Category Archives: salad

Curried Mango Quinoa Salad

I love a good deal.  Whether it’s on clothes, shoes, couches, or books I love knowing that I am saving money.  In fact, my Dad used to tell me that I couldn’t afford to save any more money…but that’s another blog post in and of itself.

So the other day when I was at the store, I came across a great deal on mangoes: a full box (of 12, I believe) for only $5.97! Can you believe it?!?! I know, I couldn’t either! I normally try to avoid buying any produce from the grocery store, but the mangoes mysteriously made their way into my cart and then my fridge.  Imagine that.

My logic went something like this: I bought 12 mangoes for $5.97, or $0.49/each.  Since last week I bought 2 mangoes for $2.99, this deal effectively lowered my cost per mango to only $0.64/each.  Make sense?

The problem with buying 12 mangoes at once (and adding them to the 2 that were already in my fridge) is that they all tend to ripen at the same time.  After eating one a day for a few days in a row, I was getting bored and knew I needed to do something different with the remaining pieces of fruit, lest they start to go bad.  I started pulling things out of my fridge and pantry…a few peppers, some cilantro that was about to knock on death’s door, the last of some black beans, some cucumber, half a lime…and before I knew it I had whipped up a delicious grainy salad to dip into for the week. I hope you do the same.

Wanna see what I made?

Quinoa, mangoes, red pepper, orange pepper, cucumber, red onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro, lime, grapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, mango chutney, honey, curry powder.

Begin by combining 1 c of quinoa and 2 c of water in a pot, and bring to a boil.

Once its boiling, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up a few peppers.  I used a red one and an orange one because that’s what I had, but feel free to use whatever types you like the most.

Look Ma – no seeds!

I hope you don’t like green peppers the most – they’re gross.

Throw the peppers in a large bowl, then seed and chop about 1/2 of a cucumber.

Throw the cucumber into the same bowl as the peppers, and then chop up a hunk of red onion.

Can’t forget the mangoes!

Add about 1/2 a bunch of cilantro…or however much you have hanging out in your produce drawer.

I had some black beans in the fridge from a different quinoa salad I made earlier in the week, so I threw those in the bowl with everything else and focused my attention on the dressing.

I combined about 1/4 c of grapeseed oil, 3T of white wine vinegar, the juice of half a lime, a big spoon full of spicy mango chutney that had been in my pantry for far too long, about 1 t of curry powder, 1 clove of garlic, and a dab of a fabulous local ginger honey that I am loving these days.

I suppose I could have whisked the dressing together, but I wanted it to be a bit creamier so I blended it in my Magic Bullet instead.

Time to check on the quinoa!

Looks good to me! Fluff the quinoa with a fork and then let it steam with the lid on for about 5 minutes or so.

Once it’s cool, add the quinoa to the veggies/fruit that was prepped earlier, and add the dressing.

Toss it gently, and taste for seasoning.

Does it need more of anything? Salt? Pepper? Curry? A Fork?!?!

You guys.  You seriously NEED to make this salad ASAP. It’s fabulous – bright, fresh, colourful, filling, and healthy.  The curry flavour isn’t very strong – just slight undertones – and is the perfect complement to the other flavours.  And, to top it all off, the whole thing came together in less than 15 minutes.  Bonus!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear dinner calling my name…


Green Goddess Salad

I’m baaacckkk! I know you all missed me, so lets just skip over the pleasantries and get cooking!

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I ever cook with tofu.  I said yes, because I’m certainly not opposed to it. However, after I said that I realized that I can count my encounters with tofu on one hand – I’ve tried it in smoothies a few times and put it in a stir-fry another time, but that has basically been it.  Speaking of tofu in smoothies, I’d like to just clear the air and reveal to all of you who insist that you cannot taste the tofu in a smoothie, YES YOU CAN!!! Let’s just stop pretending that it magically disappears, ok?  I do not buy for one second the belief that one cannot detect coagulated soy milk in their smoothies. Kudos to those of you who have been brainwashed cannot tell, I’m just not part of that camp. Mind you, I put spinach in my smoothies so I suppose I’m hardly the one to talk.

