Molasses Marinated Broccoli Salad

molasses marinated broccoli salad

It’s always great to have a stash of salad recipes that venture from the lettuce sort. In fact, a group of friends and I were joking about a potluck I hosted where everyone, everyone, brought a salad. Fortunately they weren’t all leafy green salads.

You can make a great summer meal of salads when there’s a good variety of vegetables and textures involved (and you have laidback guests who are enjoying the wine). 

This marinated broccoli salad recipe from my sister-in-law Jane adds great variety to a potluck and is a welcome change from basic steamed broccoli.

It tastes especially good when it has had a chance to sit for a few hours to mellow the texture and flavour of the raw broccoli. What’s better, it can last in the fridge for a few days and maintains its crunch. Continue reading

Wild Rice and Barley Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette

wild rice and barley salad
Nutty wild rice and chewy barley combine in a far-from-ordinary salad to brighten up your summer menu.

The grains are tossed with an aromatic vinaigrette spiced with coriander, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon, then sprinkled with currants and toasted almonds. The salad is full of flavours and textures that are just right for fish and chicken dishes. But you could also add some cooked lentils and crumbled feta to make it more substantial.

I first tried a variation of this salad at my friend Kara’s cottage. It was a sticky August evening along the shores of the Northumberland Strait in New Brunswick and we were feasting on spatchcocked barbecued chicken, this aromatic grain salad and lots of zesty white wine. It was a weekend for savouring time with dear friends, watching our kids delight in being reunited with their best buddies and watching in amazement a freak hail storm that dropped hail stones the size of crab apples and cracked our windshield. A memorable weekend in many weird and wonderful ways.

Wild Rice and Barley Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette

(Adapted from my friend Kara)
Serves 8

  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup hulled barley, farro or pot barley
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup currants or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds

Coriander Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup vinegar (white wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon

 Instructions:

  1. Combine wild rice in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook until tender then drain.
  2. Combine barley with 3 cups water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender (but still chewy), about 40 minutes. Add more water during cooking, if necessary.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk until combined.
  4. Add currants to dressing and let rest while you prepare the remaining salad ingredients.
  5. Toss cooked rice with barley and dressing.
  6. Fold in onion and parsley and sprinkle with almonds.

 

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Snow peas and red pepper salad and my family’s best ever surprise party

Snow pea and red pepper salad with walnut dressing pretty on a buffet table and so delicious

For my mom and dad’s 40th wedding anniversary we managed to pull off a big surprise party, in their house, no less.

My mom is a very sharp woman and we were never able to sneak much past her when we were growing up, so for my six siblings and I to succeed with the surprise was a huge accomplishment.

Much was in our favour…

Conveniently, we had a big rowing regatta (the re-enactment of the Paris Crew race in Renforth) as a helpful decoy, a way to get mom and dad out of the house and reason enough for my twin brother, a former rower, to come home for the weekend. Another brother who was living in Minnesota was home for a visit too.

Snowpea and red pepper salad with walnut dressing pretty on a buffet table and so delicious

But making the party a total surprise wasn’t without its near misses…

My brother who was tasked with getting mom out of the house (dad had gone ahead) to make way for the caterer had us all near heart failure when he didn’t arrive at the appointed time.

It was not looking good when suddenly, through the kitchen window I saw his car round the corner (practically on two wheels he was in such a hurry).

As he and mom drove out of the yard the caterer’s van came up our street.

Then, as mom and dad walked along the sidewalk toward their vantage point for the race, another brother and his family (surprise visitors for the party) drove right by, in their distinctive red car. My brother and his wife spied my parents but thanks to the commotion mom and dad didn’t notice.

And when mom and dad arrived home from the race to a yard full of cars they still didn’t suspect a thing. They assumed I had invited a bunch of friends over, until mom caught a glimpse of an old family friend through the window.

“What is Al Barry doing in our living room with a drink in his hand?” she said. “…Oh!”

Gotcha!

