Southwestern Quinoa Salad

August 6th, 2013


This quinoa salad is a lovely dish to serve with any of your Southwestern inspired dinners.  Quinoa is one of those grain-like seeds that have become fashionable because of both its exotic nature and because it is good for you.  Unfortunately its popularity has resulted in a price increase for this native South American staple.  It has always been a mainstay of the diets in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru.  In the last three years the price of quinoa has increased three times.   Because of the demand for this healthy foodstuff, local villagers in South America have to pay more.  Some believe that the people are eating less of it because of the price.  But another theory is that because the farmers are making more money they can afford more imported products like white rice and noodles.  Children, given a choice between a sweetened water and quinoa drink or a coca cola will choose the coke.  But the farmers are happy and eventually the supply and demand will equalize and everyone will be better off from the consumption of this protein rich seed.  At least I hope that is the case.

I found this recipe on the Food 52 website.  Because it has so many of the fresh summertime vegetables in it, I knew that it would be a bowl full of goodness.  I love the way that the quinoa cooks up to almost translucent bubbles.  The corn is charred in a skillet with cumin seeds which brings out the flavors of both in a big way.  Add black beans, tomatoes and scallions and a lime and orange vinaigrette and you have a nutritious and delicious salad.


  • 1 1/2cups quinoa
  • 1 cup corn (or two ears of corn, with the kernels sliced off)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2cups black beans, cooked (or use canned beans rinsed and drained)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled (I omitted this because I didn’t have it)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (the whites and the greens)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Bring three cups of salted water to boil in a large saucepan. While it warms, rinse the quinoa well under cold water. When the water boils, add the quinoa and stir. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes — the quinoa should still have a slight bite. (You want it well before mushy.) Then drain it well and add to a large salad bowl.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a cast-iron skillet or wok on high, without adding oil. When the pan is hot, toss in the corn, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are singed. It should take at least five minutes, possibly as much as ten. When they are almost done, add the cumin seeds to the skillet and toast briefly. Then add both to the large salad bowl.
  3. To the same salad bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, the cooked beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned), the feta, the sliced green onions, and the smoked paprika.
  4. Roast the poblano peppers until blackened. (I use the open flame on the stove.) Let cool, then peel, seed, and chop roughly. Add these to the bowl too.
  5. Toss the salad together and add salt to taste. Then whisk together the oil, lime juice, and orange juice. Toss the salad with the dressing. Taste. You may want more oil or more lime juice. Adjust as desired. Taste again. Serve.

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Israeli Couscous and Tuna Salad

February 5th, 2013

When looking for something healthy for us to eat for lunch, I grabbed Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Foolproof.  I remembered seeing a tuna salad recipe that sounded interesting and flavorful.  The ingredients were intriguing; good quality canned tuna, roasted red peppers, olives, capers, lots of lemon flavor, basil and that pearly white grain, Israeli couscous.  There was also garlic in the salad.  This gave me a good opportunity to try out my new garlic press that I received from a company called Savora.

I was contacted by Savora to try out one of the kitchen tools from their new line of products.  They sent me a garlic press and asked me to give an honest evaluation of it.  I received no monetary compensation other that the garlic press itself.  To be honest with you, I hardly ever use a garlic press.  I have gotten so used to chopping garlic by hand.  But I was impressed with the beauty and quality of this garlic press.  All of the Savora kitchen tools have eye-catching lines and they come in 8 different vibrant colors.  The design teams worked hard on both the aesthetics of the tools and the performance.  The Savora garlic press is designed to crush up to 5 cloves of garlic at once.  The mechanism is strong and makes pressing the garlic easy.  Not only that, the garlic press comes apart with just a twist of the top so that clean up is a breeze.  I will definitely be using my garlic press from now on.  It is especially good for recipes that call for lots of garlic or in salads like this one where you want the garlic to blend easily into the other ingredients.  You can find out more about the Savora line on Facebook, Pinterest, or

This is such a pretty salad.  Ina says to use Italian tuna, but my humble grocery store only has the usual brands.  So I chose a light tuna packed in olive oil.  It worked just fine.  We loved this salad.  It can be eaten hot or cold.  It is packed with flavor too.  I just happened to watch The Food Network Barefoot Contessa program this week and Ina made this for Jeffery.  They were renting a house in Napa Valley and they dined on the couscous salad in their garden.  Ah, to be in Napa Valley dining amongst the vineyards.  No matter, we loved it right here at home.  It will be a regular from now on.



2 cups Israeli couscous (10 to 12 ounces)
2 (7-ounce) cans or jars Italian tuna, drained and flaked
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, medium-diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped scallions (6 to 8 scallions)
1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the couscous and reduce the heat to very low.  Cover the pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the couscous is just tender.  Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, combine the tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, red peppers, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in a large bowl.  Pour the hot couscous into the mixture and stir well.  Cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Just before servine, stir in the scallions, basil, juice of the 1/2 lemon, and 1 more teaspoon of salt.  Taste for seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Apple-Walnut Salad

December 22nd, 2012

I have to say that this is one of the best apple-walnut salad recipe that I have ever tried.  It is all because of the lemon curd that is mixed into the mayonnaise.  I found the recipe in a Southern Living cookbook.  My menu for one of the nights that our family was visiting included my Fall-Apart Tender Slow Roast Pork.  I wanted something refreshing to go with the rich pork and something that kids would like.  This salad did the trick.  Both Rachel and Cameron ate every bit of the portions on their plates.



The only changes I made to the recipe were to cut down on some of the strong seasonings, like cardamom and nutmeg.  But the lemon curd was a wonderfully refreshing addition to the dressing.  The crunchy walnuts and celery, the sweet apples and the soft dried cranberries all mingled together to make a worthy whole.  I would recommend it as a side to any pork dish that you make during the holidays.

Here are some of the other holiday dishes that we enjoyed.  I will share them with you soon.  Which of them grabs your interest the most?  Merry Christmas everyone.



1 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup lemon curd
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
6 apples, chopped – A combination of Gala, Granny Smith and Red Delicious is good
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup dried mixed fruit  (I used dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake walnuts in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring once after 5 minutes.

Stir together mayonnaise, next 4 ingredients, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest in a large bowl.  Add apples, celery, fruit mix, and 3/4 cup walnuts; toss well.  Cover and chill 6 hours.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and 1 teaspoon lemon zest just before serving.


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534460_SAVE on Refurbished Stand Mixers -

Tupelo Honey Chicken Salad

September 15th, 2012

This salad is a last hurrah to Summer.  It showcases the late peaches of the season and an organic fennel bulb that I picked up at the market.  With those I made a peach salsa to garnish my grilled chicken and salad greens.

The salsa also includes roasted red peppers and onions.  It made enough to have on hand for other uses over the next few days.

The inspiration for this dish came from a wonderful new cookbook that I purchased last month.  One of my favorite restaurants in Asheville, NC is The Tupelo Honey Cafe.

The name Tupelo Honey comes from a special honey produced by bees that get their nectar from a rare tupelo tree that grows in the river basins of NW Florida.  It has a distinct flavor and changes slightly from year to year.  The Tupelo Honey Cafe also has a distinct flavor.  It is a reflection of the new South where grits become grits with goat cheese and fried chicken becomes nutty fried chicken with sweet potato mash.  The plain biscuit becomes a ginormous biscuit with tomato shallot gravy and a BLT becomes a southern fried chicken BLT.  These are just a few of the riffs on Southern classics that are served at The Tupelo Honey Cafe.  Chef Brian Sonoskus and co-author Elizabeth Sims have recently come out with The Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook.

I love the unique recipes in this book.  I also love the concept behind the recipes.   One of the first chapters is “The Larder”.  These recipes are for salsas, gravies, sauces, dressings, spreads and preserves.  They are the keys to the great flavors that make all of the recipes shine.

The peach fennel salsa gives this salad a kick, but the homemade pecan vinaigrette is also the perfect addition to the whole flavor profile.

The chicken is marinated in pineapple juice, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic and ginger before it is sauteed on a grill pan.  There are 4 recipes to follow to bring the whole dish together. But it is so worth the time that it takes because, once it is prepped, it can all be pulled together at the last minute.  It reminds me of a restaurant kitchen where each component is made ahead and ready to go for the final flourish and presentation.   I love this concept.  Next I will try the Sweet Potato Pancakes with Peach Butter and Spiced Pecans.  See what I mean?


