Posts Tagged 'salad'

Sweet Carrot Salad

This is a quick salad that makes a good buffet or potluck dish.  The carrots with the slightly sweet and sour spiced dressing is quite refreshing.  I served it chilled, but it holds well enough without wilting to serve at room temperature.  The original recipe is from Cooking Light. I used baby carrots, because that is what I had in the house. Regular carrots would work well, but I would choose slender ones rather than big soup carrots.

Sweet Carrot Salad

5 cups  (1/2-inch-thick) carrot slices, cleaned and peeled
2 garlic cloves, halved
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2Ttablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Combine carrot and garlic in a large saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes or until tender; drain. Discard garlic.

Combine lemon juice and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir well. Add carrot to lemon juice mixture, tossing to coat. Serve salad at room temperature or chilled.  Makes 8 servings with virtually no fat per serving.

Carrot salad

Couscous Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh, a salad of Levantine Arab origins, is typically made with bulgur, plus parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil.  This variation is made with couscous.  Couscous is a Berber dish  consisting of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. It has been around since the 13th century, and is a staple in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Western Libya. Couscous is traditionally served under a meat or vegetable stew. It can also be eaten alone, even sweetened a a dessert or breakfast dish.  While traditional couscous must be steamed several times, the couscous sold in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried. It takes only a brief soaking in boiling water to be ready, making it a great fast food.  I confess that I frequently use couscous as a bed for curries and stews that I take out of the freezer when I’m too hungry to take the time to cook up rice or noodles.

This use of couscous is a bit different, but it makes a great salad ingredient. I’ve made lots of couscous salads from curried with raisins to mixed with tiny shrimp and peas.  I’m a great tabbouleh fan not only as a side dish, but as something to take for lunch.  Most tabbouleh has olive oil in it, but  I almost always eliminate the olive oil to reduce the number of fat grams (Yes, I know it’s “good fat”, but when you’re counting grams it still counts.)  No one has ever really noticed the lack of olive oil in the flavor of the tabbouleh.

Couscous Tabbouleh

1 cup water
¾ cup uncooked couscous
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 green onions, finely sliced
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup  chopped fresh mint
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan (or bring to a boil in a medium bowl in the microwave), and gradually stir in couscous and salt. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and fluff with a fork. Stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may want to add more lemon juice.  Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.  This makes 6 one-cup servings at about 1 gram of fat/serving.

couscous tabbouleh2

Marinated Asparagus Bundles

I was browsing about in other food blogs and noticed that The Go Lightly Gourmet, a blogger with a similar philosophy to mine, published several Cooking Light recipes about asparagus.  What’s not to like about asparagus!  It’s tasty, low fat, and can be very elegant.  And this is the season for fresh asparagus.  Then I recalled that I made a very elegant Cooking Light recipe for the Passover buffet.  It was delicious and beautiful to look at.  I’m not sure if you would call it an appetizer, side dish, or salad, but the little that was left was lovely for lunch the next day.  It is also a make ahead dish, because it needs to marinate, which fits my buffet-making schedule.

To look best, this is should made with thinner asparagus spears. You could also use two colors of  peppers.  It is not hard to make, but allow a little time, because tying the asparagus into little bundles requires some fussing.  I also recommend using more than 10 green onions, because some of the onion ties will be too short or will tear when you get impatient.

Marinated Asparagus Bundles

2 ½ pounds asparagus
10 green onions
2 red bell peppers, cut into 20 strips
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Cover and cook in a small amount of boiling water 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain well. Trim white portion from green onions.  Place green onion tops in a bowl; add boiling water to cover. Drain immediately, and rinse under cold running water.

Gather asparagus into 10 bundles, and add 2 bell pepper strips to each bundle. I actually used 5 asparagus spears/bundle, which meant I had more than 10 bundles, and needed more pepper strips.  I also think that thinner pepper strips would look a little better. Tie each bundle with a green onion strip. Pull the onion ties closed gently. Place bundles in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine chopped onion and next 9 ingredients (onion through pepper) in a bowl; stir well. Pour over asparagus bundles. Cover and chill 2 to 8 hours. To serve,gently  remove asparagus bundles from marinade, and discard marinade. Arrange asparagus bundles on a serving platter.  They certainly make an elegant buffet item.  Makes 10 servings (or more depending upon how you divide them) at only 0.3 grams of fat/serving.

Marinated asparagus bundles

Moroccan Spiced Oranges

This is a delightful dish – a slightly exotic fruit salad that is very easy to prepare.  The original recipe, from Cooking Light calls this a dessert.  But I typically serve it as a buffet side dish (it doubles easily).  It is a refreshing complement to heavier meat and vegetable dishes.  It is also a great leftover for breakfast or lunch.

