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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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chévre chaud salad with dijon-shallot vinaigrette

chevre chaud salad

 

Ever find yourself in a cooking rut? Some days (or weeks) nothing really sounds good and you end up making the same old same old. When I’m lacking inspiration for meal ideas, I usually turn to this salad. It’s super simple to make but it feels like a special treat. Just the thing to get me excited about dinner again.

This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea, in case you need some inspiration of your own for dinner.

Happy salad-making!

~Inge

chevre chaud

Chévre chaud salad with dijon-shallot vinaigrette

For the salad:

  • goat cheese (at room temperature so it spreads easily)
  • baguette slices
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Za’atar (optional)
  • salad greens
  • chopped tomatoes

For the vinaigrette:

  • about 1.5 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • about 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • about  1.5 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • good pinch of salt + freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arranges the baguette slices on a baking pan. Spread the goat cheese on the slices, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Sometimes I also sprinkle on some Za’atar. Put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the bread gets a little crispy. You could also do this step in the broiler or a toaster oven.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the salad greens and tomatoes and whatever other veggies you’d like to throw in.

3. To make the vinaigrette, add the minced shallot, dijon, salt + pepper, and vinegar in a small bowl. Using a whisk, add the olive oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking to combine. Make sure to taste the vinaigrette to see if you want to add more of any of the ingredients. The amounts I listed are really flexible; I never even measure when I make this. I generally prefer my vinaigrette to be on the more mustard-y side, so you might want to start with 1 teaspoon and work your way up.

Another way to make the vinaigrette is to add all the ingredients to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Then just shake it up. Super easy. This is a good way to go if you’ve reached the end of a jar of mustard. Just make a vinaigrette in the jar!

4. When the toasts are ready, toss the dressing with the salad and assemble your plate. Enjoy!


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kale and soba noodle salad

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Soba noodles are a Japanese-style noodle made with buckwheat flour. When made with 100% buckwheat, they are a good gluten-free option because buckwheat, despite its name, doesn’t actually contain any wheat. I’ve read that in Japan soba noodles are traditionally served plain with a dipping sauce on the side. I think the method is to dip and slurp, and I look forward to trying that out if I ever find myself in Japan one day.

But for my first venture into soba noodle territory, I decided to turn them into a cold salad with a sesame dressing and lots of raw kale plus other assorted veggies. Oh, I also threw in some cubes of baked tofu for good measure. It was delicious. This will definitely be going into the summer salad rotation around here.

kale and soba noodle salad

kale and soba noodle salad

I actually made this salad twice, using two different brands of soba noodles. The first time I used Hakubaku organic soba noodles (the no-salt added variety – you can buy a pack of 8 for only $20 on amazon!). It turns out that this brand of soba noodles is actually a blend of wheat and buckwheat. The second time I used Roland organic soba noodles (this brand did have salt added). Results were tasty both times, but I preferred the no-salt added variety from the Hakubaku brand. Those noodles were much tastier and had a better consistency, in my opinion. So, that is my amateur soba noodle report from the field.

Happy salad-making, everyone! ~Inge

Kale and soba noodle salad
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s excellent Vegetable Literacy

Instead of the Brussels sprouts, you could use baby bok choy or napa cabbage. Also, any kind of crunchy vegetable would be a nice addition to this salad. The baked tofu is optional, but a good choice if you want to bump up the protein.

6-8 ounces soba noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 bunch kale
6 Brussels sprouts
5 teaspoons light sesame oil
1 large garlic clove (or two small ones)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
A few pinches of red pepper flakes
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ cup carrots, thinly sliced
6 ounce package of baked tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Trader Joe’s teriyaki-flavored baked tofu), optional
Siracha hot sauce, optional

Method:
1. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place noodles in a medium bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Set aside.

2. Cut the tough stems off the kale leaves. Then, thinly slice the kale using the “stack and roll” method. Stack a small amount of the leaves up, then roll and slice into thin shreds or ribbons. Put the kale ribbons in a large bowl. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the light sesame oil. Using clean hands, squeeze the kale ribbons “until they glisten” (a quote from the original recipe – it’s the perfect description of what the massaged kale will look like).

3. Remove any yucky-looking outer leaves from your Brussels sprouts. Slice them very thinly and toss with the kale.

4. On a cutting board, mince your garlic. Then, sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over the pile of minced garlic. Using the flat side of your knife, apply pressure and move the knife back and forth across the salt/garlic mixture. Doing this helps the salt break down the garlic and creates a paste. Put the garlic paste in a small bowl. Add the rice wine vinegar, remaining 4 teaspoons light sesame oil, and the soy sauce. Whisk together. Pour the dressing over the kale/Brussels sprouts mixture and toss well.

5. Add the cooked soba noodles to the greens along with the carrots, green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and tofu (if using). Toss everything together (tongs work best for this job). Taste and decide if you need more soy sauce or other seasoning. Serve with a few drops of siracha hot sauce on top, if you like things spicy!


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beets with lemon and herb vinaigrette

June has been a super busy month and it looks like it will continue to be one in the weeks ahead. I’ve still been finding time to cook, though. After a quick visit to my neighborhood farmer’s market yesterday morning, I came home and made these beets for lunch. Wow, they were good!

beets with lemon and herb vinaigrette

beets with lemon and herb vinaigrette

In my opinion, beets are best with some sort of vinaigrette, eaten cold or at room temperature, in salads or simply on their own. I think beets sometimes get a bad rap because of their appearance, but they are so tasty! I learned recently that you can even grate raw beet into a salad. This sounds like a messy affair (pink beet juice flying everywhere?), but something I’d like to try.

Yesterday, though, I simply steamed my beets, cut them into bite-sized wedges, and dressed them with a lemony vinaigrette made with a good amount of red onion, fresh parsley, and cilantro. It was delicious! Even if you’re staunchly opposed to beets, go ahead and make this vinaigrette recipe – it’s a keeper!

beets with vinaigrette over greens

Happy June cooking, everyone! ~Inge

Beets with lemon and herb vinaigrette
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

This recipe makes more than enough dressing for one bunch of beets (which is what I bought). Store any leftovers in the fridge and use later on salad greens or other steamed veggies.

1 – 1.5 pounds of beets
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ teaspoon coriander
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Clean and scrub your beets to remove any dirt. Steam the beets in a steamer basket for about 20-25 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork. Carefully remove cooked beets and place in a small dish to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, you should be able to easily slide their skins right off. After removing their skins (and washing all that pink beet juice off your fingers!), cut the beets into bite-sized wedges.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a jar with a fitted lid. Shake it up! Taste a little of the vinaigrette on one of the beet wedges to see if you want to add more lemon juice, salt, etc.

3. Mix some of the vinaigrette with the beets. Gobble up all the beets as is, or serve them over some salad greens dressed with a little more of the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

 


4 Comments

lemony spinach salad

Hi there!

This will be my first picture-less post because of a camera-related incident a few weeks ago. I was taking a picture of a hot and bubbling cauliflower gratin when I dropped my camera…into the gratin. The gratin was tasty, but the camera hasn’t been working properly ever since the fall. I finally found a repair service, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to post because I don’t want to lose momentum on the blog. Also, I really want to tell you about this salad because it’s so good.

This spinach salad has become a regular fixture in our dinner rotation. It’s super easy to throw together and delicious. The salad itself only has two ingredients, fresh spinach and red onions. The dressing is a tangy mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, s+p, and a dash of sugar. So simple. So tasty.

We love homemade salad dressings around here and this one is a keeper. It pairs very nicely with the fresh spinach. I found the idea for the salad and dressing in an old issue of Cooking Light as a side dish suggestion for a butternut squash soup. This salad does go really well with a creamy and slightly sweet soup, like butternut squash. But we’ve mostly been eating it alongside that roasted garlic quinoa and (truth be told) take-out pizza. It’s a great salad for pizza night.

Happy cooking! ~Inge

Lemony Spinach Salad
The amounts here work out just perfectly, so get out your measuring cups and spoons! I usually eyeball throwing together salads and dressings, but in this case, I do take the time to measure because the proportions are just right.

6 cups fresh baby spinach
½ cup thinly sliced red onion

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Place spinach and red onion in salad bowl. To make dressing, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl. Add dressing to spinach mixture and toss to combine. Eat and enjoy.


3 Comments

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.


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chickpea + artichoke salad

As a vegetarian, one of the things I miss is chicken salad sandwiches. Not the chicken part, but the salad-on-a-sandwich part.

Not too long ago, I found this recipe in an issue of Vegetarian Times, and it’s been a part of the regular rotation in our kitchen ever since. It’s a pretty reliable no-chicken chicken salad recipe, but since the main ingredients are chickpeas and artichokes, we like to call it the “chick n’ choke” salad.

chick n’ choke salad in a pretty bowl

This salad is a breeze to make. Use your food processor to mix up some chickpeas, artichoke hearts, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, a little bit of vegan mayo, and a few small handfuls of this and that. You’ll end up with a chunky salad that is easily spreadable on bread or crackers. I am particularly partial to this salad on slices of pumpernickel or rye with crunchy lettuce and a slice of tomato. But I only had regular multi-grain bread on hand when I made this the other day, and that works, too.

delicious!

Another way we love to eat this is with crackers. We used to always eat it with Ritz, but I am really enjoying this salad with those new nut thin crackers from Blue Diamond. Give those a try!

This is a perfect recipe to add to your repertoire of hot weather meal ideas. Chick n’ choke salad makes a great cold dinner, when it’s just too warm to spend more than ten minutes in the kitchen. Make it up the night before, let it chill in the fridge overnight, and eat it the next day for lunch, snacks, dinner, or all three.

Hope you enjoy this one! I’ll be back later this week with another tasty idea. ~Inge

Chickpea + Artichoke Salad
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

There are a lot of ingredients for this salad, but each one adds important flavor, so my advice is to not skip anything. Use any kind of onion you have on hand, and swap the red pepper for a green bell pepper, if you want. I always use vegan mayo for this, so I don’t know if there would be a taste difference with regular mayo.   

1 can of artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped small dill pickles
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. capers
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chunky, or whatever consistency looks good to you. I like it on the chunkier side. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper (this part is important!), and chill for at least an hour before you eat it. You have to let the flavors mingle and marry. I like to make this up at night, let it chill overnight, and then eat it the next day.