar. If your berries are really ripe and sweet you might not even need the agave or honey as an additional sweetener.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The dressing has only five ingredients and could not be any easier – or more delicious! Toss it with the spinach salad and you’ll have some berry happy 4th of July guests. Sorry, I couldn’t resist! So go ahead and use all the berries to enjoy this salad all summer long!

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 10 ounces spinach
  • 12 slices deli turkey meat (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • ¾ cup feta cheese
for the dressing
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup quartered strawberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon agave or honey, if needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Place the spinach in a serving bowl. Rip or cut the deli turkey into pieces. Top with the strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and turkey.
for the dressing
  1. Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until combined, about 40 seconds. If your fruit is very ripe and sweet you may not even need the agave or honey - give it a taste without it first if you would like then add if you feel it’s needed. If you want to strain out the blueberry and strawberry seeds you can using a fine mesh strainer, but they didn’t bother Matt or I. Season with salt or pepper to taste. Feel free to thin out the dressing more with some olive oil if desired. Drizzle over the salad or serve alongside the salad when ready to eat.
Notes
If not serving right away, wait to put on the quartered strawberries and turkey. The dressing is best the day it is made.

 

Watermelon Caprese Salad

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tomorrow is the first day of summer! I’m posting one of my favorite summer dishes to celebrate – Watermelon Caprese Salad. Even though caprese salad is incredibly simple, when it’s made with fresh peak-season tomatoes it is complete summer perfection. Layers of sweet tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil are drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, syrupy balsamic glaze and thick granules of sea salt.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The only addition I’ve ever tasted that has somehow been even better than the classic is juicy watermelon slices. I first had this combination during the summer five years ago with my parents at a restaurant out in Colorado. I even have a picture! Here it is below. Matt had just gotten me my first “real” camera that spring for our trip to Seattle so I was putting it to good use taking pictures of all our dishes.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It was a special on the menu that night and even though their summer caprese had figs, heirloom tomatoes and burrata, the real standout was the watermelon. Diane and I could not believe how much the crisp sweet watermelon brought to the dish.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Later that summer we were at our annual family beach week and my aunt was making a caprese salad with some tomatoes she got at the farm stand. Diane suggested that we put some watermelon slices on it like the dish we had in Colorado; just like that we officially converted to religious Watermelon Caprese Salad makers and we haven’t looked back since! Watermelon individually pairs well with all the components of a caprese salad and makes the salad even more refreshing and summery.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since there’s only a few ingredients you want them to really shine so make sure you buy the best watermelon, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil your farmer’s market or grocery store has to offer. I promise once you try this version it will be your new summer go-to! Enjoy and happy summer everyone!

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Watermelon Caprese Salad
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ of a seedless watermelon, sliced into pieces roughly the same size and thickness of the tomato slices
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, preferably sea salt or kosher salt
  • Balsamic glaze (see note)
Directions
  1. Layer the caprese salad. I like to do a tomato slice, topped with a mozzarella slice, topped with a watermelon slice, then finally topped with a basil leaf. I usually plan on 2 stacks like this per person, depending on how many other sides there will be. Arrange the stacks so they are layered over one another.
  2. When you are ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle the salt over top then serve.
Notes
You can find balsamic glaze at the grocery store - Trader Joe's has a great one. If you want to make your own: combine ½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. The glaze should be thick and syrupy. Let cool before serving. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t remember how I stumbled across this recipe, but I am so glad I did. When I first saw it I knew I needed to make it immediately. The whole concept of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs is genius! Basically the crunchy chicken meatballs take the place of both the croutons and the protein in this Caesar salad. What?! I know, I’m boggling your mind right now.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken meatballs are rolled in crushed croutons before they are baked so they are crispy and full of crouton-y goodness. These are anything but ordinary chicken meatballs. In addition to the crispy exterior, the meatballs are loaded with all the makings of a delicious Caesar salad. Instead of breadcrumbs we use more crushed croutons and instead of egg or oil we use Caesar dressing. There’s also Parmesan and scallions involved.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you can’t find ground chicken you can use ground turkey instead. I’ve made it both ways numerous times and it’s always delicious. If you want to talk about a tried and true recipe, this is it. I’ve been making this dish regularly since 2009; that’s almost 10 years of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatball perfection! I first made it for my roommates and we all devoured it. After college, it was immediately put on Matt’s and my regular dinner rotation and has stayed that way ever since. I especially love this salad when the weather is warm like this and now that we have a big toaster oven I just make them in there instead of heating up the whole kitchen with the oven.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’re having leftovers you can eat them cold, but I always heat the meatballs a little before putting them on top of the salad so you get a nice mix of the warm crunchy meatballs and the cold Caesar salad. Since you are using crouton crumbs both in the meatball and on the outside tasty croutons are key for this recipe. I love the Trader Joe’s cheese and garlic croutons. They are so addictive! When I crush the croutons I like to keep a few bigger chunks since they add to the texture of the crispy outside. You might have noticed from the photos, but the Caesar dressing I usually use isn’t the thick and creamy one you normally see, although you can certainly use that. These were made with the Trader Joe’s Caesar dressing, which is a more oil-based Caesar dressing. Either way, I know they will be delicious!

