Roasted Grape Tomatoes Salad in Balsamic

Appetizer, Salad

“Make me sweet again, fragrant, fresh and wild, and thankful for any small gesture.” -Rumi-

Speaking of sweet, fragrant, fresh and wild, here’s another easy side dish recipe. Thought I’d share before 2013 ends. Happy 2014 to all, may our new year be sweet and filled with gratitude.

Roasted grape tomatoes

roasted grape tomatoes

The fresh, cute, and candy-like grape tomatoes always make wonderful salad and snack. A recent eat-out at, an oldie but goody, Italian restaurant gave me a delicious alternative on how to enjoy them: roast and drizzle them with balsamic! Oh, how they became even sweeter!

Here’s how I did it:

  • 10 oz. of grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 garlic (whole or minced doesn’t matter)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (add more if you want)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Place the halved tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle a little bit of salt, and mix with both hands
  • Roast for 15 minutes
  • Let them cool down for a five minutes
  • Place them in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: Make it peppery by adding arugula!
  • Great to serve together with Spaghetti ala Puttanesca and Roasted Portobello with Breadcrumbs

Thanks for stopping by…

Other source of recipe idea: Roasted Grape Tomatoes Recipe by Claire Robinson

Quinoa Salad with Smoked Salmon, Avocado, and Peppers


Quinoa salad with smoked salmon, avocado, and peppers by Tiny Chili Pepper

A wholesome salad makes a great power-booster lunch. The other day, I was in the mood for quinoa. So, I combined it with a mix of sliced avocado, smoked salmon, red bell pepper, and cayenne pepper that I dressed in lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, and a little bit of honey. The taste of smoked salmon mixed with creamy avocado, crunchy peppers, and nutty quinoa blended well with the tangy and sweet vinaigrette. What a party in a salad bowl!

Quinoa by Tiny Chili Pepper

Mix the avocado, smoked salmon, and peppers TCP

Here’s my ingredient list:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 avocado (sliced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 slices of smoked salmon (sliced)
  • 1 cayenne pepper (chopped)
  • Lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of honey


  • I followed the quinoa cooking instruction on its package: bring it to a boil with two cups of chicken stock and lower the heat to let it simmer for 15 minutes in a covered pot
  • In a medium bowl, I whisked lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, and honey together to make the dressing
  • Mixed the avocado, salmon, and peppers with the dressing. Cover and chill in the fridge
  • Let the quinoa cool down for a bit, place in a salad bowl, and topped with the avocado, salmon, and peppers

Serve two

Great for bring-lunch-to-work menu (keep it chilled) or as a meal after an exercise.

Have a great weekend, all!


Summer Party on a Plate: Grilled Sea Scallops, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, and Beets Orange Salad

Salad, Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

There are days when I get highly motivated. When they come, something like this materializes:

Party on a plate by Tiny Chili Pepper

Moved by a warm summer day with the perfect breeze, I went a little overboard with Wednesday’s dinner menu.  I wanted something light and colorful.  Grilled scallops, mango salsa, and guacamole immediately came to mind. But as I walked around the farmers market, I also got some beets (and a lot of other things!). I had never cooked beets before but I was curious about it.


When I got home, I realized that I forgot to get cilantro for my mango salsa and guacamole. So, I substituted with green onions, which worked out quite well for both dishes—though I still prefer using cilantro. For this version of my mango salsa, I chopped 10 cherry tomatoes, two garlic, four cayenne peppers, and three green onions in a food processor. I added a little bit of lime juice and salt to the salsa before I mixed it with the mango slices. I also cut more cherry tomatoes, each into four pieces, and added them to the mango salsa.


For the guacamole, I followed the recipe I wrote last year. The combination of creamy avocado with cumin, lime juice, salt, garlic, and onion made such a wonderful treat (cilantro would add a fantastic taste and aroma to it too). And it wasn’t hard to make at all! I like to have guacamole and mango salsa as side dishes for grilled fish as well.

Guacamole by Tiny Chili Pepper

For the sea scallops, I marinated them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice from one lemon, salt, and pepper. After 15 minutes, I threaded the scallops onto the skewers (which I have soaked in water for about 15 minutes prior to using). It’s much easier to grill scallops this way. Then, I grilled them for about three minutes on each side.

