Simple Side Salad

Simple Side Salad | ericajulson.com

I try to make it a habit to eat veggies at least 3x per day.

That could mean breakfast-lunch-dinner, or it could just be lunch & dinner with a snack or two sprinkled in.

This is important, since the typical American diet is sorely lacking in fresh produce- especially green leafy veg! Did you know that nearly 1/4th of the general American public (22.6%) doesn’t even consume veggies once per day?? At the very minimum, you should aim for 2-3 cups of vegetables each and every day.

Vegetables are truly nature’s medicine.

They provide us with powerful phytochemicals that slash our risk of developing many chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and even dementia. We co-evolved alongside plants, and our body literally requires them for good health!

One of the easiest ways to include some veg at dinner is to serve a simple side salad.

Now I’m not talking anything crazy. No need to dice a zillion vegetables or labor over a complicated dressing.

In fact, my favorite simple side salad is just that.

Simple.

It features fresh delicate baby greens tossed with a classic red wine vinaigrette.

And that’s it. No heavy vegetables or add-ins. Just lightly dressed baby greens.

And don’t be deceived. Although this salad is super simple, it’s also crazy delicious.

The homemade vinaigrette is the perfect complement to the slight bite of tender greens. The tang from the vinegar, creaminess from the Dijon, and delectable hint of garlic on the back end make this salad seriously addictive.

Try serving this Simple Side Salad alongside pasta dishes, grilled meats, or even at family gatherings. But watch out, it disappears quickly!

Favorite Simple Side Salad Recipe | ericajulson.com

Simple Side Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz mixed baby greens
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Season with fresh cracked salt & pepper to taste and whisk again until well combined.
  2. Place the baby greens in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with just enough dressing to coat. (Be careful not to over-dress or you’ll end up with a limp salad!)
  3. Serve immediately.

 

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Herbed Garlic Bread

herbed garlic bread | ericajulson.com

Every family has their go-to garlic bread recipe.

And there’s totally two different garlic bread camps.

  1. The soft, fluffy buttery garlic bread that is baked wrapped in foil, with the two halves of the loaf tightly wrapped together to steam & meld the flavors.
  2. The crispy, crunchy garlic bread that is baked open faced, to develop a nice crust & golden bubbly top.

I don’t know about you, but I fall into the crispy camp 🙂

There’s truly nothing better than warm buttery garlic bread with a soft center and crunchy flaky crust.

While there’s nothing wrong with the classic butter + garlic combination, I’ve recently been obsessed with this herbed variety.

When preparing the buttery garlic spread, you simply add a small handful of fresh parsley & basil. This creates a vibrant green delicious spread that takes garlic bread to a whole new level.

The herbs add a kick of flavor and freshness that traditional garlic breads lack.

Try this herbed variety next time you’re baking some garlic bread. And don’t be surprised if it turns into your new family favorite!

Herbed Garlic Bread
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 
Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup mixed herbs I used half basil, half parsley, packed
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sourdough or French bread load
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small food processor, blend together the butter, herbs, garlic, salt, and olive oil until evenly combined.
  3. Cut the loaf of bread in half, lengthwise. Spread half of the herbed butter mixture on each side.
  4. Place the loaves in the oven, buttered side up, directly on the oven racks (this makes for a crispier crust). Cook for about 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
  5. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and cut into slices.

 

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Pasta with Sausage and Fennel Fronds

Have you ever tried fennel fronds?

There are a zillion recipes out there using fennel bulbs, but very few that use the stalks and fennel fronds.

But they ARE edible. Even delicious!

They have that anise flavor, but are significantly less pungent than the bulb. And just like the bulb, that licorice-y taste diminishes as you cook it. Since the fronds especially are so thin and delicate, they are perfect after just a slight saute.

So here we go. A recipe using fennel fonds 🙂

You can just rip the fronds off the stalks of fennel from the store, OR if you are lucky enough to live in California and are feeling adventurous, there is plenty of wild fennel around, just ripe for the picking.

Case in point: Wild fennel seen during a hike in Livermore.

Wild Fennel in Livermore, CA

Please note: Wild fennel is different than the kind you get in the store. There is no bulb! So don’t try to dig it up (I learned this the hard way…). Just pluck off the fennel fronds and be on your merry way. Just be sure to wash them very very well before you use them!

This is a really simple recipe. Follow the picture steps and see the full recipe and health tip below!

First, pluck off all the fennel fronds from 2 large fennel stalks or gather a bunch from the wild:

Fennel Fronds and Bulbs

Then chop them all up.

Chopped and washed fennel fronds

Next, prep the sausage. Slit them down the center with a sharp knife to cut through the casing:

Slicing Hot Italian Sausage

Then remove the casing and crumble into your pan (the smaller the better so you don’t have to do as much breaking up with your spatula while cooking).

Removing Casing from Italian Sausage

After browning, add the garlic and fennel fronds.

Sausage with Garlic and Fennel Fronds

Then cook for a couple minutes.

Cooked Sausage with Garlic and Fennel Fronds

Then add the pasta, some pasta water to create a sauce, and some yummy cheese. Season with pepper and enjoy!

pasta with sausage and fennel fronds

Health Tip: The compound in fennel responsible for that classic licorice flavor is called anethole. A study conducted out of the University of Texas in the year 2000 showed that anethole is able to block many TNF (tumor necrosis factor) cellular pathways that can increase inflammation. Anethole has been suggested to work as an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compound. (source here)

Pasta with Sausage and Fennel Fronds
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or safflower oil for low salicylates)
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage, crumbled
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 lb bowtie pasta
  • 1/4 cup pasta cooking water
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan-romano cheese blend
  • ground pepper to taste (omit if salicylate sensitive)
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the olive oil and sausage to a large nonstick skillet. Heat over medium-high heat and cook for 8-10 minutes until browned. Take care to break up the sausage into small pieces with your spatula.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions, usually about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and fennel fronds to the sausage and cook for 3-5 minutes more until garlic is fragrant. Then reduce the heat to low.  

  5. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest of the pasta.

  6. Add the cooking water and pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. Sprinkle on the cheese and toss again to combine. 

  7. Season with pepper and serve (with additional cheese if desired).

 

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Pasta with Sausage and Fennel Fronds