Soups & Salads

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.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

To me, the ultimate telling of a great salad is that it doesn’t seem like you are eating a salad. It doesn’t taste diet-y or as though all you’re doing is consuming a large bowl of raw vegetables like a rabbit raiding the produce aisle.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It simply tastes like a really delicious dish. The flavors are well-balanced and the textures vary. Extra bonus points if there are both hot and cold components.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This warm lemon and mustard potato salad hits all the marks on my great salad scale. The key to this meal-worthy salad is that the potatoes aren’t just average roasted potatoes. Before being placed in the oven to get nice and crispy, the potatoes are tossed with a lemon and mustard vinaigrette.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tart, tangy and creamy, these potatoes are even better when combined with the freshness of the salad greens and the nuttiness of the walnuts. This dish is great for a vegetarian main dish or an elevated first course that will have your guests requesting the recipe.

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Warm Lemon & Mustard Potato Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the dressing
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
for the salad
  • 1½ pounds baby red-skinned potatoes, halves
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the mustard, parsley, zest, juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 3 tablespoons of the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
for the salad
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add the potatoes to the large bowl with the dressing and toss until coated. Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy.
  3. When ready to serve, toss the bell pepper and greens with the reserved dressing. Place on the serving dish then top with the roasted potatoes and toasted walnut pieces.

Recipe from Giada’s Feel Good Food.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My brother and I are very different from one another, but there is definitely one thing we have in common: we both LOVE to eat. We also share a lot of favorite foods. I’m talking to you macaroni and cheese, sushi, and asparagus!

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another item high on the list is smoked salmon. Man, we can seriously chow down on smoked salmon. Toss us a platter with toast, hard boiled egg and some red onion and we are very, very happy campers. Or happy diners. I wouldn’t suggest bringing a smoked salmon platter camping, but that’s just me. When the two of us walk into a buffet we… oh you got the point already? Okay then, I promise all this raving about our cravings has a point.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

And it is this amazing smoked salmon salad. All the balanced flavors you love from a traditional smoked salmon platter with an added freshness. Refreshing leafy greens are piled with salty smoked salmon, fluffy hard boiled egg crumbles, crunchy mini pumpernickel croutons and red onion.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The whole salad is lightly drizzled with a lemon and shallot vinaigrette that brings an extra pop of acidity and brightness to the dish.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

So a special happy early birthday to my brother who inspired this outrageous dish! I hope you get to eat all your favorites on your birthday.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Smoked Salmon Salad
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ⅔ cup ½ inch cubes of pumpernickel bread
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon slices
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled with a fork
  • Thinly sliced red onion
for the dressing
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon capers, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Very lightly toss the bread cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place evenly on a pan and cook until crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the greens on a medium serving bowl or platter. Layer the smoked salmon, hard boiled egg crumbles and sliced red onion on top. Drizzle the salad dressing on top then serve.
for the dressing
  1. Combine the shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, parsley and capers, if using, in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Five minutes into making this soup I knew I had a winner sitting on the stovetop in front of me. Intense smells swirled around me while the softening onions took on a rich color from all the spices. I don’t get cravings for soups unless they pack a lot of flavor and this sweet potato and apple soup hits the mark so I am extremely pleased to be posting it for as the second post in my fall apple series.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

This soup does take a shortcut by using applesauce instead of whole fresh apples, but you could easily turn your apple picking finds into an impromptu applesauce by peeling, coring then crushing them. And then making this soup of course.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

The original recipe uses curry powder, but since I didn’t have any on hand I substituted with what was in my cabinet. Feel free to use my version or substitute with curry powder according to the notes in the recipe. The soup has that delicious warming quality that all fall soups should have as well as an exciting complexity of taste.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Finishing the soup with a splash of curry butter really deepens this complexity. You might think, “Oh, it’s just a garnish, I’m going to skip the curry butter,” but do not make this mistake my friends! Although it’s just a simple concoction of butter, spices and apple cider vinegar, it adds a final richness and tang to the soup.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

The apple chip pictured in the soup photos is the perfect crunchy texture addition and I’ll be sharing the recipe later this week in my third apple post.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1¼ cups applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Directions
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl then set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once warm add the onions and garlic then cook until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, additional nutmeg and 1¼ teaspoons of the spice mixture that was set aside in the first step. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and vegetable broth then cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the applesauce then let simmer, covered, on medium-low for 20 minutes.
  5. When the potatoes are tender, puree the mixture until smooth with an immersion blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while you prepare the spiced butter.
  6. In a small skillet over medium heat melt the butter then add the remaining ¼ teaspoon of the spice mixture. Stir over the heat until browned, just a couple minutes, then remove from the heat. Mix in the apple cider vinegar then drizzle over each serving of soup.
Notes
If you are using curry powder instead, substitute 1.5 teaspoons curry powder for the first 5 ingredients.

Recipe adapted from September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine.