Category Archives: salad

Spring Cleaning or Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette

Standard

Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinegrette
When I look outside all I see is grey misery but I can tell spring is not far away by the way my orchids are sprouting new shoots in preparation to bloom. Sometimes things are not what they appear and in those moments we need to apply faith, observe signs in nature and enjoy a springtastically healthy salad for lunch! With summer fast approaching I know I need to clean up my eating habits and get ready for the swimsuit season. Are you with me? I am excited to put away my pie plates and casserole dishes and employ my grill and salad spinner for the coming season. This Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad is such a great mix of light and satisfying because nobody wants to starve by 3 o’clock and reach for that trusty pack of Timbits or a Walnut Crunch. Have I lost you with my Canadianisms? If you don’t know what timbits and a walnut crunch are do yourself a favour and visit a Tim Hortons!
Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette
There is a salad bar place not far from my work where I like to go for lunch. There are dozens of options which allows you to taste different flavours and combinations. Although great, it’s not too budget friendly and that is why I try to make my own salads at home and take them to work. What I learned from visiting the salad bar place is that I really love quinoa+lentil+feta cheese combo. When I make my salads at home I try to use it as the base and add whatever greens and vegetable I have in the fridge. Dressing is also very important for the overall success of the salad-my latest favourite is Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette.

Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro VinaigretteQuinoa andPuy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette
Ingredients:

  • Quinoa (cooked)-1 cup
  • Puy Lentils (cooked)- 1/2 cup
  • Pomodorino or Cherry Tomatoes( cut lengthwise)- 1/2 cup
  • Red Pepper- 1/2
  • Sugar Snap Peas – 1/2 cup
  • Mixed Salad Greens- 2 cups
  • Feta Cheese- 2 tbsp.
  • Fresh Cilantro/Coriander (chopped)- 2 tbsp.
  • Fresh Parsley (chopped)- 1 tbsp.
  • Lime (juiced)-1
  • Olive Oil- 1/4 cup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Avocado-1

Method:

Cook quinoa and lentils according to package directions, in separate pots, and cool completely. (This step could be done in advance. I usually cook more than I need and keep the ingredients in the fridge to use throughout the week.)

Chop up cilantro and parsley, juice the lime. In a mortar combine the herbs, salt and pepper and lime juice and crush the herbs with a pestle to a coarse paste, slowing add the olive oil while stirring. Set aside for the flavours to meld.

Combine all the remaining ingredients together except for avocado. Dress the salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette and top with sliced avocado.

Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette Note: As I mentioned earlier I use whatever vegetable I have in the fridge so go ahead and improvise. Make this gorgeous salad your own!

Advertisements

Grilled Gouda and Zucchini Panini aka Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Standard

Grilled Gouda and Zucchini Panini
As I’ve mentioned earlier I went on a bit of a cooking spree last Monday. I made a few things and one of the them was Warm Zucchini Salad, which is a bit of a misnomer because it has much more in there than just zucchini.
Zucchini Salad
I received an overwhelming response to this little dish. I am so happy you guys love vegetables! This cute sandwich here is not really a recipe, just an idea of how you can make your lunch more interesting and utilise your last night’s leftovers. I used my zucchini salad to give my grilled cheese sandwich healthy and delicious boost.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich is much loved in our family and although my children are still “grilled cheese purists” (bread and cheese only!) we have managed to diversify their taste; they have expanded from plain old cheddar to gouda and edam. I consider it my personal victory. You would understand if you knew how picky my kids are!

Brad and I, however, like our grilled cheese “posh”. Here is one I had for lunch yesterday. The preparation is as easy as the conventional method. Basically, all you need to do is sandwich your salad filling (make sure it’s not too wet or your sandwich will turn into “soggy cheese”) between two slices of gouda or any other favourite cheese of yours and bread, grill it until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. You can use you sandwich maker, panini grill or any other contraption you might have! Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the above, I I used my stove top cast-iron grill and put another cast iron pan on top of it. And here is the result. Not too shabby!

Grilled Gouda Zucchini Sandwich

grilled cheese

Celebrate like a Russian with Shuba and Olivier or Russian Food Demystified.

Standard

caviar canape

Yesterday was Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar, and as done as I was with all the holidays I couldn’t resist making a special meal. Our festive fare was an exact replica of what my mum would have made- Roasted Chicken and Savoury Buckwheat with Caramelised Onions and Mushroom as the centrepiece but surprisingly that is not what my post is about. Today I will be talking about the sidekicks of Russian holiday meals known as “zakuski”, which if translated into English, would mean “little bites”. Little they might be but their presence is absolutely essential and marks every special meal in every Russian household. Zakuski (pl) serve the same purpose as Italian antipasti-they are meal starters and are meant to whet your appetite and are traditionally offered with a selection of flavoured vodkas, liqueurs and, more commonly nowadays, wines.

