Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hearty Autumn Salads

Last week a powerful windstorm blew through the Midwest. Paul was in Italy.

And I was not. I was home writing a grant. Watching trees practice yoga and stretch into a horizontal position to avoid being uprooted. Waching leaves declare victory as they claimed the ground for Mother Nature. They were now rulers of grass and asphalt.

Paul was in Italy sampling cheeses and pastas. Drinking wine. Singing "O sole mio!" Oh! And working.
And of course, I was not. I was home writing my role in helping "arts learners become participatory players in the environment of playwrighting where they could play, perform and respond." Or something like that. (Did you ever write a grant?)
In a more earthly vein, I was also rescuing the last of the hydrangeas.

The first night the winds found their power at 60 mph, the kids were in evening labs. And I was out teaching. Soaring debris thudded people, cars and windows. Nobody was home to create the hot meal.
But substantial salads had been arranged to carry everyone through the busy week. Grains, orzo and barley all greeted the family who had been blown hither and yon. We all returned home late under a watchful moon. Looking for land as a sailor might after weeks adrift at sea.
All of these salads can be made ahead of time and are winning choices for lunch the following day.
The salads were inspired and adapted from Jennifer Darling's Quick-Toss Salad Meals. I changed dressings, produce and amounts to suit what was in my pantry and you should do the same.

Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice Salad - serves 6
This was a "meatloaf" salad minues the meat. Stick-to-your-ribs, roasted sweetness and nutty rice.
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 large broccoli head
1/2 jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into slivers
1/4 cup sliced almonds - toasted
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Roast your broccoli for 15 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. You could toss with a wee bit of olive oil and salt and pepper or roast plain. In a small dry skillet, toast your almonds. Cook your rice and combine with broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and almonds. Whisk oil, vinegar and mustard together (or simply use your favorite vinaigrette) and pour over all. Cover and store in fridge. Can be eaten at room temperature, warm or cold.

Toasted Barley Salad - serves 6
Barley in all its earthiness tossed with creamy yogurt for tang and cream.
2 cups quick-cooking barley
2 cups chicken broth
1 can cannellini beans or other white beans - preferably organic
1 small can of mandarin oranges - drained
4-6 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Toast barley in large, dry skillet till lightly browned - 3-5 minutes. Then cook barley in chicken broth according to package directions. Cool. Toss with beans, oranges and scallions. In a bowl whisk yogurt, lemon juice, crushed pepper and dry mustard. Toss with barley. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours. Best served chilled or at room temperature.

Curried Chicken Salad - serves 6
Chicken salad goes to the ball.

1 pound chicken breasts or tenders - cooked and shredded
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained or 1-1/2 cups fresh seedless oranges or tangerines
1 8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts
1 cup celery - thinly sliced
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
Combine chicken with oranges, celery and water chestnuts. Whisk yogurt, soy sauce and curry powder in small bowl. Pour over chicken salad mixture and combine well. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
And an Italian recipe ... for poor me who was not in Italy but knows how to eat during a pity party:

Orzo with Three Cheeses and Two Tomatoes

1-1/2 cups orzo
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 jar sun-dried tomatoes, sliced (using the other half of the jar from the Broccoli Rice salad)
1 cup "pearl-sized" fresh mozzarella balls
1/2 cup sharp provolone - in small pieces
1/3 cup freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese
Favorite viniagrette (can use same as for Broccoli-Rice Salad) - 1/3-1/2 cup

*Optional: 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or fresh chopped Italian Parsley or basil or thyme. I always use alotmore than one tablespoon of any herb.
Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cold water. Toss with both tomatoes, mozzarella and provolone. Toss with vinaigrette. Scatter Parmesan and herbs. Toss again. Cover and chill for 1-24 hours.
Paul phoned each afternoon describing his Italian meals. Yes, he was tired after travelling 24 hours straight - but he was in Italy. After listening to his description of fresh buffalo mozzarella, orzo, salads and wine...

I poured a glass of wine. Found a slice of salami, errant kalamata olives, leftover crumbled sharp Provolone and sat down and admired the hydrangeas. While noshing. My thoughts turned to the "adolescent arts learners who through participatory creation would have a life enriched by metaphor and simile...." and thought,"the grant could wait." As the winds blew my imagination to Italy.


chow and chatter said...

oh so sorry you didn't get to go to Italy and wow those are winds good for you planning ahead with meals :-)

Velva said...

Those winds, that storm was like a tropical weather system here in Florida. I love stormy weather as long as it is not dangerous.