Grilled Sea Scallops by Tiny Chili Pepper

I saw a recipe called Perfect Roasted Beets with Orange Slices in a magazine and was intrigued by it. I basically followed the recipe but did not have sherry vinegar so I went without. The result? The orange slices and juice gave sweet taste to the dish. But the beets’ earthy flavor was definitely something for me to get used to. Let’s see, maybe I could find a different beet recipe to try. Do you have one to recommend?


Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

A Favorite Summer Salad

Salad, Vegetable Recipes

Hi all! I hope you are having a wonderful summer wherever you are. Doesn’t it seem like the season is evaporating so quickly?

This summer, I found a favorite salad combination: arugula, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, walnut, peaches/apples/nectarines (pick one or use all of them), with fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice- based dressing mixed with olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, green onions, and cayenne peppers.

Summer Salad by Tiny Chili Pepper

Arugula has this wonderful peppery taste that I like so much. The selection of bountiful summer fruits add natural sweetness to the bite. Salty feta cheese, crunchy walnut, chopped green onions, and cayenne peppers liven things up with their distinct flavors. Oh, and the dressing! It enhances the peppery, tangy, sweet, and refreshing taste of this salad. Such a great companion for grilled fish/shrimp/sea scallops, turkey sandwiches, or even steak.

Summer Salad with Grilled Turkey Sandwich by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s the list for the salad (serve 2):

  • 3-4 cups of arugula (you could also add radicchio or other greens that you prefer)
  • ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup of walnut (chopped or not, you decide 🙂 )
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 peaches/apples/nectarines (sliced)

For the dressing, mix the following in a bowl:

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • ½ tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 2 cayenne peppers (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper

Optional: you could also add a little bit of dill to the dressing

Combine the arugula, walnut, cheese, and fruits in a big bowl and mix with the dressing. Serve immediately. My mouth is watering as I type up this recipe 😀

What’s your favorite summer salad? Do share.

Thanks for reading!

Recipe inspiration came from: Arugula, Watermelon, Feta Salad by Ina Garten

Easy Summer Menu: Sweet and Spicy Corn Salad


A few weeks ago, Jeff prepared a corn dish to serve alongside our steak and tomato salad. He basically just cooked thawed frozen corn kernels in a little bit of butter and cayenne pepper powder. I couldn’t believe how that simple process produced such a delicious dish. I was hooked and inspired to create a salad out of it.

This colorful salad just screams summer, don’t you think? 🙂 It’s a little sweet and spicy, lemony, crunchy, and mmm…it’s got that wonderful cilantro’s fragrance!

Here’s what we will need for my version:

  • A bag of thawed frozen corn or peeled fresh corn kernels from four to six ears
  • One tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • One red bell pepper (cored and chopped)
  • Cayenne pepper powder (I also added three fresh cayenne peppers. But PLEASE adjust to your piquant-tolerance level)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • A handful of chopped cilantro (if you’re not a cilantro fan, go with parsley).
  • Lemon juice from 1 lemon


  • Heat up a medium pan
  • Melt the butter
  • Add the chopped bell pepper and corn kernels. Cover with a lid and let cook for 5 minutes (until the butter and water that comes out of the corn and bell pepper start to bubble).
  • Remove from the heat
  • Add salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne powder, cilantro, and drizzle with the lemon juice. Mix and serve. You could also chill it in the fridge and serve it cold.

This time I served the corn salad with grilled lamb shoulder and tomato salad. Delicious!

Easy Summer Menu: Colorful Tomato Salad


I like tomatoes. They are so colorful, plump, and cheerful. When I was little, mom used to make a refreshing treat out of tomatoes. She’d cut them up, mixed with crushed ice, and sprinkled sugar on top of them. Delicious!

I have two tomato plants growing and I can’t wait until they start bearing fruits! Since I can’t have my own home-grown tomatoes yet, I got these wonderful and colorful ones from the market the other day and turned them into a delicious summer salad!

I just sliced the tomatoes in big wedges, sprinkled them with a little salt and black pepper, drizzled an equal amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (you could also use red wine vinegar instead of balsamic if you want), and added basil leaves I picked from my container garden. I covered the plate and chilled it for a bit before serving. Easy and yummy!

I served this salad with the steak that my guy grilled for us and the sweet and spicy corn salad (next entry) that he also made. Mmm…another fabulous dinner!

