Blackberry Avocado Salad

Hello there– We had another important celebration at our house last week– Larry’s folks came in to celebrate their 69th anniversary!!  It’s a joy to watch them together.

So we made toasts and ate lasagna (Stu’s favorite) and Larry’s cheery sister brought in a magnificent cake. It was a great time together.  Stu & Helen, you’re the best!!

Oh, and with our supper, we dug into this bright salad– sweet berries, creamy avocado, crunchy almonds, salty feta– tossed with a mustard & maple dressing.  Just fine on the plate with our lasagna.


6 cups salad greens
2 small Persian cucumbers, sliced
2 avocados, cut into chunks
6 oz. carton of blackberries (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cut feta, crumbled

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon veingar
2 tab. maple syrup
1 tsp. seedy Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Layer the salad ingredients in a shallow bowl.  When you are ready to serve it up, shake together the dressing ingredients in a container with a tightly closing lid until they are all blended and drizzle over the salad.

Peachy Tomato Salad with Honey Tarragon Dressing


Hi there– I’ve been reading some of my favorite bloggers talking about what’s coming out of their gardens this summer.  Fun to see your kale and summer squash and spicy peppers!  Our humble little garden (besides sprouting lots of weeds!) has produced tomatoes a plenty and nice healthy basil.

So tonight for dinner I wanted to use some of those tomatoes that are piling up in the kitchen!  And here’s the result.  Fresh and bright, colorful and so simple– fine for a summer supper.


4 ripe Roma tomatoes
1 large ripe peach
2 -3 tablespoons feta, crumbled
basil sprigs

3 tab. olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes into wedges and the peach in smallish chunks.  Spread them on a platter and crumble the feta over the top.  Sprinkle on the basil leaves.

For the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar, honey and salt & pepper in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake it until the ingredients combine thoroughly.  Pour it over the salad when you are ready to serve it up.


Italian Chopped Salad



Hello all-  Took this salad to dinner with a table full of friends on Valentines Day.  A big Italian feast.  Jill made us all wear large heart name tags (ala Julia Child) and Tim was ready with the go ’round questions after dinner–
What’s the most romantic things your spouse has ever done??
What about you, most annoys your husband/wife??
If your spouse were famous, what would he/she be known for??

It was a a delightful evening, 12 old friends, most of us married around 40 years, and I appreciated my Larry all the more by the time the evening was over.

And– we had this bright salad–full of a lot of my favorite tastes.  It’s hearty enough to be dinner on its own– or just part of a big festive dinner with friends!


6 cups chopped green leaf lettuce*
1/4 pound hard salami, thickly sliced & chopped
3 oz. feta with herbs, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup good mixed cured olives

1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. white balsamic**
1 tsp. honey
3 tab. parmesan romano
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


Spread the greens in a large salad bowl and top with the other salad ingredients.

In a container with a closed lid, shake together the dressing ingredients until they are thoroughly blended.  Pour over the salad just before you are ready to serve and do just a bit of tossing to coat all the salad.  (This amount makes 6 servings)  Enjoy!


Tomato Zucchini Ricotta Pizza


Hi there–Went over the Jac & Jackie’s for dinner with a table of friends this week.  There were huge fragrant sales of lasagne and a bright summer salad for dinner.  And to start us off with a little glass of celebratory bubbly wine (one more retirement toast!!), I brought along this “pizza.”  It’s more of an appetizer than a full meal, cut into small slices, but could be a lovely summer lunch or supper as well.


Crust (makes enough for 2 12″ pizza crusts):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Cheese Topping:
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (about 2 oz.)
3 tab. chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tab. milk

Tomatoes & Zucchini:
1 pint small tomatoes (varied colors are nice)
1 small zucchini
3 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
a little more chopped basil for garnish

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch half the dough onto a 12″ pizza pans that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Wrap the other half of the dough in saran and save for another pizza soon.  Cook the dough for 7 minutes at 350 degrees without toppings.

While it’s cooking, mix the ricotta, feta, 3 tab. chopped basil, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt and milk in a bowl.  Set it aside.

