Recipe—Fiesta Salad

Fiesta Salad

When most people think of salads they think of a big pile of greens topped with a handful of other veggies and dressing. Well this is not your ordinary salad. It consists of avocados, tomato, cilantro, and a sweet onion all tossed in a lime olive oil dressing. No lettuce here! I always make this with my Rio Grande Spice Rub New York Steaks and Cornbread Muffins. Seriously amazing! I also love this recipe with a nice piece of grilled fish. This simple salad is made up of fresh summer ingredients and is so light, and refreshing. Perfect for those nights you want a quick and easy side dish but just don’t want to fire up the oven.

Fiesta Salad

Note: Since avocados can become mushy and brown quickly, wait to add the avocadoes until right before serving.

INGREDIENTS
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half OR 2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice
2 avocados, chopped (see note above)

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt, olive oil, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
  • Add the avocado last and gently stir it in.
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Crunchy Apple Bacon Coleslaw

Apple Bacon Coleslaw

Sweet + Salty+Tangy + Crunchy = Delicious and Unique Coleslaw

I am always looking for new and tasty side dishes to serve up throughout the summer. One day on Pinterest I stumbled upon a recipe for apple bacon coleslaw. I did some more poking around and actually found that there were lots of variations of this type of recipe out there. In true Diva form I pulled from several of the recipes and came up with this one. It, of course, is the best. 😉

Not only did the flavors compliment each other well but so did the textures. Coleslaw usually tends to all be the same consistency but the sweet apples added a really nice crunch to the mix and went so well with the salty bacon and tang from the dressing. I really like to enjoy this dish with some BBQ chicken or ribs for a perfect summer meal.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c cider vinegar
1 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sugar
1/4 orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1 fennel bulb, shredded
1 cabbage head, shredded
6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c parsley leaves, chopped
4 firm apples, chopped

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper until most of the sugar is dissolved.
  • Place the fennel, cabbage, bacon, green onions, parsley, and apples together in a bowl and mix together.
  • Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss to coat.
  • Cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

If you think this recipe looks great then check out these ones too!

DivaDiCucina_Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi Dill Coleslaw

Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

Recipe—Asparagus and Feta Salad

Asparagus and Feta Salad

California is one of the leading producers of asparagus in the United Stated. Asparagus is so big in California that the city of Stockton even throws an entire festival in honor of asparagus. True story! I grew up eating asparagus on a regular basis. (By the way, I am 33 and still crack up that it gives you stinky pee. I don’t think I will ever grow up.) I could eat asparagus every day. There are just so many ways to prepare it but I think I have found my favorite way to eat the lovely green spears, grilled asparagus and feta salad. Man this was awesome! My husband and I devoured the whole bowl so if you are cooking for more than 2 people just go ahead and double or triple the recipe. Trust me you will eat it all! There was just so much flavor in the salad and it was so light and refreshing. Perfect for spring or summer. We just served it with a simple grilled chicken breast seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper and it was the perfect complement. This my friends, is good eating.

Want to know more about asparagus? Then check out this old post and you will be an asparagus pro!

Asparagus and Feta Salad

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch thick asparagus, ends trimmed
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

STEPS

  • Preheat the grill to about 325º.
  • Place the asparagus in a baking dish and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the asparagus on the grille making sure that they are perpendicular to the grates so that they don’t slip through.
  • Close the grill and cook for 3 minutes.
  • roll the asparagus over and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Remove the asparagus and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Allow the asparagus to cool for 5–10 minutes.
  • Cut the spears into 1–2” pieces.
  • Place the cut asparagus into a medium bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and half of the feta.
  • Top the salad with the remaining asparagus and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef.

Recipe—Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

If you have been following me for a while now then you have probably caught onto the fact that I love anything with buffalo sauce. If you haven’t caught onto that yet then pay attention! I’ve shared recipes for buffalo cauliflower bites, buffalo baked chicken, buffalo chicken tacos… you catch my drift? Okay, I may even call myself a buffalo sauce fanatic. I don’t know what it is about the spicy sauce that I enjoy so much but anything doused in Frank’s is good in my book.

Well I recently saw a recipe for crock-pot buffalo chicken wraps and I knew I had to try them. So I went to the store, got all my ingredients, and then…I forgot the whole preparing the crock-pot aspect that went along with the recipe. Whoops! Welcome to my life. No worries, I improvised. I just boiled the chicken along with the veggies, shredded it, and was back on track!