Moroccan Spiced Oranges

2 ½ cups orange sections, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 oranges)
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 ½ Tablespoons chopped pitted dates
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing to combine. Cover; chill 20 minutes.  This makes 4 servings at 3.6 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: The fat in this recipe comes primarily from the almonds.  I have made it without the almonds, which will make it virtually a no fat recipe.  It is still quite good, although perhaps not quite as exotic.

HINT: I always struggled to peel the oranges and get enough of the white pith off the sections (the pith is bitter).  I was making a double recipe, and got tired of peeling, when it occurred to me that a grapefruit knife, with its serrated curved blade, would make quick work of the orange sections. I cut the oranges in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4-5 pieces.  I used the grapefruit knife to cut the orange away from the skin, then cut each section into pieces.


Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

I almost forgot to post this – I mentioned it a bit ago when I made the honey-roasted chicken. This was how I used the remaining chicken breast. It also used up a number of other odds and ends, like tomatoes, parsley, and cucumbers that were beginning to show signs of age. It almost seems more like a chopped salad with bulgur rather than tabbouleh, but I think I added a little more of the vegetables to it. The original recipe was from Cooking Light, but I lightened it by eliminating the olive oil and using fat free feta. I wanted fewer fat grams because I plan to take it for lunch.  Here’s a secret: people always rave about my tabbouleh and I have been leaving out the olive oil for years. No one seems to notice the difference.

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

¾ cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup boiling water
2 cups diced cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup coarsely chopped plum tomato
1 cup coarsely chopped English cucumber
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup (2 ounces) fat free feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
¼  cup chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Place bulgur in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water, making sure bulgur is covered. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.  Easy, wasn’t it. This makes 4 servings with about 2 grams of fat/serving


HINT: I don’t have an electric or other fancy juicer.  I use my grandmother’s old glass juicer, which works quite well.


If you want to maximize the juice you get from lemons, limes, and the like, there are two ways to make citrus fruit juicier. The first way is to poke holes in the skin of the fruit and microwave them for about 2 minutes on half power.  You need to let them cool before you juice them.  If you don’t want to microwave them, or you’re in a hurry, you can roll the fruit around firmly on the counter for a bit.  This breaks down the inside and makes them easier to juice.

Pasta Salad with Sweet Lime Chili Sauce

Another potluck.  This time they said bring a salad or side dish that is “dairy” – contains no meat.  To complicate things, I had to run errands before the gathering, and was going to a jazz concert after, so It couldn’t be a hot dish, and leftovers would have to be able to survive in the car for a couple of hours.  Since it is very cold, I wasn’t really worried about spoilage.   And of course, it had to meet my standard potluck principle of being something I could eat at the potluck to avoid the fatty dishes others brought, and the leftovers would be ok to eat without being too high fat.

I decided on a pasta salad with a Thai flavor so it would be a little different, but easy to transport. This was also good as a leftover for lunch, when I added little cooked shrimp to it one day, and tuna the next.

Pasta Salad with Sweet Lime Chili Sauce

1 pound small pasta (see Note)
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 colored pepper, chopped coarsely
2 Tablespoons dried flaked onions
¼ cup cilantro, chopped


1/3  cup  fresh lime juice
2  tablespoons  Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
2  Tablespoons  sugar
1/4  cup  finely shredded peeled carrot
1/2  teaspoon  Thai-style chili paste
1  tablespoon  chopped fresh mint
1  tablespoon  chopped fresh cilantro

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Rinse under cold water and allow to drain completely.   Toss pasta with remaining salad ingredients (tomatoes through cilantro). To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over pasta and toss thoroughly. Makes 8 1½  cup servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

NOTE: You can use any kind of small pasta you’d like – orzo, little shells, small macaroni, etc.  I was originally planning to use small shells until I found adorable mini farfalle (bow ties), which I thought gave the salad an interesting look.

VARIATION: I made this salad milder and sweeter than I might have if I wasn’t taking it to a potluck.  If you want to give it a real Thai kick, reduce the sugar to 2 teaspoons, and increase the chili paste to 1 teaspoon – or more to taste.


Carrot Cucumber Salad

This is a quick salad with a Korean flair.  It first appeared in Cooking Light and is a nice buffet dish. It also makes a good lunch take-along with a bit of kick.

Carrot Cucumber Salad

3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil (available in the Asian section of the grocery)
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1 (10 ounce) bag matchstick-cut carrots (or cut your own)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Combine first 7 ingredients (soy sauce through red pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add cucumber and carrot and toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 8 servings at 2.7 grams of fat/serving.

HINT: To seed cucumbers, cut cucumber lengthwise into quarters.  Use a knife or spoon to scoop out the seeds.



I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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