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.

Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls

Alright, I have a confession.  Are you guys ready for it?  I splurged…big time.  I purchased my first, official pair of running shoes!  I tried to play it cool and wear my Nike Outlet and Nordstrom Rack Nikes while training for my first marathon.  I tried to convince myself that I did not need to walk into the new Brooks store (conveniently located off the running path…hello marketing genius).  But this Sunday, after a trip to the Fremont Sunday Market and Fremont Brewery (oops) I did the deed.

And I do not regret my decision one bit!  The sales associate was awesome and analyzed my gait and provided me with a few options.  I am so excited to continue my marathon training with my new shoes.  Also, SHOUT OUT to all the Boston Marathon Participants out there.  You are my inspiration.  Don’t worry seasoned vets, I will test drive my new kicks before I run my 17 mile long run on Saturday.  Mentally already exhausted.  But I get such a thrill running, especially with all the PNW beauty, that my running days are my favorite work out days :)

Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls

Another healthy obsession of mine is Thai food.  Seriously, Thai recipes seem overwhelming, but really they require you to have the same key spices/ingredients on hand and then it all comes down to the balance of flavors.  Spring rolls are a great recipe to have in your culinary tool box for entertaining, using up veggies, or quick meals.  Honestly, you can combine a variety of proteins or veggies and if you dip it in peanut sauce…it’s going to taste AMAZING.  Hello happy taste buds and belly.  I decided to use spinach and quinoa in this variation since I had both on hand in the fridge.  But next time who knows what I’ll find in the kitchen and in my spring roll.

Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls

Let me know what you love to put in your spring rolls and what your favorite running shoes are?!?!

Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 rolls

The Players: 

For the shrimp: 
24 large shrimp, peeled
1 t brown sugar
1 t chili paste
1 t sesame oil
1/2 t fish sauce

For the spring rolls: 
8 medium-size spring roll wrappers
1 C cooked red quinoa
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
2 C baby spinach
1/3 C fresh cilantro leaves (alternatively use thai basil)

For the peanut dipping sauce
1/4 C creamy peanut butter
1 T coconut cream (alternatively use 2 T light coconut milk in place of coconut cream and water)
2 T water
1 t brown sugar (if desiring sweeter sauce)
1 t fish sauce (alternatively use soy sauce)
2 t chili paste (use less if sensitive to spice)
1/2 t sesame oil

The Rules: 

  1. Place all ingredients for the shrimp marinade in a mixing bowl and coat shrimp.  Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. While the shrimp is marinating, prepare the veggies, and cook quinoa according to package instructions.  Set veggies aside and allow quinoa to cool.  (Note: I prepare quinoa in a large batch for the week and keep it refrigerated for later use)
  3. In a microwave safe dish, combine ingredients for peanut dipping sauce and microwave for 30 seconds.  Whisk until well-incorporated.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Set aside. (Note: For a thicker dipping sauce, use 1 tbsp water; for a thinner sauce use 2 tbsp water)
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook shrimp 2 minutes per side, until pink.  Remove from heat.
  5. Pour simmering water into a large pan or bowl.  Place the spring roll wrapper in the water and rotate until moistened.  Lay the wrapper on a damp, clean work surface.
  6. In the center of the spring roll wrapper layer spinach, quinoa, carrots, red bell peppers, shrimp, and cilantro.  Roll up like a burrito, tucking ends in, and set aside.  Repeat step 5 and 6 for remaining 7 spring rolls.  (Note: I used 3 shrimp per spring roll)
  7. Serve spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce.  Store extra spring rolls in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

15 Minute Garlicky Shrimp and Zoodles

I would just like to take a moment to say how grateful I am to work with the people I do.  I think too often you hear people complaining about work and the stress of work.  It’s always easier to complain than to be appreciative and thankful.  Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects of work that are not fun…hence why it’s called “work” and not “happy hour”.  But I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing patient care coordinators, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, nurses, mid-levels, pharmacists (shout out to my people), and providers every day.  Not to mention every other person that keeps the machine that is a clinic working.  Yes, we do everything for our patients, but goodness some days it takes a lot of patience (hehe see what I did there?).  I always try to thank the people that work hard to make my day a little easier, but I wanted to give a cyber thank you to everyone else out there that’s giving it their all :)

15 Minute Garlicky Shrimp and Zoodles

Now with all that hard work, you can bet that I work up an appetite.  Sometimes the best meals take the least effort and time.  Stop right there…don’t take another bite of the microwaved entrée.  You can and should take time to reward yourself with a yummy home-cooked meal after a long day.  This is an easy recipe that comes together in minutes AND you can easily customize it for the number of people eating.  Oh yes, you better be intrigued.  Zoodles.  Zucchini noodles, my latest obsession.  They are great because they substitute easily for any pasta dish and you can cook them in the sauce.  Minimal dishes.  Man friend is happy (since he’s always on dish duty).

