Creating a Restaurant-Worthy Salad

Happy Thursday, friends!

Wordy post to share with you all today…

14269842_1459701920713050_1604529917_n

Let’s get to it!

5 Ways to Amp Up Your Salad (and topping ideas!)

  1. Try different types of lettuce greens to mix up the texture and flavour of your salad. Arugula is my favourite, but I want to experiment with other tender mild leaves with crisp ones.
  2. Arugula and watercress are peppery. Endive, radicchio, treviso, and dandelion greens are bitter. Purslane and sorrel have bright, lemony flavours. Kale, mustard greens, and cabbage? These are sturdy, work well shredded, and add body to your salad.
  3. That being said, buy greens from the farmer’s market! Clamshells tend to go bad faster. Greens from the market are so fresh!
  4. Remove excess water after purchasing. Wrap in a paper towel and then in a plastic bag in the crisper.
  5. Before serving, make sure leaves are completely dry. Spin them in the salad spinner in batches, without spinning overly hard to prevent the leaves from getting crushed. You can pat them with a paper towel, or roll them up in another towel.
  6. Smaller greens like spinach should be stemmed, but leaves left whole.
  7. Use a dressing with fat (oil). Try making your own vinaigrette using olive oil.
  8. The most basic vinaigrette dressing follows one rule – 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. For example, whisk 1 tsp of vinegar with 3 tsp (1 tbsp) oil.
  9. Sweetness is essential in a salad. I like some honey, or maybe maple syrup. Dijon mustard complements the sweetness perfectly!
  10. Careful not to overdress the salad.
  11. Make your salad in a massive bowl to ensure that every leaf is fully coated and seasoned.
  12. Season the salad with more salt than you’d expect. This is a restaurant secret that makes salads at places like Cactus Club so amazing. Sprinkle in a little flaky sea salt – your salad is guaranteed to be much more flavourful.
  13. Vegetables on top add brunch and colour. Try radishes or eggplant! Some other ideas – carrot, cucumbers, radishes, sprouts, fennel, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, beets, or more.
  14. Squash add awesome colour and texture. Try butternut, acorn, zucchini, or any other member of the squash family you can think of.
  15. For protein, experiment with chicken, turkey, fish, beans, or tofu. I want to try tempeh!
  16. Speaking of protein, try grilling, searing, broiling, steaming, or blackening any of the above (maybe not the beans).
  17. Dried fruit add a bit of sweetness and chew. I like cranberries!
  18. Seeds and nuts are a salad must-have, in my opinion. I think walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pistachios work beautifully with goat cheese and fruit. Sesame seeds, cashews, and peanuts are awesome in Asian-style salads. Make sure the nuts are toasted! They not only add flavour and texture, but also extra nutrition.
  19. Eggs are phenomenal salad toppers. Try them hard-boiled, poached, fried, or mashed into egg salad!
  20. For a starch, potatoes, corn, brown rice, whole wheat bread (on the salad as croutons, or even on the side!), whole wheat pasta, or quinoa/couscous are all fantastic.
  21. One word – avocado. Creamy, flavourful, beautiful. Can you ask for more? Okay, maybe for them to have smaller pits. And to not go from ripe to rotten so quickly!
  22. Garlic, shallots, and onion add beautiful flavour to the salad, or even the dressing itself.
  23. Herbs, like basil, add wonderful flavour.
  24. Any kind of cheese would work beautifully in a salad.
  25. Dress your salad lightly – literally. Be very gentle with the salad tongs. Even better? Use your hands!

Salad Ideas

Amazing Arugula

  • arugula
  • beets
  • cucumber
  • radish
  • chickpeas
  • feta
  • sunflower seeds
  • lemon + EVOO

Chop Chop

  • romaine and iceberg
  • beets
  • egg
  • tomato
  • cheddar

Kale It

  • baby kale
  • artichoke hearts
  • asparagus
  • quinoa
  • goat cheese
  • toasted almonds
  • tomato vinaigrette

Slammin’ Salmon

  • field greens
  • tomato
  • fennel
  • asparagus
  • oranges
  • olives
  • citrus vinaigrette

Spinach

  • baby spinach
  • mushrooms
  • bacon
  • egg
  • tomato
  • goat cheese
  • crispy onions
  • dijon vinaigrette

Build your own (choose a protein, too – see #16!)

