Quinoa Salad

Quinoa, Cucumber and Cherry Tomato Salad
I’ve been attending cooking classes at Sur la Table and the first class I attended was called, “Healthy Mediterranean Cooking.” Chef Bradley Curtis was a superb teacher. Not only did he share several easy and healthy dishes, but he taught us good knife skills and introduced us to spices and herbs from around the world. I was excited to learn how to use Moroccan preserved lemons and Northwest African harissa. I could not wait to get home so I could use these two ingredients in my recipes, and this salad was my first creation.

I used quinoa because it is an excellent source of iron, phosphorus, fiber, and riboflavin. It is gluten-free and one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein. Doctors and nutritionists call it a “super grain.” A natural soap-like substance, that is bitter, covers each grain. It is said that the bitter taste deters birds and insects from eating it. So, that also means it is low in pesticides.

Spring is here and it’s a good time to get back on track on eating right. Here’s a salad that’s “super” good!

Quinoa Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 Minutes
Serves: 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 seedless English cucumber, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup finely chopped green onions, white parts only
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoons pumpkin/sunflower seeds, (optional)
1 tablespoons dry cranberries, (optional)
1 tablespoon raisins, (optional)

Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin. If it is not washed, the grains taste bitter or soapy. So, rinse the quinoa well under cold water and drain. It helps to use a fine mesh sieve to do this. Boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, but an additional rinse doesn’t hurt. Put the rinsed quinoa into a saucepan and add vegetable broth or water. The quinoa to broth/water ratio is 1:2. Add a little salt if you are not using broth.

Cover and bring to a boil. When it starts boiling, turn the heat to low. The lid should be slightly ajar, to prevent boiling over. Simmer for 20 minutes. It’s just like cooking rice. The grains get a bit transparent when it is cooked, except for a little spiral sprout. Use a fork to fluff it up and then let it cool.

Once the quinoa comes to room temperature, put it into a large bowl. Add cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green onion, and cilantro. Set aside and make the dressing.

Ingredients for dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2-3 tablespoons harissa, (depending on heat and your preference)
1 small Moroccan preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 garlic clove, minced

Directions for the dressing:
Whisk lemon juice, honey, harissa, preserved lemon, pepper, and salt in a small non-reactive bowl. Heat olive oil in a small non-stick pan and when it shimmers add cumin seeds and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds and then turn off the heat. Cool and drizzle the seasoned oil into the rest of the ingredients that are in the small bowl. Whisk vigorously.

To finish the salad:
Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetables. Toss gently. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour. It can also be kept in the refrigerator overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and raisins just before you serve.

Note on how to use Moroccan preserved lemon: Remove lemon from the bottle with clean utensils to avoid contaminating the inside of the jar. This way, the remaining contents of the jar will not need to be refrigerated. Rinse the lemon under cold water to remove excess salt. Cut the lemon in quarters. Scoop off the insides. With a sharp knife remove the pith. Dice the lemon rind into small 1/8-inch cubes or finely chop.
Quinoa salad Harissa2

Blueberries and Melon with Honey-Lime Dressing

Fruit Salad

Did you enjoy watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe this summer? I look forward to summer because I enjoy the wide variety of fruits that are available. Don’t forget to eat your fruits in the autumn as well! The watermelons that I picked up from the local farm stand recently were the best.

Here is a simple recipe for blueberries and melon with honey-lime dressing. Make it for breakfast, brunch, or for a light supper.

Blueberries and Melon with Honey-Lime Dressing
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup honey
1 lb honeydew
1 cup fresh blueberries
A few mint leaves for garnishing

Whisk lime juice and honey in a small bowl. Cut the honeydew into bite size pieces and put them into another bowl. Add the blueberries to them. Drizzle honey-lime dressing over them, and toss gently. Serve in pretty individual glass fruit bowls and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Arugula Salad with a Middle Eastern Twist

Hannah's Salad 1Every now and then my friend, Hannah, and I cook together. It was at one of those sessions that she whipped up this salad for lunch and shared the recipe with me. A salad within a salad, might be the best way to describe this dish. It’s a complete meal, full of protein, and fiber. Thank you, Hannah. It has become one of my favorites.

