Big Plate Super Salad

Summer is the time for salads and with all the options of fresh seasonal vegetables at hand, the combinations are endless. But – what’s the secret to building one that satisfies me until dinner instead of feeling like snacking at 3 pm? I think the answer is a combination of textures, flavors, protein and a tiny bit of fat. If each ingredient is seasoned enough to stand on its own, then every bite is an explosion of deliciousness.

This post is sort of blueprint for a salad that satiates. I love spinach, hard boiled eggs and red wine vinegrette together. Of course any item can be switched out to whatever is at hand or individual tastes; just make sure to use a nice big plate!

Steps to a Big Plate Super Salad

The Base:

Greens- about two cups – pick just one variety such as spinach as I did here or mix it up with a combination of several.

Dressing – to drizzle on the greens – choose the vinaigrette I used or go for a flavored oil with an acid such as lemon or any kind of vinegar.

Simple Red Wine Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic clove, minced or put through a press

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together.

Layer of Density:

Roasted or grilled vegetables – try broccoli, cauliflower, even cherry tomatoes. It’s easy to oven roast any veggie at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes but here I used eggplant and zucchini cooked on the grill to acquire a wonderful smokiness.

Grill Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini

1 medium sized eggplant

1 medium sized zucchini

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Wash off and dry the eggplant and zucchini. Cut off the ends and slice into 1/2 inch rounds.

Place cut vegetables on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Crimp up the edges. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables.

Put salt, thyme, marjoram, garlic, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together.  Sprinkle over the vegetables and with clean hands, gently toss to distribute seasoning.

Heat up grill to medium high heat and place the vegetables on their foil sheet on the grids. Close the grill cover and cook for 20 minutes, turning the vegetables over at the 10 minute mark.

Allow to cool before placing on top of salad greens.

Flavor Punch:

A legume spread – I used 1/4 cup hummus here, but any rinsed and drained bean such as black or great northern beans could be processed into something yummy.

Hummus from True Food by Andrew Weil, MD:

2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 large garlic clove, put through a press

1 small jalapeno chile, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the beans, garlic, jalapeno, chili, tahini, lemon juice, lime juice, agave nectar, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and salt in a food processor and blend well. Slowly pour in the olive oil as the mixture is processing until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

A little something extra – pour a little good olive oil over the hummus and then sprinkle with Aleppo pepper.

A Delicious Swoosh:

A great sauce – 1/4 cup of savory yogurt- optimizes the chance that a salad will satisfy. People with a dairy intolerance could substitute something wonderful like the jarred artichoke red pepper bruscetta that at Trader Joe’s.

Savory Yogurt Sauce- yields 1/2 cup

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon za’tar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash or two turmeric powder

Blend all ingredients except turmeric in small bowl.  After spooning on serving platter, sprinkle a dusting of turmeric powder on top.

Important Ingredient:

Protein – any choice – keeps hunger away. I love the combination of spinach, eggs, and red wine vinegar but shredded chicken, beef, or pork would work as well. Shrimp would be amazing too.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Gently place large eggs in a pan of enough cool water to cover them. Place on burner set to high and immediately set timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, run cook water over the eggs. Peel when the eggs have cooled down enough to touch.

The Finale:

Pickled vegetables – The cheating way- are so quick and easy to make. Since they crown the salad plate and are the last layer to be put on, they have plenty of time to soak up tangy vinegar.

Pickled Vegetable Cheat

1 cup sliced vegetables such as cucumber, beet, carrots, bell pepper, red onion, etc.

1/2 cup vinegar, plain or any kind

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Place vegetables in a small bowl. If using, mix the salt and sugar into the vinegar. Pour the vinegar over the vegetables and allow to sit at least five minutes before using.


So I’m curious- what other great combinations are there out there? Please tell – I’d love to try them!


Delicious Dukkah Roasted Cauliflower Salad


Is this a salad? Or is it a side? It doesn’t matter because it is delicious! In fact, it could be a main dish and I would be happy. What makes it so good is that the cauliflower is roasted with an addictive seasoning from Egypt called Dukkah. I had been seeing it mentioned in foodie magazines and then I stumbled on it in a spice blend shop in Melbourne, Australia.


Of course I had to try it. We all loved it with crusty bread dipped in olive oil, and then the Dukkah. It was even good sprinkled on our breakfast of hard boiled eggs in our Airbnb. Earlier in the trip we had eaten roasted cauliflower atop a salad with yogurt sauce; I wondered how cauliflower would taste if it was sprinkled with Dukkah before it was roasted… It turned out to be a winner! Below is a recipe for basic Dukkah. As you can see, there are options listed to make variations. Following that is the cauliflower salad recipe. The lemon & oil salad dressing and yogurt sauce take the whole thing over the top – enjoy!

Basic Dukkah Recipe

1 cup chopped nuts (Australian tend to use hazelnuts, others use pistachios and/or almonds)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Other possible additions:

1 teaspoons turmeric powder

1 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts out on it. Bake the nuts for five minutes, watching them carefully so they get brown around the edges but don’t burn. Set them aside and let them cool.

Place the seeds in a skillet and over medium heat, stir them until they start to brown. They may pop! Set them aside and let them cool.

Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times until crumbly. Do not let it become a paste. Place in a mixing bowl. Process the coriander and cumin seeds until ground. Add them to the mixing bowl, along with the sesame seeds, salt, pepper and any additional spices and stir to combine.

Serve with olive oil and crusty bread. Use as a breading for chicken or fish. Or make the tasty cauliflower dish below:

Dukkah Roasted Cauliflower Salad – Serves Four



For the roasted cauliflower:

1 head cauliflower

3 tablespoons Dukkah – recipe above

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets. Place them in a single layer on the parchment paper. Sprinkle the florets with the olive oil and Dukkah. Bake for 30 minutes. Cauliflower should be tender, easily pierced with a fork, and browned on the edges.


For the yogurt sauce:

1/2 Greek yogurt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk all ingredients together.

For the salad:

6 cups arugula

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place the arugula in a large bowl. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together. Pour enough dressing over the arugula to coat it, but not drench it. Reserve the rest of the dressing. (It’s great drizzled over vegetables or as a dressing on any kind of salad.)

For Garnish:

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half


To assemble the dish, place the dressed arugula salad on a serving platter. Place the roasted cauliflower on top. Drizzle some of the yogurt sauce on top. Scatter the chopped cilantro and cherry tomatoes over the top. Serve immediately and pass the remaining yogurt sauce at the table.


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