Snowpea and red pepper salad with walnut dressing pretty on a buffet table and so delicious

We had the party partially catered and then we all pitched in with extra appetizers and salads. That was probably the last time I made this salad. For years it made the family party rounds and then was somehow forgotten, only to be rediscovered a couple of months ago in and old hand-written cookbook of mine from the early 1990’s. I can’t recall the book it came out of but mom and I can both picture the salad, lovely and bright in a pretty blue pottery bowl on their dining room table.

Leafy salads are great but sometimes it’s nice to have a salad with a bit more crunch and colour, which is just what this salad offers.

 

Snow peas and red pepper salad

  • ¾ lb. snow peas
  • ½ lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Walnut orange dressing:

  • 1 small clove of garlic, pressed
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. walnut oil (or olive oil)
  • Pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  1. Top and string peas.
  2. Blanch peas in boiling water for 1 ½ to two minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse immediately under cold water. Dry thoroughly.
  4. In ungreased skillet over medium heat toast the sesame seeds until lightly browned, shaking the pan often
  5. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until well combined (or whisk together in a bowl)
  6. Toss vegetables with dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  7. Serve immediately.

Many dear friends and family who were at that party years ago are no longer with us. It’s a good reminder to celebrate with people who are special to you every chance you get.

My family’s recipe for marinated tomato salad was also on the buffet table at the big surprise party. Here’s the recipe: 

Tomatoes

Marinated tomato salad with garlicky paprika vinaigrette

 Some women are crazy about shoes but for me it’s tomatoes. Fresh, local, field-ripened tomatoes. When they’re in season I can’t get enough of them.

I grew up eating this marinated tomato salad at big family parties where the food was laid out on the dining room table and served buffet style. Nestled in among the plates of ham and potato salad this salad was stunningly beautiful and added a welcomed variety to the standard fare.

To add substance nestle slabs of feta or fresh mozzarella in among the tomatoes. Be sure to serve it with crusty bread to sop up all of the dressing.

When summer tomatoes are at their peak this is my favourite way to eat them.

Marinated Tomato Salad 

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh herbs (oregano, basil, chives…)

Marinade*:

  • 2 tsp spice mix (see recipe below)
  • 1 tsp Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt & pepper

Spice mix

  • 2 ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ – ½ tsp dried chipotle pepper or cayenne
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  1. Slice the tomatoes and lay them in a dish that’s deep enough to accommodate the marinade without it dribbling over the sides.
  2. Pour over the marinade and let the flavours blend for a couple of hours. Sprinkle with herbs before serving.
  3. If you’d like to make this a bit more substantial nestle some slabs of feta in among the tomatoes. Or you can serve grilled feta on the side.

*You’ll have way more marinade than you need so save the extra to use as a salad dressing.

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Carrot cabbage slaw with orange molasses dressing

Carrot Cabbage Slaw with orange dressingI didn’t get to the gym today (not that I’m particularly stressed about it). But tonight I’ll make up for the missed workout by making carrot cabbage slaw. It’s not a diet thing is a fitness goal thing. (I can only do five wiggly push ups and I want to get to eight, not wiggly ones.) Grating carrots by hand will work my right arm. So will slicing the cabbage. So I’ll get half a workout in. And of course my fork is in my left hand…

Carrot cabbage slaw with orange molasses dressing

  • 3 cups grated carrots 3 cups thinly-sliced red cabbage
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or toasted sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1/3 cup currants.

Toss with this basic dressing:

Orange dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. cumin (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2/3 cup oil (half olive oil, half walnut oil if you have it)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Put all ingredients, except oil, in a mason jar and give it a good shake. Make sure the Dijon is well incorporated then add the oil and give it another shake. Or you can stir it together in a bowl, in the same sequence.

Before serving, squeeze half a lemon over the slaw and add the zest of one lemon.

Walnut molasses salad dressing – healthy & homemade

There are lots of things that I don’t make myself. Things that I could make (like puff pastry) but I don’t. For lots of reasons.

But something that I never buy is salad dressing.

I always make my own because it’s so tasty.

And easy.

Dead easy.

This is what I call my “house” dressing. It’s a double batch  so you won’t run out. It’s delicious with hazelnut oil too, and almond oil…

 

Walnut molasses dressing

  • 1/3 cup walnut oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Combine everything in a mason jar and give it a good shake. Store in the fridge.