Cucumber Lime Spritzer: Your Go-To Summer Drink, Any Time of Day

Cucumber Lime Sprtizer | #pkwayI love creating luscious cocktails, most of which star fruits, vegetables, and herbs. (Here’s a slideshow of my favorites.) But cocktails aren’t for all the time, or for everyone. And we all need things to sip when we just want to stay hydrated—without all the added sugar and calories that come from many of the beverages out there.

Enter today’s “recipe,” a fun way to add sparkle and zest to hydration, and elegant enough to act as a refreshing mocktail.

Simply start with a base of soda or tonic water, whichever you prefer, and add discs of sliced cucumber and a lime wedge; ice is up to you. Easy as can be. You can do the same with regular tap water, if you prefer still to sparkling, or you can start with a non-sugar added flavored seltzer of your choice. It’s a fun way to keep you hydrated when you want something more than water, or an option for non-alcoholic drinks.

In a similar version of this drink, I purée cucumbers and create basil simple syrup for a true mocktail. It’s delicious, and highly recommended, but this one’s obviously much less work, still pretty, and is a better option for anytime drinking since it doesn’t include sugar.

You can add herbs if you want, as I do in my cucumber mint water, or swap lemon for lime. Or go in a completely direction with stone fruit and berries. There are tons of tasty combinations to dress up your water and help you keep calories in balance. (Alcohol, after all, provides a lot of calories if left unchecked; more here.) Make it your own, do what makes you happy, and know that you’re making a healthier choice for your body.

Cucumber Lime Sprtizer | PK Newby

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Better-for-You Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans |#pkwayThis is the third of my black bean-inspired posts, and it feels great to give beans some love! The American Heart Association recommends people consume three to five servings of beans and nuts each week because of their nutrients like fiber, iron, and zinc. (One serving is about one-quarter cup cooked beans.) And because they’re so high in protein, beans can be swapped for meat or poultry for a tasty and planet-friendlier choice. Harvard’s Healthy Plate shows that protein-rich foods like beans should comprise about one-quarter of your dinner plate. Yet most people don’t eat nearly enough for optimal health.

Rice and beans is a classic dish in many parts of the world, each with their own flavors. Here I’m sticking with the version common in Mexico, which builds off my recent Cinco de Mayo posts and is familiar to most Americans. It’s got big flavors that everyone likes, which makes it easier than ever to get more beans into your diet. And if you make up a big batch of fifteen-minute black beans this meal will just keep giving and giving—and you can store additional beans in the freezer for another time to boot.

All you need to do is whip up a batch of black beans and get some brown rice on the stove. Serve the beans atop the rice, or mix the two to bring the flavors together. If you are new to brown rice or trying to get yourself to choose more whole grain foods (or your kid, or your spouse…), I recommend tossing them together: the sauce from the beans will hide the color of the rice and my guess is no one will notice. And if you don’t at first succeed, try and try again: taste buds are elastic and adapt to new flavors with repeated exposure. In no time at all, you’ll make the switch to brown rice for good. (Read more here about the superior nutritional content of whole grain foods and why they’re important for your health.)

Brown Rice and Black Beans | #pkway

This dish is wonderful unadorned, all on its own, but feel free to garnish it however you’d like. I added chopped avocado, cilantro, and a bit of pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa) and it was fantastic!

Mexican Rice and Beans | #pkway

Like this? Then you’ll also love when I toss these same black beans and brown rice into a fabulous Mexican salad (rice and bean bowl with cilantro-lime vinaigrette. And don’t forget to check out my recipe page for additional dishes to get more yummy beans into your diet!

Black Beans: Quick, Easy, Delicious

Black Beans | #pkwayHappy Cinco de Mayo! I began my own party with a round-up of salsas last week and a full menu of tasty Mexican recipes, which has since been updated with scrumptious things like Mexican cauliflower. (That was one of my most popular 2014 recipes, by the way.) Between that and margaritas, watermelon to pomegranate to classic strawberry, I’ve got you covered.

