Posts tagged ‘salads that travel’

April 14, 2013

Za’atar Chickpea and Grain Salad

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I always seem to be carrying too much stuff.

I take public transport to work, so everything I need to make my day comfortable, I have to carry on my shoulders. I’ve begun to consider a backpack but there’s part of me that’s too vain to do that. It’s the part of me that used to work at a fashion magazine. She feels shame from even thinking about a backpack.

The other part of me is all, girl, get yourself a backpack and stop complaining!

For now, I’m still rocking my awkward too-heavy leather handbag and extra tote bag combo because I still need all of the things every day.

I need entertainment, so there’s usually a book (please don’t start talking tablets – I like my books with tangible and sometimes pre-owned paper pages.) I need to be protected from the elements and office air conditioning, so there’s always a cardigan and/or scarf, sunglasses and sometimes an umbrella. I need to be hydrated during my 50 minute commute, so there’s usually a water bottle an occasionally a coffee thermos.

And, of course, I need to be well-fed. There are a few decent lunch options around the office, but I prefer to bring my own most days. And snacks. I need the snacks.

voraciousvander

Sometimes organizing a lunch to bring can be annoying in the evening when all I want to do is plant myself on the couch and eat popcorn by the fist full. But most often, I like to see it as an opportunity to get creative with new spices and combinations of vegetables, grains, cooking methods and textures.

This salad was one of those finer combinations. I made a big batch of it on a Sunday night. We had it as a side dish with baked snapper that evening and I had it for lunch the following two days. It held up perfectly.

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February 4, 2013

Summer Lentil Salad

lentil summer salad #voraciousvander

What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

On a rainy Sunday are you inclined to a.) curl up on the chaise lounge with a good book b.) scribble in your journal for an hour or two c.) have a movie marathon d.) bake something that fills the house with a crazy-good smell of butter and sugar and spice (?)

I’m not very inventive when it comes to the lazy Sunday. I’m all about tackling a TV series or two. I mean, this is really the only way to watch Homeland, in my opinion. Downton after Downton episode? Oooh yes please.

Catfish? Ugh, I might be addicted in a this-makes-me-nervous-and-I-can’t-stop-watching kinda way.

I also enjoy copious amounts of cookies and tea with my embarrassing entertainment  choices. And maybe a lunch that involves a baguette, at least two types of cheese and some sort of pesto.

I love when I can fully enjoy being lazy. Not feeling like I should be doing anything else besides hanging out on the couch with my man.

This Monday, I’m starting the first full-time office job I’ve had in a long while. Of course, I’m a little nervous. I’m concerned about what to wear, wondering what my co-workers will be like, and just plain eager to get that first day behind me.

August 7, 2012

Roasted Fennel and Pear Quinoa Salad

I’m beginning to write myself a life handbook. Basically it’s just an Evernote list that I can refer to when I need a confidence boost, or some real-talk from myself.

I add to it in those moments when I’m feeling inspired or insightfully self-possessed and think I’ve figured out something about life…so yeah, it’s a slooow process.

Sometimes I curse in this list to get my point across. That’s something you should definitely know about me: I have a terrible mouth, which I inherited from my Grandma. I’ll do my best to not curse when I’m talking about quinoa.

One of my most important life bullet points is: Be nice to yourself. Seriously, stop being so hard on yourself.

I wish it didn’t require the seriously.

But I don’t think I’m alone on this one. I think we can all be a little hard on ourselves. We’re not making all the right moves in our careers, we’re not making enough money, we’re not fit enough, thin enough, cool enough, good enough. And all of that crap kind of has to stop.

It’s important to set goals for yourself and do your dang best, but it’s also important to ease up and show yourself a little love, kindness and leeway. Be good to yourself starting…now.

Start by packing a picnic with some fresh bread, avocado, fancy salt and this salad and heading somewhere pretty and peaceful. Roasted pears and fennel with nutty quinoa and peppery arugula will make you feel like you’re doing the right thing. Seriously.

