Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Salad Recipes with #Marzetti Simply Dressed

May was National Salad Month. I missed the boat on that one, but that doesn't mean I haven't been enjoying my favourite meal regularly! I love how versatile salads can be, easily composed from anything - from the (not so) plain-jane greens to the spectrum of proteins, a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, and/or a field of grains. Unlike my mom and I (the veggie-holics in the family), many Canadians don’t eat enough vegetables. That's a shame, since with July nearing with it's bounty of fresh, local produce there's no better time to be chowing down on it!

The problem with most salads is the dressing. Most commercially prepared dressings are packed with fillers, additives and preservatives, which makes it difficult for the ever-growing number of Canadian label-readers to ensure that the products they buy are wholesome and simple. Bridging the dietary need for more vegetables with the desire for simplicity are new Simply Dressed® salad dressings from Marzetti®™.

http://www.marzettikitchens.com/

Simply Dressed® refrigerated salad dressings are made with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, canola oil and other fresh, bright ingredients. They have many gluten free options too What they don't have are preservatives, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, MSG or artificial flavours. In Canada, we can find 354 ml bottles in six flavours in our stores: Balsamic, Ranch, Ceasar, Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Greek Feta. All of them cost around $3.99, and are found in the produce section of the grocery store with the refrigerated salad dressings. Hungry Canadians can find the full variety at Loblaws, Superstore, Zehrs, Valumart, Your Independent Grocer, Coppa’s Fresh Market, Concord Foods and FreshCo.

The Marzetti®™ team sent me a delicious assortment of salad recipes to share, so take a look below - you're bound to find something to make you love your veggies!

First up is the Exotic Vegetable and Chickpea Salad. The exotic flavours of this veggie-packed, greens-free salad will wow your next dinner guests, even if it's just your family! I bring the farmer's market home to make this, since local cauliflower, beets, cucumber, red peppers, onions and feta are a world of flavour onto their own. Paired with nutty chickpeas, briny olives and and Simply Dressed® Greek Feta Salad Dressing, I dare you to not take a second bite! The main change I made to the original was roasting the beets alongside the cauliflower for more sweetness and eliminating the roasting oil - there's enough richness as it is.

Exotic Vegetable and Chickpea Salad
Serves 8
2 large golden beets
4 cups fresh cauliflower florets
3/4 cup Simply Dressed® Greek Feta Salad Dressing
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, slivered
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup diced cucumber
One (15 oz.) can chick peas, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup slivered and pitted Kalamata olives (I would use sun-dried olives for richer flavour)
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese (I suggest goat or sheep's milk feta)
fresh dill, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. 
  2. Wrap beets in foil and place on a small baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Spread cauliflower in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  4. Place in the oven alongside the beets and roast both for 15-18 minutes longer, until cauliflower is golden and beets are tender. 
  5. Cool slightly, then peel and dice the beets. 
  6. In a large bowl, combine Simply Dressed® Greek Feta Salad Dressing with ground cumin. 
  7. Add all remaining ingredients and toss well. Garnish with fresh dill.
  8. The salad is best served right after it is tossed.

Up next is the Layered Multi-Grain Salad. Serve up layers of goodness in this scrumptious salad, which contains brown rice, quinoa, celery, carrots, edamame, dried apricots, queso fresco and Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing. This is a perfect use for brown Basmati, since it adds a delicate but definite flavour. If, like me, you don't groove on quinoa, millet or amaranth make a great substitute.

Layered Multi-Grain Salad
Serves 10
1 cup Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked red or white quinoa
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cups edamame, thawed
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup crumbled chevre or feta cheese
6 cups of your favourite salad greens
  1. Transfer each grain to a separate bowl and toss each with 2 tbsp dressing. Season each with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Line up large canning jars (for individual, portable portions) or use a large clear bowl and begin to layer the salad as desired.
  3. If using individual jars, place 2 tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of each jar before beginning layers of vegetables and grains. Leave 1 1/2” open space at the top of each jar. To serve, secure lid and shake the jar to distribute the dressing.
  4. With a large bowl, pour the remaining dressing over the assembled salad and gently open spaces with a chopstick to allow the dressing to seep into the salad.  