Although Zakuski are just there to tease you before the main course arrives, they are so incredibly delicious and oftentimes people can’t resist eating just a little and are usually already stuffed to the brim when it’s time to move to the next course. In Russia there is a vast variety of foods that are known to be served as zakuski-from simple pickled and brined vegetables to cured meats, variety of cheeses, caviar and salads.

I will be sharing two main salads that no Russian holiday goes without- Shuba and Olivier. You are probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind trying to promote salads as some sort of a delicacy. Don’t worry; for Russians holiday salads are something entirely different- no lettuce leaf in view!

Shuba

Shuba- Smoked Salmon under layers of colourful veggies.

Shuba Ingredients:

  • Smoked Salmon -200 gr. ( I prefer cold smoked salmon)
  • Potatoes- 2 medium
  • Onion- 1/2 medium
  • Carrots- 2 medium
  • Eggs-3
  • Beets-3 small

Dressing Ingredients for both Shuba and Olivier:

  • Mayonnaise – 3/4 cup
  • White Wine Vinegar- 1 tbsp
  • Dijon Mustard (no yellow French’s mustard please)-1 1/2 tsp.
  • Milk- 1-2tbsp (to losen the dressing)
  • Pepper -a pinch

Method for Shuba:

Put potatoes, carrots (don’t worry about peeling)  and eggs in the same pot and cook until  tender but not falling apart. Cook beets with the skin on in a different pot as they will take much longer to cook and will colour the water bright purple. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven at 375F/190C for about 30 min., pierce them with a knife to test for doneness, your knife should easily go all the way through.

Cool the vegetable.

While the vegetables are cooling prepare your dressing. In a medium sized bowl mix together mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, mustard, milk and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined. Add more milk if necessary to ensure your dressing is somewhat runny.

Peel your eggs and vegetables and grate them on a vegetable grater separately without mixing with each other. Set aside in separate small bowls. Dice the onion finely. Set aside.

Chop the smoked salmon and cover the surface of your serving plate with it. This recipe will fit on a regular dinner size plate.

This salad is assembled by layering the ingredients on top of each other. The order of the layers is not as important as long as you start with the salmon and finish with the beets. This is how I usually arrange my layers:

  1. Salmon-a drizzle of dressing all over
  2. Potatoes-a little more of dressing
  3. Onions-still more dressing
  4. Carrots-and a bit more
  5. Eggs-a teensy more
  6. Beets- and the last bit of dressing

You get the idea, right? Each layer of the salad gets covered with the dressing, just drizzle lightly with a spoon and smooth it out.  I recommend using no more than 1 tbsp per layer, otherwise it becomes too stodgy! Reserve the rest of the dressing for Salad Olivier.

This salad is the best enjoyed a few hours after it’s prepared as time allows the dressing to seep through the layers and produce almost magical and very unusual flavours.

Note: Traditionally Shuba is prepared with pickled herring but I started making it with cold smoked salmon for the lack of the right kind of pickled herring I found that I like it even better. I’ve also made it with adding yams/sweet potatoes as another layer, it was simply delicious.

Olivier 

olivier

Salad Olivier is a Russian favourite and as I am discovering quickly becoming a salad of choice for anyone I’ve ever cooked it for. I often bring it to barbecues as it goes ideally with grilled meat. Overtime it became known among my friends as “Russian Potato Salad” and one of the most requested items. The original recipe was invented in 1860s in Moscow by a French chef and a fashionable restaurateur M. Olivier. It was so wildly popular they could never take it off the menu. Many other chefs tried to duplicate it without success as chef Olivier never revealed his secrets and took the dressing recipe to his grave while the salad lived on. The modern day recipe is not exactly the same as in the 19th century and my version will take you even further from the widely accepted one.

Ingredients for Olivier:

  • Potatoes-4 medium
  • Eggs-6
  • Cooked Chicken-(I usually use Rotisserie Chicken from a supermarket) 1/2 of whole chicken
  • Dill Pickles/Gherkins- 4 medium
  • Green Onions- one bunch
  • Apple- 1/2 of a medium
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Cook potatoes and eggs until potatoes are tender but not too soft and cool both. Cook chicken if not using already prepared, set aside to cool.

Dice all the ingredients into 1/2″ dice and empty into a large bowl. Add the reserved dressing and gently mix everything together making sure not to mash the cooked ingredients. At this point give it a try and add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow all the flavours to blend. Don’t skip that step, it does make a big difference.

If you would like to experience a true Russian zakuski table serve some salami, a variety of cheeses, olives, crusty bread with butter and caviar in addition to the lovely salads I shared with you and don’t forget VODKA!

caviar canape