Roasted Fennel and Pear Salad (serves 2-4)
- 1 fennel bulb cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm thick sections
- 1 pear, cut into 1/2 inch/1 cm thick sections
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup of cooked quinoa
- 1 cup arugula
- 1/4 cup goats cheese, crumbled

Honey Dijon Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- splash of water

To cook quinoa: Rinse 1/2 cup of quinoa in a mesh colander. Place 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and let stand (covered) for 5-10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and serve.

Heat oven to 450 F/230 C.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and arrange the fennel and pears on it. (Keep the pears on one side and the fennel on the other, so that if you need to remove the pear before the fennel is ready, it can be done easily)

Roast for 15 minutes and check on your baking sheet. Pears should be soft and golden – this is your cue to take them out. Place the fennel back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until soft and browned in places.

While your pears and fennel are roasting, make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together in a small bowl or pouring them in a jar with a lid and shaking vigorously.

Once the fennel is roasted, toss your quinoa and greens with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of dressing. Stir in some of your fennel and pear, reserving some to arrange on the top of the quinoa and greens. Top with crumbled goat cheese and drizzle a little more dressing on top.

June 14, 2012

Kale and Quinoa Waldorf Salad

Did I just visit the Wikipedia page for the Waldorf salad? Yes, yes I did. What OF IT?

Truth is, I was trawling for fun facts. I LOVE a good random fact – my favorites are historical and very trivial – making them good for nothing except dominating a couple of Jeopardy categories if I’m lucky.

My limited research on the Waldorf salad didn’t unearth much more than the obvious – that the salad was invented at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York around 1896. (By a man named Oscar!)

Useless facts aside, here’s a lightened up version of the famous salad. It still has the signature crunch and sweetness of a Waldorf without the heavy dressing (I used a little Greek yogurt with a Dijon vinaigrette instead of the usual mayo business) and added bonus powerhouse foods like kale and quinoa.

Kale and Quinoa Waldorf Salad (serves 4 as a side)
- 3 cups of kale leaves, de-stemmed and finely shredded
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 small or medium-sized apple (I used a Pink Lady) sliced into bite-sized chunks
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Dressing
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
- salt & pepper

Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or jar and set aside.

Place kale, quinoa, apple, celery and raisins together in a bowl. Pour on dressing a little bit at a time, tossing well to combine. The kale softens a little with the dressing – which is a good thing if using Tuscan kale – so this salad can be dressed for to 2 or 3 hours before serving. Otherwise let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes and top with toasted walnuts before serving.

Make it a meal with: 1/2 cup more quinoa and 1/2-1 cup of chickpeas
Make it meaty with: grilled or roast chicken and/or bacon

April 25, 2012

Lunch Today: Wheat Berry Sweet Potato Salad

with Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Dressing

A full 24 hours of travel awaits me and I couldn’t be more excited.

Flying over an ocean and a whole country to get to the people I love the most, is a small price to pay.

Not to brag or anything, but I’m a good flyer. I kind of love it. I mean, I don’t loooove sitting in the same spot for 12 hours. But I like airports, buying new books and magazines and in-flight entertainment. I like the excitement of going somewhere. Somewhere new or old. Loved or unknown. It’s a thrill.

And going back to New York tomorrow might be one of my biggest thrills yet. We moved to the other side of the world 8 months ago and I’ve missed my side every minute since. Missed my people, mostly.

And now I am bursting with happiness in anticipation of touching down in JFK.

New York or bust.

Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Dressing
- 4-6 cloves roasted garlic (I used 4 abnormally large cloves)
- salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

To roast garlic: Heat oven to 200 C/ 400 F. Chop off the woody bottom of a head of garlic and place on an oiled piece of foil. Wrap the foil around the head of garlic and roast for 30-40 minutes until the cloves are golden and soft.

Squeeze garlic out of the husks and mash up with a pinch of salt. Place olive oil in a small pan over a medium-low heat. Heat until oil is warm but don’t boil. Stir in za’atar and mashed garlic, remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes and pour in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar.

Wheat Berry Sweet Potato Salad
(serves 2)
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups wheat berries, cooked
- 1 cup kale, shredded finely
- 2 tablespoons feta
- 1-2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons toasted almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Cook wheat berries: Place 3/4 cup dry wheat berries in a sauce pan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40-45 minutes until wheat berries are soft but with a chewy, al dente bite to them. Place wheat berries in a colander over the sink to dry.

