quinoa salad with burst cherry tomatoes + herbs.

This recipe comes from me being inspired by my newest favorite cookbook, Plenty. It is the perfect book to get inspiration from this time of year, when summer produce is so plentiful — no pun intended!

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The original incarnation of this dish had you leave the tomatoes raw and bulk out the salad with grilled sourdough bread – YUM. I will totally be making it the way it was written, but I’ve been overdoing it a little on carbs recently, so I decided to leave out the bread and just make this with the quinoa and vegetables. Still very delicious, filling, and packed full of vitamins and protein. Hooray!

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You can definitely leave the tomatoes raw if you’d like — I just prefer cherry tomatoes roasted or thrown into a very hot pan for a minute or two; they begin to just burst, and they get even sweeter. I also think the juxtaposition of them against the cold, raw cucumber is just lovely. The salad is coated simply with some red wine vinegar and a touch of olive oil, but I think the real star here are the fresh herbs. We are using both fresh mint, which I love in savory salads, and cilantro, which has that herbal bite that cannot be replicated with any other herb. I know cilantro is controversial, so feel free to sub in parsley for all the cilantro haters. If you want a decidedly Italian spin, use fresh basil.

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Like most grain or seed-based salads, this gets even better as it sits, making it great for picnics, parties, or lunches during the week. Enjoy!

quinoa salad with burst cherry tomatoes + herbs.
inspired by the grilled sourdough + quinoa salad from Plenty. 

ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup/8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 english cucumber, peeled, seed scooped out, and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1.5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

directions
Cook the quinoa according to package directions (1 cup quinoa/2 cups water). Once cooked, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and add to a large mixing bowl.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet (stainless or cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering but not smoking, add the halved cherry tomatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomatoes just begin to burst. Remove from the pan and set them aside.

Once the quinoa is at room temperature in the bowl, add the sliced red onion, diced bell pepper and cucumber, and burst tomatoes. Stir to combine.

Add the mint, cilantro, red wine vinegar, remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and pepper. Toss together. Taste, adding more salt or pepper if desired. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a starter/side. Keeps well in fridge for 3-4 days.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

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cucumber, tomato + pineapple salad with chili lime dressing.

I love the flexibility of salads. Vegetables, fruit, grain, rice… the possibilities are endless and you can really let your creativity run wild. Today I have a light, bright and utterly refreshing option that will cool you down on even the hottest of summer days.

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Pineapple and cucumber make a beautiful pair, as evidenced in this agua fresca. We are adding in fresh mint and cilantro, which gently perfume the salad, and accent the slight citrusy heat of the dressing. This is an absolute cinch to put together, making it great for last minute entertaining. You can also make this ahead of time, but do not dress until ready to serve, as the garlic and lime can muddy the flavors of the fruit (yes! All three main ingredients are technically fruits!) and alter the texture.

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This was a hit at my dinner party the other evening, and I know you’ll love it, too!

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cucumber, tomato, + pineapple salad with chili-lime dressing.
adapted from epicurious.com 

ingredients
1/2 English seedless cucumber, sliced lengthwise and seeds scooped out
2 cups pineapple, quartered, sliced again lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 roma tomato, seeds scooped out, sliced into strips, and diced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint

dressing
2.5 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

directions
Dressing: mince the garlic clove and then add the salt to the minced garlic. Smash back and forth with the flat side of a heavy chefs knife, mixing together to create a garlic paste (will not be smooth). Work with for a few minutes until the salt and garlic begin to combine. Add this to a small mason jar, and add the jalapeño, starting with one tablespoon (work your way up according to your heat preferences), sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and oil. Seal jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, add all to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Refrigerate if making ahead of time.

Add cucumber, tomato, pineapple, cilantro and mint to a large bowl and pour dressing over (start with half and work up if you like a wetter salad). Stir gently, transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 as a starter/salad.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

light chinese chicken salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette.

It seems ubiquitous that my 100th post(!) is a salad. I suppose it would be completely appropriate if my salad was lemon-themed, but let’s face it, I am just not that organized, and lemons were not in my meal plan this week, aside from my daily warm lemon water routine (<– SO good for you!).

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However, today’s recipe is a salad of Asian inspiration, which is fitting, seeing as Asian flavors are ones that I never, ever tire of. Do you have flavors/cuisines like that? Even with the copious and frankly embarrassing amounts of ginger I consume on a weekly basis, I can never get enough. So I bring you a light and healthy Chinese chicken salad. I don’t think this recipe is authentically Chinese in any realm, but these salads have enjoyed massive popularity for years. Sadly, most restaurant versions are positively laden with sodium and fat, and before you know it, your “healthy” meal has turned into a calorie bomb. No thank you.