Lettuce

  • Romaine
  • Chopped Iceberg
  • Wild Arugula
  • Farmers Market Field Greens
  • Baby Spinach
  • Baby Kale

Crunch

  • Crispy Kabocha Squash
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Crispy Bacon Bits
  • Olive Oil Croutons
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Pecans

Cheese

  • Feta
  • Parmesan
  • Aged Cheddar
  • Crumbled Blue
  • Pesto Bocconcini
  • Goat’s Cheese

Toppings

  • Honey Crisp Apple
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Asparagus
  • Sliced Farm Eggs
  • Edamame Beans
  • Pickled Red Beets
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Roasted Beets
  • Breakfast Radishes
  • Shaved Fennel
  • Cucumber
  • Oranges
  • Fresh Chickpeas
  • Pesto Marinated Chickpeas
  • Roasted Peppers
  • Button Mushrooms
  • Pickled Cauliflower
  • Shaved Jalapeño
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Avocado

Hope everyone has a fantastic Friday and weekend ahead of them!

  1. What are your favourite salad toppings?
  2. Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Wild Rice Restaurant Review + An Uninvited Guest?!

Good morning everyone! How are you all doing? I just enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal (updated my oatmeal page, by the way!) topped with cherries, caramelized banana, hemp hearts, cashews and an incredible sour cherry buckwheat scone from Purebread Bakery in Vancouver. In less than half an hour, I’ll be doing a Circuit class, followed by 45 minutes of indoor cycling, AKA spin class, and then an hour or so of hatha yoga. In the afternoon, I have a driving lesson and will be making summer rolls for dinner! So excited. :mrgreen:

Anyways, my sister and I had lunch together – just the two of us, after an hour of aerial silks – at Wild Rice Restaurant in New West. It’s by the River Market in the Quay, near the river. We had quite the view!

DSC04503 DSC04504

The restaurant itself is:

  • modern and clean
  • decorated with balloons, lights, and paintings
  • sunny with plenty of windows
  • has plenty of seating, including a spacious patio
  • COOKING: fresh, local, organic (no heat lamps, no hormones, no microwaves)
  • Gluten-free, vegan options on regular menu

DSC04507DSC04508DSC04509

We chose to sit indoors because it was a bit windy. After much deliberation (coconut shrimp? Vegan butter “chicken” with tofu?), I decided I was in the mood for something light and fresh, and ordered their house salad.

House Salad with chicken: mixed greens, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radish and candied pecans, mirin soy vinaigrette

DSC04519 DSC04521

This salad was pretty yummy! There was a massive pile of greens, which I am 99% sure came from Costco, and every leaf was coated in a slightly sour, salty dressing made with soy sauce and ginger. There was a pile of cherry tomato compote, sliced radishes, and candied pecans scattered on top. I found the pecans absolutely delicious with the greens and dressing, but unfortunately, I had only five pieces or so on my salad. 😦 The chicken, which was hormone-free, was sautéed perfectly with a nice, seared crust on the outside. I like how Wild Rice uses both chicken breast and chicken thigh pieces to top salads.

DSC04531 DSC04537

Seline had chicken tenders with fries. She loved the slightly-spicy aioli dip. We enjoyed a couple pieces of flatbread as well. Seline said they were like “Americanized green onion pancakes from Taiwan”. I liked the garlicky oil on top, and the bread was so tender! I dipped some in her aioli. 🙂 Yum!

Panko Chicken Tenders & Fries: hand filleted boneless breast, smoked paprika, parsley
Flatbread: grilled, brushed with garlic oil

DSC04535 DSC04538

Our meal was humungous! I barely finished my salad (there was a HEAP of greens here!) and really enjoyed the chicken and pecans. Still, we had room for dessert!

