Christmas Tree Antipasto Salad

Christmas Tree Antipasto Salad

This cheery holiday salad is a fun (and delicious!) decorating idea for a party. A trio of lettuces create the evergreen tree, and items from the deli counter and salad bar become an edible garland. 

Level: Easy

Total: 45 min

Active: 45 min

Yield: 8 servings

 
 

Ingredients

Salad:

5 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups)

5 ounces baby kale (about 8 cups)  

2 Persian cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons

3 heads little gem lettuce, bases trimmed and leaves separated, or the inner leaves of Bibb lettuce

1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami

Three 1/4-inch-thick slices provolone (about 6 ounces)

1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto 

1 cup cheese-stuffed small sweet piquante peppers, such as peppadews 

1/2 cup jarred small whole artichoke hearts (about 8)

1/2 cup green castelvetrano olives

1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup small whole pepperoncini

6 radishes, tops trimmed

1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

One 4-ounce goat cheese log

8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella (small balls of mozzarella), halved

 

White Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:


  1. Special equipment:

     1-inch, 1 1/2-inch and 3 1/2-inch star cutters; a bar citrus zester

  2.  
  3.  
  4. 1. For the salad: Combine the baby arugula and kale in a large bowl. Arrange the leaves on a very large platter or cutting board in a Christmas tree shape that measures 16 to 18 inches tall, reserving a handful of greens. The platter should be large enough to accommodate a star on top and a trunk on the bottom. Scatter half of the sliced cucumbers over the tree. Arrange a layer of little gem lettuce leaves to create 4 tiers on the tree; use the small inner leaves for the fourth layer at the top of the tree.
  5. 2. Stack the sliced salami and cut out a large star using a 3 1/2-inch star cutter; reserve the scraps. Using the same cutter, cut out 2 stars from 2 slices of the provolone; reserve the scraps. Make a layered meat-and-cheese stack starting with half the salami stars, topped with a provolone star, the rest of the salami, and the second provolone star. Place the star at the top of the tree. 
  6. 3. Cut out smaller stars from the provolone scraps and the remaining provolone slice using 1-inch and 1 1/2-inch cutters. Roll up the salami scraps and prosciutto slices into flowers. Arrange the cheese stars, meat flowers, stuffed peppadews, artichoke hearts, both kinds of olives and pepperoncini on the lettuce to form a garland that zig-zags up the tree from the bottom right to the upper left. 
  7. 4. Using a bar citrus zester, zest a channel along the equator of each radish so it resembles a tree ornament. Halve each radish vertically and add the pieces to the garland. Scatter the remaining cucumber slices on the leafy parts of the tree and use the reserved greens to fill any gaps in the tree.
  8. 5. Put the nuts on a small plate and roll the goat cheese in them to fully coat. Place the log at the bottom of the tree to form the trunk. Decorate the ground under the tree with the ciliegine mozzarella balls for snow.
  9. 6. For the white balsamic vinaigrette: Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Serve on the side.

Christmas Tree Antipasto Salad
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Salad:
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Squash & barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Squash & barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette

COOK: 25 MINS

5 mins, plus cooling

EASY

SERVES 8

A flavour-packed, unusual salad that’s delicious warm or cold – works really well as part of a buffet

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into long pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g pearl barley
  • 300g Tenderstem broccoli, cut into medium-size pieces
  • 100g SunBlush tomato, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp small capers, rinsed
  • 15 black olives, pitted
  • 20g pack basil, chopped

 

For the dressing

  • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Method

1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the squash on a baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, boil the barley for about 25 mins in salted water until tender, but al dente. While this is happening, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Drain the barley, then tip it into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and let it cool.

 

2. Boil the broccoli in salted water until just tender, then drain and rinse in cold water. Drain and pat dry. Add the broccoli and remaining ingredients to the barley and mix well. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge and is delicious warm or cold.


