Mad Greens Inspired Brussels Sprout & Quinoa Bowl

We were driving home from the airport a few months ago and stopped at Mad Greens for a quick lunch. Jamie ordered the Belgium Bowl and has pretty much been obsessed with it ever since. So much so, that we now have driven out of the way to find a Mad Greens more than once. The Belgium Bowl has a number of ingredients, but is essentially a roasted brussels sprouts, quinoa, and chicken bowl with some fun toppings like bacon, goat cheese, and pecans. It’s hearty and very filling, which is something we look for in a lunch salad. We started to make this salad at home and have mixed and matched our own variations to get it to the recipe we are sharing today. It has become a family favorite and a great recipe to transition from winter into spring.

Mad Greens Inspired Brussels Sprout & Quinoa Bowl

  • Servings: 4 entrée servings
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A hearty and healthy brussels sprout and quinoa bowl, inspired by the Belgium Bowl at Mad Greens.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups finely shaved brussels sprouts (you can do this in a food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the quinoa. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the quinoa and cook on a simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until it is crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside on paper towel, reduce the heat of the pan to low and drain the fat from the pan. You don’t need to clean the pan completely – you can leave any fat that remains on the bottom of the pan. Add the pecans to the pan and toast them until they become fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, mustard, and honey together in a small bowl. This dressing is more on the mustardy side (our preference) but if you want the dressing to be a little sweeter, add the full 1/4 cup honey into the dressing. Once all ingredients are combined, add a little water to the dressing to thin it out to a drizzly consistency and season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Add the quinoa and brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl. Chop the bacon and add it to the bowl along with the toasted pecans and red onion. Dollop the goat cheese around the salad and add the dressing over top. Toss everything really well so that the goat cheese is spread throughout the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Green Bean Cobb Salad

We tend to struggle with getting our veggies in during the winter. When snow is falling and it’s just about freezing, the last thing we want to eat is cold lettuce. We were brainstorming ways to make winter salads and dreamt up this Green Bean Cobb Salad. Everything we love about a traditional cobb salad (hello, toppings!) but on top of green beans instead of iceberg lettuce. The result is refreshing but still hearty and something we are down to eat any time of year. We paired the salad with our favorite Sunday Night Salad Dressing, which adds a little bit of a vinegar punch to the richer ingredients like bacon and feta.

  • Servings: 4 side salad servings
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Ingredients


Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lay a sheet of foil onto a cookie sheet and place the bacon on the foil. Cook the bacon for about 12 minutes, or until it’s crispy. Remove and set aside until cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Bring a medium sized pot of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Cook the green beans for about 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Let the green beans sit in the water for at least 3 minutes before drying on a kitchen towel.
  4. In the same water that you used to cook the green beans, boil the eggs. Bring the water to a simmer and gently add the eggs into the pot. Cook for 8 minutes. Remove the eggs and run them under cold water. Peel and dice the eggs.
  5. Make the salad dressing. Make the salad dressing according to the recipe directions in the link above. This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
  6. Assemble the salad. Lay the green beans in the center of a serving dish. Add the salad toppings (bacon, tomatoes, eggs, red onion, avocado, and feta cheese) in different sections on top of the green beans. Serve with a generous amount of dressing.


Rick and Cathy’s Chopped Salad

When we told our parents that we were recreating “Rick’s” chopped salad for the blog, both of our parents insisted that this was actually “Cathy’s” chopped salad. Since the owner of the salad is an even 2 to 2 split vote in our house, they both are getting credit. Welcome to the blog, mom! We love this salad because it is lettuce free! Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy our lettuce salads, but there is something special about a salad that is filled with just the ingredients you love and no fluff. Because there is no lettuce, this salad can be made in advance and also holds up great as leftovers. No seriously, it does. As two people who will always throw leftover salad away, this is our one exception because nothing will wilt or change in texture overnight. We will serve this as a side salad for dinner one night and then top the leftover with chicken for lunch the next day. A perfect salad to add to your weekly rotation.