Slice the Tomatoes and lay the slices onto a paper towel to drain off extra moisture.  Then with a peeler, shave the zucchini not thin slices.  Mix the zucchini and with 1 1/2 tab. olive oil.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the partially cooked crust.  Layer the zucchini over the top.

Then in a bowl, coat the tomatoes with the other 1 1/2 tab. of olive oil and layer them over the zucchini.  Season with salt & freshly ground pepper.

Pop the pizza into the 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is browned and the ricotta is bubbly.
Sprinkle on a little more chopped basil when you pull it from the oven.  Cut in slices and serve hot.

Sugar Snap Pea & Farro Salad


Hello — Staying at our Ani’s house last week, we pretty much went through a big bag of sugar snap peas from Costco.  So crispy and sweet.  And I’ve had them in mind ever since.  So I picked up some up at Sprouts for this salad– bright lettuces, sweet sugar snap peas, salty feta all on a base of hearty faro.  Simple but satisfying.

1/2 cup farro
pinch of salt
3 to 4 cups baby lettuces*
1/3 pound sugar snap peas (about 1 cup)
2 tab. feta

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. cider vinegar
1 tsp. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


Cook the faro according to the directions on the package. Mine simmered 20 minutes with a cup of water and a pinch of salt.  When it’s tender, rinse it under cold water to cool it down.

Layer the lettuce, faro, peas and feta on a plate.

In a container with a tight fitting lid shake together the olive oil, vinegar, honey and salt & pepper until it’s completely blended.  Pour it over the salad just before you set it on the table.   Fresh and bright!


Antipasto Pasta

Hi there– yesterday was Valentines Day– Hope someone gave you a hug and handed you a mug of tea.  We had a group of friends in Saturday for a Valentines dinner– Jeff brought a Valentine quiz and I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much.  Sat over a fancy supper for the friends and talked late– but the truth is that most everyday dinners with my valentine, Larry, are simple like this one…

Around here we love a tableful of antipasto– savory little plates to launch into the meal.  But on weekday evenings, there’s not too many leisurely multi course dinners at our house!  So this dish rolls the antipasto and pasta all into one meatless plateful.  And it’s lovely that the whole things can be put together in about 20 minutes.

8 oz. pasta (your favorite!)*
1 smallish onion, chopped fine
3 tab. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes with garlic & onions
14 oz. can small white beans
1/2 cup mixed brined olives
1/2 cup feta, in small cubes

Put the water on to boil for the pasta. Salt it liberally.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and drop in the chopped onion.  Stir and let it cook 3 or 4 minutes until it starts to brown.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook 1 minute more.

Then pour in the tomatoes (including the juices in the can). Rinse and drain the white beans and add them in too.  Simmer on low for 5 minutes or so until the pasta is cooked.

Drain the pasta and spread it on a pretty platter.  Mix the feta and olives into the sauce at the last minute and then pour it all over the pasta.  Eat it hot!  Delicious!

*my favorite is always angel hair– but any pasta will do…


Tomato Ricotta Tart

Hello all– Since we are tardy tomato planters around here, we still have a bit of a crop coming in out back.  So when the teachers at school had a TGIF last Friday to celebrate the first two weeks of school completed with no major mishaps, I grabbed a few tomatoes from the yard (And some orange ones from the market) to make this happy tart.

You know all those bright colors just look like cheerful food.  And the salty feta, pungent rosemary and flaky pastry.  It’s just fine to go with a glass of wine and lots of frenetic, noisy conversation.  (thanks Kim for making us all laugh and Maryann for having us all in– it was the best!)


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 package)
4 oz. feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped to bits
1 tsp. chopped rosemary (or your favorite herb)
plus a sprig of rosemary for garnish
1 pint cherry tomatoes,* sliced in rounds
a couple shakes of garlic salt
2 tab. olive oil
1/4 tsp more chopped rosemary

Defrost the sheet of puff pastry (I left it overnight in the fridge)– and then carefully unfold it and set it onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Score a border about 1/2″ in from the edge of the pastry.  And poke the center inside the border all across with the the tines of a fork.

Then pop the pastry into a 400 degree oven for just ten minutes until the pastry browns.

