I can’t believe it took me so long to share one of my favourite things to eat with you friends! However, summer is upon us, and since even England is reluctantly warming up, it calls for colourfully fresh outdoor dining.
This salad is something that appears on our table any season of the year but tastes best in the summer when the tomatoes are ripe and flavourful. It comes in many incarnations as long as there are the major players present-tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, chillies and lime juice. The rest is variable and optional. I usually make it into a fresh salsa but once in a while I change it up and add various beans, corn and such. You can use it as a filling for your burritos and fajitas but you can also eat it as a salad. My kids called it a dip because they were dipping tortilla chips into it. Whatever you call it, this concoction is bursting with flavours, vitamins and is out-of-this-world delicious.
- Cherry Tomatoes (red and yellow)- 2 large handfuls
- Red Onion-1 small
- Garlic-2 cloves
- Cilantro- a bunch
- Red Chilli (minced)-1
- Lime Juice (I was out of limes and used lemons!)- from 1 lime
- Green Onions-3
- Chick Peas/Black Beans- 1 can
- Green Lentils (optional)-1/4 cup
- Corn- 1 cup
- Avocado (diced)-1
- Salt to taste
Half or quarter the cherry tomatoes, dice the red onion finely, mince the garlic cloves and red chilli, then add chopped cilantro, sliced green onions and lime juice. To the mixture add the beans/chick peas, lentils, corn and salt. Mix everything and taste for the right balance of spices. You can see that this is hardly an accurate recipe and more of an idea. I like my pico de gallo spicy but you can skip or half the amount of onion and garlic if you prefer a milder version. Add diced avocado right before serving to avoid browning.
This Pico De Gallo is truly a flavour winner and packed with power foods like chick peas, lentils and avocado. My kids were scarfing it down, having completely forgotten that they can’t stand tomatoes!
My children are off school for a spring holiday, only spring itself was here merely in theory or that was the case until two days ago. We were completely overwhelmed by cold, grey and windy days and then suddenly the sun appeared and made everything bright and lively bringing along little green buds and beautiful pink blooms. And although spring is still quite shy and only stays around in short spurts we are hopeful and ready to embrace longer days, brighter clothes and lighter meals.
A little while ago I made Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad and it was quite popular with my family and my readers. I love adding quinoa, bulgur or couscous to my greens when making salads as they make light things a bit more substantial and satisfying without compromising the health benefits. As I had mentioned in that salad post I usually cook more quinoa and lentils than one recipe requires and use the extras throughout the week in various incarnations. Beet and Quinoa Salad is another tasty way to combine quite a few nutritious ingredients together and end up with a little number that is pure joy to look at and even more to eat.
- Quinoa (cooked according to package directions)- 1 cup
- Lentils or Chick Peas (cooked)- 1/2 cup
- Beets (cooked and grated)- 1 large or 2 small
- Radishes (sliced)- 5-6
- Rocket/Arugula- 2 cups
- Creamy Goat Cheese- 2 tbsp.
- Balsamic Vinegar-1 tbsp.
- Olive Oil- 1/4 cup
- Lemon -1/2
- Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley- 2 tbsp.
- Salt to taste
Combine quinoa, lentils or chick peas, grated beets and sliced radishes and set aside. If you are not a regular beet eater let me assure you they are very easy to cook. Just boil them like you would regular potatoes until are easily pierced with a knife. Life is even easier for the UK readers as packs of cooked and vacuum packed beetroot are readily available in any supermarket. I would steer clear of the canned beets. They are pretty horrid and lacking in the nutrition department for sure!
Make your vinaigrette dressing by mixing together balsamic vinegar, juice of 1/2 lemon and chopped up parsley, then slowly pour in olive oil in a thin and steady stream while whisking the entire time. You can use an immersion blender or food processor if you like your vinaigrette to be very smooth but a regular whisk will also do the trick.
Dress your salad with vinaigrette until evenly coated, taste it and add salt if needed, toss with rocket/arugula and goat cheese. Allow 15 minutes in the fridge before serving for the flavours to meld.
Quick, easy and tasty! Just what I like for this spring season.
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!
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 (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
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.
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!