Tag Archives: salad

Mexican-style Salad

30 Sep

In an attempt to make some healthier choices (I’m even back at the gym after a prolonged absence. Helllooooo, muscles I’d forgotten about!), I’ve been ransacking some cookbooks I haven’t opened in a while for inspiration. In the book Get Naked in the Kitchen, there is a pretty great recipe for a Mexican taco salad bowl. I made minor adjustments to the original to suit both my taste and what was in my cupboard. The end result had everything you could want in a healthy meal: it was filling, it was easy, it had lots of flavour, it was balanced, it came together in 25 minutes and it’s 100% adaptable. You can substitute the lemon juice for any vinegar, the brown rice for white or quinoa, the flavouring of the black beans or the black beans for another kind be it white, pinto, black-eyed peas…whatever you like. You could also throw in some tortilla chips for extra crunch. Give it a go!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

3-4 c greens (I used baby arugula)
2 tb olive oil + 2ts for beans
1 tb lemon juice
1 c brown rice, cooked
1 can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 ts cumin
1 ts chili powder
splash of water
1/2 sweet pepper, chopped
1 avocado
Salt & pepper
handful of cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Cook the rice according to directions.
2. In the meantime, heat the 2ts of olive oil in a pan to a medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and sauté until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.
3. Add in the beans, cumin, chili powder. Toss in salt & pepper to taste. Stir together and then add a couple of splashes of water to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook another 5-10 minutes until the water evaporates.
4. Slice the avocado in half. Remove the pit and cut the flesh into cubes. Season with salt, pepper & lemon or lime juice.
5. Toss greens and red pepper in a bowl with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Split evenly on two dishes, making a well in the middle.
6. Plate rice in the well among the greens and then top with beans, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce if you so choose.

How I Learned to Love the Garden

27 Aug

I have always appreciated food though, admittedly, I have learned to appreciate it on new levels in the last ten years. I’ve certainly always enjoyed eating and reaping the rewards of others’ hard work; now, I understand just how much work goes into getting that food to my hungry mouth.  It’s not like I wasn’t exposed to food production as a child: my dad maintained a wonderful garden in our backyard that had carrots, beets, tomatoes, peas, beans, chives, rhubarb, cucumber and whatever else he felt like planting (like the year he tried corn. I kept hoping for ghost baseball players to appear. Sadly, neither the corn nor the ghosts deigned to show). We also had cherry, pear and apricot trees along with a raspberry bush and grapevines. Homegrown fruits and veggies we did not lack. We also had a walnut tree but in the 20+ years we lived in our house, no one ate a single, solitary walnut. We’d find them on the ground with six tiny, squirrel bites taken out of them. Tree rats are the worst. What I lacked was the interest in cultivating them. My parents would send me into the yard to pick whatever was ripe at the time and I’d inevitably come back with about 50% of what needed to be picked. What can I say? I was more interested in something SUPER IMPORTANT like whether or not Zack and Kelly‘s eternal love would be torn asunder by the evil Jeff.

Fast forward to 2007. I am now living in an apartment with J and ruing the lack of outdoor space to grow my own food. We would buy basil plants that would, inevitably, wither and die in record time. We did see some success planting mint in my dad’s garden. So much success, in fact, that the mint spread over the next few months and by the following summer, was rather intrusively making its way into the rest of the garden. That was bolstering, though. “I can actually grow things,” I remarked as my dad looked on, happy I’d taken an interest in gardening but dismayed by the herb that was now embedded in the chives and beans and peas and…

Jump to 2012. J and I are house hunting. We come across a house with a slightly wild but charming front yard and an absolutely lovely backyard with lush, red cherry tomatoes. “This has potential,” I think to myself excitedly. The sight of those gorgeous tomatoes has stirred something inside me and I can imagine spending quiet afternoons planting and weeding and watering and enjoying the fruits of my labour. The day we took possession of the house, I went straight to the yard and plucked one of the tomatoes from the vine and popped it in my mouth. “That’s it. I’m growing everything I can back here.”