Take if from the oven and sprinkle on the feta.  Top that with the roasted red pepper bits.  Sprinkle the 1 tsp. chopped rosemary over the top and then settle on the sliced tomatoes.

Sprinkle on a few shakes of garlic salt and put it bake into the 400 degree oven for about 5 to 10 minutes more.

Take it out and drizzle on the olive oil.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 tsp. of chopped rosemary and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.

Good served hot or room temperature.  Enjoy!!



Peach & Faro Spinach Salad

4 oz. baby spinach leaves (about 1/2 bag)
2 ripe yellow peaches
1/2 cup uncooked faro
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup salted almonds, cut in half
1/4 cup feta, crumbled*
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or red wine vinegar)**
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tab. maple syrup

Put the faro in a pot with a little more than 3/4 cup of water and the 1/8 tsp. salt.  Bring it to a boil and cook about 8 minutes.  Pour it into a large sieve and rinse to cool it down.

On a pretty platter, layer the spinach, faro, peaches, almonds and feta.

Whisk together the oil vinegar, slat & pepper and maple syrup until they are thoroughly emulsified.  And pour over the salad when you are ready to set it on the table.

P.S.– We had this all on  it’s own for supper, but if you wanted to make it a little more hearty, add in a cup of cooked, chopped chicken or salmon.

*I like the feta with garlic & herbs, but plain feta is fine.
**Tarragon vinegar has a gaslight sweetness that is nice with the peaches, and I’ve used red wine vinegar as well.  Both are nice.


Squash & Kale Salad

IMG_2778Hi there– It’s been nothing but gray skies and rain around here the last couple days–  but in dry, dry Southern California, we’re thrilled to see all that wet stuff coming out of the sky!  And to combat all that gray gloom, here’s a bright spritely salad.  Love all the colors and textures and tastes– the roasted squash, sweet berries, salty feta, crunchy seeds.  It really is a mouthful.

3 or 4 kale leaves, chopped fine
10 oz. (about 2 cups) butternut squash, peeled & cut in small cubes
3 tab. olive oil
garlic salt
dried basil
1/4 cup dried cranberries, minced
1/4 cup herbed feta, crumbled
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. cider vinegar
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tsp. apricot jam
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a bowl mix the squash with the 3 tab. olive oil, a few shakes of garlic salt and a pinch of dried basil.  When the squash is well coated, spoon it on to a baking sheet and scape all the extra olive oil from the bowl over the squash.  Bake it at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until the squash begins to brown around the edges.  Let is cool.

Then layer the chopped kale, roasted squash, cranberries, feta and pumpkin seeds onto a pretty plate.

In a container with a tight lid, shake together the 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, jam and salt & pepper– until it is thoroughly blended.

Pour the dressing over the salad and serve it up– Makes two or three big servings.

Tangerine, Avocado Salad with Feta

IMG_2229Hi friends– We eat a whole lot of salads around here.  Salad with soup, salad with pasta, salad with meat & potatoes kinds of meals.  So it’s helpful to have a long list of possible, interchangeable  salad ingredients. As much as I love those little cute tangerines, I’d never popped one into a salad until I ran across a tangerine salad in a magazine.  Here’s my version– bright sweet tangerines, creamy avocado and salty feta with a gentle tangerine dressing.  It’s quite nice.


3 tab. tangerine juice (one tangerine)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar (or your favorite mild vinegar)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red onion, finely minced

In a container with a tight lid, shake all the dressing ingredients together until they are thoroughly blended.

4 cups of greens (we used red leaf lettuce)
4 small tangerines, peeled and sliced
1 avocado
3 tab. crumbled feta with garlic and herbs

Layer the greens, tangerines, avocado and feta on a pretty plate and douse it with dressing just before serving.

Browned Eggplant with Tomatoes, Olives & Feta

IMG_2050Hi there– I found this recipe in a magazine while I was sitting waiting at the ophthalmologist’s office for an eye exam.  (I guess a good recipe is some small compensation for a trip to the doctor!!)  Tempted as I was to tear out the page with the instructions, I took my waiting to time to commit it to memory (more of less) and here it is!

