Roasted Cauliflower, Spinach, and Orzo Salad

This isn’t just a salad. It’s got leafy green spinach, yes. But it’s also pasta (orzo!) and roasted cauliflower, tangy feta, and tart dried cherries, all tossed in a honey lemon vinaigrette. It’s awesome. I’ve made it twice this month now because all of us (husband, baby, ALL of us) loved it so.

I tried French feta for the first time in this recipe and really recommend it. It’s creamier and a bit less pungent than Greek feta- keeps it from overwhelming the other ingredients. If you use Greek feta I would reduce the amount a bit. This so-much-more-than-a-salad will be my go-to for parties and bbq’s this summer. It’s easy to tote around, tastes great warm or cold or at room temperature, and keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

Roasted Cauliflower, Spinach, and Orzo Salad


1 medium head cauliflower, broken into small florets
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup orzo pasta (I use whole wheat orzo)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I use Valbreso French feta for a milder flavor, if using Greek feta I would reduce to 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup dried cherries
4 cups baby spinach

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil, the garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast until tender and cauliflower is slightly charred, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente. Drain in colander, rinse under cold water, drain well, and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

4. In a large bowl, make the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked orzo, roasted cauliflower, red onion, crumbled feta cheese, and dried cherries. Toss until well coated with the dressing. Add the spinach and toss one more time. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve.

(Adapted from Cravings)

By in Pasta, Salad ·

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Ranch

Cobb Salad

It’s only been almost 2 years since I posted. All I can say is that food and babies don’t mix for me. My last post corresponds perfectly with when I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and then the sick set in. The second time around was worse than the first for me- I had some degree of aversion to food most of my pregnancy. And it turns out having 2 kids is slightly more chaotic (and sleepless) than one, so it has taken a long time for me to find the time/energy/etc. to get back here. But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. The minute I give birth my appetite comes back and then it quadruples with the nonstop nursing. So lots of cooking and eating going on this past year. I have more than fifty drafts of recipes I want to share (many I’ve made repeatedly and have become quick-healthy-kid-approved favorites)!

My goal is to post a recipe once a week. Bonus if I can pull out my real camera and take a photo to go with it. My phone might have to do occasionally. I can count on one hand the number of time I’ve used my DSLR in the last year-ish: Gwen’s birth, Christmas morning, and Gwen’s first birthday. (She turned 1 on March 1st so no excuses now that I technically no longer have a baby!) Besides adding another girl to our family, last year we moved from Colorado to the Seattle area. And I absolutely love it here! The winters are milder, the summers are glorious, the Pacific Northwest is stunning, and I can’t get enough of this city. Dustin started working with a new pediatric dental practice (a job that may become permanent- we are yet to see), we took our first trip to Europe (babymoon!), and took our first international trip as a family (Costa Rica!).

Now that we’re somewhat caught up, let’s talk about this recipe. My post-pregnancy self craves salads and protein (and I’ve lost much of my sweet tooth which is slightly sad, but mostly great for my health). So we eat a lot of greens and meat. This salad packs in a lot of protein with grilled spiced chicken breast, bacon, and hard-boiled eggs. And I even snuck some Greek yogurt into the dressing. I included the changes I made next to the original recipe. I chose to grill the chicken because my indoor grill pan is my best friend, but come summer I’ll definitely be repeating it on the outdoor grill. My girls devoured theirs and my husband didn’t complain that he was eating salad for dinner so that’s saying something!

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Ranch


Grilled Chicken:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I just added a pinch)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 18 oz.)

Honey Mustard Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used half mayo and half low fat plain Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. kosher salt (I only used 1/2 tsp. and think it could be reduced further)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained and patted dry (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped (I used romaine lettuce)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large avocado, cubed
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I only used six)
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped


Cook the chicken and the corn:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with oil. (I grilled my chicken on an indoor grill pan headed to medium-high.)

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon oil, paprika, salt, cumin, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne. Rub the mixture all over the chicken. Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake until cooked through but still juicy, 15 to 20 minutes (or grill). Transfer the chicken to a plate and when cool enough to handle, cut into small bite-size pieces.

3. Meanwhile, arrange the corn on the same baking sheet. Crank up the heat to broil and broil the corn until just slightly charred, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. (I roasted my corn in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.)

