Prepare quinoa according to package instructions. Let cool. Combine quinoa, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, parsley, cheese, olives, and mint in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator.
Serve as a side salad or add grilled chicken to make it a main dish for lunch. This is also tasty as a topper for tortilla chips. (I like Late July brand chips.)
There are scads of variations for quinoa salad. Experiment to your heart’s content and have fun.
Although a classic Nicoise salad is made with tuna, it’s nice with perfectly cooked salmon. Nicoise salad has all the light and vibrant flavors of a salad, with a satisfying heartiness too. What does Nicoise mean? A French phrase meaning “in the style of Nice (France)”, which refers to the cuisine of that area.
2 filets wild salmon, fresh or thawed
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over salmon
½ lemon, juiced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp sea salt
3 cups Boston lettuce leaves, torn
1 cup baby potatoes, boiled and quartered
1 cup green beans, steamed or sautéed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
½ cup black olives
½ cup dill leaves, chopped
Directions (Yield: 2 servings)
First, cook your salmon filets: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a pan with parchment paper. Drizzle the salmon filets with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place filets skin-side-down on to the parchment and place the pan in the oven. Salmon takes about 4-6 minutes per half inch of thickness to cook. Most filets are about an inch thick at the thickest part, so begin checking the salmon at about 8 minutes in. Salmon is cooked when the flesh has turned opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
While the salmon is cooking, make the dressing: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, honey, and salt, and whisk together until combined. Set aside.
Divide lettuce, cooked potatoes, cooked green beans, tomatoes, and olives between two shallow bowls. Remove skin from salmon and place over salads, sprinkle with dill and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.
*When I make fish, I allow about one-half pound per person.
*This is a quick dinner to make when the potatoes and beans are already cooked. Consider making excess for another meal earlier in the week so that they’re left over. Cooking the fish and assembling the salad then takes under 30 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Precision Nutrition’s Encyclopedia of Food
Basic French Vinaigrette
Makes about 2/3 Cup
Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste by dipping a piece of the salad greens into the sauce and correct seasoning with salt, pepper and/or drops of lemon juice.
Vinaigrette is always at its freshest and best when served promptly, but you can store it in an airtight container and refrigerate for several days. The shallots and fresh lemon juice will eventually go off, spoiling the taste of the dressing.
*Add minced fresh herbs to dressing as desired after all the oil has been added.
A true French salad is simply mixed greens with vinaigrette such as this. It helps to cleanse the palate between courses.
Recipe from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child
Less than two weeks out from Christmas, and I have yet to buy any presents. My priority was figuring out how to use those beans.
If you recall from last week’s blog, I had a few unruly items running amuck in my pantry that were barely out of date for best flavor and taste. Two cans of beans–Garbanzos and Great Northern–were on the list.
Should you happen to discover cans of beans hiding somewhere in your kitchen, here are some ideas for you, along with a recipe for Tuscan White Bean Salad. This is a copycat recipe from Houlihan’s that I found on Pub Chain Restaurant Copycat Recipes. If you are looking for a favorite recipe to recreate, this is a good site to check out.
That being said, I changed the copycat recipe to suit my tastes. I encourage you to do the same. Nothing really bad will happen when you stray from the original recipe a little. For example, if you don’t have a red onion, use whatever onion you have, or a few sprinkles of onion powder. The red onion looks pretty and has a little different flavor than other varieties, which is why it works well. Oh, and Mr. Non-Compliant missed out on this dish, which I’m sure will make him very sad.
Other ideas for the beans:
*Add to any soup you make. Extra protein and fiber are a good thing. (It’s a good idea to drain and rinse canned beans to get rid of the excess starch, sodium and any metallic taste that may come from the can.)
*Make hummus by mixing a can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed) in a food processor or blender with ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1 tsp. ground cumin, ½ tsp. salt. Add a tablespoonful or two of water if needed to make it the right consistency. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
*Make white bean and chicken chili for a change from traditional.
*There are LOTS of recipes for beans. I’m stopping with the salad recipe so I can go buy some presents!
Tuscan White Bean Salad
1 can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cups salad greens
½ red onion, diced
¼ cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
Place ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing.
Balsamic and Olive Oil Dressing
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp. salt
pinch of sugar
Once dressing is blended, add to the salad and lightly toss. Serve with your favorite crackers or toasted, crusty bread. Perfect as a light lunch or dinner.
This simple salad would be a nice addition to a holiday buffet, since it offers some nutritional value, which is often missing from those amazing Christmas cookies!
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Add dressing and stir to coat well. Serve on a bed of greens or in a lettuce wrap.
Creamy Avocado Dressing
Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add to chicken or tuna salad. If dressing is not creamy enough, add a bit more olive oil to make it the right consistency.
This dressing is versatile and could be used on greens or as a vegetable dip.
Finely chop romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green onions. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Toss with desired dressing.
Puree all ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.