Today I’m featuring a staple of South-of-the-Border cuisine popular in Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and beyond. There are tons of variations, of course. Mexican black beans include spices like cumin and chili powder and perhaps cayenne and jalapeños (and tomatoes, if you’re so inclined). Most Cuban recipes are tomato-less and feature only oregano.

This dish is stove to table in just fifteen minutes—yes, really!—and has only five key ingredients: oil, onion, beans, green pepper, oregano. The remaining spices and veggies are simply to your preference, and the final seasonings (lime juice, sugar, and cilantro are all optional for flavor and balance. Yes, I recommend adding all of these things, but do what makes you happy. The key, as always, is to suit your taste, in whatever time you feel like spending in the kitchen.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil (or any vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2  poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Pinch or two of cayenne, to taste
  • 2 15-ounce no-salt added black beans with their liquid (or 4 cups beans from dried plus 1 cup water)
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock or 1 15-ounce can stewed or chopped tomatoes
  • Juice from 1 lime, freshly squeezed
  • 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar or 1 teaspoon agave nectar, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro with additional for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Heat oil over medium heat until shimmering, then add in chopped onions and pepper(s). Season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano (and other spices, if using) and stir until fragrant. Add beans and liquids (and/or tomatoes), bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for five minutes. Taste, and reseason with salt, pepper, and seasonings as needed. Taste again and finish the dish with fresh lime juice for acidity and sugar for sweetness, if desired, and/or cilantro.

Makes about 6 cups. Recipe can be doubled and freezes beautifully.

Cuban Black Means | #pkway

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Black beans are packed with protein and fiber (about 15 grams of each in one cup); are a good source of iron; provide many powerful phytonutrients (plant chemicals beneficial to health); and have been associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They’re a more sustainable choice for our planet compared to animal protein, too. As important, they’re absolutely delicious on their own and can also be featured in a number of different recipes that I’ll share with you this week. Stay tuned, and happy Cinco de Mayo!

Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Lemony Hollandaise

Eggs Benedict is a classic, and the classics never go out of style. But a contemporary twist on the traditional works, too, which is what I’m doing today with my take on one of my favorite brunch items.

Eggs Benedict A few things happen to land this dish here on Cooking & Eating the PK Way, which focuses on making good-for-you foods delicious while allowing for a goodly dose of indulgence now and again. Most importantly there’s nothing that’s not pleasurable about luscious hollandaise sauce, the key to eggs Benedict. Little more than egg yolks and butter, there’s a reason this dish should be consumed only in moderation given it’s high calorie and saturated fat content. Hollandaise sauce is what we in nutrition call “energy dense,” meaning it packs a lot of calories into a small serving to the tune of about 70 calories per tablespoon. Eggs Benedict is thus definitely what I would call indulgent, which is why I’m blogging about it a few days before Easter when people have brunch and, well, eggs on their mind. (My recipe for deviled eggs has been wildly popular this week, for example.) So if you’re making Eggs Benedict the PK Way, you can bet there’s hollandaise sauce involved, and I’ll get to the recipe in just a moment.

I do make a few tweaks to the dish to bring in some better-for-you-but-delectable-too components. First, you’ll see that there’s a piece of smoked salmon on the plate that supplants the traditional ham. You’re gaining valuable heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids with this swap, reducing your carbon footprint, and absolute yumminess; there’s a reason this variation is commonly found on restaurant menus. (You can read more about health and environmental issues regarding salmon here.) Second, I used a whole grain English muffin rather than refined white, which the body quickly breaks down into sugar and is less salubrious than breads that retain their fiber and nutrients. (Click here to learn the whole grain truth.) Third, I serve this dish with lemon-scented roasted asparagus, which brings some pretty green color and nutritious veggies onto the plate. Finally, I serve this dish with a smaller portion than you usually see. Eggs Benedict is quite rich and filling, and when served with asparagus and/or a few roasted potatoes on the side most people really don’t need two. I might use two eggs if I were eating this for dinner; anticipated consuming a very light supper following a big brunch; or had a long workout planned. It’s all about energy balance. Not to mention that learning to eat less, something the Japanese call Hara Hachi Bu and discussed in the context of my salad-eating ways here, is something that may prolong your life, a major research area in nutrition science. (Too early to have these answers but human trials are currently underway; a nice summary of the science is here.) Even if you’re not up for “eating until 80% full,” the fact is that most of us eat too much, in too large portions, so boosting a meal with the healthy stuff that helps you feel full, like the asparagus we do here, is a great way to reduce your calorie consumption.

Now, finally, the recipe.

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Hollandaise Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold, diced (or melted butter)
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (approximate)
  • Pinch or two of sea salt
  • Dash cayenne or Tabasco
  • Dash white pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons very hot water (optional)

Whisk yolks and water together for 1-2 minutes, until lighter in color. In a double boiler (or in a bowl atop a pot of simmering water where the bottom does not touch the water), continue whisking the egg yolk mixture several minutes, moving on and off the heat every 20 seconds or so to avoid cooking the eggs, 2-3 minutes total. Remove from the heat and add the butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking after each addition until incorporated. If you follow the melted butter option, stream the butter in very slowly to ensure a homogeneous mixture. Next whisk in the olive oil to combine and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice, adding more or less to taste. Mix in salt and peppers. Taste and reseason as desired. For a thinner sauce, add very hot water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired viscosity. This is also a good way to reheat the sauce right before serving; I found the addition of the water had very little effect on taste. Makes enough for 2-3 servings (one egg each), depending on how saucy you like it…

Cooking notes. Hollandaise is not difficult to make, but you do need to be careful you don’t scramble your eggs. It’s easier to avoid doing that if you whisk constantly and if you double this recipe, say, if you were making this for four people. More egg yolks means the heat is further dissipated throughout the mixture, reducing the possibility of making an all-yolk omelet. Oh, and poaching eggs is easy, too: heat about 2 inches of water in a sauce pan to a simmer with around 1 teaspoon of white vinegar; break each egg into a small soufffe cup or ramekin first then pour slowly into the simmering water; cook for about 6 minutes, until whites come together and yolks are still runny. There are other methods to poach eggs, too, described here. You will see some solidification at the edges where the yolks have firmed but they do need to be runny to achieve the desired “Ooooh!” factor when taking your first bite, per below.

Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

* * * * *

This is one delicious dish, so next time you’re up for treating yourself or others, check out this recipe. And just for the record, I absolutely wanted a second portion, just like any other person eating something delicious. But it wasn’t because I was hungry, or at all needed it. So I was glad to have made only enough hollandaise for two servings (me and my husband), plated just as you see it. I enjoyed every last bite of this fabulous dish, in moderation, without the guilt or weight gain that can happen from over-eating.

Don’t forget that lemon-roasted asparagus is the perfect accompaniment and, if you’re really hungry or preparing this for a crowd, take it to the next level—calories be damned!—with sweet potato hash. And, of course a spicy Bloody Mary. After all, this is special-occasion fare. And it’s definitely what I’ll be eating and drinking tomorrow.

Happy Easter!

Sweet and Spicy Candied Pistachios | What I Made on The Taste

Candied Pistachios | The TasteSweet. Spicy. Salty. Down-right addictive. Candied nuts are the perfect cocktail nibble or crunchy garnish and often appear in some form on my holiday menu. I generally use pecans and have a bowl out on the bar for people to munch while mixing a cocktail. (And usually add bourbon to the recipe, if we’re being honest.) Yet pistachios are smaller and, for this reason, the better complement to the dish I was preparing on the holiday challenge for The Taste, which was red wine poached pears with goat cheese cream.

In the meantime, whatever nut you choose, I hope this treat becomes your next holiday favorite.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pistachios, shelled, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

Toast pistachios at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, until deepened in color and fragrant. (Alternatively, begin with unsalted and toasted pistachio nutmeats.) Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Taste. It should have a pleasant flavor (as good as dried spices can taste, that is). Adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that the spices will become diluted once they’re cooked. But also note that I love spicy food, and it definitely comes through in this recipe. If you don’t like heat, use less white pepper or omit it completely—and certainly don’t add cayenne. Toss the pistachios with the spices; some will end up pooled at the bottom of the bowl, which is fine.

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat, then whisk in honey. It will become bubbly and thick. Mix in spiced pistachios until fully coated and cook a few minutes. Grease a cookie pan lightly with cooking spray and spread the nut mixture into an even layer. Cook for about 5 minutes then remove from the oven. Some of the mixture will have melted off the nuts a bit; just retoss, it’s no big deal.) Let sit until fully cooled and set. Alternatively, if you’re in a rush (kind of like I was), then place the pan into the refrigerator for 10 minutes or the freezer, even, to allow the nuts to fully set. Use your fingers to break the pieces into individual nuts or small nut clusters; use a paper towel to blot them If they’re a bit greasy.

* * * * *

Candied Nuts | The TasteNuts still suffer from a bad reputation in some circles given they are what we nutrition people refer to as “energy dense.” In other words, they’re high in calories for the amount you’re eating. In about a 1/4 cup serving you’re going to get around 170 calories. That said, they’re very small, and if you take the time to shell them yourself you’ll feel more satiated since it gives your body a chance to say “Hey! I’m full!” (This is an important part of weight management, but I’ll not digress.) And pistachios are filled with heart-healthy unsaturated fats and minerals like copper, manganese, and phosphorous. They make a terrific afternoon snack, perfect with a piece of fruit.

Of course, there are even more delicious calories in candied nuts since they’ve got the added butter and sugar. Which is why I only make them for special occasions or cocktail parties and consume small portions—while enjoying, mindfully, every single last bite.

And I’m going to go ahead and say that you should, too.

PS. This is what these little babies look like atop red wine poached pears (click on the pic for the recipe).

Poached Pears and Goat Cheese Cream | PK Way

Sesame Seared Tuna with Radish Salad and Satay Sauce | What I Made on The Taste

Seared Tuna | The TasteNormally I don’t drag one story and recipe out for three blog posts, so please forgive me. However, if I tried to cover the “why” as well as the various “whats” in one post, well, let’s just say you would have stopped reading long ago. Plus, the health and sustainability messages about tuna are relevant no matter what its preparation, and both the radish salad and the satay sauce can be used in dishes well beyond this one. It was simply too many things to cover in one article, trust me.

So, today, we’ll just get right to the seared Neothunnus with a few “exciting” cooking photos that bring everything together and be done with it.

And, of course, you can use this tuna in a whole bunch of other ways, too.

Like, say, slicing it up after it’s gorgeously crusty and rare and eating it right then and there.

* * * * *

Ingredients

Directions

1. Mix the satay sauce by following the directions here. You’ll want to do this first to allow the flavors to come together. Try not to keep eating it out of the bowl with a spoon.

2. Prepare the radish salad as discussed here. Note that for this particular dish I used only Daikon for aesthetic purposes—the dish is black and white and red all over—and omitted the sesame seeds in the salad for obvious reasons.

Satay Sauce and Radish Salad | The Taste

3. Jumble the black and white sesame seeds together with your fingers on a plate. Season the tuna with salt and pepper (or crushed black peppercorns if that kind of thing enthralls you). Press each side of the tuna into the sesame seed mixture, coating fully.

Sesame-Crusted Tuna

4. Sear the tuna. Heat the peanut oil to high heat. As soon as it smokes—worry not, peanut oil has a high smoke point—place the tuna in the pan. It will sizzle and cook very, very quickly. You do not want it to overcook: seared tuna is best served rare. It will take about 2 minutes per side. The seeds will deepen in color and you’ll see the outer edge turn color.

Seared Tuna in the Pan | The Taste

5. Plate the dish. Let the fish rest a few minutes then create an artful mound of radish salad, place the fish atop it, and fleck with lime zest.

