Soups & Salads

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

I only post salads when I’m obsessed and this is definitely one of those times. This Mediterranean salad has mixed greens, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and a creamy and tangy roasted red pepper vinaigrette. It sounds so simple, but the combination will make you start craving cold salad in the middle of February.

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

The inspiration for this salad came all the way from a restaurant in Colorado. Matt and I just got back from spending an awesome week skiing out in Colorado with my parents and brother! As I’ve mentioned before, my brother lives in Colorado so it’s the perfect place for a family reunion vacation during the wintertime. While we were out there we got a ton of fresh snow, raced each other down the mountain and of course ate plenty of good food. One of my favorite dishes from a restaurant we typically go to is this Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette.

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

I started thinking about it the weeks before our vacation was going to start and decided that since it’s so simple I should just try to recreate it myself. I’m not quite sure why I waited so many years to do this, but I’m so glad I did! There’s something magical about the crispy and nutty pine nuts with the creamy goat cheese and the rich sun-dried tomatoes. Side note: I wrote this in the recipe, but make sure you use the sun-dried tomatoes that come in a jar packed in oil, not the ones that come in a bag.

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

The roasted red pepper dressing is just five ingredients, but it takes the salad to a whole new delicious level. A roasted red pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar, smoked paprika and salt to taste get pureed in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. The dressing adds to the tanginess of the sun-dried tomatoes and gives the whole salad a zing that balances the goat cheese. We actually didn’t go to that restaurant this past week as this salad is the only standout dish from there, but I don’t even mind because now I can make it for myself whenever I want! Yum!

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 red pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 8 cups spring mix salad greens
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (from the jar/oil-packed), julienned
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, plus more if desired
  • Salt and ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Roast the red pepper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet or aluminum foil covered baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Wash and dry the red pepper then place on the baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, flip the pepper over then bake for 20 more minutes. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, stem and seeds.
  2. Make the dressing. Add the roasted red pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar and smoked paprika to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or salad bowl, toss the salad greens with the pine nuts and the julienned sun-dried tomatoes. Add your preferred amount of the roasted red pepper dressing and toss. Crumble the goat cheese over top and serve.

 

Italian Kale Salad

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Matt and I spent the weekend visiting family and we had a food-packed day in Philadelphia on Saturday. If you saw my stories on Instagram then you will know just how much food we consumed! Whenever I have a few days of heavy eating I immediately start craving a salad. The key is that the salad needs to be satisfying enough that you can eat it as your meal and not feel like you need to dive into a bag of chips after.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This Italian Kale Salad is loaded with all kinds of delicious toppings and the dressing packs the perfect balsamic punch. Along with the kale and radicchio, there’s chickpeas, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, red onion and Parmesan.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first came up with this salad in December to post for the healthy January we’re doing here and we loved it so much that I served it at Christmas dinner as well. I’ve also made it almost every week since first making it because we just can’t get enough. I actually just ate some for lunch with a soft boiled egg on top for some protein!

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love kale salads because you can dress them ahead of time and the greens never taste wilted; in fact they often taste even better after sitting for a bit. The key with kale salads, which I talked about previously in my Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans post, is that you need to tear and scrunch the leaves for about five minutes to break the greens down and get rid of their natural bitterness. My Dad and Diane have always said they don’t like the taste of kale, but I am happy to report that they were both fans of this salad at Christmas.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

You could serve this Italian Kale Salad along with dinner or have it as a main dish with some grilled chicken or shrimp on top. I hope you all love this one as much as we do and I cannot wait to share Wednesday’s recipe with you all!

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Italian Kale Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings as a main dish
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 8 ounces kale, thick stems removed
  • 1 cup chopped radicchio
  • ¾ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered (about 2 artichoke hearts)
  • ⅓ cup chopped roasted red pepper
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan, for topping
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Make sure all thick ribs and stems are removed from the kale. If the kale isn’t already chopped, roughly chop then place in a large bowl. Tear and massage the kale for about 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.
  2. Add the radicchio, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper and onion. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss to completely coat. Top with the Parmesan. If you aren’t serving right away, cover and refrigerate until serving. Toss again before serving.
for the dressing
  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard and Italian seasoning until combined. Season with salt to taste.
Notes
To roast the red pepper: Spray a baking sheet or aluminum foil covered baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Wash and dry the red pepper then place on the baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flip the pepper over then bake for 20 more minutes. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, stem and seeds. You need roughly 1 whole red pepper for this recipe.

 

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Tahini Dressing

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m going to shock you all right now by letting you know that I’m obsessed with this salad. As I’ve mentioned here before, I am not a big fan of salads unless they are loaded with stuff. This salad doesn’t have a ton of stuff, but the goodies it does have on top are just the right stuff. Cue New Kids on the Block. This Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Tahini Dressing is the ultimate culmination of a few recipes I’ve shared recently. I made the Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower and the Crispy Roasted Chickpeas with this fall salad as my main intention, but they were so good on their own that I figured they deserved their own posts, too.

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

We’ve also already seen this creamy and tangy tahini dressing before on the Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowls. The dressing pairs really well with spiced and tender roasted vegetables so I knew it would be perfect over the Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower.

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you haven’t made the Roasted Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower dish yet, you need to make it soon! Preferably to eat on top of this awesome salad. The spices aren’t hot spicy, they are warming spices, which I like to think of as warming you from the inside out, similar to how you might describe a cozy bowl of soup. I threw some red onion in with the cauliflower to get caramelized. I love the flavor onion brings to dishes, but oftentimes raw onion is too pungent for me. Roasting the onion slices really mellows the onion flavor and brings out a nice sweetness to them.

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt and I had this salad with our dinner and the next day I had it for lunch with some deli turkey slices on top. One great thing about this salad is that it tastes so good whether the cauliflower is warm out of the oven or cold right from the fridge.

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

I created this salad with Thanksgiving in mind. I think it is a great way to have a healthy salad option that complements the fall Thanksgiving flavors better than your typical garden salad. Also, you can make it ahead and serve it cold so that’s always a bonus for the holidays! Enjoy, everyone!

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Roasted Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing
 
Yield: 4 servings, ⅔ cup of dressing
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ½ large red onion, cut into large strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 4 cups arugula
  • ¼ cup crispy chickpeas
for the dressing
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and ground black pepper. Pour over the cauliflower florets and toss to completely coat. You may want to really rub the tops of the cauliflower florets in the mixture to get them completely coated.
  3. Place the coated cauliflower florets on the prepared baking pan and spread them out. Bake for 20 minutes, then add the red onion to the baking sheet with the cauliflower, lightly tossing. Continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and browned. Make sure the onion doesn’t burn. Top with the chopped fresh parsley.
  4. Add the spinach and arugula to a large mixing bowl or salad bowl. Top with the turmeric roasted cauliflower, the roasted red onions and the crispy chickpeas. Serve with the dressing on the side.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients or mix in a high-speed blender until smooth.

 

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.