Platter Dinners

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016 in Salad | 2 comments


We dine at home almost exclusively; that means we are certain of what we are eating and that means whole food. For the better part of six years, MP and I have been eating healthy homemade plant-based food, including oodles of the usual fresh veggie fruity suspects—high-quality beans, legumes, grains, nuts, etc.

photo source:PICTIGAR

Never do we stray to chips, green tea ice cream sandwiches, cookies, pie or cake--umm place emoji cheater pie hole face here.

black beans


January belongs to the Daniel Fast and as winter turns into spring and summer more poultry, fish, and wild game finds a place at the table.


Most recently, we struck a deal with Whole30; I boarded that train hesitantly, fearing the big fat fatty dragon.  It nevertheless focusses on whole foods as well, while shunning the aforementioned bean, legume, grain approach.


Dude's Pizza


Neither of us can imagine living without homemade pizza, pasta, or whole grain bread stacked with avocado, tomatoes, and pink peppercorns; but I embraced simple menu planning and will continue adopting bits and pieces as we reset the foodstuffs button from time to time. Take o’so delicious eggs; the incredible edible egg.


Having said all that, quite a few times a week, especially in the summer time, a hefty blossoming platter graces our table accompanied by two plates, napkins, and go-girl green tongs.


For the reason that no two platters appear ever again, there is no recipe per se; by planning ahead, platter dinners are a great deal like creating a flower bouquet; banquet style.


Without rules, there are a few; homemade salad dressings, vinaigrettes, condiments, and sauces guild your bounty.  Learn the basics; shaking up a batch becomes second nature without all the pricey funny tasting bottled varieties hogging up your refrigerator shelves.

Always make more than you need.


Purslane Salad

Secure the freshest and most seasonal salad ingredients, proteins, grains, cheeses, etc. and plan to ‘beef’ it up with delicious items you formerly considered ‘side’ dishes (without the dishes).  Depending on which food plan nourishes your heart and body, use those foods accordingly.



Here is the process as I delve into the crisper drawer—


  • Choose a white platter; it is your canvas.
  • Pick a leafy green, arugula, spinach, or mixed baby lettuces. I have decided 2-3 ounces per person is ideal.
  • Make a dressing that is compatible with your greens and vegetables. For instance, Balsamic vinaigrette is loved by spinach or arugula especially if you’ve got Italian inspired sides like Caprese happening.  Everyone’s pet Cilantro Lime or Ranch pair well with sturdier greens and Mexican styled platters. Lemon Vinaigrette is always safe.
  • Consider adding roasted tomatillo, Romesco sauces, or chimichurri kinds of condiments to add over meats, fish, or chicken elements.
  • Dress your greens lightly and place them evenly near the center of the platter before you let your freak flag fly.
  • Add clusters of grilled vegetables, fruits, steamed or blanched green beans, pea pods etc. in a decorative and colorful way.
  • Tuck a few olives, fresh berries, marinated peppers or pickled guys, like beets here and there.
  • Open, rinse and drain a can of cannellini beans or garbanzos for a protein bump.
  • Hard cooked eggs, avocado, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and deli stuff, etc. are rad.
  • Then carefully consider which clusters need more dressing; raw ones of course. Although, roasted Brussels sprouts, peppers, asparagus, squashes, potatoes, yams or other vegetables may have come dressed from the oven or grill on their own.
  • Lastly, place fish, meats, or poultry in a prominent position.
  • Seasonal grilled jewel-like fruit ties it up in a bow.


Make it your own, carry it to the table and bring extra dressing.

Picky people get their own set of go-girl tongs...

Photographs and text used on cococooks belong to me, Peggy Lunde unless linked otherwise.

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Summer Deliciousness

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Salad | 3 comments


Just like The Pioneer Woman, I have many recipes in the archives of this website, and sometimes I find myself googling-- myself (retracing my steps so to speak)!


This summer I’ll add fresh ideas like this Tomato and Cucumber Salad; and take a look back, bringing selected favorites to life with better photos and maybe even a few tips and techniques to boot; always keeping it garden-fresh and as close to the source as I can.


Weird weather patterns have struck the tomatoes, leaving some in random states of ripening; which means spontaneous platters of mixed tomatoes become supreme potluck offerings or patio dinner salads. Then, imagine amplifying the seasonal flavors with a slightly sweet peach dressing.


The salad pulls together a mix of multicolored tomatoes; tiny cherry, heirloom varieties, and bright common types sliced into thick slices surrounded by cucumber moons, thinly sliced purple onions and aromatic basil.


If you don’t know me by now; acrid raw onions are not likely to appear in my repertoire. Slicing a fresh purple onion on a mandoline into thin rings, adding ice water and a spoonful of red wine vinegar tames the onion in about the time it takes to prepare the salad.


For the sweet peach dressing, combine red wine vinegar, a touch of sugar, fresh thyme and a chopped ripe peach together.


Emulsify the dressing by whisking fruity olive oil into the mix; one tablespoon at a time (I used 4 tablespoons) until blended.


 Season with salt and pepper.

Line a platter with tomatoes;then toss the cucumbers with some of the dressing. Finish by placing the cucumber, drained purple onion, and basil in and around the tomato bits. Drizzle the peach dressing over the salad to your liking—on this occasion the salad made an appearance with shrimp marinated in lemony mustard vinaigrette along with Zucchini Pancakes and Tomato Jam.


Ready, set…

Photographs and text used on cococooks belong to me, Peggy Lunde unless linked otherwise.



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Weed Envy

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in Salad | 1 comment




For various reasons, MP has been flying solo to the Farmers’ Market and he’s rocking the green shopping; bringing home summer grill worthy cravings like shishito peppers and saucer shaped donut peaches; and now a curious, thickset green “weed” species, purslane.


