Chilled Grilled Peach Salad with Baby Arugula

Chilled Grilled Peach Salad with Baby Arugula. Wow, doesn’t that sound refreshing on a hot summer’s day? Think about a juicy grilled peach that’s been chilled and filled with creamy herbed cheese and drizzled with a sweet and savory balsamic vinegar syrup and served alongside a baby arugula salad tossed with a citrus-herb-vinaigrette and sprinkled with crispy bacon bits. That was certainly a mouthful! Sweet and succulent and savory and smoky and crunchy all together on one plate!

A chilled grilled peach stuffed with herbed cheese drizzled with balsamic syrup and served with baby arugula (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A chilled grilled peach stuffed with herbed cheese drizzled with balsamic syrup and served with baby arugula (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

This salad’s inspiration began at Patsy’s Restaurant in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Patsy’s is a favorite food spot when we are visiting the Delaware Beaches. Check out my posting about Patsy’s here: Patsy’s Restaurant in Bethany — Key West Seduction at the Delaware Shore.

The chilled grilled peach, prosciutto, and herbed cheese appetizer at Patsy's Restaurant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The chilled grilled peach, prosciutto, and herbed cheese appetizer at Patsy’s Restaurant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Here’s my version which in no way outdoes the original, but it hits the spot when I can’t get to Patsy’s for the real thing.

Organic Yellow Peaches (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Organic Yellow Peaches (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Just halve and grill some ripe peaches in a grill pan with some coconut oil until the grill marks have set, just a few minutes. Chill the peaches for a few hours or overnight. When ready to plate the salad, divide the chilled grilled peach halves amongst four plates.

Organic Yellow Peaches from California (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Organic Yellow Peaches from California (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mix together some herbed Boursin cheese and some goat cheese and fill the peach centers with a dollop. You can use Boursin or another herbed cheese.

Boursin Cheese (Photo Credit: Boursin.com)

Boursin Cheese (Photo Credit: Boursin.com)

Then whisk together a citrusy vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, orange blossom honey balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh herbs, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the baby arugula in the vinaigrette and divide amongst the plates. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar syrup over the peaches and the baby arugula. Then sprinkle some crispy bacon crumbles over the baby arugula. Add some of your favorite salad crackers or a slice of buttered baguette and you’re ready to serve!

Citrus-vinaigrette-dressed Baby Arugula with a Chilled Grilled Peach stuffed with Herbed Cheese and Drizzled with Balsamic Syrup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Citrus-vinaigrette-dressed Baby Arugula with a Chilled Grilled Peach stuffed with Herbed Cheese and Drizzled with Balsamic Syrup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Be sure to use ripe juicy peaches that are in season. Try to buy local, if possible.

Local White Peaches from Saunder's Brothers in Piney River, VA (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Local White Peaches from Saunder’s Brothers in Piney River, VA (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I like 34 Degrees crackers because they are thin, light, and crispy. Look for them at your local grocery store.

34 Degrees makes plain and flavored crispy crackers that compliment salads (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

34 Degrees makes plain and flavored crispy crackers that compliment salads (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Chilled Grilled Peach Salad with Baby Arugula

Ingredients:

(You will want to make the grilled peaches ahead of time so you can chill them at least for a few hours or overnight.)

Cooking spray or 1 T coconut oil
2 ripe peaches, halved and pitted, centers slightly scooped out with a melon baller or spoon to remove pit fibers
1/4 c herbed Boursin cheese
1/4 c plain goat cheese
1/4 c olive oil
1 T Alessi orange blossom honey balsamic vinegar (or use plain balsamic vinegar)
Juice of half a lemon
1 T honey
1 T chopped fresh herbs such as tarragon, dill, or basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 c baby arugula
4 T balsamic vinegar syrup
2 T crumbled crispy bacon (optional)
Fresh herb sprigs such as tarragon, dill, or basil, for garnish
Your choice of salad crackers for serving

Method:

