Pan fried Pumpkin and Halloumi Salad

Panfried HAlloumi and Pumpkin Salad

Salads can be sexy too. Interesting. Appealing. But most importantly filling and easy to make.

To continue with our weight loss journey, I made pan fried Pumpkin and Halloumi Quinoa Salad. Pumpkin made it filling and interesting. Halloumi added a salty touch and a unique rubbery texture. Quinoa gave it an excellent protein base. Pan frying it made it easy to make. I am usually a fan of using the oven but a few months ago a friend pointed out how energy inefficient it is to bake a pumpkin for hours in the oven. Although that is incredibly hands off to cook in over, it probably is more energy intensive. I agree with her and decided to quickly make this in a skillet.

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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!

A Simple Homemade Dressing

Homemade Salad Dressing

Mom and Dad will be here tomorrow. I will hand over the kitchen to my mom once she is here.It’s the best thing about mom being here 🙂

But it creates a dilemma. My mom’s diet is primarily Indian. She will rarely venture into salad’s.

Vipul is still mainly eating salads. But he cannot will not make dressing.

Even if its a simple act of putting together olive oil and lemon/ balsamic vinegar to conjure up a dressing, it is filled with questions.

How much lemon juice? Is this much olive oil a lot? Should I add pepper? Or garlic? How about fresh herbs? It still doesn’t taste like what we had two nights ago!

I roll my eyes.

Call it a combination of late pregnancy hormones, exhaustion and general 10 years of marriage 😉

Here is a simple homemade dressing , bottled up and kept in the fridge.

No more every day Q & A session on how to make a dressing.

Take it out of the fridge, warm it up in microwave a bit, pour as much or as little, toss and serve.

We have sorted out one thing out.

Now the questions have changed.

Which cheese, which mix-ins, which bowl,… ( Le sigh! I exaggerate for effect ;))

Simple Homemade Dressing Recipe

  • 3/4 cup  Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Mustard sauce
  • 1 – 1 1/2  tablespoon Garlic finely minced
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bottle. Shake it till mixed through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Pour over salad immediately or refrigerate for later use.