These turned out absolutely awesome! They were fairly quick and easy to put together and best of all they were light and refreshing. You have the nice crisp lettuce wrapped around the spicy tender chicken and then top it off with the rich blue cheese and some crisp veggies. Mmm… mmmmm… perfectly balanced!

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 celery ribs, sliced
Small yellow onion, chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c buffalo sauce (I love Franks’s)

FIXINGS
Large lettuce leaves (butter, romaine, green leaf, or iceburg)
Carrots, shredded
Celery, chopped
Blue cheese dressing
Blue cheese crumbles

STEPS

  • Place the chicken breasts, celery, and onions in a large pot.
  • Top off with water making sure everything is submerged.
  • Bring pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour the entire pot into a colander and remove the chicken breast.
  • Using two forks shred all of the chicken.
  • Using the pot you boiled the chicken in, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the buffalo sauce and stir to combine.
  • Toss in the shredded chicken and the cooked veggies from the colander and mix to combine.
  • Place a scoop of the chicken in a lettuce cup and top with fresh carrots, celery, blue cheese dressing, and blue cheese crumbles.
  • Grab a napkin and enjoy!

Recipe—Dad’s Beet, Carrot, and Feta Salad

Beet, Carrot, and Feta Salad

My dad has always been an incredible cook. He manages to take the most simple ingredients and turns them into something wonderful! This is a salad that he first made for me last year and it is now one of my favorites. It took him a few minutes to throw it together and yet it turned out to be delicious and it had a gourmet quality to it. The carrots and raw beets are just slightly sweet, perfectly crunchy, and the feta adds a wonderful salty, tangy, creamy quality. Yum! This is the perfect salad going into spring. Since all of the vegetables are raw it will hold up and remain crunchy for several days when stored in the fridge allowing you to enjoy it more than once, that is, if you even have leftovers. Enjoy!

Note: My beets appear pink in the photo because I used chioggia beets which vary in color from the more common red beets. You can use any kind of beet you can get your hands on for this recipe. However, I do think red beets give you the most beautiful color.

INGREDIENTS
3 fresh beets, washed, peeled, and shredded
4 large carrots, shredded
1/2 c Italian dressing
1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Combine the shredded beets and shredded carrots in a large bowl.
  • Pour the Italian dressing over the veggies and toss to combine.
  • Top with feta cheese and fresh parsley.
  • Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe—Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

Over the past several months I have been on a total broccoli salad kick. Whenever we go to the store I can’t resist getting some at the deli counter. I figured I might as well learn to make my own, and so I did. And it was the bomb diggity! This broccoli salad is the perfect balance of crunchy and creamy, and sweet and salty. I could seriously eat this as a meal all on it’s own, okay I did eat this as a meal all on it’s own. I ate it by the bowlful! It is the perfect summer salad. It’s super light and refreshing. I don’t care if you are a fan of broccoli or not, you will love this recipe. I will make broccoli lovers out of all of you yet!

INGREDIENTS
3 heads of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 c craisins
1/2 c salted sunflower seeds
1 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar

STEPS

  • In a large bowl combine the broccoli, bacon, red onion, craisins, and sunflower seeds.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the broccoli salad and toss to coat.
  • Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  • Stir right before serving.

Recipe—Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

My husband and I grew up in a very small town so on the weekends it was not out of the norm for us to drive an hour to go to the closest mall or to go find some entertainment outside of town. On our way back home we frequently passed this wonderful little Italian deli. They had the BEST sandwiches and side salads. One of the side salads, which my husband absolutely loved, was their Italian pasta salad. I did my best to recreate this salad just for him. This makes a party sized batch, so if you are just making it for the family I recommend halving it. This is a perfect salad for a bbq or potluck and is sure to be a hit with all partygoers.

Note: This pasta salad will last approximately 4 days in the fridge. It gets better each and every day as the Italian dressing soaks into the pasta and veggies.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb rotini noodles
2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 c Newman’s Family Recipe Italian dressing
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, sliced
2-6 oz jars artichoke hearts. drained
1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 c mozzarella cheese, cut into squares
2.25 oz can black olives, sliced
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water and the 2 tbsp of salt to a boil.
  • Add noodles and cook per package instructions.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bow.
  • Add the Italian dressing, garlic, red bell pepper, red onion, celery, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  • Refrigerate the pasta for 3 or more hours.  The longer the better.
  • Stir well before serving.

Recipe—Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad

Whenever you go to a BBQ there is typically the classic macaroni and potato salad. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE both of those dishes but with back-to-back BBQs throughout the summer I sometimes am looking for a way to mix things up a bit. This pea salad was a welcome addition to a BBQ I went to last weekend. It was very refreshing and light. There is a nice sweet flavor to this salad similar to a coleslaw. If you are looking for a tasty summer salad for lunch or dinner give this a try. You can have the whole thing thrown together in 5 minutes. You will find the hard part is just waiting for it to chill. The unique combination of flavors go together incredibly well. This is one of those salads that you may not quite be sure of, but once you give it a try you and your guests will keep going back for more of it.

Note: I made this a day ahead of time and it was awesome! Feel free to make it a day in advance if you need to.

INGREDIENTS
12 oz bag frozen sweet peas, thawed
1 c peanuts
1/4 c green onions, chopped
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c craisins
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl combine sweet peas, peanuts, green onions, bacon pieces, and craisins.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from Sugar n’ Spice Gals.

Recipe—Orzo Pesto Pasta

Orzo Pesto Pasta

In my office we all have a habit of bringing in various treats to share with each other throughout the year. (I know rough environment to be working in right?) Several years back we had an awesome (student assistant named Sarah. One day Sarah brought in this incredible orzo pesto pasta salad. I was in love! (With both Sarah and her pasta. Sarah was awesome.) She made her own pesto from scratch and I will not lie, I was impressed. This is the perfect summer salad. You have the seasonally fresh tomatoes and zucchini mixed with tangy vinegar and pesto giving it a wonderfully light and refreshing flavor. I make it several times of year and whenever I am generous enough to share with my friends I am asked for the recipe. It is definitely a favorite in our household. My son was even eating it by the bowlful when he was 1 1/2 years old. If you are looking for a tasty recipe for any summer cookouts or BBQs then search no further. This is perfect. While that little box of orzo may not look like much, it expands a great deal so this makes a very decent sized bowl of the tasty pasta salad.

Note: I save a couple of tablespoons of the feta and pine nuts to garnish the top of the salad with.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb box of orzo pasta, uncooked
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced
salt and pepper
4 oz feta cheese crumbles (see above note)
2 c pesto (make your own or get some from the market to save time)
3/4 c white vinegar
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c pine nuts

STEPS

  • Cook orzo pasta per package instructions.
  • While the orzo is cooking, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the zucchini for 3–4 minutes just slightly cooking it and then remove from heat.
  • Drain the orzo and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the feta and pesto stirring to combine.
  • Drizzle the vinegar while stirring.
  • Stir in the cooked zucchini, tomatoes, and pine nuts.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with extra feta and pine nuts if you saved any.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours before serving.

Recipe—Bok Choy and Carrot Slaw in a Tangy Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

Bok Choy and Carrot Slaw in a Tangy Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

I really wanted to cook some seared ahi the other night and I was looking for the perfect side dish. Well low and behold! There was bok choy in my produce box that week so I knew exactly what to do.  A light and refreshing Asian inspired slaw. It was perfect for the warm summer night and was exactly what my gorgeous piece of ahi needed. Something not too heavy but loaded with flavors that would complement the simplicity of the fish. The dressing for this slaw is tangy, sweet, has a nice sesame flavor, and just a little bite from the fresh garlic. This is great for any Asian inspired dinner you have planned. I also had it with some chicken teriyaki and it was killer! This super fabulous recipe takes less than five minutes to make and is super low cal. Delicious and nutritious!

Note: Dressing can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Then just toss the salad and the dressing right before serving.

INGREDIENTS
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame seeds (plus more for garnish if desired)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp olive oil
2–3 large baby bok choy, thinly sliced (about 4–6 c)
1/2 c shredded carrots

STEPS

  • In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, sesame seeds, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and olive oil until well combined.
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the sliced bok choy and shredded carrots and toss to coat.
  • Garnish with extra sesame seeds if desired.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Cozy Apron.