1. Heat a grill pan over medium heat on your stove.
2. Melt the coconut oil into the grill pan or lightly coat the pan with cooking spray, being sure to coat the raised grooves.
3. When the pan has heated, but the oil is not smoking, place each peach cut-side down on the grill to make nice brown grill marks and cook just for about 2 – 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the peaches — you just want grill marks.
4. With a spatula, carefully remove the peach halves to a container after their grill marks are set. Cover the container and chill the peaches for a few hours or overnight.
5. When you are ready to assemble the salad, mix together the Boursin cheese and the goat cheese in a small bowl until well-combined.
6. Place a chilled grilled peach half on each of your four serving plates.
7. Put a dollop of the Boursin goat cheese mixture into the indentation of each peach half.
8. Now, make the vinaigrette. In a non-metallic bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs, and honey. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
9. In larger bowl, toss the arugula with the citrus vinaigrette.
10. Divide the dressed arugula amongst the serving plates.
11. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar syrup over the filled peach halves and the baby arugula.
12. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the baby arugula.
13. Put an herb sprig in the Boursin goat cheese dollop for garnish.
14. Add the salad crackers to the plates, and serve!

Makes 4 salads. If making for two diners, you could easily offer two peach halves per plate and some additional arugula for a “main course” salad.

Variations: Use mixed baby greens instead of arugula. Try bleu cheese instead of the Boursin. Use prosciutto instead of bacon just like the original at Patsy’s Restaurant.

My Chilled Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad inspired by Patsy's Restaurant in Bethany, Delaware (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Chilled Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad inspired by Patsy’s Restaurant in Bethany, Delaware (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Organic Yellow Peaches in Baskets at Whole Foods Market (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Organic Yellow Peaches in Baskets at Whole Foods Market (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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The Food Lover’s Special Sauce for Burgers

Everyone probably remembers the Special Sauce on the Big Macs at McDonald’s when we were kids. I say “when we were kids” because as grownups, a lot of us will forgo the “special sauce” on our burgers in order to keep our weight down. But every now and then, we need a treat. The Food Lover’s Special Sauce for Burgers is one of those treats!

The Best Burger with Special Sauce served with Bubbie's Dill Pickles and a side of Honey Mustard Baked Beans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The Best Burger with Special Sauce served with Bubbie’s Dill Pickles and a side of Honey Mustard Baked Beans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

This is a super simple sauce. Everyone has their own set of ingredients and amounts that they like best. For my Special Sauce, I use mayonnaise, ketchup, dijon mustard, dill pickle relish and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Just whisk it all together in a small bowl and you’ve got a special sauce to top your burger or sandwich!

The Best Burger with sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, sliced tomato, baby lettuces and my Special Sauce.  Served with oven-roasted rosemary garlic potato fries.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The Best Burger with sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, sliced tomato, baby lettuces and my Special Sauce. Served with oven-roasted rosemary garlic potato fries. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

There’s nothing better than oozy goodness from a decadent sauce. Check out The Best Burger posting for instructions on how to make a tasty burger at home!

Grass fed beef burger with smoked cheddar, arugula, tomato and special sauce on a sesame bun served with onion rings and homemade dill pickles (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grass fed beef burger with smoked cheddar, arugula, tomato and special sauce on a sesame bun served with onion rings and homemade dill pickles (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

The Food Lover’s Special Sauce for Burgers

Ingredients:

1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c ketchup
1 T dijon mustard
1 T sweet or dill pickle relish (whether you prefer sweet or sour)
Dash of Tabasco sauce (one to two drops)

Method:

Mix together all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl.

Makes about 1 cup of Special Sauce. Refrigerate up to one week.

Variations: Use your own measurements if you like more ketchup or more mustard or more relish or less of anything. This is not a low-fat sauce so cut back on the mayo or use fat-free mayo if you are watching your fat intake. You could substitute plain Greek yogurt for the mayo in this sauce.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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Baked Enchilada Stack

My Baked Enchilada Stack is based on a recipe that is originally from the 1970s era. It’s a wonderful “pie” of stacked tortillas filled in between with chopped or shredded cooked chicken, sour cream, shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, sliced scallions, cumin powder, chili powder, and green chiles. It’s a slightly different way to enjoy the taste of enchiladas.

Cheesy Refried Black Beans accompany a Slice of Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cheesy Refried Black Beans accompany a Slice of Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I still have the original recipe page pull-out from the magazine (see below) although I’m not sure of its origin and in which magazine it was published. My adapted version of the original Baked Enchilada Stack been a favorite of mine for years and years. It’s similar to the “flat enchiladas” in New Mexican cuisine.

