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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Salad

Warm Pear & Mustard Salad

Marc J. Sievers

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Whether as a side dish or as the center of attention as an entrée, salads have long been a staple that is both easy and satisfying.  But have you ever considered making a warm salad with fruit?  My Warm Pear & Mustard Salad is an elegantly layered combination of sweet and tangy flavors and is hearty enough for the comfort food that we crave all year long! 

If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary to serve at your next dinner party, this salad makes for an earthy presentation alongside my French Savory Tart.  Your guests will love the sharp kick of the Dijon mustard as well as being able to see the beautiful whole seeds from the whole grain mustard. I guarantee they will never look at salads the same way again!

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Ingredients (serves 6) 

  • Baby Arugula – 3 cups

  • Stilton – 5 ounces, crumbled, at room temperature

  • *Baguette Croutons – recipe below

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Shallot – 1 medium, thinly sliced

  • Bosc Pears – 2 large, cored, 1-inch diced

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Tarragon – 2 tablespoons, whole leaves

  • Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Whole Grain Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Fleur de Sel – for garnish

Directions 

  1. Arrange the arugula, stilton and croutons onto a large platter.  Set aside. 

  2. In a large sauté set over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter.  Once hot, add the shallots.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.   

  3. Next, add the pears, sea salt and pepper and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, until the pears are tender. 

  4. Add the tarragon leaves and both mustards.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring carefully to incorporate the mustards into the oil but to not break up the pears.   

  5. Lastly, spoon the entire mixture over the arugula, stilton and croutons, including all of the olive oil.   

  6. Give the salad a gentle toss, sprinkle with Fleur de Sel and serve warm.

 *Baguette Croutons

Ingredients for Baguette Croutons 

  • Baguette – cut into 1-inch cubes, 3 cups

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Sea Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked 

Directions for Baguette Croutons  

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter.  Once melted, add the bread cubes, salt, and pepper. 

  2. Toast for 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown. 

  3. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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Roasted Red Onions with Tarragon

Marc J. Sievers

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If you are someone who really loves onions then you probably love red onions, too! Their mild and sweet flavor make them the perfect partner-in-crime for sandwiches and salads. They are often used raw in recipes, but have you ever thought about how you could elevate a red onion by roasting it in the oven?  My Roasted Red Onions with Tarragon will change the way you think about this kitchen staple and open your taste buds to a new world of flavor!

New to the wonders of Tarragon?  It is a leafy green herb widely used in French cuisine and has a very distinct flavor, similar to anise.  You can serve these fabulous and flavorful onions hot as a side dish or let them come to room temperature and include them as an unexpected but delicious component for a cheese board ( a bit of brie, anyone?).  This dish also makes a sophisticated addition to an arugula salad with my go-to French Bistro Vinaigrette!

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Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Red Onion – 3 large, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, cutting through the root end to keep the wedges intact

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 7 tablespoons, divided

  • Tarragon – 10 sprigs, fresh 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Place the onions, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a half sheet pan and toss together, being careful not to break up the individual wedges of onions.

  3. Next, evenly cover the onions with the sprigs of tarragon.  Brush the sprigs with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

  4. Roast for 22-24 minutes until the onions are tender.  Serve hot.

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Cointreau Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

Like so many of you, I like to have different vinaigrettes on-hand in the refrigerator.  A simple salad, when done really well, adds great texture and color to a meal, whether for lunch or dinner.  Salads have been know in my house (and clients, too!) to be an impromptu addition when I am having timing issues in the kitchen (or, when I drain the pasta into the sink without a colander - I blame it on the wine!).  My Cointreau Vinaigrette has a wonderful balance of sharp orange zing from Cointreau, and the freshly squeezed orange juice adds a bit of sweetness.  It is rounded out by the fruity olive oil, blending all of the flavors.   A perfect pairing, indeed!


Cointreau Vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 6)

Cointreau Vinaigrette:

  • Orange Liqueur – 1½ tablespoons (Cointreau recommended)

  • Olive Oil – ⅓ cup

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Orange Juice – 3 tablespoons, freshly squeezed

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Salad Components:

  • Arugula – 5 ounces

  • Hazelnuts – 1 cup, lightly toasted

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, crumbled

  • Parmesan Cheese – large shavings, for garnish (Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended)

  • Strawberries – 1½ cups, hulled, then thinly sliced

  • Parsley – ¼ cup, fresh, finely minced, Italian flat leaf variety recommended

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Orange Juice – ¼ cup, freshly squeezed

Directions

Cointreau Vinaigrette:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.

  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.

