soup and such

simple, fresh vegetarian soups and more


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kale and quinoa salad with feta

 

kale + quinoa salad

Meet my new favorite salad. I made it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I’ve made it about three times since then. It’s delicious and very easy to throw together. The only thing you have to cook is the quinoa; everything else just gets chopped and thrown into the bowl. Mix up a super simple honey-dijon dressing and that’s it! Lunch is ready.

This is one of my new favorite ways to eat kale, too. I’ve tried a few raw kale salad recipes before, but this is by far my favorite. For this salad, make sure to use flat-leaf kale (not the curly kind). One of my grocery stores calls it lacinato kale, and the other calls it dinosaur kale. The name dinosaur kale is appropriate because its leaves are bumpy, like what I imagine petting a dinosaur would feel like.

quinoa and kala salad ingredients

I find that it’s a great variety of kale to eat raw in a salad because the leaves seem more tender and don’t require any massaging to break down. I never have any trouble finding it in my various grocery stores, so keep an eye out for it!

kale and quinoa salad2

I hope you give this salad a try. It’s so good!

~Inge

 

Kale and quinoa salad with feta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This salad makes a super satisfying lunch, especially on a work day. The nuts and berries can be easily substituted with whatever variety you have on hand. I used feta, but the original recipe calls for ricotta salata. The lemon zest really adds some flavor, so be sure to include it. 

½ cup quinoa, rinsed well (or 1.5 cups cooked leftover quinoa)
1 bunch of Lacinato kale, very thinly sliced (see directions below)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta (or more, to taste)

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or white/red wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
Scant 1 teaspoon honey
Salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. To make the quinoa, combine the rinsed quinoa with 1.5 cups water in a medium saucepan. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Set aside to cool, then fluff with a fork.

2. Rinse and dry the kale leaves. Remove the tough stems and ribs from the leaves. You should end up with long, thin leaves. To slice them, stack a few of the leaves into a small pile. Then, roll up the stacked leaves (the long way) as tightly as you can. Using a sharp knife, very thinly slice the rolled-up stack of leaves. You should end up with thin ribbons of kale that resemble the fake green grass people put in Easter baskets.

3. Combine the kale ribbons and cooked quinoa in a large salad bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients (almonds, cranberries, scallions, lemon zest, and feta).Toss to combine.

4. To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Alternatively, you could add all the ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour the dressing on the salad and toss to combine. I find that tongs work best for this job.

Enjoy!

 


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stuffed peppers with quinoa, spinach and feta

This is a really tasty recipe that I don’t cook nearly enough. Bell pepper halves are filled with a flavorful quinoa and spinach stuffing, with some feta crumbles thrown in for good measure. It is filling and wholesome. Served with a fresh green salad on the side, it makes the perfect dinner and leftover lunch the next day.

Here’s how I make this dish. First, I prepare the pepper “cups,” making sure to season them with a little olive oil and s+p. I want the peppers to have as much flavor as the stuffing. Then, I cook the quinoa and prepare the stuffing mixture. It all comes together pretty quickly.

pepper "cups" and quinoa stuffing mixture

pepper “cups” and quinoa stuffing mixture

Next, the peppers are stuffed. I add an extra drizzle of olive oil over the tops of the stuffed peppers and pour a few tablespoons of veggie broth (or water) in the bottom of the pan. I think the broth helps keep the peppers from drying out while baking. Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are crispy and a little brown. Enjoy! ~Inge

Quinoa stuffed peppers with spinach and feta

Quinoa stuffed peppers with spinach and feta

Stuffed peppers with quinoa, spinach and feta
Adapted from Deborah Madison

I often prepare the pepper “cups” first so that they are waiting for me when the stuffing is ready. For the spinach, I usually use two entire bags of baby spinach leaves. It seems like a lot when you add it to the pan, but it really cooks down. Also, don’t forget to add the extra drizzle of olive oil before baking – it helps to brown and crisp up the tops!

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon cumin
2 bags of baby spinach
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 container crumbled feta
4 bell peppers, whatever color you’d like

Method:
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon salt, then the quinoa. Give it a stir, then cover and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when most of the water has been absorbed and the grains reveal their spirals.

2. Prepare the pepper “cups” for stuffing. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and cut out the membrane and seeds. Simmer them in some salted water for about 3-4 minutes. You just want to get them a little soft; don’t overcook them. Remove with tongs and set them in a baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the peppers and season with salt and pepper.

3. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the scallions and jalapenos and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add garlic, cumin and spinach, along with 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed. When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, cooked quinoa and feta. Toss everything together and season with salt and pepper. Then, stuff the peppers with this quinoa mixture.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the peppers and pour a few tablespoons of veggie broth (or water) in the pan. Bake the dish (uncovered) for about 30 minutes until nice and brown on the tops. Enjoy!


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couscous salad

I make this salad all the time in the summer. It’s got couscous and chickpeas tossed with lots of fresh ingredients, like cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. There’s a good amount of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, some salt + pepper, and a touch of olive oil. I also add feta, but that’s optional.

couscous salad

My strategy is to make a big batch of this salad in the morning, and then snack on bowls of it throughout the day or pack it in a container to bring with me.

This salad travels really well. I mostly take it to libraries. When I was in grad school, I did most of my work in libraries. I needed lunch options that were portable, easy to eat while staring at Word documents on my computer, and didn’t require any more refrigeration than library air-conditioning provides. This salad covered all those needs. As it turns out, I still do most of my work in libraries in my post-grad school life. So, I’m still making and eating a lot of this salad.

This one is a no-brainer and endlessly customizable, I think. Not a fan of cilantro? Add something else, like chopped mint or parsley. I made a batch of this salad the other day and my cuke was looking a little worse for the wear, so I subbed chopped raw zucchini instead. You could throw some nuts in. When I don’t have lemons on hand, I just use a couple of shakes of red wine vinegar instead. You get the idea.

Happy summer salad-ing!   ~Inge

Really easy couscous salad

I didn’t include exact amounts for the veggies because you can really do what you want. I mean, it’s your salad, do what you like! I included suggested amounts of lemon juice and olive oil even though I never measure anything when I make this. I usually use the juice from about 3 lemons, depending on how juicy they are. I like this salad on the lemon-y side. And I definitely use just a touch of olive oil. Adjust for your own tastes, of course. 

1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup boiling water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
little tomatoes (cherry, grape, etc.), cut in half
cucumber, chopped
green onions, thinly sliced
handful of cilantro, chopped
lemon juice (2-4 tablespoons)
olive oil (1-2 teaspoons)
feta crumbles, optional

First, make the couscous. Put the uncooked couscous with the salt in a bowl large enough for the entire salad. Add 1 cup boiling water and put a plate over the top of the bowl. No need to stir! Let the water do its thing with the couscous for about 5 minutes. Then, take the plate off the top of the bowl and fluff the couscous with a fork.

Then, prep all of the other ingredients and just toss them in as they are ready. Add the lemon juice and olive oil at the end. Add salt + pepper, to taste. Have a small bite and see if you need to add more of anything. If I’m storing the salad to eat later, I find that I sometimes need to add more lemon juice before eating to perk it up a bit.