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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.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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

I should start labeling recipes as “Trader Joe’s Recipe”. Since they’ve opened a store near me I’m there every Sunday & I can’t get enough of their produce (and their prices).

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.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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!

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

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.

Corn and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Chimichurri

This was an accident waiting to happen… the kind of accident that lots of “needy” veg in the fridge & a pool party in need of a snack brings on.

It must have been that large bunch of parsley just begging to become chimichurri.

Chimichurri wears many hats in my kitchen. A topper for eggs, a dip for bread, a sauce for lamb & salmon… a spoon full of satisfaction can go a long way. The edge of vinegar, garlic & slight heat of crushed red pepper add a delicious dimension to the sweet vegetables.

Use any green vegetable you have on hand. Green beans would be great too. Serve as a side or even better – scoop it up on a chip.

INGREDIENTS

Vegetables

  • 6 ears of Fresh Corn – cooked & kernels removed
  • Bell Peppers – 2 red, yellow or orange
  • Sugar Snap Peas – 3 cups
  • Heirloom Tomatoes – 1 pint, cut in half or quarters

Chimichurri

  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stems
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

To make the chimichurri, add the parsley, fresh oregano, and garlic to a food processor and pulse several times. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil with the food processor running. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Remove the core from the bell peppers and cut into large pieces. Rub the peppers with a little olive oil & bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. They should be slightly soft but still have some crunch. When cool, cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Boil the sugar snap peas for 3 minutes. Remove the peas from the hot water and place in a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain. Set aside.

To assemble toss the corn, tomatoes, peas & bell peppers with the chimichurri sauce (you may not need all of it). Adjust seasonings. Serve room temperature.

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

Croutons

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

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.

Chargrilled Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill & Capers

 On my most recent trip to London I came across a foodies paradise – Ottolenghi. When I walked in the front door my eye didn’t know where to look first! Beautiful floating layers of salads, whole grains, breads and OH MY desserts had my mouth watering. This cauliflower salad is a perfect example of why Ottoleghi is so successful – he brings bright and satisfying flavors to the simplest of vegetables.

I can’t get my nose out of his cookbook so expect lots more from Ottolenghi on The Fifth Tine.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon French whole grain mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A good handful of arugula
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • sea salt
  • pepper

DIRECTIONS

You can make the dressing in a food processor or by hand (we used the processor). Mix together the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding half the oil in a slow trickle. You should get a thick, creamy dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add the cauliflower to a large pan of boiling salted water and simmer for just 3 minutes. Drain and run under a cold tap to stop it cooking further. Leave in the colander to dry well, then put it in a mixing bowl with the rest of the olive oil and some seasoning. Toss well.

Heat a ridged griddle pan over the highest possible heat and leave it for 5 minutes or until it is really hot. Grill the cauliflower in batches – don’t over-crowd the pan. Keep turning until they are nicely charred all over and transfer to a bowl. While the cauliflower is still hot, add the dressing, dill, spinach and tomatoes. Stir together, taste and adjust seasoning again.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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. 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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

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.

Insalata Caprese – Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Salad

In April I planted 5 tomato and a 3 sweet basil plants with this exact picture and post in mind. I’ve cared for these plants like children… and it was worth every bit of work to taste this dish that came from my backyard.

Some of the best meals have few ingredients but top-rate ingredients are essential. All you need is a knife, beautiful vine-ripened summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and great olive oil to have this “salad in the style of Capri” on your table in 3 minutes or less.

Serve alone or with crostini.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, optional
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

On a platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Season salad with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon, Parmesan & Cranberries

Brussels sprouts raw and thinly sliced are delicious… who knew? Surprisingly very mild, the Brussels sprouts in this slaw-centric recipe are paired perfectly with some salty bacon, sweet dried cranberries and crunchy nuts. Mix and match what you have on hand – walnuts, feta, goat cheese, golden raisins or cherries – it all works.

Tip from my kitchen: Slicing little Brussels sprouts on a mandolin is dangerous work (I have 3 fingers to prove it). Opt for the slicer blade on your food processor – it’s quicker and safer.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup (1/8 ounce) tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crispy & crumbled
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or Craisins)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Holding each Brussels sprout by stem end, cut into very thin slices using a mandolin or the slicer blade in a food processor. Toss in a bowl to separate layers. Add pine nuts, bacon, cranberries and parmesan cheese.

To make the vinaigrette whisk mustard and vinegar together. Drizzle in olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Pour over salad and toss to combine.

Grilled Romaine with Steak, Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan

Summer in Texas can leave you at a loss when it comes to meals. A steak can sound so appetizing but the sides are just too much. Who wants a hot potato when it’s 105 degrees outside? This is one of my favorite ways to make a salad a meal.

Grilling lettuce is quite brilliant. The goal is to get a slight char on the outside leaves but the inside remains crisp and cool. Your lettuce will have more flavor than you ever thought possible… for lettuce anyway.

Being that my favorite condiment is balsamic vinegar I usually drizzle mine with the good stuff… but a cold blue cheese dressing would be over the top.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 pound flank steak
  • Cherry tomatoes (as many as you want)
  • Parmesan cheese (as much as you want)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar or dressing of choice
  • Salt & Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat grill and set to medium flame.

Season steak with salt, pepper or your favorite seasoning (I like Montreal steak seasoning) and grill to your desired doneness. Set aside to rest before slicing.

While steak is resting, cut the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes per side – just long enough to get some char on the outside leaves.

Arrange lettuce on a large platter and top with steak slices, tomatoes and shavings of parmesan cheese. Top with balsamic vinegar or your dressing of choice.