Insomniac Chef

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Tag: sides (page 1 of 2)

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!


Watermelon with Guajillo Chili Lime Salt and Cotija

Always wash your watermelon!

I always wash my melons.

Watermelon is a mainstay of our childhood summer barbecues, but it’s time to treat this fruit like it’s a grown-ass adult.  No longer will it be relegated to mere slices or to be thrown in with grapes and called a “salad”.  It’s time to give watermelon a little more respect.

In Mexico, chili lime salt is commonly used to sprinkle on fruit to enhance its sweet flavor.  I decided to try out my own blend of chili lime salt because the grocery store variety could use some improvement.  This recipe is totally customizable and super easy!  No cooking involved!

(On an entirely different note, these photos are a bit over-saturated because I was taking pictures at night.)

Watermelon with Guajillo Chili Lime Salt and Cotija

Serves: 4   Prep Time: 45 minutes   Cook Time: 0   Total Time: 45 minutes

Close-up Watermelon

This watermelon is full of sass…


1      2-3 pound watermelon, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks
1      Tbsp lime zest
2      dried guajillo chilis, stems removed and powdered in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
3/4 tsp fleur de sel or other large grain finishing salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped or minced cilantro (your preference)
1/3 cup cotija, crumbled
Fresh lime juice to taste  (3-4 Tbsp)


  1. Muddle the lime zest, chili powder, sugar and salt until the salt is moistened.
  2. Arrange the watermelon on individual plates.
  3. Generously sprinkle the lime juice over the watermelon slices.
  4. Using your hands, sprinkle about 1/4 – 1/3 tsp of the chili lime salt over the top of the watermelon.
  5. Top with a 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of the crumbled cotija.
  6. Finish with chopped cilantro.
  7. Serve immediately!

**Some warnings about where things can go wrong:

  • Do not toss the watermelon in the chili lime salt.  This will guarantee that your watermelon will be over salted.
  • Do not squeeze the lime juice after you’ve added the salt blend.  This will distribute the salt all over your watermelon.  Again, icky!
  • This must be served immediately.  The more the salt dissolves, the saltier it gets.
  • Go easy on the cotija – this is also a salty cheese.

Comment below to tell me how you customized this!


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