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Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl A bowl of salad should contain wholesome and healthy ingredients. Not all do. With spinach, tofu, almonds, blueberries, and cucumbers as its primary ingredients, this Asian-inspired salad is loaded with nutrients and exotic flavors. Plus, this recipe is actually three recipes in one: a salad with salad dressing, Lemongrass Tofu, and 5-Spice Tamari Almonds. All the parts are wonderfully versatile and will enliven your ho-hum salad repertoire.

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl
Recipe from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romeo

INGREDIENTS
For the Salad
1 pint blueberries
3 Persian cucumbers, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup 5-Spice Tamari Almonds (recipe below)
Lemongrass Tofu, chopped into 1-inch cubes (recipe below)

For the Lemongrass Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu or super-firm tofu (no pressing needed)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons tamari
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemongrass
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons peanut oil or olive oil

For the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds
1½ cups raw whole almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dark agave nectar
3 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
About 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (such as Maldon)

DIRECTIONS
For the Salad
1. Place the blueberries, cucumbers, scallions, and greens in a large salad bowl.

2. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the tamari, maple syrup, sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger, and red pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to coat, and divide among serving bowls. Top with almonds and tofu, if using, and serve.

Serves 2

For the Lemongrass Tofu
1. If using extra-firm tofu, press the tofu first:
A. Slice 1 pound of tofu in half and slice each half again. Slice each remaining piece in half for a total of 8 slabs of tofu of equal thickness.slicing tofu

B. Layer a large cutting board with clean towels or paper towels. Arrange the tofu slices in a single layer on the towel.tofu slices

C. Spread another towel over the tofu, and then press another cutting board on top of the towel. Stack a few heavy things on the cutting board: cans, cast-iron pans, 300-page cookbooks, etc.Pressing tofu

D. Press tofu for 20 minutes, or up to an hour. Tofu will ooze water, so it’s best to arrange this near a sink, propped on a slight angle on the edge of the sink to drain.

2. Slice the pressed tofu into thin 1/4-inch strips.

3. Preheat the oven to 400° F and coat the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.

4. Combine the maple syrup, tamari, lemongrass, garlic, and oil in the baking dish and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in the marinade and set aside while the oven is preheating, about 15 minutes. Occasionally stir the tofu strips.Marinating pressed tofu

5. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the strips over. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the strips are golden and the marinade is absorbed.IMG_2433

6. Serve warm or chilled. Store chilled and consume within 2 days for best flavor.

Serves 2 as a salad topping

For the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

2. In a 13 x 9-inch metal or ceramic baking dish, combine the almonds, agave, tamari, and 5-spice powder. Stir until the nuts are completely coated. Sprinkle with salt.

3. Roast the nuts for 16 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a sticky glaze forms. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and use a fork to break apart any clumps of nuts.

4. Once completely cool, store the nuts in a tightly covered container. Use within 2 weeks.

Makes 1½ cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Chinese 5-spice powder is a blend of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and Sichuan pepper. Jars of it can be found in the spice aisle of Asian markets.

2. Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce. If you follow a gluten-free diet, look for bottles of tamari that are wheat-free/gluten-free.

3. Save yourself a step and purchase pre-toasted sesame seeds at your Asian market.

4. I made the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds, the salad dressing, and the Lemongrass Tofu the day before serving.

5. My Lemongrass Tofu had absorbed the marinade and was golden-dark brown by the end of the first 20 minute cook time.

6. I felt that making the nuts not only added work, but also an added another tamari-flavored ingredient. The next time I make this salad, I will add freshly toasted plain almond pieces to the salad.

7. I added a splash of rice vinegar to the salad dressing, because I felt like it needed it.

8. Do not toss the salad with all of dressing. You will only need a fraction of the dressing or it will overwhelm the other ingredients. Keep in mind, also, that all the ingredients will take on the color of the dressing.

Enjoy!

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Holiday Recipe Round-Up It’s down to the wire in Santa’s Kitchen and I’m helping him sort through popular holiday recipes featured in this blog. Reminiscing about these dishes, we force ourselves to stop salivating and start prepping food. Santa needs to start eating holiday foods now in order to build up his stamina for the long hours ahead!

Here are Santa’s picks for this year:

The holidays are not always about sweets. Bowls of Reindeer Snack Mix empty magically, so make sure you make plenty of this salty, sweet, and spicy treat. It also makes a great snack for any casual get-together or game-day viewing!

If mornings are not your thing, try sitting in front of a hot stack of Gingerbread Pancakes with Maple Cream. Your senses will be teased and tickled. Smell the ginger and cinnamon. Look at the light fluffy pancakes. Taste the spice and molasses mixed with the sweet maple cream. You’ll be wide awake in no time!

