Four Salads!

Poor, neglected little food blog.  We have been eating, but not a whole lot of interesting cooking has been going on.  More of the old staples - omlettes, big salads, etc.  Summer is a busy time - vacations, twins birthdays, holidays, boating - no time to cook!

But I have been making some interesting salads lately that I will share with you.

Last night we had German themed dinner to attend - there was to be brats, buns, potatoes and pretzels.  But we just got back from a week vacation of non-stop gluttony, and my poor body was craving vegetables.  So I went online and searched for some "German" vegetable recipes.  I will tell you that this is not an easy thing to find - 98% of the recipes are either based on potatoes, or cabbage cooked until it's not recognizable, or contain a lot of cream or sour cream or sugar.  yuck.  But I did find two that caught my attention...

The first was a German Lentil Salad.  You'll find the original recipe linked here.  I followed it somewhat, although I don't measure ingredients.  The recipe does not specify the type of mustard or the type of vinegar, so I used Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar, because they are what I had.  And, as I'm re-reading it I realize that I forgot the garlic - that would have been good.  And I added a half of a diced raw zucchini.   It was tasty - it's a little different at first, but the more you eat the more you like it.  I will definitely be making this again.

The next recipe was for German Cucumber Salad.  I actually found quite a few versions of this, but I liked this one because it also had onion and tomatoes.  I did this with one cucumber and one zucchini - I've found that zucchini behaves very well in most cucumber recipes, and I like that it's a bit more substantial.  I substituted nonfat plain greek yogurt instead of the sour cream, to keep it lighter.  And I used lemon juice instead of vinegar - because the only vinegar I had in the house was apple cider and I didn't think that sounded good in this one.  And a lot more than a tablespoon of fresh parsley.  And I used dry dill - fresh would have been really good, but no time for a trip to the store.  I used my mandolin to slice the cucumbers, zucchini and onion very thin, and let it all marinate for a couple hours.  Very yummy - the kind of thing I really like!

These two were both pleasant surprises - and they went very well together. 

The other two salads I have been making lately are a Quinoa Salad and a Kale Salad.  I'm a bit obsessed with these - my poor husband is probably getting tired of them.  They are each excellent on their own, and really good mixed together. 

My recipes:

Quinoa Salad: (this by the way, is the exact same way I make couscous salad)

·         Cook quinoa in chicken broth – you cook it like rice, 1 cup dry quinoa to about 2 cups (or slightly less) liquid.  TJ’s has a tri-color quinoa that is nice looking for a salad. (or use veggie broth if you want this vegetarian)
·         While the quinoa is still warm – season/dress it:
o   stir in a bunch of good, flavorful olive oil.  I really have no idea how much – I just keep adding a little at a time and stirring into the quinoa until I like the consistency.  I like an olive oil with some good flavor – maybe a better olive oil than you would use for just cooking.
o   Same with fresh lemon juice – lots of it.
o   Salt (depending on how salty your chicken broth was)
o   Fresh ground pepper
o   I  basically just keep adding the oil, juice, s & p a little at a time until I like the flavor.
·         Let it cool
·         Taste again and season more if you like.
·         Then add produce – whatever you like:
o   I did one last week very simple with just diced cucumber and lots of fresh chopped parsley.
o   I’ve done diced tomato and diced raw zucchini. 
o   Most recently – I used the Trader Joe’s “Healthy 8 Chopped Veggies” – a mix of 8 veggies, all pre-chopped in perfect size pieces.  This made the salad so easy!
Kale Salad:
·         Clean, dry, stemmed, chopped Kale.  TJ’s has bags of it – pre-washed and chopped.  If I use this, I go through and pick out the thicker stem pieces, because they don’t de-stem it and I don’t like to eat the thick stems in a raw salad. 
·         Dressing:
o   Hummus
o   Olive oil
o   Lemon juice (lots)
o   A little soy sauce, or Bragg’s Aminos (made from just soy, similar flavor to soy sauce, but supposedly healthier)
o   Garlic (or last week I did it with a roasted garlic hummus from TJ’s, and didn’t add extra garlic).
o   Fresh ground pepper
o   Hold off on adding any extra salt until you’ve tasted it – the hummus and the soy/braggs might be enough salt.
o   Mix that all together well and adjust to taste – I like mine pretty lemony and garlicky. 
·         Toss the kale salad with the dressing – and be pretty rough with it.  Unlike lettuce where you want to be gentle, with kale you want to bruise it up a bit and help break down the thick fibers a bit. 
·         Let it sit for a while – at least ½ hr. 

I usually make these as two separate salads and serve side by side, but a couple times lately I have made them and then mixed the two together and served as one quinoa kale salad - sooo good.  Here's a fairly crummy picture of that mixed salad (alongside a couple slices of a quick evening dinner fritatta).