Original Enchilada Stack recipe from the 1970s (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Original Enchilada Stack recipe from the 1970s (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enchilada Stack Original Recipe from 1970s, page 2 (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enchilada Stack Original Recipe from 1970s, page 2 (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Several times, I’ve modified the recipe from a “cake-like” presentation on a baking sheet to a more casserole-like version in a baking dish. In the baking dish, the stack is smothered in sauce so it stays succulent and is more like a casserole. The baking sheet version is drier and can be easily cut into wedges and smothered with sauce. You can bake it either way. Just put the tortillas and filling and sauce into a baking dish or place everything on top of a baking sheet.

Baked Enchilada Stack with a side of Refried Black Beans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Enchilada Stack with a side of Refried Black Beans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Make your own enchilada sauce, or you can use my Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce recipe. Or you can purchase a commercial enchilada sauce. Trader Joe’s makes a good enchilada sauce, and you can find others such as Old El Paso brand at your local grocery store. If you’re lucky enough to have a Mexican grocery in your area, you can head over there and select some good canned sauces. I like to buy Hatch enchilada sauce at Whole Foods Markets when I don’t make my own.

Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce is widely available  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce is widely available (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Decide whether you would like to use soft corn tortillas or flour tortillas. The corn tortillas have a different texture and are drier and more crumbly than the flour tortillas. The flour tortillas will usually make a “softer” and wetter enchilada stack. I usually use the flour tortillas which hold up better in the baking sheet version.

Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack with Sauce Served with Cheesy Refried Black Beans and Sour Cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack with Sauce Served with Cheesy Refried Black Beans and Sour Cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

You will want to use a baking dish that has high sides, at least as high as your enchilada stack. Or you can use a regular baking sheet that has been covered in foil to hold in the sauce and then lined in a piece of parchment paper for ease of removal from the pan. I usually use the baking sheet although I have used the baking dish as well.

Baked Enchilada Stack in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Enchilada Stack in a baking dish in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Start out with 6 tortillas. I use the soft taco sized flour tortillas or the small corn tortillas which are about 6 inches in diameter. You can use the burrito-sized flour tortillas or larger corn tortillas if you are feeding a larger crowd. Your baking time will be a bit longer with the larger tortillas, and you’ll want to double the filling.

Start with a flour tortilla on a parchment paper over aluminum foil-lined baking sheet  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Start with a flour tortilla on a parchment paper over aluminum foil-lined baking sheet (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For the chicken filling, chop or shred some cooked or poached chicken breast. Add some sliced scallions.

Dice the cooked chicken breasts  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Dice the cooked chicken breasts (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Dice the cooked chicken  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Dice the cooked chicken (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Nature's Promise brand organic green scallions  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Nature’s Promise brand organic green scallions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some canned green chiles.

Add the diced green chiles to the diced cooked chicken and sliced scallions  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the diced green chiles to the diced cooked chicken and sliced scallions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses and some ground cumin and ground chili powder. And finally add some sour cream.

Add the cheeses  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the cheeses (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the spices  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the spices (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the sour cream  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the sour cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir together the chicken mixture and set aside.

Stir everything together  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir everything together (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some enchilada sauce to the bottom of your greased baking pan. If using a baking sheet, cover the baking sheet with foil and then a piece of parchment paper for easy removal of the enchilada stack.

Take a flour tortilla and place it on top of the enchilada sauce or the parchment paper. Spread some chicken filling over the tortilla. Drizzle a little enchilada sauce over it.

Spread some of the chicken filling onto the first flour tortilla  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spread some of the chicken filling onto the first flour tortilla (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Drizzle some enchilada sauce over the chicken filling  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Drizzle some enchilada sauce over the chicken filling (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top with another tortilla. Repeat until you have used a total of 6 tortillas with the last one topping the last filling layer.

Add a second layer and continue stacking...  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add a second layer and continue stacking… (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pour some enchilada sauce over the enchilada stack. Reserve some sauce for serving.

Pour some sauce over the chicken enchilada stack before baking  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pour some sauce over the chicken enchilada stack before baking (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top with a bit more of the shredded cheeses.

Top the sauced Chicken Enchilada Stack with shredded cheeses  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top the sauced Chicken Enchilada Stack with shredded cheeses (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And bake!

