Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables and a Creamy Greek Yogurt and Orange Dressing

White dish full of quinoa and roasted vegetable salad beside a glass container containing creamy orange salad dressing.

This recipe is a testament to the infinite usefulness of leftovers; cold cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables from last night’s dinner form the framework for this hearty grain salad. I can’t think of a single vegetable that wouldn’t be a delicious addition, and for this particular version I used red onions, sweet peppers, fennel, carrots, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms that had been roasted for 45 minutes at 375 degrees the previous evening (a massive plate of roasted vegetables on a rainy Friday night is my idea of heaven). The black sesame seeds and hemp hearts add a nutty flavour and extra texture, both could be substituted with other seeds or nuts or even omitted entirely. There’s something about the taste of fresh citrus on grain salads that I love, especially during December when all of the lovely oranges are beginning to appear at produce stands in Vancouver. I used a Cara Cara orange for this salad because I love their bitter and only slightly sweet flavour but any type would work well, including my two other favourites, clementines and blood oranges. Serve this salad at room temperature either as is, or with avocado and orange slices gently stirred in on a bed of mixed baby greens. This quinoa salad will keep in the fridge for several days and therefore makes a great portable lunch or reliable dinner at the end of a long day.

quinoa salad with roasted vegetables:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

About 2 generous cups worth of cold, leftover roasted vegetables

1 leek, the white part only cut into very thin half moons

1/2-3/4 cup of Italian parsley, finely shredded

1/4 cup of dried cranberries or cherries, minced

2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

creamy greek yogurt and orange salad dressing:

Juice and zest of 1 orange

2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. kosher salt

Generous pinch of freshly cracked pepper

  1. In a large salad bowl combine the quinoa, roasted vegetables, chopped leek, parsley, dried fruit, sesame seeds, and hemp hearts.
  2. Shake all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass jar and pour over the quinoa and roasted vegetable mixture stirring gently to cover.
  3. Allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes, serving at room temperature as is, garnished with orange and avocado slices, or on a large bed of mixed greens.

Hexagonal dish of quinoa salad with Christmas lights off to the side.

Of course I’m listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, good grief.

Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio

 

Chickpea and Cucumber Salad with a Creamy Lemon, Parsley, and Avocado Dressing

Heart-shaped plate full chickpea and cucumber salad and 2 pieces of sour dough toast.

This is a bright and immensely flavourful variation on a chickpea salad, ideal for eating with a loaf of buttered sourdough toast from Batard Bakery in Vancouver (kindly gifted by one of our guests over the weekend at the cocktail party Ian and I hosted). I went for a long walk on an empty stomach along Jericho Beach this afternoon to take pictures in the rain, and I was in full need of comfort and carbohydrates by the time I got home. I put this together in less than 10 minutes, leaving it to sit for about 15 minutes while I dried off and made a cup of Constant Comment tea (thank you again, to another guest at the party – I always have trouble finding this particular kind of tea). This chickpea salad would be wonderful in a warm pita with some extra dressing or tzatziki, I can imagine it would taste pretty wonderful alongside some cumin-rubbed lamb as either a hot meal or a cold spread that demands a thorough pick through. You can add more lemon juice if you’d like, the zest would also serve to brighten the taste of the dressing even further. A pinch of cayenne wouldn’t be remiss here, nor would some barely blanched broccoli florets and toasted sunflower seeds.

Jericho Beach on a rainy day.

chickpea and cucumber salad with a creamy lemon, parsley, and avocado dressing:

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 medium-sized cucumber, sliced into thin or quarter half moons

1/4 of a red onion, finely diced

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 avocado, flesh scooped out with a spoon

Generous 1 cup of parsley, loosely torn

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 cup of olive oil

  1. In a large bowl mix together the chickpeas, cucumber, and red onion.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides several times in order to ensure a perfectly creamy dressing. It’s entirely OK if the parsley isn’t completely blitzed, in fact I think it makes the salad look more appetizing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and stir to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving – the lemon in the dressing will help prevent avocado dressing discolouration, so it will keep in the fridge for a few days after it’s made.

My friend and I were talking about all of the music our parents listened to while we were growing up, it seems like we have a lot of common musical tastes now because of what was on the record player while we were children; I also have a very clear memory of being told “Don’t dance too close to the record player! No jumping near the record player, the record will skip!”. Now as an adult I can very easily admit that the excellent music I heard at home absolutely formed my relationship to music as I currently experience it. I also never jump or dance around the record player, ever.

English Beat – Save it For Later

Jericho Beach 2

Big Green Salad for a Crowd

Big oval bowl full of green salad and radishes.

