It is especially at times like this that I love big salads. While I’m quite happy to put together a tossed garden salad a few times a week, I think I need to add a few new salads to my repertoire. We’re trying to cut down our meat intake and substitute it with as much vegetarian food as possible. So salads like this Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato & Almond Quinoa Salad are perfect. Its all vegetarian yet hearty, involves minimal cooking and so very tasty. And its not just my opinion, my husband had a second helping of this salad for dinner.
I have tried cooking with quinoa before, but it was a total fail. So I was very skeptical about trying it out again. But I decided that trying something once and never trying it again, wasn’t giving it a fair chance. So on my last trip to Costco, I just picked up a bag of quinoa. Now that I have this great big bag of quinoa, I was going to have to use it. So recently when I was looking for a salad recipe with Italian influences to pair up with my eggplant patties, I decided to look for one with quinoa in it. And when I stumbled upon this recipe, it sounded perfect. There was just one problem. I didn’t have any parsley at home. So I just used the next best thing, coriander leaves. Personally I love the flavor that coriander leaves add to any dish and I thought it worked very well with this salad. But I also know there are folks out there that cant stand it. If you are one of them, feel free to use parsley instead. I can’t wait to try it out with parsley the next time. I’m very happy to have another wonderful salad to include in my meal rotation now.
Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: Averie Cooks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups of water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly cracked lack pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced (I used the ones bottled in oil and drained them before slicing)
2 tbsp coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped
1/2 cup roughly sliced almonds
1 tsp red chilly flakes (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
Add the onions and cook till the onions have softened and have just started browning.
Add the quinoa and stir. Let it toast for about 30 seconds.
Now add the water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the rest of the ingredients.
Place the quinoa in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.
Taste and add more salt or pepper or lime if needed. If, at this stage, you find the salad too sour, add a tiny bit of sugar to balance it out. I just stuck with the quantities listed above and I didn’t need to add anything at this stage.
It stores well in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. This can be served either as a warm or cold salad.
Serve up this salad either as an accompaniment at a meal or a slightly larger portion as a meal in itself.
Since the salad was so simple, there is very little to do to assemble it. This makes it perfect if you have to make a great big batch to feed a crowd this holiday season. The homemade version was so good, I hardly got a couple of bites of it. The husband, who initially was very skeptical about the simplicity and the ‘no mayo’ nature of the salad, almost wiped the plate clean. So I can tell you that this recipe has been tried and tested and has received the highest seal of approval (well, in my house atleast).
This is not an exact recipe. You simply add the ingredients to your liking and taste and it will turn out fantastic.
Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze
A couple of handfuls of baby spinach (you could also use rocket or any salad greens of your choice)
A few cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Balsamic glaze, to taste
Place the baby spinach / salad greens on your salad plate.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and place it evenly around the plate.
Crumble some feta cheese on top. (Please note, the feta cheese is salty, so add as much or as little as you’d like. No additional salt in used as the feta seasons the salad.)
Sprinkle a little freshly cracked black pepper on top.
Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over everything to finish it off.
Sit back and look at this gorgeous work or art.
Serve up and enjoy.
I tried out this amazing Avocado Pasta Salad over the weekend and it was a big hit. There is a little stove time involved to boil the pasta and to fry the bacon, but the end result is so good, I’d say it was well worth it. I can’t wait for the next potluck or picnic, because I know that this salad will make an appearance.
The dressing is an avocado based one and is super easy to make. If you have an immersion blender, you life will be even easier. If not, just use your regular blender and you’ll be sorted. Basically all the ingredients for the dressing get blitzed together and ta-da …. you have yourself a salad dressing. I love recipes that are as easy as this. The ingredient list for the salad is just an approximation of what I used. Feel free to adjust as needed.
Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves 4 (as Main Course)
Adapted from: Spend with Pennies
2 cups uncooked Macaroni
1/4 onion, finely chopped (use a sweeter onion if you can’t stand the heat from a raw onion. You can also use a couple of spring onions, finely sliced)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup boiled / roast chicken, shredded
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 avocado, diced
4 rashers of bacon, fried till crisp and chopped / crumbled
1/4-1/3 capsicum (I used green because thats all I had. You can use red or yellow too, or even a combination of them.)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the dressing –
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (use the leaves and the stalks)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Boil the pasta till al dente, following the package instructions. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process and to cool the pasta down. Drain and set aside.
Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling, salted water till it is a vibrant green, about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how crunchy you like your broccoli. Immediately drain and immerse the broccoli in ice cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process. Drain and keep aside.
In the same pot of boiling water, boil your sweet corn kernels till done. Drain and set aside.
Get your salad ingredients ready.
For the dressing, simply blitz all the ingredients together.
Toss the salad in the dressing and refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving.
Pin now and try later!!!
Back to Sid and her blog. She hosts Tapas night once a month and her friends bring along a dish each to share. That is a wonderful idea for a potluck and they put together some pretty impressive spreads month after month. While I was perusing her blog, a few posts caught my attention. I loved the look of these Game Day Wings, and her Za’atar Pita Crisps looked intriguing. I had also shortlisted her recipe for Tonkatsu and her Candied Ginger and Lime Cookies. In the end I went with her Breakfast Salad.
I was so pleased I picked Sid’s Breakfast Salad recipe. Though it is a simple recipe, for me it was a first. I have never poached an egg before. And until now, I have always found or made excuses and put off trying my hand at poaching eggs. To be honest, I always found it a little intimidating. Today I decided to bite the bullet and give it a shot. I’m so happy that I did. Turns out, poaching eggs is actually really easy. I wonder why I waited this long to try it out. It is a really healthy way to enjoy an egg for breakfast too, because there is absolutely no oil / butter involved. I even managed to get a runny yolk and all. This might just be my new favorite way to eat an egg now. Thank you so much Sid for the much need nudge. If you haven’t tried poaching an egg yet, do give it a try.
The salad itself, makes the dish a very wholesome breakfast. I didn’t have any mushrooms in the kitchen when I set out to make this, so I left out the mushrooms. But because my husband looked and the salad leaves and then looked at me thinking I had lost my mind, I decided to coax him with a few sausages. I fried up some cheese kransky sausages and sliced them up. With some croutons and salad dressing, this makes a super yummy and hearty breakfast. You don’t feel heavy or overwhelmed with grease after sitting down to this salad. Though this was my first attempt at a breakfast salad, I know for sure this wont be the last. I really enjoyed this for breakfast. I probably enjoyed this a little more than I thought I would.
I have made this a couple of times now, once using store bought French Salad Dressing and once with my go to dressing comprising of a squirt of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Both were really good.
To poach the egg –
Bring about a liter of water to a boil in a pot.
Add 2 tbsp vinegar to the boiling water.
Crack an egg into a ramekin.
Using a spoon, stir the water a few times till you have a little whirlpool going in the pot.
At this stage, gently pour the egg from the ramekin into the water. Cook of medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or till the egg whites have just set.
Drain using a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain off any excess water.
For the salad –
A handful of salad leaves (I used the 4 leaf mix from Coles)
1 slice of bread
2 cocktail sized cheese kransky sausages
1 tsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked, black pepper to taste
Salad dressing (of your choice), to taste
I turned the sliced of bread into croutons the
lazy easy way. Simply toast it up in the toaster till browned and crunchy. Cut up into pieces and croutons are done.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry up the sausages till cooked. Carefully slice the sausages.
In the serving plate, place the salad leaves and drizzle a little salad dressing over.
Sprinkle the sliced sausages and crouton pieces over.
Place the poached egg on top and sprinkle some salt and pepper on the egg.
Here’s a peak at the runny yolk I managed to get 🙂
Don’t forget to check what the others in Group A have whipped up this month.
**Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I have just mentioned what type of salad leaves I’ve used here.
This is a 2-part meal idea. Part one is all about the lemon orzo with asparagus. All I will say about part 2 is YUM. That’s the next post. You should definitely come back for that one. Its a new favourite for me. This lemon orzo is a combination of some of my favourite things – pasta, asparagus and lemon. I love the vibrant colours and beautiful flavours. This is something you can serve up with a nice Sunday / holiday roast or as a side dish for your next lunch / dinner party. I can also see this working really well at your next backyard barbie (BBQ). Try it out and you’ll be glad to have something so simple but so delicious to add to your recipe box.
I have tried to shop for Orzo before, but have never been able to find any. I did the next best thing and bought Risoni instead. From what I understand they are very similar except for a slight difference in the size. One is made to resemble an unprocessed grain or barley and the other rice. You could use either. I should have just titled this Lemon Risoni I guess, but I’ll leave it as is, for now. I substituted the parsley with some fresh cilantro as thats all I had. Also, the next time I make these, I might either cut down or leave out the lemon zest. I love lemon zest in certain things but this time we personally found it too strong a flavour.
Lemon Orzo with Asparagus
Adapted from: Jo Cooks
Yields: 4 portions
1 bunch asparagus (about 1/2 lb or thereabouts)
1 cup chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
1- 1 and 1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 cup dry uncooked pasta (orzo or risoni)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
For the dressing –
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced / grated
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
To cook the asparagus –
Trim the asparagus and lay the spears in a shallow dish (a baking tray works best), pour enough boiling water over it to cover it.
Season with a little salt, to taste.
Cover with some cling film or another tight fitting lid and leave aside to till the water is just warm to the touch. (You can cook your pasta and prepare your dressing in the meanwhile.)
Drain out the water and cut the spears into about 2 inch long pieces.
For the dressing –
In a bowl, place the zest and juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
Add the oil and whisk till it emulsifies a little into a nice dressing. Set aside.
For the pasta –
In a large pot, bring the stock and water to a boil.
Add the salt and turmeric and bring back to a boil.
Add the pasta to the pot and cook till the pasta is done. (I like to leave it a little al dente.)
Drain the pasta.
Place the hot pasta in a large bowl with the asparagus and cilantro.
Whisk the dressing a little, if needed and add to the bowl.
Top with a little butter. (This is optional.)
This (sort of) Mediterranean Salad came together thanks to a colleague who put me on to the wonderful combination of roasted peppers, grilled eggplant and feta. She was putting together a sandwich for lunch using these lovelies and I thought to myself, I could make this into a salad and see how it works out. So on my way home, I stopped by my local Coles and went straight to their deli section and picked up some Danish feta and grilled eggplant. I have yet to work out how to make this eggplant at home. While I strongly believe that made from scratch is way better than store bought, sometimes you need to be open to using a store bought shortcut, especially when you haven’t made anything for lunch and need something real quick. Enter, store bought fire roasted peppers; another thing I want to make at home. I have made this at home in the past (you can see the post here) and need to whip up another batch.
Back to the salad. It essentially is made up of veggies, the condiments mentioned above and feta – that’s it! No dressing or anything. The best part is you wont even miss the dressing. The feta is soft, creamy, sharp and salty, so it takes the salad to a whole new level. Feel free to add or take away from this salad and make it your own. I have made this salad a few times and both, my husband and I love it. I made it with and without olives, so feel free to use them, or not. Also, toasted pine nuts on the salad would be divine. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner, but I fully intend adding them to the salad when I make it next. This salad would make a wonderful addition to any barbecue as well.
A couple of handfuls of Salad leaves (I use the 4 leaf mix from Cole’s)
1 fresh tomato, cut into chunks
Sliced cucumber (about 1/2 cups worth)
A few slivers of thinly sliced red onion
2-3 slices grilled eggplant, roughly chopped
A few slices roasted peppers, roughly chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Danish feta, to taste
Place all the ingredients except the feta in a bowl and toss together.
