Posts Tagged ‘salad’

Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives

 
Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives

It’s amazing the difference a day makes, yesterday was so sunny and amazing we were convinced spring had come, and the dreary winter had finally bowed out.
We ran around like kids, giddy with excitement, and exploring the city like tourist. I stayed out until dark, and walked home when the city lights lit up the night.

And yet this evening we battled angry winds and bitter rain; I couldn’t get home fast enough.

I wanted to make a big salad as soon I got through the door, a soul-soothing rainy day kind of salad.

Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives
Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives

I cut and prepped vegetables, listening as the rain beat down the window.

Pearl or Israeli couscous (Ptitim) are much larger in size and firmer than North African couscous, it’s closer to rice and holds it’s texture when cooked.
I like to toast it for a few minutes in coconut oil until it smells wonderful, and then cook it just like rice, can be cooked in a rice cooker too.

The herby aroma of fresh thyme really compliments this simple salad.
The vegetables are usually whatever I have on hand, but I always add the sweet corn and olives because the flavours round out and brighten the salad.

I finish it off with a simple lemony dressing, a handful of dried tart cherries and nutty toasted coconut; I reckon a cheese lover wouldn’t mind some crumbled feta on top.

I like cheerful salads like these at this particular time of the year, it makes me hopeful for spring and sunny days, and it’s warm and comforting for cold rainy days.

Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives
Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives

Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives

Farro and Lentil Salad with Parsley Vinaigrette

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I’m creature of habit, that is not to say I’m boring, I’m adventurous enough (i think), I just tend to repetitively drift into familiar and comfortable routines – which is why I go to New York at a certain time of the year, every year.

I got my ticket a few weeks ago, and along with my list of new and daring exploits, I’ll be crisscrossing the city revisiting old haunts.
Predictably, I’ll spend an afternoon on the High Line, I’ll get a haircut at Miss Jessie’s and I’ll probably eat macarons at the park and visit a museum. And how can my sweet tooth resist Momofuku’s Milk Bar?

I know I’ll go to Eataly for breakfast, and because I liked it so much the last time, I’ll also have the farro and vegetables again for dinner

IMG_2967 Lentil and Farro Salad
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Eataly is where I discovered farro, and when I got home last year, I wanted to make Farro everything! Remember this four bean salad with farro?

Farro is the earthy nutrient-rich grain that adds a rich and nutty texture to salads, risottos and soups and can replace rice or pasta in just about any recipe. I love farro for breakfast too – cooked overnight in coconut milk with a dash of nutmeg, sweetened with maple syrup or honey and topped with nuts and fruits.

Then there’s this farro salad… another favourite; with hearty lentils and sweet peppers, onions, roasted corn, carrots and sundried tomatoes dressed in a luscious and bold parsley vinaigrette – a simple warm salad, toothsome and colourful. A thing of beauty…

A few notes on this salad – personally, I love onions, but not everyone is crazy about raw onions in their salad, sautéing the onions before adding them to the salad, would not only tame the onions, it’ll give the salad a rich sweet boost.
So while the farro and lentils are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium heat and cook the onions for a few minutes (stirring occasionally) until nicely caramelized, set aside to use later on when assembling your salad

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Also, salt the farro and lentils when cooking them so that it’s nicely seasoned before adding to the salad.
Go here to learn how to cook farro, and here for lentils

If the vinaigrette seems familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it here before, and I’ve made it several times subsequently – sometimes with cilantro.

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Four Bean Salad with Farro

 
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I remember we grew beans when I was a child; we had a small wild field of black-eyed peas next to our house.
One of my favourite memories from childhood is of harvest time when my siblings and I were let loose to pick beans.
After several of our crops had failed, my dad grew the beans for its drought tolerance and the nitrogen it releases, which is good for the soil.

I’ve loved and eaten beans all my life and added to few varieties to my repertoire as I’ve discovered them.
I didn’t really give chickpeas much regard until I was an adult, and now, it’s my favourite beans.

