Easy late summer salads, a cake for Jewish New Year

Shifrin’s steak salad includes fresh romaine lettuce, baby arugula, diced potatoes, red onion and tomatoes. For the final touch, add Gorgonzola and vinaigrette dressing.   - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Shifrin’s steak salad includes fresh romaine lettuce, baby arugula, diced potatoes, red onion and tomatoes. For the final touch, add Gorgonzola and vinaigrette dressing.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

With Labor Day behind us, summer over and school back in session, our daily schedules transition from being kick-back to hectic. Meals, especially dinner, can still be quick and easy without compromising on healthy and delicious. If we’re lucky, we will still be experiencing higher temperatures for many more weeks to come. When the weather is warm, I love to eat entrée salads for dinner. Even when it’s much cooler outside, a salad can be made more satisfying by adding some of the cooked ingredients while they’re still warm. I’ve come up with a few recipes using three different protein options, each of which can be switched out with the one you prefer.

About a year ago, when I was on a search for a low-fat, store-bought salad dressing, I came across a fabulous one made by a company called Galeos, located in Newport Beach, Calif. The base of each of their recipes is miso, a fermented soybean paste frequently used in Japanese cooking. Galeos blends the miso with several other fresh ingredients, eliminating additives, preservatives and anything else that you wouldn’t put in a homemade dressing. I was beyond impressed because most health food dressings contain a binding agent called xantham gum, which is also an essential ingredient used in gluten-free baked goods. Galeos offers four different versions: Toasted Sesame Seed, Dijonnaise with poppy seeds, Wasabi Ginger and Caesar. To give you an idea what an amazing job this company has done, the Caesar is a mere 14 calories per tablespoon with 1 gram of fat, 0 trans fat, 0.2 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 carbohydrates, 56 mg. of sodium and 0 sugars. Bravo to Galeos for creating a healthy product that delivers great taste!

There are two other things you need to know about these dressings. The first is that you can’t find them in most stores. In fact, the only store I have found that carries the Galeos brand is QFC, where it is located in the non-refrigerated salad dressing section. The second thing you need a heads up on is the thickness that rises to the top of each newly opened bottle, deceiving you into thinking that it has a very thick consistency, though it doesn’t. Before you shake the heck out of it, you need to first push down that thickened top with a knife and give it a stir. When you think you’ve shaken it enough, shake some more. My favorite one is their Toasted Sesame Seed (with only 35 mg. of sodium per tablespoon). I mix it with some chipotle sauce and fresh lime juice to dress my Southwestern Chicken Salad.

In this particular salad, and whenever I want quick and easy, I take full advantage of utilizing one of the biggest helpers that we have for making meal preparation quick and easy: store-bought, cooked rotisserie chicken.

Southwest Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Salad ingredients:

6 cups romaine lettuce broken up into bite-sized pieces

2 cups mixed baby romaine (or any other kind of lettuce you’d like to use)

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

3 fresh ears of corn, lightly steamed and cooled (frozen doesn’t work as well for this)

1 ½ cups chopped jiccama

1 cup cooked black beans (canned is just fine)

3 cups cooked chicken cut in bite-sized pieces

¾ cup shaved Beecher’s Flagship cheese or Kerrygold Dubliner’s Irish cheddar

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (I purchase mine at Trader Joe’s)


2/3 cup Galeos Toasted Sesame Seed Dressing

Fresh lime juice squeezed from half a lime

2 teaspoons (more or less) chipotle sauce to give it some kick

(I use Frontera brand chipotle sauce from Whole Foods)

Break up and combine the lettuces with the basil. Remove the cooled, cooked corn kernels from the cob and mix with the lettuces, jiccama, black beans, chicken, pumpkin seeds and shaved cheese. Whisk together the Toasted Sesame Seed dressing, chipotle sauce and lime juice. Depending on your individual taste, you might need a little less or a little more dressing, so first pour about half in, then toss and taste before pouring on more.

Any extra canned black beans need to be used right away, as they do not store well in the refrigerator. A great way to make use of the extra black beans is to blend them in the food processor with a little olive oil, then stir in some salsa to make a bean dip for corn chips.

Steak Salad

Serves 4


4 cups romaine lettuce broken up into bite-sized pieces

4 cups fresh baby arugula, hard stems removed

2 cups diced cooked potatoes

1 ½ cups fresh tomatoes

½ cup chopped red onion

3 cups steak, cut into bite-sized pieces (hot off the grill, leftover or prepared ahead of time)


½ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup grumbled Gorgonzola or goat cheese

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine the romaine with the arugula, add the potatoes, tomatoes, onions and steak, then toss ingredients altogether. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, then stir in the cheese. Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss well. Any extra dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

Prawn Salad

Serves 4


4 cups romaine lettuce broken up into bite-sized pieces

4 cups mixed baby greens

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 avocados cut into small pieces

2 cups fresh mango cut in bite size pieces (nectarines work well too)

2 dozen medium cooked prawns

¾ cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)


½ cup olive or hazelnut oil

¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

Combine the lettuce and baby greens with the chopped basil; add the avocados, mango, prawns and macadamia nuts, then gently mix altogether. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt. Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss. This particular salad also works really well dressed with Galeos Toasted Sesame Seed dressing mixed with a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown on Sept. 18. It’s tradition to serve apples and honey as symbols for starting the New Year on a sweet note. Years ago, I found a honey cake recipe that is very moist with a mild spice flavor and not overly sweet. I also love that it uses both honey and apples. I’ve made it as a layer cake with cream cheese frosting, but it can also be served as a single layer dusted lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

Honey-Applesauce Cake

Dry Ingredients:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground allspice

Liquid Ingredients:

1 cup clear honey

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)

1 cup strongly brewed tea, cooled to room temperature

3 large eggs

¼ cup orange juice

1 1/3 cups unsweetened


1 tablespoon vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack placed in the middle. Generously butter or spray two 8 or 9 inch spring form cake pans or a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, then line the pan bottoms with parchment paper and also grease or spray the parchment. This is a cake that has a tendency to stick, so don’t skip this step.

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine the honey with the oil and mix well. This is an important first step with the wet ingredients, as it prevents a soggy top from forming on the cake. After you’ve mixed the honey and oil, in this same order, whisk in the cooled tea, eggs, orange juice, applesauce and vanilla with the honey and oil mixture and blend well. Slowly add this mixture to the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly .

Pour the batter in to the prepared pans and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to

50 minutes or when a cake tester (even a tooth pick) inserted in cake comes out clean with no wet batter sticking to it. When done, remove from oven and let cool in pans on a wire rack for ten minutes. Take a sharp knife and release cake from the sides of pan, then invert on wire rack to cool completely. Don’t forget to remove the parchment paper!

When the cake is completely cooled, in a medium bowl, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese until well blended and smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is smooth and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla. If you want a sweeter taste, just add more sifted confectioners’ sugar. Be sure to sift the sugar first, otherwise it will have lumps that you can’t beat out.

This recipe yields about 3 cups, enough to frost the middle and top layer and then some. There is no need to frost the sides. This cake is so moist and delicious even on its own. This is one of those cakes that tastes even better a day or two after baking.

Enjoy and L’Shanah Tovah (a happy, healthy and good New Year)!

Cynthia Shifrin can be contacted by e-mail at

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