Lemon Tahini Caesar Salad

It’s official. I’m ready for spring. I’ve got patches of green grass in my yard and tulips sticking an inch or two out of the ground in my flower beds. There’s a seed catalog on the table next to my bed and I’ve started making notes on what I want to grow this year.

I’m thinking lots of tomatoes and basil, zucchini, bell peppers of every color, lots of herbs and my favorite: giant sunflowers, dozens of them if possible.

I think all this dreaming of spring got started when we ate dinner at my sister-in-law’s house over the weekend, she made the most quintessential spring meal. We had barbecued salmon and a shaved Brussel sprout salad with the biggest fruit salad I’ve ever seen. For dessert she made a lemon tart that just screamed summer days and warm evenings on the patio. We savored that lovely meal and talked about summer plans. We dreamed about hot summer days spent at the pool and fun hikes to take the kids on.

I know I’m jumping the gun a little, but a girl can dream…right? With all that talk of spring, I was in the mood for something light and refreshing. I am always looking for way to convince (trick?) my kids into eating more greens and this salad did just that.

Mixed greens and spinach are dotted with homemade sourdough croutons and a dash of grated parmesan cheese. The Caesar dressing is quick and easy to put together. It’s just tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, fresh lemon juice, a little Dijon mustard and a hint of garlic. The dressing is fresh, light and full of bright lemon flavor.

Lemon Tahini Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons


  • 2-3 cups cubed sourdough bread (cut 4-5 slices of bread into 1-inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher sea salt


  • 5 ounces mixed salad greens (spinach, kale, romaine…whatever you like)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Fresh ground black pepper

To make the croutons, preheat oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the cubed bread evenly in one layer on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and toss well to combine. Put the tray in the oven and toast the bread until golden brown on all sides, stirring the bread at least once so that the croutons cook evenly. This is a fast process, don’t walk away from your oven or the croutons will burn. About 2 minutes on each side.

For the dressing, mix the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard and salt in a jar. Stir until well-combined. Slowly add the water until you get your desired texture. I like a thinner dressing so I add the full 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in black pepper to taste.

To assemble your salad, combine the salad green, parmesan cheese and croutons in a large bowl. Drizzle the salad with dressing. I used about half the dressing and saved the rest in the refrigerator for another day. Toss gently. Garnish with a lemon wedge (squeeze lemon juice over individual salads). Salad serves 4-5 side salads or two generous dinner salads. A piece of grilled chicken or salmon on top the salad would make a complete and delicious meal.

Grilled Corn and Jalapeño Salad

To try and beat the smoke and heat we’ve all been enduring the last couple weeks, I’ve been loading up my kids and heading out on adventures in Chinook and White Pass. As someone who has always loved the outdoors, these last few weeks of exploring and playing with my kids has been the highlight of our summer.

I stopped in at the Naches Ranger Station on Highway 12 last week and found the staff helpful and enthusiastic. I haven’t hiked much with young kids and had no idea the access and availability to hiking and walking trails all around our region. The station has a plethora of maps, guide books, activities for kids and lots of other resources.

Our first hike was up to Boulder Cave in Chinook Pass. An easy hike for all ages, my kids had so much fun exploring the cave and nearby waterfall. A friend recommended we hike down the river where we could find a small natural waterslide. We spent hours sliding down the rock slide and splashing through the river. We ate lunch on a big rock while our shoes dried in the sun and finally drove home hours later, tired and happy from such a fun day together.

It was the simplest day but one I think we will remember for years. The adage of less is more proves true over and over again in life and certainly in cooking, especially when the ingredients are local and in peak season. My local fruit stand has corn on the cob, four for a dollar, and my family can’t get enough of the crunchy sweet vegetable.

We grill it on the barbecue and slather it in butter, or use it to make a variety of salads. A family favorite is corn, red bell pepper, fresh basil and a simple vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar and a dash of sugar and olive oil. To me nothing says summer like fresh corn.

My absolute favorite flavor profile is sweet and savory together (I will always always say yes to fruit on pizza) so when I started thinking about a corn salad recipe I knew it needed to have a little heat to compliment the sweetness of the corn. After perusing lots of corn salad recipes and thinking about some incredible street corn I had last summer, this salad is what I came up with. Crunchy sweet corn gets a little heat from jalapeno but stays cool with avocados and a creamy lime dressing. Serve alongside whatever you’re grilling and everyone will be thrilled.

