Tag Archives: basil

Fresh Express and Orange Beet Spinach Salad

I am a Featured Publisher at Foodbuzz.com. This means that in addition to meeting other great food bloggers, there are additional perks. The Tastemaker program is one of them. This program gives members an opportunity to receive certain featured products, and write recipes using those products. Most of the time, the products aren’t gluten and dairy-free, so I don’t participate as often as some others. This time, however, the product was something I would happily use – Fresh Express bagged salads!

While I love to get fresh greens from the farmers market, life and the various seasons get in the way for me to be able to do that consistently. Often, I fill my need for tons of salad with bagged salads. When I received coupons for the Fresh Express bags, I went and picked up some Spinach and Ruby Red bags. I already had some beets and oranges at home that were begging to be included in this salad, so the addition of spinach and red lettuce would be perfect.

Other than roasting the beets, which took some time (but it was mostly hands-off time), this salad came together very quickly. It was bright and eye-catching, but most importantly, it was full of sweet, tart, and slightly spicy flavors. Definitely a salad I can turn to when entertaining!

And because I was so lucky to receive such a bounty of coupons for free Fresh Express salads, I’ll be happy to send some out to a lucky winner. Please leave me a comment telling me what you would do with a Fresh Express bagged salad, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. That’s it – no strings attached. But act quickly, because this giveaway ends Saturday, October 23.

And now, for the salad.

Orange Beet Spinach Salad

3 medium beets, peeled and cut into eights

1 T grapeseed oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 seedless oranges, one zested and juiced, one sliced into ½ inch slices

2 T chopped fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish

1/8 t ground chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T white balsamic vinegar

2 T olive oil

1 bag Fresh Express Ruby Reds blend

¼ c toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cut beets in grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and roast in a glass baking dish for 40-45 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the orange zest, juice, chopped basil, chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper, and white balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Adjust seasoning as needed.

To assemble salad: Place Fresh Express salad blend on a chilled plate. Arrange beets, orange slices, and walnuts on top. Drizzle dressing over and garnish with basil leaves.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

A Gluten-Free Food Blogger Brunch (and Basil Chicken Pesto Salad Puffs)

 

Yesterday, a group of Dallas-area food bloggers and friends got together for our first-ever gluten-free brunch, hosted by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. It was an intimate party (there were five of us), and boy, was it a lovely meal, and an excellent opportunity to meet other gluten-free bloggers. Also attending the brunch was Amy of I Am A Celiac, Kerri of Food Sparks, and Katie, a gluten-free friend that does not blog (yet – we might convince her otherwise).

For those of us with dietary restrictions, sometimes pot lucks and meals at others’ houses can cause anxiety, (will I get sick?) or cause many of us to not eat at all. Not so at this brunch! What a delight to visit and everything is gluten-free! There was certainly an abundance of food.

Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free made cucumber basil water (posted on her blog), which is the most amazing, refreshing drink I think I’ve had to date. Definitely seeing this served in the near future in my house. She also baked up a storm, making two varieties of scones, blueberry crumb bars, (which I loved – even took a few home!) and strawberry muffins.

Amy of I Am A Celiac brought deliciously savory gluten-free jalapeno sausage, black beans and roasted potatoes, and a baked good from the nearby gluten-free bakery (for the life of me, I can’t think of or find the name of the place!).

Katie brought a lovely fruit salad and deviled eggs (complete with homemade mayonnaise!), and Kerri brought fresh juices and some homemade jams – strawberry and raspberry chipotle.

And I brought these.

Basil chicken pesto salad puffs. I used my gluten-free, dairy-free pate a choux recipe, and filled the puffs with chicken salad. I wanted a fresh, unique chicken salad, and since my garden is currently overflowing with basil, I opted for pesto as a main component. I found that Alisa at Go Dairy Free had a dairy-free pesto recipe that was very easy to make. I followed this recipe, and boosted the flavors and complexity with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, apples, walnuts, lemon, and a bit of dijon. I added mayonnaise, but not much – just enough to keep the salad moist and blend the flavors together. Stuffed into the puffs, this salad was bright, slightly sweet, and fresh.

It was most refreshing to enjoy time with fellow bloggers (and fellow gluten-free friends). Spending time with like minds who share the same passions rejuvenates the soul. I returned home with renewed energy and new ideas. We’ll have to get together again soon!

Basil Chicken Pesto Salad Puffs

2 T olive oil

2 lbs chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

1 recipe gluten-free, dairy-free cream puffs

1 recipe dairy-free basil pesto

1/2 c mayonnaise

1 1/2 t dijon mustard

1/3 c sundried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 c toasted walnuts, chopped

2 apples (I used Fuji, but I imagine Granny Smith would be even better), peeled and diced

1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and allow to heat until shimmering. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and saute, 5-6 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. (Work in batches if you need to) Remove and set aside. When all chicken is cooked, place in airtight container and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Prepare cream puffs as directed in recipe and allow to cool to room temperature.

Prepare pesto as directed in recipe.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and dice into 1/2 inch dice. Stir together pesto, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard. Toss apples in juice from the lemon. Combine diced chicken, pesto mixture, apples, sundried tomatoes, and walnuts in a large bowl and stir gently until evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut a small hole in the top of each cream puff. Gently spoon chicken salad into each cream puff, filling the entire inside cavity. Chill until ready to serve. (These can be refrigerated for a few hours, but the cream puff will become soft over time.)

Makes 15-18.

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Filed under Appetizers, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes

Insalata Caprese

This recipe calls for the freshest of ingredients. If you have a farmer’s market in your area, I suggest visiting to pick up some wonderful fresh tomatoes and fresh basil. The tomatoes sold at the regular grocery stores are tasteless in comparison. There is nothing more wonderful than the simple combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella, and this simple salad combines those beautiful flavors and presents beautifully. Excellent as a first course for a summery Italian dinner.

5 tomatoes

½ lb fresh mozzarella balls

½ bunch fresh basil leaves

3 T extra virgin olive oil

4 t lemon juice

2 t Chardonnay

½ T parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Slice tomatoes thickly, about ½ inch thick. Drain fresh mozzarella and slice into rounds. Wash and dry basil leaves gently so they don’t bruise. Alternating layers, arrange tomatoes, basil, and cheese on a plate. Place lemon juice and wine in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle desired amount over tomatoes and cheese. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

(serves six)

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Vegetables, Vegetarian