American Thanksgiving! Or, Thanksgiving, as my friends and family in Washington state call it. I’ve been in Seattle for the past five days eating numerous reincarnations of turkey and all of the accompaniments: two dinners on Thursday, leftovers on Friday, and slightly hungover turkey hash brunch on Saturday. This has been a delicious journey, especially since my family has never been keen on traditional Thanksgiving fare (let’s make it clear that I’m in no way complaining about roasted prime rib and Caesar salad being the usual suspects). So when I received the main dinner coordination plans it looked as though everything absolutely essential to an American Thanksgiving feast had been accounted for; pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes – it was all taken care of. I decided I wanted to bring a gigantic, beautiful, and crisp green salad to Thanksgiving dinner using a combination of really pretty greens to get the meal off to a gorgeous start. I make green salads all the time, always using different ingredients but generally sticking to the same basic tenets which are a) to make sure your greens have been carefully washed, dried, and chilled and b) to mix the dressing right in the bottom of the bowl and then toss it with your hands. I also like to ensure my vegetable and fruit additions are sliced very thinly so that they can be more easily tossed into the leafy greens. On that note, I also like to soak my red onion slices in water or lemon juice once they’ve been sliced, there’s nothing that ruins a salad faster for me than the taste of acrid burning onion.

Big green tossed salad in an oval bowl with radishes and red onion

big green salad:

1 packet of arugula, washed and dried completely

1 packet of baby spinach, washed and dried completely

1 packet of watercress, washed and dried completely

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, torn into large pieces

1 bunch of radishes, sliced into thin half moons

3 stalks of celery, sliced into thin half moons

1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly, soaked in water for 20 minutes, and then drained completely

1 English cucumber, partially peeled in strips, sliced, and then drained on paper towel for 20 minutes

1 bunch of fresh basil, cut in a fine chiffonade

1 bunch of fresh mint, torn into small pieces

1/4 cup of dried cherries or cranberries, snipped into small pieces with scissors

Juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/3 cup fruity olive oil

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Whisk together the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and olive oil in the bottom of a large salad bowl adding a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste. Add the leafy green portion of the salad first, tossing with your hands to coat with the dressing. Add the sliced vegetables next, continuing to toss the salad with your hands. When all of the salad ingredients have been coated with the dressing top the salad with the fresh herbs  and dried fruit. Adjust for seasoning and serve.

As for musical accompaniment to my salad making, I have to admit that it was primarily good old fashioned conversation in this case; I would argue that it’s the most important part of a celebratory meal. The common denominator that brings us all together.

Acorn Squash Salad with Brown Rice, Roasted Leeks, and Hemp Hearts

Pink platter with acorn squash and brown rice salad

This vegan beauty of a salad came into my head the other day when I went for walk with my mom down to the beach. The rain is really getting into full swing here in Vancouver and the kaleidoscope explosion of leaves are all over the sidewalk, I felt totally inspired by the colours that overlapped all over the sidewalk and street. I tend to use acorn squash because it’s smaller and easier to carry home from the grocery store when I’m also trying to get three other bags home at the same time. It’s also slightly easier to cut into than say, a butternut squash, and I think acorn squashes are considerably sweeter. I used cold brown rice because I had some leftover from making a stir fry the day before, but you could easily use quinoa, barley, or bulgur. I would actually suggest making the acorn squash, leek, and brown rice the day before to make sure they’re all properly chilled; this also ensures that the salad making process is only about ten minutes long, including time spent making the dressing. The hemp hearts and black sesame seeds give texture and an extra nutritional boost, plus they just look pretty. I’d like to try this salad again with finely chopped dried apricots instead of dried cranberries or cherries, they’re slightly chewier and would be a nice contrast to the softness of the roasted vegetables. Whatever you end up using, serve this salad at room temperature to ensure all the flavours really have a chance to shine.

acorn squash salad with brown rice, roasted leeks, and hemp hearts:

1 small acorn squash, split in half lengthwise with the seeds removed

1 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well to get rid of any lingering dirt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. maple syrup

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

1 cup of brown rice, cooked and then allowed to completely cool

1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

About 4 sprigs worth of fresh thyme

1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley, torn

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the acorn squash halves with 2 teaspoons each of the olive oil and then a teaspoon each of the maple syrup (you can slice a small piece of the squash off on the one side so they’ll stand up straight). Arrange them on a baking sheet with parchment paper alongside the leeks, drizzling them with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and then roast for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your squash. The leeks should be curling and browned when done. Set aside to cool.
  2. Chop the cooled acorn squash and leek into small pieces for the salad and place in a large salad bowl.
  3. Add the brown rice, dried cranberries or cherries, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, hemp hearts, and black sesame seeds. Toss gently to combine.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss once more to make sure all of the ingredients have been evenly coated. Allow to sit for at least half an hour before serving at room temperature.

dressing:

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. red chilli flakes

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until emulsified.

My high school self would be thrilled with my current musical leanings, fifteen years later and I’m rediscovering Tricky for the third or fourth time. I remember reading in a Spin magazine article that he wore his asthma puffer around his neck on a string due to his near constant pot smoking habit, I felt a sort of asthmatic-to-asthmatic kinship with Tricky at that moment (although I wasn’t smoking any pot at that point in my life).

Tricky featuring Alison Goldfrapp – Pumpkin