Wait a minute! This is MY blog and I can talk about whatever I want!!! Mwah ha ha…

So back to the salad.  The other day I was flipping through an old Cooking Light magazine – circa 2005 or 2006 I think – and I stumbled upon a recipe for a quinoa salad with tofu, beans, and a basil vinaigrette.  It jumped out at me because (a) it contains quinoa, which I love, (b) it contains tofu, which means I could blog about my adventures conquering the soy block that often has me tremouring in fear, and (c) it would keep in the fridge for a few days, which would mean less cooking on a daily basis.  How could I go wrong?

(Please don’t answer that, or ask to see the scars on my hands from knife slippage.  I’m sensitive.)

Time to round up the troops!

Let’s see…that would be some quinoa (be honest – how many of you so that one coming?!?!), a carrot, a lemon, some green onions, garlic, tomatoes (grown in my garden, as proven by their stickers), tofu, basil, Dijon mustard, black beans, edamame, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.

First things first: we must cook the quinoa.  Wait – scratch that – we must talk about what quinoa actually is! I could give you the long and drawn out answer, but my guess is that your Google skills are as good as mine and if you are truly curious you won’t pay any attention to what I say because you’ll be Googling like it’s your job.  If you’re not familiar with it, all you need to know is that it is a delicious grain that is a complete protein source.  It’s light and fluffy when it’s cooked – similar to couscous but 100x more nutritious. Oh yes, and in case you’re wondering, it is pronounced Keen-Wah, not Quin-Oh-A. Got that?

Some quinoa needs to be rinsed; mine didn’t. I suggest you read the package on yours before following my lead and ruining your salad.

Is it even possible to ruin salad?!?!?

Sometimes I make no sense. I’m ok with that. Hope you are too.

Dump about 1.5 c of quinoa and 3 c of liquid into a pot and bring it to a boil. You can use water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Or – this option is only for the truly adventurous – a combination of the three.

Once it’s come to a boil, stick a lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. While you’re at it, stick another pot of water on to boil – we’ll need it for the edamame.

Next, we shall conquer tofu. Together.

I bought the extra-firm tofu for this salad, and you should too.  Do not – I repeat, do not – purchase or use soft tofu. The moisture content is too high, and it won’t fry up properly and would just be plain gross. Even though I’m using the extra-firm kind, I still wanted to drain it. So I did.  It’s just how I roll.

To drain tofu, unwrap it from its package and place on a few layers of paper towels.

Place a few more layers of paper towels on top, and then weigh the whole thing down.

Can you imagine if we were using soft tofu? We’d all be witnesses to tofu being splattered everywhere…think tofuicide. **Shudder** I’m sorry for that mental picture. If you can’t sleep tonight, you can call me and I’ll talk you through it.

Moving on…to the onions!

Green onions, more specifically.  Chop some up – 1/2 c or so, depending on your taste buds and preferences.

I think we need some carrots too, for colour if for nothing else. Once again, a 1/2 c of so should be sufficient.

And tomatoes…3-4, depending on what you feel like.  Remember to remove those pesky homegrown stickers prior to cutting the tomato, unless you are particularly skilled at puzzles.

Throw everything into a large container along with one can of black beans (drained and rinsed please):

Set the veggies aside, and take the opportunity to dump a bag of frozen shelled edamame into that pot of boiling water you put on at the same time as the quinoa. Cooking Light suggested lima beans, but I figured since I was using tofu I might as well go big or go home in the soy department. No quitting at half-time as far as this salad is concerned!

Quick! We only have 3.5 minutes before the edamame is done, and we need to make a vinaigrette pronto.  You know what that means? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Oh ya baby…it’s time for the one and only Magic Bullet.