Tuna with Satay Sauce | The Taste

I couldn’t figure out an attractive way to get the sauce involved in the plating, ergo it’s on the side. What I also discovered in remaking the dish and tasting my test pieces with the radish salad is that, ironically, it really doesn’t even need it.

Do understand that this is a huge statement for me given I could drown a happy death in a vat of peanut sauce.

Use it, don’t use it. Yet know that this beauty shines on its own abed this sprightly mix of radishes, scallions, and cilantro, perhaps with an extra drizzle of the salad dressing if you like things saucy.

* * * * *

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

Simple Radish Salad with Southeast Asian Flavors

Radish Salad PKWay | The TasteRadishes. I love them, root to leaf, and it is one of the vegetables I munch on all year long. My radish horizons have been greatly expanded in recent years. Beyond the traditional red (globe) radish, they also come in purple, black, white, French breakfast, and watermelon varieties, with varying heat. And lucky me! I can get most of these all year long from the seasonal and winter markets here in Boston. Thinly slice a selection and serve with herb butter on crostini and you’ve got a fabulous French-insprired treat, a favorite at my home. Or sauté up the leaves to include in a glorious winter-themed dish like seared scallops, radish greens, and winter squash purée.

Truth be told, today’s salad grew out of a garnish, of all things. I had prepared a sesame-crusted tuna with satay sauce for the “Under the Sea” challenge on The Taste and needed acid and crunch to balance the dish. This mixture definitely fit the bill. Yet it’s so simple and satisfying that I developed this recipe starring the glorious Raphanus sativus.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 Daikon radish, sliced in batons
  • 5 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced in batons
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon Nam Pla (Asian fish sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • White sesame seeds, toasted (garnish)
  • Lime zest (garnish)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Very little to do here, friends. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, brown sugar, and water. Taste. Add the radishes, scallions, and cilantro. Toss and retaste. You’ve now got a deliciously light salad that can also be used as a base for fish (or whatever). For a dressing with a bit more body, simply include a teaspoon or two of peanut or sesame oil and a squeeze of lime juice or rice vinegar. If you do add oil and acid, just whisk them in to suit your own palate. It’s your salad, after all.

Spoon artfully on a plate to serve. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and zest with fresh lime. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Radish Salad PK Way | The Taste

* * * * *

Quick. Easy. Pretty. Crunchy. Flavorful.

Another win for radishes.

Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Satay Sauce and Radishes | What I Made on The Taste (and Why)

This is the first part of a three-part series on this dish. For the recipe itself, click here.

What happens when you sear up a gorgeous piece of tuna with black pepper, Fleur de Sel, and sesame seeds and serve it with satay sauce and a crunchy radish garnish? This. This bite of deliciousness right here, which sorta looks like my spoon for the “Under the Sea” challenge on The Taste.

So why did I make this dish? For starters, the logistics of the competition were paramount considerations, which involve timing and strategy. Is it circa 1998, as Chef Marcus Samuelson claimed? Perhaps. Whatever. The name of the game is to stay in the game, so I didn’t want to take big risks with one of my more inventive dishes, like, say, seared scallops with Moroccan spices and red lentils or swordfish with tomato tamarind sauce and coconut chutney. Seared tuna is also extremely quick to cook: a crispy crust with a rare center and it’s done. My Asian-inspired peanut sauce is, frankly, awesome—and takes experience to prepare with its many ingredients. I began making my own after eating a lot of bad Thai takeout, drawing on skills I learned in a cooking class in Thailand using traditional seasonings like Nam Pla. Finally, my crisp radish salad with its flavorful dressing brought in a creative element, a burst of acidity that perfectly balanced the richness of the fish and sauce. In fact when I remade this dish for today’s post, I found it didn’t even need the satay sauce at all. If I had to do it again on primetime I’d leave it off and focus on the radishes. Then again, I’m a radish fiend. 

