Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Happy Solstice everyone :)  I don’t know if you realized, but yesterday was the longest day of the year?!?!  I find it odd that the longest day of the year is actually earlier on in the summer, but I’m not complaining.  I love summer and Seattle is getting longer, warmer days each year that I live here.  Seriously, the sun sets after 9 pm and we are experiencing highs in the 90s BEFORE “the official” start of summer in Seattle (aka 4th of July weekend).

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Fremont, which is undoubtedly the quirkiest neighborhood in Seattle, and also refers to itself as, “The Center of the Universe” throws a fair for Solstice.  There is even a parade and this may be one of the most free-spirited parade routes in the country…it starts off with naked, body-painted, cyclists.   If that doesn’t welcome summer, I don’t know what does.  We kicked off the weekend with a mimosa brunch, build your own breakfast burrito bar, and spent the afternoon watching the parade festivities.  Andrew and I were lucky to be a part of a friend’s proposal later that night and continued celebrating into the evening.  Talk about  making the most of a long day!

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Today, the day after Solstice, is all about relaxing and some meal prep for the week ahead.  Quinoa salads are a great, healthy, easy, and versatile recipe to throw into your meal planning routine.  With all the warm weather, there is so much yummy produce, and a light salad is one of my favorite work lunches :)  This is a twist on one of my favorite Bosnian dishes –šopska salata (Shopska Salad).

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This salad is a staple in many Balkan countries.   Traditionally, the salad is comprised of tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, peppers, onion, feta, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt.  Here in the U.S. it is difficult to find the green peppers that are custom to The Balkans, so I omit the peppers because bell peppers just don’t taste the same.  The quinoa and beans are great protein boost and the I love to change up the flavor by adding whatever fresh herb I have on-hand.  Today it was rosemary, but basil and parsley work nicely too.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I decided to have some fun with the pictures for this post and get a lil’ fancy since the rest of my day has been pretty casual ;)  I hope you all had a happy, safe Solstice and are excited for the rest of summer!

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8-10

The Players: 

For the salad
1 C dry quinoa
1 1/2 C water
1/2 hothouse cucumber, sliced and quartered (~1 1/2 C)
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion, diced (~1 C)
16 oz can 50% reduced sodium garbanzo bean, drained and rinsed

For the dressing 
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced rosemary
1/2 C feta cheese
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T white balsamic vinegar
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. For the quinoa: Place quinoa and water in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to low heat, place lid on pot, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff quinoa, and replace lid for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your veggies and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Once quinoa is cooked, transfer to the mixing bowl, and add dressing ingredients.  Toss well to combine.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and allow the flavors to enhance.  Serve cold.

Thai Chopped Salad

Outlets.  I’m not talking about shopping ladies (although I do enjoy a lovely outlet adventure).  I am talking about your stress-relieving and creative outlets.  What do you do to let your inner artist escape or to take the edge off?!?!?

Thai Chopped Salad

Exercise.  My stress-relieving outlet.  Probably not that surprising since I’ve posted about hikes and marathon-training.  I learned early in my pharmacy residency that my relationship would not survive if I did not work out.  I am apparently a much friendlier version of myself when I sweat out the frustrations.  Let me be honest, I don’t get much out of running on a treadmill.  I either want a group training class where a trainer is pushing me to limits I didn’t know existed OR I want to be immersed in the outdoors, running/hiking/swimming/paddle-boarding.  My next activity to tackle is road biking, but let’s just say that one might take a bit of practice ahem train wheels ahem.  Andrew filmed me in the parking lot testing out a road bike and could not stop laughing because of how nervous I looked :/  I may have almost crashed into a trash…oops!  FYI marathon training = insatiable appetite.  I apologize to anyone that has suffered the wrath of hangry me.  My life is a Snickers bar commercial.

Thai Chopped Salad

Food.  My creative outlet.  Probably even less surprising.  I really love getting crafty in the kitchen.  I must bore everyone I hang out with.  If I’m not talking about food, I’m talking about groceries, restaurants, food blogs, or Teek (my adorable weimy).  Teek has nothing to do with food, but I am equally as obsessed with food and Teek.  I apologize to all the friends out there that get bombarded with pictures of food (or my dog) I am either creating or eating (I’m not eating the dog…).  My creative foodie is inspired by the farmer’s market, that amazing meal we ate out, Food Network in general (when we had cable, yes canceling cable was a travesty in our household), any my personal favorite…when I challenge myself to make a meal with what I have in my kitchen.  No extra grocery trips allowed!

Thai Chopped Salad

This thai chopped salad came to be from one of those kitchen challenges.  We hosted a fiesta a couple weeks ago and I might have made enough jasmine rice to feed a small country.  I got a little carried away with the fiesta and we had left over rice for days.   I needed a break from Mexican cuisine and decided, why not make a veggie-filled salad with the rice as an added bonus?  I mean, I usually eat veggies with my rice anyway…so why not throw it all together?  Seriously, there are certain combinations that are meant to be in the world: peanut butter and chocolate, milk and cookies, ranch and hot sauce, wine and cheese, hot cocoa and whipped cream…add to the list this salad and the coconut, peanut, sesame, ginger dressing.  Anyone can throw veggies together and even add rice or farro to the mix.  I’m not claiming that this was an ingenious idea of mine.  What ties it all together and brings it to ANOTHER LEVEL???  Well, that would be the dressing.

