Perfect Summer Salad (or, Why We Listen to Oprah)

Oy vey. It’s been quite an eventful three weeks! During that time, I moved. That’s really all that’s happened, but I truly hate moving, especially considering that the last time I moved was a mere three months ago. My new apartment is quite lovely, though now I have a galley kitchen and an oven that may or may not be the devil. I have named him Archibald. (I thought about Beelzebub, but that seemed like I was asking for trouble, so I went with Cary Grant’s real first name.)


Listen to Oprah. Or rather, listen to the people Oprah tells you to listen to, namely Toni Bark. A friendship with this MD/aerial silk-doing wonder woman might be difficult since you’d probably die of jealousy. Nevertheless, the woman is intimidatingly brilliant and kickass. I was first introduced to Ms. Barks and her healthy body tips through this absolutely delicious salad recipe from O magazine. I’ve adapted it very little due to its perfection, so I’m still going to call it Toni Bark’s Perfect Summer Salad for the sake of fairness.


Toni Bark’s Perfect Summer Salad

  • Raw beets
  • Organic greens
  • Blueberries
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts (or pecans if you can’t find any contamination-free walnuts)

Dressing (full recipe serves 4-6)

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • Juice of ½ lemon

1. Peel the beets using a sharp vegetable peeler. (If possible, by the beets with stems and roots still attached – that way you can hold on to that long, tail-like end of the beet while you peel.) Slice thin with a mandolin or sharp knife. Peel and slice the avocado. Combine sliced beets and avocado with remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Combine dressing ingredients. I like to use a mason jar for easy shaking, or you can use a blender if you prefer not to mince your garlic ahead of time. If serving one, toss salad  with 2-3 tablespoons of dressing and serve immediately.

Tip: Preparing this for work? Wait until just before eating to peel and slice the avocado. Make sure to bring a knife from home if your office kitchen isn’t well-equipped or if you’re worried about cross contamination. (Disclaimer: I do not advocate work violence. Keep that knife in yo’ lunchbox.)  Also, tiny bottles from the mini-bar make great, non-leaky containers for salad dressing.

Bon appétit!


The Lazy Gourmet: White Cheddar Grilled Cheese

**Update 3/13: Modified for gluten-free. Pictures are not of gluten-free items**

This post will be interspersed with some random flower and pumpkin pictures, because it is fall, and I like flowers and pumpkins. But this recipe has nothing to do with flowers. Or pumpkins.

Some days, when I am wading through the mire of midterms, melodrama, and stress-induced migraines, cooking seems impossible. Some days, I look at the word “skillet” in a recipe and forget what it means. Some days, I walk into my kitchen and the thought of julienne-ing zucchini or figuring out how to dice butternut squash without dying is excruciatingly painful.  Some days, I am too lazy to even type up the recipe for the Pea and Goat Cheese Quiche I made like two weeks ago now.

And on those days, my friends,  do we resort to ramen noodles? Do we get takeout from Subway? Do we unwrap a frozen meal and toss it in the microwave?

(Actually, sometimes we do the last one. Amy’s Vegetable Pot Pie is delicious. And organic. So I feel less guilty about it.)

Nay! Never! We are far too food savvy for that! Far too superior! Far too snobbish!

Instead of selling our souls to the fast food gods, we make grilled cheese.

Not just any grilled cheese, mind you. None of that bastardization called “American cheese.” This grilled cheese got class. Made from sharp white cheddar and Parmesan-encrusted slices of sourdough, this sandwich will have you licking your fingers in the happiest of ways.  How gourmet.

White Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Serves one lazy gourmet

2 slices of fresh gluten-free sourdough or white bread
Approximately 1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated ( use fresh, not pre-shredded)
Dash of gluten-free herbs like herbes de provence, rosemary, or oregano

For the salad (optional):
A handful of spring mix
5-6 halved cherry tomatoes
Your favorite salad dressing (I used Garlic Expressions)

1. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spread one side of each slice of bread liberally with butter. Then, sprinkle Parmesan cheese and smear it into the butter.

2. Place one slice in the skillet butter-side down. Add slices of white cheddar and sprinkle with herbs. Place the second slice on top, butter-side up. As the bread fries, press down on top of the sandwich with a spatula. After 1-2 minutes, when the cheese has started to melt and binds the two pieces of bread together, flip the sandwich. Continue pressing and flipping until both sides are crispy and golden brown.

3. Allow to cool and then slice in half. Assemble the salad, and enjoy.

Up Next: I said Pea and Goat Cheese would be next in the last post. I’m remaking it for a pie contest on Wednesday, so maybe that will motivate me to type up the recipe. Maybe.