We ate with abandon while on vacation last week, so healthy salads like this one, inspired by Mighty Grain Salad on Happolks, are both necessary and a relief to get back onto our normal eating path. (The recipe comes from Laura at The First Mess, but she guest-posted on the first site.)
I used bulgur (about 2 cups cooked), brown lentils (about 1 cup cooked), carrots (3), red pepper (1), mushrooms (about a cup), kale (3 huge handfuls), and goat cheese (2 ounces), plus balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make my version. The trick, which J. reminds me time and again, is to dice the vegetables quite small. Yes, it takes more time than rough-chopping, but having the petite vegetable pieces mirror the size of the lentils makes this salad feel like something you’d pay for — polished and put together.
This salad is fantastic. Along with a bit of homemade hummus, it made a tasty and satisfying meal that is a far cry from the foie gras meatballs I was eating last week. But, just as delicious in its own right.
This recipe for Greek Quinoa Salad comes from A Girl and Her Carrot. It is a good gateway dish for trying quinoa, if you have been reluctant to do so. I’m a big fan of Greek salads to begin with, and adding a grain (ok, a grass) to the mix is a nice riff on a traditional mix of vegetables.
I served the Greek Quinoa Salad with grilled eggplant, and hummus (store-bought) on baguettes. We ate dinner outside on our patio, and as I looked over my plate it occurred to me that this meal is the type of cooking I ultimately aspire to. The dinner was most importantly, delicious. But it was also inherently healthy without feeling like we were giving up taste or satiety in exchange. I’m able to get that feeling out of vegetable-based soups sometimes, so it was a little thrilling to find it in a salad-based meal as well.
A food blogger I admire recently wrote that she doesn’t understand people who write about recipes they made but didn’t care for, or that outright failed. I actually like to read posts like that, for two reasons. First, just because that blogger didn’t like it doesn’t mean I won’t, and I can definitely learn from their explanation of what didn’t work for them in that dish. For instance, perhaps they thought it had way too much cilantro (but I love cilantro) or they thought it was just OK, for quinoa (I’m not a huge fan of quinoa anyway, so I’d probably skip that one). And second, it makes me feel like part of a larger, human community to know that not everyone else’s dinners turn out perfectly all the time, but that we should still keep trying new recipes. That’s just part of cooking daily. Since I take a lot away from both positive and negative recipe recaps, I like to write them too. And yes, at the end of the day Chick in the Kitchen is a chronicle of my home cooking for my family. Sometimes it’s great, sometime’s it’s not. I want to share my happy successes and disappointing failures with you.
That said, this Pineapple Chicken Salad did not come together for me. The first problem was my chicken. I had made Chicken Soup earlier in the week, and although the meat from that chicken is usually perfect for a salad, it was overcooked this time and mushy. It had none of the firmness of a roasted chicken, and so texturally I couldn’t get into this dish at all. The contrast of the hard slivered almonds and mushy chicken was really unappealing; I kept feeling like there were bones in the salad. Although I used mayo (less than the recipe called for), I skipped the plain yogurt which might have added a nice tang. I subbed minced sweet onion for the green onions, which did nothing for the dish’s appearance. The Worcestershire sauce was interesting; it added a bit of a grilled flavor, but not enough to make we want to try it again. Overall, I’d prefer to stick to my regular fruit addition to chicken salad: halved grapes.
I’m curious: what do you think about bloggers that post recipes that didn’t turn out, whether they are run of the mill “I didn’t like this one” posts, or failures like how they burned three batches of cookies in row? Leave a comment and let me know.
This is a protein-packed, high fiber side dish that keeps for days in the fridge. I made it Sunday night and J. and I have been eating it bit by bit since then. In the past, I have been lukewarm about quinoa — I felt it had a grassy overtone that took over whatever preparation I tried. I did not feel that way with this dish, probably because the dressing — though there is a very small amount of it — is very bold on its own. You could add some chili oil or sriracha if you wanted a spicy version of this salad.
1 c. quinoa
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 c. shelled edamame, fresh or frozen & thawed
4 green onions, finely chopped
Prepare quinoa according to package directions, rinsing first if necessary. Make sure there is no water left in the bottom of your quinoa pot at the end of cooking. If there is, uncover the pot and continue cooking over a medium heat until the remaining water evaporates.
While the quinoa is cooking, whisk together the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. Set aside. In a small pan, toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes over low heat, until they become fragrant and start to change color. Set aside.
Toss the dressing, toasted sesame seeds, edamame, and onions together with the cooked quinoa until they are well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve cold or room temperature.
I'm Dara, the Chick in the Kitchen. Living in the suburbs of Manhattan with my two school-aged boys and husband. Feeding my family something more diverse than a different shape of pasta each night. Read more about me and CITK, and keep in touch: