Tag Archives: salad

Moksa, Central Sq

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Moksa – 450 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Oh hi! Its been a while, I know. That’s what a new, demanding job will do to you. Don’t get me wrong, I have continued to go out and eat my way through the city, take food photos, make notes, and write up drafts, but the sitting down and cleaning them up part has been something I am struggling with. Ok, enough about me, lets talk about stuffing our faces at Moksa in Central Sq.

I was stoked (stoked? Who am I?) when Moksa opened up in Central Sq last year. Having lived in Central Sq for years its fantastic to see all these new places popping up. We paid a visit to Moksa a couple of months after they opened and were looking forward to a few cocktails and nibbles after work. It was fairly nice out so we sat outside and kept sitting there for what seemed like forever until someone came over to take our drink order. I got the Peking Sailor which is Hendricks Gin, Campari, Elderflower Vinegar, Bubbly and Cucumber (they had me at Gin and Bubbly). The drink was ok, not sure it was my favorite thing ever (I switched to wine right after) but how it was served was hilarious. I don’t think it was meant to be ironically funny but when the waitress came out with these big glasses brimming with umbrellas and tchotchkes (thanks for the spell check, BL!) I couldn’t help but blush and look around hoping no one had seen the ridiculous cocktail I was about to drink. I mean, we are two women in their 30s in Central Sq, not at Senor Frogs on Spring Break in Cancun. I understand how many may like this sort of attention but it’s just not our thing. After much giggling we moved on to the menu and waited for our waitress again.

We decided to share a few small plates starting with the Vietnamese Spring Roll with Cilantro-Lime Sauce. This dish was delivered to the wrong table but eventually found its way to us. The Spring Rolls were pretty simple, fresh and overall pretty good, probably the best thing we ordered.

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Next we got the Thai Green Papaya and Mango Salad with Peanuts, Mint & Chili Lime dressing. Unfortunately neither of us were really a fan of this one. It was a little bland and the peanuts on the soft side which didn’t add that crunch we were hoping for. Next.

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I had the highest hopes for this next dish, the Popcorn Shrimp with Spicy Remoulade. If you know me at all you know I always lean towards shrimp dishes whether they are fried, buffaloed (yes, I am making that a verb), grilled, tossed with pasta, however you want to make them I will eat them. I’m pretty much the white nerdy version of Bubba from Forrest Gump.  Anyways, popcorn shrimp is one of my favorites and adding remoulade to any fried food makes it a baller dish, I could eat that shit by the spoonful.

The remoulade was fantastic but the shrimp were super dry. They were on a small salad that added some moisture but then they sat on top of another dry bready thing. Too much breading on the shrimp which contributed to the dryness. Pass me my recockulous cocktail to get this to go down, please.

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We wrapped up the night with the Vegetarian Fried Rice with Carrots, Onion & Sake Shoyu. Totally fine but nothing to write home about.

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After dinner we sat with empty glasses for over 20 minutes before we got up and went inside to ask them if we could pay. Can we please pay? Please? We’d like to give you money. Okthanks.

Needless to say, we weren’t fans of the service or food. I’ve heard the dance club in the back is decent and recently had a friend who got the bartender to swap shoes with her so she could go in (no flip-flops allowed) which has boosted my opinion but I think I’ll be going down the road for food in the future.

How did Moksa measure up? 2 Spoons!

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Amelias Trattoria, Kendall Sq

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Amelia’s Trattoria – 111 Harvard Street ,  Cambridge, MA

Girls night!! I had really been looking forward to this particular girls night out with some of my favorite women in development and was excited to try Amelia’s Trattoria, which happened to be just a couple blocks from my new office. Perfect.

Amelia’s is tucked away on Harvard Street near Kendall Sq just behind Tech Sq. Its unlikely that you would find it just wandering around which is what contributes to the fact that you can actually get a table easily. We made a reservation and trickled in slowly just after. We were promptly seated and had had a very patient waiter as we mulled over the menu while waiting for our party to arrive. The chef even agreed to make us bruschetta even though it wasn’t on the dinner menu.

So we started with the Bruschetta -Grilled foccacia bread, marinated tomatoes, fresh basil & red onion. Personally, I didn’t love this dish. I thought the bread was a little hard and a little too big (hence making it messy). The marinated tomatoes were delicious though, I could eat that right off the plate – who needs bread anyways?