As much as he would like to, Santa cannot survive only on sweets. One of his favorite salads is not only gorgeous to look at, but is packed with healthy ingredients. Crisp slices of Asian pear mingle with juicy slices of pink grapefruit, crunchy slices of Fuyu persimmons, and beautiful red pomegranate arils. Toasted pine nuts and a fat-free dressing top off this wonderful Fall Fruit Salad.

Finally, here’s a recipe for one of Santa’s favorite cookies. With a buttery crust that’s topped with red currant jam and a lemony-nutty meringue, this cookie is a triple threat. Easily made in a 9 by 13-inch pan, these Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies will undoubtedly become one of your family’s holiday favorites!

This will be my last post of the year, because I will be enjoying the holidays with my family. May your holidays be filled with laughter and love and may the New Year bring peace and joy to you and yours. Thanks for following What About This and see you next year!

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Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas Better together? Sometimes marriages work and sometimes they don’t. But magic occurs when two entities come together and bring out the best in each other. That is exactly what happens in the case of this Greek Salad. In actuality it is composed of two distinct salads, each possessing the substance and flavors to stand alone. The orzo component is light and refreshing with hints of lemon and oregano. By comparison, the black-eyed peas component brings in a certain earthiness with its flavors of tomatoes and parsley. Combining all components together creates a more interesting flavor-complex. This marriage definitely works.

Greek salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas
Paul Grimes and Shelley Wiseman, Gourmet (August 2008)

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup orzo
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, diced (1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped romaine
1/2 pound feta, crumbled (1 cup)
4-8 peperoncini
Salt and freshly ground pepper

EQUIPMENT: 4 (16-ounce) wide jars or container with lids
ACCOMPANIMENT: pita chips

DIRECTIONS
1. Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.

2. Toss black-eyed peas, tomato, and parsley with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Marinate, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toss together orzo, remaining tablespoon oil, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

4. Divide black-eyed pea mixture (with juices) among jars and layer orzo salad, romaine, and feta on top. Add 1 or 2 peperoncini to each jar.

Cooks’ note: Assembled jars can be chilled up to 6 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I only had Meyer lemons on hand and the results were wonderful.
2. I chopped a few small springs of basil from my garden and added it to the orzo mixture. I loved the added flavor it brought to the salad.
3. If you don’t want to serve the salad in jars, try layering the components in a clear glass salad bowl.
4. For a vegan version, leave off the feta cheese.

Enjoy!

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Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing If you are looking for a salad that is a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, a little bit crunchy, and quite a bit healthy, look no more. Serve this easy-to-make salad year-round. But with the abundance of freshly-harvested apples here in North America, the best time to serve this salad will be in the fall. With flavor powerhouses such as curry, honey, lemon, and mint you wouldn’t expect this salad to be so mild and delicately balanced. On the nutritional side, this salad’s no slouch either. Per serving, as provided on the recipe’s original site, it contains: 304 calories, 14 gr fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbs, 154 mg sodium, 8 g protein, and 5 g fiber. Good for you and great tasting – that’s what I call a win-win recipe!

Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing
Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, Volume 2

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup raw whole almonds
1 cup white quinoa
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried currants
1 small McIntosh apple, cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges.
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop nuts.

2. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve; drain. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoa; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender but still chewy, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork; let cool.

3. Whisk together honey, shallot, curry powder, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until dressing is emulsified. Add quinoa, currants, apple, mint, and nuts; toss well.

4. Garnish with mint.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Here’s a time-saving tip: I roast different varieties of nuts (almonds, walnuts, and pecans) in bulk and after they’ve cooled, I put them in separate airtight bags and store them in the freezer. When needed, I just reach into the freezer and remove the required amount. Except for chopping the nuts, I was all but done with step 1.

2. The amount of curry specified results in a very mild curry flavor. For those of you who prefer a more distinct curry flavor, more curry powder can be added in step 3.

3. I couldn’t find a McIntosh apple, so I used a Honey Crisp. I cut the apple into 1/8-inch thick slices and cut those slices in half crosswise. I felt the whole slices would be too large in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. Thanks to the lemon juice in the dressing, the apples do not turn brown in this salad, even when refrigerated overnight.

4. The recipe just doesn’t taste as good without the mint leaves. It makes a difference – the cool mint flavor balances the slight spiciness of the curry very well.

5. I served the quinoa salad on a bed of baby spinach and arugula leaves. Next time I think I will make a double batch of the dressing and toss a little bit of it with the greens just prior to plating. The dressing will help the other salad ingredients cling to the leaves better.

Enjoy!

