weeknight gourmet

Category : Salads

Ooh la la: French Onion Soup and Goat Cheese Salad

Tim and I both love a good French bistro or brasserie.  In case you are not sure of the difference, here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:

In France, a brasserie is a café doubling as a restaurant and serving single dishes and other meals in a relaxed setting. A bistro is a familiar name for a café serving moderately priced simple meals in an unpretentious setting, especially in Paris; bistros have become increasingly popular with tourists. When used in English, the term bistro usually indicates either a fast casual dining restaurant with a European-influenced menu or a cafés with a larger menu of food.

Regardless of whether it is the more casual bistro or the brasserie, casual French dining used to be a staple of ours before having Charlotte.  In our neighborhood we have the amazing Pastis just a couple of blocks away.  Even when we do have a babysitter, the long wait at Pastis doesn’t usually fit our schedule.  And, while they do deliver, it’s jut not as good.

I love many of their dishes but they have a delicious French onion soup and a wonderful warm goat cheese salad.  Last night’s dinner was my attempt to have a little taste of Pastis (and Paris) at our kitchen table.

I was skeptical of this onion soup recipe because it only takes 40 minutes and you saute chopped onions (as opposed to sliced) in a dry non-stick skillet.  But the recipe was very tasty!  I definitely needed to add some salt and pepper after the soup reduced.  I used Applejack brandy and Gruyere cheese.  How bad can anything be when topped with a baguette slice and melted cheese!  And, I actually forgot to add the butter so perhaps it would have even been better!

For the goat cheese salad I just sliced some goat cheese and then coated the slices in breadcrumbs.  The breaded goat cheese cooked in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes per side to brown the breadcrumbs and warm the cheese.  The green salad was dressed in a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.

Our delicious dinner, along with a tasty Côtes du Rhône, gave us a little taste of France right here in apartment 104.

French Onion Soup
Bon Appetit

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Calvados, Applejack, or other brandy
  • 4 cups low-salt beef stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4–8 1/2″-thick slices baguette, cut to fit ramekins
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère or raclette cheese

Special equipment: Four 10-ounces ramekins

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook onions in a 12″ nonstick skillet over high heat, stirring constantly, until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add butter and toss onions to coat. Remove pan from heat and stir in Calvados. Return pan to heat and continue cooking until Calvados is absorbed, about 30 seconds. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until soup is reduced to 4 cups, about 5 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide soup among ramekins. Top each ramekin with 1-2 slices of bread. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each. Transfer baking sheet with ramekins to oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned in spots, about 4 minutes.

Two Great Summer Sides: Cucumber Feta Salad and Roasted Potato Salad with Crispy Proscuitto & Mustard Vinaigrette

We are on the Jersey Shore until Labor Day.  It’s been a great getaway — there is nothing I find more relaxing than the beach!  This weekend we had some friends visit us and we had lots of good food — grilled pork chops, grilled clams, steak!  So delicious.  We indulged in some amazing Jersey tomatoes and corn.

To accompany our dinners I made a couple of great side dishes from Fine Cooking (a new favorite recipe source) — Cucumber Feta Salad and Roasted Potato Salad with Crispy Proscuitto & Mustard Vinaigrette

Tim’s mom had visited a week ago and brought LOTS of cucumbers from their garden.  So first up was to find a tasty looking cucumber salad.  I love the combo of cucumbers and feta so this recipe caught my eye.  So simple, yet so much flavor from the fresh dill and mint, saltiness from the feta, and sweetness from the onion.  I don’t usually think of cucumber salad as a crowd-pleaser, but everyone loved the salad!

I love potato salad but I tend to favor German potato salad over the traditional mayonnaise-based ones.  This potato salad reminded me of a German potato salad only better!  It uses diced roasted Yukon Golds which have a lot more flavor than your typical boiled potatoes.  The salad includes prosciutto, diced cornichons, and a shallot-Dijon vinaigrette.   The salad was a HIT — not a single potato remained! 

Cucumber & Feta Toss with Mint & Dill
Fine Cooking

  • 2 medium seedless English cucumbers (about 1-1/2 lb.)
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled (scant 1 cup)
  • One-half medium sweet onion (such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla), sliced lengthwise as thinly as possible
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Trim the ends of the cucumbers. With a vegetable peeler, peel them in 1/2-inch intervals, leaving 1/2-inch strips of peel intact. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scoop out and discard the core, and then cut them into 3/4-inch dice.

In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, feta, onion, mint, and dill.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss the dressing with the cucumber mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the mint leaves (if using), and serve.


