I'm really gearing up to get back to school, which means a delicate balance between having as much fun and as much relaxation as possible, as well as eating really good, fresh, personally-prepared foods. My go-to recently has been interesting salads, because it's too hot to use the stove, because I could not safely eat lettuce for the five weeks I was in Bolivia, and because it's summer and the produce is amazing. Last night it was arugula/kale/radishes/radish greens/cilantro/fresh corn off the cob with a dressing of olive oil/lime juice/agave nectar shaken in a practically-empty jar of salsa, topped off with coriander/cumin/feta and bits of blue corn tortilla chips. I was really just throwing together the last bits of what was left in my fridge, but it was phenomenal. I love cooking this way - experimenting with flavors based on what I have, turning something simple into something delicious. It also is a wonderful creative outlet for me, as well as quicker and easier than following a recipe. If you ever need some inspiration, this fun blog has had a lot of really interesting salads lately.
I feel like eating well and fueling my passion for healthful living will give me the energy I need to get through this year with a smile, and I'm psyched about the new Interest Group for Integrative Medicine that a friend and I have started. We have a lot of really fun ideas, including a nutrition week with a cook-off and recipe-sharing fundraiser, as well as a regional conference that's a pretty big deal. I believe that sharing recipes is a great way to start encouraging one another to invest in the health of our friends, family, and ourselves. It's a big part of why I started this blog.
Of course, now I have to share a recipe with you. I didn't measure anything as I made it, so I'll just be giving rough estimates, but feel free to play around with it or to ask me if you want more direction. I'll be bringing this to a barbecue lunch tomorrow at Loyola's day of service, but it makes a great lunch on its own. In fact, this follows the ideal skeleton of a one-dish meal: grain + protein + vegetable.
picnic salad recipe:
grain + protein:
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen but fresh would be better)
1 can garbanzo beans
crumbled feta cheese
1 bunch radishes
1/4 of a red onion
handful fresh basil
handful fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp honey
salt and pepper
Start by cooking the quinoa according to package directions. When it's done throw in the corn, so that it gets a bit cooked (or thawed). Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garbanzo beans. Set aside or in fridge to cool.
Meanwhile, Dice the red onion. Cut the radishes into cubes/chunks. Throw out the stems but keep the leaves, stack and roll them like a cigar and slice into thin ribbons. Do the same with the basil leaves. Mix all of these together, along with the cilantro.
Mix dressing ingredients in a glass jar and give it a good shake. Taste and adjust as needed.
If you're eating right away, go ahead and mix it all up, sprinkling feta cheese on top. If you made it ahead of time or are traveling, add the cheese to the bowl with the quinoa/beans/corn, leaving the dressing in the jar and the vegetables in a separate bowl. Toss all together just before serving, or set them out separately and let everyone do it for themselves.