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Posts Tagged ‘salad’

Holy cow! In the time that my baby has been sleeping, I have had time to clean up the kitchen, make this salad, photograph it, eat it AND write (however briefly) about it. A victory for mothers of active babies everywhere.

So what is it? A slight variation on my current favourite salad combo of greens, beets, goat cheese, apples and nuts. In a nod to Spring I’ve switched it up a bit with spinach as the foundation, golden beets, which are sweeter and sunnier than their dark red counterparts, toasted almonds and sliced strawberries.

Beets and strawberries? I know. But it works. Tossed with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a healthy grind of black pepper, it turns out that they all play together very nicely. And look how pretty.

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Impromptu beet and apple salad

One of the things I love about working from home, whether in a paid capacity or a parenting capacity, is that lunch is generally a foraging affair. I don’t have to be too organized about what kinds of leftovers I can bring to the office with me, whether they go together, or whether it’s more or less pret-a-manger. These days, when I get hungry for lunch I can open the fridge door and make use of the random little bits that accumulate.  In this case, it started with roasted beets.  And celery, which deserved a chance to break out of its usual functions as a flavour base in soups or a veggie snack.

I made this for lunch at home the other day, and although salad at my house is usually a bit of a slapdash affair, this time I decided to make it pretty. 

It reinforces the idea that sometimes, great food can simply be improvised.

Impromptu beet and apple salad
serves 4 to 6 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

1 head of red-leaf lettuce (an assortment of greens would also be delightful)
4 small roasted beets*
1 tart, crispy apple, such as a Granny Smith
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks 1/2″ thick
1/4 cup pepitas, toasted

Cider vinaigrette

1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. curry paste (I use Patak’s – you could also use curry powder)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

* Roasting beets is easy, but it can take a while. Simply scrub and trim the beets, toss them with a bit of olive oil and bake, covered with tin foil, at 400 degrees. Depending on their size, it usually takes no less than 45 minutes to cook them thoroughly. If you’re impatient like me, you can also halve or quarter them and they’ll cook more quickly.

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Corn salad

 This salad is perfect for these days when you have too much corn on the cob on your hands. Or, just a good excuse to buy way too much corn.

After all, the end of summer is here, folks. Best to enjoy it while we can.

Deliciously simple. No sense measuring here, just mix together in proportions that suit your taste:

Cooked fresh corn
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
green onions, minced
fresh basil, shredded
cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Delightful  served warm or cold.

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I don’t know about you, but I get tired of green salads. There are times when I just can’t get excited about greens. I want something more substantial. I want something I don’t have to load up with chicken or cheese or egg or tuna to make it exciting. I don’t feel like doing all that washing.

Enter, the complementary proteins. (Thanks, Frances Moore Lappe, who introduced me to the concept. In my world, there is nothing like a tasty grain salad, combined with other things, like beans and corn, to make complete proteins. Filling, delicious, and feels healthy.

Add to the equation quinoa, my favourite grain at the moment (though it’s technically not a grain, it’s a seed). Not only is it one of the more protein-rich grains, it has a lovely crunchy texture and also looks pretty.

This salad is a lunch favourite. The recipe makes a lot, and I eat it for a few days, which I don’t mind at all.

 

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
Makes a ton. Serves 4-6 as a side.

 For the quinoa:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
pinch salt

 For the salad:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red pepper, diced
½ cup frozen corn, thawed
1 avocado, diced
½ cup fresh cilantro, minced

 For the dressing: 
2  tbsp. orange marmalade
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
zest of one lime
juice of 2 or 3 limes, to taste
¼ cup olive or canola oil
pinch cayenne
salt to taste

In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low setting until quinoa is cooked, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. You can either combine all ingredients in a small bowl, or blend with a hand mixer, which gives the dressing a creamy texture.

Once the quinoa is cool, add in the beans, pepper, corn, avocado and cilantro. Mix in the dressing, and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

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Holy crap, what happened to March?

Right. I was really busy, went on holiday for a week, and then March was over.  So, hello!

I can’t say I have anything to report food-wise from my holiday, because, well, all-inclusive resorts are hardly culinary destinations, especially those in Cuba, where the variety is a bit lacking. Needless to say, my pregnancy-induced craving for rice and beans is safely satisfied, and I can move on with my life.

So where does that leave us? Happily, in early Spring. We’re in that awkward time of year when Spring is in the air, people are walking down the street with an extra little bounce in their step, wearing more colours instead of their dark winter jackets. The problem with this time of year is, that while our minds are racing ahead into warmer weather, the produce is still stuck in winter mode. So what’s a cook, craving greens and Spring flavours, to do? 

Here’s one idea: take a wintery vegetable to a mandoline slicer (minding your fingers, of course), add a lemony vinaigrette and toss in a handful of hothouse grape tomatoes for a juicy bite reminiscent of warmer times.  It may not be the season’s new asparagus, but it’s pretty good.

This recipe is adapted from an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats. I love that guy.

Broccoli slaw with cherry tomatoes
serves 4 as a side dish

1 head broccoli

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 tbsp. olive oil

roughly 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

Depending on the size of the broccoli head, chop it down lengthwise (along the stem) so that it’s wide enough to fit on a mandoline slicer. Then, slice all the broccoli so that the stem is roughly cut into ribbons. The florets will generally break apart, but to me the variety of texture is what makes the salad. The result will be a bit messy, though, so do this over a cutting board so you can just tip the whole lot into a bowl once everything is sliced.

To make the vinaigrette, I use the jar-shaker method. Combine the lemon juice and zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper and olive oil in a small jar and shake to combine.  Toss it with the sliced broccoli, along with the halved grape tomatoes, and add extra salt and pepper if you think it’s needed.

It can sit for a while without going limp, unlike other salads, but it doesn’t really keep well as leftovers.

Here’s what it looked like after I dove in, then remembered to take a picture:

broccoli

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