Posts Tagged 'salad'

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates, and Orange

Good Heavens…it’s trying to be spring. Yes, it’s still only in the 30’s. And the valley is socked in with a grey, dismal, and drizzly fog. But when I woke up this morning there was sunshine, and outside of my window little wisps of cloud were hurrying past…they were so delicate. Outside, from my sunny front deck, I was overlooking the dismal cloud that hung over the valley.

Above the clouds

Above the clouds

And while I was drinking coffee, an entire flock of robins showed up in my garden, frantically hopping around and pecking whatever it is that robins peck at. Oddly enough, under the snow there are green things growing in my garden. I will soon explore them.

This recipe, originally from Cooking Light, always seems like Spring, it is bright and cheery, and a pleasant, if somewhat unusual, mix of flavors. It has asparagus always a spring favorite.  Since you have to chill the asparagus, you can make it the day before.
quinoa asparagus
Combining that with oranges, dates and pine nuts at first seemed questionable.
Quinoa Asparagus Salad ingredients
But the results were great. I brought it to a potluck, because it is the sort of dish that most people can eat. You can also serve it as a side dish.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates, and Orange

Salad:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1  cup uncooked quinoa
2  cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh orange sections (about 1 large orange)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
5  dates,pitted and chopped
1/2 pound  (2-inch) slices asparagus, steamed and chilled
1/2 jalapeño pepper, diced

Dressing:
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons  chopped fresh mint

To prepare salad, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add uncooked quinoa to pan; sauté 5 minutes.
Quinoa cooking
Add 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Quinoa cooking Quinoa cooked
Transfer quinoa mixture to a large bowl. Add orange and next 5 ingredients (through jalapeño); toss gently to combine.

To prepare dressing, combine juice and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with chopped mint. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 servings at 6.3 grams of fat/serving.

Quinoa Asparagus salad

Mango and Cucumber Salad

I have a new cooking toy – a mandoline.

Don’t ask me why a person who is constantly and lovingly cooking never purchased one of these extremely useful tools. With a mandoline, slices are uniform, and can be made very thin, much thinner than you can make them with a knife. The reason I bought one at this time, besides a buy one get one free gadget sale, is to do this:

And the reason I wanted very thin cucumbers (and red onions) was to make a mango and cucumber salad that came from Dash recipes in one of those newspaper inserts.  The original recipe called for a little bit of lemon-flavored olive oil, but I didn’t have that, so I left it out. It also called for finely chopped Serrano chile. I left that out because I was taking it to a “celebration of life” for a recently deceased neighbor. I knew most of the attendees would be elderly and probably not like the extra heat. I think it would be even better with the chile.  The leftovers were very nice with lunch for a day or two.

Mango and Cucumber Salad

3 mangoes, peeled and diced into one inch pieces
1 seedless (English) cucumber, unpeeled and sliced very thin
1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced very thin (about ¾ cup)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped Serrano chile pepper (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl, mixing well. Chill at least one hour. Makes 8 servings at 0 grams of fat/serving.

The cilantro is from my garden. It makes me happy.

Sweet Potato Salad

Two weekends ago was our community clean up day. We resourceful residents rise early of a Saturday, don our sweats and gloves, pick up our big white trash bags, and get to work cleaning the roadsides up and down the hills of our semi-rural community. Usually, it’s a crisp sunny spring day, but this has been a soggy April and the day dawned with a steady cold drizzle. My neighbor, who is in her 70s, and I questioned our sanity as we shivered along picking up the beer cans and bottles that had been strewn along the mountainside road in front of our homes. Since our road overlooks the city, weekend nights see cars parked along the road, with people looking at the lights…or whatever else people do in parked cars on weekend nights, and tossing their beverage containers out their windows.  At any rate, by the time we dropped off our filled bags at the designated corner, we were both ready to go home and warm up before we picked up the salads we made for the post clean up potluck.

This salad originally appeared in the AARP magazine. I thought it would be a little different than ordinary potato salad, and have a bit more color.  The instructions said to bake the sweet potatoes for an hour, but in my opinion, that made them too mushy. The pieces did not maintain their shape well.  I think 45 minutes is more than enough. You could even microwave them until just soft.

I made a double recipe because I was taking it to a potluck. But the rain kept a lot of people away, so I had lots of leftovers. As an experiment, I reheated one serving as a sweet potato side dish. It worked very well, although the celery remained crisp, and that texture was a little different – but still good.

Sweet Potato Salad

4 small sweet potatoes
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon)
4 celery stalks, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
½ of a 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits, drained
2 scallions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Wrap each sweet potato in foil and bake for 1 hour (see above for my cautions). Unwrap; let cool. Peel; cut into 3/4-inch chunks.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise and mustard. Add sweet potatoes, celery, red pepper, pineapple, and scallions; toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour (I actually chilled mine overnight, since I wanted to make it ahead of the clean up day.)

Fold in pecans and sprinkle with chives if using. Makes 8 servings at 5 grams of fat/serving.

NOTE: Anticipating a desire to take this to work for lunch, I removed 2 servings and put them in separate containers before I added the pecans. Without the pecans, the salad has less than 1 gram of fat/serving.

Packed up and ready to be taken to the potluck.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

The tree is finally decorated.*


I am spending Christmas Eve making something to take to my neighbor’s house tomorrow for Christmas dinner. They requested a side dish and, because I couldn’t decide which to make, I made two – a Moroccan carrot salad and a broccoli gorgonzola casserole. Both of these are make-aheads, which is exactly what I want so I can have a relaxed Christmas morning, which I hope will include a long soak in my giant bubble tub. The broccoli awaits the crumb topping and baking tomorrow, so here is the salad.

This recipe, originally from the New York Times, includes rose water, which can be gotten in some super markets and in Asian stores. Rose water is very evocative to me. I open the bottle and I am transported back to Mumbai, where I sit, sari-clad, on the flat roof of our apartment building. It is evening, and the other women in the building are also on the roof, eating bhelpuri (a puffed rice, cilantro and  savories snack) and sweets scented with rose water. We laugh, talk, and tease one another in a brief respite from days spent cooking for husbands and tending children. The rose water in this salad is not very strong, but it gives the carrot a slightly mysterious flowery essence.

Moroccan Carrot Salad
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon rose water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sugar, optional

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry pan over medium-high heat, shaking often to avoid burning, until just fragrant and slightly darker, about 3 minutes. Although the recipe did not call for it, I crushed the coriander and cumin in a mortar and pestle so the pieces in the salad would be smaller. I think you can use them either way.
Combine spices with remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. I added a tablespoon of sugar at this point because my carrots were not very sweet. Refrigerate, covered, for one hour or up to 24 hours. Stir before serving. Makes 6 servings at about 3 grams of fat/serving.


*What, you may ask, is a nice Jewish girl doing with a Christmas tree? I have been collecting ornaments for over 40 years. It all started innocently with an ornament received as a gift, and now anyone who knows me will tell you I am obsessed.  There are no lights on my tree to detract from my precious ornaments, and I hang each one and remember where I got it and why. It is like a memory book I open each Christmas.

Potato Salad, Oh Potato Salad

I was going to call this Costco Potato Salad, because it was inspired by a ten-pound bag of baby red potatoes from Costco.  I was kind of hoping for those really small potatoes, that you can cut in half and they’re bite-sized pieces.  Quite a few of these, however, were toddler potatoes, so I picked out the smallest ones and proceeded.

I have been craving creamy old-fashioned potato salad for some time. It goes with so many summer foods. This is a traditional potato salad with less fat, and a bit of pizzazz from olives and capers.  I didn’t take out the eggs, which made it a bit higher in fat, but it is very creamy because of their presence, and still low enough in fat to eat. No doubt I’ll be coming up with more potato recipes to use up the other six pounds of potatoes.

Creamy Potato Salad

4 pounds baby red potatoes, unpeeled
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, diced small
10 green olives (the kind stuffed with red peppers is ok), sliced in half lengthwise and then cut across thinly)
2 Tablespoons capers, drained
1 cup light mayonnaise (the kind with 1 gram of fat/Tablespoon)
1 cup non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water that just covers them for 30 minutes or until tender; drain and cool 15 minutes. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size of your potatoes and how chunky you want your salad. You don’t have to peel the potatoes – I like skin-on potato salad – but you can peel them if you’d like.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, onion, red pepper, olives and capers. Mix gently.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream mustard, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Gently stir into potato mixture. You can serve this immediately, or even better, chill overnight.  This makes 8 generous and creamy servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.

That’s a chicken Italian sausage keeping the potato salad company.

Use-Up-the-Tomatoes Salad with Perlini

Yes, it’s potluck time again.  H-N is supposed to bring salads.  I know I have to make something with tomatoes, because I have 6 tomatoes sitting on my counter that will certainly expire before I eat them.  I usually take a chopped salad for lunch – tomato, cucumber, other veggies, some kind of cheese – but I think I had a lot of leftovers to take this week so the tomatoes didn’t get eaten.  Also, I plan to do yard work all morning, so whatever I make has to be something quick and easy.

I decided to make a large version of a chopped salad, dressed up with bread croutons.  I even used a good low fat bottled dressing, which I often use on my lunch salads, rather than home-made.  I had quite a few other vegetables in the house, but I went to the grocery to buy a cucumber and see if there was something interesting I could add.
The vegetables.

And there I found…perlini!

They are not fish eggs or giant tapioca.  They are tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, just waiting to be mixed into a salad.  Let me tell you, they were a sensation in the salad. Great Wow factor. Everyone exclaimed over them.  The salad was pretty much gone by the time I gathered up my bowl to take it home.  This is an imprecise recipe in terms of the veggies.  You can use what you have in the house or what looks good in the store or at the farmers’ market.

Use-Up-the-Tomatoes Salad with Perlini

6 medium tomatoes, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled and mostly seeded, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 sweet pepper (I used yellow), cut in one inch pieces
¼ of a small onion, sliced very thin
about ½ cup broccoli, chopped fine
about 4 ounces of sugar snap peas, sliced in ½ inch pieces
8 ounces of perlini, drained
½ cup light balsamic salad dressing (I use Newman’s Own)
8 slices of oven baked garlic toast, either home-made or from a bag.

Toss together the vegetables, perlini, and salad dressing. Break each of the toasts into 5-6 pieces.  Add to the salad just before serving.  This makes 10 servings, at about 5.8 grams of fat/serving.

I packed the crumbled toast separately in a bag so I could add it after I hauled the salad to the potluck.  That way the bread didn’t get soggy right away.

Creamy Cauliflower and Apple Salad

In my part of the country, it’s still rather chilly. The spring fruits and vegetables are not in the grocery, except those brought from afar, and the farmers’ markets are not yet open.  This salad takes advantage of late winter produce while creating a salad that is crisp and refreshing. It holds well in the refrigerator if you need to make it in advance. The original recipe came from Eating Well. The flavor combination of apples and cauliflower is a bit unexpected, but very good.

Creamy Cauliflower Apple Salad

5 Tablespoons reduced-fat (light) mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, (optional)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped cauliflower florets, (about 1/2 large head)
2 cups chopped heart of romaine
1 tart-sweet red apple, chopped

Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, caraway seeds (if using) and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add cauliflower, romaine and apple; toss to coat. Makes 6 servings at 2 grams of fat/serving.

Garlicky Edamame and Mushrooms

I love edamame. They are crunchy and have a nut-like flavor, but they have far fewer fat grams than nuts. Edamame are baby soybeans in the pod. The Japanese name literally means “twig bean” and is a reference to the short stem attached to the pod. The green soybeans in the pod are picked before they ripen and the pods are then boiled in water or steamed – typically with salt.  I first encountered them as a snack served in the pod prepared with salt and spices. You use your teeth to strip them out of the pod and eat them. (It is funny to watch people who don’t realize that they shouldn’t try to eat the pod after they get a mouthful of pod. It’s polite to warn them before they take that unfortunate step.)

I buy bags of frozen edamame beans out of the pod. They have been pre-boiled, and if you want to use them out of the bag, they only need a few minutes in the microwave. They can be tossed into salads, or eaten as a snack.

I made this edamame dish when I was craving some crunch. It is good hot or cold, although I preferred hot. I ate it for dinner, but it would be a nice first course. It has enough garlic to stop several vampires, so I don’t recommend taking it to work for lunch unless you don’t have to talk to anyone that afternoon.

Garlicky Edamame and Mushrooms

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup mushrooms (button or cremini), thinly sliced
1 cup shelled edamame beans
1 Tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
sea salt

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan.  Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden.  Don’t let it burn or it will be bitter.  Add mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until all of their liquid cooks off.  Add edamame (you can add them frozen), and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add balsamic vinegar and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  Makes 2 servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.

Orange-Balsamic Caramelized Fennel

I am very fond of fennel.  It has a surprising, slightly anise-like taste that often surprises guests, who don’t expect that in a vegetable.  This is a lovely dish, both to look at and to eat. I served it at room temperature at a buffet, but it would be nice warm as a side dish or cold as a first course/salad.  If you get very large fennel bulbs, the outer pieces may be tough and you will have to discard them.  The original recipe was from Cooking Light.

Orange Balsamic Caramelized Fennel

4 (1-pound) fennel bulbs with stalks, trimmed and stalks removed.
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced

Cut each fennel bulb in half through root end; cut each half into quarters to form 32 total pieces.  Chop 1 tablespoon of the fronds; reserve.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 8 fennel pieces in a single layer in pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove fennel from pan; recoat pan with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining fennel and sugar.

Return all of the fennel to the pan. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer about 35 minutes or until fennel is crisp-tender and liquid is almost evaporated, turning occasionally. (The fennel bulbs will separate into pieces.) Top with reserved fennel fronds. This makes 8 servings at less than 1 gram of fat/serving.  It served about 15 people at the buffet (there was lots of other food) and was very good as a leftover for lunch.

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Salad

My problem in the summer is that I don’t feel like eating. Actually, I feel like eating, but I want to eat fruit, yogurt, ice cream and the like, rather than sensible cooked meals.  This creates a parallel problem of too many odd leftovers. When I do cook something sensible,  I don’t feel like eating what’s left.  So I had leftover roasted red peppers from the day I cooked the kebabs (I can only tske so many roasted red pepper and goat cheese sandwiches for lunch), and a large container of cold boiled potatoes (talk about unappealing).  I’m rather fond of potato salad, so I decided to see what I could come up with for the aging cold potatoes.

Potato salad, which is a great summer side dish that seems to appear at everyone’s barbecue, is usually loaded with fat, meaning I can have a taste, but not much more. This is too bad, because I really like a good potato salad.  This potato salad is different. It is not only low fat, but both tangy and a bit sweet, and a lovely coral pink.  It uses the roasted peppers in two places: in the salad itself to create both flavor and color, and in the dressing. Since I already had the leftover potatoes and peppers, it was easy to make, too.

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Salad

6 cups of peeled, boiled potatoes, cut in about 1 inch pieces
1½ roasted red peppers, seeded and skins removed, divided
2 medium stalks of celery, finely diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup non fat sour cream
½ cup low fat mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Place boiled potatoes in a large bowl.  Cut one of the roasted red peppers (two halves) into a small dice and add to the potatoes, along with the celery and green oinions.  Cut the other 1/2 pepper into quarters and place in the food processor, along with the remaining ingredients (sour cram through black pepper). Process the dressing until smooth, taste and add salt if needed.  Mix the dressing into the potato mixtures. This makes 6 servings at just over 1 gram of fat/serving.

roasted red pepper potato saladThe salad is prettier than the photo.

Variation: I think this would be good as macaroni salad, too, using six cups of cooked macaroni instead of the potatoes.  And I like macaroni salad even more than I like potato salad.


ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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