You made some great dishes! You saved some beautiful hydragenas (sp?) .

I thought of you on Friday night. I attended a local production of Oklahoma. I saw the work that was committed to making it a success. Cheers to you Claudia! It takes a special person, a passion. I have an improved understanding and enormous respect for what you do-


Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

I can't beleive how early your storms are starting..I never knew the winds could be that bad there either. Glad your ok. Would have been nice to have dodged it had you been in Italy, sounds like you have the same luck I do with no time. All these salads especially orzo and tomato sounds delicious but my favorite is the salami provolone and a hunk of crusty bread with those olives, now your talkin my language, thats all I would ever need! Oh and of course the wine....a girl after my own heart :) so here's a cyber toast to you, to good health, great holiday ahead, and better weather Cheers

Mari Nuñez said...

My favorite, Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice Salad. Looks delicious. Wonderful combination of flavors.

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

You've blown my imagination to Italy. How lucky for Paul, I hope the grant writing is going well. Lovely words to go along with your lovely food as usual!

My Little Space said...

It was pretty windy here too! Normally, it happened during end of the year and lasted for 2 months. And fishermen from the east coast are not allow to go out to the sea for their catch, at least for one month. All the east coast Island resorts are closing during this monsoon season. Normally, we don't have much rains here on these 2 months. And it's a perfect timing to make preserved vegetables and dried meat or Chinese sausage. However, I'm sure your grant writing going to be a beautiful one and no worries, you can always visit Italy at anytime.
Have a wonderful day!
Blessings, Kristy

Mister Meatball said...


In Italy?

The winds are blowing hard, aren't they.

Donna-FFW said...

I like the broccolie salad the best. You make it sound so relaxing to sit with a glass of wine by the hydrangeas. :)

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

You are a better woman than I am Claudia. I would have never let my husband go to Italy without me. Never.

Looks like you ate well while he was gone, something I don't do well when my husband is away. I've never written a grant, but I've heard it's a lot of hard work.

Unknown said...

I had the same thought that Carolina Kitchen did when I read your post. I can't believe you stayed home and he's in Italy. :)

The salads look fantastic and the perfect meal when something hearty but not heavy is needed.

Hannah said...

There are just so many options out there, I could easily eat nothing but salads all year round. Thanks for some more autumnal ideas in that area! :)

Anne said...

I wrote down the recipe for the Rice and Broccoli Salad. I am definitely going to try make it.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes.
Smiles to you.

Claudia said...

I think people work in Italy... he claimed it was for business...

Velva - thanks for shout-out about hard work and theatre. It is indeed labor - but a labor of love.

Interesting that the broccoli-rice salad resonated. Did I mention my son ate 90% of the chicken salad (that would be 1-1/4 pounds) in the space of 24 hours?

Monet said...

I wish I could have visited Italy this past week too! These salads are wonderful. They would be perfect to serve alongside a warm holiday meal. Thank you for sharing...I am always looking for new ways to use Broccoli. We love that vegetable around here!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry you didn't get to go to Italy :( My husband always goes to such fun locations and we only get to come rarely, during summers or spring breaks. The salads all look terrific - great easy meals to put together, exactly the kind of stuff my daughter and I eat when my husband is away :) My daughter would especially love the rice & broccoli salad since she is such a big fan of rice!

Lisa said...

These all sound like wonderful salads, so healthy and delicious and the perfect sides to any meal. By the way, I'm holding a CSN giveaway on my blog and you're welcome to come by and enter.

Erica said...

All those salads look amazing!!!

Otehlia said...

That was one crazy wind storm, eh? The salads look great. Fun combinations that would allow me to use up some of my grains. I have written a grant, and that is some serious work. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Your husband seems to have gotten the better half of that deal...Italy sounds like the perfect place to be! I love all your salads though, and their autumn inspirations. I think I need a few of these this week after all the Halloween treats I ate this weekend :)

Torviewtoronto said...

colourful salads

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Wow!! Those are some pretty feisty winds! Sorry, you can't be in Italy with Paul, but seems that you more than made up for it with these gorgeous salads - LOVE the 3 cheese and 2 tomato orzo. Good for you, for taking the time to indulge yourself and enjoy the last of the gorgeous hydrangeas.....

Dimah said...

All those salads look absolutely delicious!


Bummer about the hubs in Italy and you HERE! I think I would have protested!

All these dishes look intriguing, but I like I'd start with the barley salad!

Angie's Recipes said...

