The return of salad season: white beans and tuna over greens.

Hello salad season, so glad you are back with us. My garden is literally exploding with lettuce and kale at the moment, so I’m trying my best to find creative ways to incorporate more greens into every meal. I love … Continue reading

The Awkward Olive Does Lunch: Autumn coleslaw and how to make a dressing without a recipe

Last month, one of my best friends got married in Hood River. The day after the wedding a bunch of us gathered for a communal cooking/ pot-luck style dinner on the porch of one of the houses we had rented for the weekend. We chatted, the laughed, we ate, we reminisced, we ate some more.  It was amazing to be able to spend some quality time with some of my closest friends, and it was also really inspiring to see what everyone was cooking.  I know I tend to get stuck in a food rut, always going back to my go-to salads and quinoa dishes, so it was really fun to see what some of my friends had in their culinary repertoire. And the thing I took away with me was this amazing fall slaw.  It’s the perfect transitional salad for this time of year. Cabbage and apples are starting to come into their prime, cooler days (we are going to get those soon, right?) crunchy textures, bright colors… it seems to be the epitome of Autumn in a bowl. the

Feasting

Feasting

IMG_4436

The sum of our efforts

The sum of our efforts

I’m kind of a sucker for good coleslaw… that being said, I almost never ever made coleslaw because I was a little daunted by the dressing. I know, its a lame excuse, but I’m not a huge follower of recipes, I don’t really like to measure, and since I didn’t have a go-to coleslaw dressing stashed away in my culinary knowledge, making coleslaw at home just felt a little in-accessible. I’m kind of a no-muss no-fuss salad dressing type of gal… a little fresh olive oil, a splash of balsamic, a little salt, maybe some fresh herbs… on rare occasions I will actually put these things in a jar with a little bit of stone ground mustard and actually “prepare” a dressing… but for the most part, I just drizzle the ingredients directly on the salad and consume. I’ve always felt that when you use high quality ingrediants they speak for themselves, and while I love the idea of “fancy” dressings with names like green goddess and roasted corn husk vinaigrette, I typically stick with the clean and simple flavors of olive oil and vinegar.  So being faced with task of pre-making a coleslaw dressing felt somehow hard… boy was I wrong.

I did a little bit of research AKA looked on pinterest to see what other people where putting in coleslaw dressing… some of it sounded interesting, some of it sounded unnecessary, and after about five minutes, I had a new found feeling of coleslaw confidence. “Oh… I can totally make this.”  So I headed off to the kitchen.  Per my usual style, I eye-balled everything, guessed on proportions, and was pleasantly surprised by how it tasted. Dressing success! Until, of course, I remembered that its a little hard to blog a recipe that isn’t actually a recipe.  Though I’m sure some people out there appreciate the “a little of this, a little of that” method to making things in the kitchen, I know it drives other people nuts… But I’ll try to meet you somewhere in the middle.

How to make coleslaw dressing without a recipe.
  • apple cider vinegar ( about 2 TBS)
  • greek yogurt (1 heaping spoonful) 
  • poppyseeds (a sprinkling)
    olive oil (a small drizzle) 
  • honey ( best guess is 1 TBS?) 
Put in a jar, shake it all around until the honey is incorporated. Refrigerate.  Put over slaw & serve.   If you like, you can add in chia seeds instead of or along with the poppyseeds. If your dressing feels too thin, the chia seeds will help, because they become a little gelatinous as they expand… also they are super amazingly good for you, so why not add them?
Notice I didn’t give you  firm amounts for anything… because really you can make coleslaw for 1 or you can make coleslaw for the masses.  Use your best judgement.  This amount of dressing usually is enough for me to make 2 GIANT servings of coleslaw (imagine if coleslaw were a dinner salad instead of a side. )   I like to pair this dressing with a simple, 3 ingredient slaw. It’s perfect for an easy lunch, its quick, easy, and delicious.

Autumn Coleslaw

Autumn Coleslaw

Simple Autumn Slaw
Chop desired amount of cabbage, top with cut up apple & toasted almonds. Dress, and eat!

Purple Cabbage

Purple Cabbage

Honeycrisp Apples from the local Farmer's Market.

Honeycrisp Apples from the local Farmer’s Market.

oven roasted almonds

oven roasted almonds

The Awkward Olive Does Lunch: The Game Changer Salad

garden lettuce

garden lettuce

 

My garden is an explosion of lettuce right now.  So so so so so much lettuce.  Speckled kind, and red kind, and green kind, and fluffier red kind (I’m really good with the technical names in case you couldn’t tell.)   I eat quite a bit of salad, but I can honestly say that I had this particular salad in mind when I planted my lettuce this spring. And I eat it at least 6 times a week, sometimes even twice a day.  I’m adding  it to my Lunch adventures, because I do take it to work with me quite a bit,  but since it is so simple, and mostly comprised of lettuce, I would recommend it as an accompaniment to a main dish rather than as a meal itself.  (or you could do like I did today and make a giant salad and then eat several handfuls of Bugles… you win some you lose some…)  I like to call this the Game Changer salad… because it will literally change how you do meals in the summer.

phonto-4

 

The great thing about this salad is that it is only 4 ingredients, and you probably have all of them already.  It will literally take you 5 minutes from garden to table, and its mind-numbingly simple and delicious.  When I tell you what the ingredients are, you might think I’m a little bit nutty, but trust me when I say that this is the absolute perfect salad to enjoy on a summer evening.

Note: This will not work/ not be delicious with grocery store bagged lettuce. It has to be fresh from the garden or the Farmer’s Market. You want the slightly bitter greens with texture and some of that earthy grittiness you can only get from freshly picked lettuce.

  • Garden Fresh Lettuce
  • Yellow or white onion
  • Half and half
  • Good flake salt.

