Tag Archives: lettuce

Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets & Carrots

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots

Oregon is widely known for both its cultivated and wild blackberries. Here in Southern Oregon, wild blackberries can be found along roadsides, on fences, and on the banks of creeks and rivers.  In some places, there are so many blackberry vines that some people consider them to be noxious weeds and try removing them completely from their property or backyards.  By mid to late summer the local Southern Oregon blackberries are ripe and ready to pick. Something to consider when using blackberries in any of your favorite recipes is knowing that the cultivated berries tend to be bigger in size, are slightly sweeter and can be a bit a juicier than their wild counterparts. Whether they are cultivated or wild, blackberries are wonderfully versatile little fruits that taste simply amazing.


One of my favorite ways to use blackberries is to make a sweet and tangy blackberry vinaigrette and drizzle it on my Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots.  My Oregon Blackberry Salad is a colorful combination of some of the best local ingredients that I can find during the hot summer months.  The sweet juicy blackberries combined with the earthiness of red beets and crunchy carrots makes it a stunningly vibrant summer salad.  My Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots is easy to make, and tastes absolutely fantastic! Enjoy! Tessa

Blackberry Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh picked blackberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs shallots (minced)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper or to taste
  • 1 Tbs water if needed

In a blender, add the blackberries, red wine vinegar and pulse until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of water if the blackberry vinegar mixture is too thick. Remove from blender and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl in order to remove the seeds. Discard seed mixture. Add to olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, minced shallots, salt and pepper into the blackberry mixture to the bowl and whisk until well incorporated.  Taste and correct your seasonings. Store the blackberry vinaigrette in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes 1 cup or 8 servings.

For one salad:

  • 2 cups fresh green lettuce or your favorite greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup shredded beets
  • 1 – 2 Tbs Blackberry Vinaigrette (see recipe above)
  • fresh cracked pepper (optional)

Assemble the lettuce on a salad plate.  Arrange the shredded carrots and beets over the bed of lettuce and top with the blackberries.  Drizzle with blackberry vinaigrette.

Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette


Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

I’m so excited!  Spring has finally arrived in Southern Oregon!  According to the calendar, “technically” it’s still winter.  According to what is happening in my backyard, the calendar is way wrong :)…


A crocus blossom… One of the first flowers to make an appearance in our backyard early in the season.  I love the bright orange stamens and the purple and white streaked petals.  I have them planted in many places in our yard.  Some reside in pots, some are tucked under bushes and trees.  Crocuses grow only a few inches tall and come back every year during the month of March.


This is a shot of some pansies that I have planted in a hanging pot on my back patio.  Pansies are a regular staple to our yard in the spring and fall.  Every time I look at them they make me smile.  I enjoy the bright and cheerful colors outside my kitchen window.


A close-up shot of a pansy blossom.  I was thrilled to capture this image with my camera.  Through the lens of my camera, I was able to see this amazing amount of detail on the flower.  I can’t see this level of detail even with my reading glasses on.


A tulip poking its way through the soil.  I look forward to a big vase full of bright red blossoms on our dining room table in a short couple of weeks.


Purple crocus.  What’s not to like about that deep rich indigo color?


Even the koi fish in our pond are starting to surface for the first handfuls of feed of the year.  This is Pumpkin…  He’s one of the original fish to live in our pond.  He’s almost 2 feet long and about 10 years old.  I remember the day when Bruce and I purchased him.  He was about 4 inches in length and shared a plastic bag with four other fish on the trip home. Several years later, we now have a total of 8 koi fish happily living in our pond.


Whenever I think of spring, one of the first things that come to mind is fresh picked strawberries.  I purchased a couple of pints of strawberries the other day and one of the things that I wanted to do with them was to make a spring like strawberry vinaigrette.  My Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette is a wonderfully pink colored salad dressing made with fresh strawberries, red wine vinegar, local honey, Dijon Mustard, canola oil and poppy seeds.  It’s a delicious vinaigrette to serve drizzled over a plate of fresh picked greens and sliced strawberries.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs honey or to taste
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds or to taste

Add strawberries, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and canola oil to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Splash more vinegar into the dressing if you want… Mix in the poppy seeds.  Makes 1 cup or 16 – 1 Tablespoon servings.  Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.

Green Salad (per serving)

  • 2 cups fresh lettuce
  • 1 thinly sliced radish
  • 2 strawberries (hulled and quartered)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 Tbs Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (or to taste)

Assemble by placing salad greens on a plate.  Arrange radishes, strawberries and radicchio on top of the greens.  Drizzle greens with the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  Makes one serving.

Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

Red Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

If my little garden was any bigger than it is now, I would be in a heap of trouble.  I try my best to plant vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and chard in various stages so they all don’t mature at once.  It’s called succession planting.  Succession planting is a method of utilizing space and time.  No matter how much effort that I put into planning my garden it seems like there are times when certain vegetables really get away from me.  Today, my problem is lettuce.  And I sure do have lots of it…

The problem with lettuce is that you can generally only eat it fresh.  You can’t freeze it.  And, you can’t can it.  I guess technically, you could, but why?  And once the warm weather hits, it bolts. And once it bolts, it’s bitter.  Fortunately, what I don’t use, I give away to family, friends and coworkers.

Today, I went out and picked a bunch of romaine lettuce, red radishes and parsley from my garden for my Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps.  My Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps are easy to make, fresh tasting and vegan too.  The lettuce wraps are made with cooked Red Quinoa, black beans, chopped red onions, little grape tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, radishes, with a bright tasting red wine vinaigrette wrapped up in a lettuce leaf.  It’s a great side dish or by itself for light lunch or dinner.  I’m thinking that these also would make interesting appetizers to serve at my next backyard barbeque.  Makes about 16 wraps.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (picked over and rinsed well)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used red grape)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup roasted red bell pepper (diced)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
  • 16 lettuce leaves (I used young romaine, but bibb lettuce is probably best)
  • Garnish with lime wedges, thin sliced radishes and sprigs of parsley

Begin by cooking your quinoa and water in a covered saucepan on medium low for about 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  In a medium bowl add quinoa, black beans, onion, tomato, cilantro, parsley and roasted red bell pepper.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl whisk together the lime juice, coriander, cumin, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add vinaigrette to quinoa mixture.  Mix well to coat.  Chill for about a half an hour and serve spooned on top of lettuce leaves.   Garnish with lime wedges, thinly sliced radishes and fresh picked parsley.  Makes about 16 lettuce wraps.

Gado-Gado Wedge Salad













Those people who have spent time with me in my kitchen know that when it comes to cooking, I am terrible at following directions.  It’s a rare event when I prepare a dish exactly the way that it was written.  I am notorious for changing things up and cooking food the way I want.  My Gado-Gado Wedge Salad is a perfect example of my “I’m gonna do it my way and you can’t tell me what to do” behavior in my kitchen.

Gado-Gado is an Indonesian dish traditionally made with a variety of cooked vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, bean sprouts, beans or whatever fresh ingredients that are on hand drizzled with peanut sauce, garnished with egg slices and fried onions, served family style on a large platter.  It seems that there are so many variations of Gado-Gado for it all depends on the ingredients on hand and the person who is preparing it.  My Gado-Gado Wedge salad is a twist on the traditional Indonesian dish and is similar to the wedge salads that I love to order for lunch at a restaurants.

My Gado-Gado Wedge Salad is made with crisp iceberg lettuce, surrounded by tender green beans, bean sprouts, pan seared tofu, crunchy shredded carrots, crisp cucumber, fingerling red potatoes drizzled with my homemade peanut sauce.  I then garnish the salad with lime wedges, minced red bell pepper, green onion, and cilantro sprigs.  Make this dish for your next lunch or dinner.  And by the way, if you don’t follow my recipe exactly, I completely understand…   Makes 4 fabulous salads.  – Tessa


  • 4 wedges of iceberg lettuce
  • 8 fingerling red potatoes
  • 2 cups green beans cut into 1″ slices
  • 1/2 pound bean sprouts
  • 1 container extra firm tofu (drained and cut into 3/4″ cubes)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 1 cup peanut sauce (see my recipe!)
  • 1 Tbls. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • garnish with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, minced red bell pepper, sliced green onion and sambal oelek.

Let’s begin by boiling salted water in a medium sized pot.  Add your fingerling potatoes and cook until done (8 minutes or so).  Remove from pot using a slotted spoon or a spider and run cold water over the potatoes until they cool.  Slice into rounds and set aside.  Using the same boiling water add your beans until they are lightly cooked.  Remove and run cold water over until they cool.  Set aside.  Repeat the process with the bean sprouts and cook about 5 minutes and set aside.  Do not cook the carrots or the cucumbers.

Now grab a non stick fry pan and heat it with a bit of canola oil.  Add your tofu cubes and cook until lightly brown.  Add the low sodium soy sauce.  Cook a few minutes more and then remove from heat and set aside.  Find 4 medium sized or lunch plates and place an iceberg lettuce wedge on the plate.  Arrange your vegetables around the lettuce, add your tofu and drizzle with peanut sauce.  Garnish with your lime wedges, cilantro, minced bell pepper, green onion and sambal oelek.  Dig in and enjoy!

Note:  If you are changing up the ingredients just be sure to pay attention to the colors of vegetables that you choose to include on the plate.  – Tessa