Clementine, Avocado + Crispy Carrot Salad

Clementine, Avocado + Crispy Carrot Salad via @athoughtforfood

It's good to be back in the kitchen. Ten days is the longest I've gone without cooking a meal. Not that I'm complaining about the food we had while we were away. It was some of the best seafood I've ever consumed (we ate ALL the poke and sushi we could get our hands on) and we drank enough Mai tais to keep a steady buzz going for the majority of the trip. But I missed holding a knife. I missed peeling and chopping and sautéing.

As soon as we got back, I was immediately thrust back into work. It wasn't until yesterday that I had some free time to prepare recipes I've been developing over the last few weeks (some of which were inspired by our travels).

While I know a chunk of the country has gotten slammed with snow, it's been unseasonably warm here in Boston. For those who don't remember, this is exactly what happened last year. Warmth and sunshine and blue skies for all of December. We all said, "Where's this snow everyone's been saying we'd get nailed with?" and we laughed and thought we were having the mildest winter ever. And then February came. And the snow never ended. And we cried.

Oh gosh, why did I even bring that up? Let's try to enjoy the good weather we're having and spend as much time we can outside. Let's eat citrus salad and drink bottles of crisp white wine. Cold, dark days are ahead of us... so let's just soak this all in.


Clementine, Avocado and Crispy Carrot Salad

Serves 2


2 clementine, peeled
1 large carrot, washed well
Olive oil
1 avocado, pit removed and flesh sliced lengthwise
5-6 parsley leaves
Black pepper

1. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the clementine into 1/4 inch slices.

2. Using a mandoline, slice the carrot to create very thin rounds. Then, heat a small skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set over high heat. Working in batches, add the sliced carrot in batches and cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until it gets crispy, but not burnt (a little darkness around the edges is fine). Transfer chips to a plate lined with paper towels.

3. Transfer the sliced clementine to the plate. Top with avocado, carrot chips, and fresh parsley. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Sweet and Smoky Red Kale and Grape Salad

Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food

We're getting down to our last few weeks of enjoying the Cape house. It's hard to believe that we're so close to shutting things down. We won't be there these next few weekends as we have other things going on, but we definitely have a couple more days to enjoy it this fall. As much as I love the summer weather, this is some of the best time to spend on the Cape. The tourists have left and things are generally more relaxed. It's warm enough to hang outside for a bit, but at night we can bundle up by a roaring fire.

One of the weekends we have coming up is a trip to New York. Earlier this year, my parents got us tickets to see Fun Home for our anniversary. We decided on a matinee so that we'd have our night open. It's rare that we spend a night in New York, so I decided to try my hand at getting reservations at Le Bernardin, one of my bucket list restaurants. On September 1st, I called to see what we could get. Dial. Busy. Again... dial, busy. Again... and again. And again. After 40 minutes and over a hundred attempts, I finally got through. 5:30 or 10. Those were our options. I went with 5:30. Seeing that we're doing the tasting menu, I expect we'll be there for at least three hours. Then we'll have the night to walk around and check out some bars. Or we'll roll ourselves to bed and pass out at 9 o'clock.

So, let's see here. Where to begin with this salad? I went back and forth a bit about what direction I wanted to go with this. I had thought about adding all sorts of things to it, like broiled shrimp or quinoa or avocado, but when it came down to it I just wanted to provide something that could stand on its own or, if one felt so inclined could also add their other favorite toppings. This is not a salad that is lacking flavor. It's sweet, salty, smoky, creamy. It will leave your mouth tingly, but in the best possible way (thank you Chipotle Tabasco!).

Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food
Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food
Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food
Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food
Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food
Red Kale and Grape Salad | A Thought For Food

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Tabasco. Over the course of the year, I've created recipes featuring the Tabasco Family of Flavors. All opinions expressed on my site are my own.

You can check out my recap from my trip to visiting Tabasco here and my recipes for Smokey Shrimp Burgers, a Watermelon Shrub Spritzer, and Charred Corn and Mango Salsa.

Red Kale and Grape Salad

Approximately 6 as a side, 4 as an entree (with additional toppings)

1 medium bunch red kale,stems removed and leaves torn into 2" pieces
1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 teaspoons Chipotle Tabasco
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, shelled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt


1. Make the dressing by whisking together the sour cream, lemon juice, Chipotle Tabasco, brown sugar, and salt.

2. Pour dressing over kale and toss to coat. Add grapes.

3. Transfer to serving bowl and top with chopped pistachios.

Note: To turn it into an entree, top with shrimp, chicken, avocado, and/or quinoa.

Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta

Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food

It took me a while to fall in love with quinoa. It was a recipe I prepared a few years ago from a cookbook that taught me the proper way to season it and, since then, I've been hooked. The trick, I've learned, is to make a dressing that is incorporated into the cooked quinoa. If you just drizzle it with oil and citrus and a sprinkle of salt, it won't distribute the flavor and, instead, you'll be left with sections that are intensely seasoned and others that are lacking it.

This salad is definitely not lacking flavor. I found myself building off each element. I started with the dressing, which is primarily a mixture of fresh herbs (mint, basil and parsley) and lime juice. There's a bit of minced ginger in there, adding even more brightness to the dish. The berries and feta were the last to go in. At first I thought, "Berries and quinoa. Is that weird?" I threw some of the quinoa mixture into a separate bowl, topped it with some blueberries and raspberries and feta. First bite. I knew. We had a winner. Even my father, who gave it a quizzical look when I passed the bowl to him, ate his serving. Always a sign that a recipe is a success.

Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food


Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 pint raspberries, rinsed and dried
1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tablespoons minced mint
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Kosher salt
Juice of one lime 3 tablespoons olive oil


1. To cook the quinoa, add the quinoa and water to a pot and bring to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed, approximately 18 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together minced mint, ginger, lime juice, olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.

3. Transfer quinoa to a large serving bowl. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Pour dressing over quinoa and toss to combine.

4. Gently mix in red onion and feta and most of the berries, reserving a handful of each. Taste for seasoning and, if necessary, add a little more salt, about another 1/2 teaspoon.

5. Distribute the remaining berries on top and serve.