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Red quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato & arugula

I haven’t exactly been “burger free” since my last post… but this salad is satisfying, packed with nutrition & proves healthy food can taste almost better than a burger. It’s also gluten free & vegetarian.

I’ve never made a quinoa salad but I’ve tasted plenty. The good ones seem to have very flavorful dressings, texture and the right balance of savory and sweet. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair and minus the olives is very similar to a greek salad. I threw in some dried sour cherries but feel free to use any dried cherry, cranberry or craisin.



For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (or any citrus fruit you have)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (or cranberries, craisins, etc)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup pistachios


In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with lime juice, vinegar & agave nectar. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients, except for the feta & pistachio. Add cooled quinoa. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Top with crumbled feta & pistachios before serving.

Sesame chicken & kale salad

We would like you to create timeless memories when we Cook for Labor Day, so we have done exclusive research on the various top recipes dishes or items that you should have for this upcoming day.

Kale is a weird green. I put it in green smoothies and cover it up with lots of fruit. Outside of smoothies & soups, I think it’s pretty awful. Until now! I had this salad at a local Dallas eatery & paid 12.99/lb. It’s so simple… no need to pay more than I’d pay for a steak!

Use whatever vinegar you like (rice wine would be great) as it really breaks the kale down. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.



For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange & muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1/2 bag tuscan kale, cut, washed & tough stems removed
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed


Mix the vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients – toss, cover & let sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Spiced chickpeas & fresh vegetable salad

Lots of chopping I know… but lots of satisfaction at the end. I promise. Try a little greek yogurt drizzled on top – it’s delicious!


  • 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 small cucumbers (10 oz)
  • 2 large tomatoes (10.5oz)
  • 8-1/2 ounces radishes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and 1/4″ dice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and black pepper


Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into 2/3-inch dice; cut the onion into 1/4-inch dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly. (Take care when dressing the salad. I found I only needed about half of the dressing).

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread on a plate. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Serve this salad on a plate, in a large circle with the warm spiced chickpeas on top. You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

I’m not sure there is a better summer salad than this gorgeous and light panzanella. You can use any tomato and you can even Sandra Lee it up and use croutons from the store. I had a loaf of cheddar & garlic bread to use… but my friends ate most of the croutons before I assembled the salad. So I mixed in the store bought ones. Just as good.


  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped roughly
  • 3 cups of baby herb salad blend or arugula
  • Croutons, recipe follows (or use store bought)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan


For the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and preheat a cookie sheet in it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

For the salad: Lightly salt the tomatoes & cucumbers and drain in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the croutons & dressing (or let sit 15 minutes).

For the dressing, whisk together vinegars, salt, pepper, garlic & olive oil. Set aside.

In a bowl combine the tomatoes, arugula, onion, basil, salt, and pepper and dressing. Add the croutons and toss well. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Lime Bulgur Wheat Salad with Cucumbers & Tomatoes

In Texas we’ve been complaining about the heat for months. It’s been a long summer and my kitchen has gotten a big break – I’ve just not felt like cooking (my absence explained). But when my friend Laura brought over this salad a few weeks ago it was decidedly the thing I was going to make and could enjoy eating in 107 degrees. My inspiration will return in the Fall – already have lots of new things I can’t wait to share.

This recipe is based on the traditional tabouleh salad, a popular Middle Eastern side dish containing vegetables, olive oil and spices, get recipe here. There are a few differences – the use of lime and much less parsley, which I prefer. The base of bulgur wheat and the vegetables makes it super nutritious and a perfect summer side. I like to add grilled chicken or shrimp and make it a meal – but it’s a perfect side dish for my Greek Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Yogurt Sauce.

Bulgur wheat is a natural whole grain food that is quick cooking and very nutritious. It’s high in fiber, rich in B vitamins and has fewer calories, less fat, 4 times the folate and more than twice the fiber of brown rice. It’s nutty flavor is perfect in this Mediterranean inspired salad.


  • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 large English cucumber (or 2 medium garden variety), peeled, seeded & diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup wheat bulgur (fine)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


In a medium bowl add the wheat bulgur and lime juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and layer as follows:

1. Cucumber
2. Salt
3. Onion, cumin, coriander & parsley

Refrigerate for 2 hours then remove and add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and feta and mix all together.

Serve as a side dish or make it a meal by adding grilled chicken or shrimp.

Spring Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Meyer lemons are just brilliant. The sweet mandarin orange and lemon hybrid is the perfect citrus for just about any dish. It is much more sweet and less tart than a typical lemon. They make a perfect salad dressing, are incredible squeezed over roasted vegetables or fish and make a fabulous lemon tart.

With my leftover roasted asparagus from Easter I threw this simple salad together. Throw in what you have in the fridge and forget about measurements.