We then split two dishes to get more variety for our buck. We started with the Baby Spinach Salad – Baby spinach, caramelized balsamic shallots, crispy pancetta & Vermont goat cheese. Re-read that. I mean, can it get any better than that combination? This salad was delicious – salty, crispy, tart, and creamy.

We then shared a Lobster Ravioli dish which was one of Amelia’s daily specials that night. If I can give Amelia’s one piece of unsolicited advice it would be to get this item on the menu permanently. It was delicious. The raviolis were tender and meaty and the sauce creamy and bursting with flavor. I loved how saucy it was as there was just enough leftover for me to mop up with some bread. Its a keeper.

Overall, I was impressed with the ravioli and salad dishes but a little let down by our starter. Service was great and I would recommend Amelia’s for lunch, dinner, groups, or a date. The restaurant is small, giving it a cozy feel, and I can imagine sitting by the window watching snow fall with a big hot plate of pasta. I’ll be back.

How did Amelia’s Trattoria measure up? 3.25 Spoons!

 

Amelia's Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Cambridge Common, Harvard Sq

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Where: Cambridge Common– 1667 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138
When: September 2012

I used to be a brunch person going almost every weekend -t was my Sunday equivalent of church. I would roll out of bed, put on my Sunday worst (sweatshirt, sneaks, ponytail) and head down to Sound Bites around the corner for something delicious and typically greasy. This would usually be followed by a few hours on the sofa watching mind numbing tv as I was too full to do anything else. Why did I stop, right?

Well, I moved to a different part of town but I still jump at the chance to go out for brunch so was thrilled when a friend was in town at the last minute and suggested meeting up on Sunday morning. In shorts, tees and ponytails we headed to Cambridge Common to check out their brunch menu. We sat outside in the sunshine which was just perfect. They had me at Breakfast B.L.T.

The Breakfast B.L.T. comes with applewood smoked bacon, fried egg, avocado, baby spinach, and tomato with chipotle mayo on multi-grain toast and is served with home fries and fresh fruit. The combination of the salty bacon and egg with the buttery avocado and spicy mayo is out of this world. It’s a good sized sandwich but doesn’t leave you feeling like you just ate a whole cow. The home fries were good as well – nice and crispy.

Overall, service was good and we got plenty of coffee refills (perhaps too many even). We were happy to able to sit outside as its a little dark indoors (great for nighttime though). Food was crave worthy. I’ll be back, as I always am.

How did Cambridge Common measure up? 3.75 Spoons!

Spinach Avocado Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette and Fried Egg, Recipe

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You had me at Bacon Vinaigrette…

I was looking for a salad to make for a Saturday lunch and thought this was perfect. Indulgently rich and salty and yet it is a salad so it gives the impression of being healthy. Yes, sneaky deliciousness.

The bacon vinaigrette was delicious and everything worked really well together. The only thing I will do differently the next time is cook the bacon a little longer as, although it looked very cooked and brown while frying it, it got soft and a lighter in color once it had been made into a dressing. This is a keeper – how great would it be as part of a brunch?

I’ve posted the recipe below the photo for your pleasure!

Spinach Avocado Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette and Fried Egg
From the Tastespotting Blog

makes 4 salads (yeah right)

Ingredients
4 very large handfuls of baby spinach, washed and completely dried
1 large or 2 medium/small avocados, peeled and sliced
Bacon Vinaigrette (see below)
4 eggs, cooked sunny side up
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In each salad bowl or plate, place a large handful of spinach. Divide and arrange avocado slices on one side, then fried egg. Drizzle generously with Bacon Vinaigrette and hit with fresh cracked black pepper.

Bacon Vinaigrette
makes about 1 cup

Ingredients
6-8 slices of bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon cooking oil (I used grapeseed)
1 clove garlic finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon each)

Directions
Heat cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until cooked through but still soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and cook until garlic is fragrant (but doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through), about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and drain off as much of the bacon grease as you can.