Creamy. Sweet. Citrusy. Spicy. Nutty. Salty. Savory. Easy.

One bowl. One whisk. Magic.

Thai Chopped Salad

This salad was so delicious.  I decided to make it again.  It’s really not an addiction, until you catch yourself licking the dressing bowl…guilty.  I used farro the second time because I needed a break from rice and wanted to see if the grain in the salad could easily be swapped out.  You can also adjust the veggies to what you have on hand.  The first time I made the salad I left out the carrots, subbed shredded brussels sprouts for the cabbage, and used toasted cashews instead of roasted peanuts.  I love recipes that lend themselves well to adaptation :)

Thai Chopped Salad

I’m curious, what are your outlets: stress-relieving or creative?

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes

The Players:

For the salad
8 oz uncooked farro (alternatively 1 C uncooked jasmine rice)
1 C julienned carrots
1 C cooked edamame
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
3 scallions
2 C broccoli florets
1 C purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 C cilantro, chopped
1 C roasted peanuts

For the dressing
1/4 C coconut milk or cream
1/4 C peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1/4 C light brown sugar
2 T toasted sesame oil
2 T fish sauce (alternatively reduced sodium soy sauce)
1 T chili paste (alternatively Sriracha or hot sauce)
1 lime, juiced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced

The Rules:

  1. Cook the farro according to package instructions. (Note:  I place equal parts water to farro in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid for 10 minutes.)
  2. While the farro is cooking, prepare your vegetables:  dice the peppers, thinly slice the scallions, chop the broccoli, etc.  Place all the vegetables and the peanuts in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain any excess water from the farro and transfer the farro to your mixing bowl.
  4. Place all the dressing ingredients in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30 seconds.  Whisk to combine.  Pour over the salad and toss until veggies and farro are coated in dressing.  Serve immediately or store refrigerated.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Who else gets ridiculously excited about Cinco de Mayo and grilling weather?!?!  Cinco de Mayo was always a big deal in our household, because it is my dad and uncle’s birthday.  They were both born May 5th, five years apart.  How unique is that?  We always went out to celebrate their birthdays and oddly enough the restaurant of choice for this Bosnian family…was a Mexican restaurant.  Well now that I no longer live at home, I don’t go out for Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo, but I do love to host a good ole’ fiesta.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

In fact this year, a couple of girlfriends and I are hosting a  Not-so Cinco de Mayo Party with a guacamole-off!  Since everyone claims that they have the best guacamole…Andrew decided that there should be a competition and guests at the party have to bring their guacamole A-game.  There will be judging…and lots of eating.  Although the man-friend believes that one can survive on avocados and guacamole alone (he is seriously addicted), I decided to experiment with some additional recipes to bring to the party.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Mexican street corn is one of my favorite side dishes.  You can eat it as is, throw it in some tacos, sprinkle it over a burrito bowl, add it to a salad, or dip tortilla chips in the stuff.  It is simple and packed with flavor.  For a large group I figured serving the corn as a salad instead of on the cob is easier (don’t worry I’ll be tripling this recipe for the party).  As usual I added a healthy twist to the recipe and subbed greek yogurt for the traditional mayo.  But I didn’t completely skimp on the calories…I love butter on corn so I did rub some buttery love on before I grilled it.  You could easily use a non-stick cooking spray if you have more self control than I do ;)  The burst of the sweet grilled corn, heat from the chili powder, creaminess of the cotija cheese, and zesty lime are a combination beyond words.  Added bonus…the price tag for making this recipe at home is much cheaper than ordering from a food truck or restaurant.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

I also want to give a huge shout out to my friend, Sean.  He earned this meal since he spent 3 hours teaching me about my camera, food photography, and light room.  He is even sending me some blogs about photography and letting me use his tripod. Needless to say I have a long way to go, but it’s so exciting knowing that I have so much room for growth with this blog!  I promise I will share any tips I learn about taking food pictures once I am more comfortable with the technicalities.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players: 

3 large ears of sweet corn
1 T butter (alternatively use cooking spray)
1 heaping T non-fat greek yogurt
2 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
1/3 C chopped cilantro
1/3 C crumbled cotija cheese
1 lime, sliced into wedges

The Rules: 

  1. Preheat grill to 400 F.  Remove husks from the corn and rinse with water.
  2. Rub corn with butter and place on grill.  Cook corn for ~15 minutes, turning every few minutes, until kernels are golden-brown.
  3. Remove corn from grill and allow to cool until easily handled.  Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob.  Place kernels in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients except lime wedges to bowl and toss to combine.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve corn with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Shrimp & Farro Salad

I hope everyone is having an amazing weekend.  Sunday is typically my rest and recover day.  I love having the day to workout, run errands, blog, get creative in the kitchen, catch up on Netflix tv shows.

