When one of my lovely girlfriends visited me awhile back, I made this salad for lunch. It’s quite easy, and the combination of cantaloupe, avocado, prosciutto, and pine nuts is amazing. Gone, gone, gone!

6 cups baby spinach

1 lb grilled chicken tenderloins, sliced thin and chilled

4 cups diced cantaloupe

2 avocados, diced

4 oz prosciutto, chopped

1/4 cup diced red onion (optional)

2 oz pine nuts

Dressing suggestion: Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette (yes, I’m recommending it again)

1) Prepare each salad as follows: spread spinach on plate and top with chicken, cantaloupe, avocado, prosciutto, red onion, and pine nuts; serve with dressing of your choice

Now wasn’t that easy?

Servings: 4

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 07/05/12–the one that disappeared into a black hole (which is the reason WordPress and I met up).


Ooh, warm weather coming, and that means lighter, cooler meals. This Albacore Chickpea Spinach Salad fits the bill. And it’s so easy to put together. I did get thumbs up from my guys, but I’m the real fan here. Yum!



2-7 oz cans Albacore tuna packed in water, drained

1-14 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

3 green onions, sliced thin

3 Roma tomatoes, diced small

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced small

1 cucumber, peeled and diced small

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

4 cups fresh baby spinach

1) Gently mix all ingredients, except spinach, in a large bowl

2) Divide spinach between 4 plates; top with tuna-chickpea mixture; and enjoy!

Servings: 4



Junior Too was in the mood for tuna salad, so the two of us teamed up in the kitchen and added pear, Craisins, and pecans to cans of Albacore tuna. Since he isn’t keen on Dijon mustard, we left that out of his portion. However, with or without Dijon, the result is a hearty yet refreshing salad–and no leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Sad…

Pear-Craisin-Pecan Tuna Salad

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced small

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 tbsp chopped parsley

4-7 oz cans Albacore Tuna, drained

4 cups baby spinach

Optional dressing (Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette is a lovely addition)

1) To large bowl, add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix well

2) Stir pear, celery, Craisins, pecans, and parsley into mayonnaise mixture

3) Gently stir tuna into mayonnaise-pear mixture

4) Divide spinach between four plates and top each serving with tuna mixture; serve with or without dressing and enjoy

Servings: 4 hearty dinner-sized portions


This Steak Bruschetta Spinach Salad is the first of three salads on my latest 9-dinner menu. It was perfect after a warm, humid day since I fired up the outdoor grill to keep my kitchen cool. Though I whipped up an Apricot-Dijon vinaigrette (pictured), Junior Too chose a Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette and it was tastier. A blue cheese dressing would also be terrific. Enjoy and stay cool!

Steak Bruschetta Spinach Salad

12 slices baguette, about 1/2″ thick

2 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

ground black pepper

1 lb boneless top sirloin steak

4 cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup roasted red peppers (I used bottled), small dice

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (or feta–Senior and Junior Too don’t “do” blue)

1) Fire up your grill

2) Brush both sides of baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; place on grill and grill 1-2 minutes each side until lightly toasted and golden; remove from grill and set aside

3) Place steak on grill and cook to desired doneness

4) Meanwhile, divide spinach between 4 plates and top with baguette slices

5) Remove steak from grill and let sit 5 minutes; slice thin and divide between baguette slices; scatter red peppers and blue cheese crumbles on top; serve with dressing of your choice

Servings: 4


My mother and sister flew in for Junior’s graduation. Though I had planned to grill ribeye steaks, the hour was late and it seemed better to enjoy steaks on Friday night instead so we could linger over them without having a work day hanging over our heads. So I opened my newly-stocked refrigerator and tossed together this salad–pretty, tasty, and light. As for dressing, I turned to our favorite standby, Ken’s Steak House dressings: Blue, Ranch, and Raspberry Vinaigrette. Perfect!

Graduation Salad

8 cups fresh spinach

4 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded

2 mini bell peppers (read and yellow), sliced thin into rings

1 cup matchstick carrots

1-1/2 cups strawberries, sliced

1 mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped

1 orange, peeled and diced

2 kiwis, peeled and chopped

1-1/2 cups deli-sliced turkey breast, diced

3/4 cup reduced-fat feta

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1) Easiest recipe ever (well, aside from the chopping, slicing, and dicing). Put everything in a large salad bowl, toss, and serve with your favorite dressing or a nice variety of dressings

Servings: 6

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/18/12.