Pour the cooked bacon, garlic and shallots in a bowl. Whisk in vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mixed Baby Greens with Maple Dressing, Cranberries and Apples, Recipe

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I only recently discovered how delicious salads, with homemade dressing, can be so was happy to serve one up as a starter for my recent dinner party. The entree, Fish Mollee, was on the heavier side so wanted something light but not boring. I also wanted to sneak some fruit in there as I’ve been lacking in my fruit intake lately. Enter Mixes Baby Greens with Cranberries, Apples, and Goat Cheese with Maple Dressing. It was easy (especially as you can make the dressing earlier and refrigerate until ready to use), quick, and delicious.

The dressing is quite garlicky, be warned, but it actually offsets the sweetness of the cranberries apples, and maple really nicely. By the end of the salad I couldn’t taste the garlic anymore but I am sure that’s just because my whole mouth tasted like it. I’d definitely make this again whether for a party or as a quick weekday dinner.

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Mixed Baby Greens with Maple Dressing, Cranberries and Apples

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T maple syrup
Kosher salt
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thin strips
1 T fresh lemon juice
8 cups mixed baby greens, lightly packed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1. Make the maple dressing: Whisk together the oil, garlic, vinegar and maple syrup until well combined. Add kosher salt to taste. (I usually need 3-4 generous pinches, tasting after each addition.)

2. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice to prevent browning.

3. In a large bowl, combine the baby greens, apples, cranberries and half the pecans. Toss the greens with maple dressing to taste and divide among serving dishes. Top each dish with remaining pecans and goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves: 4-6

Life Alive, Central Sq

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Where: Life Alive – 764 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA
When: Februar, 2012

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Life Alive since it opened so was thrilled when an old friend and colleague, Jackie, moved back to town and suggested it to Daniela and I. The plan was lunch but since we pinned down a date I had booked a flight for a mini holiday so we moved it to brunch.

Daniela and I got there a few minutes before Jackie did so we grabbed a table and started scooping out the menu. We didn’t recognize a lot of the sauces so had a hard time distinguishing what was what and hence were no closer to a decision when Jackie arrived. After a few minutes of catching up we re-focused on the menu until we had our choices.

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I got the The Green Goddess: “Our Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce enhanced by flax oil and garlic, empowering avocado (seasonal), broccoli, dark greens, and tofu. All are served over short-grain brown rice.” I got mine in a salad format (instead of a wrap). It was really filling and full of healthy and earthy ingredients with a zesty tangyness from the dressing. It felt really healthy, like I was doing a really nice thing for my body. It was also very garlicky. Don’t get me wrong, I love garlic but I just couldn’t get over how garlicky it was (I think I must have said “Wow, this is garlicky!” six times). It must have had 12 cloves of garlic in it. I felt bad for whoever was sitting next to me on my 3 hour flight. Yikes!

20120229-165757.jpgDaniela got the The Adventurer: “Our Sesame Ginger Nama Sauce combines with a colorful mix of corn, beets, broccoli, dark greens, shredded cheddar, tofu & tamari
almonds over quinoa & short grain brown rice.” This was recommended by one of the staff members when she asked for a suggestion. He said this is their most popular item on their menu.

20120229-165746.jpgJackie got The Explorer: “Our scrumdelyishus homemade lowfat Red Lentil Hummus, paired with sesame crunches, sundried tomatoes, cucumber, corn, spring mix and a sprinkle of shredded carrots and beets all traveling together with our fantastic honey wasabi vinaigrette. A dreamy destination!” What a description!

Both Daniela and Jackie said they liked their wraps a lot and both took half home as they were so filling (I ate all of mine, ahem).

Overall, I think Life Alive is a great bite place. They don’t have table service so the feel is very casual, more like a cafe, but comfortable. I think its a great alternative to grabbing a burrito or something a little less healthy when you need a quick lunch. I’d definitely go back when I want to grab a quick healthy, filling bite.

How did Life Alive measure up? 3.75 Spoons!

Life Alive on Urbanspoon

Provençal Chicken Salad with Roasted Peppers and Artichokes, Recipe

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We outgrew our office space years ago so anytime we hire a new employee it’s like playing tetris trying to figure out where to put people. Our newest addition was squeezed into Alicia and my current office which turned out to be a great fit (while it lasts as we are moving next week)! Maeve quickly caught on that Alicia and I are obsessed with food and with my recent salad obsession she brought in a beautiful salad themed cookbook, Raising the Bar, for us to thumb through. I photocopied a few recipes and here’s the first I tried which is definitely share-worthy and worth a repeat. Can’t get enough of salads these days!

