Salad with Romaine, Berries, Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette

The heat of summer always make me think a little bit lighter when it comes to food.  During the Texas heat wave between June and September, I tend to serve lot of sandwiches, light vegetable soups and salad...lots and lots of cool, crisp salad!  

I like to get a little adventurous with my salad though and many of my favorites actually include fruit or whole, cooked beans and and some kind of wonderful, crumbly, sharp cheese.  No one said salad had to be a plain, boring, one-slice-of-tomato-on-the-side garden side salad!

I made this salad for my husband a few days ago, and when saw it all put together, he said "What a weird salad, but it looks pretty".  True story.  But, guess who ate the final serving from the big bowl?  

There will be lots of salad served-up here at my house over the next several weeks and as a result, (watch out readers, my food-geekiness is really showing here) this recipe marks the first of a short series of posts on salad! 

Salad with Romaine, Berries and Feta (to serve 4)
  • half head of romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup of fresh blue berries, rinsed and patted dried
  • 4-5 fresh strawberries, rinsed, patted dry, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • a few thin slices of red onion
1.  Place all ingredients, in the order listed, in layers in a large bowl or individual serving bowls.
2.  Top or serve with balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
1.  Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake until well-mixed.  

Simple Apple Crisp

See those pretty, shiny apples?  They are destined to be something greater in my opinion.  Fresh fruit rarely stays in it's original form for long at my house.  I can eat raw vegetables on a tray all day long, but any sort of fruit I get my hands on gets turned into a sweet dish or a smoothie.  

I don't have a theory to explain my little streak of madness when it come to fruit and desserts other than the obvious:  fruit is great in dessert!  If you're not satisfied with the obvious explanation, well then, I guess I can safely blame my mother.  She made her delicious peach cobbler and apple pie a bunch when I was growing up and I remain strangely addicted to fruit-based desserts....especially when served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.  Thanks Mom!

I typically like to keep it simple and just dress up fresh, beautiful fruit with wonderful, warm spices and a simple topping or pastry.  This super simple apple crumble has become one my favorite little treats.  It's good for a quick evening dessert or to impress friends at your next barbeque. 

 This recipe is great with other fruit fillings too.  Substitute blueberries, mixed berries (about a cup for each small baking dish) or fresh peach slices for the apples.

Simple Apple Crisp

 For the filling:
  • 3 large sweet apples (I used Gala), peeled, cored and sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple juice
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of table salt
1.  Pre-heat oven to 375°.  Prepare 4 small soufflĂ© bowls (5 in diameter) with non-stick spray. (or just place everything together in a greased 8 x 8 in baking pan)
2.  In a large bowl, mix and coat the apple slices with the ingredients as listed.
3.  Fill bowls with the apple slices.   

For the topping:
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
1.  Mix all ingredients with a fork until moist and then spread evenly over the apples in baking dishes
2.  Place the baking dishes on a baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 minutes.
3.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm (but, truthfully it's delicious cold too)
3. Enjoy!
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