  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • tomatoes
  • radishes
  • avocado
  • red onion or shallot
  • dried cranberries
  • pine nuts, toasted
  • blue cheese, goat cheese or feta cheese
  • spring mix or any lettuce mix

For the dressing:

  • Juice and zest from 1 meyer lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 375. Toss asparagus with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast until crisp tender, about 10-15 minutes depending in the diameter of the asparagus.

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until well mixed.

When asparagus has cooled, chop into bite size pieces (about 1-2 inches)and add to a large bowl with remaining salad ingredients. Pour salad dressing over the top and mix to combine.

Louisiana Shrimp Salad

Not exactly a “winter” dish but a refreshing break from the warm and filling soups and sides on the menu. Gulf shrimp has been a steal for the past month. I’ve been buying a pound a week and keeping them cooked in the fridge for snacking and salads.

This recipe is another from a friends grandmother, Pat Lacy. Simple and beautiful. This would make a beautiful appetizer served in endive leaves.

Tip: When cooking your shrimp, add some Old Bay and lemon juice to the cooking liquid for added flavor.


  • 1 pound cooked and cleaned shrimp
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, small dice
  • 1 cup celery, small dice
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tobasco or hot sauce
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper



Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve on lettuce. 4 servings.

Spotlight Montréal: Patati Patata (Sundried Tomato, Balsamic and Coriander Vinaigrette)

Patati Patata

location: 4177 boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montréal, QC

Every trip I take has “the list” and this list contains the essential places I want to eat. Most often the list is comprised of places well known by locals and cuisine I can’t get at home. I do my research as nothing is more disappointing, albeit to me, than suffering through a mediocre meal when a mouthwatering meal is two doors down.

The infamous Patati Patata was at the top of my list of local favorites. It is SMALL with just two tables and one short counter. No one seems to mind and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s also cheap – hard to spend $10 for food and a glass of the local St. Amboise beer on tap.

I must admit I have a soft spot for this place after meeting a few of the master grillers the previous night at my favorite Montréal bar: Quai des Brumes. We shared some libations and they included me in their celebration of Mathieu’s upcoming voyage. As luck would have it I got an invite to dinner on the following night and witnessed his last call on his last shift after 7 years at the Patati. Mathieu’s loyal diners were in tow to wish him bon voyage.

The food was better than good. It was fantastic. Burger, fries and salad seem to be a favorite and I was not disappointed. In fact, I went back the next night for more. On a tip from my lovely local I had the fish sandwich (done on the grill not fried) and more salad, which is the honest reason for my return. I became an addict for the salad dressing. Sundried tomato, balsamic and coriander is my favorite of the two very creative dressings they serve. Sour cream, basil & sesame oil being the other equally creative dressing.

I’ve been home 1 week and have tried to recreate it twice. This last try was the closest I’ve come until I can get back to Montréal and sweet talk my remaining new friends at the Patati for the recipe. The secret is the coriander and I ground it fresh as I had coriander seeds waiting to be used for something special.

Until I return to the Patati this will be my tasty reminder. Enjoy!


  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon shallot
  • 1 tablespoon red bell pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


In a food processor whiz the sundried tomatoes and garlic until fine. Do not puree – it needs to have some texture. Place the pulp in a jar or container you can store in the refrigerator when done. Next add the shallot and red bell pepper to the food processor and whiz until chopped very fine. Add to the jar with the balsamic vinegar, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator.

My Nicoise Salad

This salad was inspired by a classic Nicoise Salad with its fresh anchovies, potatoes and green beans. Since my fish choices in the freezer were salmon or salmon I ended up here.

If you do anything MAKE THE SALMON CAKES. They are perfect on their own and remind me nothing of the old canned salmon patties my mom made (sorry mom).

I am also picturing these on a sandwich with a spicy rémoulade (think po’ boy).

The dressing is compliments of my great friend Laura and is her signature dressing. I make this weekly and store it in the refrigerator so I alwasy have it near and ready for greens.


For the salmon cakes:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 pound skinless salmon fillet, chopped
  • 8 Ritz or Club crackers, coarsely crushed

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 salmon cakes (recipe above)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 6 small new red potatoes, quartered and cooked tender
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, cut into quarters
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 6 ounces green beans, blanched or steamed crisp
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained


To make the salmon cakes stir together all ingredients (except olive oil) in a medium bowl. Form salmon mixture into 4 (3-inch) patties. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, then cook salmon cakes, carefully turning once, until golden and salmon is just cooked through, about 6 minutes total.

Mix all ingredients for dressing in a small jar and close lid. Shake until combined.

To assemble the salad, just before serving toss the beans with enough vinaigrette to fully moisten them. Arrange all pieces on a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Serves two.


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