We’ve still got summer tomatoes at the market and who can resist a happy purple eggplant?  Made it up for dinner with some grilled talpia and a seedy chunk of bread.  Just about right for a warm end of the summer evening…

1 plump purple eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green heirloom tomato
1 red heirloom tomato
1/2 cup feta with herbs & garlic, cut in chunks
1/2 cup mixed olives
a splash more olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (cut if large)
salt & freshly ground pepper

IMG_2032Cut the eggplant into 1/4″ slices and set them on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Put it under the broiler on medium heat for 5 minutes and then flip the pieces of eggplant and broil for 5 minutes more.  (I had the rack about 10″ below the broiling unit– keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn!)

While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes into pretty thin slices.

When he eggplant is done, brush both sides with the 1/4 cup olive oil and arrange the slices on a plate with the tomatoes.  Scatter the olives, feta and basil over the top of it all and give it a good splash of olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt & pepper.

Makes plenty for 4 people (maybe 6).

Peachy Avocado Salad

IMG_1261Hello all–  Love this bright salad– wakes up everything else on your dinner plate.  We’ve been throwing peaches in salads a lot lately– seems they’ve been especially sweet and juicy this year.  Those sweet peaches and blueberries are just right against the salty feta and that tangy tarragon dressing–smoothed out with luscious ripe avocado and those nibbles of edamame.  Summer perfect.

4 cups greens
1 ripe peach, pitted & cut in chunks
1 avocado, pitted & cut in chunks
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
1/3 cup herbed feta
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar
1 tap. sugar
salt & freshly group pepper to taste

In a pretty bowl, layer the greens, peaches, avocado, blueberries, edamame & feta.

Then in a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper.  Pour it over the salad just before you’re ready to eat.  Enjoy!

Avocado, Garbanzo and Feta Salad with Lime Dressing

IMG_1001Hi there–  Sometimes in the summer, it’s easier to “gather” dinner than to do much full on cooking.  So last night we had a picnic dinner– a board with a couple cheeses, salami, ham, olives, sliced tomatoes with balsamic dressing, fruit and a crunchy loaf of bread to sop it all up,  and– this little salad, rich and so full of flavor– creamy avocados, smooth garbanzos with the bright lime dressing.  Pretty darn good.

2  14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
3 large avocados, cut in smallish chunks
1/2 cup crumbled feta –with garlic & herbs|
1 lime, juiced  (about 3 tab. juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
few grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tsp. seedy mustard

Stir together the garbanzos, avocado and feta.

Then in a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the lime juice, oil, salt, sugar, pepper and mustard until it’s well blended.

Pour the lime juice dressing over the garbanzo mixture and stir it up.  You can serve it at room temperature, as is, but it benefits from a little chilling in the fridge.  Delicious!

P.S.  If you have a loaf of sturdy bread on the table, sopping up the extra lime dressing with a hunk of bread is heartily recommended!


Chicken, Hominy & Avocado Salad

IMG_9292Hi all– I really didn’t know what to call this salad we had for dinner– So I just picked out my 3 favorite ingredients and tossed them into the title.  It does have a lot of other yummy things in there too, including a lime-cilantro dressing.  Use a roasted chicken from the market and it’s dinner on the table in 20 minutes.   Summer time dinner- easy, fast & fresh.

1/2  chicken from the market, already roasted*
6 cups of your favorite greens
14 oz. can yellow hominy**
1 avocado (or 2 if you love them as much as we do)
12 cup diced red bell pepper
14 cup radish, sliced thin

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large lime, juiced
a few shakes of salt
a few grinds of freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. sugar
3 tab. cilantro, chopped fine

Take the chicken off of the bone and chop it into nice little chunks>

Then on a pretty platter, layer the greens, chicken, hominy, avocado, red pepper and radishes.

Shake the dressing ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid until it is thoroughly blended.

Dress the salad just before you serve it-  Happy summer eating!!

*We used the other half of the chicken for tacos the next night.
** If you don’t know hominy — It’s in the Mexican section of the market– like BIG kernels of corn that have a potato-ish edge to their flavor.  I think it tastes nice & homey.