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Kachumbari Salad: A Kenyan Tomato Salad Sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, the gems of summer, make the perfect base for salads. From Kenya comes this recipe that pairs tomatoes with red onions, cilantro, chile, and lime juice. Visually attractive and packed with flavor, this salad is the perfect side dish for summer entertaining. Tonight, those incredible flavors will marry beautifully with the fish tacos I’m serving!

Kachumbari Salad
Share: The Cookbook that Celebrates Our Common Humanity

INGREDIENTS
1 lb firm and ripe tomatoes, sliced or diced
1-1½ red onions, very thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 chile, sliced (optional)
1-2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the tomatoes into a medium salad bowl with the onions. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

2. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir in the chile, if using. Season and gradually add the lemon or lime juice to taste.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. One pound of tomatoes is approximately 2.5 large tomatoes. For this recipe I used about two pounds of assorted tomatoes (cherry, heirloom, and beefsteak).

2. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half from top to bottom, but the larger tomatoes, I sliced crosswise into rounds.

3. Because I sliced them into rounds, I gently mixed the salad in a large pan instead of a bowl. This salad is attractive when arranged on a platter.

4. I used half of a red onion instead of a whole one and I’m glad I did. Even with this reduced amount, there were a lot of onions in this salad.

5. Here are some tips from Craig Kielburger, the contributor of this recipe to the cookbook: If you prefer a milder onion flavor, rinse the onion slices in hot salty water before putting them in the salad. This will ensure the onion is less harsh on the palate. Squeeze the lemon or lime juice into the salad just before serving to avoid sogginess. If the tomato and onion are chopped more finely, this recipe also works well as a homemade salsa.

6. The chile is optional, but its heat adds a nice flavor dimension to the salad.

ENJOY!

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Sonoma Chicken Salad Too hot to cook? Make this classic chicken salad from Whole Foods Market, but keep cool by using store-bought rotisserie chickens instead of baking your own. The description of this salad in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook says it all: “The tender chicken breast, crunchy pecans, and the juicy bursting of sweet grapes with each bite are hard to top. Poppy seeds help orchestrate flavors and textures into one of the best chicken salads you will ever find.” I “Whole-heartedly” agree!

Sonoma Chicken Salad
The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

INGREDIENTS
The Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste.

The Salad:
2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS
To Prepare the Dressing:
1. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, and salt and pepper.
2. Reserve the dressing in the refrigerator.
3. This step may be done 2 days prior to preparing the salad.

To Prepare the Salad:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover the dish with foil, and bake the chicken breasts for 25 minutes, until cooked completely through.
3. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan, cool slightly at room temperature, and then completely chill, lightly covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
4. When the breasts are cold, dice them into bite-size pieces, and transfer the pieces to a large bowl.
5. Combine the chicken with the pecans, grapes, celery, and dressing.

Serves 6

LINNELL’S NOTES:
1. Toasting the pecans are a must to bring out their crunch and flavor. Avoid heating up the oven and the house just to toast small amount of nuts. I buy large bags of pecans, walnuts, and almonds at Costco and toast them in the oven all at the same time, each variety on its own tray. After they cool down, I put them in an air-tight containers and freeze them for future use.

2. I doubled the recipe and used the chicken breasts and thighs from two store-bought rotisserie chickens. Believe me, you’ll want to double the recipe, so that you don’t have to cook the next day. This salad makes tasty leftovers!

3. I served the salad on a bed of fresh lettuce greens, but according to the cookbook, it also “makes a great sandwich” and is “delicious when stuffed inside a melon half for brunch or dinner.”

ENJOY!

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Cavatappi withSpinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese

Part green salad and part pasta salad, but all parts delicious and fresh! Pair this Italian-influenced salad with rustic artisan bread for a quick and healthy meatless supper or throw it together for easy entertaining. With only nine simple ingredients, this salad is big on taste and big on convenience.

Cavatappi With Spinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese
The Best of Cooking Light

Ingredients:
8 cups coarsely chopped spinach
4 cups hot cooked cavatappi (about 6 ounces uncooked spiral-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Directions:
Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Cavatappi is also known as cellentani, spirali or tortiglione.
2. Maybe I packed too much chopped spinach into each cup while measuring it out, but this made much more than 4 servings.
3. I thinly shaved the Asiago instead of shredding it.
4. In a side note, the recipe states, “The warm cavatappi slightly wilts the spinach and softens the cheese during tossing.”

Enjoy!

Update (6/24/13): I made this salad again, but with some substitutions and additions.  I used cavatelli instead of cavatappi and replaced the regular olive oil with Meyer lemon infused olive oil. Cherry tomatoes, fresh off the vine, were sliced in half and added to the salad along with some toasted pine nuts. Very nice!

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