"Watching trees practice yoga"...Claudia, I love how you are born to be a playwright.
And salads...mmm..I am a four seasons salad fan. Toasted barley salad sounds really great.

Kim - Liv Life said...

My husband has been traveling too and sending me photos of wonderful meals. So jealous!
What wonderful recipes you have posted here, I've copied them and I know for certain that the broccoli one in particular will be popular. Love the "meatloaf" salad description!

Unknown said...

These are all great salads for this time of year--hearty and substantial. The orzo salad is my favorite, yum!

Reeni said...

I can't think of better things to eat when one is at home holding down the fort! What a bunch of delicious looking salads - love the chicken one that's going to a ball!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Claudia, Why didn't you "work " in Italy? I couldn't bare the thought of my husband walking around the streets in Italy with gelato in hand without me. You're a better person than me! Love all your salads, I would enjoy them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

theUngourmet said...

I'm glad you managed to save your hydrangeas! Your snack looks like the perfect thing for a windy night! Be safe! Wishing you smooth sailing with your grant writing! :)

Kim said...

I wish you would've been able to travel to Italy with Paul. Hopefully they'll be another time when you can all go together.

I love all your recipes, but the one that really made me smile was the curried chicken salad. It definitely did go to the ball, didn't it? It's all dressed up and looks delicious. Oh, and those puffy little balls of mozzarella in your orzo salad. I would totally be the person that ate them all out of the salad. I'm addicted to them.

P.S. I've been looking for the geometry of pasta but I can't find it anywhere in the stores here.

La Bella Cooks said...

Sorry you didn't get to go to Italy but the food you have here looks amazing. Wow, you guys had some incredible winds!

FOODESSA said...

Claudia, I could only imagine the pull you must feel towards your work...what a true professional you are...however, you live once...and maybe, being with Hubby in Italy could have been the better decision??? Anyhow, I can see that you are a real trooper and know how to get along quite well on your own ;o) I would have ran out and saved the hydrangea too ;o)

Enjoyed your salad roundup and you got me curious about the roasted barley with yogurt sauce...may just have to whip some up soon.

Hope the weather will be safer within the next few weeks and that Hubby is there next time around ;o)

Ciao for now,

Claudia said...

I love the comments about my not going to Italy1 Youa are all supportive - it just couldn't be worked with his tough schedule and the small town he was in. Rest assured, if I could have - I would have worked on the grant in Italy!

rosasdolcevita said...

Hi Claudia,
You probably should have gone to Italy with Paul and written your grant there. :-)

The salads look and sound terrific! Great family meals for a weeknight, packed with loads of nutrition!

Beth said...

What great recipes! I especially like the sound of that barley salad. Sorry you couldn't be in Italy too, but I'm glad you had an Italian moment at the end of your post.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I was going to say that you should have gone with your husband and worked on your grant in Italy, but I saw your comment Claudia. I hope that there will be a "next time" and that you will be able to go!

All the salads looks so good! I love orzo, and roasted broccoli and brown rice sounds very satifying. The curried chicken sounds very unusual and delicious. That sounds like a wonderful cook book to own!

Lyndas recipe box said...

It's cold and windy here tonight Claudia....I love autumn, but don't like the winter that comes after it.
So sorry you did not get to make the trip with your husband, but
I'm loving the salads you prepared.I imagine I'll try the brown rice and broccoli first, but I'll work my way through them all for sure. Thank you for a wonderful post!

OysterCulture said...

These salads look absolutely divine. I've been inspired to cook Italian ever since I got back, not sure I may have over done it on the pasta as far as the hubby is concerned, but Wow, what an inspiration. These salads look just perfect for fall.

Barbara GF said...

Beautiful salads with prose to match, Claudia. I love how you let the winds blow your imagination to Italy. Good that you and the family were tucked in and safe from the winds, though. Too bad about your not being with hubby in Italy - next time, right?

Anonymous said...

Next time you'll be tasting and drinking in Italy too, making up for the staying at home and writing grants! thanks for all those great salad recipes...I'm alone next week, so it is a perfect time to gather up these ideas!

Pam said...

I feel your pain about Italy! All the dishes look great. The barley salad is very unique! Good luck with the grant writing!

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Those storm are terrible AND scary !!! I've spent four nights in hotel , restaurants (London) My tummy aches..I need your salads, please !!!

3 hungry tummies said...

We had a storm too but the weather has since improved and we are eating much lighter food now :)
Great looking salads !

Debi Shawcross said...

What an assembly of salads! I love making things like this when my husband is traveling. Leftovers make wonderful lunches and second meals!