Insomniac Chef

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Month: October 2015

Modern Waldorf Salad

Close Up Apple Celery Hazelnut Salad

Back away from the mayo and the raisins…

There are some major problems with salad these days.  Most salads suffer from so many ingredients that any one component cannot be identified.  The general practice just seems to be “cover up all the lettuce”.  This approach misses all the potential that a good green salad has!  The key to a great salad isn’t more stuff, it’s just balance.  A perfect balance of sweet, tart, and earthy creates a perfect first course or side.

Seriously, this is super easy and looks fancy AF.

Seriously, this is super easy and looks fancy AF.

Modern Waldorf Salad

Serves 4 – 6    Prep Time: 30 minutes    Cook Time: 0    Total Time: 30 minutes



3      Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3      Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1      Tbsp honey
1/4  tsp sea salt (to taste)
1/8  tsp freshly ground pepper


1       apple (Fuji or Braeburn) peeled, and sliced at 1/8 inches on a mandolin
2       celery ribs, cut very thin on the bias (you can cut it normally, but bias is prettier)
1       bag of Romaine lettuce, pre-washed and pre-cut
1/4  cup parsley, coarsely chopped
6       oz good quality Stilton
1/2  cup raw hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped.  Toast over medium heat (Takes about 4 – 6 minutes. Toss often to prevent scorching.  Pull off when they smell really nutty and the skins split.  Rub in a towel to remove the skins.  If some skin is left on, it’s not a big deal)


  1. Whisk honey, extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar together.  In a large bowl, toss the apples and celery together with the dressing.  Let stand 5 – 10 minutes.  The longer it sits, the more dressing the apple and celery will absorb making it more potent and soft in texture.
  2. On each plate, create a small bed of Romaine.  Sprinkle even amounts of parsley over the lettuce.  Split the apple celery mix evenly between all plates and add on top of the lettuce mixture.  Then top with hazelnuts and Stilton.   Add another couple of teaspoons of dressing to each plate of salad, to taste.  Serve immediately.

This recipe was inspired by the folks at Cook’s Illustrated –

* Note about this recipe – you can substitute any cheese from the blue cheese family.  I prefer Stilton as it is one of the driest blue cheese varieties.  Be mindful that if you pick a traditional or Danish blue cheese that it is creamier and will coat your mouth.  This may dull some of the bright flavors in this salad.

Happy cooking, everyone!


Roasted Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Mesquite Honey Dressing

There's no such thing as too much avocado.

There’s no such thing as too much avocado.

Since February of this year, I’ve been trying to eat a vegetarian diet Monday-Friday.  Even with all of the amazing blogs dedicated to veganism and vegetarianism , this kind of diet can become very monotonous very quickly.  Which leads me to get a bit more experimental when it comes to veggies.  One of my favorite things to eat is avocado, but despite how ubiquitous avocado toast is, there are many delicious applications for avocado.

I designed this recipe to be multipurpose.  This avocado salad can top burritos, be served on a bed or romaine lettuce with grilled chicken breast, and it can be served tossed with cold black beans as a main course.  I like to eat it by itself. Test out some ways to make it yours!

Roasted Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Mesquite Honey Dressing

Serves: 4 as an entree, 6-8 as a side or condiment   Prep Time: 35 minutes   Cook Time: 0   Total Time: 35 minutes


3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 cups of fresh or frozen corn, thawed and drained if using frozen corn
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 ripe, large avocados , diced in large pieces
1/2 small or medium red onion, diced
1/3 cup cilantro, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (I like 1/3 of a cup, but that is very acidic)
1 tsp mesquite honey (clover will work fine, too)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper


  1. Place quartered cherry tomatoes in a salad spinner and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp table salt.  Let this sit until you’re ready to combine the salad.  Before you add the tomatoes to your salad, spin them to remove any excess moisture.
  2. In a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 Tbsp of canola oil until shimmering.  Add the corn to the pan in an even layer and stir occasionally until the corn begins to turn a splotchy brown, but are not dehydrated.  About 5-8 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the lime juice, olive oil, honey and cayenne in a small bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Gently combine tomatoes, avocados, corn, cilantro and onion with dressing.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve within 1 hour of combining.

Tell me how you use this salad.

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