Spicy Quinoa Cucumber and Tomato Salad

 

Lately, I’ve been determined to make more room in my pantry, so I’m making a concerted effort to use ingredients I already have to plan my meals. It’s kind of like an overcrowded closet…until you start cleaning it out, you really don’t even know what all you’ve got!  Such is the case with my pantry, so when I ran across some organic red quinoa, I decided it was time to make a meal! Hubby had the Traeger Smoker fired up and ready to smoke some chicken breasts, so I thought a nice healthy quinoa salad topped with a bit of protein sounded like perfect way to top of a beautiful day of sunshine!

Spicy Quinoa Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Spicy Quinoa Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Spicy Quinoa Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Quinoa:

  • 1 Cup Organic Red Quinoa (or use any quinoa you like)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth or water)

Rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking. Combine broth and quinoa and pinch of salt in medium saucepan.  Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

Salad:

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup fresh mint, chopped (or more to taste)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¼ – ½ serrano pepper, minced (can use jalepeno for milder spice or omit altogether)
  • 1 lime, zested then juiced
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Combine cucumber, tomatoes, mint, shallot, serrano, lime zest and lime juice.  Toss together, and drizzle with olive oil.  Add cooked quinoa, fold to combine and add salt & pepper to taste.  Add more lime juice if desired.

  • If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

On a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, hubby and I visited a fun little store called Olive & Kickin’.  It’s a vinegar and olive oil tasting room, and we had such a good time tasting all the different flavors. By the time we finished tasting (and buying), we ended up shipping a full box back home! One of my favorite vinegars I purchased was the Cranberry Pear White Balsamic, and I couldn’t wait to get back home and figure out a way to use it!  I found a roasted squash salad by Giada De Laurentiis that happened to call for a white balsamic vinaigrette to be drizzled over hot roasted squash.  It sounded delicious, so I decided that would be my experimental dish for my new vinegar. I made several changes to the original recipe, but in the end, it was not only a beautiful salad, but delicious as well. There are so many varieties of white balsamic vinegars to choose from out there, and they would all be good on this salad.  I’ve used a peach flavored one that was excellent!  Experiment and see what you like best!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cherries and Pistachios

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

 

Peeled and sliced butternut squash ready for the oven!

Peeled and sliced butternut squash ready for the oven!

 

YUM!

YUM!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Salad:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup roasted pistachios
  • Crumbled gorgonzola cheese (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°.

For vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together in large bowl, and set aside.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up.  Place sliced squash on the pan and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, tossing well. Arrange the squash in single layer, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, and immediately drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette allowing it to cool and absorb the flavors.

Combine the arugula, cherries and pistachios with the remaining vinaigrette tossing to coat.

To plate, put marinated squash slices on platter and top with dressed greens.  Sprinkle with additional cherries and pistachios if desired and top off with gorgonzola cheese.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils…Great for Lentil Salad!

I continue to be amazed and thrilled at the products carried by Trader Joe’s. Every time I visit, I make it a point to leave with several new things to try, and, soon I’ll post a complete list of my favorite items.  Today, however, it’s all about their “ready-to-eat” steamed lentils that are in their produce section.  I’m a huge fan of lentils, and while they’re not difficult to cook, its just so darn convenient to buy them ready to go! These lentils come vacuum-packed and ready to use! I love keeping protein packed salads in my fridge for a quick lunch, and this was an instant favorite the first time I made it. Quick & easy, full of flavor and healthy, too! It’s a win/win in my book!

Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad

Trader Joe's Ready to Eat Lentils

Trader Joe’s Ready to Eat Lentils

Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ⅓ cup green onions, diced
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice or more to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Preparation:

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper and set aside. Put lentils, red bell pepper, celery, green onions and parsley into large bowl. Add dressing and combine well.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • I like using the rainbow colored carrots when I can find them at Trader Joe’s. They add such pretty color to the salad!
  • Feel free to add or delete veggies to your taste.  Sometimes I’ll add diced cucumber if I have it, or I’ll use red onion in place of green onion.   I’ve also thrown in some baby arugula which was delicious!  Use your imagination and make it your own!  🙂

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Steak and Tomato Salad

 

With temperatures soaring into 3 digits over much of the country, who wants to heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven?  Not me, that’s for sure! It’s time to fire up the grill, and throw on a hunk of meat!  We have some wonderful grass-fed beef in our freezer (thank you, Becky!), and the other night, I was craving a good steak.  I had the pleasure of enjoying this salad years ago at Morton’s Steakhouse and thought the presentation was just beautiful.  Use the best tomatoes you can find for this showstopper “main meal” salad! It’s a great way to use leftover steak as well!  DELISH!

Steak and Tomato Salad

Steak and Tomato Salad

Steak and Tomato Salad

Steak and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

  • steak, grilled to your liking
  • onion (I use red), thickly sliced and grilled alongside the steak
  • tomato, thickly sliced
  • lettuce leaves
  • blue cheese, crumbled
  • dressing, your choice

Preparation:

Place two large lettuce leaves on a plate, stack the sliced onion, steak and tomato. Sprinkle cheese around the plate and dress with your choice of dressing.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • I prefer a light red wine vinaigrette to dress this salad.  Whisk together ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon sugar and salt & pepper to taste.  Slowly whisk in the oil in a steady stream until thickened.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Lemony Chicken & Spring Veggie Soup

I try LOTS of different recipes, and I find them in all kinds of places…magazines, cookbooks, friends and all over the internet.  Today, I’d like to share a soup I found over on  “The Cozy Apron“.   Not only is it delicious, but beautiful, too!  I think you’ll enjoy the blog.  I sure do!

Just click on the link above, and it will take you right to the recipe! Enjoy! 🙂

lemony chicken and spring veggie soup

Photo by:  “The Cozy Apron

Quick Tomato Soup

This recipe was a great find for me! My standard, go-to recipe calls for roasting fresh tomatoes in the oven.  Don’t get me wrong, that produces a great tasting soup, but sometimes I don’t have that kind of time!  I’ve hesitated trying recipes that call for canned tomatoes, because I just didn’t think they’d measure up, but I’m here to tell you that canned is the way to go! Use the good ones (San Marzano) and the tomato flavor will shine!  And who knew canned tomatoes have a higher concentration of cancer-fighting lycopene than fresh?  Bingo! A quick soup that’s healthy AND tastes great!

I made some of Nordstrom Cafe’s Parmesan-Garlic Crostini to go with the soup. Fantastic!

Quick Tomato Soup

Quick Tomato Soup

Quick Tomato Soup

slightly adapted from “Eating Well” Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley or thyme, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup half-and-half (optional…I did not add this)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper to taste

Preparation:

Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme (or parsley) and cook another 30 seconds, lowering heat if necessary so that garlic does not burn.  Stir in canned tomatoes with juices, add broth, and bring to a low boil over high heat.  Reduce to simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Either puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (take care when blending hot liquids).  Stir in salt & pepper and half-and-half if using.  Garnish with either thyme or parsley.

LIZ’S TIDBITS:

  • You can easily double the recipe, and it freezes really well.  Use three 28-ounce cans of tomatoes if doubling. Do yourself a favor and buy the good San Marzano tomatoes.  You will be glad you did!

If you like this post, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Orange, Avocado & Shaved Fennel Salad

Trader Joe’s is one of my all-time favorite grocery stores!  They carry so many great things, and I love checking out their most popular items to try…(see this article and this one, too!)  One of my favorite products is this Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar.

Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

It’s absolutely delicious! I use it with extra virgin olive oil on salads, (think roasted beets, walnuts, feta cheese and mandarin oranges splashed with this vinegar) or mix with a bit of roasted sesame oil and use on top of Chinese Chicken Salad.  It can also be used straight from the bottle for marinating fish or chicken!

The other night, I mixed it with olive oil and splashed it over a salad of baby arugula, freshly sliced oranges, shaved fennel and shallots with some diced avocado.  It was OUTSTANDING and PRETTY, too!! 😉

Blood Orange, Fennel & Avocado Salad

Arugula, Orange & Fennel Salad

Orange, Avocado & Fennel Salad

Adapted from Epicurious.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 oranges, peeled (all pith removed) and sliced crosswise
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (some fronds saved for scattering on top)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed

Dressing:

  • 5 Tablespoons Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Whisk together until well combined.

Preparation:

Place arugula on a platter and top with fennel, oranges, shallots and avocado.  Drizzle with dressing and add some freshly cracked pepper and some of the fennel fronds.  Bon Appetit!

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • The use of a mandoline is very handy for shaving the fennel and shallots!
  • Thinly sliced red onion can be substituted for the shallot if preferred! And as always, use more or less of anything depending on your taste and preference!

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

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