Mediterranean Power Salad

It may be September but here in Austin it’s still in the high 90s and the humidity did not get the message to go away because it’s supposed to be turning into autumn. So what does one do for a healthy weeknight dinner that does not involve touching the stove? You make yourself a power salad filled with all that is good and filling. I do not believe that salads have to be boring or limp. You can add grains, you can add protein that isn’t bland and it can have a ton flavor. Since my mind has been preoccupied with dreaming of a trip to the Mediterranean, my taste buds needed to be inspired too. Mediterranean power salad it is.

There’s not a lot of real measurements so you can make it however big or small you want, so here’s the cast of characters:

A bed of power greens

Diced red onion

Chopped cucumber

Kalamata olives

Cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup couscous per person

Rosemary citrus shrimp (marinade to follow)

 

Simple list and the shrimpies cook up quick with just 2-3 minutes (or until opaque) on each side on medium high heat. Throw the veggies and greens together, dress with your favorite vinaigrette (try using pomegranate red wine vinegar if you make your own) and top with warm couscous and shrimp. I paired mine with a grapefruit vodka and soda cocktail and was happy as a clam.

Mediterranean

Yes yes you get an iphone shot instead of a real picture but it’s actually because I was too excited to eat the salad than actually try and take a pretty picture of it. And the fact that I was only an episode away from finishing Sherlock had nothing to do with me not wanting to get up and find a camera. Nothing.

I posted my favorite vinaigrette recipe here. And here’s my rosemary citrus shrimp marinade for around 1/2 pound of shrimp:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (I tried lime and grapefruit and both balanced out the rosemary very nicely)

1-2 Tbsp. diced fresh rosemary (really depends on how big your shrimp are)

Sea salt and cracked pepper to your preference

I recommend seasoning your shrimp with salt and pepper before adding to the marinade.

Now all you have to do is let your taste buds take you to a Greek Isle and enjoy.

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Baked Pesto Pasta

I did something good. Like really good. And it was easy too so it made it that much better. I made this baked pasta dish with pesto and veggies and cheese and goodness in abundance. I got the inspiration from here but subbed in some other ingredients to fit Jon and I’s taste and it turned out so well I can’t wait to make it again. Lets begin shall we:

You’ll need:

-3/4 lb- 1 lb angel hair pasta

-1/4 cup olive oil

-1/4 cup pesto

-1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

-1 Tsp dill

-1 Tsp crushed red pepper (or however much kick you like)

-1/2 container of mushrooms, sliced

-1/2 onion diced

-1/3 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil

-3 red bell peppers, sliced

-8-10 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

-freshly chopped basil and grated parmesan for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil pasta to al dente and drain well.

While pasta is cooking, slice your mushrooms and peppers and dice your onions (SLICE AND DICE–name that reference)

To your baking dish (I used an 11″ gratin dish that worked great, or a 9 X 13 of course) add the oil, pesto and seasonings to coat the bottom of the dish.

Pestodish

Add your pasta and chopped veggies and sun dried tomatoes and toss to coat with the oil and pesto.

Add 3/4 of the shredded mozzarella on top and then add the peppers on top, followed by the rest of the cheese.

Pestodish2

Bake for 45 minutes or until peppers have cooked down.

Top with parmesan and fresh basil and enjoy!

Pestodish3

Hope this makes for an easy weeknight dinner that all will enjoy!

Weeknight Dinner: Power Salad

Uh-oh watch out, I’m at it again with those crazy power salads. Just kidding. They’re not that exciting and I’m not that nuts. Basically it’s getting hotter outside which means I’m less inclined to use my stove/oven and quite frankly, I’m tired after working and then going on a run with the pup. Power salad it is.

Power salad

Power salad

You know the drill- mix together and eat.

  • Large handful of spinach
  • 1/4 C cooked quinoa
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 1 orange sliced
  • Handful of chopped almonds
  • 1/2 C chopped mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
  • Cracked pepper to taste

Vinaigrette (my new favorite salad dressing!)

The proper method is to whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil and then slowly pour and whisk in the olive oil to combine. BUT since we’re not at a culinary school in the heart of France-I put all the ingredients in a jar and shook and it turned out magnificently. Like I said, my new favorite salad dressing.

