Mixed Green Salad with Figs, Candied Pistachios, Red Onion, Feta Cheese & Lemony Dressing

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One of the books on my Book List for 2014 is Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I’m not sure why I haven’t read it until now as it’s been recommended to me countless times and I gave it to both my mom and mom-in-law for Mother’s Day. But now I’m halfway through and totally in love. Her thoughts on food and community are rich and real, blanketed with recipes and with stories invoking laughter and tears. I’ve already tried her enchiladas, which are incredible, and I can’t wait to try everything else!

One of my favorite things she shares is her philosophy on feasting and fasting. The idea that in life there are times of feasting, indulging mostly around holidays and vacations, which can be followed by times of fasting, eating a stricter more careful diet, with some treats in moderation. I love this idea. We don’t have to feel guilty about eating that extra sugar cookie or drinking a huge mug of hot cocoa when we balance it with a season of grilled salmon and mixed greens and spinach upon spinach.

This really encouraged me as today I’ve started the 21 Day Sugar Detox. After a hearty time of holiday feasting, I’ve felt the need to freshen up our meals. Inspired by my friend Alexa who has a wonderful blog, aptly named, Kitchenspired, I’m jumping in! Find out more here or follow Alexa’s journey.

Today’s salad is a lovely combination of flavors that can be enjoyed in a season of feasting or fasting. (Although it’s off limits for the detox.) Over the holidays, we went to a delicious little restaurant in Rockwall, Texas called Zanatas. Upon fist bite of their house salad, I knew I’d want it again, so here’s my recreation, which I think is pretty similar. I hope you try it!

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Mixed Green Salad with Figs, Red Onion, Candied Pistachios, Feta Cheese & Lemony Dressing
serves 4

Ingredients:
4 handfuls of mixed greens
6 dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 tablespoon salt

for the dressing
Adapted from Power Foods
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large shallot, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
(You’ll have extra, use on other salads or sandwiches!)

To make
:
For the candied pistachios: preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt and water. Add pistachios, stir to combine. Place a piece of parchment paper on a small baking sheet. Spoon pistachios onto parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Mix together lemon juice, Dijon, olive oil minced shallot, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

In a salad bowl, place mixed greens, diced red onions, feta, chopped figs and candied pistachios. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of dressing, combine and add more if needed.

Enjoy!

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Quinoa, Red Pepper, & Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

What a wonderful day. It’s currently raining outside and I’m drinking a big cup of coffee in my favorite pink mug from Anthropologie that my sister gave me for Christmas. I don’t work on Fridays (I’m a nanny), so today is my “get things done day.” Cleaning, which includes vacuuming, laundry, dusting, cleaning out the refrigerator, & possibly mopping; picking up all the clothes that have somehow gathered on my closet floor; running errands; possibly going for a jog; and my favorite: sharing recipes with you!

This quinoa salad is really really great. My sister introduced me to one of my very favorite cook books, Power Foods. I love it because it’s full of recipes that truly are good for you and made from 38 highly nutritious ingredients. But man, every single recipe I’ve made from here is FULL of flavor. This salad is no exception.

Do you know about quinoa? I hope so! First of all, it’s pronounced KEEN-wah. And secondly, this tiny little guy is a kind of seed, not a grain, so it’s gluten free and packed with tons of protein, fiber and other good-for-you vitamins. But, like I said before this isn’t one of those healthy-but-terrible-tasting recipes. It’s healthy alright, but the flavor is delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I like hamburgers and pepperoni pizza and even fried ice cream at the fair, but there is just something that feels so great about eating healthfully AND deliciously.

Oh and Matthew loves this salad! Win! I served it as a side for dinner with blackened tilapia which sounds fancy but is truly easy. (Tilapia filet+Tony’s Blackening Seasoning+non-stick pan with olive oil+sauteed 2-3 minutes on each side=divine).

Try this! You’ll love it!

Quinoa, Red Pepper, & Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 

Slightly adapted from the cookbook: Power Foods

Serves 4-6 as a side dish (equally as delicious eaten the next day as leftovers)  

1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice (from 2 or 3 limes or lemons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt to tasted

2 3/4 cups water

1 1/2 cups quinoa

1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh corn

1 red bell pepper, seeds & ribs removed, diced

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large jalapeno, diced (ribs & seeds removed for less heat, if desired)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds, toasted

To make:

Whisk together lime or lemon juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oil, & 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Toast pumpkin seeds in either the toaster oven or under the broiler on low. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa, allow to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed the water. Turn off heat and fluff quinoa with a fork.

Put quinoa in a large serving bowl and add corn, red pepper, green onions, jalapeno, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and the dressing. Add salt to taste.

Cut avocado into slices.

Pile quinoa on plates, add avocado if desired and serve!