Metro-East Living

Salad, dump cake on my mind

Tender Green Salad With Strawberries, Cucumber, Pistachio and Basil
Tender Green Salad With Strawberries, Cucumber, Pistachio and Basil Washington Post

One of my biggest pet peeves when eating out is being served a salad drowning in dressing.

That and weak/lukewarm coffee, but I’m focusing on the salad for now.

It’s easy to ruin a great salad with a heavy hand. Nothing like seeing a pool of dressing at the bottom of my bowl. The solution is to ask for dressing on the side.

All of this comes to mind as I was reading recipes for salads last week. It’s kind of silly, I think, to have recipes for salads. I mean, you put in what you want, right? I stick my head in the fridge and pull stuff off shelves and out of bins. Leftover chicken from dinner, blueberries from breakfast. No croutons? I’ll just break up some honey-wheat pretzels I usually eat with lunch.

But every now and then I an entranced by the way a writer puts words to her thoughts on food, even salad. I am a fan of Ellie Krieger, cookbook author, food writer and PBS show host.

She wrote about a very simple salad she ate in New York and I had to include it here because it sounds just right for late spring/early summer. I plan to grab my kitchen shears and head out to the garden for lettuce and basil.

A berry good dump cake

While I had my head in the fridge and spied the blueberries, I decided I needed to look up a recipe using one of my favorite blue fruits. Dump cakes are so beloved around here that I figured I couldn’t miss with this recipe.

Contact me at sboyle@bnd.com, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

Tender Green Salad With Strawberries, Cucumber, Pistachio and Basil

Here’s what Ellie said: “This spring salad is as simple as it is delightful. The key is to find the season's best strawberries: supremely juicy, ripened to a deep red and fragrant with potent perfume. Cool, crisp contrast comes from thin slices of English cucumber. Basil leaves offer a soft, aromatic accent, and nuts provide crunch. The whole is dressed with a honey-sweetened white wine vinaigrette.”

DRESSING:

2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

SALAD:

1/2 head butter, Boston or bibb lettuce, leaves torn (about 5 cups, lightly packed)

6 large or 12 small hulled strawberries, quartered if large, halved if small

1/4 English (seedless) cucumber, cut into thin half-moons

2 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped*

4 large or 8 medium fresh basil leaves, torn

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to form a dressing.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle in about half of the dressing and toss to coat.

Divide the dressed lettuce among individual salad plates. Arrange the strawberries and cucumber slices on top, then drizzle with the remaining dressing.

Top each portion with 1/2 tablespoon of pistachios and some basil.

*Toast the pistachios in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool completely before using.

Makes 4 servings, each with 110 calories, 2 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 4 grams sugar.

Blueberry Cream Dump Cake

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 box yellow cake mix

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

TOPPING:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 (6-ounce) container Greek blueberry yogurt, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with softened butter.

Add the blueberries to the prepared baking dish. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Toss to combine. Then cover the blueberries with the cake mix.

Pour the melted butter over the cake mix, but do not stir.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until light brown.

Meanwhile, whip the cream with an electric mixer. Fold in the blueberry yogurt, if desired.

Serve the cake warm or cold, topped with a dollop of the blueberry cream.

Half-Baked Harvest

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