Shrimp & Farro Salad

Today we had our last softball game of the season, before the playoffs.  Let’s just say we refer to ourselves as “The Little Rascals.”  I mean I should have known the teams we would compete against would be pretty impressive since this was the pre-season to Summer league.  Oops.  Don’t get me wrong, I am super competitive and love being active, but I am no Babe Ruth.  Our record was 1-4 prior to today’s game.  Not only was it difficult to piece together enough players today, but it was pouring rain.  We have had such a mild winter, I really should not complain about one day of rain.  Standing outside for an hour, getting soaked, chasing around a neon ball…not quite R&R if you know what I mean.

Shrimp & Farro Salad

Oh well, it was totally worth it!  We won :o)  It has been awesome to see how our team has come together through the season and it was a close game, which kept things interesting despite the weather.   There is no better feeling than winning after bearing the elements.  Okay, well in my honest opinion…there is no better feeling than a hot shower and cozy meal after a rainy day, but winning was the cherry on top of the sundae (Sunday, get it?).

Shrimp & Farro Salad

What does this have to do with my shrimp & farro salad?  Absolutely, nothing.  But this salad is a winner in my books.  It’s light and refreshing.  Packed with flavors, textures, and vitamins.  Farro is an awesome grain to throw in soups and salads, because it will maintain its texture/bite and is larger than quinoa or cous cous.  However, if you don’t have farro, you can easily substitute pasta or quinoa.  You will feel great eating this salad and I bet you won’t be able to put the fork down.

Shrimp & Farro Salad

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players: 

1 C uncooked farro
20 large raw shrimp
1 T coconut oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 persian cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 C diced roma tomatoes (~1 1/2 tomatoes)
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large lime, juiced
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C fresh chopped cilantro (use less if you prefer)
salt and pepper

The Rules: 

  1. For the farro:
    1. Place farro in a medium sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups water and salt and bring to a boil.
    2. Then reduce to a simmer and replace lid, cooking for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
    3. Allow farro to cool (~ 1 hour).
  2. While the farro is cooking, prepare the shrimp:
    1. Remove tail and shell of shrimp.  Rinse and dry with paper towel.
    2. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp coconut oil and add shrimp.  Season with salt.  Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until pink and cooked through.
    3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked shrimp, farro, and remaining salad ingredients.  Toss with a spatula to maintain some shape to the avocado.  Taste and re-adjust seasonings as desired.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Cumin Dressing

BBQ Chicken Southwest Salad with Creamy Cumin Dressing

It’s that day of the week.  The one where my number one taste-tester becomes the chef.  Yes this is another tried and true meal your man can make for you :)

No surprise that in our household these meals will generally have a Mexican theme to them since Andrew loves Mexican food and is having an affair with avocados or “avos” as he likes to say.  I am pretty sure that he would dress me up as an avo if he could.  I should be careful what I say about avocado costumes since Halloween is around the corner.

We decided to tag team this meal.  He mans the grill and preps the veggies, I create the dressing.  He was pretty proud of the grill marks on his chicken:

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Cumin DressingYes, I was instructed to take a close up of the grill marks.

Don’t worry you don’t need to make your own dressing for this salad you can top it with ranch, bbq sauce, a vinaigrette, whatever your heart desires…my heart just happens to be OBSESSED with CUMIN.  I love the earthy flavor of cumin and this is the spice I associate with Tex-Mex food.  I like to balance sweet, cool, earthy, spicy, and citrus when I make this dressing.  I think the end result is the perfect mix, but you can feel-free to play with the flavors if you prefer a little more creamy or less spicy.

BBQ Chicken Southwest Salad with Creamy Cumin DressingHow amazing does that look?  Even without the dressing and cheese, my mouth is watering…

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep Time: 20 min + 1 hr for marinade
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

The Players:

For the salad:
1-2 chicken breasts
BBQ sauce for marinade, extra for drizzling
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 vine ripe tomato, diced
1/2 C red onion, slliced
1/2 C English cucumber, halved and sliced
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
6 oz baby spinach
1/2 C extra sharp cheddar, shredded
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped

For the dressing:
1/4 C greek yogurt
1/8 C light agave syrup
1/8 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 t cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and cracked pepper to taste

The Rules:

  1. Trim the fat from the chicken breast.  Marinate chicken in your favorite bbq sauce for at least one hour, preferably 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. While the chicken is marinating, prep all vegetables, except the corn and black beans, for the salad.  (Note: you can squeeze some fresh lime juice over the avocado to prevent from turning brown or wait to cut this until the salad is assembled)
  3. Pre-heat the grill to 400 F. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side.  Remove from grill and allow to rest.  This will prevent the juices from running when you slice the chicken.
  4. Place frozen corn in a small sauce pan with 1 tsp of water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until heated through (~5 minutes). Remove from heat once warm.
  5. Place black beans in a small sauce pan with 1-2 Tbsp of water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until heated through (~5 minutes). Remove from heat once warm.
  6. While the corn and black beans are warming up and the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisking together.
  7. Assemble the salad in a large serving bowl: spinach, then fresh vegetables, corn and black beans, grilled chicken, shredded cheese, and cilantro.  Serve with extra bbq sauce and dressing drizzled over the top or on the side.