Wilted Frisée with Coarse Grain Mustard Vinaigrette and Granny Smith Apples

Frisee-Salad-5

No meal is complete without something green so when putting together a 3 course wine dinner, I knew we needed a little something fresh that would be a perfect pairing with Chardonnay. While I was bouncing around ideas with our Sommelier, she threw out the idea of a wilted frisée salad.  Honestly, I was skeptical.  Frisée are the little bitter greens that I’ve always picked out of a mixed green salad simply because they’re always a little too tough or frankly, bitter (which they are by nature). I’ve never been a fan. Creating a salad comprised of all frisée scared me, but she convinced me when she suggested slightly wilting it to make it easier to eat and to help meld the flavors of a course grain mustard vinaigrette. I decided to take the chance and I’m so glad I did. I could not believe how much I LOVED this salad – I actually went back for seconds! The combination of light, slightly bitter greens, mustard vinaigrette and apples are the prefect compliment to our California Chardonnay. The chopped, granny smith apples bring out the hint of apple and pear in the wine while the mustard vinaigrette offers the perfect touch of acidity to compliment the bitterness of the greens. This is a delicious, light and crisp salad to enjoy before a hearty main course (coming tomorrow). YUM! Give it a try this weekend for your Valentine and I promise you’ll love it.  Just be sure to pair it with a little Chardonnay. The combo is pretty spectacular.  Scroll down to view the recipe!

Frisee-Salad-1

Frisee-Salad-2

Yield: 2 salads

Ingredients

1 head frisée
1 tablespoon coarse grain mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup feta
1/2 medium granny smith apple (chopped)

Directions

1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Toss greens in pan until slightly wilted and just starting to brown.
3. To make your vinaigrette, whisk together mustard, red wine vinegar, black pepper, salt and remaining olive oil.
4. In a large bowl, toss greens, chopped apple, feta and drizzle with vinaigrette.  Serve with a crisp chardonnay.

Frisee-Salad-3

Frisee-Salad-4

Frisee-Salad-7

Frisee-Salad-9

Salad Wars – Easy Spinach Salad

Salad-Wars

As much as I wish I could say that I’m a health nut, it just isn’t the truth.  I blame part of it on growing up with a should-have-been-a-chef father who was always whipping up something absolutely incredible that generally included rich flavors: garlic, spices, great meats, savory cheeses, etc.  Now that I work in the wine industry, my foodie levels have only been heightened by pushing myself to think about pairings and learning more about what foods bring out certain characteristics in wines and vice versa.  However, when I started running a LOT earlier this year (more than ever before in my life), I started to learn a few things about my body.  Mainly that I absolutely could not continue eating anything and everything I ever wanted.

The issue for me is that it’s really hard to find healthy food that is flavored well and that I really, truly crave.  I need salads that are way more interesting than the pre-made quinoa and kale station at Whole Foods during lunch to keep me going or else I wind up at the ridiculous taco joint down the street for the best fish tacos on the planet, or god forbid, CHIPOTLE, which is also conveniently within walking distance to the office.  Additionally, I took a hard look at my bank account a few weeks ago and it’s just sad how much money goes to eating lunch out almost every day of the week.  It’s no secret that packing a lunch saves you money, but it was a truth I chose to ignore for quite a while.

Enter Salad Wars which is mainly a great big experiment and challenge to find the best, most convenient and healthy salads out there.  In my quest, I have found a few and to my disbelief, I’m actually excited for them by lunch or dinner – a feat I never thought possible ;-)  Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few of those recipes and hope to inspire you to join me on the quest for good health.

#1 is my go-to Spinach Salad… check out the recipe below!

Salad-Wars-3

Prep: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 avocado
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt (to taste)
a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

If you’re taking this for lunch and would like to prep it the night before, I usually mix the spinach, pine nuts, parmesan and a little salt in a travel container.  I slice the avocado and tomatoes just before eating to keep things fresh :-)

This salad could not be simpler, which I love.  No dressing at all (including EVO) is always better than dressing, but cutting out pre-mixed, store bought dressing also cuts out major calories so I feel ok with a little drizzle of olive oil.  With a tiny bit of salt and just a slight dusting of cheese, I’ve found that I don’t miss the pre-mixed dressing at all and I feel fulfilled and re-energized when I’m done eating instead of slipping into total food-coma… We’ve all been there after lunch.  You know what I’m talking about.

*If you’re having this for dinner or if you’re allowed to have a taste of wine at work, this wine or this one are great options and pair deliciously with all of the flavors above :-)  Cheers!