Wash and dry the lettuce, tear it up and put it in a bowl. Thinly slice some of the onion (personal preference as to how much… but a little goes a long way.) drizzle with half and half, and sprinkle with salt, toss. Voila. 5 minutes from garden to table.

 

photo-26

 

I know it sounds a little bizarre, but if you think about what most salad dressings are made of, it’s some sort of fat, and salt, and seasoning. Nothing is worse than an over-dressed salad, and the great thing about this, is that the excess half and half won’t stick to the lettuce leaves, it will just run to the bottom of the bowl, leaving you with a salad that is perfectly dressed! The bitterness of the greens, the sweetness of the half and half, the slight pungentness of the onions, and the salt are a perfect marriage.    (spell check is telling me that pungentness isn’t a word… I don’t really care.)

This salad is seriously going to change the way you do week night dinners. Super simple, light, and fresh.  Also, since you don’t need very much of the onion or the half and half, you should be able to make this salad all week without having to make another trip to the store.

 

 

 

The Awkward Olive Does Lunch: the joy of déjeuner. Easy orzo salad with smoked salmon and lemon

Awkward Olive Does Lunch: The joy of déjeuner.

Awkward Olive Does Lunch: The joy of déjeuner.

 

When I first announced that I was changing jobs one of my friends asked me “Does this mean that you are going to have more of a fashion focus on your blog?” To which I kind of had to laugh a little bit. Though my life is definitely headed in a more fashion forward direction, I realized that now I have a lot more time to cook for myself at home, and also cooking is going to become much more of a necessity. Gone are the days of eating anywhere between 5-10 meals at Red Hills Market, gone are the days of “oh I didn’t have time to get groceries, I’ll just go to work 30 minutes early and grab a bite.” Instead, I’m embracing the brown bag lunch mentality.

Though I’m sure my daily social media outlets are going to shift a little more towards fashion and a little less on food, I feel as though my blogging efforts might swing the other way, as cooking at home and feeding myself are suddenly a much larger part of my daily routine.  Also with gardening season just getting underway, and the start of the local Farmer’s Market in a few short weeks, I’ve decided to add a monthly or perhaps bi-weekly installment on the blog entitled “The Awkward Olive Does Lunch: the joy of déjeuner”  which will explore some of my lunch making and packing adventures, and hopefully be inspiring to those of you packing your own lunches from time to time.  Because let’s face it, sometimes lunch requires a little inspiration…

This past weekend I accidentally spent my entire grocery budget for the week on Quin candy.  Le Sigh. #sorrynotsorry  I’ve been savoring the cherry cola gumdrops all week, trying to convince myself that living off  of candy and water seems like a kind of magical lifestyle choice. (not really… but kind of really. )  So as I was planning out my lunches for the week I had to turn to my pantry and get a little creative.

All the Gumdrops and Dreams come Chew

All the Gumdrops and Dreams come Chew

Stopped into Sprinklefingers to stock up on all the Quin Candy Goodness

Stopped into Sprinklefingers to stock up on all the Quin Candy Goodness

This time of year I start to crave bright flavors like asparagus and lemon, simple sauces, and satisfying dishes that are a little on the lighter side. The weather last week was mostly beautiful, and I found myself eating breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dinner out on the back patio soaking up little bits of Spring. My herb garden is starting to come alive, and right now the chives are really prolific, so as I was riffling through the pantry trying to come up with a make-ahead, packable, last me all week dish that didn’t require a trip to the grocery store (which I think will be a re-occurring theme on  AODL) I was trying to be inspired by the light and bright flavors that I’ve been craving.

The Chives, going nuts

The Chives, going nuts

 

The Answer: Easy orzo salad with  smoked salmon and lemon.

 

Ingredients:

  •  Orzo pasta
  • 1  6 oz can of smoked salmon
  • 1 bunch of fresh chives
  • 1 lemon (for zest and juice)
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Optional : Jacobsen Salt Co. Lemon Zest Salt.

 

  • Cook the Orzo according to package directions. I never measure Orzo, just eyeball how big of a salad you want to make, and call it a day.
  • While the pasta is cooking, wash and dice the chives and then put them in a large mixing bowl with the salmon.
  • Zest the lemon, and place the zest in a small bowl.   Juice ½ of the lemon and set juice aside.
  • When the orzo has reached it’s desired done-ness, strain and rinse with cold water.  Give it a light drizzling of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together, and continue to let cool.  Once the pasta has thoroughly cooled  add it to the bowl with the chives and salmon, and add in the lemon juice.
  • Add 1-2  large spoonful’s of crème fraiche to the lemon zest and mix together before incorporating in with the rest of the salad.  Add olive oil, and salt and pepper and mix together.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors meld.
  • When ready to serve, or when packing for a lunch, add a light drizzling of olive oil, a dollop  of plane crème fraiche, and a sprinkling of  the lemon zest salt.
orzo salad with smoked salmon and lemon

orzo salad with smoked salmon and lemon

This salad was everything that I was craving last week.  The crème fraiche was a wonderful addition, because it added a little je ne sais quoi  to the salad without making it too heavy.  (I realize that you might not have a tub of crème fraiche sitting in the fridge… but this time of year you should! Its full fat dairy at its finest. You could also probably make the salad without it, but as I said, it’s the je ne sais quoi factor) The lemon and the chive pair beautifully, and the smoked salmon adds a bit of protein and healthy fat to keep you satiated throughout the day. It was the perfect packable lunch salad, and one I’ll definitely make again.

Also, as a side note, the Lemon Zest Salt from Jacobsen Salt Co. was pretty much made for this dish. I have it listed as an optional ingredient, but  do yourself a favor, and seriously consider it a secret ingredient for success.

Jacobsen Salt Lemon Zest