15 Minute Garlicky Shrimp and Zoodles

I use a Paderno 3-Blade Spiralizer to create my zoodles.  My ratio is 1 large zucchini per serving.  I serve 5 shrimp per person and add as many mushrooms as I have on hand.  Feel free to use an entire 10 oz container.  Everything cooks in one pan and you can easily double the recipe and feed a larger crowd.  I kept the recipe dairy-free, but you could grate some fresh parmesan on top of each serving if you want to kick it up another notch.  Simple, fresh, flavorful, and quick.  Who wouldn’t want to reward themselves after a long day with a bowl of some Garlicky Shrimp and Zoodles?!?!  Tomorrow is Friday, take a moment to thank someone at work for what they do before you run out the door to celebrate the weekend ;)

15 Minute Garlicky Shrimp and Zoodles

As Always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players: 

5 oz sliced crimini mushrooms (half a container)
1/2 shallot, diced
20 large shrimp, peeled
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 zucchini, ends removed
1/4 C diced sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 T freshly sliced basil (~5 large basil leaves)
salt and pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. While your veggies and shrimp are sautéing, use a spiralizer to transform your zucchini into zoodles.
  2. In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, mushrooms, and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Place shrimp and garlic in the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes per side until pink.  Remove shrimp and mushrooms from pan and set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, sauté zoodles  and sun-dried tomatoes in the same pan.  Stir occasionally and cook until zoodles are tender (5-7 minutes).
  5. Add the shrimp and mushrooms back to the pan and toss with fresh basil.  Serve warm.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Monday.  Let me tell you guys something…it is even harder to get excited about Mondays when you spent a weekend away in Las Vegas with friends.  Add to that the fact that it’s been raining all day and well let’s just say I was feeling cozy and lazy today.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

This weekend was filled with pool time (think 80s and sunny), a few adult beverages, some gambling, lots of dancing, and even more laughter.  Seriously, I feel like Seattle and the relationships I have developed out here feel more like home every day :)  They say surround yourself with those on the same mission as you.   A room full of passionate, ambitious, young, and adventure-seeking humans… makes for one epic vacation.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Well now I am home, cozied up to a nice warm cup of green tea, reflecting on the weekend, and sharing this twist on chili with you.  I needed some veggies in my life, but with this rainy weather I wanted some comfort food.  Drum roll please…VEGAN CHILI.  I decided to avoid beans in this chili and stray even further from the traditional chili recipe.  Mainly because lentils are packed with fiber and protein and are a legume so they replace the beans that you normally find in chili.  If you really are craving that beany taste, feel free to add a can of rinsed kidney or black beans.   I kept my batch on the sweeter side (corn and sweet potatoes) and added heat and freshness by topping each serving with pickled jalapeño slices and cilantro.  This is a great hearty dish that will warm your soul.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

As always,

Bon Appeteek

More nutritional tidbits about lentils: high in folate, thiamine, phosphorous, and iron.  I was shocked when I found out that Canada is the largest exporter of lentils in the world…who would have thought?!?!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6

The Players: 

1/2 red onion, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (2 cups of cubed sweet potato)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
14.5 oz can  stewed mexican style tomatoes
1 C green whole lentils, rinsed
1 C frozen corn
3 C water (additional water if needed to thin out the chili)
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 heaping T ground cumin
2 t chili powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. In a dutch oven, over medium high heat warm 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Cook onion, celery, and sweet potato for ~5 minutes, until sweet potato starts to brown/soften and onion is translucent.
  2. Add bell pepper and garlic and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in the dutch oven and bring to a rolling boil.  Cover dutch oven with lid and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add additional water if desired and adjust seasonings to taste.  Remove from heat and allow the chili to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm with fresh cilantro and pickled jalapeños.