Friday, January 25, 2013

hodgepodge salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Milk, eggs, a few random veggies and fruit, condiments, homemade mozzarella, leftover bread...that's about all that's left in the fridge. Hodgepodge Salad is what happens when the fridge has been picked over after a week of cooking and I still need a veggie to go with dinner. Instead of heading to the store for more greens or pulling a veggie out of the freezer, I decided to improvise and use what we had on hand. What's in this salad? The bottom of a bag of spinach, two stalks of celery, some pomegranate seeds, a few sections of grapefruit, mozzarella, and croutons...everything but the kitchen sink! The result - a fruity, summery salad perfect for the dead of winter! 

And of course, if you think pomegranates are too seedy or grapefruits are too tart, replace them with dried cherries or cranberries. Or oranges and almonds. Try arugula instead of spinach. Green beans in place of celery. The possibilities are endless...use what you have, so it won't go bad! 

If you don't have any croutons, no problem! Croutons are one of the simplest things to make. Never made your own? Now is a great time to start! [Tip: I keep a bag of "old" bread in the freezer. Anytime I have a leftover heel or a slice that might go bad before we can eat it I slip it in the bag. This hodgepodge is perfect for making homemade bread crumbs and croutons.] Cut the bread into one inch cubes. Toss with some olive oil and whatever seasoning you prefer (I usually use the Italian herbs blend). Pop them in a 325 degree oven for 8-15 minutes (depending on the staleness of your bread). Pull the pan out once the bread has turned crunchy and golden. Viola! You have now made croutons! You've saved yourself at least a dollar. Congratulations! 
Let's make the vinaigrette.  These amounts are approximate - I tend to mix according to taste when making salad dressing instead of actually measuring...whoops. Too much bite? Add some sweetness. Trust your taste buds. They know what they like. 
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste
Whisk it right up and presto...salad dressing! You've now saved another dollar! Isn't this fun!?! (P.S. I apologize if you are reading this early in the morning and the peppiness is a bit much...blame it on the chai tea :)

Throw the salad items in a pretty little bowl with the fruit, cheese and croutons on top. Pour a little vinaigrette over and top with fresh black pepper. Then proceed to stuff your face!

Off to make the dinner that goes with this. I'm trying out a new idea (well, new to me)...using won ton wrappers as the pasta dough to make ravioli. Not as cheap as homemade pasta, but without a pasta maker it's hard to get the dough thin enough.  On the menu tonight - Butternut Squash (harvested from the farm this fall) Ravioli with a Sage Butter Sauce. Hubster's bringing home the Redbox movie and we're set for date night in abode...bring on the snow! 

Happy Weekend!

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