Rick and Cathy's Chopped Salad

  • Servings: 8 side portions
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A lettuce free salad that is a go-to for lunch or dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk celery, stem and leaves removed
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black olives, sliced in half
  • 1 can hearts of palm
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare the vegetables by chopping everything into bite sized pieces.
  2. Place all of the vegetables, chickpeas, olives and heart of palm into a large salad bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Add the olive oil, salt and a few turns of black pepper. Toss the salad to combine the ingredients. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.


Super Simple Arugula Salad

Whenever we are cooking a complex main entrée for dinner, we like to keep the other dishes simple and easy to put together. This recipe will come in handy for just that – bringing you a great salad that is made in under 10 minutes. Salads don’t always need to have a long list of ingredients and complicated dressings to be delicious. This peppery arugula salad is made tangy from the red onion and feels bright and refreshing on the palate from the lemon and olive-oil dressing. We eat this salad almost every week and use it for everything from an appetizer for a coursed dinner to a side dish with veggie burgers. It pairs well with just about everything and we know it will become one of the “go-to’s” in your kitchen as well.

Super Simple Arugula Salad

  • Servings: 2
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A simple, tangy and refreshing salad that pairs well with just about any meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3-4 cups arugula
  • 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper to your liking.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the arugula and onions. Toss with the salad dressing and top with the parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


Japanese Winter Salad with Miso Dressing

A few weeks ago we set out to create a dinner menu for our mom’s birthday. We are typically a family that goes out to celebrate birthdays, but in the world of Covid that isn’t possible. We wanted dinner at home to still feel special and celebratory, and settled on a combination of a catered platter of sushi and a few homemade accompaniments. If you know our mom, you know vegetables are always a priority. We set out to make an appetizer Japanese salad, which is one of our favorites when we eat at a sushi restaurant. To make things more seasonally appropriate for a birthday in November we subbed traditional romaine for baby kale and used radishes and rainbow carrots for some color. The key to this salad, and the reason you should bookmark it, is the miso dressing. It. Is. So. Good. It is the perfect mix of umami, tangy, and savory flavors that bring all of our favorite Japanese flavors to the forefront. We double this recipe so that we can have it as a pantry ingredient. In addition to this salad, it is great drizzled over roasted vegetables, grilled steak, or tossed with chilled noodles.

Japanese Winter Salad with Miso Dressing

  • Servings: 4
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A delicious winter salad with a miso dressing that you’ll want to have over and over again.

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 6 cups lightly packed baby kale, stems removed
  • 4 rainbow baby carrots, peeled with a julienne peeler
  • 4-5 large radishes, thinly sliced and stem discarded
  • 1 avocado, cut into large segments
  • 2 scallions, sliced on a bias

Ingredients for the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil (or any neutral oil)

Directions

  1. Make the salad by preparing all of the vegetables and layering them in the order they are listed on a serving platter.
  2. Make the dressing by combining the miso – water in a blender until the garlic and ginger are mostly smooth. With the blender running, add the avocado oil in a steady stream until it has been fully combined with the rest of the dressing. If the dressing too thick for your liking, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water to get it to the thickness you desire .
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.


Edamame Rice Salad

We weren’t exactly sure what to name this dish… is it a carb? Is it a salad? Is it a vegetarian entree? It’s a little bit of everything, thanks to an abundance of veggies in this dish. Cooking at home for nearly every meal since March has given us a chance to experiment with recipes that go the extra distance and last for more than one meal. Zhuzhing up leftovers feels like a much easier task than cooking new recipes for every darn meal of the week. This Edamame Rice Salad fulfills that task perfectly. Leftovers hold up really well for a few days in the refrigerator. We can add grilled chicken, shrimp, or avocado to give leftovers a new look. Best of all, it’s a quick and easy recipe that keeps us eating healthy all week long. 