  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 Tsp dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil

 

Weeknight Dinner: Power Salad

Here’s an easy peasy one for a Monday night. No peas though.

Power salad = Spinach + Quinoa + Mushrooms + Cranberries + Blueberries + Walnuts

Cook the quinoa

Chop mushrooms

Heat olive oil and throw in berries until they start to burst break down

Throw together, top with some freshly ground black pepper and enjoy!

I didn’t put a salad dressing on because the berry juice and the olive oil and black pepper was good enough for me but I’m sure a vinaigrette would be lovely.

feel the power

feel the power

Not Yo Mama’s Brussel Sprouts

I can make you like brussel sprouts. I can make you want them all the time, even for your birthday. It can be done. They’re not bitter and they’re not stinky (FRIENDS reference? always).  The secret? Caramelized to a wonderful color and at the last second hit with a splash of balsamic vinegar. You have to have patience though but good things come to those who wait.

1. Cut brussel sprouts in half longways

2. Heat olive oil to medium heat

3. Place brussel sprouts cut side down and cook until they get a nice nutty brown color

Cooking cut side down first

Cooking cut side down first

4. The interesting part- flip them to quickly cook the other side (If you find a fool proof efficient method for this step- please let me know! I’ve tried everything down to chop sticks) OH and beware- they pop and can flip themselves back over at this step

I need tiny tongs or something for the tiny cabbages

I need tiny tongs or something for the tiny cabbages

5. Toss on some balsamic vinegar (to taste) and quickly stir around to coat and deglaze the pan and then enjoy!

This is the key: balsamic cuts out the bitterness so you are not repelled

This is the key: balsamic cuts out the bitterness so you are not repelled by something so good

Some additions to the sprouts to dress them up can be to saute some garlic in with them (careful not to burn) or off course crumbled bacon or pancetta, toasted pecans or walnuts and cheesed (preferably a salty one to counter the balsamic)

Give them a chance!

Has anyone else found a way to enjoy a veg with a bad rap?

Taste Tested: Pinterest Recipes

The black hole of time. Where productivity goes to die. The self esteem boost from all the stuff that you CAN do. The lowering of the self esteem when you see all the stuff that you HAVEN’T done. Oh yes, it’s Pinterest. But do not fret over the overwhelming and endless parade of pictures, I have searched through and picked some recipes and then, dare I say it, I tried the recipes! And now I want to share some of the good ones I’ve found with you!

I don’t think I altered any of these too much either and they were approved– with proof from the empty plates of my family. Let’s begin.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean and Avocado Tacos :  I served them on a whole wheat tortilla and didn’t add cheese but did add the lime. I really liked this one because it’s great for Meatless Mondays and combines superfood and is super filling. Served with mexican spiced brown rice and more avocado. (I have to phonetically sound out how to spell avocado every time. Anyone else have this problem?)

Strawberry and Cucumber Salad with Balsamic Dressing : And God said let there be the most perfect summer salad and this salad came into existence. Try it. Now. Stop reading and make it. It’s that good.

Lemon Chicken Romano : a nice twist on chicken parmesan. In my humble opinion I think it had more flavor and was a nice summer dish. I served it with a nice slice of provolone on the top for the family and had mine without and it was delicious. I served this with the salad mentioned above.

Jalapeno Chip Crusted Chicken : Easy chicken dish with a kick of flavor! What’s not to love. I served it with caramelized balsamic brussel sprouts to add some greens and another flavor. The brussel sprouts are just pan fried in olive oil until a nice caramel brown color and then drizzle some balsamic vinegar on them for the last 2 minutes.

Creamy Tomato and Crab Fettuccine: I made this one a while ago for Jon and I cheated on it too… I didn’t puree fresh tomatoes but instead got some smoky and spiced tomato sauce from the grocery store and it turned out wonderful too. I also added almost twice as much crab and it was a delicious decision. I also ate the leftover 4 days straight after this. Not ashamed either.

Finding new recipes is daunting and it always helps to know if it will turn out well even if a professional chef turned blogger didn’t make it. Hope this helps make meal planning a little easier and feel free to share your success/failure and other recipes you’ve found on PInterest too!