Next spring, my dad arrived at the house with tomato seed packets and a container with soil pods to get them started. I took a surprising amount of delight planting the little seeds and watching them grow into full blown…seedlings. My dad planted them in one of the gardens and I tended to those things like I tended to foodNURDling. By August we had fresh, plump cherry, Early Girl and beefsteak tomatoes.

Wee tomatoes.

Wee tomatoes.

 

Emboldened by my success, I started to hatch plans for summer 2014. I planted beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, green, red and jalapeno peppers, basil, lemon thyme, rosemary and mint. When each ripened, I happily picked ALL of the fruits and vegetables and gave each to the foodNURDling. As he happily gobbled down cucumber and tomato slices, I called my mom:

“Mom! A thing I grew is eating a thing I grew!” I almost wanted to cry.

It was A Moment for me. Growing food for me and my family. This is how I learned to love my garden.

Warm Cauliflower & Herbed Barley Salad

21 Feb

I am always looking for new ways to incorporate grains and veggies into our diets.  This recipe appeared in an issue of Bon Appetit magazine and I thought it had excellent potential. Yes, the dressing has mayo but it’s only one tablespoon for an entire head of cauliflower and a pile of barley.

A lot of people don’t seem to care for cauliflower that much (“It smells like feet!” a friend once exclaimed), but I’ve always liked it. It’s especially nice here with little caramelized spots lending some sweetness to each floret. You can most definitely do this salad ahead of time and it’s even better the next day. I made mine without the beans as none of those goes over particularly well in our house, but I have no doubt they could work in the salad. Instead, I doubled the amount of barley.

Serves 4 with lots of leftovers.

Ingredients

1/2 c pearled barley
1 tb lemon zest
3 tb lemon juice
1 tb mayo
1 ts Dijon mustard
6 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 15-oz can of corona, gigante or butter beans
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 tb fresh tarragon, chopped
salt & pepper

Directions

1. Place barley and 1.5 cups of water (or broth) in a large saucepan with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes. Set ‘er aside.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, mayo, Dijon mustard and 5tb of olive oil until the mixture emulsifies.
3. Heat a large pan to medium and add the remaining oil. Toss in the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Turn the florets over occasionally and cook roughly 10 minutes, until you start to see brown spots appearing. Add in 2tb of water, cover and steam for two more minutes.
4.  Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Add half of the parsley and tarragon, barley and dressing. (If you’re using the beans, this is when you would add them.) Stir to coat everything thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
5. Divide the salad among 4 bowls. Garnish with lemon zest and the rest of the herbs.

photo

Quinoa & Roasted Carrot Salad

15 Mar

In order to balance out all of the baked goods that have somehow made their way into our house (what else was I supposed to do with the Nutella? Or with the knowledge that there’s a killer bakery 15 minutes from my house by foot), I have been looking for some healthy recipes to balance out the gluttony. I came across this quinoa and carrot salad my latest issue of Bon Appétit and decided it looked perfect! Not only could I make most of it ahead of time, I could make a large batch for leftovers.

I made a few changes to suit my own taste and am really happy with how it turned out. The carrots were sweet, the feta was salty and the pepper rings added some heat. (You can find the original recipe here.) It’s an adaptable recipe, so feel free to make your own changes and let me know how you liked it!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 c quinoa, rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tb apple cider
2 tb honey
2 ts finely grated lemon zest
1 tb fresh lemon juice
2 tb apple cider vinegar
5-10 pickled hot pepper rings, chopped

10 oz feta, crumbled
1 head Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves torn

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 450F.
2. Boil 4 cups of salted water and add the quinoa. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Add in the onion and cook an additional minute. Drain and let stand 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, oil a foil-lined baking sheet for the carrots. In a medium bowl, whisk the apple cider and honey. Add in the carrots and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and place on the sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and cool.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Slowly add the 1/4 c olive oil and whisk til smooth to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the carrots and hot peppers to the quinoa. Dress with most of the vinaigrette and stir to coat.
6. Place lettuce on a plate, scoop the salad on top and finish with the rest of the vinaigrette. Crumble feta on top.

