Tips for Rookie Cooks

Salads

Pear, Escarole, and Blue Cheese Salad

This simple salad packs all kinds of flavor; the sweet pears, mildly bitter escarole, sharp blue cheese, and rich pecans blend well with our Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette. If you can’t find escarole, substitute another slightly bitter green like arugula—or even a milder green like butter lettuce.

  • 2 ripe pears, any type
  • 1 1-pound head escarole, torn into pieces (about 8 cups, loosely packed)
  • 3 ounces (about ½ cup) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Quarter and core the pears and slice lengthwise into thin slices. In a large serving bowl, toss the escarole, cheese, and pecans and add vinaigrette to taste. You can toss the pears in with the salad and let guests serve themselves, or plate the salad individually, placing pear slices decoratively on top of each serving.

Change it up

  • Substitute feta or another cheese for the blue.
  • Use Orange-Spiced Pecans or store-bought candied pecans in place of the plain toasted nuts.

Raw Asparagus and Mâche Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Our friend Anthony Tassinello, an accomplished chef and the complete antithesis of a Lazy Gourmet (he built a wood-fired oven in his backyard with his own two hands just so he could make great pizzas at home. Enough said, right?), gave us the idea for this refreshing use of asparagus. It is delicious and, in fact, incredibly easy to make. Even for us regular people.

  • grated zest and coarsely chopped flesh of 1 Meyer lemon
  • ¼ cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 2 Meyer lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ pound asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 4 cups mâche (or baby arugula if mâche is unavailable) freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1–2 ounces Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl or a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the lemon zest, lemon flesh, lemon juice, mustard, and salt. Add the olive oil and whisk or shake vigorously until well combined. Slice asparagus spears on the diagonal are very thin (about 1/ 16 inches). In a large serving bowl, toss the sliced asparagus with the dressing and set aside. While the asparagus marinates briefly in the vinaigrette, trim the root ends off the mâche, add the mâche to the dressing and asparagus, and toss gently until the leaves are evenly coated. Season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and shave cheese over the top using a vegetable peeler. Serve immediately.

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad

This salad is so beautiful that the fact that it also tastes amazing seems like just a bonus. The green arugula, red beets, and stark white feta make a truly striking combination that gets any meal off to an impressive start. The beets take a while to bake and then cool, so plan accordingly. You can even roast the beets a couple of days in advance and then just assemble the salad in a matter of minutes, right before serving.

  • 3 medium beets
  • 6 cups (loosely packed) arugula
  • ½ cup toasted unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
  • 3 ounces (about ½ cup) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Lemon Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 475ºF.

Scrub beets and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until tender and easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 75 minutes or more, depending on their size. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, the skins should slip off easily. If not, use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Slice beets into rounds, wedges, or small cubes. In a large bowl, toss the arugula with the vinaigrette, using just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Place a bed of the dressed arugula on a large serving platter or individual plates. Arrange the beets on top of the arugula and drizzle a little more of the vinaigrette over them. Sprinkle crumbled feta, nuts, and oregano over the beets. Serve immediately.

Make it ahead

  • The roasted beets can be made a couple of days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.

Salad of Bitter Greens with Asiago

The sweetness of our balsamic vinaigrette plays perfectly against the bitterness of the greens.

  • 2 medium Belgian endives, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 cups (loosely packed) arugula leaves
  • 1 medium head radicchio, chopped
  • 1 medium bunch frisée, chopped
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 4 ounces (about 11/ 3 cups) grated Asiago cheese

In a large serving bowl, toss the endives, arugula, radicchio, and frisée. Dress to taste with vinaigrette. Toss cheese in gently, and serve immediately

Change it up

  • Toss in ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts.

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