Crumble the feta over the salad and lightly toss.
** This salad also makes a lovely veg. sandwich.
Disclaimer: I haven’t been compensated for this post either monetarily or in kind. I just happen to shop at Coles and that’s why the mention.
Back to SRC. This month I was assigned a blog called Avocado Pesto written by Vicky. Vicky is fairly new to SRC, this month being her second. Welcome to the club Vicky! I hope you’re having fun here! Do stop by when you get the chance, there’s some lovely recipes you can pick from there. Vicky is soon going to embark on a 2 year trip backpacking around Europe and Asia along with her boyfriend D. It sounds really exciting and I can hardly wait to read about their travel exploits. My husband and I have a similar trip in mind, only not so soon. Maybe a few years down the line, fingers crossed. But I can sure use a few tips.
For this months reveal, I found it incredibly hard to stick to just one recipe. So I decided to do two instead. This was a lovely little meal in itself, easy to put together and incredibly flavorful. I made a delightfully Smokey Potato Salad. And guess what made the salad smokey – BACON. Prior to this, I had never tried bacon in potato salad, but it is so good in there, it makes me wonder why I didn’t try it out before. I used Vicky’s recipe for Grilled Chicken Thighs but pan fried mine instead of grilling it. I had to make a few adjustments due to non availability of a few ingredients. The result was still fantastic. I see myself making this quite a few times. But do forgive the picture quality – I had to use my phone for these pictures since my camera battery had run out of juice. Also, I think exhaustion makes you do some pretty weird stuff. I cannot figure out why I used this plate, you can barely see the chicken. However, do NOT let these pictures fool you. We loved the meal, and if you love fried chicken, bacon and potato salad (not necessarily in that order), I know you will too.
Smokey Potato Salad
(Serves 4-5 as a side)
2-3 potatoes, boiled and cubed
3 rashers of bacon, fried and finely sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
3/4 cup yogurt (natural and unflavored)
2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp chives (I used the dried, bottled variety)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Mix together all the ingredients except the potatoes. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Add the potatoes and stir gently to make sure all the potatoes are well coated with the dressing.
NOTE: This salad makes for great left overs. Keep refrigerated. The smokiness gets more pronounced the next day.
1/4 kg chicken pieces (You can use breast, thighs or chunks)
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp soya sauce
A sprinkle of red chilli flakes, to taste
1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt, to taste
Mix all the ingredients except the chicken, to form your marinade.
Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and toss well. Keep aside for about 30 minutes.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and fry the chicken pieces till done. (You can also grill them).
Enjoy an awesome weeknight meal!!!
The dressing is super easy to make and the only actual cooking involved in boiling some noodles. You can pretty much alter this salad to accommodate the salad veggies that you have at hand. In the past I’ve also added some leftover grilled pork and it was fabulous. I think shrimp or even chicken would make good additions to this salad. This time around, I kept it vegetarian.
Sesame Peanut Noodles
Recipe by: Nigella Lawson
1 packet noodles, boiled, drained and cooled
A handful of bean sprouts (I didn’t have any so I used corn kernels. Learn how to make you own bean sprouts here.)
2 spring onions, finely sliced (If you don’t have any, use 1 finely sliced onion)
1 green pepper, sliced (the original recipe calls for red pepper)
4 tsp white sesame seeds
4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
For the dressing –
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (I din’t have this so I used some extra virgin olive oil instead)
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter (chunky works just as well)
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together.
Toss all the salad ingredients in a large bowl reserving a little chopped coriander and some sesame seeds for garnishing.
Add the dressing and toss well to make sure that the noodles are coated well.
Garnish with some of the chopped coriander leaves and sesame seeds and serve.
Any leftovers can be refrigerated and had the next day as well.