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Tropical Black Bean Quinoa Salad

6 Feb

tropical black bean quinoa salad

Inspired by the coconut breakfast quinoa I recently cooked up, I decided to try a savory preparation using quinoa cooked with coconut milk. I added black beans for extra substance and played off the tropical flavor of the coconut with mango, avocado, fresh mint, and lime juice. The resulting salad was colorful and delicious (not to mention healthy) – perfect for serving my parents for dinner at the end of a hot day of sightseeing.

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Warm Kale, White Bean, and Anchovy Salad

11 Jan

warm kale, white bean, and anchovy salad

It’s weird what foods you miss being away from home. I knew that I’d miss peanut butter and good quality dark chocolate, both difficult to find around here (or expensive once you do find them). But I’d never guessed that I’d start craving kale. It was nowhere to be found in Buenos Aires, and I’ve been really hoping to make a raw kale salad. When I came across some at an organic store here in Montevideo, I was really excited – I know, I know, this is kale we’re talking about, but there’s nothing like satisfying a craving! Sadly, it was too tough to eat raw. So instead I decided to cook it minimally with some white beans and a whole lot of garlic and anchovies. With the addition of almonds, raisins, parmesan, and pickled roasted peppers, this warm salad more than satisfied my craving for chewy, hearty kale. The anchovy flavor is reminiscent of a good Caesar salad, but the kale and white beans make this a lot healthier.

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Pork and Plum Salad

31 Dec

pork and plum salad

It’s hard being thousands of miles from family during the holidays, so I’ve been doing what I usually do to cheer myself up – planning and cooking elaborate meals. Since it’s summer here, and it’s just two of us to eat everything, I haven’t been cooking the traditional, heavy holiday feasts, but instead trying to come up with dishes that allude to the usual traditions. Fish preparations for holiday eves, for example. And this salad, which I’d planned to have roast rabbit or duck – along with the plums, I thought, it would be appropriate. But I couldn’t find anything quite so exotic in the nearby markets. Disappointed, I nearly scraped the dish altogether, but I decided instead to cook up a pork shoulder and use the pulled pork here instead. It ended up matching the variety of flavors here better than I’d expected, with the rich savoriness of the pork balanced by sweetness from plums, earthiness from mushrooms, and a crunch from almonds. Though the combination might seem unusual, it makes for a unique and elegant salad, great as an appetizer for a fancy meal or as a meal in and of itself.

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Balsamic Steak Salad with Pickled Cherries and Blue Cheese

26 Dec

balsamic steak salad

You may take a look at this photo, then at the title of the post, and back, noticing that I left off a crucial ingredient when photographing this salad – the blue cheese. As soon as I sat down to eat it, I knew something wasn’t quite right. Once I added the cheese, the flavors came together perfectly. Umami-laden balsamic-marinated steak, sweet and tart pickled cherries, and tangy blue cheese ensure all your taste buds get involved with each bite. With, of course, a little crispness from cucumbers and crunchiness from walnuts. So imagine that there are pretty blue-veined crumbles scattered atop the salads in the photo, and don’t forget the blue cheese – although you can substitute with goat cheese for a milder take, if you’re not a fan of blue cheese.

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Roasted Broccoli and Sun-dried Tomato Salad

10 Dec

roasted broccoli and sun-dried tomato salad 1

I’ve long been a proponent of roasting vegetables – it’s an easy way to enhance their flavor without even needing to add anything (other than a little olive oil and a pinch of salt). But I don’t think I’ve posted any recipes before with roasted broccoli. It’s a great focal point for a salad like this, where the concentrated flavors are well-complemented by the intense umami of sun-dried tomatoes. A simple balsamic honey reduction adds sweetness. Hard-boiled eggs add a great additional texture and help to balance the other strong flavors (although I think this salad would still be quite good as a vegan version without them). I can never resist putting nuts, seeds, and dried fruit on my salads, and this is no exception, with almonds, sesame seeds, and raisins rounding things out here. All together, the ingredients make for a sophisticated and delicious salad, with more than enough components to make it a satisfying meal.

