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bacon chimichurri salad with grilled corn, zucchini and potatoes.

This summer salad is brought to you by:  Bacon!  Because really, is there any dish it can't improve?  I always keep a little glass jar of bacon fat in my fridge, but I love coming up with recipes that use it right when you acquire it after frying up some sweet, sweet strips.  

Last Summer I fell in love with chimichurri.  We were getting insane amounts of parsley through our CSA and it was all I could do to come up with enough uses for it.  Meat is the traditional vehicle for this tangy, herbacious, spicy, garlicky condiment, but why stop there?  It seems to beg for an earthy grilled counterpart like the veggies in this salad.  Substituting bacon fat for olive oil really takes chimichurri to new heights of awesomeness.  The dressing has a bright tartness from the red wine vinegar but the bacon adds a rich, smoky, sexy flavor that really makes it shine.

Bacon Chimichurri Salad 

with Grilled Corn, Zucchini and Potatoes

serves 2


1 russet potato

1 zucchini

1 cob fresh corn

olive oil

1/2 a head of Romaine lettuce, chopped & washed

Bacon Chimichurri:

4 slices of bacon

3 T reserved bacon fat

1 T olive oil

1 cup chopped parsley

3 T red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

generous pinch of red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

First, prep your salad vegetables.  Slice the potato and zucchini into 1/4 inch-thick diagonal rounds.  Toss them in a little olive oil to coat.  Brush the corn cob with a little more olive oil.  Place veggies on the grill and cook until a nice char forms on each side.  Remove from grill and allow to cool, slightly.  Cut veggies into smaller, bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Next, make your bacon chimichurri.  In a large pan over medium-high heat, fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon and allow to drain on a paper towel.  Chop or crumble bacon into bite-sized pieces.  Pour hot bacon fat into a small bowl through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out any burned bits (if desired).  Allow to cool until fat is just warm to the touch.

Meanwhile, place all your remaining chimichurri ingredients into a blender.  Pour 3 T of the cooled bacon fat into the mixture and blend really well, until the dressing becomes smooth.  Combine Romaine with grilled veggies and bacon and drizzle with desired amount of chimichurri (I used about half and stored the rest for later use).  Toss well and serve immediately.



grilled wedge salad with honey jalapeño dressing

Grill all of the things!  Summer is a time for grilling, that much is obvious, but there is still a lot of room for creativity when it comes to what you choose to grill.  In this case, we're grilling a whole mess of vegetables to create one glorious, grilled wedge salad.  Radicchio and cabbage make a bittersweet pair and look ever so pretty on the plate.  I topped that off with fresh, grilled corn, jalapeños, red onions and shaved rainbow carrots to make this flavorful, crunchy and quintessentially summery salad.

When grilling your veggies, make sure to pay attention to the cooking times for each item since they come in lots of different shapes and sizes.  The radicchio will grill the fastest, being somewhat light and delicate, followed by the jalapeño.  The cabbage and corn are much thicker and sturdier, so they take more time, and red onions are somewhere in-between.  I may or may not have grilled an extra cob of corn just so I could do this to it:

What the heck is that weird looking sauce, you ask?  If you haven't tried this Chicago-made but Alabama-inspired barbeque sauce, Lillie's Q Ivory, you need to immediately drive to Marczyk Fine Foods and go get yourself some.  It is a mayonnaise based sauce with lots of tang from the addition of cider vinegar and lime juice.  It's seasoned with lots of fresh black pepper and some other magical, wonderful and undisclosed secret spices that came from Grandma Lillie's genius brain.  I salute you, Grandma.  Your BBQ sauce is ridiculous.

Grilled Wedge Salad 

with Honey Jalapeño Dressing

serves 2


1/2 a small head of cabbage

1 small head of radicchio

1 cob of corn

1 red onion, sliced into rounds

1/2 jalapeño, halved and seeded

peanut oil

2 small rainbow carrots, shaved

1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco

1 handful cilantro leaves


Juice of 2 limes

2 tsp honey

1/2 jalapeño, grilled and minced

2 T peanut oil

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat your grill to medium-high.  Slice the cabbage and radicchio into quarters and brush lettuces, corn, onion and the whole jalapeño with a little peanut oil.  Place your veggies onto grill and cook until each side gets a good char.  Remove from grill when done and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Set vegetables aside and allow to cool slightly, then mince the jalapeño and set half of it aside for your dressing.

For the dressing, whisk lime juice and honey together in a small bowl until well combined.  Slowly drizzle the oils in as you whisk continuously, then season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk in the minced jalapeño.  