Provençal Chicken Salad with Roasted Peppers and Artichokes
From Raising the Salad Bar

Ingredients
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 can (14 ounces)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt & pepper
1 roasted bell pepper, cut into strips
3 tablespoons minced parsley
4 cups mixed baby lettuce greens, washed and dried

Dijon-Herb Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper

Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes and mince them. Rinse the artichoke hearts and cut into quarters, then pat dry wit paper towels.

Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tenderloins from the chicken breast and pound the chicken to an even thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Oil the grill and either grill or pan fry the chicken 4 or 5 minutes on each side until just cooked. When cool enough to handle, slice into 1/2-inch wide strips.

I’m a large bowl, combine the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, and parsley.

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk all of he dressing ingredients; season with salt and pepper. Before serving, whisk dressing again and combine with the chicken salad.

To serve, place baby greens on a platter and top with the chicken salad or serve on individual plates the vinaigrette from the salad will seep through to flavor the greens below.

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Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, Recipe

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Superfood! Just that term alone gets me giddy about all the super I am putting into my body. When I first pulled this recipe I didn’t necessarily think it would taste super, I pulled it because of the nutritional benefits of all the ingredients. But! It actually tasted delicious as well. I modified the original recipe a bit… I omitting pomegranate seeds as I couldn’t find pomegranates at the store but feel free to add them. I also halved the olive oil as I didn’t think a whopping 6 tbsps is really necessary.

This is a great Monday night salad to try to undo a lot of the weekend damage.

Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Adapted From Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 orange, peeled and segments chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1.5 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
2 lemons, juiced (need 1/4 cup juice)
2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced
dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia or white sugar)
salt & pepper
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

For the Lemon Vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake to combine. Or, add lemon juice, garlic, sweetener, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk in oil.

Combine cooled quinoa with red onion, orange segments, avocado, beans, corn, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour Lemon Vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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Fall Salad with Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese, Recipe

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I’m on a salad kick! Who would have thought in the middle of a New England winter to boot? Well, its almost Springlike here in Boston so that might explain it…

Here’s another good one I have found, I’m loving the roasted pears and hope you do too. Make sure you get good blue cheese, nothing will ruin a dish quicker than a cheap and smelly blue.

Fall Salad with Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese
From Confections of a Modern Bride (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics)

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3 ripe but firm red Anjou pears
juice of 3 lemons
3 oz coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
3 Tbsp Port
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups of Arugula (or your favorite salad greens)
Black pepper
Salt

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375.
Peel the pears and cut in half length-wise. Use a melon baller to remove the cores and seeds. Cut a small slice away from the rounded side of each pair to keep it steady when filling and baking. Toss the pears with lemon juices and arrange them core side up in a baking dish.
Toss the blue cheese, cranberries, and walnuts together and divide among the pears. Combine apple juice, port, and brown sugar, whisking together until sugar dissolves. Drizzle over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting every 5-10 minutes with the apple-port mixture, until tender (about 40 minutes in my oven). Remove and let cool to warm or room temp.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid. Toss with the arugula and divide among 6 plates. Top each salad with a pear half, season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette, Recipe

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I’ve never been a a creative salad 20120123-215353.jpgperson, always reverting to the standard restaurant side salad of iceberg lettuce, julienned carrots, celery and bottled vinaigrette dressing. Sometimes I would get crazy and add cherry tomatoes. Quite boring really. Last summer I discovered beets so I really branched out and made salads with beets, goat cheese, pecans and, again, bottle vinaigrettes. That was as adventurous as it would get.

Then I discovered this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette. I wasn’t too sure of the vinaigrette as I was making it as it tasted very tart but once it was on the salad it came together beautifully.

This salad is delicious, and not at all boring. It’s a meal, a side, a snack. It’s warm, sweet, crunchy, tangy, and salty. It’s easy but good enough for company (thanks for being my taste tester, Alyssa!). A fantastic winter salad that is sure to break you out of your salad rut as it did for me.

Never again will you see me shaking that store bought salad dressing. NEVER! Well, maybe sometimes but not as often…

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
From Ina Garten

Ingredients
1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.