Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Father's Day Dinner - Salads - Part 2

Of course we can't just have meat for Father's Day! What goes better with ribs than a potato salad and a cabbage and apple salad? The nice thing about both of these salads is they are make ahead. Perfect sides for entertaining because you can make them in advance! The other nice thing about salads is they make it easy to include MORE veggies into our daily meals. As an aside,  some folks might find having 2 "creamy" salads on the same dinner plate is a bit of overkill, but since my goal was to use up things in my fridge and take advantage of what was in season, slightly mis-matched meals happen. If I hadn't had a craving for potato salad, I might have been inclined to cook the baby potatoes and serve them with a little butter and chopped parsley to avoid "creamy dressing monotony". No one complained though, and the plates were empty, so I guess I'm golden!
Our local farmer's market has been on the go since May and I have been going every Saturday to take advantage of our local and fresh produce. Randy laughs at how excited I get over a bag of mixed greens... please go easy on the arugula Bea (FYI, for my taste buds, a LITTLE arugula goes a long way)!  Fortunately for me, my favourite vendor, provides us with a heads up on Facebook as to what goodies are going to be at the market on Saturday. This helps a lot with meal planning. I always shop the farmers market first, before going to the grocery store just in case they are out of some of the items I was planning to get. 

For my local Quinte West readers, I strongly urge you to visit Bea and Dan at the market. You can't go wrong with fresh, tasty and CHEMICAL FREE produce! Please visit their web site -->  Natural Themes Farms - Produce  And just in case you are interested, these folks also have a variety of indigenous plantings for your garden --> Natural Themes Farms - Native Plants  ... a well deserved shout because of the eco-holic in me!

This past Saturday, I was able to procure some beautiful baby potatoes, green onions, carrots, and spinach. The spinach was earmarked for breakfast smoothies and some side salads through the week; the carrots and the rest of the veggies for our Fathers Day feast, (oh, and the carrot tops ended up in a pesto for the carrot soup I made)! The baby potatoes and the green onions definitely rocked our potato salad and the carrots were great along side of the shredded green and purple cabbage (already in my fridge) in my supercharged cabbage and apple salad.

The following dressing recipe for the potato salad is actually a salad dressing I have been making as a substitute for the store bought variety which I no longer buy.  Now that I have fine tuned the seasoning, Erika doesn't mind it as much and has finally accepted the fact that Kraft Ranch Dressing will no longer be found in our fridge. My recipe is quite mild in flavour as I was mimicking the store bought version. 

If you would like a more flavourful dressing for your tossed green salads, feel free to increase the quantities to 1/4 tsp for the onion powder and the garlic powder; 3/4 tsp parsley and 3/4 tsp dill (fresh or fresh-frozen). Keep in mind, no matter which seasoning proportions you choose, the flavours will take at least 2-3 hours in the fridge to develop and intensify. I like to make my dressing the day before for best results. 

Since I already had a batch of my Ranch-like dressing in the refrigerator, I used it for dressing the potato salad. The only catch is, I had already used it some of it for salads and then I didn't measure how much was actually left before I poured it into the potato salad... DUH! If I had to GUESS, it was a little more than 1/2 a cup. Given this conundrum, I am providing you with the full recipe for my dressing. If you have any leftovers after dressing your potato salad, I strongly urge you to try it on your favourite mixed green salad! You might just be able to give up store bought Ranch dressing too.

Potato Salad
Serves 4-6

1.5  quarts of baby potatoes, mine were red skinned, purple and white 
3 eggs, hard cooked from happy chickens
4 green onions, whites finely chopped, greens thinly, sliced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1/2 lime, juiced thoroughly
1/2 tsp salt, a few grinds of pepper

(Make ahead 2 hours or the day before is recommended)
1 cup organic yogurt
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 pinches of salt
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 heaped tsp dried parsley (fresh is you have it)
1/2 tsp dill (I had some fresh stuff in the freezer) If using dried, I would start off with 1/4 tsp or so, and after about an hour, check for flavour. I find dried herbs can be more intense in flavouring than fresh. You can always add more, it's hard to take it out!

Cook the potatoes in lightly salted water, until just tender. The time will depend on the size of your potatoes... but 6-10 minutes should do the trick.

Drain, and cool quickly in an ice bath. Drain again and pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with a tea towel. I like to make sure that there is no extra moisture on the potatoes.

Hard cook the eggs and let cool.

Peel the eggs, place them in a large mixing bowl and then mash with a fork. Make sure the egg white in small bits.

Add the baby potatoes to the eggs. For the small ones, cut them in half; for the ones that are bigger then single bite-size, cut them in quarters. Toss the eggs and potatoes. 

Add the salt, pepper, diced celery and green onions. Toss again to evenly distribute everything.

Add a 1/2 cup of the dressing and the juice of the lime, gently combine. If your salad still looks a little dry, add a few tablespoons more of the dressing and stir. Repeat as required until you get desired consistency... just make sure your salad is not drowning in the dressing, unless you like it that way of course! 

Scrape your salad into a sealed container and let stand in the refrigerator for at least two hours. You will want the dressing and potatoes to be very well acquainted and the salad nice and cold at serving time. 

Now on to my cabbage and apple salad (on steroids)... I assume it's a hit at every potluck I attend because I come home with an empty bowl!

OOPS! I forgot the garnish for the picture.

Cabbage and Apple Salad - Supercharged
Serves 6-8

***For shredding the cabbage, I like to use my knife, but feel free to use your food processor.  I use my box grater with the course shred size for the carrots.***

3 cups red cabbage, shredded
1/3 medium head green cabbage, shredded
3 medium carrots, grated
3 large leaves curly kale, stemmed and sliced chiffonade style (in RIBBONS)
3 tart/sweet apples like McIntosh or Empire, chopped with skins on.
1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup organic yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
2 pinches salt

3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces or
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds or
a combination of both

Combine the shredded green cabbage, carrots, and cranberries together in a large bowl. Put back into a large Ziploc bag or large sealed storage container.  This allows the cranberries to plump up with the moisture from the veggies. Store the shredded red cabbage separately, otherwise it will turn the salad pink.

About an hour before serving time, you can take the cabbage mix and red cabbage out of the fridge and combine together. Add in the chiffonade kale and chopped apple. 
This salad is SO pretty

Starting with about half of the dressing, pour into the salad and stir till combined.  Continue adding the dressing until the salad is well coated but not drowning.  Put back into the fridge to stay cold.

At serving time, sprinkle salad with the nuts/seeds for a garnish.  If there are nut and seed allergies, leave them out of the salad, put them on the table and let guests sprinkle there own garnishes themselves.

Yes, it was a super tasty Father's Day dinner. There was no family mutiny, I ended up with leftovers, and it was a nice family dinner. Randy's mom joined us too!

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