Assemble grilled wedges on your plates or serving dish.  Slice corn kernels off the cob, chop the grilled onions, and mix the corn, onion, shaved carrot and jalapeño together with a little bit of dressing.  Drizzle desired amount of remaining dressing over lettuce wedges, then top with remaining salad ingredients, garnishing with the queso fresco and cilantro leaves.  Serve immediately.



shredded mexican salad

Summer is here!  It's salad season!!  OK, maybe that doesn't sound super exciting, but is there any other time of year that's better suited to enjoying a big plate of fresh, crunchy, cooling vegetables?  I think not.

Every Summer, without fail, I make some version of this salad.  It happens to be a favorite amongst our friends, who we cook for often, and definitely a favorite of mine, too, although I think I make it a little differently every time!  The foundation always remains the same - a whole bunch of sliced cabbage with lots of other vegetables (other really great additions/substitutions for this salad are grilled corn, jicama, sliced green onions, grilled peppers, or queso fresco) and a creamy, cilantro flavored dressing.  This dressing is extra luscious thanks to the avocado and sour cream, but it has a lot of tang from the fresh lime juice.  For a lighter version, I've played around with different fats like peanut oil (use judiciously!), yogurt or coconut milk instead of sour cream, or eliminating the avocado altogether.

This crunchy slaw gains a lot of heft, substance, and meaty flavor from the addition of ground bison, although a vegetarian version is equally tasty (black beans make a great protein!).  If you aren't familiar with bison, this recipe is a really easy, user-friendly place to start for first-timers.  I'm a real bison lover, myself!  It has a rich, beefy taste but with more sweetness than beef and a subtle grassy flavor.  Not to mention, bison is lean and very low in cholesterol compared to beef, chicken, and even some fishes.

So, here's to enjoying the hot weather with a cool, crunchy salad!  

Shredded Mexican Salad

serves 6


1 lb ground bison

1 T vegetable oil

2 tsp Southwest seasoning (I used

Savory Spice Shop's

El Diente Peak Southwest seasoning, which is a blend of chile powder, paprika, coriander, cumin, pepper, crushed red pepper, and mexican oregano)

salt and pepper

6 cups shredded cabbage

1 large red onion

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks

1/2 an avocado, diced

3 large radishes, sliced

about 1 cup cilantro leaves

a handful of cilantro micro greens (optional)


juice of 2 large limes

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 an avocado

a handful of cilantro (stems and all), roughly chopped

1/2 tsp Southwest seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

First, cook your bison.  Add 1 T vegetable oil to a large, shallow pan and heat to medium high.  Add ground bison, Southwest seasoning, and a generous amount of salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook until meat is just browned, about 8 minutes.  Set aside, allowing to cool.

Rinse and dry your cabbage and set aside.  Slice red onion into rounds and brush with 2 tsp vegetable oil.  Using an outdoor grill or a grill pan, heat your grill to medium-high.  Grill onions until each side gets a good char, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Allow onions to cool, slightly, then chop well and set aside.  Meanwhile, slice the cherry tomatoes in half (start at the tip where the stem was once attached if your knife isn't so sharp) and set aside with remaining vegetables.

Assemble your dressing in a blender or food processor.  Add dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl and add as much dressing as you like (I used about half for a lightly-dressed salad).  Serve immediately.



Millet and Caramelized Onion Cakes with Mizuna Salad

Whole grains.  We know we're supposed to eat them but we're not exactly sure how.  You see a lot of cereals, breads, and other packaged, grain-based products that have fancy looking labels telling you how wonderful whole grains are, so that looks like a good option.  But the full story is that they are often produced with a raw material that, while it was once a whole grain, ends up getting pulverized and processed until much of it's nutrition is lost.

I like to think about it this way:  If you want to eat healthier, cook at home as much as you can.  If you want to cook healthier, stick to buying ingredients - not food - at the grocery store.  You're probably like, "I do buy ingredients!" and I'll be like "so, did anything you buy come in a package with an ingredients list?" and then you might understand what I mean.  I'm not saying all food from the grocery store is bad.  I still routinely buy pasta, jam, hot sauce and bread, among other things.  I just try to find the best ones I can, preferably made locally, and I know I've made a well-rounded trip to the grocery store when I look down in my basket and see mostly ingredients:  produce, whole grains, oils and vinegars, cheese... you get the idea.