Beyond all that, tuna is one seriously nutritious fish, a protein powerhouse that’s packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that have anti-inflammatory actions critical for heart- and brain health. And most people, including pregnant women and children, don’t consume the recommended levels for optimal development and disease prevention. Tuna is also an amazing source of selenium and vitamins B-3, B-12, B-6, and D; B-12 is particularly important since many adults are at risk of deficiency, especially those over 50 years of age. For all these reasons and more, most people would benefit from increasing their consumption of seafood.

On the other hand, tuna is high on the food chain and can be contaminated with methylmercury. Other species suffer from dwindling populations due to severe over-fishing, and bycatch compromises other sea life. And there are a whole bunch of different species of tuna that vary on these factors.

Foods for HealthIt gets to be a lot, I know, but there is good science to guide you. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has a great app that informs decision-making when standing at the fishmonger’s counter—yes, I’m that personand the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fishwatch is also quite informative; a recent article in National Geographic summarizes the myriad tuna issues. If you’re interested in this kind of farm-to-fork thinking when making food choices please subscribe to my blog. You might also enjoy my recent book, National Geographic Foods for Healthcurrently on sale at local bookstores and here.

And just for the record, the other elements I included in the dish, like radishes, sesame seeds, and peanut butter, are pretty darn healthful, too.

So. Cooking and Eating the PK Way. Better for you, better for the planet, and unbelievably tasty when dishes like sesame-crusted tuna with satay sauce and radishes are on the menu.

What else can I tell you, really?

Seared Tuna and Satay Sauce | The Taste

Oh, right.

The recipe.

It’s coming soon. Please stay posted!

And thanks for reading.

Update: Here’s the recipe!

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Getting Retro with Waldorf Salad: A Modern Take on the Classic

Waldorf SaladSome of my readers may not be familiar with this dish, which is decidedly old-school. In fact, Waldorf salad was created at the turn of the twentieth century. It was particularly popular in the early 1900s, even getting a shout-out in Cole Porter’s classic song “You’re the Top” from Anything Goes (1934) alongside Shakespeare and Mickey Mouse. Waldorf salad also played a starring role in one of the episodes of the 1979 British sitcom Fawlty Towers

Perhaps due to its tasty simplicity featuring common ingredients like apples and walnuts, it continues to be passed down the generations. And why not? There’s nothing not to like about this classic, and it’s a fine way to celebrate all those crisp autumn apples of varying colors and flavors. Just select a few varieties that make you happy—leave that pretty skin loaded with fiber and phytonutrients on, please—and add a few more ingredients for a dish that can be made in less than ten minutes. My recipe modernizes the salad with additional vegetables and herbs to give it a nutrition and flavor boost, and there’s plenty of room for you to play, too, to create your own perfect Waldorf salad fit for twenty-first century families.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • Hakurei turnips (sweet salad turnips)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (approximately from 1/3 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (I prefer golden)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pecans, toasted, rough chop
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon agave nectar (or honey) (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions and Notes

Chop the unpeeled apples and turnips into bite-sized chunks and toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice. (I generally choose one sweet and one tart apple; use whatever you want.) Stir in scallions, celery, parsley, mayonnaise, yogurt, raisins, and nuts. Add a shake of vinegar and small squirt of agave, season with freshly ground pepper and a few pinches of salt, and mix. Taste and adjust: final amounts of vinegar, lemon juice, and agave (if using) will be dictated by how sweet or tart the apples you selected were as well as your own preferences. Personally, I enjoy a salad with tang so I often squeeze in a bit more lemon juice. Garnish with lemon zest, a few nuts, or a scatter of parsley and scallions, as desired.

* * * * *

Sure, you can just toss some apples together with yogurt and nuts perhaps like you would with any fruit for a simple snack or dessert. But putting a few additional ingredients together creates something … special. I include scrumptious turnips because they’re always at my farmers market this time of year. This small and sweet variety is perfect in any kind of autumn salad and has the same texture as a very crisp apple with none of the bitterness of its larger counterpart. Perfect complement.