When I realized it could grow fervently in the worst of situations, like a crack in the sidewalk, I was eager to taste it; grassy and fleshy leaves


stripped from a thick stem and spun dry become a lemony juicy nutrient dense carpet salad.

I leaned on Google and adapted a vibrant, sweet and acidic dressing to capitalize on bright red June cherries and round orange sweet as candy cherry tomatoes from our garden.


The dressing is a combination of lemon juice, aged sherry and balsamic vinegars.


I served it with a fat organic rotisserie chicken and crispy rendered country bread schmaltzy drip catcher croutons; so Ina.

(Rest assured, by the time the chicken was cooked through; the bread was crisp and blackened too; sans contamination).



Oh, to live on a country road, where gobs of purslane would be my latest obsession.

Purslane Salad with Cherries and Feta


  • 1 generous bunch purslane, thick stems cut away (3-4 cups)
  • 16 cherries, pitted and halved
  • 8-10 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1-2 ounces feta cheese crumbled


  1. Whisk the Dijon, garlic, vinegars and lemon juice together; add olive oil and whisk until dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Toss purslane with some of the dressing and place on a platter; repeat with tomatoes and cherries. Garnish the purslane with tomatoes cherries and feta.
  3. Serves 2-4 as a side dish.
  4. --adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, NYT Cooking


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If I Had a Bucket List…

Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Salad | 0 comments

Photo: wikipedia



Reading online and from travel books regarding various ancient pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Spain (thought to be the final resting place of St. James); I learned the journey has no starting point per se, pilgrims began from wherever they lived.


Regardless, one well-liked prevailing strand, a two-month trek, runs through the city of Le-Puy-en-Valey where it just so happens, Le Puy green lentils hail; not surprisingly protected and documented by French authority.


That rabbit hole led me to a few heirloom lentils resting in my pantry, which hail from Idaho.  Then, inspired by Bon Appetit’s magnificent legume and vegetable salad, it became a trendspotting grain bowl supper.


Notice, a cinnamon stick, and star anise found their way into the pot of lentils


(use a quart of water for 1 1/2 cups of dry lentils).

Marinated Lentils with Crunchy Vegetables combines rich, earthy lentils dressed in fragrant toasted seeds in olive oil with vibrant aged sherry vinegar into a robust scrumptious textured dish.


I toasted the seedsSONY DSC

 and ground them before adding them to the hot oil;


an additional step preventing an unwelcome bite, in my opinion. Off heat, pour in the vinegar.  Careful; this is hot business.


Drain the lentils; toss the onion, leaves, and sticks. Reserve the tasty cooking water.


Pour the hot dressing over the warm lentils and stir gently.


Moreover, I upped the ante, by pairing the lentils with seedy quinoa gems cooked in the too-good-to-toss lentil pot liquor.

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What a posh way to eat your creamy healthful grains; moving exotic pockets of texture and crunch to wherever you fancy. AND, don’t forget the velvety, crusty avocado toast with coarse salt, and pink cheeked peppercorns.


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Beets, Citrus, and Peas.

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016 in Salad | 1 comment


Spring Beet and Pea Salad is chef-speak for,

“After many steps, you can taste the season!"


And, I suppose I had time to build this beautiful salad created by Chef Robbie Wilson of Bird Dog in Palo Alto, California; lured by our love of colorful earthy beets, abundant fresh citrus and petite peas.

Of course, I bucked off the recipe by boiling the beets instead of roasting; honestly, because it’s quicker, less messy, and they peel easily. It beats me if beets retain acidity by roasting…  Clean the beets and leave the root and one inch of the stem attached.   Separate the beets into different pots to retain their natural colors.  Cover with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the beets are tender.  This varies according to their size; usually about 20 minutes. Drain; set aside.  When they are cool enough to handle; slip off the skins.


Cooking quick fresh ricotta with a cup of milk, plain yogurt and cider vinegar happens astonishingly-- in a microwave minute (or three, actually). Curds and whey.


The salad is dressed with a light citrus dressing utilizing both grapefruit and blood orange juices.

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I pulled it all together for a main dish platter supper, layering lightly dressed lettuces from our neighbors’ garden (thank you, Jason).  Then, arrange painstakingly supremed blood orange segments, golden beets and deep red ones in sets-- with sprinkles of fresh chives, mint, parsley, peas and crumbles of the home-made cheese.


In the end, it was totally worth the journey and I’ll gladly hike that spring trail again!

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Springtime Colors

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in Salad | 0 comments

The beginning of spring is noticeable now

First Day of Spring 2016

with well-fed roses in bloom;



heirloom tomatoes take root-- promising June fruit.


Timeless Traditions

And, Holy week arrived like unexpected tears.


Citrus stands alone on the tables of our favorite market fruiterie: oranges, lemons,

Female farmer with her pomelo farm. - stock photo

Southeast Asian, giant grapefruit look-alike, pomelos, endless sweet or tart clementine and tangelo varieties, and fleeting


dangerous appearing blood oranges.


So, in honor of bud-break and everything pastel, I created a fancy versatile and creamy lavender salad dressing; a blend of blood orange citrus, Miso, rice vinegar, and oil.



Equal parts of each element, means you whisk enough

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for a small salad,

or paddle a boatload to dress a platter of mixed

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greens, fresh and roasted vegetables and whatever your heart ♥ delights.

Blood Orange Miso Viniagrette


  • 2 Tablespoons organic white Miso paste
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil (like canola)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


  1. Combine Miso paste, rice wine vinegar, and blood orange juice together. Whisk oil into the mixture in small amounts until slightly thickened. Add honey, salt and pepper to taste.



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