Squash & barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette
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Squash & barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette
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Spicy Lemon Shrimp Skewers

Spicy Lemon Shrimp Skewers

Level: Easy

Total: 40 min

Prep: 25 min

Cook: 15 min

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

 

6 lemons

Kosher salt

1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons Sriracha (Asian chile sauce)

2 cloves garlic, minced

 

 

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

30 extra-large shrimp, unpeeled

Vegetable oil, for the grill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

1. Finely grate the zest from 4 of the lemons, then pulse in a mini food processor with 3 tablespoons salt. Squeeze the juice from 2 of the zested lemons into a large bowl; add the lemongrass, olive oil, Sriracha, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of the lemon salt. Thinly slice the 2 remaining lemons and add to the bowl.

2. Using kitchen shears, cut through the shrimp shells along the outer curve, leaving the shells on. Remove the veins and rinse the shrimp. Add to the bowl with the lemongrass marinade and toss; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, soak 12 to 15 wooden skewers in water.

3. Preheat a grill to medium high. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers. Brush the grill with vegetable oil, then add the lemon slices and grill until they begin to char, turning once, about 2 minutes; transfer to a platter. Stir the mint into the remaining marinade. Add the shrimp skewers to the grill and cook, brushing with the marinade-mint mixture, until the shells begin to char, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the platter and sprinkle with the lemon salt to taste.


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Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

I think one of the prettiest salads you can have is the Caprese Salad.  It’s vibrant colors are so inviting, promising something creamy, fresh and delicious.

What you may ask is a Caprese Salad.  It’s an Italian salad of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil with a light vinaigrette dressing.  It’s said that Caprese Salad was originally made to honor the Italian flag which is Red, White, and Green; the same colors of the salad.

Caprese Salad is definitely a family favorite.  It’s not only delicious but it’s so easy to make.  We have it for lunch, as a panino or sandwich.  You can place the ingredients between 2 slices of bread or better yet a ciabatta roll, grill it just until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, and you have a wonderfully simple meal!

The most important thing to remember when making Caprese Salad at home is to use the freshest ingredients you can find.  This mean unless absolutely necessary the prepacked balls of mozzarella in the supermarket’s dairy case just won’t do!

Short of bringing home fresh mozzarella from Italy (which I’ve actually done) I usually find fresh mozzarella at Costco or the deli counter.  It’s the balls of cheese that’s usually floating in the tub it’s packaged in.  You’ll know it’s fresh because it’s softer than those hard balls packed in plastic wrap.

Tomatoes of course are fresh, pick nice ripe ones.  I get mine from my garden along with the fresh basil.  If you don’t have a basil plant (and you should! it’s so easy to keep even a small one in the kitchen window) you can buy fresh basil leaves at the grocery store.

Once you have all the fresh ingredients all  you really need is some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of Italian seasoning if  you have it, and some salt.  If you don’t have Italian seasoning you can use dried oregano, parsley, or basil or you can just use black pepper.

Caprese Salad is great for a light lunch or as a fresh addition to any meal.  It’s tasty and refreshing, the perfect summer salad!

Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

5-6 slices of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (slices should be about 1/2″ thick)

1 Firm Ripe Tomato – sliced in about 1/2″ thick rounds

3-6 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp. Italian Dressing

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/2″ rounds and arrange on a plate.  Alternate tomato and cheese to make it look nice.

You can also add a basil leaf between the cheese and tomato or you can place the leaves in the center.  Place the three ingredients on the plate any way you find pleasing.

Mix together oil and vinegar.

Add 1/2 Tsp. of Italian seasoning to the oil mixture and stir well.

Drizzle over the fresh ingredients just before serving.

Sprinkle remaining Italian Seasoning over all and season with salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

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Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This is the perfect side for your next BBQ.

YIELDS: 8

PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 10 MINS

TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 30 MINS

 

 

INGREDIENTS 

FOR THE PASTA SALAD

1 lb. penne

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

Kosher salt

2 c. chopped romaine lettuce

1 c. halved grape tomatoes

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 c. croutons

2/3 c. Caesar dressing

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley 

Freshly ground black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer to large bowl. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Season chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Cook until golden and cooked through, 8 minutes per side. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into 1″ pieces. 

Add romaine, tomatoes, Parmesan, croutons, and chicken to pasta bowl. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together Caesar dressing, lemon juice, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Pour over penne mixture and toss to combine. 


Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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