Asian Veggie Rice 
Makes: 6+ servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes   Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients For The Salad:

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups lightly packed chopped purple cabbage 
  • 2 cups frozen edamame beans, no shells 
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 bell peppers, diced 
  • 4 scallions, diced 
  • 2/3 cup cilantro, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds 
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds 

Ingredients for the Dressing*: 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 4 tbs rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 tbs minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • salt to taste

Directions: 

  1. Heat 4 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the brown rice and reduce the pot to a simmer. Cook according to package directions, about 30 minutes. 
  2. While the rice is cooking, chop the other vegetables and make the dressing. Whisk the dressing ingredients (vegetable oil – chili paste) in a medium bowl until they are combined. Season to taste with salt, set aside.
  3. When the rice has finished cooking, fluff it with a fork to release some of the steam. Add the frozen edamame to the rice, give it a quick stir, and cover for 5 minutes. This will help thaw the edamame and bring the temperature of the rice down, closer to room temperature. 
  4. Make the salad by combining the brown rice- bell peppers in a large bowl. Add half of the cilantro and scallions and half of the dressing; toss to coat. Top with the remaining cilantro, scallions, dressing, sliced almonds, and sesame seeds to serve. 

*If making the dressing from scratch isn’t in your plans, substitute with any of your favorite Asian salad dressings from the grocery store. 


Beet, Goat Cheese, & Farro Salad

We have jam packed this salad full to the brim! Unlike our Semi-Homemade Pesto Caprese that we made earlier in the week, this recipe will have you in the kitchen for a bit more time if you are cooking the beets from scratch. We promise it is worth it! If you want to save some time, look for pre-cooked beets in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store. We have also found quick cooking farro at Trader Joe’s, which helps cut the time down even more. This dish is hearty choice as a “salad for dinner” recipe and one of our favorite ways to pack in the veggies this summer. 

Beet, Goat Cheese, & Farro Salad 
Makes: 4 entree servings 
Prep Time: 45 minutes    Total Time: 1 hour 

Ingredients for the Salad: 

  • 4 large (or 6 medium) beets, stems removed and peeled 
  • 1 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking farro 
  • 8 cups kale, large stems removed 
  • 2/3 cup goat cheese 
  • 1 avocado, sliced 
  • ⅓ cup olive oil 

Ingredients for the Balsamic Vinaigrette: 

  • ⅓ cup olive oil 
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tsp honey (use this only if you used balsamic vinegar, not glaze)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Chop the beets into large, bite-sized pieces. Place them on a sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 tbs of olive oil. Toss to coat the beats evenly and season with salt and pepper. Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, cover with a second sheet of foil, and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until they are fork tender. 
  3. While the beets are cooking, prepare the farro. Heat a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the farro according to package directions; quick-cooking farro takes about 10 minutes while traditional farro can take up to 40 minutes. The farro should still have some texture and chew; strain when it has finished cooking. 
  4. While the farro is cooking make the salad dressing. Whisk all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl until thoroughly blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. When the beets have finished cooking, toss them in a large bowl with the kale, farro, and about 3/4 of the salad dressing. It’s okay if the beets and/or farro are still a bit warm- this will help break down the kale so that it is more chewable. 
  6. Assemble the salad by layering the beet/farro/kale mixture on the bottom of a serving bowl. Top with the goat cheese and avocado. Drizzle with the remaining salad dressing and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.  

Semi-Homemade Pesto Caprese Salad

This salad qualifies as a “mostly homemade” recipe instead of semi-homemade recipe, it is that easy. Who says cooking needs to be hard?! Simple is the theme with this salad and boy is it delicious. With just a little chopping and mixing  you can have a healthy, nutritious, and tasty salad within 15 minutes. We love this recipe for a quick workday lunch with chicken but this it easily be altered to be an appetizer or side dish by removing the protein. Like all of our recipes, mix and match ingredients that you have on hand to make this recipe work for you. 