Disclosure #1: the folks at Magic Bullet land have no idea who I am, nor did they pay me to endorse their product. I just like it.

Disclosure #2: writing about the Magic Bullet just made me crave a frappuccino, so I just made one.  Would you be interested in a post exclusively on Magic Bullets? I’ll let you get back to me on that one.

Here’s what went into the bullet…

About a cup of fresh basil, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 T of olive oil, 1/2 t of sugar, about 2-3 t Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper.

After a few pulses (courtesy of my 4 yr old sous chef), here’s what came out!


If you don’t have a Magic Bullet, have no fear. Just use your blender or food processor, or chop up your basil and whisk everything together. No biggie. I’m just too lazy to do that when there is a perfectly good appliance at my disposal.

I have a nagging feeling I’m forgetting something…

Oh yes! The tofu! Remove it from its drainage station (official culinary term, for those of you wanting to know), and dice it up. I diced it pretty small, because the thought of eating a large cube of tofu is completely unappetizing to me I’m new to the tofu game, but if you’re more experienced than me please feel free to keep the pieces larger. Encourage your sous chef to dialogue with you about what it feels, looks and smells like, and then hide your shock when he pops a cube into their mouth. No clue where he got that idea!

Heat up a drizzle of oil and saute the tofu for a few minutes until it gets nice and golden brown. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper while it’s cooking – tofu needs all the help it can get in the flavour department.

While the tofu is doing its thing, drain the edamame and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and help keep it bright green.

Want to see the cooked quinoa? I know you do, so here it is!

All light and fluffy, just the way I like it. And the way its supposed to be, unless you’re into sprouting raw quinoa but that’s another post for another time.

Time to mix everything together…

We’ve got the (cooled) quinoa, the edamame, and the dressing…

…and then everything else that I’ve talked about but forgot to take a picture of!

Once it was all mixed together, here’s what it looked like:

Hmmm…it’s colourful, full of protein and complex carbohydrates, and interesting enough for my palate.  I feel healthier just looking at this, so in my books that makes Green Goddess Salad a good thing. Let me know if you agree!

P.S. Cooking Light Magazine called this salad something else, but I think they should have consulted me – Green Goddess Salad feels more appropriate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Over and out.

Black Bean & Corn Salad

My dear blog friends, how I’ve missed you! Did you miss me too? I’ve been telling myself that you did, and it’s been what has been sustaining me through the long days and lonely nights.  Please don’t burst my bubble if you didn’t miss me – my heart can’t handle it.  Do we have a deal?

I could tell you all of the reasons for my lack of posting, but lets just put the past behind us and talk about food again, ok?  After all, it IS what I do best.  To thank you for your patience and demonstrate my undying devotion for you, I have a fabulous non-recipe to share with you that I made during my hiatus.  Hope you’re ready cause I’m back and ready to do some non-cooking!

Disclaimer #1:  By non-cooking, I mean I went to the store, bought the things that appeared fresh, and threw them together in about 15 minutes. I highly suggest non-cooking as a way of winning friends and influencing people, but please do not non-cook unless you are prepared for the masses to profess their undying love for you.

You may or may not know this about me, but one of my favourite things to do is go to local markets…bonus points if I get to meet and talk to the farmers who grew the food!  Markets make me exceedingly happy, and this in turn makes those around me happy which means I go often (once again, I must take one for the team). Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in an area that allowed me the luxury of going to a store specifically for fruits and vegetables year round, but even thought I’ve been here for a few years now the novelty still hasn’t worn off and I will go out of my way to go in search of the freshest produce.  I have been known to emit an audible, horrified gasp when someone makes a comment in passing about purchasing produce at the grocery store (I’m sorry if I just offended you. I didn’t mean to; you probably just live somewhere different from me). Does this make me weird?