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Here, we are grilling our lean chicken breasts (you can use boneless, skinless thigh meat if that’s what you prefer), throwing tons of delicious veggies into our salad, and topping off with a delicious dressing that is rich, thanks to the sesame oil, but not cloying at all. Sliced, roasted almonds provide the crunch factor, and provide us with healthy fats which keep us fuller, longer. This is one recipe I can make over and over again, and never tire of. I hope it’ll do the same for you!

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light + healthy chinese chicken salad.
inspired by many of the Chinese chicken salads I’ve had over the years. 

1 heart of romaine, chopped
2 cups savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup roasted, sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
sea salt and black pepper

dressing:
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari, or gluten free soy sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

directions
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients except oil into a blender. With the blender on medium, stream in the tablespoon of oil to emulsify. Pour into a container and set aside.

To cook chicken: Turn the grill, grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet onto/over medium-high. Season chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. If using a grill pan or skillet, add in one teaspoon of grapeseed oil to the pan to heat. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter, and cut into thin slices.

To assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl add cabbage, lettuce, carrots, red bell pepper, cilantro, almonds and sesame seeds. Add half the dressing, and lightly toss. Top with chicken and additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish salads.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.

Hi there! Are your Thanksgiving plans and preparation in full swing? Whether you are hosting, cooking, or tasked with bringing a dish, I have something for you today that definitely deserves a spot on your holiday table. This salad is rich yet healthy, and it’s remarkably simple to make!

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Now, I can probably guess what you’re thinking: a salad… really? It’s Thanksgiving! Turkey, potatoes, stuffing… it’s a meat and potato lovers dream meal! That may be true, but I love vegetables, so I’m always very excited when I’m asked to bring something vegetal and green to the table. This is bright and punchy, which is a refreshing contrast to all the heavy dishes. The roasted pears help add richness and make this salad feel holiday special.

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Arugula is spicy, and is complemented nicely by the bright pomegranates and my favorite lemon dressing. I used a raw sheep’s milk cheese, but crumbled goat cheese would be lovely in this salad. This will be on my holiday table, and I hope it’ll make on yours, too!

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.
adapted from Wegmans Menu Magazine, Fall 2016.

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ingredients
5 ounces (weight) baby arugula
2 large red pears, cored and quartered
2 ounces pomegranate seeds
2 ounces toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

lemon dressing 
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
few dashes of white wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
scant 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 small shallot, chopped
salt and pepper
dash dried thyme
* you will have leftover dressing; will keep up to 10 days

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss pear quarters with tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper (1/4 teaspoon each, give or take). Toss well and spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through. Once lightly caramelized and tender but not soft, remove from oven and let cool completely.

While pears are cooking, add all the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil into the blender. While the blender is on, slowly stream in the oil to emulsify.

In a large bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cheese and arugula. Add 1/4-1/3 of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Plate onto a serving platter and top with roasted pears. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Easily doubled or tripled.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

beef noodle bowls with sesame ginger dressing.

I’ve been trying to get more iron into my diet. I recently had some blood work, and it was revealed that I’m pretty deficient in my iron stores. I’ll soon be starting on some iron supplements, but I truly believe that the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is through food. Since beef is one of the most well-known sources of iron, I figured it was the perfect starting point. I had a beautiful, lean top round steak in my freezer, and one Friday evening I decided to grill it up. It was nearly 1.25 pounds, so I had a lot leftover. Regular leftover steak sounded boring, so I made the leftover meat a focal point into a brand new, remade dish: asian beef noodle bowls.
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What a hit. Delicious cold, room temperature or hot, this is the ideal lunchtime food. I ate it cold on day one, and heated up the next day at work and both were equally delicious. You can bulk out the noodles with extra vegetables, and a delicious, luscious sesame ginger dressing. The dressing is thin, but coats the noodles, vegetables, and meat in the more delicate way. Give this a garnish with some sesame seeds and additional scallions, and you have a takeout-worthy dish that will simultaneously help you repurpose leftovers and clean out your vegetable crisper. Win-win!

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beef noodle bowls.
dressing adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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ingredients
6-8 ounces leftover steak, thinly sliced (top sirloin, hanger, skirt, flank)*
4 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat thin spaghetti
1/2 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil

salad dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1/4 cup tamari)
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil (can use olive or grapeseed)
1.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar OR coconut palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

directions
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, take the leftover steak out of the fridge to pull the chill off of it.