DSC04542 DSC04546

Chocolate Cake: cocoa sauce and vanilla ice cream
Oh my goodness. This dessert was like heaven on a plate. It was like a big square of black bean brownie (though a tad sweeter and more cake-like) topped with cold ice cream. There was also a chocolate sauce on top, and a raspberry coulis. This was similar to the molten chocolate lava cake from Cactus Club, but to be honest, I much prefer this one! You get sweetness and rich flavour from the cake, cut by the sour raspberry puree. The cake was warm, and with the cool ice cream, was just divine.

DSC04548

Seline and I devoured this in less than a minute, and we fought over who got the last bite. 🙂

IMG_0666 IMG_0668

Chocolate Cake: cocoa sauce and vanilla ice cream
Sticky Toffee Pudding: served traditionally with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream
The following week, we came with our parents! Seline and I raved about Wild Rice for the longest time, and finally convinced Mom and Dad to come eat with us at this lovely, delicious, yet underrated restaurant. This time, I DEVOURED the coconut shrimp (truly the best coconut shrimp dish I’ve ever had – including curry!), which came with rice. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera so I can’t show you the plate of HEAVEN that I ate.
Anyways! For dessert, we HAD to order the chocolate cake again! This time, I also wanted to try the sticky toffee pudding. Unlike Earls, this toffee pudding was chocolate-less. Instead, there was a wonderful butterscotch sauce (like the one I had on the galette at Coastal Cookery in the Sunshine Coast). The cake itself was soft, moist, and sweetened with tender chopped dates. Date desserts are one of my favourite sweets, and I really enjoyed this warm cake with the chilled vanilla ice cream. The perfect end to a yummy lunch!

After a trip to Costco a couple weeks ago, I enjoyed a rotisserie chicken drumstick with a spinach, apricot, and blackberry salad with crispy chickpeas and poppyseed dressing. This lunch was just okay – not my favourite.

DSC03742 DSC03747

Roasted vegetables with Israeli couscous. Not my favourite grain – quinoa still holds the crown for that category.

DSC03625 DSC03623

Quinoa stir-fry with leftover roasted vegetables, topped with feta cheese and crispy chickpeas

DSC03603 DSC03608

Roasted potato wedges // chicken and onion stir-fry with asparagus // roasted vegetables

DSC03582DSC03583DSC03584

My plate, with a little chicken, veggies, and ginger-turmeric rice

DSC03586 DSC03590

Mixed green salad with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, roasted pecans, feta cheese, and poppyseed dressing

DSC03577 DSC03575

EW! Guess what I found in my spinach? This little guy was quite the uninvited guest. But I guess he wanted some yummy salad, too?

DSC03565

Oh yeah! There was some quinoa in here, too. I love Brianna’s salad dressing (this one was from Whole Foods).

DSC03567 DSC03570

The bites with a little berry, a little feta, and a big candied pecan were the best. 🙂

DSC03572 DSC03580

Do you like salad? Normally, I’m not the biggest salad person because I prefer veggies to be warm and tender, preferably with some sauce or flavouring. Salads, which are cold and, well, raw, aren’t typically part of my weekly meal rotation. Yummy meal salads, like this one or this one, however, are so much fun to eat at restaurants because you get to try new ingredients. 🙂

DSC03579

That’s it for now! Have a great day, guys. Stay tuned for my next Coast Post – it’s going to feature THE most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. 😉

Brunch at Earls

My family {Grandpa and Grandma, Mimi and Charles, Dad, Mom and I} had a wonderful brunch in Burnaby a couple weekends ago. We decided to eat at Earls. 🙂 Everyone was very satisfied with their meal – I’ll show you! Grandpa started with the soup and salad combo, which came with a big slab of French bread. He loves Caesar salad! Dad had the burger with fries, as usual.

