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!
Mixed Green Salad with Figs, Red Onion, Candied Pistachios, Feta Cheese & Lemony Dressing
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!)
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.
As much as I absolutely love the fall months, I’m not quite ready for summer to end. I’m holding on to every fresh berry and ripe tomato I can get my hands on and I’m especially not ready for Hobby Lobby to be filled with scarecrows and pumpkins. Don’t get me wrong, fall is probably my favorite time of year, but I don’t want to skip the end of summer. Given the fact that it won’t get even slightly chilly here in Louisiana until maybe mid-October, I guess I have a bit more time.
For me, salads are the best thing to eat in the summer. And even though I could certainly make this salad in the fall or winter, there’s something summery about it. The tangy feta and spicy chipotle make this easy dish flavor packed.
For a heartier salad, add some chopped rotisserie chicken or mixed greens and avocado. But without any of those things, this is still a hearty and delicious salad.
Happy end of summer!
For the salad:
2 cups of plain cous cous
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup crumbled feta
A handful of blue corn tortilla chips
optional: chopped rotisserie chicken, sliced avocado, a handful of mixed greens
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo (found in a small can on the Mexican foods aisle)
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of water
Cook cous cous according to package directions, fluff and scoop 2 cups into a large bowl. Add drained & rinsed black beans, corn. Add chicken if using.
In a blender combine dressing ingredients. Add to cous cous mixture and stir to combine.
Place salad ingredients in a bowl on top of a handful of mixed greens if using. Top with a sprinkling of feta, cilantro and avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.
The perfect summertime meal is a salad with some sort of grilled meat. I love the smokey charred flavor of chicken or fish paired with light, fresh vegetables. These chicken and red onion kabobs are bursting with flavor: a combination of the grill and the tangy buttermilk marinade/dressing. The addition of sliced cucumber, sweet grapes, and creamy avocado makes this salad fresh and flavor packed.
Buttermilk Grilled Chicken + Chopped Salad
Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazinehttp://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/buttermilk-chicken-kebabs-with-chopped-salad/
2/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Zest of 1 lemon plus 1/4 cup juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1 1/2pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 head romain, leaves torn
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced in chunks
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup red grapes, halved
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.
In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, olive oil, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with half of the buttermilk mixture.
Thread chicken and red onion chunks onto 8 skewers.
Grill, turning frequently, until cooked through and browned in spots, 13 to 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss together the romaine, cucumber, avocado and grapes. Drizzle with the remaining buttermilk mixture; season. Serve the salad with the kebabs.
I love that this recipe uses cucumber because my cucumber plant is literally taking over! Apparently, cucumber thrives in the heat and humidity; so I’ll be growing lots of it!
What is your favorite recipe that highlights cucumber?
We’ve been living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for almost three weeks and we absolutely love life here! Cajun food, LSU paraphernalia, a multitude of delicious restaurants, and humidity like none we’ve ever experienced are all part of our daily lives. As you may know, my husband and I along with seven other of our close friends are beginning the adventure of church planting in Baton Rouge. We are sending out monthly updates about our life and ministry here via email; if you’d like to receive these updates, send an email to newlybread @ gmail dot com and I’d be more than happy to add you to our list!
As you might imagine, getting accustomed to our new home has been quite the task, albeit an enjoyable one. We have been busy organizing, cleaning, and setting up our home, spending time with new friends in the city, and exploring. While exploring we’ve found a few treasures here in the city, one being a produce market that is open daily and provides fresh and inexpensive fruits and vegetables.
The combination of moving furniture, hot weather, and humidity does not lend itself to cooking gourmet feasts. I’ve found that whipping up either of the following recipes is easy and tasty. This Easy Fried Rice is a versatile recipe that can be adapted to your personal taste and what you have on hand. Beside the essentials of rice, egg, and soy sauce, the addition of peas, green beans, mushrooms, grated ginger, minced garlic, cilantro, and chicken make this dish filling and delicious. Really whatever vegetables you have at home, fresh or frozen, can be thrown into the mix. I even added white beans to a recent batch which heightened the protein content and melded surprisingly well with the Asian flavors.
The Simple Bean Salad is a light accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish. I’ve also enjoyed it by itself as a light lunch or as a dip for pita or tortilla chips.
Hopefully these recipes will help you enjoy cooking in the summer!
Easy Fried Rice
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3-4 eggs, beaten
- Salt and pepper
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- one clove garlic, minced
- 1 can (15.5 oz.) white beans, rinsed
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix, thawed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cover the rice with water and stir until the water becomes cloudy; drain and repeat twice. Return the rice to the saucepan, add 1 cup cold water, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for just one minute. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until set and just dry, about 1 minute. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool; coarsely chop.
- In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites and bell pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper. Add the beans and peas-carrots mix and cook until heated through; transfer to a large bowl.
- In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the cooked rice. Spread into a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until the rice forms a crust, about 3 minutes. Break up the rice and sprinkle with the soy sauce. Stir in the scallion greens, cilantro, bean mixture and eggs and cook until heated through.
Simple Bean Salad
- 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-oz can black eyed peas
- 1/2 white onion, chopped fine
- 1 cup fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Adapted from Simply Recipes
1 In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary.
2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.
3 Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.
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
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!
Recently my grandma told me that when she was my age the only type of salad you could get at a restaurant was a wedge of iceberg lettuce with some ranch dressing poured over it. Can you imagine? People didn’t know about any other kind of lettuce! Much less all of the delectable toppings: cheese, nuts, roasted vegetables, seasoned croutons…today the options for salads are endless! They didn’t even have different types of lettuce in the grocery store. No romaine, or green leaf, and definitely no kale.
Kale is sort of an in style vegetable. I love that foods can be in style. Like quinoa. I didn’t even know about quinoa until last year, and definitely didn’t know how to pronounce the word.
Besides it’s popularity, kale is really really healthy. Unless you’re like me and pile loads of salt, vinegar and cups full of parmesan on top, creating “kale chips”. Gosh those things are good.
This kale salad is light and packed full of flavor with the peanut dressing and some crunchy almonds on top. Makes for a delicious light lunch or as a side dish. And it wouldn’t hurt to pile on some avocado or grilled chicken, but today I’m keeping things simple.
Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing
Adapted from the Power Foods Cookbook
Serves 1 as a light lunch or 2 as side, easily multiplied
2 cups kale, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
a sprinkling of sliced almonds
2 tablespoons peanut butter-I used organic with no additives, but Jiffy is fine too
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup neutral tasting oil, such as canola
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Rinse your kale in cold water, pat dry and use a knife to chop up into bite size pieces, or just tear with your hands. Slice green onion and place in a bowl with the kale, cilantro, and sliced almonds.
Put peanut butter, soy sauce, minced garlic, canola oil, and lime juice in a small sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Stir and allow peanut butter to melt. Stir all ingredients together until smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Once dressing is cool, pour over the kale salad. Place salad in the refridgerator and allow all of the flavors to meld together or if you are impatient, like me, eat immediately.
Side note: the peanut dressing will taste rather salty (although delicious) by itself, but once mixed with the kale salad, it should be perfect.
My mom always made homemade salad dressing. Her caesar dressing is absolutely delicious! She made it all the time when we were younger and when it was my job to make the caesar salad I added tons of dressing and tons of parmesan cheese with a little bit of lettuce. I’ve never been able to find a bottled dressing that tastes as good as homemade plus it is so much cheaper to make your own.
Ok, so on to the salad dressing for today. Guys, I really don’t think I’m exaggerating. This truly is the best salad dressing I’ve ever tasted. I discovered Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette (is that really how you spell that word??) during the summer at a wonderful blog called Our Best Bites which has tons of great recipes. But don’t head over their quite yet as I want to show you a little spin I put on the dressing: I added a bit of chipotle in adobo sauce and OH MY GRACIOUS. Y’all, this is the tastiest salad dressing I’ve ever had! Zesty is the best word to describe it. Full of flavor but not rich or heavy. Tangy. Refreshing. Drinkable. Also it’s great as a chicken or vegetable marinade, a sauce for enchiladas, mixed with some black beans and guacamole, really anything. I even somewhat randomly poured it over a salad of spinach, roasted butternut squash and parmesan cheese. I could literally drink this stuff!
Just look at how lovely and green it is!
I recommend making this as soon as you can because it will add a zesty kick to whatever you choose to put it on.
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
2 tablespoons cup white wine vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed
1 chipotle pepper-seeds removed + 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (add seeds or another half chipotle for more heat)