Roast sweet potato: preheat oven to 220 C/425 F. Cut sweet potato into 1 inch/2.5 cm chunks. Toss with olive oil and za’atar. Cook for 20-25 minutes until sweet potato is soft.

Mix wheat berries, sweet potato, kale, feta and cranberries together with the dressing, tossing well to combine. Top with chopped almonds and sesame seeds. Serve warm, at room temp or cold.

March 28, 2012

Lunch Today: Chard, Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pomegranate

This was what was in my lunch box today.

It’s another travel-friendly salad that keeps well when made and dressed a few hours in advance – the chard, in particular, really benefits from some marinating.

It’s kind of a bastardized version of tabbouleh – with refreshing parsley and cucumber, and the quinoa standing in for bulgur. I have dreams of topping this salad with crispy, spicy falafel – but alas, it was not in the cards for today. Instead, we have chickpeas and some feta for a salty flourish.

I added toasted coconut flakes because I’m addicted to them. True Life: I’m a toasted coconut flake fiend.  Yup. But here they add a nutty sweetness and a little crispy-crunch factor that works surprisingly well.

And the pomegranate. The pomegranate brings that tart crunch and a sassy pop of pink – it totally makes this salad a babe.

It’s all topped off with a honey lemon dressing that highlights the zesty parsley and salty feta.

Chard, Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pomegranate
(Serves 2)
- 3 cups Swiss chard, cut into thin ribbons
- 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa*
- 1 small cucumber, pealed and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, divided
- 1-2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)

Honey Lemon Dressing
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
- pinch of salt

Whisk together ingredients in a small bowl or combine ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well.

Combine the first 6 ingredients and 1 tablespoon of the pomegranate seeds in a bowl. Pour dressing over this and mix well to combine.

Let sit covered in the fridge  for at least 1 hour. Top with remaining pomegranate seeds and toasted coconut to serve.

*Notes:
To cook quinoa: Place 1/2 cup dry, rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan with 1 cup water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is puffed. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Makes 1 cup.

February 7, 2012

Salads That Travel: Roasted Sugar Snap Peas & Quinoa Salad

Not to brag or anything, but I am a total expert on bringing lunch to work. An entry-level salary in publishing and an interest in nutrition motivated me to get into the habit of brown bagging it a few years ago.

In the beginning, there was a lot of was trial and error (think soggy lettuce, disastrous salad dressing leaks, etc.) but I pushed on to become a queen of Tupperware-toting.

This skill has proved useful in more fun areas of life too – like picnicking and long-distance travel.

Grain-based salads are great to have in your byo meal arsenal. Filling, vegetable-ful, and easy to pack and assemble – they check all the boxes. They keep well for a couple of days in the fridge and go well over a big bed of greens, if you’re looking to bulk up your bowl.

This recipe roasts sugar snap peas with shallots prior to adding them to the salad. The sugar snaps caramelize making their naturally sweet flavor more complex. White beans, roasted red peppers, toasted almonds and nutty quinoa come together to balance out the sweetness of the sugar snaps and shallot.

Roasted Sugar Snap Pea Quinoa Salad
(Makes 2 serves)
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 1 1/2-2 cups sugar snap peas
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cooked white beans, rinsed
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers/capsicum
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, more to taste
- salt & pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- toasted almond slices

To cook quinoa: Place 1/2 cup rinsed dry quinoa in 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered until the liquid is adsorbed (about 10 minutes.) There should be little white tails that come out as each grain puffs. These usually indicate that the quinoa is done.

Roast your sugar snap peas (based on a recipe from Eating Well): Toss sugar snap peas and sliced shallot with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt & pepper and chili flakes together in a bowl. Spread mixture out on a baking tray and place in a 200 C/400 F oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until golden. Let cool.

To toast almonds: Scatter in a dry pan and cook over a medium-low heat until they become golden and fragrant (about 5 minutes.)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently to combine. Add more olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Place in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

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