L: {Earls signature housemade caesar dressing and brioche croutons on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce sprinkled with grand padano parmesan}

R: {Bacon Cheddar Burger: Cured bacon, vine-ripened tomatoes, onion, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard, on a freshly baked brioche bun with truffle fries}

DSC04863 DSC04864

For an appetizer, we ordered a plate of calamari. Seline loved this and claims it’s one of the best calamari she’s had.

{Lightly breaded calamari, spanish black olives, oven dried tomatoes, refreshing cucumber and sweet radish slices ontop a bed of greek citrus yogurt}

DSC04865 DSC04866

Seline also enjoyed some of Dad’s truffle fries, which came with a garlic aioli.

DSC04867 DSC04872

For herself, she ordered a starter, the Margherita pizza. This featured tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and thinly-sliced basil. Seline also wanted a plate of truffle fries with garlic aioli. She loves truffle fries and thought these were almost as good as the ones from the The Sandbar on Granville Island.

{Margherita Pizza: House tomato sauce, salted mozzarella, chiffonade basil, chili olive oil}

DSC04875 DSC04876

Mom enjoyed the eggs Florentine, which came baked in a polenta and cream sauce. There were two poached eggs, some parmesan cheese, and lots of onions, mushrooms, and spinach. She really liked dipping the bread into the creamy sauce, which contrasted with the spinach. I tried some of her dish, and thought it was SO flavourful and rich!

{Poached eggs, spinach and mushrooms, parmesan cream sauce, polenta, sourdough}

DSC04877 DSC04878

Mimi ordered a brunch dish as well. Hers starred chorizo (spanish sausage), poached eggs, and avocado. Hers was also topped with hollandaise sauce and chives.

{Chorizo + Mushroom Hash: Avocado, crispy fried potatoes, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise}

DSC04881DSC04882DSC04883

Charles devoured a Croque-Madame, which is like the French grilled ham and cheese sandwich called the Croque-Monsieur – but topped with a poached egg and béchamel sauce.

{Grilled sourdough, poached egg, white cheddar, virginia ham, roasted serrano cream}

DSC04884DSC04886DSC04887

And for me? THE BEST SALAD EVER. Also known as rocket salad with pecan-crusted chicken.

{Citrus dressed arugula, beets, pears, goat cheese coulis, spiced pecans, parmesan chips, pecan + porcini crusted chicken.}

DSC04888 DSC04890

I love arugula. I love beets and pears. I really love goat cheese. Spiced pecans are my favourite salad topper. Parmesan chips are incredible. But pecan and mushroom-crusted chicken? I wasn’t so sure. But after the first bite, I was totally blown away! Nutty, flavourful, with a crisp texture outside and perfectly-cooked chicken inside. There was a lovely mushroom flavour as well, and of course, I love anything with pecans. This chicken was incredible and one of the highlights of the salad – along with the goat cheese dressing and tasty beets. I seriously NEED to make this salad at home!

DSC04891 DSC04893

Here is Mom’s eggs Florentine dish again, which I nibbled from. I probably had a whole poached egg and a quarter of the spinach – but more than half the polenta! This was delicious, even without the bread. And the eggs were cooked flawlessly. I need to learn how to poach eggs like this at home. 😛

DSC04895

After last time, we HAD to get dessert! I chose the same one – chocolate toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and toffee sauce. Warm, rich, sweet, and chocolatey, this is my idea of the perfect dessert.

{Housemade warm chocolate cake drizzled with rich chocolate and toffee sauce, served with a scoop of vanilla gelato in a sugar candy basket}

DSC04896 DSC04897

While I took five six massive bites of the rich chocolate cake, Charles had a sour key lime pie. His pie was topped with whipped cream and almond cracker crumbles, which were apparently hard enough to chip a tooth!