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1⅓ cup crushed croutons, divided
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons caesar dressing
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
for the salad
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Caesar dressing
  • Additional fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Place 1 cup of the crushed croutons in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, the remaining ⅓ cup of the crushed croutons, scallions, parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper, being sure not to overmix.
  3. Divide the meat mixture into 4 sections. Use each section to roll out 3 chicken meatballs. Roll each meatball in the bowl of crushed croutons before placing on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 chicken meatballs. They are big!
  4. Bake the chicken meatballs for 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and bake for another 15 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the caesar salad. Cut and wash the lettuce then toss with the caesar dressing and extra parmesan cheese. I usually plan on 4 cups of romaine lettuce per person. The amount of dressing and additional Parmesan is up to you!
  6. When the chicken meatballs are cooked, let them cool for 5-7 minutes before serving on top of the caesar salad.

Recipe adapted from blog Canaderican, which no longer exists.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have another healthy make-ahead lunch for you today! Before you run away, healthy can mean super tasty! And kale doesn’t have to mean bitter, especially when it’s been nicely massaged, but I’ll say more on that later. As you know, I only like salads if they have lots of yummy goodies in them and this one delivers. Fresh sweet strawberries, creamy goat cheese and crunchy pecans bring this salad to a scarf-able level. We are still a little early for strawberry season, but as soon as it started feeling like springtime I had to run out to get some to make this salad.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The other star of this dish is the simple, but delicious vinaigrette dressing. Made with just four ingredients the dressing has the right balance of acidity and sweetness to pair with the kale and strawberries. I use my uncle’s awesome homemade honey, but I recommend using local honey since it can help ease seasonal allergies and it supports your local beekeepers!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The reason this salad is a great make-ahead dish is because the kale tastes its best when it’s been given time to marinate in the dressing. Kale is a tough green, but that’s exactly why you have to baby it so much to bring out its best flavor. This is where the massaging comes in. A few years ago when kale was popping up everywhere I tried it at home a bunch of times with little success. Then I was out to dinner with a friend and ordered a kale salad to give it one final shot. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was and when I mentioned this to the waitress she said it was because they massage the kale. Basically, this means ripping and scrunching the kale leaves continuously for about five minutes. Kale is naturally bitter, but massaging it breaks down the cellulose structure wilting and softening the kale.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

One batch makes four lunch salads and sometimes I pair them with grilled chicken or turkey burgers for added protein. I love serving this Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans for cookouts, as well, since you can make it the night before and not have to worry about it while you’re busy with your family and friends. I hope you enjoy this salad all summer long!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces kale
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a small baking sheet then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Toss the pecans once during cooking and be sure to watch carefully so they do not burn. Set aside to cool.
  2. If your kale wasn’t pre-washed, wash and dry it. Remove all thick ribs and stems; roughly chop. Place in a large mixing bowl. Continue to tear and massage the kale for 5 minutes. To massage the kale scrunch it up with both your hands, release, and scrunch up some more, tossing and tearing as you go. This helps tenderize the kale and reduce its bitterness by breaking down the cellulose structure.
  3. Quarter the strawberries. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Add to the kale along with the toasted pecans and goat cheese. Gently toss to combine. Add the dressing and gently toss to coat. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or even better if overnight.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

New England Harvest Salad

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you heard of Boloco? They are a Boston based burrito joint, but these are not your average Mexican burritos. Self-described as “globally inspired burritos” they take it to the next delicious level with creations like Bangkok Thai, laden with addictive spicy peanut sauce, and the Mediterranean, complete with black bean hummus made in house.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although Boloco, which is a mashup of Boston Local Company, is mostly based in Boston, they do have several locations in Massachusetts outside of Boston and have spots in New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and even Maryland! And in case you were wondering, no Boloco is not paying me for this or even aware I’m writing this blog post, I just love their food that much!

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorites was a recent addition last year: the New England Harvest Salad. I normally don’t get so jazzed up over a salad, but this dish is so outrageously tasty I eventually had to re-create it myself. This here is a sautéed kale salad topped with quinoa, roasted squash and fresh cranberries, shredded beets, roasted balsamic mushrooms (told you those bad boys were going to make an appearance!) and goat cheese.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you told me I could only eat one salad for the rest of my life I would pick this one without even hesitating. In addition to the addictive mouthwatering qualities of this salad, which caused it to never even make it to the table and instead be eaten standing at the counter, this salad is healthy. Just look at all those superfoods!

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since all the components are warm, other than the shredded beets and goat cheese, I made extra so all Matt and I had to do was throw the leftovers in the microwave the next day then top with the cold ingredients for a quick, healthy and satisfying dinner.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

New England Harvest Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces peeled and cut butternut squash (1” cubes)
  • ⅔ cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces roughly chopped kale, hard stems removed
  • 1 small red beet
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 batch Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and set aside.
  2. Toss the squash and cranberries with the 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil then place on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  3. Meanwhile heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale and half a cup water. Cook until the kale is tender and the water has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Peel the beet with a vegetable peeler then grate with a microplane. Set aside.
  5. To plate the salad first layer the kale. Top with the quinoa, followed by the shredded beets, balsamic roasted mushrooms and the roasted squash and cranberries. Finish by sprinkling with the goat cheese. Serve warm.