a spring salad duo

Starting my vacation off right.

I love California. Like it was timing itself perfectly just for me, after being gloomy all week, here’s a little weather forecast for you:

No complaints here.

I haven’t been able to focus on anything these past few weeks. Probably because my brain’s hard-wired to think mid-May is summer vacation for the past 20 years. I’ve just been sitting there. Staring at the computer. Nothing filtering in. Brain on but not really “on.”

Namsayin?

Feels like summer. Could be packing for Cancun, having a lazy brunch at Joan’s on Third, hiking in Malibu, or just driving down PCH.

I’ll settle for the lazy brunch for now.

I love the salad counter at Joan’s on Third. You can get a duo or trio of their salad selection. I was craving it the other day when I passed by it on my way home from work so I stopped by Trader Joe’s and picked up a few things to make my own little salads at home.

I’d say the key is using a fruity, good quality olive oil. I always use Italian extra virgin olive oil.

Aren’t these so cute?!

I think when vegetables are cute, they’re more fun to eat. Which means I’ll eat more of them. Which is totally  a good thing considering all the crap I’ve been eating these past few days.

Mini heirloom tomatoes from TJ’s and only $2.99 a box!

I considered roasting these guys but then decided raw was probably the best way to go so I don’t waste the extra tomato-ness of them. Dressed them up real simple with olive oil and some Italian seasoning.

I have a newfound obsession for quinoa. These little guys are full of enzymes, vitamins, and all this other junk that’s good for you. Nutty and delicious! Right now, I’d say my favorite quinoa salad is the Winter Creamy Spinach Quinoa Salad from Mendocino Farms. I made mine with more Spring inspirations in mind… kind of went crazy on the red onions… I’d probably not use so many or dice them smaller for next time.

Throw it all on a plate with some good crusty bread and hello, lunch.

My Quinoa Salad
4 servings

1.5 cups quinoa, dry
3 cups arugula, roughly chopped and loosely packed
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (if you can find the ones packed in olive oil, those are even better)
Half a red onion, diced (saute them slightly if you don’t like raw onion)
1 cup chopped pecan pieces
1 lime
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Olive oil
Goat Cheese (optional)

Here’s a great tutorial for cooking perfectly fluffy quinoa:

http://www.eatingrules.com/2011/10/how-to-make-fluffy-quinoa/

Rinse quinoa in cold water. Drain through a fine mesh strainer; allow to drain and dry for 20 minutes to remove water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast quinoa and pecan pieces in separate pans for 5 minutes until a nutty scent emerges from your oven. Be careful not to burn them! They’re small so they could start burning quickly if you forget about them.

So, rule of thumb is about 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa to avoid mushiness (mushy is a no-no), so I used 2 1/4 cups of water. Bring the water in a pot to a rapid boil. Add quinoa and cover lid leaving a slight vent for steam to escape.

Reduce heat to medium-low and maintain the simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the water is gone and the germ has started to curl out of the grains.

Remove from heat, remove lid, and allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes and then fluff it up with a fork.

Allow quinoa to cool (at least until it’s not steaming) before making your salad because you don’t want your arugula to start wilting.
In a large bowl, toss cooked quinoa, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, toasted pecans, and goat cheese together. Season to taste with salt and pepper and coat lightly with olive oil.

Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad
Adapted from allrecipes

4 cups cherry tomatoes or mini heirloom tomatoes :)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar

In a small bowl or cup measure, mix together oil, apple cider vinegar, herbs, salt, and agave nectar
.
Pour dressing over cherry tomatoes in a serving dish, and gently stir to coat. Chill for at least 2 hours. Gently stir from bottom to top, coating all tomatoes, before serving.

I couldn’t wait 2 hours to eat mine so I ate it right away! Stuck the leftover in the fridge and it definitely tasted better later. So… try to be patient.

4 thoughts on “a spring salad duo

  1. jean Post author

    Haha that’s great! How can anyone not love TJ’s?!!! I could spend hours there :)

    Like this

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