Brussel Sprout Salad with Feta, Olives and Salami

IMG_7599Hello friends–  The years we lived in Seville we attended a small church near the center of town.  When we’d come out into the bright Seville sunshine on a Sunday at noon, there on the sidewalk would be a small cart manned by our friendly olive vendor– We’d peer into the tubs of olives, all shapes and hues– seasoned with garlic or herbs, lemon or red pepper…  We’d buy a plastic sleeve of our favorites and munch them on the way home to lunch.  I’m such an olive fan– and they were the best.  I’m wishing we could visit our olive man again.

So here’s a salad where the olives shine– against the gentle flavor of the Brussel sprouts, the saltiness of the cheese and that garlicky salami.  With a nice chunk of sturdy bread, it makes a flavorful dinner.


10 Brussel sprouts
2 oz. dry salami, cut to bits
1/3 cup mixed cured olives
1/3 cup feta with herbs, cut in cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. white balsamic vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil

Cut the Brussel sprouts into shreds and sprinkle them on a serviceable  platter.  Layer on the salami, olives and feta.

Then in a container with a tight lid, put together the oil, balsamic, salt and pepper to taste and the basil.  Shake it while you anticipate the beautiful salad– until it’s thoroughly blended and pour it over the plate.  Time to eat…

Fig & Feta Salad

IMG_5167Hello all-  Figs– even their name is fun.  Sweet and shapely, with that darkish purple skin hiding all the speckledy pink tucked inside.  I’ll tell you in our small town they are a little hard to find, but I tracked some down this week and made a bright little salad to go with our chicken chili when friends came for lunch on Sunday.

8 or 10 sweet ripe figs
salad greens, torn to pieces
1/4 cup crumbled feta*
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
dash of salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar

Pop the pine nuts into a 350 degree oven for just 2 or 3 minutes to toast them (please do keep your eye on them–they can burn easily).  Layer the salad greens, figs, feta and pine nuts on a pretty platter.  In a container with a lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar until they are completely blended and drizzle the dressing over the salad just before you serve it up.


Makes plenty for 4 servings of salad as a side dish.

*I had feta with lemon and herbs, nice and fresh on this salad.

Sliver Pizza

IMG_2501Hello Friends–  I wish I could call you and just say, “Let’s meet up at Sliver in Berkeley for a chat over their scrumptious pizza!”  It’s one of those interesting places that makes just one kind of pizza each day and it’s always a good one, whatever they come up with.  The day my Ani and I dropped in for lunch they had this fresh summery version and it decidedly delicious!

They list the ingredients on a chalkboard every day so you can anticipate what’s coming out of the oven.  This one had yellow summer squash, yellow corn, red onion…  So here’s my best copy cat pizza.  It’s the next best things to a day of pizza with Ani in Berkeley.

Crust (makes 2 crusts):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

IMG_2526Toppings (enough for 2 pizzas):
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh corn, cutoff the cob
2 yellow summer squash. cut to smallish chunks
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped to small bits
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
4 oz. feta, crumbled
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine

Blend the olive oil with the minced garlic and spread it over the prepared crusts.  Then layer on the squash, corn, red onion and red pepper.  Cover that with the mozzarella and feta.  Pop it into a 375 degree over for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese just begins to bubble and the crust is browned around the edges.  Sprinkle the cilantro over the cooked pizzas and serve it piping hot!




Here’s Ani and the yummy pizza from Sliver– It’s as good as it looks!



*warm water, not too hot, just about the right temperature for a baby’s bath.

Summer Salad with Apricot Dressing

Hi all– I love this bright, happy salad, perfect for dinner out on the picnic table.  But the best part is the dressing.  This recipe started when I picked up Ani for lunch at her office in San Francisco this week, we landed at a little sidewalk shop for especially yummy salad/sandwiches.  So this is my attempt to copy the luscious dressing on that salad.  I think it came out just fine.

red leaf lettuce
2 plums
2 apricots
1 avocado

1/3 cup olive oil
1/6 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tab. apricot jam
1 tsp. seeded brown mustard (with lots of seeds!)
2 tab. pumpkin seeds (or more if you love them like I do)

Layer the fruit and avocado on a platter over the torn up lettuce.  Then shake up all the dressing ingredients in a jar until it emulsifies. Pour it over the salad just before serving.