The Middle Eastern twist takes the ever popular arugula, mango, and avocado salad from ordinary to extraordinary! The recipe that I’ve included for the chickpea, black bean, and spice relish makes more than what you will need for the arugula salad. But I love having extra. It makes for a great side salad, by itself, and keeps well in the refrigerator. You can also combine it with your favorite salads to make them more elaborate, fancy, and nutritious.

I used Trader Giotto’s (Joe’s) Balsamic Glaze to make the vinaigrette. But you can use balsamic vinegar, if you desire. And one more note, before I end. I like choosing an “almost” ripe mango for the salad. That slightly tart-sweet taste of mango adds another dimension to this flavorful salad. You’ve got to taste it, to believe it!

Arugula Salad with a Middle Eastern Twist
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6

1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
5 cups baby arugula, (about 5 ounces)
1 “almost” ripe mangoes, (pitted, peeled and diced)
2 ripe avocados, (pitted, peeled and diced)
1 small red onion, (thinly sliced)
1 cup chickpea, black bean and spice relish, (see recipe below)

To make the vinaigrette whisk the balsamic glaze, lemon juice, shallots, and sugar in a small bowl. Slowly pour in the olive oil, while whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large salad bowl, combine the arugula, mango, avocado, and onion. Just before serving, add the dressing and toss gently to coat. Top with one cup of the chickpea, black bean, and spice relish. Serve immediately.

Chickpea, Black bean and Spice relish
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 12

1 (15.5 oz) can garbanzo beans, (drained)
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, (drained)
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, (blanched, skinned, and diced)
½ cup diced shallots
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped mint
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1/8 teaspoon chilli flakes, (optional)
1 garlic clove, (minced)
¼ teaspoon black pepper powder

Combine garbanzo, black bean, tomato, shallot, parsley, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, chilli, garlic, pepper, and salt together in a bowl. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, for the flavors to blend. Use about a cup of the relish for the arugula salad and store the rest in the refrigerator for use later.

Potato Salad

Potato Salad3
America’s independence day is around the corner and one of our family favorites for 4th of July celebrations is potato salad. I usually use Russet potatoes for my salad but this time I experimented with Yukon gold potatoes instead. I’m happy to report that I really liked the flavor and texture it added to my otherwise simple recipe. The smoked paprika also added great depth of flavor. Try it and let me know if you feel the same as I do.

Happy 4th of July.

Potato Salad
12 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 3 lbs)
5 eggs
6 cornichons (small pickled gherkins), chopped
3 whole green onions, chopped (use white and light green parts only)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1¼ cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper

Wash and boil potatoes in salted water until they are tender when tested with a fork. Drain, cool, peel and chop into bite sized cubes.

Place the eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water. Once the water comes to a boil, cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Cool, peel and chop them into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, cornichons, green onion and celery. Add mayonnaise, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Gently stir so that it coats the potatoes, eggs and other ingredients evenly. Refrigerate for at least three hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Thai Salad

Thai salad1Last year I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Thailand. The food was incredible and they made sure that I had an opportunity to taste everything. The only fruit I didn’t taste was durian. Maybe next time!

I thought I would share with you a Thai inspired salad. It’s 100% vegetarian – no fish sauce. The dressing is easy to make and my family loved it. I use maple syrup which gives the dressing an unusual flavor. It’s a great companion to your favorite fiery Thai dish, but compliments non-Thai dishes as well.

Thai Salad
1 head Napa cabbage, shredded (6-7 cups)
1 head purple cabbage, shredded (6-7 cups)
1 large English cucumber, julienned
3 small carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups shelled edamame, cooked
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup roasted peanuts to garnish

Put all the above ingredients, except the peanuts, in a large salad bowl. The recipe for the cilantro and lime dressing is given below.

For the Cilantro and lime dressing:
1 cup lime juice
¼ cup Turbinado sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
2 cups roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind

Blend lime juice, sugar, maple syrup, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a blender until smooth. Remove the dressing into a small bowl and stir in the grated lime rind. Top each serving of salad with two tablespoons of dressing and garnish with roasted peanuts. Serve the remaining dressing on the side, because people always ask for more!