So, with the intent of demonstrating that starting with ingredients and ending with wholesome food doesn't have to be a daunting task, I give you a simple, wholesome, from-scratch dish.  The flavors are simple but compelling - herbaceous, toasty, corn-like millet is toasted, cooked into mush, and mixed with sweet and pungent caramelized onions.  No flours, no fillers, just a little egg and seasoning and they come together just beautifully.  The homemade buttermilk ricotta makes this dish feel really special.  You don't need any fussy equipment, just a fine sieve, some cheesecloth (or cheesecloth-like material, if you happen to be a weirdo like me and have a few spare gauze bags laying around) and a nice, big pot.  The result is creamy, mild, slightly tangy and has almost infinite uses.  If you can't squeeze the extra time in to make ricotta, I would recommend using a good-quality fromage blanc or even ricotta salata, but for heaven's sake don't buy that Miceli's ricotta in a tub.  Every time you do, an elderly Italian man sheds a single tear...

Millet and Caramelized Onion Cakes
makes about 10 cakes

1 cup millet
2 cups water
2 T butter
2 T vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
bacon fat (optional)

Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add millet.  Toast in the dry pan, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to release the starches and soften the millet to a mush.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, caramelize your onions.  Add butter and 1 T vegetable oil to a large pan and heat over medium-high.  Reduce heat slightly and add sliced onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and deep golden, about 12 minutes.  Add onions and the egg to the millet and mix well until the mixture holds together.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well.  Form mixture into 3-inch balls and flatten into cakes.

In a large frying pan, add remaining vegetable oil and a couple tablespoons of bacon fat and heat over medium-high until the bacon fat melts.  Reduce heat slightly and fry cakes until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side, adding more fat if necessary.  Finish with a little salt and serve atop Mizuna and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette, then top with ricotta.

Mizuna with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
serves 4

about 1/4 lb mizuna
1 meyer lemon, juiced
2 T champagne vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, to taste
1/2 cup homemade buttermilk ricotta (recipe below)
2 T sliced green onions

Wash mizuna well and spin dry.  Add lemon juice, vinegar and honey to a blender and pulse until the honey is blended.  While the blender is running, pour in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream.  Add salt to taste.

Add a splash of the dressing to the buttermilk ricotta then mix in the green onions.  Serve salad with millet cakes topped with the ricotta.

Ian Knauer's Buttermilk Ricotta
makes about 2 cups

1 gallon whole milk
3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot.  Just before the liquid starts to bubble (the mixture will thicken and curdle) remove from heat.  Pour liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow to drain for at least 15 minutes.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.



Honey Jalapeño Dill Dressing with Apple & Kohlrabi Slaw

You hear a lot of talk about sustainability in food, these days.  It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but not everybody realizes how simple it can be to take steps towards eating sustainably in your own home.

One of the things I like to focus on, because it's something absolutely everybody can add to their cooking routine, is managing waste.  What are we throwing away that we could actually be saving and using?

My friends at The Real Dill, the best pickle makers in the known universe operating right here in the city of Denver, take this concept to new, flavor-packed heights by suggesting that we use what many people probably throw away as an ingredient.  What a concept!  I don't know about everybody else, but I have dumped many a precious jarful of pickle brine down the sink without a second thought.  But why in heavens shouldn't we use the stuff?!  It's absolutely full of delicious flavor!

For this recipe, I used not only the brine but the pickled garlic cloves and jalapeño that can be found in every jar of their Jalapeño Honey Dills.  The result is a refreshingly light, sweet and tangy dressing with the essence of spicy-sweet pickles.  The season is still bountiful with apples and kohlrabi, so I tossed them in the dressing with the diced, pickled jalapeno and a healthy handful of cilantro leaves.  Serve right away for a crispy, crunchy and subtle-tasting slaw or let it marinate for a day or two (leave the cilantro leaves out and add just before serving) for a sweet, tangy and pickled-tasting version.  Still have a couple of pickles left?  Dice them up and invite them to the slaw party!  The more the merrier...

Honey Jalapeño Dill Dressing with Apple & Kohlrabi Slaw
serves 4-6

1/4 cup Pickle Brine
2 pickled garlic cloves
2 tsp mustard
2 tsp honey
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1 small Kohlrabi, peeled
2 apples
1-2 pickled jalapeños, seeded and diced
1 cup cilantro leaves

First, assemble the dressing.  In a blender, combine brine, garlic, mustard and honey and blend until garlic is well-chopped.  With the blender on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Set aside.

Using a mandoline with the julienne attachment, cut the unpeeled apples and kohlrabi into 1/4" strips.  Toss together with dressing and diced jalapeño.  If desired, allow to marinate for 1 to 2 days for a more intense-flavored slaw.  Toss with cilantro leaves just before serving.