Put the chicken enchilada stack in the oven and bake!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Put the chicken enchilada stack in the oven and bake! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Enchilada Stack in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Enchilada Stack in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the enchilada stack and let cool for a few minutes.

Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack straight from the oven!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack on a baking sheet straight from the oven! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Enchilada Stack just out of the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Enchilada Stack in a baking dish just out of the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Slice the enchilada stack into pie wedges and plate. Drizzle some enchilada sauce around the enchilada stack wedges. Serve the baked enchilada stack with a side of refried beans and some sour cream or Mexican crema.

Half of a baked enchilada stack (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Half of a baked enchilada stack in its own individual baking dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack without Sauce. Served with Refried Black Beans and Sour Cream.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack without Sauce. Served with Refried Black Beans and Sour Cream. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Baked Enchilada Stack

Ingredients:

6 fajita-sized flour tortillas
2 c cooked chicken breast, shredded or chopped
1/4 c canned chopped green chiles
2 c shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, divided, reserving 1/2 c for topping
1/4 c sliced scallions, whites and green tops
1 T cumin
2 T chili powder
1 c sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

4 cups Hatch or Old El Paso enchilada sauce or my red enchilada sauce, divided, reserve 2 cups for serving.

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then add a sheet of parchment paper. Or, spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Combine the chopped chicken with the green chiles, shredded cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup), sliced scallions, cumin, chili powder and sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). Stir until well combined and set aside.
4. Add a flour tortilla to the baking sheet. If using a baking dish, put a little bit of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish before adding the flour tortilla.
5. Spread a fifth of the chicken filling mixture onto the flour tortilla.
6. Drizzle the chicken filling with some enchilada sauce and top with another tortilla.
7. Repeat with the same amount of chicken filling, sauce, and tortillas until you have finished with a plain tortilla on top.
8. Pour the enchilada sauce over the top tortilla saving some sauce for serving.
9. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top of the enchilada stack.
10. Bake the enchilada stack for 20 minutes or until the top is bubbly and the interior is hot.
11. Remove the enchilada stack from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. If you used a baking sheet, you will be able to slice the enchilada stack into portions. Otherwise, you can scoop or lift out portions of the “casserole style” enchilada stack in the baking dish.
12. Plate the enchilada stack wedges. Drizzle some enchilada sauce around the wedges if desired or serve without sauce.

Serves 4 – 8 as a main course depending on the size of your tortillas and the amount of filling. Slice into wedges. Serve with the additional sauce draped over each slice. Offer with a side of refried beans with melty cheese, or perhaps a side of guacamole or sour cream for topping.

The Food Lover’s Note: The original recipe called for frying the tortillas in oil prior to using them. For a healthier version, I prefer to use plain tortillas without frying them at all.

Variations: Sometimes, I will assemble the enchilada stack on a cutting board and then cut it in half or into wedges before topping with sauce to bake separately in different baking dishes as you see in the photos. Use shredded pork or beef instead of chicken. Seasoned ground beef, chicken, or turkey can work as well. Try my pork carnitas instead of the chicken. You could add some refried beans or black beans for one or more of the filling layers, or to make the dish more “vegetarian.” Use minced Vidalia onion instead of the scallions. Lighten up the recipe by using less cheese or nonfat cheese. You can also use plain Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. Make my Red Enchilada Sauce for a lower calorie version to most commercial enchilada sauces. Garnish with chopped ripe tomatoes and sliced black olives. Add chopped cilantro if you are a fan.

A slice of Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack overflowing with green chile chicken filling  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A slice of Baked Chicken Enchilada Stack overflowing with green chile chicken filling (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Order some Hatch enchilada sauce from Amazon.com and have it shipped to your door!

Or order some Old El Paso enchilada sauce:

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

One of my favorite and easy weeknight meals is a pizza with tasty toppings. My BBQ Chicken Pizza is a take-off of the famous California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza. This pizza is simple to make and you can start with either a prepared pizza dough or a flatbread.

BBQ Chicken Pizza fresh from the oven! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

BBQ Chicken Pizza fresh from the oven! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top a prepared flatbread or pizza dough with barbecue sauce, cooked chicken chunks, shredded mozzarella and smoked Gouda cheeses, thinly sliced red onion.