Grilled Corn and Jalapeno Salad

• 6 ears of corn, grilled

• 1 jalapeno, finely diced

• 2 medium avocados, diced

• 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

• 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese (cojita or feta work great too)

• ½ cup plain greek yogurt

• The juice of 2 limes

• ½ teaspoon cumin

• ¼ teaspoon chili powder

• Dash of cayenne

• Dash of smoked paprika

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• ½ teaspoon black pepper

Start by peeling the husk off the corn. Over medium heat, grill the corn on each side for about 2 minutes until the corn turns deep yellow and grill marks begin to appear. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. When the corn is cool enough to handle, use a knife to shave the kernals off the cob into a large bowl. Gently stir in jalapeno, goat cheese, avacados and cilantro.

In a small bowl mix together lime juice, yogurt, chili powder and cumin. Pour over the corn mixture and stir until well-combined. Salt and pepper the salad, tasting to make sure the proportions are right. Add more salt or an extra spoonful of yogurt if needed. Lightly sprinkle cayenne and smoked paprika over the salad before serving.

Hummus Salad


We are in the dog days of summer at my house. Is that still a term? It’s very hot outside and as much as I’m a sun-loving summer girl through and through, the warm wind that picks up in the evenings has never been more appreciated.

My children run wild through the house; building forts, making ‘experiments,’ eating endless snacks and alternating between begging me to take them swimming and crashing on the couch in pure exhaustion.  They smell like chlorine and their cheeks and shoulders are always a touch pink. My lawn is a little brown from the high temperatures regardless of how often the sprinklers run and popsicles are not just a special after-dinner treat but an appropriate breakfast, lunch or dinner.

With young kids in the house, we alternate between trying to take advantage of every glorious spare moment of summer and giving each other the side eye as we stare down the barrel of another free day together. I grudgingly flipped through the paper calendar hanging on the wall a few days ago, and couldn’t believe summer break is halfway over already. I’ve got more adventures planned for those crazy kids of mine, and if you’re like me, and the heat and busyness of summer is getting to you a little bit, then this is the dish for you.

I don’t know how this idea never occurred to me before but considering we eat an excessive amount of hummus at my house, this was a quick, fresh dish that doubles as an appetizer or an easy dinner when it’s just too hot to even think about turning on the oven. Homemade hummus is easy to make and even easier to tweak to fit your personal preferences. Use this recipe as a guide. The same goes for the salad toppings. I’ve made this dish a couple times now and every time I use slightly different ingredients for the salad. Last week I added Kalamata olives and crumbled feta. As always, you could buy store-bought hummus and layer the salad on top of that for a quick crowd-pleasing dish.


Hummus Salad

For the Hummus:

  • 1 can (14 oz.) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½-1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup water, or more if needed

Using a food processor, blend all the ingredients EXCEPT the water until smooth. Add in the water and continue blending until the hummus reaches a nice smooth consistency, adding additional water if necessary. Allow food processor to blend ingredients for a full 2 minutes so that the hummus is very smooth and creamy.

For the Salad:

  • 1 medium English cucumber, chopped into ½ pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons basil, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chives, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl combine cucumber, tomatoes, roasted peppers and shallot. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Gently mix in fresh herbs. Taste and add more salt or herbs if needed.

On a plate, spread hummus evenly. Layer salad over hummus. Serve with naan bread, baguette or chips and crackers. Salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to a day but is best served immediately.

Grandma’s Potato Salad


My grandma was famous for her potato salad. It’s a simple recipe, but something about the way she made it was special. She had a giant vintage white bowl dedicated specifically for this salad and anytime my dad would walk through the back door of her house and see it sitting out on the counter, he would cheer in delight. If he happened to walk through the back door and it wasn’t on the counter, he would rummage through the refrigerator checking for it. If potato salad wasn’t on the menu that night, well I think you can imagine the (good-natured) teasing and pouting that my grandma had to deal with from her grown son and whoever else happened to be invited to dinner.

My grandma made potato salad for family and friends well into her eighties, always a double or triple batch served from her special bowl. My parents have the big white bowl at their house now and my mom makes the recipe a few times each summer. In the last couple years, I’ve tried my hand at making the salad.

This recipe is completely from memory and taste; as so many of the most special recipes usually are. I don’t think my grandma ever wrote her recipes down. She was an intuitive home cook, with zero training but an arsenal of recipes her family and friends loved and requested time and time again.