{A sweet yet tart key lime pie with its delicate graham waffer crust and topped with chantilly cream and crunchy almond crumbs}

DSC04898 DSC04900

That’s it for today, everyone – I’m still organizing my Sunshine Coast photos and I can’t wait to show you 🙂

Minimal Monday

Naan bread with egg, blue cheese, spinach. A filling, nutritious, and varied lunch that I feel balances all the food groups and nutrients. 🙂

DSC03123 DSC03127

Italian-style Mom Dinner: pasta casserole with leftover ground turkey, spinach, broccoli, zucchini and cheddar broiled on top.

DSC03130 DSC03137

With a side Caesar salad made with homemade dressing and croutons.

DSC03133 DSC03132

Seconds… and thirds.

DSC03140 DSC03142

Incredibly creamy banana-cocoa oatmeal topped with almond butter, shredded toasted coconut, hemp hearts.

DSC03147 DSC03150

Mom Dinner of pan-fried lotus and pork patty, chicken drummette stewed with carrots and turnips, steamed vegetables in scallion oil, steamed egg, brown rice.

DSC03152 DSC03155

Scallion oil and dried krill make wonderful low-sodium flavour boosters. 🙂 Vermicelli with the root vegetables!

DSC03156 DSC03159

The bottom of a cranberry-orange muffin from Whole Foods, and a smear of almond butter for dessert – all with a bit of milk.

DSC03163 DSC03165

Amazing creamy banana oatmeal topped with crumbled cranberry-orange muffin, blackberries, almond butter, hemp hearts, maple syrup drizzle.

DSC03168 DSC03170

I want a bowl of this right now. 🙂 Blackberries are one of my favourite spring // summer fruit!

DSC03173 DSC03172

Another naan-omelet lunch – 1 egg and 1 egg white cooked with wilted spinach and cheese inside, wrapped in a soft and fluffy piece of naan bread. Perfection!

DSC03175 DSC03176

I adore the lighting in the photo on the right – no editing here! Woooo 🙂

DSC03180 DSC03182

Quinoa sautéed with frozen vegetables and leftover braised root veggies with a baby chicken drumstick on top.

DSC03184 DSC03188

Snacktime – toast with almond butter, hemp hearts, maple syrup. Tried to find a new place to take photos for better lighting… yeah, no.

DSC03191 DSC03193

Yes, I know – it’s more leftovers. Brown rice, lotus-pork patty, steamed veggies with scallion oil, chicken drummette (last one, I promise) with braised root veggies, and steamed krill eggs. With a side of scholarship forms!

DSC03195 DSC03202

Thanks for reading today’s super short and not-very-insightful post. I hope you all have the best day ever!

Happy Weekend

Hello, hi, hi!

Has anyone read “The Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom” by Louis Sachar? That’s what the awkward protagonist says to his classmates all the time – hello, hi, hi. 🙂 Love it!

Almost as much as I loved these creamy scrambled eggs with veggies and goat cheese. With a slice of whole wheat bread topped with Earth Balance. Told you I LOVE this quick and nutritious meal!

DSC01260 DSC01261 DSC01262

Made a quinoa salad for lunch another day: this one featured spinach, chicken, corn, black beans, feta, and cucumbers. Plus quinoa, of course!

DSC01264 DSC01266

My favourite parts are the sweet corn, salty feta, and creamy black beans. 🙂

DSC01267 DSC01269

The perfect school lunch. It’s super filling, with all the lean protein and nutritious veggies.

DSC01270

This Mom Dinner was spectacular as well – maple-soy trout, fried tofu, and sauteed vegetables.

DSC01271 DSC01272

She always sautees these Asian greens in garlic and grapeseed oil. They’re so good!

DSC01273 DSC01274

I added some brown rice to my plate, too. 🙂

DSC01276 DSC01277

And again! I don’t even think I need to describe this meal anymore.

DSC01280 DSC01281

But I will. Toast, eggs, spinach, goat cheese. Simple and oh-so-yummy.

DSC01282 DSC01283

Lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory again, with the family. We came here after aerial silks practice, and I was ready to mange!

DSC01284 DSC01285

Started with a spinach salad, just like last time, topped with granny smith apples and sliced almonds. Their honey mustard dressing is amazing.

I ordered the lunch-sized lasagna.

DSC01286 DSC01288

Seline helped me finish this cheesy bowl of goodness. 🙂

DSC01289 DSC01290

Dinner was just okay. Roasted veggies and sweet potato, plus a big scoop of Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous topped with parmesan cheese.

DSC01292 DSC01295

Not my fave dinner, but it was still tasty.  Why are roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli/cauliflower so good!?

DSC01294  DSC01296

You must try this couscous topped with parmesan.

DSC01297

Seline had a similar dinner: spicy chicken wings, leftover maple-soy trout, and brown rice with eggs and spinach.

DSC01298 DSC01299

I would have loved this dinner as well – but maybe not the chicken wings – because that fried rice looks so darn tasty!

DSC01300 DSC01301

What a great, relaxing weekend with yumzo food. Have to finish up some homework soon, so… peace out! :mrgreen:

More Quebec Throwbacks!

Bonjour!

You’ve seen my other Quebec posts – but I haven’t even posted it all. Recently I’ve been looking back at these photos (can’t believe it was four months ago!) and I wanted to share some of these other ones that didn’t make the first cut. Here they are!

DSCN0078DSCN0079

A pita wrap stuffed with marinated cucumbers, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions, avocado, salsa, and shredded chicken. This was one of my favourite dinners and I want to have it again!

DSCN0095

Omelet made with 3 eggs, lots of little sauteed vegetables, microwaved steamed broccoli, and salsa. Such a filling dinner and I loved how flavourful it was! And… it got burned on the skillet but I scraped off the black parts – that’s why it looks so naked. 😛

DSCN0119DSCN0122

I really loved this whole wheat muffin that I enjoyed at Presse Cafe with the rest of my humongous breakfast. This was grainy, flax-y, and berry-ish in the best way. It was fresh out of the oven when I wanted to pay for the rest of my things so I HAD to buy this guy, too! Eaten with a sundried tomato wrap stuffed with ham, eggs, and cheese. Need to recreate this as well!

DSCN0127

This vegetable sandwich was also from Presse Cafe. I bought it to eat at work. It’s stuffed with roasted vegetables and goat cheese. I wrapped it in foil and heated it up at work. Yummy!

DSCN0218 DSCN0261

I don’t think people know how much I love sweet things. Anything sweet = I’ll love it.

Here I had passionfruit tart at Maison Christian Faure along with a huge cup of hot cocoa. On the left is all of the other desserts that I bought at MCF – strawberry shortcake cake, a hazelnut profiterole, and a madeleine. I bought them all the same day and divided them up between my four family members. 🙂 I love having little tastes of all kinds of desserts.

DSCN0559DSCN0558

Fondue! You can see the whole spread here. This dinner was seriously so much fun to eat! Those pan-fried potatoes with creamy ketchup + mayo dip were seriously amazing.

DSCN0618DSCN0619

You saw earlier that I went to the Brulerie du Vieux-St-Eustache quite a bit. I enjoyed these incredible muffins – basically sweet pound cake – about four times a week! Chocolate and caramel pear here. Yummm. Did I mention they were the best muffins I’ve ever had?

DSCN0640

Yes, that’s MORE dessert! From the same bakery – carrot cake, apple puff pastry, and brownie chocolate cake with a glass of milk. Again, split four ways with my lovely family so we could all get a taste of each. 🙂

DSCN0933 DSCN0938

On top of Mount Tremblant! Check out the scenery. It was like looking at a calendar! My parents and I enjoyed veggies with dip, cherries, and these super-stuffed egg salad sandwiches. What a memorable afternoon. 🙂

I guess that’s it for now. Chemistry test coming up (Solubility) on Tuesday, enzymes test for Biology on Thursday, and a Calculus test on related rates on Monday. I’m also organizing the school’s Clubs Carnival, so on Friday we’re getting either a sumo thingy or an inflatable wipe out thing. So much to do! Big week coming up. See you in my next post – another Quebec TBT!