BBQ Chicken Pizza ready for the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

BBQ Chicken Pizza ready for the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And bake. When the flatbread or pizza is done, let it sit a few minutes before cutting into pieces.

Hot and Piping BBQ Chicken Pizza fresh from the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Hot and Piping BBQ Chicken Pizza fresh from the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top with a handful of chopped cilantro or parsley.

Baked BBQ Chicken Pizza sliced and sprinkled with Chopped Cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked BBQ Chicken Pizza sliced and sprinkled with Chopped Cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add a BBQ chicken pizza or flatbread to your Fourth of July celebration meal!

BBQ Chicken Flatbread - Grilled Chicken, Smoked Gouda, Red Onion, BBQ Sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

BBQ Chicken Flatbread – Grilled Chicken, Smoked Gouda, Red Onion, BBQ Sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza dough (try my Easy Pizza Dough recipe) or 2 flatbreads
2 cooked boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 c your favorite barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce)
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 c shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1 finely sliced medium red onion
1/4 c chopped cilantro or Italian parsley

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Roll out the pizza dough onto a pizza pan or place the flatbread on a baking sheet.
3. In a non-metallic bowl, toss the chicken chunks with 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce and set aside.
4. Spread the rest of the BBQ sauce on the pizza dough or flatbreads.
5. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the BBQ sauce.
6. Spread the chicken chunks evenly over the mozzarella cheese.
7. Sprinkle the shredded smoked Gouda over the chicken and mozzarella.
8. Sprinkle the sliced onion over the smoked Gouda.
9. Bake the pizza for 15 – 20 minutes until the crust has browned and the cheese has melted and browned slightly. If you are using a flatbread, you may want to decrease the baking time.
10. Remove the pizza or flatbread from the oven and let it sit on the pan until the cheese sets (about 3 minutes) so you can slice it easily.
11. Sprinkle on the cilantro or parsley and serve!

Serves 4 – 8 depending on pizza/flatbread slice size and appetite of your guests. Offer with a side salad of baby greens with my Dijon Mustard Dressing. This pizza/flatbread tastes great cold, too!

Variations: Omit the cilantro if you are not a fan. Use smoked cheddar cheese instead of smoked Gouda. Use cooked turkey chunks or even cooked ham chunks instead of the chicken. Try Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Sauce if you want something without too much sweetener.

Get a nice pizza pan from Amazon.com:

And get a pizza cutter/wheel:

Order some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce from Amazon.com

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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How to Grow Your Own Salad

How to grow your own salad. For many years, I’ve grown herbs and tomatoes. This year, lettuces, spring mix, arugula, and other greens went onto my “grow your own” list. Lettuces will grow pretty much anywhere as long as they have some sunlight or a grow light. You can grow your own salad even in your own apartment!

Baby Greens from my garden  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baby Greens from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Because I’m limited on sun and growing space due to our local deer population, I have quite the extensive potted kitchen garden on my back decks. Herbs tend to do well in pots. I wasn’t too sure about greens though. I bought some potting soil and a number of seed packets. Spicy spring mix, green lettuce mix, zesty lettuce mix, heirloom arugula, and regular green leaf lettuce seeds all went into pots.

Heirloom Arugula and Fancy Lettuce Mix Seeds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Heirloom Arugula and Fancy Lettuce Mix Seeds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Gourmet Greens Mix Seeds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Gourmet Greens Mix Seeds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I wasn’t sure what would happen. My decks get about 3 hours of direct sunlight and probably another 4 hours of dappled sunlight. With a few days of heavy rain after planting, and then some sun, my seeds sprouted! I kept reading that a garden area needs a lot of full sun to grow lettuces.

Baby greens sprouting (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baby greens sprouting (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I was amazed at the bounty of baby greens that sprouted! I planted maybe 1/4 of each packet in a pot. Growing greens in pots requires frequent harvests (yes, they will grow back!) and discourages the slugs from ruining the crops. Just smear a bit of Vaseline or other petroleum jelly in a constant circle around your pots so the slugs can’t crawl up. That won’t stop the birds from dropping them into the pots accidentally, so do check your greens for pests often. This morning, I found tiny green caterpillars chewing on the greens in one of my pots.