Assembly:

  1. On a large serving platter, arrange the arugula, hazelnuts, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, strawberries, and parsley. Evenly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  2. Next, evenly drizzle the salad with freshly squeezed orange juice.

  3. Add just enough Cointreau Vinaigrette to lightly coat the salad. Toss tableside just before serving.

Tip: I like to serve more vinaigrette in a small pitcher or gravy boat on the side and let guest add more vinaigrette to their salad if they prefer.

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Watch: Roasted Fruit Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

My Roasted Fruit Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette is a fantastic combination of incredible flavors and textures and happens to come together without any real effort - my favorite kind of recipe!  Roasting fruit intensifies their flavor and is enhanced even more with my incredibly simple rosemary-infused vinaigrette.  This is one my favorite dishes from my cookbook Table for Two!  It can be served as an entree for lunch or dinner for two, or shared as a salad course for a larger group (I love double-duty recipes!).  A friend recently served the warm fruit with vanilla bean ice cream and said it was a huge hit - who knew?!

Series 5, Episode 3: Roasted Fruit Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette


Roasted Fruit with Rosemary Vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a salad course)

Components

  • French Feta – 5 ounces, crumbled

  • Spring Mix Greens – 3 ounces

  • Pecans – ¾ cup, whole halves

Rosemary Vinaigrette

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup

  • Honey – ¼ cup

  • Rosemary – 1 sprig, fresh, about 4 inches

  • Whole Black Peppercorns – ¾ teaspoon

  • Balsamic Vinegar – 1 tablespoon

Roasted Fruit

  • Green Grapes – 1 cup, seedless

  • Red Grapes – 1 cup, seedless

  • Black Plums – 2, cut into quarters, pit removed

  • Peaches – 2, cut into sixths, pit removed

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

Rosemary Vinaigrette

  1. In a small sauce pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil, honey, rosemary, and black peppercorns.

  2. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

  3. Next, place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Strain the warm mixture, making sure to reserve the peppercorns and rosemary in the sieve.

  4. Lastly, whisk in the balsamic vinegar until full incorporated. Set aside.

Roasted Fruit

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Place all of the fruit onto a half sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  3. Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the fruit just begins to release their juices. During the last 3 minutes, add the pecan halves to the fruit to toast.

Assembly

  1. Arrange the greens onto a platter or a serving bowl. Evenly distribute the warm fruit, pecans, and crumbled Feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

  2. Serve warm.

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Linda's Tomato Salad

Marc J. Sievers

One of my dearest friends, Linda Marie Clark, lives in California and is an award-winning photographer and exceptional watercolor artist.  She also happens to be an amazing cook!  We met about four years ago after she found my cookbook on Amazon.com and started painting my recipes.   It was so incredibly flattering, especially considering her talent!

Having chatted with her for a few months via email at first then telephone, I decided to invite her to Chicago for a visit.  And now, a few years later, we talk every few days, we started a stationary line together, and our friendship has blossomed.

Linda loves to photograph in her garden in California.  A few weeks back she sent me a text with a photo of a beautiful salad she made after a visit to her local farmers market.  It was filled with fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and spicy basil!  She also captured the moment perfectly at sunset in her garden.  Her photograph (and salad!) was just too stunning not to share with you!  Linda’s Tomato Salad has made it onto my table three times already this summer and is always a crowd-pleaser!

Happy Summer!


Linda's Tomato Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Sweet Corn – 2 ears, shucked

  • Heirloom Tomatoes – 1 ½ pounds, 1-inch cubes

  • Basil – ¾ cup, rough chopped

  • Olive Oil – ½ cup

  • Balsamic Vinegar – ¼ cup

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¾ cup, large shavings, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions

  1. Bring a large sauce pan filled with water to a boil. Add the ears of corn and cook for just 3 minutes. Remove the corn for the water and cut the kernels off the cob.

  2. Next, arrange the cubed tomatoes down the center of a serving platter. Scatter the corn evenly onto the tomatoes.

  3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle evenly with basil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

  4. Serve alongside a basket of crusty bread.

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Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad

Marc J. Sievers

There is something so satisfying about making a big batch of really good pasta salad.  It can be so simple, just a few tosses of fresh ingredients while the pasta is hot, and you have an easy and incredibly flavorful dish.  I will admit that pasta salads were not my favorite as a kid—they always seemed to taste bland, and like the refrigerator.  No good!  But I have since solved the flavor challenge.

This recipe actually came about from a recent trip to Hawaii.  Ryan and I were visiting our best friends for a milestone birthday.  But, the day we were flying back to Chicago, they both got stuck at work.  Before we let ourselves out of their apartment to go to the airport, knowing that they were going to be home very late, I wanted to leave them a surprise dinner in their refrigerator!

