Bulgur Chickpea Salad

Bulgur Chickpea Salad saved the day for me.  Thanks to Jenn Segal over at Once Upon a Chef for the inspiration and base recipe to start with!

I needed a recipe that could easily serve quite a few people.  Normally, I have a difficult time deciding which recipe to make, since I have so many.  But this situation left me at a loss for what I could make.

You see, there were so many variables and criteria that needed to be met.  It was needed for a barbecue themed potluck that would be served over several hours because people would be getting their meal breaks at different times.  It would also be several hours between arriving at my destination and food service.

Refrigerator space was going to be severely limited, and carrying a crockpot to the destination was not possible.  There were a couple of factors that prevented this, but that really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I needed a dish to fit this criteria.

The last criteria was a new one for me.  There was going to be an ethical vegan eating at this potluck.  If you are wondering what an ethical vegan was, you aren’t alone.  I have asked many questions about this way of eating and still jut know the basics.

With my very limited understanding of this way of eating, I knew I needed to find something that had absolutely no animal products in the recipe.  No eggs, no dairy, and obviously no meat, but this also excludes honey.  If you have read any of our recipes, you know that there is a good possibility that I have no recipes beyond hummus that would fit that bill.  Hummus was not an option as I was committed to a side dish.

A friend suggested I make tabbouleh, but I really dislike that much parsley in any one dish.  I can’t get past the overwhelming feeling that I am eating lawn clippings.  Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh parsley and grow my own during the summer.  It brings great fresh flavor to my dishes, but I guess tabbouleh is just too much freshness!  I needed an alternative.

This side dish salad was the perfect fit.  Bulgur and chickpeas combined with sturdy vegetables like red peppers, onions, and cucumbers would hold up to the acidity of the lemon juice.  I have left out the dill and the cumin, personal preferences here again.  This recipe kind of reminded me of a Portuguese chickpea salad a friend used to make and it only had parsley in it.  So I stuck with just the parsley, and did not use nearly the amount most tabbouleh recipes call for.

Dijon Chicken Salad Spread

I had never eaten a chicken salad that was heavy on Dijon mustard until I ate it in a restaurant for lunch one day.  It was a shock since I had been expecting the standard fat laden chicken salad you usually find.  I had asked about fruits or nuts in the salad, as I am a puritan in that arena.

The salad was different and interesting, not in a bad way though.  I found myself thinking about this chicken salad sandwich a few days later.  I had some boneless chicken breasts in the freezer and thought I might give it a try.

It has taken a few tries to get the Dijon mustard to mayonnaise ratio right for the way I like it.  Because Dijon can be overpowering, even when you like Dijon, there needs to be a bit of mayonnaise to cut through the mustard and finish moistening the spread.

Dijon Chicken Salad Spread is a tasty way to eat chicken salad that has a lower fat and calorie count than my basic chicken salad recipe that has mayonnaise and sour cream.

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Holiday Green Jello Salad

Green salad was at every holiday meal my mom was involved in. I can’t remember a holiday at her house, or anyone else’s for that matter where this dish wasn’t present. She loved green salad and if no one else was making it, you were guaranteed she would. It had never been any other color until her later years when she started substituting cranberry or cherry jello for the lime. When I was younger I preferred mine with pecans in it, and surprise cream cheese chunks that didn’t completely dissolve into the mix. Now I am a puritan in the nut arena. I also prefer to eat this made with cranberry jello, and cherry is a close second.

I don’t make this in my kitchen anymore. It was more of a tradition at my house rather than a “craving” for me, you know, one of those things that you were expected to put on your plate but kind of pushed around. However, this is now a part of Ron’s holiday traditions so it should be his cookbook version that appears in this post.  Thus is not a dish he pushes around his plate.  He loves it!

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Beef Salad

Beef Salad is perfect for elegant cocktail parties and casual get-togethers.  It’s all in the presentation with this one.

It is easy enough that even beginners should be able to pull off beef salad so long as they own a food processor or blender.  I might be possible to mince the meat with a knife, but I have never done it.  I am too lazy for all of that, and patience is NOT by strong suit.

This recipe can be scaled down to use leftover roast beef.  I used to make it this way until I discovered that so many people liked it that I actually needed to make a full roast just for beef salad.  This is another one of those dishes that I carry to others’ parties as an appetizer.

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Basic Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is my go-to for using up any leftover chicken I have.  Sometimes when I am making chicken soup or chicken and dumpling, I go ahead and thrown in some extra chicken breasts just for chicken salad.  Rotisserie chicken meat is also really good in this recipe.

When I make this style of chicken salad, I prefer it pretty plain.  Celery is the only addition you will find here.  Feel free to add any number of ingredients you like in your chicken salad.  I prefer to eat mine on toast with some onions slices, stuffed inside of a tomato, or with crackers so fruit and nut addition just aren’t my thing.  I know a lot of people who it is their thing, so if that’s you, just add what you like, even feel free to leave out the celery.  I won’t hurt my feelings.  What will hurt my feelings is if you are a beginner cook and you don’t get into the kitchen and at least try. Continue reading “Basic Chicken Salad”

Strawberry Mandarin Orange Salad with Mango Coconut Dressing

We call this $30 salad at our house. My brother-in-law Charlie deemed this a $30 salad.  I think he might have been referring to the cost of the ingredients, but Andy swears it is because they would pay $30 to eat this salad in a restaurant.  This does NOT cost $30 to make.

This is a bright and cheerful addition to any meal.

It’s real name is Strawberry Mandarin Salad with Mango Coconut Dressing.  We used to eat a similar salad, along with the best banana bread and strawberry butter at a restaurant in Venice, Florida.  This is another of those foods we had not seen anywhere else and no recipe existed. So, as usual, I felt compelled to create a recipe that would be similar.  I have been asked to share this recipe most times I have carried it to gatherings or served it at my house to guests.

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Grandma Hunt’s Tomato, Cucumber, & Onion Salad

This is one of those rare recipes my mother made well. But she made it all the time. The recipe for Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad stayed taped to the inside of her spice cabinet. I don’t remember a time not seeing it anytime I went for a salt shaker.

It was always present at her parties by the pool. There would also be the required steaks on the grill, mushrooms, cucumbers and onions, boxed scalloped potatoes, and those little sponge cakes you can buy in the produce section of most stores alongside sweetened strawberries and vanilla ice cream (my mother’s version of strawberry shortcake).

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