My dad always has a few pointers based on what he remembers and whenever I make the salad for him, I try and do it exactly the way my grandma made it. But when I make a batch to take to a barbecue or just for my little family, I tweak it slightly by adding more fresh herbs to make it my own. The only real secret to this very simple recipe is patience and high-quality ingredients. Let your potatoes and hard-boiled eggs cool completely. Don’t rush this step or the texture won’t be the same. Also, use the best quality mayonnaise you can.


Grandma’s Potato Salad

  • 3 pounds baby red and yellow potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons, finely chopped dill
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

In a large pot, boil washed and cut potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes until they are fork tender but still firm. Drain completely and set aside to cool. Hard-boil eggs. I put room temperature eggs into a pot of cold water and cover with a lid. Using my gas stove, I turn the heat to high and boil the eggs for exactly 11 minutes (set a timer). When the timer goes off, remove from heat and drain the water from the eggs. Set the hard-boiled eggs aside to cool. When the potatoes and eggs have cooled completely, you are ready to assemble your salad.

Start by chopping the celery, herbs and eggs. My grandma always diced the eggs and celery in smaller pieces than the potatoes. In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, eggs, celery, green onions and herbs setting aside a teaspoon of chopped dill. Using a spatula, gently mix the mayonnaise with the vegetables. Salt and pepper liberally and taste to make sure the ratios are how you like it. Add a little more mayonnaise or salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with the last teaspoon of dill. Cover and refrigerate if you aren’t going to serve immediately.

Summer Couscous Salad

Here is this week’s post for the Yakima Herald. I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation on the proposed downtown plaza this week in addition to attending several wonderful events in the heart of the city over the last couple weeks. As easy as it is to criticize the places we live (Yakima or anywhere really), I’m challenging myself to look at where I live with a new lens, looking for the good and positive, because it doesn’t take much to start seeing it everywhere I go.


My husband and I happened to be downtown on Thursday evening to meet friends for dinner. We were on our way to Crafted, a new restaurant, which just opened on First Street in the old Barrel House. As we drove down Yakima Avenue I was blown away to see how many people were out and about that night. Families were walking into and away from the Downtown Summer Nights concert series on North Front Street, restaurants were spilling over with people sitting on patios enjoying the beautiful weather and we even had to circle once in the parking lot before finding a place to park.

I’ve never been so happy to have to look for a place to park. It was good to see downtown bustling with people. It felt downright urban in the loveliest small-town way, of course, but a breath of fresh air nonetheless. With several restaurants newly opened with rumors of more on the way along with activities like the free weekly concert series, live music at various wineries and coffee shops downtown and the Farmer’s Market on Sundays, the place to be is downtown Yakima.

This summer couscous salad is a little like downtown Yakima. Surprisingly lovely, fresh and fun but easy to pass over unless you give it a try. Whole wheat couscous is cooked in chicken broth and fresh ginger, cinnamon and turmeric and then mixed with vegetables, dates, raisins, chickpeas and heaps of fresh parsley. Fresh lemon juice at the end adds a lovely little zing to every bite. This is the perfect dish to make on Sunday after a trip to the Farmer’s Market and keep in the refrigerator all week for easy lunches. Add some grilled chicken to make this salad a complete meal.


Summer Couscous Salad

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups whole wheat couscous
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 14oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot stir together the chicken stock, 1 tablespoon olive oil, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, mix in the couscous, stir well. Cover with lid and set aside for 15 minutes. When the couscous is fully cooked, stir in raisins and dates. In a large bowl combine zucchini, carrots, onion, red pepper, chickpeas and almonds. Fluff the couscous with a fork and mix it into the vegetables. Whisk together the remaining olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the salad. Garnish with fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Taste to see if the salad needs more seasonings and add whatever you like to get the flavor you’re looking for. Serve at room temperature or cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese


It’s Thursday, you know what that means. Check out today’s column in the Yakima Herald. Also, I love hearing when people try recipes, so let me know if and when you make something and how it turns out!