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Black Bean Kimchi Quinoa Salad

7 Dec

black bean kimchi quinoa salad

Okay, I know I just posted about quinoa bibimbap, and yet here I am posting another recipe using both quinoa and kimchi. But this recipe doesn’t follow traditional Korean flavors; instead, there’s great fusion going on here with the incorporation of black beans and zucchini. In fact, you could take this recipe even further from your usual Asian flavors by seasoning it with a more traditional salad dressing instead of the mix of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar I use here. The black beans and zucchini are a surprisingly good match for the fermented flavors of the kimchi, and the overall effect is a great meal option that’s healthy but not boring.

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

3 Dec

black bean and corn salad

On some days, it feels like a burden to cook something, especially something healthy. I want to be creative, to dedicate time to an elaborate recipe, but can’t stand the idea of actually doing so – there are lots of other more important (or just more exciting!) things to do. But we all need to eat, and a tasty dish can be easy as this salad. A fresh mix of black beans, corn, and diced vegetables, pulled together by lime juice and Mexican spices. Even with the chopping, it only takes fifteen minutes or so to throw together. And this recipe is incredibly versatile – serve it as a salad over lettuce (as pictured here), mix it with rice or quinoa for a twist on a burrito bowl, or use it as a side to accompany fish, meat, or grilled vegetables. Make this, and then you can quickly get back to everything else you have to do, with a delicious and healthy meal fueling you!

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Roasted Strawberry Quinoa Salad

30 Nov

roasted strawberry quinoa salad

Ever since I first heard of roasting strawberries, I’ve been waiting for a chance to try it out. Since strawberries are starting to show up around here, I tossed a pound of them with balsamic vinegar and threw them in the oven. The result is wonderfully concentrated flavor, perfect for savory or sweet applications. I chose to use them in this savory salad with quinoa. The quinoa is a great foil to the strawberries, absorbing their juices and providing a good base for the salad, along with spinach. Walnuts on top for crunch and blue cheese to balance the sweetness of the strawberries make this salad a winner. It comes together quickly, with the quinoa cooking while the strawberries roast, and I liked it best served at room temperature – perfect for packing for lunch. I think this would also be a great unique addition to a brunch spread.

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Fall Salad with Butternut Squash, Apples, and Blue Cheese

16 Nov

fall salad with butternut squash apples and blue cheese

I’m starting to miss fall. Winter, I don’t mind skipping – bitter cold and biting wind, all the color sucked out of everything, and root vegetables and leafy greens the only thing in season (and even those shipped from milder climates further south). But fall is pleasantly cool with gorgeously tinted leaves and matching squashes of various shapes and sizes, driving an hour or two to taste crisp apples straight from the tree, and cinnamon-scented everything. I’ve been craving seasonal fall dishes. So I decided, despite the rising temperatures here, to put together this fall salad. Everything was easily available here (except for the radicchio called for in the original recipe which I chose to replace with red cabbage, for color, and arugula, for bite), and the end result has a great mix of flavors and textures. Butternut squash roasted with brown sugar for extra sweetness and ancho chile powder for spice, as well as sweetness from a honey garlic vinaigrette and apple slices, but all balanced by spicy arugula and crisp cabbage, the crunch of pepitas, and the funkiness of blue cheese. Not quite your typical fall salad, but a great remedy for my homesick self.

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Taco Salad

12 Nov

taco salad

Have I mentioned that it’s spring here in Buenos Aires? I’ve always preferred warmer weather, but it’s been a little weird seeing November on the calendar while going through a heatwave – temperatures were up to the mid-90s recently! (That’s Fahrenheit, of course; I still haven’t made the adjustment over to Celsius.) Given the weather, I’ve been eating a lot of salads, but in true Argentine fashion, I just can’t help topping them with meat (like my Thai steak salad) – it’s cheap and good quality here and adds extra protein to the meal. I think this recipe for taco salad could be easily adapted to be vegetarian, however, by omitting the ground beef and adding more beans (a mixture of black and pinto beans would be my suggestion). With or without the beef, this is a salad worth making. With a base of lettuce and cabbage (dressed with a simple red wine vinaigrette), it’s definitely a healthier alternative to the nachos and tacos it resembles, but it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out, especially when you pile on the toppings.

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