Either way, the other day, this is what I picked up compliments of my farming friends…

…and this is what I did to make some salad:

Cut the corn off a few ears of corn:

Disclaimer #2: I HIGHLY suggest doing this by holding the ear of corn in a bowl and cutting the corn off directly into the bowl as opposed to on your counter.  Of course, if you prefer picking corn kernals off of every surface within a 10m radius of your counter go right ahead and ignore my advice.

Saute up a few cloves of garlic in some oil until they’re fragrant.

Diclaimer #3: “fragrant” is not foodie-speak for burnt, so do not walk away from your stove unless you want to wash your pan and mince more garlic.

Add the corn to the pan, and allow it to cook for 8-10 minutes until it starts to carmelize and until you start craving popcorn like it’s nobody’s business.

So what else should we add to this salad?

How about some grape tomatoes?

Disclaimer #5: Please don’t let the measuring cup in this picture mislead you; I didn’t really measure anything for this salad and neither should you.  It’s SALAD for goodness sake, not rocket science.  Although, if rocket science was on the same level as salad, I’d be considered a true professional.

Let’s also add some red peppers…

Disclaimer #6: You can add any colour of peppers that you like.  Except for green peppers, because they’re just gross.  Does anyone even like them? And how on earth could the $0.50 you save per pound be worth the bitterness that they bring?!?! Seriously people, enlighten me cause I just don’t get it!

How about some red onion?

Disclaimer #7: Would you call this a red onion or a purple onion? I would call it a red onion, even though it is obviously purple.  Am I confused or colour blind? Please help me sleep tonight by clarifying this earth-shattering issue.

Let’s add some cilantro as well:

Disclaimer #8: You can mince your cilantro, or throw it in whole. Doesn’t matter to me.  I minced mine, but the pic was blurry since not everyone knows what cilantro looks like I thought I’d show you.

And what about a jalapeno pepper or 4 for a little bit of heat?

Disclaimer #9: Do not – I repeat, do not – touch your eyes or mouth while mincing jalapeno peppers. I would even suggest wearing gloves.  I didn’t, and my fingertips were burning for several hours.

Am I forgetting anything?

Oh yes, black beans! One cannot have black bean and corn salad without black beans after all.  I soaked the beans for 8 hours and then boiled them for 2 more hours and voila!

Diclaimer #10: I DID make beans from scratch recently, but these came from a can.  I just can’t lie to you!

I think it’s time to check on the corn.

Ohhh hello gorgeous! You’re so sweet that your sugars have carmelized to perfection! Won’t you join our party?

While the corn cools for a minute, make a quick vinegrette.  All good vinegrette’s need a form of acid…

…and oil:

Disclaimer #11: All vinegrettes do not need to have green things floating in them, but they do need salt, pepper, and sometimes a pinch of sugar.  I like my vinegrettes on the sharper side, so I also added a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar in addition to the freshly-squeezed lime juice, but you can make that call based on your taste buds and pantry.  If you want to add a few shakes of ground cumin or oregano, that would probably be nice too.

Toss the whole thing together and taste it for seasoning:

Add some more salt and pepper (you know you want to!) unless you are hypertensive.

Disclaimer #12: If you have hypertension, please do not tell your team of medical professionals that the Modern Day Martha told you to add more salt to your food thus sending your blood pressure through the roof. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a medical doctor by sheer virtue of my love affair with bacon and chocolate.

Once you’ve tasted for seasoning, promptly taste a whole bowl, because non-cooking is a lot of work and you deserve a snack.  Snacks in pretty bowls make everything better, or didn’t you know?

I hope you go to your local farm market and pick what looks fresh and try your hand at non-cooking soon; it sure is a good thing!

Disclaimer #13: This would have been great scooped up with tortilla chips, or with some avacodo or mango or peaches or pineapple added.  Or served on top of fish. Or chicken. Or eaten with eggs. Or in a wrap.  You get the idea! Food should be versatile – buy what is freshest, and make it delicious and personalized based on what you love. The end.