Crab and Artichoke Green Salad

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

When the weather gets warm, I get food lazy. As in, I’m too lazy to actually cook, and end up just throwing together meals I can eat raw — salads, carrots and hummus, fruit… you know. And it’s okay, because the produce tastes better in these warmer months, anyway. I’m just waiting for it to get really hot, because the only good part about heat and humidity is the tomato season.

And when summer hits, you start hearing everyone talking about adventuring for some crab meat — in this part of the U.S., that means getting your hands covered in Old Bay and picking away at some Maryland Blue Crab.

My first foray into crab-eating was when I waited tables — at that seafood restaurant in Southern California, that I’ve written about so much. I know pretty much everything there is to know about seafood because of that job, and I’m generally grateful for that.

At the restaurant, we had live dungeness crabs, but in most of the salads, like around most of the U.S., we used canned jumbo lump crab meat, caught and packaged in the South Pacific (not so glamorous, but just say “South Pacific” and everything sounds better).

Now that I live so close to Maryland, pickin’ at crab is a cherished summer activity, perhaps after a beautiful day sailing or floating on a donut-shaped inner tube at the shark tooth capital of the world. If you have access to fresh jumbo lump crab meat at your grocery store, it will taste slightly less briny and will only be slightly more expensive — but otherwise, canned jumbo lump crab meat works a-okay.

The tartness from the lemon makes this salad perfect for a hot day, provided you’ve just pulled the ingredients out of the fridge. I, in fact, ate one for dinner one night, and jarred another to take to work the next day. The flavors held up perfectly.

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

 

Crab and Artichoke Green Salad, derived from the Fast Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 can artichoke hearts
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3.5 oz.  lump crab meat
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced chives
salt and pepper
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
3.5 oz (ish) arugula or mixed greens

Instructions: 

First, remove and drain both the crab meat and artichokes from their respective cans. While they’re draining, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl.  Slice the artichokes, if you prefer.

Toss the greens, chives, artichokes, and crab meat with the dressing. Serve with fresh shavings of parmesan cheese.

Italian Tuna Salad

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

It’s been a lazy couple of weeks, I’ll admit. With the government shut down, I have little to do when it comes to deadlines, and even less motivation to “get ahead” on design work.

Luckily, I work for a results driven team that can balance taking advantage of the needed breather while still being productive. Wednesday, we spent the day in Alexandria at our developers’ offices, testing our website’s almost-ready mobile responsive designs. It was nice to find myself in a design firm office — free soda, coffee and snacks in a fabulous kitchen! And, they have catered lunches once or twice each week. It’s such a step up from my government job, where we have to pay for our own water service. We don’t even have a kitchen. It kinda sucks.

So, I find myself washing the mixing bowl I use for my lunch salads in the bathroom. We make do.

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

Despite the lazy weather and lazy week, I’ve found myself pretty darn busy after the work day ends. Be it happy hours or dates or underground Thai restaurants that take you on “heat journeys” (as my supper club companions would describe) — these intimate rendezvous are what a perfect fall is made of.

Weeks ago, Emily (roommate and resident birthday girl) came home with basically a case of this amazing canned tuna — once cooked, and all canned right on the boats they’re caught on, somewhere near Moro Bay, California. It’s not your typical canned tuna, so if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, I highly recommend it.

We’ve been on a bring-your-lunch-to-work team effort, so this Italian tuna salad was on our to-do list a week or so ago. It packs perfectly in jars, and doesn’t have a scent that permeates the entire office, which verifies that premium quality that the brand boasts.

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

Anyway, it may be a rainy weekend in DC, so you’ll find me snuggled up with a Norwegian sweater, an entire French press of coffee, and a copy of The Fault in Our Stars. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect weekend.

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

Italian Tuna Salad, from Food Network

4 sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 red onion, minced
1 (12-ounce) can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
1 rib celery, chopped
1/4 cup pitted nicoise olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Suggested serving: whole grain breads or bountiful greens

 

Drain and chop your sun dried tomatoes before transferring them into a medium bowl. Then, after mincing your red onion, soak the pieces in cold water for 10 minutes — this will mellow the flavor. Drain the onions, pat dry, and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Drain your tuna, and break it into large chunks using a fork. Toss with the celery, olives, and capers. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and basil, tossing again. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with cold greens or hot bread.

Autumn in a Jar: Kale Salad with Chickpeas, Cherries, and Pecans

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

Sooooo… the government shut down. Yeah, that happened.

Luckily for me, my department is still functioning on something called prior year funding, so I’m not furloughed… yet. As you can imagine, all of my furloughed friends are obviously invited over for dinners.

As it is, spent my lunch  break on Capitol Hill, dropping a Greek salad off for Shaeda. Sucks to be a Hill staffer right now.

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

It’s pretty much your typical, fickle fall in DC right now — we’re bouncing between chilly mornings and warm afternoons. I’m itching for the days when you know you’ll actually need your boots to keep you warm. I’ve been polishing my beloved Frye Taylors, ready to seize the day by all fifty five degrees, my perfect temperature.

You’d never know I was born and raised in California.

Anyway, wherever you are, I hope you’re getting to experience even the slightest change in seasons, because we’re almost at my favorite point in the year. Go apple picking. Snuggle up in a sleeping bag under a meteor shower. Break out the Dutch oven and start braising.

It’s gonna be a chilly fall.

In the meantime, this salad from Sprouted Kitchen is the perfect transition lunch. And, it packs really well in jars. So if you happen to be lucky enough to not be furloughed, go ahead and pack one of these for your government friends. They might be in it for the long haul.

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

 

Kale Chopped Salad, adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Parmesan vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
Pinch of salt
1 bunch kale (Sara Forte uses Tuscan, but I just grabbed the normal variety at the grocery store)
1 apple — I used a Fiji apple
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/3 cup dried cherries

Combine the shallot, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and oil in a food processor. Grind until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Use a paring knife to cut away the stems from the kale, and finely chop the leaves with a larger chef’s knife. Set aside in a bowl. Core and dice the apple, and then toss with the chickpeas, pecans, and cherries. Go ahead and toss with half of the dressing, adding more if you desire.

If you plan on jarring the salad for lunch, don’t toss it — just layer the dressing at the bottom and keep the kale at the top. The other details don’t mean too much.

The Real Greek Salad

DSC_0825

When I was traveling in Norway with Silje, every now and then, we would stop in our sentences and say to ourselves: I can’t wait until we’re in Greece.

Something Silje always added on was how excited she was to have Greek salads, every day.

I kind of brushed it off, because I was more or less just looking forward to feta cheese, all day, every day.

DSC_0822

Upon arriving in Greece, I quickly learned that I did not full understand what she meant by Greek salads. I actually ended up having a Greek salad at almost every single meal. Generally, Silje and I would each have our own Greek salads, and then split whatever the entree of the night was.

You see, here in the States, “Greek salad” could mean one of a billion things. It usually means some sort of vegetable mixture with too much dressing and a scoop of crumbled feta cheese. I’m guessing that the addition of feta just makes a salad “Greek.”

It could not be farther from the truth. Anywhere in Greece, when you order a Greek salad, you get a bowl or plate filled with the freshest of the fresh, and simpler than I could ever ask for: cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, capers, feta. No more, no less. Don’t let the impostors fool you.

DSC_0819

DSC_0823

DSC_0828

DSC_0829

DSC_0821

The Real Greek Salad, from, well, Greece.

1 medium cucumber
2-3 smallish tomatoes
A few slices of red onion
Black olives (with pits)
Capers
Fresh feta cheese – get a block, not the crumbled.
A drizzle of olive oil
Dried oregano for garnish

This enough for one salad – multiply accordingly for how many you’re serving.

First, peel the cucumber, and then slice in half lengthwise. Cut into half-inch chunks, and set aside.

Cut your tomatoes into quarters, and slice the red onion into wedges or slivers (I forgot the red onions in the photos. Don’t hate).

Slice about a half-inch sheet off of the block of feta. Toss the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber in a pretty bowl. Throw a few capers and olives on there, and arrange your slice of feta in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with some dried oregano for garnish.

Enjoy the simplicity.