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Avocado Onion Salad with Pepitas, Cotija Cheese and a Garlic Lime Vinaigrette

Avocado Onion Salad with sweet and spicy pepitas and cotija cheese. Serve as a starter or salad. | mjskitchen.com

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Because of the nutritional value of avocados and the fact that they are available year round, I’m always looking for more and more ways to use them.   A few months ago I came across an Avocado and Onion Salad in my favorite cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina, the 2013 James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year.   It sounded delicious because I love the classic combination of avocado and onion, and then the addition of a garlic-lime vinaigrette just seemed to be a perfect match.  And it was.  However, in my opinion, it was missing something, primarily texture.  So the next time I made it, I embellished on the original recipe by adding sweet and spicy pepitas and cotija cheese, and by tweaking the vinaigrette a bit.  Voilá!

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Composed Salad with Green Chile Sausage

A composed salad with green chile sausage and a variety of healthy salad ingredients. | mjskitchen.com

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Today you’re getting two recipes for the price one – a Green Chile Sausage recipe and a Composed Salad recipe that uses the green chile sausage as a salad component.  Normally, I would never have considered using sausage in a salad, but this chile sausage has a flavor profile that allows it to be used in a variety of ways, including in salads.

The composed salad shown here is just one variation of a salad using green chile sausage.  There are many other ingredients that can be used in addition to or in place of what you see here.  The recipe below lists the ingredients shown and a few other ingredients that are complementary to the green chile sausage.  Of course, putting together a salad like this usually just comes down to using what you have on hand.

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Non-Traditional Sides for Your Holiday Table

Non-traditional sides, starters and desserts for your holiday table from MJ's Kitchen. @mjskitchen

 

We’re going a little non-traditional this year for the holidays, forgoing the turkey and sweet potatoes, and even the cranberry sauce.  So just in case you too are looking for something different this year, here are a few non-traditional sides for your holiday table – from my kitchen to yours.

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Olive Brine Pickled Vegetables

An assortment of vegetables pickled in olive brine #pickled #vegetables @mjskitchen

Making Olive Brine Pickled Vegetables is an extremely easy pickling process that allows you to repurpose olive brine after all of the olives have been eaten, as well as to deal with little pieces of fresh vegetables that haven’t been used.  All you need to do is to cut the  vegetables into small, bite size pieces, place in a jar and cover with olive brine.  Refrigerate for a couple of days and you have an awesome, healthy little snack.  If you want the vegetables to have a spicy kick, add a couple of sliced hot chile peppers.

As you can see, there is nothing to this process.  In the recipe, I’ve listed the vegetables shown in the pictures, and in the Kitchen Notes you’ll find other vegetables you could use.  And if you buy Costco size jars of olives like we do, you’ll always have olive brine.

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Collection of Cucumber Recipes

A collection of cucumber recipes from MJ's Kitchen - vinegars, soups, salads and more. #cucumber #recipes @mjskitchen

Whether you’re growing them or buying them, cucumbers are cheap and plentiful right now, and there are so many ways to incorporate them into your meals. Here are some of my favorite cucumber recipes from MJ’s Kitchen that feature the mighty cucumber.

 

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Pita Pockets with Cabbage Apple Slaw and Green Chile Dressing

Pita pockets with a cabbage apple slaw and green chile dressing #greenchile #slaw #pita | mjskitchen.com

This cabbage apple slaw pita pocket is a recipe I’ve been making for decades with little changes here and there for variety.  The most recent change was the addition of green chile dressing.  This dressing is made with homemade mayonnaise (recipe below), Dijon type mustard, and a generous  amount of green chile spice mix.  The green chile mix adds a bit of a bite to the slaw as well as the delectable flavor of green chile.  So good!

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Arugula, Fresh Peas and Orange Salad

A simple salad with arugula, fresh peas, and orange #salad #arugula #sweetpea @mjskitchen.com

This simple spring salad with arugula, fresh peas and orange was inspired by Anne’s Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette over at A Salad for All Season.  Anne recommended using the vinaigrette over a plate of greens or a side vegetable, so why not both in a salad.  The flavors in the vinaigrette are a nice complement to this light salad with arugula, fresh peas, and orange topped with toasted sunflower seeds.  (Yes, I forgot the sunflower seeds for the photos. Whoops!)

Its flavors and textures make this salad a nice side for just about any meal.  We’ve had it with lamb chops, spicy smoked short ribs, and a Fennel-spiced Ham and Mushroom Pasta. It was a great complement for each of these entrees.

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Easy Salad with Dino Kale, Cara Cara Orange, and Pepitas

Easy, breezy salad with kale, Cara Cara orange, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) with a light dressing | mjskitchen.com

 

We’ve been making massaged kale salads for several years now, using whatever fruit is in season – peaches, mango, apples, oranges. All are very tasty, but our favorite is this salad made with dino kale, Cara Cara orange, and pepitas with a light dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and honey.  This salad is crunchy, tart, sweet, and citrusy, and it’s SO EASY to make…20 minutes or less.

It can be served with just about anything or alone as a meal.  We really like it with spicy foods, like red chile enchiladas, because the sweet citrus helps to dampen the burn.  It’s also a wonderful complement with grilled flank steak, smoked chicken or turkey, pork kabobs, and smoked beef tri-tip.  It’s also a nice salad to take to picnics and potlucks because the kale leaves hold up to the dressing for quite a while.

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Winter Fruit Salad (Pineapple, Persimmon and More)

A winter fruit salad made with pineapple, persimmon, citrus and pomegranate) | mjskitchen.com

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Even though the winter offers less of a variety of fruit than other seasons, it still provides some wonderful jewels to enjoy as long as they last.  One way to enjoy them is with this Winter Fruit Salad.  It’s a light, sweet and citrusy salad with pineapple, persimmon, orange, and pomegranate all topped with a minted honey ginger vinaigrette.  Lots of flavors and textures to brighten up a cold, gray winter’s day.

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