There are so many other options to keep things interesting and suit your taste. Swap red or yellow onion for scallions; switch pistachios or walnuts for pecans; add kale, broccoli, or cauliflower for color and texture; or toss in and handful of grapes, as those keeping with the traditional recipe are wont to do. And you could ditch the mayo if you prefer and just use yogurt, perhaps with crème fraiche or sour cream for tang. I often include a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, too.

A small bowl of Waldorf salad makes a super breakfast, snack, or dessert, but with all of these vegetables I find it also makes a really nice light lunch when served atop a bed of greens. Peppery arugula is perfect (as pictured) but anything works, really, from sweet spinach to pretty red leaf lettuce; choose whatever you have on hand.

Modern Waldorf Salad

Here’s to the classics!

There’s a reason they’re still around, and getting creative makes them a fun and worthwhile addition to your meal-time repertoire, even now.

Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (Video)

Autumn Harvest SaladAutumn abounds with hearty greens, lively herbs, crisp apples and pears, and squashes of all shapes and sizes. Here in Boston we’re also lucky enough to be seeing the final crop of sweet tomatoes and summer corn. It truly is a cornucopia of goodness at the local farmers’ markets, which makes for terrific eating that’s good for you and the planet, too.

Today’s salad features roasted butternut squash, rosemary onions, and dried cranberries. The salad sings with a zesty maple Dijon vinaigrette. Watch the video of me whipping it up at the Boston Local Food Festival and learn more about why salad dressing and nuts are so nutritious.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 6 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 large onion, large chop (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, rough mince
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, split, or more
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (reduced sugar if possible)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive, canola, or grape seed)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chive blossoms, minced, or regular chives
  • Mixed lettuces, about 8 cups (arugula, mustard greens, kale, etc.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Roast the squash. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Remove the peel and seeds from the squash and cut into fork-friendly chunks. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and mix to coat, using more if needed. Spread squash onto a baking sheet and roast about 20 minutes, tossing once, until softened. Don’t overcook, since you want the squash to retain its shape and have a pleasing texture for the salad. (Note: extra squash works fantastically in roasted butternut squash soup.)

Roast the onions. Chop the onion—yellow, white, or Vidalia all work well—into large pieces. Give the fresh rosemary a rough mince. Drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil, add rosemary, season with salt and pepper, and toss together; use more oil if needed. (Like the squash, the onions should be lightly coated, but not greasy or dripping.) Spread onions onto a baking sheet and roast at the same time as the squash, about 12 minutes, tossing half-way through. Onions should be somewhat browned, soft, and translucent. (Caramelized onions are a great way to go, too.)

Make the dressing. While the vegetables are roasting, whisk Dijon, vinegar, and garlic together in a small bowl then stream in the oil until emulsified. I recommend adding about 4 tablespoons of oil and go from there; some people like a dressing with more vinegary zing while others prefer a milder taste. You can’t go back, so tasting is key before adding it all! Whisk in fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Put it together. When vegetables have cooled somewhat to warm or room temperature, you are ready to plate your salad. On a large serving platter, create a bed of greens that makes you happy. I encourage you to go for dark green and red for the greatest nutrition; the bitter crunch of kale or mustard greens works wonderfully to provide texture and contrast to the sweetness of the squash and cranberries. Spoon the squash over the greens then scatter with the roasted onions and dried cranberries. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and top with minced chive blossoms; regular chives work fine if you can’t find them. Let people serve themselves, and pass additional vinaigrette around the table.

Options. For a heartier salad, include nuts and seeds of your choosing, like toasted walnuts or spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds; a whole grain like quinoa, farro, or brown rice; or cooked beans. Crumbled goat or blue cheese also work really well. Less is more, so don’t add all of these at the same time, but with tasty toppings like these you can make this salad over and over again, adding new elements to suit your mood to keep things fun and interesting.

Serves 6-8 people, fewer if consuming as a stand-alone “big salad for supper.”

This video was remixed from my cooking demo at the Boston Local Food Festival, where I made three other salads featuring health- and planet-friendly ingredients like pear and arugula with walnut vinaigrette. For more delectable recipes of all kinds, please visit my recipe page.