Roasted Potato Salad with Crispy Prosciutto & Mustard Vinaigrette
Fine Cooking

  • 4 thin slices prosciutto (about 2 oz.)
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely diced (1/4 inch) cornichons or gherkins
  • 3 Tbs. grainy or whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. white-wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Simple Roasted Potatoes
  • 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the prosciutto crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Arrange the strips in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, watching closely, until crisp and light golden, 6 to 8 minutes. With a spatula, loosen the prosciutto from the pan and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil, the cornichons, mustard, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Add the warm shallot-mustard vinaigrette to the potatoes along with the reserved prosciutto and parsley. Toss, taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.

What's been cookin' in the Weeknight Gourmet's kitchen?

I haven’t gotten into the rhythm of posting since Charlotte was born but don’t think that means I haven’t been in the kitchen!  I have been cooking.  Weekly Fresh Direct deliveries, augmented by the occasional trip to Chelsea Market, have allowed me to have food on hand to prepare simple meals during the week.

I haven’t tried a ton of new recipes recently.  Instead I have been going back to recipes that I have made in the past that I can either prepare ahead of time or are very quick and easy to make.

Here are a few examples of meals I have made recently:

Lemon Spaghetti: I could eat this dish everyday!  So delicious — fresh and flavorful.  And, it only requires a few ingredients and virtually no chopping.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Asian Coleslaw: I prepped this ahead of time.  I was hoping there would be leftovers for lunch but it was all gone.  The coleslaw was a new recipe.  But, again, super simple and I was able to use the leftover soy glaze for another meal.

RIBS: This weekend we had Tim’s brother and his family up to the Berkshires.  I made my famous ribs, grilled corn, tomato and mozzarella, and shaved zucchini salad.  Instead of making the rub and sauce, I bought a store-made rub at Guido’s and used Bone Suckin’ Sauce.  The only side that really required any prep was the zucchini salad but it only took about 10 minutes.

Key Lime Pie: I made the easiest Key Lime Pie ever this weekend.  Judging by the fact four people finished it in two sittings, I think it was a hit!

Whole Wheat Penne with Eggplant and Mozzarella: I made myself some comfort food while Tim was traveling this week.  I bought some of my favorite eggplant cutlets from Trader Joe’s and cut them into bite-sized pieces.  I mixed the eggplant with whole wheat pasta, jarred tomato sauce, and diced fresh mozzarella.  Delish!

While I have been able to cook, our time around the dinner table has certainly changed since Charlotte was born.  She has uncanny timing — quiet as a mouse as I prepare dinner but then as soon as the meal hits the table the crying starts.  Tim and I sit together at the table and take turn eating and passing our gorgeous little girl back and forth.  I guess Charlotte already knows how important family dinners are and she doesn’t want to be left out.

And don’t worry — Angus has not allowed all the changes to affect his dinnertime behavior.  Our loving pooch sits at our feet desperately hoping for a scrap and being on the lookout for some dropped food.

Our little round kitchen table is getting more crowded and I couldn’t be happier.

Summer Sides: Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan & Pine Nuts

I made this delicious summer salad to go along with ribs last weekend.  I love zucchini and think it is one of the real culinary treasurers of the summer and this salad is a great no-cook way to put the veggie to work.  The lemon dressing adds a great freshness to the dish.  And I love anything with parmesan and pine nuts!

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
Bon Appetit

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Small wedge of Parmesan cheese

Whisk oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper in small bowl to blend. Set dressing aside.

Using vegetable peeler or V-slicer and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16 inch thick). Place ribbons in large bowl. Add basil and nuts, then dressing; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Using vegetable peeler, shave strips from Parmesan wedge over salad.

Easy Summer Sides: Asian Slaw

We had our friends Pam and Tony over last week to meet Charlotte. I decided to make dinner but wanted to prepare it ahead of time. I made Barefoot Contessa’s Chinese Chicken Salad which everyone loved and served an Asian Slaw on the side.

I love using coleslaw mix as a base. All the prep work is done for you!  Tony said this was the best coleslaw he ever had. I thought it was delicious and the flavors complemented the chicken salad well.

The recipe calls for you to make much more of the soy glaze than you need.  Save it!  I used the leftover glaze the next night. I marinated some sushi-grade tuna in it and then seared the tuna.  I served the tuna with the remaining sauce on the side.  I roasted some asparagus for a simple, healthy and delicious meal.  Yum!

Asian Slaw
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 minced green onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a very small saucepan combine the soy sauce and the sugar and cook until reduced to a syrup, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be careful not to burn; this cooks quickly!) The soy-sugar mixture should coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool completely. When cooled, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the soy glaze to the mayonnaise and refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve remaining soy glaze for another use.

Combine the slaw, minced green onions, the red onion, the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, the salt, and crushed red pepper, and toss thoroughly to combine.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Summer Picnic Salad: Italian Antipasto Salad

Here is an easy and tasty salad to bring to your picnic or barbecue this weekend.  I love antipasto and after nine months of not eating cold cuts or cured meats, I was very happy to make this salad.  I used salami and sopressata but feel free to use any combination of meats.  Also, the store was out of provolone so I used asiago.

I would suggest dressing the salad right before serving otherwise the tomatoes and lettuce will get a bit soggy.

Overall, it’s an easy salad to throw together that will be a crowd-pleaser.  Next time I might throw in some olives and use white beans instead of red kidney beans.

Italian Antipasto Salad
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup rinsed canned red kidney beans, patted dry
  • 1 cup rinsed canned garbanzo beans, patted dry
  • 8 ounces salami, cubed
  • 6 ounces Provolone, cubed
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and salt in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper, to taste.

Summer Side Salad: Pecorino and Bean Salad

I don’t have a photo of this dish but I made it last weekend as a side for our Father’s Day barbecue and we loved it.  Plus, it’s healthy and so quick to make — perfect for a new mom as she threw together a small Father’s Day get-together.

The combo of the white beans and edamame was great — I love both.  If you don’t have edamame you could substitute lima beans or peas but I would recommend trying to find some frozen shelled edamame in your frozen food section.  Edamame are packed with protein and are delicious.

Good pecorino is a favorite cheese of mine — I love the sharpness and texture.  If you can’t find pecorino, feel free to substitute ParmigianoReggiano, which will provide similar sharpness and nuttiness to the dish.

If you don’t have fresh rosemary, try using basil and parsley.  I used all three because I had them in the kitchen but any combination of fresh herbs would be delicious.

Thanks Giada for another go-to summer salad recipe.

Pecorino and Bean Salad
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups (9 ounces) shelled edamame beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 ounces pecorino, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

In a small, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, but not brown, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rosemary. Set aside.

Combine the edamame beans, cannellini beans, cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper in a serving bowl. Add the garlic mixture and toss well until all the ingredients are coated.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken, Peppers, and Cucumbers

Given the unusually hot weather in NYC this week, I was in the mood for a lighter meal and one that didn’t require much time.  This recipe from Everyday Food looked perfect since it required little prep work and relied on a rotisserie chicken.

I used a red bell and yellow bell pepper for some nice color as well as the English cucumber that the recipe calls for.  I substituted cilantro for the basil because I had some leftover from our Easter dinner.  Feel free to substitute whatever veggies you have on hand.

The recipe was very light and fresh tasting and had a nice Asian flavor from the lime juice, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil.

Tim and I both enjoyed the meal.  I think the salad would be great for a luncheon or picnic this summer.

Cold Soba-Noodle Salad with Chicken, Peppers, and Cucumber
Everyday Food

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until al dente; drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together oils, lime juice, and vinegar; season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Add bell peppers, basil, cucumber, chicken, and noodles to bowl; toss with dressing. Serve noodle salad with lime wedges.

Sesame Chicken & Soba Noodles

Here is a super easy and healthy Asian-inspired dinner. Chicken is sauteed in soy sauce and light brown sugar and then tossed with toasted sesame seeds.  The sesame chicken is piled on top of soba noodles and greens that have been drizzled with a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, rice vinegar, and ginger.

A few tips — I used chicken tenderloins instead of whole breasts so the chicken would cook quickly.  I mixed shredded carrots and sliced red onion into the greens.  Lastly, I used a microplane to quickly grate the ginger.

A nice lighter meal as we edge towards spring!

Sesame Chicken and Soba Noodles
Real Simple

  • 1 8-ounce package soba noodles
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 7-ounce package mixed greens
  • 3 carrots, cut into matchstick-size strips or shredded
  • 1/4 sweet onion, thinly sliced

Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions and rinse under cold water.

Heat the soy sauce and brown sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken and toss to coat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, vinegar, and oil.

Divide the greens, carrots, and onion among individual plates. Top with the soba noodles and chicken. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Serves 4.

Simple Spinach Salad

Happy New Year!

The first post of the year is a quick one.  Last night, I made this simple spinach salad.  The recipe reminds me of my mom’s spinach salad which I have always loved!  I used baby spinach because that’s what we had but I am sure it would be delicious with curly spinach.  Substitute red onion if you don’t have shallots.


Spinach Salad

* 6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (3/4 cup)
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 6 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
* Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 lb curly spinach (about 20 cups), coarse stems discarded
* 4 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped

print a shopping list for this recipe

Cook bacon in a 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add shallots and oil to bacon fat in skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add vinegar, stirring and scraping up any brown bits.

Stir in salt and pepper and immediately pour dressing over spinach, tossing to coat. Serve sprinkled with egg and bacon.