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.

10-Minute Broccoli and Tomatoes

When people ask me my favorite vegetable, I have a hard time narrowing it down (yes, people have actually asked me this question…I’m that cool).  In general, I have a hard time picking food on a menu.  Curse of a not-picky-eater.  I think I get at least one eye roll when I go out to eat with friends or Andrew.  Despite countless hours (no exaggeration) perusing menus prior to eating out, I rarely know what I want to order at a restaurant.

10-Minute Broccoli and Tomatoes

It usually goes like this: 

Other person: “Do you know what you want?”
Me: “I don’t know, I’ve narrowed it down to about 5 things.”
Other person: [first eye roll]
Waitress: “Are you guys ready to order?”
Me: [panic-stricken face] “Ummmmmmmmmm, well what are your favorite things on the menu”
Waitress: [Lists off a few favorites, none of which I had noticed previously]
Other person: [second or third eye roll]
Me: “Okay, I’ve narrowed it down to [item A] and [item B]…surprise me”
Other person: [third or fourth eye roll]

This is the curse of loving all food, wanting to try the entire menu, reason why I love tapas restaurants.

So after all is said and done, when I cook at home I try to create recipes that are flavorful and simple.  Flavor does not have to come at a price, high-calorie load, or a lot of fuss for that matter.  This recipe is the perfect example.  Minimal ingredients.  Low-calorie.  Bursting with flavor.  Nutritious combination.  Broccoli is high in Vitamin C, Fiber, and cancer-fighting properties, while tomatoes, provide additional Vitamin C and antioxidants.  This is a great side dish to add to any protein main or to just chow down on as a snack.

10-Minute Broccoli and Tomatoes

P.S. still not sure what my favorite veggie is, but broccoli sure is up there on the list.

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players: 

12 oz broccoli florets, rinsed
10.5 oz cherub tomatoes, rinsed (alternatively any cherry or grape tomatoes)
1 T worcestershire sauce
1-2 t garlic powder (alternatively 2 garlic cloves, minced)
1/2 t dried chili flakes
optional sea salt and cracked pepper

The Rules: 

  1. Over medium-high heat, in a medium-sized skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray, sauté broccoli florets and worcestershire sauce for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes, garlic, and chili flakes to the skillet.  Cook an additional 3-5 minutes until tomatoes are heated, but not bursting.
  3. Adjust seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve warm. (Note: I did not add salt and pepper)

One-Pot Creamy Mushroom Tortellini

Quick meals for a busy lady.  That is my thought process during the work week when I haven’t meal-prepped on the weekend.  One pot??? Even better.  I am all about the minimal clean-up.  I tend to have a bad habit of using every pot, pan, bowl, and utensil when I am meal-prepping.  Yes, I get a lot of eye rolls from Andrew when he looks at the kitchen sink on Sunday.  Oops.

One Pot Creamy Mushroom Tortellini Pasta

This is an easy one-pot meal and the creaminess is from the ricotta cheese, so it’s a lighter pasta dish.  Win-win.  It even makes great left-overs for the following day.

You could add other produce you have on hand, such as bell peppers, kale, or frozen peas, if you want to sneak in even more nutritional value.

One Pot Creamy Mushroom Tortellini Pasta

Sorry for the quick posts!  Story-telling works better on weekends ;)  Happy hump day.

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players:

1/2 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 C crimini mushrooms, sliced
14.5 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
14.5 oz water (use the tomato can to measure the water)
1 t corn starch
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
12 oz tortellini (I used cheese-filled)
3 C fresh spinach
1/2 C ricotta cheese
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

optional: freshly grated parmesan for serving

Note: If you don’t have corn starch, don’t stress just substitute butter for your olive oil and 1 tbsp of flour for the corn starch.  Add the flour to the pan when you are done cooking the mushrooms and whisk it into the butter.  Then add your wet ingredients (water and tomatoes) and stir to combine.  The flour will act as a thickener similar to the cornstarch.

The Rules:

  1. In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, warm 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and onion to pan and cook until onion is translucent (3-5 minutes).  Place mushrooms in pan and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer diced tomatoes to pan.  Whisk corn starch and cold water in the same can the tomatoes were in and add to your pan.  Season with dried herbs.  Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Add tortellini and spinach to the pan.  Cover with sauce and replace lid on pan.  Cook until tortellini is tender (7-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.  (Note: Reduce the heat to medium if you need to while the pasta is cooking)
  5. Gently fold in the ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm with freshly grated parmesan.

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Cheddar Soup

In my opinion the best soup for a cold, rainy day is a hearty one.   The idea for my creamy broccoli cheddar soup stems from my Nana’s love for this soup at Panera.  Every time that any of us grand-kids come home from college, my grandmother tells us to pick a day to go to Panera and without fail Nana always orders a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with a whole-wheat baguette.  Some of my favorite memories with Nana include these lunch outings–catching up with her while enjoying a casual meal.  This is one of the few times Nana will relax and not fuss.

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Cheddar SoupLook at how pretty those veggies look! 

Moving to Seattle, I knew that there would be plenty of these chilly days for soups and stews and re-creating this favorite of Nana’s was one of the first recipes I wanted to tackle.  I decided I would attempt to make it as healthy as possible and load it up with yummy veggies.  My boyfriend always gives me a hard time about how I am “justifying” how healthy a recipe is.  His rationale–nothing that tastes this good can be that healthy… so I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to view this recipe as a healthy weeknight meal or a guilty pleasure.

Reduced-guilt Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The fact that I spent most of my life growing up in Wisconsin, the cheese capitol of the U.S., only solidifies that the one ingredient I couldn’t skimp on is the CHEDDAR…I mean cheddar is in the title of the recipe.  I added deli-style, extra-sharp cheddar slices, but you could easily add 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of freshly-grated, extra-sharp cheddar cheese.

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This soup did not last long in our house and Mr. “This can’t be that healthy” enjoyed seconds and took it to work for lunch the following day…guess it must taste good ;)

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Cheddar SoupHow delicious does that bite look?

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6

The Players:

1 T coconut oil
2 carrots, shredded
1 parsnip, shredded
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T whole wheat flour
4 C low-sodium vegetable stock
1 C reduced-fat milk
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed (bite-size pieces)
5 C broccoli florets, rinsed
7 slices extra-sharp cheddar cheese (Alternatively 1 1/2 to 2 C freshly-grated)
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil.  Add the carrots, parsnip, onion and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the sautéed veggies, then whisk in milk and vegetable stock.
  3. Add the potatoes and broccoli and bring soup to a boil.  Replace lid and cook for ~10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.  Turn off the heat and remove pot from the burner.
  4. Transfer half the soup-veggie mixture to a bowl, set aside, and puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender.  (Note: you can puree more or less of the soup depending on the consistency you desire.  I like more broccoli pieces in my soup so I intentionally fish more of the broccoli out and do not puree it)
  5. Add the cheese to the pureed soup and whisk to combine.  Combine the soup-veggie mixture that was set aside with the pureed, cheesy soup base.  Stir gently to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.