quinoa and carrot salad

Roasted Shrimp & White Bean Salad

2 Aug

This is a fantastic light – but satisfying –  salad that we tried for the first time last night. J added some lemon juice to it to brighten the flavours of the dish, which I think was a great touch. I’m generally not a huge fan of watercress, but I really liked it in this dish. Great summer salad, but would be good year ’round.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 – 14 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tb red wine vinegar
10 oz watercress
1 tb lemon juice

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. On half of a foil-lined sheet, arrange the shrimp in a single layer. On the other half, place the bacon pieces. Drizzle everything with olive oil; season the shrimp with salt & pepper. Sprinkle the sage leaves over the entire sheet.
3. On a second baking sheet, place the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
4. Place both sheets in the oven. Cook the tomatoes until they burst, roughly 12 minutes. The shrimp and bacon will likely take a few minutes longer (roughly 15).
5. In a large bowl, place the watercress and beans. Add in the tomatoes and their accumulated juices and toss to mix. Then add the shrimp, bacon and any remaining liquids to the mix. (Use your judgement: you don’t want to add all the rendered fat back into the salad, but some of it.)
6. Add in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and a little more olive oil. Toss to mix and serve!

Easy, Fresh Asparagus & Corn Salad

20 Jul

We’ve made this tasty, simple salad at home a few times and it always goes down a treat. Now is the perfect time to make it, too, with fresh corn, asparagus and basil in abundance! (My mother-in-law happened to have both green and purple basil in her garden, so that’s what he used in this incarnation.) J made it as part of my birthday dinner last week for a few of us up at the cottage and everyone commented on how much they enjoyed it – I’m sure you and your guests will, too.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

4 ears corn, shucked
1 bunch asparagus, washed, trimmed
1 small red onion, diced
1 handful of basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade (very thin slices)

1/2 c sugar
1 c rice wine vinegar
1 ts salt
1 ts black pepper

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the corn and cook 3 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath to halt cooking process.
2. With the water still boiling, add the asparagus spears. Blanch again, for 1 minute. Remove and place in an ice bath.
3. Carefully remove the corn kernels from the cobs and place in a large bowl.
4. Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces and place in the bowl.
5. Add in the red onion and basil.
6. In a small, separate bowl, mix together the sugar, vinegar, salt & pepper. Pour on to the vegetables in the big bowl and mix thoroughly. Season to taste, if necessary.

Quinoa BLT Salad

9 Jul

I stumbled across this recipe on the Dulcet Devotion site and was instantly interested: healthy salad + bacon and feta? Best of both worlds! I made a couple of minor adjustments but otherwise it’s pretty close to the original. This was a light, satisfying salad that had crunchy, salty and sweet elements that had me going back for seconds. Next time I make it, I think I’ll add in some chili flakes or Sriracha for a spicy bite.

Serves 2 (as a main)

Ingredients

1 c quinoa, rinsed
4 – 5 strips bacon
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of cilantro and/or parsley, roughly chopped
2 avocados, diced
1/4 c green onions, diced
1 lemon, juiced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tb balsamic vinegar
1 tb olive oil/avocado oil
1 ts kosher salt
1 ts black pepper
handful of greens
50 oz feta, crumbled

Directions

1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package. Place in a large bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook, drain and crumble the bacon.
3. Put the tomatoes, green onion, avocado and herbs into a medium bowl. Mix together with a little bit of lemon juice.


4. Once the quinoa has cooled, add in the olive oil, rest of the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt & pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly.


5. Add in the rest of the salad fixings and season to taste, remembering that the feta will add some saltiness.


6. Plate the quinoa salad and top with greens and feta.

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