With my kids out of school for the summer, one of our must-do activities, is hit the u-pick fruit stands. My goal is always to end the summer with a freezer stuffed full of frozen berries, freezer jam and applesauce and the pantry lined with pickled vegetables, canned peaches and homemade marinara sauce. My children have a little different idea of what it means to be ‘helpful’ on these outings, but they are good sports. We always try and go first thing before the day heats up too much and I almost always bribe them with an ice cream cone at the end. They pick a little fruit, wander around, running and playing among the trees, eating and tasting what we pick. When it’s finally time to pay, they proudly hoist our buckets onto the scale telling the cashier how hard they worked to pick all that fruit.

The kick-off to all that summer goodness is cherry harvest and we usually stop in at the Washington Fruit Place at Barrett Orchard. Located on Pecks Canyon, just above Fred Meyer, we love to go to Barrett Orchard because after we finish picking our fill of cherries, we can cool off with a scoop of ice cream. I frequent Johnson Orchards and the West-Valley U-Pick which are lovely locations with an abundance of options whether you prefer to go the u-pick route or just stop in to see what’s fresh and available. If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of u-pick sites around the Yakima Valley, check out visitfarmfreshfun.com.

This salad is fast, easy and so tasty. I used lettuce and herbs from my garden but whatever looks fresh at the grocery store or farmer’s market will work great. The juicy sweet cherries work well the zing of balsamic vinegar and creamy goat cheese. A hunk of crusty bread and little glass of ice cold rose are all you need to complete the meal.


Salad with Cherries, Balsamic Onions and Goat Cheese

  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely diced
  • 1 medium walla walla sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted and sliced in half (about 20-25 cherries)
  • 4 pieces center-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a medium sauté pan, cook bacon pieces over medium-low heat until cooked-through, about 5-8 minutes. Remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel. Add one tablespoon oil to the pan (if needed) and cook the onion, over low heat, stirring often in the leftover bacon fat and olive oil. When the onions are translucent and golden brown, this should take about 20 minutes, splash a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over the onions stirring constantly. Once mixed together, remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.

Wash lettuce and chop leaves into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl layer cherries, parsley, basil, onions, bacon and goat cheese over the lettuce. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and a small sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small jar with a lid, combine ingredients. Twist the lid on tight and shake well until the dressing is well mixed. Store extras in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Healthy Broccoli Salad


If you happen to follow my salt and stone Instagram account, you might have seen the barn door we had installed last week. It’s a component of the house I’ve been dreaming about since we started designing the house and I can’t wait to do a little house tour when all the little details are wrapped up.

In the meantime, we finally reached the end of the school year, skidding into the last day with brutal allergies, a minor bout of food poisoning (I think?) and some really tired kids ready for a break.

I gave them a day to sleep it all off and then we headed to the mountains with friends for a day of fun and mud (oh the rain) and relaxation. It was a joy to watch the boys be well…boys. They were wild, playful, imaginative and brave. By the end of the day they didn’t have a single piece of dry or clean clothing, they had fished in the river, explored the forest, killed a Gardner snake, ‘hunted’ and played in the fire (supervised, of course).  And Scarlet was right in the mix, not about to let those boys leave her behind. Her hair still smells faintly of campfire three days later.

Sunday we went back out in search of trees and ended up going for a bike ride at a nearby resort. We pedaled through the trees, admiring the gorgeous homes and occasionally stopping to ‘encourage’ children with sore legs to preserve. All in all a great weekend and the perfect way to welcome summer break.

This broccoli salad has been on repeat lately and feels summery in all the right ways. Crunchy and sweet with a little savory bite here and there, it’s been a fan favorite for everyone. I am using Hampton Creek mayonnaise lately because it’s egg-free and I don’t worry so much about a salad like this spoiling at a barbecue where it might sit out on a counter for a while. It also tastes really good which is always nice. I adapted this recipe from a whole30 web site. I use a bit of honey in the dressing which you could always skip and just add a few extra craisins or dates for sweetness.


Broccoli Salad

  • 1 broccoli slaw mix (with the bagged salads at the grocery store)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 8 pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 4 pieces center-cut bacon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (add a little more if you need it. No need to adjust the rest of the recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a small fry pan, cook bacon pieces over medium heat until cooked through. Drain on paper towels and set aside. In a large bowl combine slaw, broccoli, almonds, dates and craisins. Stir in bacon (all the better if it’s still a little warm). In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, apple cider vinegar and honey. Drizzle over salad and toss until salad is well-coated. Salt and pepper salad and mix together. Taste to make sure the flavor is the way you like it, stirring in more dressing or adding more salt and pepper if needed. Store in the refrigerator covered if not serving immediately.