On food

Grain salads: three ways!

Being home has been incredibly hard these past two weeks. All of the struggles of daily life become a blur while you’re away. It’s amazing, really. Just as a vacation doesn’t last, neither does the ability to forget about your troubles. You arrive home and everything comes back into focus. The kitchen, like always, has really become a little oasis of mine. My own private getaway stowed within my kingdom.

Quite possibly, my favorite thing about Costa Rica was how health-conscious people were. The food seemed out-of-this-world-fresh. You don’t have to search for restaurants that use local, organic ingredients. Hell, you don’t even have to search for vegan places and if it was all just a dream, I’m glad nobody woke me. There’s nothing comparable to the way that your body feels when you have been eating well. It’s a great balance that I really want to maintain in my daily life here at home.

As the Spring sunshine begins to warm my skin, I find myself constantly craving salad. Believe it or not, for a woman that has a mostly plant-based diet, I’m actually not the biggest fan of salad. It’s boring for me. I find kale repulsive and other raw leaves too bland.

The key to pure bliss? Switch things up.

I prefer more grain to greens. If you’re also a fellow persnickety eater that yawns at the thought of a typical salad, try some of these ideas instead:

Farro Caprese Salad:

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Ingredients-
1 cup dry farro
2.5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
2 lbs of assorted tomatoes of choice (I’d stick to cherry, grape, or plum)
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves, chopped
oregano
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring broth to a boil in a pot with tight-fitting lid. Add in farro. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain any excess liquid. Set aside.

Meanwhile, chop tomato into bite sized pieces. Combine tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and garlic in a large bowl and let marinate for the cooking time of the farro. Stir in cooked grains, almonds, torn pieces of mozz., and other seasonings. Serve!

 

Zucchini Ribbon and Quinoa Salad:

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Ingredients-
1 cup dried quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
5 small zucchinis, sliced thin
3 tbsp olive oil (+a little more for baking zucchini)
juice of 2 lemons
fresh tarragon leaves, minced
fresh parsley, minced
garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt, to taste
shaved parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring broth to a boil in a medium pot with a tight fitting lid. Add in quinoa, cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse in a fine colander and set aside.

In the oven, bake zucchini ribbons with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and garlic powder for about 20 minutes.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced herbs and pepper in a bowl. Mix in prepared quinoa. Add zucchini and almonds. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan. Serve!

 

Mango Chili Couscous Salad:

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Ingredients-
1 cup dried couscous
2 cups water
1 mango
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup basil, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup whole spinach leaves
1 red onion
juice of 2 limes
1 stalk lemongrass
2 chilies of choice
1/4 cup coconut oil
Sazon tropical seasoning, to taste
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring 2 cups water + a drop of olive oil to a boil. Add in couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Cook for about 5 minutes and fluff with fork and set aside.

Cut mango into bite sized pieces. Set aside in bowl. Chop greens (except spinach). Set aside.

Cut onion and chilies and fry in a small saucepan over medium heat in coconut oil with tropical seasoning (if desired) for about 5-10 minutes. While those sizzle, prepare lemon grass. You will need a very sharp knife. Slice into thin rounds and pound the pieces until softened and fragrant. Add to the onion and chilies. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Add more coconut oil if it begins to dry out.

Toss together cooled couscous, prepped herbs, mango, etc. Pour fried onion mixture over the salad and toss again. Add salt, pepper, and lime juice as desired. Serve!

And here’s some Bob Dylan because, well, he’s king and these words have really been resonating with me lately.

Happy eating!

XOXO,

Nando

 

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