Make the dressing: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms, carrots and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just slightly tender. Remove vegetables and add to the noodles. Add the scallions and beef and 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine, adding more to your taste.

Divide amongst two bowls and top with sesame seeds. Eat cold or warm.

Serves 2.

**Please use grass fed beef and organic ingredients wherever possible**

Note: If you do not have leftover steak, you can simply sprinkle your choice of steak with sea salt and pepper and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Let rest and slice, proceeding with the recipe.

 

 

 

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.

Can I give you one last hot weather recipe before the summer ends? I know it’s after Labor Day, but it was 90 degrees here yesterday, so I think it’s appropriate. This is an old school recipe, too. Cucumber salad. Not just any cucumber salad. A cucumber salad that teeters ever so slightly on the verge of too sweet, but yet somehow manages to stay just perfectly balanced between sweet and tangy. Ergo, the name of ‘sweet and tangy cucumber salad’ was born. I’m so clever.

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I received a container of this from my mom when she was visiting, courtesy of my grandmother, who sent it over from a picnic. My aunt was the one who had actually made it. I thought the original incarnation of this recipe was too sweet, so I cut back on the amount of sugar and oil, which is reflected in the recipe below. The onion becomes milder as it sits in the dressing, so I recommend making this at least an hour prior to serving.

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Take this to any end of summer picnics, and watch it disappear. Sometimes simple, family recipes really do take the cake.

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.
courtesy of my Aunt Terri’s recipe. image

ingredients 
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 onion, very thinly sliced
dressing:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon celery seed

directions
Combine the sugar, vinegar, oil and celery seed into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Turn off and let cool. Set aside.

Peel cucumbers (if desired) and thinly slice and equal amount of cucumbers and sweet onions. Cut about an 1/8 inch thick. In a large bowl, combine the cooled dressing and the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Note: The onion’s sharp flavor will decrease as it marinates in the dressing.

Serves 6 as a side.

**Please use ingredients wherever possible** 

 

raw corn + grilled zucchini quinoa with smoky lime vinaigrette.

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This salad is so simple and perfect for hot late summer days. It makes an amazingly simple dinner, and is even better the next day for lunch. I like this both warm and at room temperature. The salad is both gluten free and vegan, but if you wanted to add some additional protein, I think grilled shrimp would be divine.

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I didn’t even cook the corn for this, I simply cut it off the cob and added it to the bowl. If you prefer, you can cook the corn, but I love the simplicity of sweet, raw corn. I also thought the juxtaposition of the grilled zucchini and raw corn was just lovely.

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The vinaigrette really takes this over the top though. The dressing gets some smokiness from the cumin, but we’re going to up the ante by grilling the limes. Yes! The squeezed juice will retain some of that smoky, caramelized flavor and will punctuate the finished dressing. Only a minute or two is needed on the grill (or grill pan!).

raw corn and grilled zucchini quinoa salad with smoky lime vinaigrette. 

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ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cobs
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

dressing:
1-2 limes, grilled (see note below); 3 tablespoons of juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

directions
Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush olive oil onto zucchini slices. Grill 2 minutes per side, oiled side down first. Oil the other side. Once barely tender, remove from heat. Slice down the middle vertically, and then rotate, cutting the slices into 1/2 inch pieces.

While the zucchini is grilling, cut the lime(s) in half. Grill the lime, cut side down, for 1 minute per side. Remove and juice the grilled lime halves. (*I had a very juicy lime, so one lime yielded more than enough juice).

Once you’ve juiced the limes, make the dressing. In a blender, add the lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Turn the blender on, and stream in olive oil until well combined.

In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, raw corn, grilled zucchini, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Taste, and add the rest of the dressing if needed. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

spinach + strawberry salad.

As mentioned in the previous post, today’s recipe is dedicated to my favorite way to serve this luscious poppyseed dressing.

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I hesitate to even call this a ‘recipe’. A quick search on Google will show you a plethora of spinach berry salads, but for good reason! They are so, so delicious and seasonal.

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Strawberries out of season? No problem! Simply substitute blueberries, blackberries, or even peaches! Don’t like almonds? Simply use walnuts or pecans. What I’m trying to say is that this is incredibly flexible to suit your taste buds and pantry items. I like to add cool cucumbers to offset the sharp onions, and some shredded carrots to complement the sweet and ripe strawberries.

