22 July, 2012

speaking of salads

It's been quite a while since I have used a recipe. I've been avoiding the stove top, and the idea of turning on the oven would be crazy. It's hot here and my single window unit does the kitchen no good at all. I guess it's a good thing my parents didn't listen when I said coming up from Houston would offer them some relief from the summer heat. Fortunately, I can easily get through the whole summer on salads alone.

Let's take a minute to expand our definition of "salad". I do not mean iceberg lettuce. Not even romaine, or butterhead, or mixed field greens. As far as I'm concerned, a Salad (I'll use a capital 'S' to keep things straight, my Salad has a capital, the standard restaurant side salad does not) requires no leaves, but if you do want that kind of salad you might as well make them spinach or kale or arugula. Something with flavor and nutrients. I have seen many pitiful salads, and I'm convinced that this is why so many people say things like, "I don't like vegetables". What do you mean you don't like vegetables? Your body thrives on vegetables. Throwing some grilled chicken, shredded cheddar, a few diced veggies and ranch onto your standard lettuce is not going to make it much more exciting, or satiating for that matter. There have been times when I have felt a strong urge to teach the world how to make Salads. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I think that this food blogger is off to a really good start.

So then, what is a Salad? The dictionary says it's basically just a mixture of foods - raw or cooked veggies, sometimes with meat, with a dressing, served cold. See? nothing about lettuce. The key to a good Salad is simply starting with good, fresh ingredients. You can throw in just about anything, you just don't want to get carried away. Often the fewer things the better. I always try to include a good protein source - tuna, nuts, beans, lentils. I often just drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice over top, but sometimes I actually mix up a honey mustard dressing or some kind of vinaigrette, but I rarely ever buy a pre-made bottled salad dressing. Adding in a grain can easily turn a light salad into a full meal, maybe even a whole week of meals.

Here is a quinoa salad that I made yesterday for a friend's going-away party. I wasn't sure where it was going when I started, but it turned out to be really delicious. This also means I didn't measure, so I'm just guessing on the measurements now. If anything seems off to you, please adapt accordingly, and let me know so I can change it on here. I wish I had more left over for myself, but this is all I've got. Enough for a photo, at least.

Quinoa Salad with Mango and Edamame Recipe:
3 cups cooked quinoa (about 1 cup dry, maybe a bit less)
1 champagne mango, cut into cubes
3/4 cup edamame
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything together. Serve on a bed of arugula, or by itself.

I've got a few other salad ideas up my sleeves that I hope to be sharing on here soon, so stay tuned.

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