Lemon Quinoa Salad with spinach, feta, caramelized onion

quinoa salad

I’ve been cooking quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) quite a lot lately and we really love it. It’s easy to prepare and similar to rice in it’s cooking method. I look at it as a high-protein carbohydrate that is ready to be flavoured however you like. This salad is a good example. It can be made ahead a day, is a great traveller for a picnic/bbq, and just tastes damn fine. So why not try it as a way to start using quinoa? Make sure you rinse the quinoa well before cooking and buy organic if you can.

Lemon Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Feta and Carmelized Onion

adapted from Dish Entertains

serves about 8

1 cup of quinoa (uncooked)

1/4 cup of butter or ghee

2 red onions (white onions are fine if you don’t have red, but red looks better in the salad), sliced thinly

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced feta cheese (1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes)

6 cups baby spinach, washed and chopped coarsely

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and cook quinoa according to package directions. When done, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and cool.

Heat a large pan over medium heat, and melt butter or ghee.  Add onions, sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Put in more butter if it gets dry.  Add minced garlic and continue to cook until onions are golden brown – about 15 more minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, feta, lemon zest and spinach. Add 1/2 a cup of Simple Vinaigrette (recipe below) and  season with salt and pepper. Serve cool or at room temperature.

*I used preserved lemons in the recipe which work well also

Simple Vinaigrette

makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup olive oil

1/3 cup vinegar (your choice – I used balsamic)

juice of 2 lemons (that you already zested for salad)

2 tsp maple syrup or honey

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

2 tsp dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients.

carmelize the onions and garlic

assemble ingredients

carmelized onion, lemon, feta, spinach

Delish

Patio Dining – Delicious and Healthy

salad greens with homemade vinaigrette, beef tenderloin, roasted asparagus (dinner for 2 shown here)

Gotta love patio dining!

We get used to, over the years, baked potatoes, burgers and buns – traditional summer fare, however,  it is possible to easily create summer meals that are incredibly delicious while also being low-carb.  Personally, I find that keeping white carbs and sugar out of my diet is the only way I can prevent myself from gaining weight.  It is also a good way to keep your blood sugar low if you are diabetic, or if you are cooking for one.  This dinner has enough fat and  great flavours — you won’t miss those potatoes! Bon Apetit! And to your health!

For this dinner we had mixed organic greens with feta and red grapes, drizzled with a delicious vinaigrette. 

For  the protein component, we grilled 4 oz. beef tenderloin steaks, and topped those with a small pat (1/2 tsp) of a compound butter. (All I did was mix up a little smoked spanish paprika with butter, then roll in saran and refrigerate. When cold, slice a small disc to place on hot steak.) As well, we had some roasted asparagus with finely diced preserved lemon (or use lemon juice) and freshly grated parmesan. Delish!

Simple salad

grilled 4 oz beef tenderloin steaks with smoked paprika butter

roasted asparagus with preserved lemon and grated parmesan

no potatoes necessary

Watermelon Salad with “Mojito” Dressing

This is a fun and delicious summer salad.  The presentation is great and the flavour even better. I made this to accompany our bbq tonight, and it was delicious. It would be perfect to bring to a summer bbq — your friends will think you are so creative, and one 6 or 7 pound watermelon makes enough for about 6 people. The ‘mojito’ dressing is reminiscent of your last Caribbean adventure and the watermelon reminds you of when you were a kid on a hot day and watermelon was the absolute best thing you could be offered.  The ingredients are simple and work together so well. Pick up your ingredients and make it on the weekend — I’ll bet this becomes a summer family favourite.

Watermelon  Salad

adapted from Pastry Queen Parties

1 seedless watermelon  (about 6-8 pounds)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2/3 cup diced feta cheese

Mojito Dressing

2 ounces fresh lime juice

2 tbsp rum (I used amber)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp rice vinegar

Salad:

Set the watermelon on its side and slice off a piece, just cutting into the rind, to make a flat surface so the watermelon is flat and sits securely on that flat surface. So, flip it to sit on the cut side and with a sharp knife (I used serrated), cut off the top quarter of the melon. Using a large metal spoon, carefully scoop out the flesh in large chunks.  Cut all the flesh into 1 to 2 inch chunks. Place in a large bowl. Carve and scrape out your watermelon ‘bowl’ (eating or saving any watermelon that you scrape out). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix the watermelon chunks gently with the chopped mint and red onion slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dressing:

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve your salad, add the dressing and the feta to the watermelon mixture. Mix gently then spoon into watermelon ‘bowl’. Place on a platter and enjoy. So good!

slice piece off bottom of watermelon

slice off top and scoop out flesh

prep your ingredients, hello, could this be easier?

see how good you can look with this salad in hand? 😉

be careful when carrying it, it's so heavy!

Delicious!

Roasted Asparagus: the best way to enjoy it!

roasted asparagus as a side dish to a summer bbq meal

If you don’t roast your asparagus, you really must start. I have converted asparagus haters by roasting it. It’s easy and so good, I can’t imagine going back to steaming it.  I’m not going to say much more about it, just follow along and make it– you will love it.

Roasted Asparagus

1 lb asparagus

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

zest of one  lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash asparagus and snap off the ends. If the stalks are thick, give them a quick peel. (This makes them nice and tender).  Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Use your hands to roll it back and forth to make sure they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grate lemon zest over top. Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until tender. Enjoy!!

* can be done on the bbq in an aluminum pan, high heat, upper shelf with opposite side burners on, (one side lit only). Close cover while cooking.

* also tastes great with parmesan cheese and if you have any leftovers, throw them in your salad the next day.

purple asparagus, who knew?

peeled asparagus

add some grated lemon zest

ready for the oven or bbq

Yum!