The combo of tender spinach, berries and that sweet and tangy dressing is a beloved classic for a reason.

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All tossed together with the dressing and ready to devour.

spinach + strawberry salad.

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ingredients
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup raw almonds, sliced
1/4 cup cucumbers, sliced into half-moons
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup carrots, shredded
sea salt and pepper to taste
poppyseed dressing

directions
In a large bowl, add all salad ingredients, and spoon over some dressing (two tablespoons is plenty for me, but I like my salads lightly dressed). Toss gently and serve immediately. That’s it!

Serves 2 for a main dish salad.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

cucumber, blueberry + mint salad with feta.

The poor cucumber. I don’t think it gets nearly the amount of recognition and respect it deserves. It’s full of vitamins, and is incredibly hydrating, as it is made up of mostly water. A cucumber is part of the curcurbits, or gourd family. Watermelons also belong to this family, which makes sense once you think about it. Cucumbers and watermelons are both very water-dense, and have a mild flavor. Don’t hide cucumbers amongst lettuce-based salads… let them shine as the main attraction! I’m confident this salad fits the bill.

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This recipe is incredibly simple to put together and beyond refreshing. Cucumbers, blueberries, mint, a simple white wine vinaigrette, and DONE. Couldn’t be easier.

This recipe is vegetarian, gluten free and low calorie, making it perfect for crowds with all types of dietary restrictions. To make vegan, simply omit the feta. Trust me, it’s just as delicious without it!

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cucumber, blueberry + mint salad with feta.
adapted from wegmans.com

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ingredients

3 seedless English cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and then quartered lengthwise,  and cut into half moons (should yield 4 cups)
1 pint of blueberries, picked and rinsed (should yield 2 cups)
3 tablespoons of mint leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons crumbled feta

dressing
3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

directions

Peel cucumbers. Half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop the seeds out. Cut each half in half lengthwise again and slice in 1/2 inch pieces. In a large bowl, add the cucumbers, blueberries, chopped mint leaves and crumbled feta. Salt and pepper to taste (no more than 1/4 teaspoon of each).

To make dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the white wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper Slowly whisk in olive oil until completely incorporated and results in a thickened dressing (makes about 1/3 cup).

Add 1/4 cup of the dressing to the salad and mix well, adding all 1/3 cup if desired.

Cover and chill. Best served same day. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

 

cranberry almond broccoli salad (no mayo!).

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I LOVE broccoli salad. The tangy, creamy dressing, the smoky bacon permeating through each bite, the fact that you can eat fresh raw broccoli by the bowlful and still feel good… it’s the best! Unfortunately, the traditional recipe is laden with fatty mayonnaise, tons of bacon and, sadly, it’s no longer a guilt free dish. I treat myself to it at one of the hospital cafes, as it’s better than chips or potato salad (as tasty as they are!).

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Happily, I was flipping through my new issue of Cooking Light, and they had a recipe for a twist on the salad, made with dried cranberries and slivered almonds with a combination yogurt and mayo dressing. I am super mayo-averse (the sight of it gives me shivers…. yuuuuck!), so I used all plain Greek yogurt as my dressing base and it turned out fabulous. As a bonus, the yogurt provides extra protein. Yay! P.S. Yes, I hate mayonnaise. I know it’s weird. Not as weird as me hating ice cream. Which I do. Please don’t hate me…

This is better the longer it sits, so try and plan for a few hours between preparation and serving (one hour to chill, at minimum!).

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This salad is gluten free, and it makes a large amount, so it’s great for crowds and parties. Welcome to your new picnic and potluck favorite!

cranberry almond broccoli salad (no mayo!).
recipe barely adapted from Cooking Light.

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ingredients

4 cups coarsely chopped broccoli (about one bunch)
3 pieces of thick, center cut bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup unsweetened, dried cranberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of plain 2% Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon raw wildflower honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

directions

To cook the bacon: I like to cook the bacon in the oven. Arrange the slices on a baking rack placed over a sheet tray. Cook in a 325 oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping once around the 10 minute mark. Let cool, chop and set aside.

Place the diced onions into a small bowl, and add cold water. Let soak for five minutes (this helps temper the sharp raw flavor). Drain.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, honey, cider vinegar, salt and pepper together. Add the chopped broccoli, red onion, cranberries and almonds. Toss well to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Serve cold or at room temperature. Keeps for 2 days.

Serves 8 as a side.

**Please use all organic ingredients**