Easy dinner recipes: Refreshing salad ideas and more for Meatless Monday

Refreshing salad ideas and more come together in minutes, perfect for Meatless Monday

Keep it simple this Meatless Monday with refreshing salad ideas and more that come together in minutes:

Spinach and strawberry salad with thyme-infused vinaigrette: Make the most of the glorious strawberries to be found in the markets right now, tossing them with a simple spinach salad flavored with a fresh, bright, thyme-infused vinaigrette. You can find the recipe below.

Persian-style herb and cheese platter: Fresh herbs, rich feta cheese, flatbreads, halvah, spring onions and radishes make a colorful platter, perfect when you want something light and easy to end the day.

Persian cucumber salad with walnuts and golden raisins: Sliced cucumber and radishes are tossed with a tangy yogurt dressing, with crunchy walnuts and golden raisins folded in at the last minute before serving.

SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH THYME-INFUSED VINAIGRETTE

Total time: 30 minutes, plus steeping time | Serves 4 to 6

Note: This makes three-fourths cup dressing. Save the remaining dressing, refrigerated and covered, for 1 week.

1/2 cup best-quality olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided (any variety of strongly flavored thyme will work; lemon thyme gives a particularly nice flavor)
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, finely minced (1 generous tablespoon)
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 pound baby spinach leaves (about 12 cups), stemmed, washed and dried well, and any large leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, preferably red and yellow, washed, dried, hulled and sliced lengthwise
4 sprigs thyme or strawberry blossoms for garnish

1. Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan and heat over low heat until warm, about 2 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the oil into a small nonreactive bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon thyme, and allow the mixture to cool and steep, at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

2. Whisk the vinegar into the cooled thyme-oil mixture until well-blended, then whisk in the mustard, shallot, remaining chopped herbs and salt and pepper. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

3. Place the spinach in a large salad bowl and drizzle the vinaigrette over by spoonfuls, tossing after each addition until the leaves are just slightly glossy with the coating. Pile the salad evenly among 4 chilled plates, and arrange the strawberry slices evenly on top of each. Garnish with strawberry blossoms if available, or with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Each serving: 159 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 316 mg. sodium.

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