After a few minutes, I found everything I needed to create a Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad.  Best of all, it only took 15 minutes and we were out the door and our friends had an easy and delicious dinner waiting for them.  Needless to say, they were very happy to come home after a very long day to a ready-made meal that kept perfectly well!  This is easy summer “cooking”, at its best!

Watch: Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad


Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad

Ingredients (serve 4-6)

  • Fusilli – 1 pound, cooked al dente

  • Pesto – 7 ounces, store-bought

  • Grape Tomatoes – 2 pints, halved

  • Parmesan Cheese – 1 cup, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Baby Arugula – 2 cups, washed and dried

  • Green Onions – ½ cup, thinly sliced

  • Basil – ⅓ cup, rough chopped, fresh

  • Parsley - ⅓ cup, rough chopped, fresh, Italian Flat-Leaf variety recommended

  • Red Pepper Flakes – ½ teaspoon

  • Lemon Zest – 1 small lemon, zested

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. After the pasta has been cooked and drained, and while it is hot, place it into a large bowl.

  2. Immediately add all of the ingredients to the hot pasta and toss until evenly mixed.

  3. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Tip: You can make this in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Before you serve it, check to see if it needs more salt, pepper, and even another handful of fresh arugula or basil mixed in.  I have noticed that as food sits in a cold temperature, some of the flavor “disappears”.  After all, who wants bland food?! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Watch: French Bistro Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

Every time I am in Paris, I am mesmerized at how simple and delicious the classic bistro food is!  The menus are long and extensive, but each and every dish seems to be accompanied by a petite salad dressed in a light and creamy vinaigrette – the iconic creamy mustard vinaigrette.  There are thousands of cookbooks and online recipes with different versions on this classic vinaigrette with alternating ingredients and measurements.  And truth be told, some of the ones I tried are really very good, just not what I remember from my Parisian experiences. 

So I set off on my vinaigrette journey armed with an obscene amount of oils, jars of different mustards, whisks, and measuring cups.  Batches and batches later I finally figured out a few small but important tricks to recreate this iconic dressing at home in Chicago; Crème Fraiche, a garlic press, and a combination of both olive oil & vegetable oil.  Adding Crème Fraiche gave it more of a creaminess and tang, that when I left it out, it was noticeable in both texture and flavor.  Instead on mincing the garlic and having the vinaigrette have small pieces in it, using the garlic press turned the garlic into almost a paste which incorporated into the dressing better.  Finally, adding both the olive oil and vegetable oil was, I my opinion, the biggest key to my French Bistro Vinaigrette.  Using all olive oil was too heavy in taste, and using all vegetable oil didn’t add any flavor.  Using both was the perfect combination!

Making my French Bistro Vinaigrette doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and is the perfect accompaniment on a variety of salads, even ones with roasted vegetables and fruit.  It is also quite lovely to decorate a cheese plate with – the mustard really comes through the dressing and amps up the flavors of certain cheeses, like Gruyere.  It is also fabulous to serve alongside a crudité platter.  Salad greens, vegetables, cheeses, and fruits are about to become even more exciting!

Watch my webisode on French Bistro Vinaigrette


French Bistro Vinaigrette 

Ingredients (make 1 ¼ cups)

  • Egg Yolks – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Champagne Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Crème Fraiche – 1 tablespoon

  • Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed using a garlic press

  • Vegetable Oil – 7 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.

  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.

Tip: This is by far my most favorite vinaigrette and one that I keep constantly on hand.  It can be prepared up to 7 days in advance and stored in an air tight container.  Just remember to make sure you are using both fresh egg yolks and crème fraiche in order for it to maintain its shelf life.  

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Apple Salad with Croutons

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things about writing recipes is surprising readers and my guests with complex flavors by using everyday ingredients!  My Apple Salad with Croutons made its television debut on WGN TV Midday News: Lunchbreak and the star of the dish was my simple and incredibly flavorful homemade vinaigrette!

I made the vinaigrette with cinnamon, honey, and apple cider vinegar as my secret ingredients.  All of those flavors are classic combinations with apple, and the addition of tart cranberries, intense Blue Cheese, nuts, and crunchy croutons creates a layered and complex salad with wonderfully everyday ingredients. A match made in food-flavor heaven!  In fact, I served this same salad on Thanksgiving Day, and the entire platter was devoured with guests actually asking for seconds – of salad!  