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My little pantry constantly has an assortment of beans, mostly leftovers from other recipes – usually not enough to make a whole meal, but put them all together and you get something like this four bean salad with farro.

I must admit, the farro was an afterthought, orphaned from a farro and lentil salad I’d made.
Farro is new to me, I had it for the first time last April in New York, I was so enamoured with it I came home, bought a giant bag and made everything farro; from soups to porridge. Cooking farro was a little tricky for me until I found this guide. It was always a little too tough.
Although farro isn’t prominent in this salad, it still has a bit of chew and nuttiness.

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I use chickpeas, black beans, pinto and white beans in this salad, feel free to use whatever kind you have if you decide to make this salad; make a three-bean salad or a five-bean salad… And if you have problems with digesting beans, soak them overnight to help reduce its gas-causing sugars.

The salad itself is very easy to put together once you get your beans, canned is fine too. I used my favourite vegetables – onions, celery, peppers and sundried tomatoes, it’s a simple and flavourful salad, and let’s not forget nutritious.
The dressing is light yet peppy from the mustard, cumin and cayenne pepper.
This to me is comfort food, great for lunch or dinner; effortless, delightful and filling.

Four Bean Salad Four Bean Salad & Toast


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Citrus and Berries Salad

 
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I got a little wistful this weekend at the farmers’ market because in a few weeks it’ll all be over – our local market runs only in the summer.
I felt a little sad picking through the season’s final strawberries, blueberries and cherry tomatoes to make this salad.
I always get this feeling towards the end of summer; it’s bad, so bad that I’ll normally try different things to prolong the inevitable – I take a vacation, have drinks on the patio every evening and even wear white after Labour Day in protest.

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Yet nothing beats a summer afternoon, it’s perfect and magical.
Henry James called it ‘the two most beautiful words in the English language’.

This citrus and berries salad is kind of like a summer’s afternoon, languidly wholesome.
This has been my lunch for most weekend afternoons these last few months, it started out as an easy way to use up all those summer berries we’ve been getting, and soon I couldn’t get enough of it.

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A salad like this shouldn’t be this good, but it is delightfully complex and refreshing.
It’s savoury and juicy, with a bit of sweetness from the berries and oranges, the vinaigrette adds a sweetened tangy and tart component and there’s the wonderful crunch and nuttiness from the pecans.

I’ve tried raspberries and blackberries, with peppery arugula and champagne vinaigrette.
I gave this recipe to my friend N., who makes it as a side topped with blue cheese to go with grilled steaks and potatoes for dinner – I guess what I’m trying to get at here, is that it’s a versatile salad.

This salad, and summer afternoons… I’m hoping for a bit more of both.

IMG_3023 Citrus & Berry Salad

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Quinoa, Peas and Carrots Salad

 
Quinoa with Peas & Carrots

This is one of my favourites salads to make, and a favoured way to prepare quinoa.
This light vegetarian fare is also filling, easy-to-assemble and nutritious, and with these near melting temperatures, the stove gets a bit of break.
Of course, you have to cook the quinoa, but that takes no time or it can be made ahead of time.

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I cheat a little with this recipe, I use a few tablespoons of La Bomba, a hot antipasto spread that comes in a jar – it’s really good stuff, it’s basically a vegetable sauce; the heat is subtle and it impacts a rich savoury flavour.
It’s available in Italian grocery stores or you could make your own; sauté finely diced red peppers, chiles, eggplant, mushroom, olives, carrots, sundried tomatoes in a bit of olive oil, add a splash of wine vinegar then toss in some oregano, salt and pepper to taste and viola… La Bomba!

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I use two varieties of quinoa here for texture, black quinoa adds a bit of earthiness and colour and holds its shape better.
The onions and carrots add crunch, when it’s all assembled, I toss the salad in a refreshingly light and simple vinaigrette.
This quinoa, peas and carrots salad is so hearty and bright; it’s literally the taste of summer.
I just can’t get enough of it, when I first made it we were in the depths of an endless winter and I imagined summer with every bite.

Now that it’s summer, this fresh and colourful salad feels just right; makes me wish I could eat it everyday.

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