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Everything Quinoa Salad

21 Feb

I love quinoa salads.  There, I said it.  I realize I already have a few other quinoa salad recipes on my blog, but I keep coming up with new versions of the quinoa+beans+vegetables and/or fruits formula.  Today I made a salad that was sort of tropical, because it has some mango and plantain, but it’s special because it really has a little of everything.  Raisins, peas, mango, plantains, red and green onion, and more.  It also has a lime juice-based dressing, which I adore.  There is no super strong flavor in this salad.  It’s really a mix a many equally wonderful flavors and textures.


1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups water

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups of cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed and drained

1 small mango, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

4 scallions, sliced thinly

1/4 cup chopped red onioin

1/2 sliced steamed or sauteed plantain

Pepper and salt to taste

Juice of 2 limes, about 1/4 cup

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T red wine vinegar

1 T agave nectar or honey


Cook the quinoa (this is a good step to do the day before, since the quinoa needs to cool completely).  Bring the water and salt to a boil, add the quinoa, and turn down to medium low heat.  Cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed.  Set aside to cool.

Combine chickpeas, cooled quinoa, mango, pepper, cilantro, raisins, plantain, peas, red onion, and green onion.  Make the dressing.  Combine the lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, and agave nectar in a bowl and whisk together.  Add to the salad and mix until well-combined.  Taste, and add salt if needed.  Add pepper to taste.


Simple Cabbage Salad

14 Feb

I make different variations of cabbage salad quite often.  This latest version I made today based on ingredients I had around, including fresh dill, which I’d never used for this type of salad before.  I tend to think of cabbage salads as going well with Latin food, and dill is not what I think of when I think of Latin food.  I bought some at the farmers’ market yesterday to use for the borscht I plan to make sometime this week, but it’s really too much dill for one recipe.  A tip I always give people about fresh herbs is to use them in salads.  They really do add a lot of flavor.  Here, I use cilantro and dill.


4-5 cups shredded cabbage (either buy the pre-shredded bagged kind or shred your cabbage using a box grater or food processor)

1 medium carrot, shredded

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (don’t bother to tear the leaves from the stems–use the stems too)

1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped

4 scallions, thinly sliced, using the green parts too

1 cup grape tomatoes (I recommend keeping these out of the refrigerator and adding them upon serving the salad.  Refrigerated tomatoes are not very good.)

1/2 large avocado, sliced

Combine all ingredients.  Add avocado upon serving.  Do not add the avocado directly to the salad if you think you will have leftovers.  Next, make the dressing.


Juice of one lemon

Juice of one large lime

3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T agave nectar or honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients in a bowl and whisk.  Add to the salad and toss.

Roasted Broccoli and Rice Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

6 Feb

This is one of those improvisational dishes that turned out well.  It is an iteration of the grain/bean/vegetable template that makes a satisfying and healthful meal.  I cooked up some brown rice for this ahead of time, though if I had any leftover cooked grain I would have used that.  Quinoa, for example, would make an excellent replacement for the brown rice, as would millet or bulgar wheat.  In place of broccoli you could use cauliflower or any vegetable really, depending on what you might need to use up or what’s in season.  The dressing has become a favorite of mine–a very simple combination of olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice.  In place of tofu, any bean would work, particularly chickpeas.



2 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed for a minute in the microwave

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 lb broccoli

Olive oil

Salt to taste

6-8 oz. extra firm tofu or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans, such as chickpeas


2 T tahini

2 T extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

2 twists freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 F.   Prepare the broccoli by washing it and cutting it into small trees.  Toss with olive oil and salt (about a tablespoon of oil) on a cookie sheet or glass baking pan (I prefer the cookie sheet–easier to clean).  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the other components of the salad.  Chop the walnuts, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and olives, and add to the rice in a medium bowl.  Microwave the corn for 1 minute on a small plate or in a bowl.  Add to the salad.  Make the dressing by whisking the tahini, olive oil, pepper, and lemon juice together.  Toss with the salad.

Mix in the broccoli and tofu.  Serve.

Smoky Black Bean Quinoa Salad

9 Dec

I recently started volunteering at the Sustainable Food Center.  My first major task was helping with a project to test several recipes for the revision of the Happy Kitchen cookbook, and important part of the SFC’s Happy Kitchen cooking class program.  I picked Smoky Black Bean Salad and Cranberry Sauce.  I had a lot of fun doing this and testing the recipes with different groups to get their feedback.  This particular recipe I’ve made my own, by upping the chipotle and cilantro, and adding some more color with the carrot and red bell pepper.  The salad makes for a really nice, light meal paired with some soup or a vegetable dish, or by itself.  Last night I ate a plate of this salad with some roasted acorn squash I had left over with some honey drizzled over the top.  Yum!  Healthy dinner after a nice run. 


1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed

3-4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium carrot, grated with a box grater or finely chopped

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

1 tsp adobo sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp fine sea salt


First, rinse and drain the quinoa.  Bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add the quinoa, lower the heat to medium or medium low.  Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the quinoa to cool completely before proceeding with the remainder of the recipe.  If you use hot quinoa to make the salad, the texture becomes mushy. 

Place the quinoa in a large bowl suitable for mixing.  Add the black beans, green onions, carrot, red bell pepper, and cilantro.

Next, make the dressing.  Combine the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together until everything is well combined.  Add to the quinoa mixture and stir to mix until the dressing is well distributed.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Use the salad within a week of making it.

White Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

31 Oct

I love bean salads.  They go beyond a typical vegetable-based salad and allow you to make just one dish as a meal since the beans make the salad so satisfying.  You can eat it with some good bread, and maybe throw in some soup too.  When I make bean salads, I typically cook the beans myself, because buying dried beans is significantly cheaper than buying canned.  Canned beans are very convenient, and I still use them on occasion, but cooking beans is not difficult.  It’s something that has to be contemplated ahead of time.  Typically I use my crock pot to cook beans while I’m away, and I have them ready when I get home on a week night.  I plan to do a post soon about how to cook beans, because it’s a basic, useful skill, but not entirely intuitive if you’ve never done it before.  This recipe is a favorite of mine, but think of it as a template and not an inflexible recipe.  The beans can be white navy beans, like I use here, chickpeas, black beans, or whatever you have or want to use.  The vegetables are flexible as well, just as with any salad.  I like to add large amounts of fresh herbs to my salads.  Anytime I see a recipe that calls for just a few teaspoons or tablespoons of chopped herbs, I almost always increase that amount several time.


1 1/2-2 cups cooked white navy beans or cannelini beans, or 1 can of beans, drained and rinsed

3-4 stalks of celery, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped


1/3-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 T red or white wine vinegar

2 T dijon mustard

2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely

Drizzle of honey or 1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper


Combine the salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the dressing ingredients to a small or medium bowl and whisk until well-combined.  You can also use a blender to make the dressing.  Stir the dressing into the salad, and stir until well-combined.  Taste, and add salt if necessary.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to allow the salad to marinate and flavors to combine.

Kale Class!

27 Oct

This week I invited my friend Karla to my place to show her three different ways of preparing kale.  We made kale pesto, ribollita, and raw kale salad.  Karla was surprised by how easy everything was to make.  I really love each of these dishes for different reasons, but I was excited about the ribollita.  Kale, white beans, bread, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and the rest, make a great soup.  Kale is one of those under-used, but oh-so-good for you vegetables.  Here is my contribution to show that there are many fantastic ways to get more kale into your diet.

Recipe #1:  Raw kale salad


1 bunch kale, any variety, washed and chopped

1/4 medium red onion, chopped

Handful pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Handful dried cranberries

Juice of one lemon

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

1/2-1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper


Place the kale in a large bowl.  Squeeze the lemon juice on the kale, and add the olive oil and salt.  Massage the kale until it softens, about 1-2 minutes or so.  Add the onion, cranberries, and pepitas.  Add some freshly ground black pepper, and you’re done.

Recipe #2:  Kale Pesto


1/2 bunch of kale, washed and roughly chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp sea salt

Juice of one lemon


Add the garlic, walnuts, salt, lemon juice, and about half the kale to the food processor.  Pulse until the kale is roughly chopped.  Add the olive oil and the rest of the kale.  Process until the mixture is at a uniform pesto consistency.

Recipe #3:  Ribollita

(This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson at, though I didn’t copy it exactly.)


3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 bunch (1 lb.) cavolo nero (aka dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale), washed and chopped

4 cups cooked white beans

1/2 pound white bread

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Zest of one lemon

Chopped black olives (I didn’t use these because I didn’t have them, but will try it next time.)


In a large pot suitable for soup, combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion over medium heat.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking.  Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, simmering for another 10 minutes or so.  Stir in the kale, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the rest of the beans (the remaining 1 cup) in a bowl.  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces.  Stir both the mashed beans and the bread into the soup.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, about 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed.  Stir in the lemon zest.

Serve immediately, drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped olives.

Makes about 10 servings.

Tofu “Egg” Salad

24 Oct

This salad is a quick dinner to make on a weeknight, and the ingredients are pretty flexible.  I typically use shredded carrots in this salad, but I didn’t have any when I made this version.  It’s actually easier than egg salad since you can use the tofu right out of the package,whereas with egg salad you have to boil the eggs and allow them to cool.  Tofu absorbs whatever flavors you combine it with, and makes a great base for this salad.  I ate it atop toasted sprouted gran buns.


1 14-oz. package firm or extra-firm tofu

1/3 cup mayonnaise or Vegenaise

3 T dijon mustard

1/2 cup dill relish

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 T capers

Salt and pepper to taste


Drain the water from the tofu.  Chop into small cubes, or mash with a fork.  Add the other ingredients and mix well.  Serve on lettuce or a toasted bun.