Baby Lettuces are simple to grow in pots on your balcony, patio or deck.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baby Lettuces are simple to grow in pots on your balcony, patio or deck. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mixed Baby Greens  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mixed Baby Greens (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My salad bounty has been plenty for the few weeks that the greens have grown to harvest size. You can clip them with garden or kitchen scissors so that they will grow back. Snip whole leaves and don’t pull out the roots and you will have a renewing garden. Be sure to harvest your baby lettuces before they “bolt” or start to flower. It’s best to grow lettuce in cooler weather such as Spring and Fall depending on whether your location has hot summers.

Baby lettuces growing in pots on my deck railings  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baby lettuces growing in pots on my deck railings (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baby Heirloom Wild Arugula in my garden  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baby Heirloom Wild Arugula in my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grow several different types of baby greens. In addition, I’m growing a number of herbs. I like to snip herbs such as basil and chives to use in my fresh salads. I’m growing several types of basil, sage, mint, chives, thyme, Italian parsley, oregano and rosemary in my potted kitchen garden. My cilantro bolted pretty quickly this year, so I planted some seeds. I haven’t had great luck growing cilantro or tarragon. My neighbor grows tarragon in her very sunny and much larger farm garden. I’m lucky to have access to it whenever I need some tarragon. Most herbs love hot weather as do tomatoes.

My potted kitchen garden on my back deck (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My potted kitchen garden on my back deck (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I also grow heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes in pots on my deck. Because I don’t get a lot of direct sunlight, my tomatoes tend to be late producers. One year, I had so many unripe green tomatoes in mid-October — just as the frost was about to hit — that I roasted all of them. Then, I made the roasted green tomatoes into a wonderful green tomato sauce for the freezer! You should definitely make some Roasted Tomatoes and also use them in my Rustic Roasted Tomato Sauce! Use my roasted tomato sauce on pasta or pizza or as a dip for breadsticks!

Cherry Tomatoes in my Potted Kitchen Garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cherry Tomatoes in my Potted Kitchen Garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Ripe Cherry Tomatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Ripe Cherry Tomatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomatoes from my garden!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomatoes from my garden! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

So how do YOU start to grow your own salad? First, get some growing containers that have drain holes in the bottom. Fill the containers with potting soil. Then, dampen the potting soil with water and then sprinkle some greens seeds or herb seeds on the soil. Cover the seeds with just a bit more soil depending on the directions on the package. Some seeds need to be covered, some don’t. Then lightly water the seeds using a light mist or spray from your garden hose or a spray water bottle. Set your containers in a sunny area and wait. Keep the seeds a bit moist until they sprout. Then in about 2 – 3 weeks, you’ll have salad ingredients of your own!

For the tomatoes: I prefer to purchase baby tomato plants from local growers. You can grow yours from seed if you like. Tomatoes are a bit more testy for me to grow. I usually get a tomato cage for each plant that I grow in a large pot. The smaller bushy patio tomato plants are better for me than the vine-y kind. Just get a large pot, fill it with good potting soil, and plant a tomato plant in each pot. Don’t overwater the tomato plants or they may be more susceptible to diseases. I use crushed eggshells around the tomatoes. Not sure why the eggshells work, but they make for a tasty tomato.

Try some of my tasty salad dressings on your own homegrown salads. Baby greens are very delicate so be careful when tossing them. Sometimes it’s better to just drizzle on the dressing.

Low Fat Blue Cheese Dressing
Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
Hubby’s Caesar Salad Dressing
Dijon Mustard Dressing
Tarragon Balsamic Dressing
Roasted Walnut Oil Dressing
Lime Cilantro Dressing
The Food Lover’s Favorite Bleu Cheese Dressing
Italian Dressing with Sundried Tomatoes
Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing
Herby Buttermilk Dressing
Balsamic Vinegar Syrup and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Also, check out my posting on How to Make Croutons for Soups and Salads.

Crispy Croutons fresh from the oven for your soups and salads (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Crispy Croutons fresh from the oven for your soups and salads (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

If you don’t have a lot of sunlight in your area, or if you don’t have a balcony in your apartment, you can also use a grow light and grow salad greens inside! Check out this great option from Amazon.com.

And you can grow microgreens inside as well:

Get an assortment of seeds to grow in your garden!

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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