Couscous Salad – A Side Dish


Cooking gives me a chance to expand my creativity and sense of taste. For someone who gets easily bored with food, learning and trying many combinations of ingredients, spices, and herbs is important. Recently I tried to expand my salad creativity. Though preparing salad isn’t cooking, finding a good balance and combination of color, taste, and texture matters as much as it is in cooking.

One day I had been in the mood for a hearty salad. I had couscous, garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes, baby arugula, and artichoke hearts. For the vinaigrette, I wanted something lemony and tangy but with a kick. I thought of my good friend Deniz while making this salad. Many moons ago, she taught me that couscous and garbanzo beans (and other fresh veggies too) made such a good combo.

I did this version of mine in no time at all. The result was this substantial and nourishing salad that worked well as a side dish to my grilled halibut or sea scallops (which I also served with my roasted butternut squash with Gouda and pine nuts).

Here’s how I make the salad:

  • Bring ½ cup of chicken stock to a boil
  • Turn off the heat and pour ½ cup of couscous, stir, cover, and let it sit for a minute. Once the couscous absorbs all of the liquid it swells up and becomes cooked and tender.
  • In a salad bowl mix the cooked couscous, a can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), a handful of grape tomatoes (halved), a cup of baby arugula, and a few marinated artichoke hearts.
  • In a smaller bowl whisk ¼ cup of olive oil, salt, black pepper, a teaspoon of minced garlic, chili powder, lemon juice (from one lemon). Add a tablespoon of Sriracha hot chili sauce or a teaspoon of Tabasco hot sauce for an extra punch.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette on the salad and mix
  • Serve 2-3 people 

Arugula, Radicchio, and Heart of Palm


In my previous articles, I raved about chef Anne Burrell’s braised short ribs and celery root and potato puree. Another great side the chef did to accompany her amazingly delicious short ribs was Roasted Acorn Squash and Portobello Mushroom Salad with Radicchio, Apples and Pumpkin Seeds. What a great combination! Unfortunately I simply did not have enough time that night. So I added that salad to my next-to-try list.

Burrell’s salad recipe, however, inspired me to do a different combination. One that took less time to prepare: Arugula, Radicchio, and Heart of Palm salad.

Here’s how I prepare my simple but flavorful salad:

  • Mix olive oil, apple vinegar, salt, black and white pepper powder, and a half of a teaspoon of minced garlic in a cup (the mixture fills half of a cup)
  • In a salad bowl, a handful of baby arugula, one small radicchio (cut into thin long strips), and a can of (3-4 sticks) of heart of palm (cut to medium chunks)
  • Drizzle the salad with the dressing and top with grated Parmesan cheese

The soft and delicate heart of palm smoothly balanced the peppery arugula and spicy radicchio while the Parmesan cheese added its natural saltiness to the salad. A great side to the braised short beef.

Serves 2

Serve with:

Special Braised Short Ribs Dinner – Going Gourmet at Home

Celery Root and Potato Puree
For complete recipes view the source of my inspiration:

The Secret to Short Ribs : Secret of a Restaurant Chef : Food Network

Salad Mix: Avocado, Artichoke Hearts, and Hearts of Palm


Holiday Dinner Menu (Part 2)

(See Part 1 : Roasted Butternut Squash with Gouda and Pine Nuts)

The salad that I prepared for the holiday dinner contained three things I loved: artichoke hearts, avocado, and hearts of palm. I found this recipe a while ago from Food Network and saved it in my recipe collection. Please click here to read the original recipe: Avocado, Artichoke Hearts and Heart of Palm Salad served in Lettuce Wraps

A few things I modified from the original recipe were:

-For the dressing, I used apple vinegar instead of white vinegar. I also drizzled a little olive oil and sprinkled some chili powder to give this salad a little kick.

-I added grape tomatoes for more flavor and color.

Canned hearts of palm are available in most grocery stores.

-The author called for butter lettuce as the serving cups for the salad. Unfortunately I did not have the time to do it. So I chopped the lettuce and mixed it with the rest.

The crunchy poblano pepper, cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes gave a wonderful balance to the tender and buttery artichoke hearts, avocado, and hearts of palm. So delicious!

Note: Next time, I’d like to try another modification using the three main things: avocado, artichoke hearts, and heart of palm. I’d add grape tomatoes into the mix, drizzle all of them with olive oil and apple vinegar, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. I think this variation would make a great appetizer.