Semi-Homemade Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad  
Makes: 4 side dish servings; 2 main course servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes    Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 English cucumber 
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes 
  • 1 package Ciliegine mozzarella (small mozzarella balls)
  • 4 tbs pesto 
  • 1 rotisserie chicken or package of  pre-cooked chicken, optional 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Chop the cucumber and half the grape tomatoes and place in a bowl. 
  2. Add the mozzarella (be sure to drain) and pesto in a bowl. Gently mix until the pesto is evenly distributed among the ingredients, without wrecking the tomatoes. 
  3. Top with the chicken (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. So simple, so easy, and so good! 

Fig, Bleu Cheese, & Walnut Salad

We were recently at Whole Foods and so excited because we found fresh figs for the first time in a while! We used dried figs in our Bruschetta Board that we posted last week and still had them on the brain when it came to making a menu this week! Sometimes simple is best, and this salad is just that. High quality ingredients with a simple vinaigrette and boom, we have a beautiful salad that pairs well with most menus this summer. 

Fig, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad 
Makes: 4 appetizer servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes    Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 6 cups arugula 
  • 8 fresh figs, stems removed and cut in half 
  • 1 wedge good quality blue cheese- if you hate blue cheese like Tate’s mom, goat works well too 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 2 tsp butter 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients For Dressing: 

  • ⅓ cup olive oil 
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs balsamic glaze or 2 tbs balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tsp honey 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Make the dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients (olive oil through garlic) in a small mixing bowl. If you want a really creamy texture to your dressing, you can make this in a blender, otherwise, whisk until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  2. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast them until they become fragrant- about 4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and season well with salt. 
  3. In the same pan, heat the butter until it becomes bubbly. Add the figs cut side down and let them caramelize for a few minutes. This helps bring out their sweetness and gives them a little crust. 
  4. Assemble the salad by layering the arugula, figs, walnuts, and blue cheese. Drizzle the dressing over top and season with a good amount of black pepper. 

Semi-Homemade Southwest Caesar Salad

After two weeks of living together in quarantine, we have come up with a pretty good system for meal planning. While it might seems a little OCD to plan out lunches and dinners every day for four adults, it actually helps cut back on food waste and helps us buy the minimum amount of groceries that we need every week. Cooking over 14 meals a week has its challenges, and by Thursday and Friday we are looking to be creative in the kitchen with minimal effort. In the last two weeks we have resorted to a number of semi-homemade meals, particularly for lunches. 

For this semi-homemade Monday, we have taken a regular old caesar salad bag and transformed it into a complete meal. We have given it a southwest twist by adding corn, tomatoes, black beans, and blackened chicken. To give the dressing its own makeover, we have blended a chipotle in adobo into the pre-made caesar dressing that came in the salad bag. Instead of a boring salad that would have us hungry in an hour, we created a complete meal that satisfies us until dinner. 

Semi-Homemade Southwest Caesar Salad 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes   Total Time: 40 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 chicken thighs 
  • 1 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tbs garlic powder 
  • 1 tbs paprika 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 large caesar salad bag (we bought ours from Costco so it was quite large) 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half 
  • 1 cup corn (frozen works great just make sure it is thawed) 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 4 scallions, chopped 
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced (if you don’t have any, substitute Cholula or any hot sauce)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Heat a large, oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Let the pan get nice and hot before adding the olive oil to the pan. 
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with the garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook the chicken for 5 minutes per side. If you are using skin-on chicken, make sure the chicken is skin side down in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the chicken juices are clear and the chicken is cooked through.
  4. While the chicken is cooking prepare the remaining ingredients. Layer the romaine from the salad bag, the cherry tomatoes, black beans, and scallions in each of four salad bowls. Reserve the corn for later. 
  5. Use the chipotle in adobo or hot sauce to kick up the caesar. Add as much of either to get to your desired spice level. 
  6. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove the chicken from the pan and set onto a cutting board to rest. Put the frozen corn into the same pot and toss it in the juices to give it some flavor. 
  7. Add the corn and a piece of chicken to each of the salads. Top with the dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons from the salad bag. Serve immediately.