Apple Salad with Croutons

Ingredients for Salad (serves 8)

  • Granny Smith Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Honey Crisp Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1/3 cup

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup

  • Dried Cranberries – ½ cup

  • Pistachios – ½ cup

  • Candied Pecans – ½ cup

  • Blue Cheese – 4 ounces, crumbled

  • Arugula or Spring Mix – 8 ounces

Directions for Salad

  1. Start by placing the cut apples in a large bowl of cold water. Add the lemon juice, and allow to sit until ready to serve.

  2. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking vigorously. Set aside.

  3. Drain the apples.

  4. Arrange the greens down the center of a big platter. Add the apples, dried cranberries, pistachios, pecans, and blue cheese on top. Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette.

  5. Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Croutons

  • Demi Baguette – cut into ½-inch cubes

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted

Directions

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the bread cubes.

  2. Toast for 5-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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It's FIG-alicious!

Marc J. Sievers

Like many of you, I have been enjoying farmer's markets all summer!  This time of year Black Mission Figs are just about everywhere.  They have a very delicate texture, small crunchy seeds, a sweet-earthy flavor, and a vibrant pink-colored interior.   I recently wrote a recipe for BlendAbout.com highlighting these delicious figs in my Fig & Stilton Salad recipe.  The response was so great that I wanted to write two more recipes showcasing this beautiful fruit and very similar ingredients, showing you how layering ingredients in different ways can create a whole new dish!

Since I love rustic and earthy food I wanted to create a bruschetta with figs.  I started out with some of my favorite ingredients like baguette, basil, and Spanish onions.  After a few rounds of testing (and eating!), my recipe for Rustic Fig Bruschetta was finished!  It’s loaded with caramelized onions, garlic, Stilton, figs, and some other lip-smacking ingredients!

Next, I wanted to create a canapé that would be perfect for a summer cocktail soirée with champagne, of course!  Since the interior of a fig is so beautiful, I wanted to showcase both the color and texture.  I always keep my favorite black pepper water crackers on hand, and I knew instantly that I wanted to balance the slightly spicy cracker with a bit of sweetness and fresh flavors.  My Fresh Fig Canapé is both visually beautiful and flavorful, it’s sure to be a smash (darling) at your next gathering.

I hope my recipes for Fig & Stilton Salad, Rustic Fig Bruschetta, and Fresh Fig Canapé show you that it only takes a few fresh and quality ingredients to prepare beautiful, elegant, and simple dishes!  Next week I have some FABULOUS breakfast dishes to share with you!  How does Orange Custard French Toast and Orange Summer Pound Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze sound?!  See you in a week!  Sending love from my kitchen to yours!


Rustic Fig Bruschetta

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Spanish onion – 1 ½ cups, thinly sliced

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons, divided

  • Butter – 2 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Sugar – 1 teaspoon, granulated

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, roughly chopped

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Black Mission Figs – 5 medium, cut ¼-inch thick

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Demi baguette – cut in half length-wise

  • Basil – ¼ cup, freshly chopped

  • Stilton – 1/3 cup, crumbled

Directions

  1. Start by heating the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-low heat.

  2. Add the onions, and cook for 20-22 minutes or until the onions are very tender and caramelized.

  3. Next, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic and cook for an additional minute, being very careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  4. Preheat the broiler.

  5. Using the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, evenly butter each cut-side of the baguette. Place prepared baguette onto a baking sheet.

  6. Place under the broiler and cook until golden brown on top, about 2 to 4 minutes.

  7. Remove from the broiler and set aside.

  8. Lastly, layer each half of the baguette with the onion mixture, cut figs, and Stilton. Evenly drizzle with honey.

  9. Place under the broiler again, until the cheese is nicely melted, about 1 to 3 minutes. The edges of the bread can burn easily, so make sure to keep your eye on it.

  10. Lastly, remove from the broiler and top with fresh basil.

  11. Cut into large pieces and serve immediately.


Fresh Fig Canapé

Ingredients (serves 10 - three per person)

  • Black Mission Figs – 8 medium, cut ¼-inch thick

  • Stilton – ½ -inch sized crumbles, 30 total pieces

  • Basil – 30 small fresh leaves

  • Dark Chocolate – 1/3 cup, freshly grated

  • Black Pepper Water Crackers – 30 (plain water crackers will also work)

  • Black Pepper – for garnish, freshly cracked

  • Honey Comb – ½-inch sized pieces, 30 total (regular honey will also work)

Directions

  1. Simply layer each cracker with a slice of fig, a piece of Stilton, a piece of honey comb, a basil leaf, a small pinch of black pepper, and top with a sprinkling of dark chocolate.

  2. Arrange on a silver platter or flat board.

  3. Expand recipe as needed.

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