Salad-Wars-2

Salad-Wars-4

Salad-Wars-6

Salad-Wars-5

 

Pear Salad

Following a weekend traditionally made up of non-stop eating, I figured we could all use a salad ;-) Exhibit A:

IMG_1689

Believe it or not, until a few months ago I “hated” pears. I’d tried them as a little girl, decided they were “gross” and then never tried them again for probably 15+ years.  I can not believe what I’ve been missing!!!  When searching around for cocktail ideas for work, I kept coming across pear recipes and decided to overcome my ridiculous fear of pears and surprise, surprise… I completely fell in love with them!  You guys, I’m SO happy about this… I think they might be my new favorite fruit and I crave them constantly.  When I had a few left over from shooting this, I decided to put them to work in a new salad and figured it would be a nice change of pace from my go-to greens.  I found this recipe for a Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (yes, it’s even better than it sounds) and knew that the flavors would pair insanely well with pear.

IMG_1754

IMG_1768

IMG_1766

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients

5 oz. Mixed Greens (I used spring mix + arugula)
3 oz. Goat Cheese
1 Pear
1/2 cup Glazed Walnut Pieces (I used Fresh Gourmet brand – available in the salad or crouton aisle)

Ingredients for Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions

1.  Combine all ingredients for dressing until thoroughly mixed. I like to put everything in a mason jar and shake it up to get an even consistency. This also makes it easy to save leftovers :-)

2.  Combine spring mix, walnuts and goat cheese. Drizzle with dressing and mix. Top with sliced pear and serve with a crisp chardonnay. This and this are both great options for Chard :-)

Cheers!

IMG_1827

IMG_1843

IMG_1846

The “Holy Crap I’m Fat” Moment

You people KNOW what I’m taking about… and if you don’t than you’re either 1) Miranda Kerr (a freak of nature) 2) a personal trainer and work out for a living so you can never, ever really feel fat or 3) lying to yourself.  Life is going along its merry way, Halloween passes, the temperatures start to cool (so you’re embracing your fantastic layered fall fashions) and then BAM!  Out of nowhere Thanksgiving rolls around and you WAY over indulge.  But seriously, how many times a year do you get turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams or sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and PUMPKIN PIE ALL TOGETHER?!?  So you justify and let it slide, tell yourself next week you’ll be better and then suddenly you’re in the midst of 700 work parties, company retreats, holiday gatherings, Hanukkah celebrations, shopping excursions, picking up a few last minute gifts instead of making it to yoga (or if you’re like me, having an absolute meltdown over finals and not enjoying a single moment of the holiday season AGAIN because for some reason you just HAD to go back to school to pursue your dreams).  And then BAM!  Christmas.  Same story as Thanksgiving, but maybe worse because there are way more desserts at Christmas and by then your stomach is twice the size it was in June so you can naturally eat more.  I know.  Gross.  Amongst all of the travel to see loved ones, you grab a snack in the airport, consume way more Starbucks than usual because the Peppermint Mochas only happen once a year and share your favorite restaurant hot spots “back home” with your significant other.  And then you decide to throw a New Year’s party when you get back from the traveling, cook up a storm, drink way too much champagne and way over indulge AGAIN.  Football bowl games (aka more food/booze) for the next few days (GO GREEN!), and then you hop on the next flight to Vegas because hey, who doesn’t need a little family birthday party/reunion in the CITY OF INDULGENCE after having just indulged your face off for the past MONTH?!?  Of course you make lengthy (yet completely realistic and attainable) New Year’s resolutions (PUHlease), work out ten times harder than you have since October and then reward yourself with two brownies and a cake pop.  I mean FOR REAL.  It HAS to stop.

That being said, I spent last evening Pinning away healthy food inspiration to try to regain some sort of excitement for cooking, healthy, fulfilling food in my own kitchen and here are some of the images/recipes I can’t wait to try out.  Don’t believe me because I’m always snapping shots of cheese, burgers and waffles?  Here is the proof.

{Refreshing. Image via}

{Hearty looking smoothie.  Image via}

{Fresh and simple.  Image via}

{Avocados make me happy.  Must try this one soon.  Image via}

{Protein bowl.  Image via}

{This looks so tasty, my stomach is literally growling now.  Image via}

{Love salmon.  Image via}

{Colorful and refreshing.  Image via}

{Lovely salad.  Image via}

Cheers to making 2012 the year of health and success!