Make the dressing:

4. In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, buttermilk, mustard, honey, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the salad:

5. Arrange the lettuce on a serving platter or in a big salad bowl. Top with the tomatoes, avocado, bacon, roasted corn, eggs, and chicken. If you’re like me, line them up in the most OCD way possible and get really annoyed when the lines aren’t perfectly straight. Drizzle the dressing to taste over the salad, and toss if you want to ruin all those pretty lines. Serve immediately. Any leftover dressing keeps in the fridge for a week or so.

Serves approx. 4.

(Adapted from Cravings)

*post contains affiliate links

By in Salad, Uncategorized, Vinaigrette/Dressing ·

Spinach-Apple Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette


This salad is great- with apples, spinach, goat cheese and pecans (toasted with butter, sugar, and curry powder even). But the maple cider vinaigrette is especially amazing. Believe me, you’ll want to drizzle it on everything!

A few confessions: I rarely measure when I make a salad- a little of this, a lot of that. And I usually cut down such recipes drastically to serve just 3 (as dressed salad doesn’t stay fresh long). I probably only made 1/3 of the vinaigrette. If you do have extra, it should last at least a few days in the fridge. And for the pecans, I skipped the oven step and just sauteed them with the butter/sugar/spices in a skillet for several minutes before tossing them on a paper towel to crisp up. The oven would have been better (for a more toasted flavor) but whatever works!

Spinach-Apple Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette


10 oz. baby spinach
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
1 apple, thinly sliced
6 oz. sugared-curried pecans (see below) or toasted chopped pecans

Sugared-Curried Pecans:
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)

Maple Cider Vinaigrette:
1/6 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 1/2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. kosher salt + extra to taste
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup olive oil


1. To prepare pecans: Preheat oven to 350°. Toss pecans in butter. Stir together sugar and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; add pecans, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer in a nonstick aluminum foil-lined pan. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes; separate pecans with a fork.

2. To prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together cider vinegar and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until well blended.

3. To prepare the salad: Combine spinach and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette; toss to coat.

Serves 8.

(Adapted from Southern Living)

By in Salad ·

Spinach, Pear, and Pomegranate Salad with Cider Vinaigrette


I’ve made this salad many many times this fall/winter. I brought it to our Thanksgiving feast and it graced our Christmas table- if that’s any indication of how much I love it! So it’s about time I shared it with you. Pears and pomegranates are my favorite winter fruits and this salad combines them with spinach, toasted walnuts, feta (or blue cheese if that’s your thing) and an amazing honey-cider vinaigrette. Light and delicious.

Spinach, Pear, and Pomegranate Salad with Cider Vinaigrette


1/3 cup walnut pieces
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. baby spinach (or a mixture of spring mix and spinach)
2 ripe pears, such as Bartlett, cored and sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup crumbled feta (or blue cheese)
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced (optional)


1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour onto a plate to cool. Set aside. (This can also be done on the stove-top in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper to make a dressing.

3. Add the spinach, pears, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and red onion (if using) to the bowl and toss gently to mix and coat well. Divide the salad among 4 plates or bowls and top each with about 1 Tbsp. feta/blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Williams Sonoma)

By in Salad, Vinaigrette/Dressing ·

Thai Cucumber Salad


We eat a lot of cucumbers around here. Clara is happy to munch on them with hummus or one of our other favorite dips (Trader Joe’s Cilantro Chive Yogurt Dip or this spicy Chipotle Ranch mixed with some nonfat Greek Yogurt to lighten it up). And cucumbers find their way into just about every green salad or veggie sandwich I make. This crunchy cucumber + red onion + cilantro (or mint) + peanut (or cashew!) salad with a tangy rice wine vinaigrette would complement most Asian, Indian, or Middle-eastern dishes. I served it with this cheater’s coconut curry sauce simmered with rotisserie chicken over rice.

Thai Cucumber Salad


2 medium English cucumbers, sliced
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or mint)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 small or 1 large clove garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (or minced jalapeno)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 tbsp. crushed peanuts (or cashews)


1. Whisk vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and garlic together in a medium bowl. Place cucumbers, onion, and cilantro (or mint) in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

Serves 4.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

By in Appetizer, Asian, Salad, Vegetables ·