Senior brought home plums in bulk. After several days of making little more than a dent in those lovely fruits, I decided to turn some of them into dinner. And so…Caramelized Plum-Onion-Bacon Spinach Salad. Good move! Great taste! Though I opted for chunks of fresh mozzarella and it was tasty, I’m thinking shaved parmesan or crumbled gorgonzola would be right up there with yum.
Caramelized Plum-Onion-Bacon Spinach Salad4 slices turkey bacon

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 red onion, chopped

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 plums, sliced thin

1/2 cup Craisins

8 cups baby spinach

6 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped (or shaved parmesan or crumbled gorgonzola)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1) In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until lightly crisp; remove from skillet, chop, and set aside

2) To same skillet (don’t wipe clean) over medium heat, add olive oil and butter; when butter melts and begins to sizzle, add onion and sea salt and cook 15 minutes, stirring often, until onions soften and are lightly browned; add plums and Craisins and, stirring occasionally, cook 5 minutes; remove from heat and let cool 5-10 minutes

3) Divide ingredients between 4 plates in this order: spinach, onion-plum-Craisin mixture, bacon, mozzarella, and pecans; serve with a nice vinaigrette and enjoy!

Servings: 4


This meal started off as a salad version of a Muffuletta sandwich, but when I came up short on a few ingredients, I decided to indulge in a fridge and pantry raid rather than waste time and gas running to the grocery store. Did the indulgence pay off? Yep. My guys—and I–cleaned our plates.

Indulgence Salad

5 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

3 cups fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup grated or matchstick carrots

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup chopped cucumber

3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes

1-1/2 cups croutons (I made mine–sliced baguette, spray olive oil, salt, pepper, and toasting in the oven–but store bought saves time)

1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini

1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives

3/4 cup sliced green olives with pimientos

2 green onions, sliced thin

1-1/2 cup diced ham

1 cup diced provolone cheese

1 cup diced salami

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 tbsp capers

2 tbsp pine nuts

1) Set out four plates (or make one pass-around-the table salad in a large bowl)

2) Providing you’ve done all your chopping, grating, dicing, and slicing, assembly is a cinch. Simply layer each salad in order of ingredients listed, then serve with your favorite salad dressing and settle down to a meal of indulgence.

Servings: 4


While cruising through The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook by the Podleski sisters, I came across a spinach salad featuring mandarin oranges that looked too good to pass up. I tweaked a little and my guys ate a lot.

Mandarin Orange-Bacon-Egg Spinach Salad (2)

Salad without Red Onion-Balsamic Dressing

Mandarin Orange-Bacon-Egg Spinach Salad

Salad with Red Onion-Balsamic Dressing

6 oz fresh baby spinach

1-1/2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms

1-15 oz can mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained (but save the syrup–you’ll need it for the dressing)

4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced thin

1/2 cup feta cheese

8 slices turkey bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 of a medium-sized red onion, sliced thin

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1) To large salad bowl add: spinach, mushrooms, mandarin oranges, eggs, and feta cheese; refrigerate

2) To large skillet over medium-high heat, add bacon and fry until crisp; remove from heat, let cool several minutes, and chop; scatter over spinach salad (top picture shows salad without dressing)

3) Return bacon-coated skillet to stove, add olive oil, and heat over medium-high; add onion and, stirring often, cook 8-10 minutes until onions soften and begin to caramelize; reduce heat to low and add reserved mandarin orange syrup, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard; stirring occasionally, cook 5-6 minutes until dressing reduces slightly; remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes; drizzle onion-balsamic dressing over spinach salad, and toss (second picture shows salad with dressing); serve immediately


Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions


This was a winner at our Christmas dinner, so much that I’ll probably serve it again for New Year’s dinner. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is, after all, a Southern tradition. Thank goodness it’s such a tasty one!

Black Eyed Pea-Sun Dried Tomato Spinach Salad2

1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped (reserve 3 tbsp oil)

1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

6 cups baby spinach

1) In medium-sized bowl mix: black-eyed peas, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, vinegar, reserved sun-dried tomato oil, and mustard; refrigerate 1 hour

2) Place spinach in large salad bowl, spoon black-eyed pea mixture on top and lightly toss; serve

Servings: 6-8 as a side


Sam’s Club: Four big, beautiful pomegranates for $7.98. Meaning I’m in a pomegranate state of mind and these sweet and snappy little fruits (er, arils) will likely figure into my recipes over the next week–unless Junior Too gets his hands on them. In the meantime, here’s a wonderful way to work pomegranates into a salad-as-entree that had my guys–and me–spearing forkful after forkful right down to the bottom of the bowl.

6 cups baby spinach (or a mix of spinach and romaine–Junior Too’s preference)

1/2 cup matchstick carrots

3 cups deli-roasted chicken, chopped (I used breasts only)

8 slices cooked bacon, chopped

4 oz block swiss cheese, sliced thin and cut into bite-size pieces

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

1-1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils) (about 1 large seeded pomegranate)

Dressing of your choice (but–really!–give Ken’s Steakhouse Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette a try–it’s perfect with the pomegranate seeds)

Optional: Pine nuts (wish I’d had some)

1) Assemble 4 salads, equally dividing ingredients between them, as follows: spinach, carrots, chicken, bacon, swiss cheese, avocado, pomegranate seeds (and pine nuts if you some laying around); serve with dressing of your choice (a vinaigrette is a good choice)

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions