Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Spring Quinoa Salad

People who love to eat are always the best kind of people – Julia Child 

It’s not like we can pretend to be otherwise. We are self-confessed foodies. A new restaurant, a new ingredient, new places rock our boat. Some of our best friends are foodies too which make it amazing to have dinner parties and travels.

But they (as in the rich food not friends) make for poor waistline.

As you know the other saying: Abs Are Made in Kitchen!

Asparagus

What we neglected in our 20’s, we are paying for in our 30’s.

In our quest to get back in shape this year and maintain it, we have indulged in salads. Sometimes simple with homemade dressing and other times festive and with flair to get us out of the rut and keep the enthusiasm going.

This quinoa salad is one in the middle – not everyday ho-hum but not too exotic. Something that can be conjured up on weeknight. Healthy, loaded with veggies, protein powerhouse. Here instead of cooking quinoa in plain water, cook it in water with spices and herbs. I used garlic, parsley and oregano but you could add whatever you have on-hand. Thyme, Cumin, Parsley – anything will work. It makes the quinoa savory. So you don’t really need separate dressing.

Coupled with chicken or salmon or tuna cakes make for a complete meal. Paired with wine can be dressed up for brunch. Versatile and seasonal. Weeknight meals don’t get much easier than this.

Spring Quinoa Salad

Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • 1 Cup Red Quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 – 10 cups water to blanch vegetables
  • 8 -10 asparagus stalks, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh peas, shelled
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2- 3 celery stalks diced
  • 2 radishes thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Boil water in a pot with clove, parsley, oregano and salt in it. When it boils, add quinoa. Stir and cook covered for 10 – 12 minutes till quinoa is cooked. Fluff with a fork and remove in a bowl.

  2. In the meantime, set water to boil in another pot. Add salt to this pot of water. Once boiling, add vegetables to blanch.

Add asparagus and let them blanch for 2- 3minutes till they turn bright green. Remove them with a pair of tongs.

Add carrots and peas and cook them for another 2- 3 minutes till they soften.

  1. Slice the asparagus into 1/4 inch segments on a diagonal.

  2. Add the blanched vegetables, celery and lemon juice to cooked quinoa. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with radish slices and serve warm.

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

When we lived in Redmond, Thai was our staple food. SilverSpoon and Chantanee were our favorite restaurants there.
Most of the sauces and dressings in Thai food have fish sauce and dried shrimp. But these two places made a vegetarian version with soy sauce.My parents loved Thai food there as well. Even my aunt who is a staunch Indian food lover and hasn’t taken to any other cuisines, liked Thai food at SilverSpoon when we took her out there while she was visiting.

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

This is our attempt to ward off the Sunday evening blues and make a tasty healthy salad that is vegetarian to boot.

Spicy. Salty. Sour. Slightly Sweet.

Crunchy. Colorful.

Thai Green Papaya Salad is the Salad to master all Salad’s. When the going gets tough and you crave something that’s not boring or diet food like then this is the salad to go to.

Fortunately Green Papaya is easy to come by in an Asian market. We live near Chinatown so Dad could get one easily. It probably is a GMO version from Hawaii. But I doubt I will find a green non-GMO papaya in US.

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

If you don’t find a green papaya, green apple, turnips, chayote squash or even cucumber are excellent substitutes.

The sweet, sour and spicy dressing can be customized per taste. Supposedly, leftovers taste even better but we never have had any to confirm!

I served the salad with lemon garlic shrimp. It was a great dinner salad that we could have  over and over again. Even Dad was big fan!

Give it a try this week. It’s bound to make your spring even more colorful!

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe

For the Salad 

  • 3 cups grated green papaya ( peeled and de-seeded)
  • 1/2 cup blanched green beans cut into 1 inch segments
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 – 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 8 – 10 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring onion greens

For the Dressing

  • 1/3 – 1/2  cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup coarsely ground dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon finely grated jaggery or palm sugar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon sriracha sauce 
  • 1 – 2 thai green chili minced
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon spring onion whites finely minced
  • Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients of the dressing in a bowl and set aside.

Start with smaller amounts of lemon juice, thai chilli, sriracha sauce and jaggery/palm sugar. Taste and adjust for sweet/spicy/sour notes.

2. In a large bowl, add the grate green papayas and green beans. Lightly pound them with a pestle ( or a rolling-pin or back of a heavy spoon) till they are bruised but not broken into a pulp. This allows the papayas and beans to “soak” the dressing as without it the salad is pretty bland.

3. Then add the mung bean sprouts, carrots, tomatoes and spring onions.

4. Add the dressing and toss it till well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings again. You may need to add more lemon juice, sriracha sauce , jaggery/palm sugar and/or salt.

Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.

Serve with garlicky shrimp or chicken. Nom! Nom!

 

Salmon Nicoise Salad

Salmon Nicoise Salad

Nice was the best place that we visited in France many moons ago.

I loved it more than Paris. The mediterranean coast, beaches, little villages perched on edge of cliffs like eagles nest, the azure blue of the sea, balmy weather and  not to mention the wonderful food. Italian infused French food with a hearty dose of fresh seasonal vegetables. Food really doesn’t get better than this.

For the 3 days that we spent in the southern France coastal town, we ate either on little sidewalk cafe’s or in Farmers market. Socca for breakfast, salads for lunch and pesto pizza or pesto with little clams for dinner. The fresh tasting pesto, olive oil and vegetables had us from the get go.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

This is my attempt to make a Niçoise Salad inspired by the trip ages ago.

A little bit like American Chop salad, Niçoise Salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, hard-boiled eggs, fresh glanced vegetables ( like beans and Asparagus) , new potatoes and tuna. The dressing is simple french vinaigrette with olive oil, garlic and mustard. Instead of using tuna and anchovies as is traditional, I kept the salad vegetarian ( so my vegetarian mom could join in as well) and served it with tinfoil baked Salmon. Hands down the best way to cook Salmon; especially for a crowd.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

The lemony Salmon paired well with the tangy Salad’s vinaigrette.

The salad though easy to prepare requires multiple steps for various ingredients, but is a stunner once done. Don’t be daunted as it is easy to get hang of it.Blanching the vegetables and boiling the eggs  while the Salmon and potatoes bake make it faster to cook. Served family style on a platter, this is a beautiful salad that everyone can enjoy.

Try it with Spring beans, Asparagus, Fava beans this Spring to make the most of the primavera! 

The colors of the salad and the taste are enough to put you into Spring mood 🙂

Salmon Nicoise Salad

 Salmon Niçoise Salad Recipe

Serves 4

For the Salmon 

  • 1 lb Salmon Fillet, with skin on.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic finely diced
  • 8 – 10 thin lemon slices
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

For the Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon french stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinaigrette
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Salad 

  • 1 Quart pot of water
  • 1 bunch of Asparagus
  • 1/2 bunch of French beans ( about 1/2 – 3/4 lb)
  • 4 small red potatoes, halved (or quartered) and tossed in 1 teaspoon olive oil and salt and pepper ( to taste).
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup olives
  • 4 eggs hard-boiled, peeled and halved.
  • 8- 10 baby tomatoes sliced in half

1. Wash the Salmon under cold water and pat dry. Rub olive oil on both sides of the fillet. Sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper on both sides and lightly rub them into the Fish filet.

2. Take a large enough aluminum foil (twice the size of the fish to create a pocket). Lay 4 – 5 lemon slices on the foil.

Layer the fish fillet on the lemon slices. Layer remaining lemon slices on top. Sprinkle cilantro (or parsley) on the lemon slices.

Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.

3. Set the pot of water to boil. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

4. Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients listed together in a bowl till well mixed. Set aside.

5. When the oven is pre-heated, cover the salmon and potatoes loosely with foil.  Crimp the edges to form a pocket.  Bake the entire foil pocket for 30 – 35 minutes till the fish is cooked ( flakes easily when pierced with a fork).

6. In the meantime, set the pot of water to boil.

When the water boils, blanch french beans and then asparagus for a couple of minutes each till bright green and tender.

Remove each with tongs in a separate bowl and wash them with cold water to prevent further cooking of the vegetables.

 To serve

  1. On a large platter, first layer the romaine lettuce.
  2. Then arrange the eggs, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, olives and potatoes. Arrange Salmon on the platter along with lemon slices.
  3. Drizzle one tablespoon vinaigrette on the vegetables. Don’t toss. Serve remaining vinaigrette on the side in a bowl.
  4. Pass it along family style where everyone serves themselves with bit of veggies and the Salmon.

Enjoy the crisp vegetables , warm potatoes and flaky warm Salmon!

Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing

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I was getting tired of the green salad recipes. I suppose Vipul was too so to mix things up a little, I made him a crunchy salad.

I had celery, broccoli, green beans and raddichio on hand. The last was an impulse buy. This is a winter vegetable. In season here in US. A new one to add to our routine. Its purple and white ribbed leaves are so beautiful. Tempting. Inviting.

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I didn’t really know what to do with it and was torn between roasting it and eating it as is. I ate one raw, and it was so bitter. I know based on my Indian cooking experience that if a vegetable is bitter, blanching it in water removes the bitterness. I decided to go with that approach.

Raddichio was chopped and soaked in hot water.

Broccoli and green beans were blanched in hot water.

Kidney beans were marinated.

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Everything was tossed in a soy sriracha dressing and served with salmon.

It was crunchy, flavorful, a little spicy and a little tangy.

Vipul was tired of chewing all the crunchy vegetables so if your guy is like him then serve it as a side rather than a main salad. I topped mine with cold soba noodles in sesame oil and let me tell you it was 100% yumm!

Will make this again, in a heart beat.

Note: Sriracha sauce has sugar in it. So if you are on no sugar diet, replace sriracha sauce with another hot sauce of your choice.

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Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing Recipe

  • 1/2 head of raddichio thinly sliced (about 2 cups of sliced leaves)
  • 3 cups hot water + 2 cups water to blanch vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (use less if you want it to be little less spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly.
  • 1 1/2 cups brocoli chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup green beans diced
  • 1/2 cup celery diced

1. Soak the raddichio leaves in hot water for about 20 – 30 minutes to remove the bitterness from the leaves. Set aside.

2. Whisk together siracha, soy and sesame oil. Toss some of the dressing over the kidney beans. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. In the meantime, boil water in a saucepan. Once you have a rolling boil, blanch broccoli and green beans in hot boiling water till they turn bright green.

4. Once the vegetables are blanched, scoop them out and add them to the kidney beans bowl.

5. Drain the water from raddichio leaves and add the leaves and celery to the kidney beans – vegetables bowl. Add some more of the soy -siracha dressing.

Toss well. Taste and add more dressing as appropriate.

Serve immediately with grilled salmon or tofu.

Braised Leeks and Fennel Salad

Leeks and Fennel Salad

Vipul is on to Phase 2 of South beach diet. This simply means he can introduce carbs back into his diet.

One serving for a few days and then add another for a total of 3- 4 servings of complex carbs and two servings of low sugar fruits ( apples, pears etc).

The idea of the whole exercise is to eat more vegetables ( 4 1/2 cups non starchy vegetables), complex carbohydrates, good fat and good protein.

Leeks and Fennel Salad

As goes with diets, you get bored with the routine and need something warm and bold to shake up the routine.

Leeks and Fennel provide that exactly. Both have their own unique flavors. And I was worried how they would pair. I have never cooked with leeks before and have only recently “discovered” fennel. I saw online recipes that paired them with citrus fruits, tomatoes or even potatoes. But since all of those were out of question, I decide to give a try with red bell pepper and zucchini to tone down the flavors.

Leeks and Fennel Salad

And this was an experiment, I prayed would succeed. Else poor Vipul has nothing for dinner 🙁

Luckily this is one pairing that worked in favor. Vipul liked the salad. The crunch of red bell pepper and zucchini is satisfying. Mushrooms and celery would be good too.Next morning, he even used this salad as a base to make fried eggs and he loved that combination even more.

Serve this salad with poached eggs, some citrus fruits and you are set for a healthy and nourishing meal.

Hope you like it as well.

Leeks and Fennel Salad

Braised Leeks and Fennel Salad Recipe

  • 2 Leeks, roots trimmed, outer firmer leaves removed and washed.
  • 1 Fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered (discard stalks; save some fennel fronds for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or orange juice )
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • Salt to taste

1. Quarter the leeks and cut them into 1 inch segments. Wash again if necessary and set aside on a towel to dry.

2. Thinly slice the fennel bulb , discarding the tough base. Marinate it in lemon juice and salt for at least 30 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Once heated, add garlic and cumin seeds. Saute them taking care not to burn it for a minute or so.

4. Add the leeks and cook for a minute, working the pan to avoid charring the leeks. Add the chili powder. Mix well.

Saute for another couple of minutes till tender.

Taste and adjust salt.

5. Remove the leeks in a bowl. Layer the fennel with the marinade over the leeks. Layer the zucchini and lastly the red bell pepper.

Toss well and serve immediately garnished with fennel fronds.