For the Chicken:
3 to 4 boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger

Combine pineapple juice, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Add chicken breast and marinate in fridge for 2 to 4 hours.  Remove from marinade and saute on a preheated ridged grill  pan or in an iron skillet turning once until cooked through. about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, let rest and then slice thinly.

For the Peach Fennel Salsa:
1/2 cup diced fresh fennel (bulb, stalk, and feathery leaves, tough outer layer discarded)
2 cups peeled and diced peaches (about 4 peaches)
1 cup diced roasted red bell pepper (I used the jarred variety)
1/2 cup diced red onion
4 teaspoons roasted garlic oil (I cooked 4 whole garlic cloves in 1/4 cup olive oil for about 20 minutes)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the fennel, peaches, bell peppers, onion, garlic oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 30 minutes.  The salsa can be kept refrigerated for 2 days.

For the Pecan Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons tupelo honey (or what you have)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulling it All Together:

Place salad greens in individual bowls.  Top with chicken slices and salsa.  Serve with the vinaigrette drizzled over the top.  Garnish with a fennel frond if desired.

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Salade des Lentilles et Chevre

May 9th, 2012

I have been corresponding with the proprietor of the place we will be staying in the Loire Valley of France.  He was the one who inspired me to make the Chicken Under a Brick in a previous post.  He kindly sent me this recipe for lentil salad that he likes to serve with the chicken.

We spent last weekend visiting our family in Cary, NC.  I love spending time with the Grandchildren, but I also like Cary for the Trader Joes, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.  Kristen and I made a trip to Whole Foods while I was there.  I was on a hunt for French lentils.  Lentilles du Puy are grown in central France in Auvergne.  The volcanic soil and dry climate allow the lentils to dry on the plant.  They are thus smaller,  less starchy than other lentils, and have a more intense peppery flavor.

Lentils benefit from added flavor.  This salad is brightened with sprigs of thyme, bay leaves, whole cloves, garlic and red wine vinegar.  Sprinkled with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes it is a winner.  Served at room temperature, it goes well with grilled meats or as a stand alone dish for lunch.  Thanks for the recipe Steve.  It was delicious!


2 cups (about a 1 pound box) of French lentils
1 tsp salt
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 sugar cube
1 carrot, minced
1 shallot, minced
Bouquet Garni*

1/2 cup best quality olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup best quality olive oil, or to taste
8 oz “semi-dry goat cheese . . not the soft, fresh logs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup snipped chives
Cherry tomatoes for garnish

Rinse clean, then put the lentils in a heavy-bottom saucepan of about 8 inches diameter, cover the lentils by 2 inches of filtered water, then add the salt, sugar, vinegar, minced carrot and shallot and Bouquet Garni.  Stir and bring slowly to the simmer, lower heat and cover (just like cooking rice) and set the timer for 25 minutes.  Make sure the water does not evaporate.  After 20 minutes, check the lentils.  Depending on the age and other factor, they should be cooked, but not at all mushy, in 25-30 minutes.  If they are cooked but you have water remaining in the pot, drain the water off and return to the pan to the lowest heat to carefully evaporate what water remains.  Conversely, if you run out of water and the lentils are still undercooked, add boiling water 1/4 cup at a time and cook until done.  The goal is to have no water left when the lentils are cooked, as it would dilute the dressing.

Put 1/2 cup of olive oil and the minced garlic into a large bowl.  Pour the hot lentils on top of the garlic and oil and do not disturb for a couple of minutes.  The heat of the lentils will slightly cook the garlic, taking the edge off.  Then mix to combine, add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool.  The bowl should be big enough to spread out the lentils so they cool quickly and evenly.

Once cool, add the other minced shallot, and more olive oil, salt and pepper if you feel they are needed.  Mix well.  Remove the rind from the goat cheese and crumble it into the bowl, and mix very well to end up without any large chunks of goat cheese.  Add the parsley and chives, mix and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible.  Don’t worry about correcting the seasonings at this point, as they really need a rest to develop the full range of flavors.

To serve, bring back to room temperature.  Mix again, check for salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.  Take your time adjusting the flavors so you get it just right.  Serve.   Bon Courage et Bon Appetit!!

*4 sprigs thyme, 2 imported bay leaves, 6 coves, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp celery seeds, tied in cheesecloth, cloves and celery seeds tied in a clean teabag.

I just sprinkled the goat cheese on top and added two stalks of chopped celery for added crunch.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.