Meera’s Arugula, Feta, Dried Cherry (or Cranberry) Salad with Toasted Almonds

If you need to bring a side or a salad to a Labor Day Weekend fête, I’ve got just the one.

This salad is quick, colorful, and delicious, with the added bonus that it could easily become dinner with the addition of sliced grilled chicken. The first time I had it, on the weekend of the eclipse, my good friend, and relative, Meera Ballal, brought all the ingredients over in a Trader Joe’s grocery sack. By the time the chicken was grilled, the salad was assembled and on the table. Everyone loved it!

Yield: Serves 10-12 as a side dish

2  7-ounce bags arugula, (have a third on standby to perk up the salad)
1  8-ounce package dried, tart Montmorency cherries
1  6-ounce package crumbled feta cheese (sometimes Meera uses 2 containers)
1  8-ounce package raw, sliced almonds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Judy’s Chickens Every Day Salad Dressing or TJ’s Balsamic Vinaigrette
Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts  (optional)

Mise en Place


Put the arugula, feta, and dried cherries in an extra-large mixing bowl that leaves plenty of room for tossing the ingredients together.

Next, toast the almonds in olive oil to enhance their nutty flavor. To do so, pour olive oil into a warmed medium-sized sauté pan. Add almonds and mix to coat. Sauté over medium-low heat for about two minutes. Meera told me to stir the nuts almost constantly because they go from toasted to burned, quickly. She said, with her infectious laugh, “This is not the time to multitask in the kitchen.” She was right about that. The nuts went from creamy white to brown, to dark brown around the edges of the pan in the blink of an eye. When they start to brown, dump them immediately into a small bowl to stop the cooking process. Keep the nuts warm in a separate bowl until dinner time.


Just before serving, add the nuts and salad dressing. I like to use my own homemade salad dressing  @judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing.  I sprinkle a little white balsamic vinegar over the greens for added “bite” before tossing. The greens collapse quickly, so don’t add dressing until ready to serve.

For the grilled chicken, try my chicken marinade recipe, Lemony Thyme Grilled Chicken Breasts.  The lemon and thyme in the chicken enhance the flavor of the salad.

The cost of this salad? $17.14 if you use your own salad dressing.

For a fun Labor day activity, check out Catfishing with Noodles on Lake Barkley, Kentucky!

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe. Thanks!

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Roasted Beet Salad

Last week, I returned home from a long vacation to a garden filled with produce and also lots of weeds.  As I cleaned each bed, I made one pile of weeds and withered plants, destined for the compost, and another pile of spring root vegetables.  After washing the veggies, I laid them out to dry. They begged for a photo. IMG_9567

All of these veggies were planted around March first. The “Scarlett Nantes” and “Calliope Blend” carrots and the “Hakurei” turnips were started from seed, the “Red Ace” and “Bull’s Blood” beets from seedlings, and the “Pontiac Red” and “Yukon Gold” potatoes, spring onions, and garlic from sets.

When you have such a sizable haul at one time, you need to divide and conquer in terms of prepping and cooking. I started with the beets because I love a beet salad and hadn’t prepared one yet this Spring.

fresh beets
@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing


Preheat oven to 400º

Wash and dry vegetables. Do not peel. Place on a sheet of parchment paper for easy clean up later. Cover with foil and roast for one hour, then turn oven off and let them stay in oven for 30 more minutes. If the beets are large, cut them in half before cooking.
Version 2 DSC_0664

When the beets are cool, peel with a paring knife.

Slice the beets and toss with vinaigrette. You may wish to add a little salt. You can serve as is at room temperature as a side dish, or serve them chilled. Either way, they are delicious and a cinch to make. I love the color tone and pattern shifts in the different varieties of beets.

Another way to eat them is in a cold salad. Here, I prepared a bed of arugula, and topped it with the marinated beets, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped walnuts, all of it tossed in a little more vinaigrette. Alternatively, you could use feta and sliced almonds.

If the beet greens are fresh and perky,


I cut them off the beet and sauté them in olive oil and minced fresh garlic for a few minutes.

Before serving, while they are still in the pan, add salt and pepper and squeeze a little lemon juice. Dinner is served!


Related Vegetable Dishes
String Bean Salad
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrot
Cauliflower Three Ways: Roasted, Blanched and Mashed
Grapefruit and Greens: A Refreshing Winter Salad
Roasted Ratatouille


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.


Blanched String Beans with Vinaigrette

We all have our go-to ways of preparing vegetables for dinner. While I may have a million ways of cooking veggies like zucchini, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower, when it comes to string beans and carrots I’m pretty set in my ways.  For carrots, I love this recipe: Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots.


For string beans, it’s the way I’m about to show you: blanched and tossed with a vinaigrette dressing. Floral decorations optional!



fresh string beans
@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
edible flowers and sliced tomatoes (optional)

Mise en Place

Prepping String Beans:

If the string beans are fresh, you only need to pinch or clip off the stem end. If they are oldish, I clip both ends. I find it’s quick and easy to do this clipping with scissors.

How to Blanch a Pot of Beans (or most any vegetable, for that matter)

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the prepped veggies.

Keep the heat on high and bring the water back to a full boil. This takes about four or five minutes.

Once the water comes back to a rolling boil, cook for just one additional minute and then remove the pot from the heat and promptly strain the veggies through a colander.


Cover the colander with a plate and let steam for ten minutes, five minutes if you want crunchier veggies.

DSC_0277 DSC_0278

Add vinaigrette and toss. Allow to set for about an hour. Toss again before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature. I prefer chilled.


Don’t stop there. Try decorating with edible flowers and cherry tomatoes for color. Here I used borage flowers and Sun Gold tomatoes from my garden. Add just before serving.


These beans are great to eat chilled the next day as leftovers.

This is a nice dish to use for feeding a crowd because you can make it ahead of time.

To make this a hot side dish:

You could skip the vinaigrette and add butter while the beans are still hot and serve as a hot side dish.

Related Posts
Sliced Beet Salad
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Cauliflower Three Ways: Roasted, Blanched and Mashed
Roasted Ratatouille


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Grapefruit and Greens: A Refreshing Winter Salad

I love to eat grapefruit with mixed greens and avocado in the winter. The grapefruit is so sweet, acidic, and refreshing, that I crave it all winter. That’s fortunate because winter is when they are in season. They fill the void left by the absence of vine-ripened tomatoes.


It helps that I have incredibly fine memory associations with grapefruit. My grandfather grew grapefruit trees in his backyard in Hollywood, Florida. My grandmother loved it when my siblings came to visit because then they could be the ones to climb the trees to reach the high fruit instead of Granddaddy.

Even my infant son got to join in on the fun.

Salad greens: I enjoy spring mix and baby spinach
1 Sweet Scarlett grapefruit, peeled, sliced and quartered
2 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
Rotisserie chicken or salmon
Feta or goat cheese
Everyday Salad Dressing

Mise en Place:


Prep the grapefruits: Check out this very clever method of peeling and slicing oranges and grapefruit that I learned on a navel orange farm. You will wonder how you got this far in your life without knowing how to do this.
oranges navel mary

Remove grapefruit seeds. Cut the sliced grapefruit into bite-sized chunks. Save the grapefruit juice from the cutting board to pour into the salad.

oranges navel mary

Slice the green onions and avocados. Add all the ingredients to a salad bowl.

Add my Everyday Salad Dressing and toss.

Lunch is served.

Other Salads
Meera’s Arugula, Feta, Cherry, and Toasted Almond Salad
Roasted Beet Salad
Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Blanched String Beans with Vinaigrette

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Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.