When I saw this recipe for Crunchy Apple Chicken Salad, all I could think of was my grandma's recipe - a very similar combination of crunchy, sweet and savoury items like roasted chicken, Granny Smith apples, celery, dates, pecans, cabbage and salad greens. Combined with  Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing with chicken, it's a standout light lunch.

Crunchy Apple Chicken Salad
Serves 4
1/2 cup Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing
2 cups cooked skinless chicken breast, shredded
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped dates or raisins
2 cups chopped cabbage (I suggest Savoy or Napa)
4 cups mixed salad greens
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup coarsely grated (or diced) old white Cheddar
  1. In a large bowl, combine Simply Dressed Balsamic Salad Dressing, chicken, apples, celery, and dates.
  2. Add cabbage and salad greens and gently toss. Season to taste.
  3. Top with pecans and cheese and serve.

This Arugula and Fennel Pomegranate Salad is my family's personal favourite, and allows us to use fresh, snappy arugula from our garden. The sweet, slightly licorice-y fennel, pomegranates and Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Salad Dressing all speak to my stepfamily's Italian roots, while the crusted goat cheese adds texture and a great tang.

Arugula and Fennel Pomegranate Salad
Serves 6
1 cup panko
6 oz. goat cheese, cut into 6 discs
2 tbsp lightly flavoured olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, outer layer removed and thinly sliced
8 oz. arugula
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Salad Dressing
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  1. Place panko in a shallow dish. Roll each piece of goat cheese completely in panko and transfer to a plate. 
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan and add goat cheese in one layer.
  3. Cook about 1 to 2 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer cheese to a plate and keep warm (don't cover or you'll lose the crunch!).
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine fennel, arugula, onion and dressing, tossing gently. 
  5. Divide salad mixture onto individual plates and sprinkle each salad with pomegranate seeds and pistachios. 
  6. Place warm goat cheese on top of each salad and serve.​


I'm not a huge fan of watermelon, but I know lots of people who will love this Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad. A simple salad made of watermelon, crumbled feta cheese, fresh mint and Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing makes for an unexpected start to a summer meal

Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad
Serves 4
½ cup Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing
1½ lbs. cubed watermelon (about 5 cups)
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (I suggest goat’s milk feta)
½ cup mint, thinly sliced (or whole if small leaves)
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  1. Place watermelon in a medium-sized salad bowl or serving platter.
  2. Top with red onion, feta and mint.
  3. Sprinkle with black pepper and drizzle with Simply Dressed Balsamic Balsamic Salad Dressing.

Finally, there's the Chopped Spinach, Mint and Cracked Wheat Salad! Hearty, fibre-full bulgur, vibrant spinach, mint and scallions, salty feta and toasted almonds get a punch of fruity flavour from dried apricots, pomegranate seeds and Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Dressing. I added a touch of saffron for colour and more exoticism, used baby spinach and my favourite local goat's feta cheese, but of course feel free to make the recipe as written! If you like tabbouleh, try this twist, you won't be disappointed.

Chopped Spinach, Mint and Cracked Wheat Salad 
Serves 10
1 1/2 cups water
pinch saffron (optional)
1 cup bulgur wheat
3/4 cup Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Dressing
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped mint
5 oz. chopped spinach
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (ideally goat's milk feta)
  1. Combine the water and saffron in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. 
  2. Add bulgur, remove from heat and cover. Let stand 1 hour.
  3. Fluff the bulgur with a fork and pour 1/2 cup Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Dressing overtop.
  4. Fold through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine mint, spinach and scallions in a large bowl. Fold in the bulgur.
  6. Top with apricots, pomegranate seeds, almonds, feta and remaining dressing.
  7. Toss gently and serve

"Like" Marzetti on Facebook and be sure to check out their Pinterest and www.marzettikitchens.com for more recipes!

Disclaimer: This post was solicited by Marzetti®™. I did not receive monetary compensation however I was provided with free product for purposes of testing.