Southwestern Quinoa Corn Salad

This simple recipe featuring mega-healthy quinoa and fresh summer corn has a spicy, zesty kick that’s sure to add a little sizzle to your supper.

Native to South America, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a protein-rich seed with a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture and light nutty flavor. In addition to protein, it’s also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper and fiber.  Most commonly considered a grain, this ancient superfood was once considered "the gold of the Incas" due to its high nutrient content. Quinoa is gluten-free and ranges in color from pale yellow to red, brown and black.

It's important to rinse quinoa seeds well as they are naturally coated with saponin, a bitter substance that protects them against birds and other predators. Pour the quinoa in a large bowl filled with cold water and rub the seeds for a few minutes to release the saponin resin. Then put the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and hold it under running water, rinsing until the water runs clean.

Cooked quinoa freezes well. Consider preparing extra to have on hand for quick-prep meals. Allow to cool, then place in a plastic bag, flatten and seal. Thaw in the refrigerator overnigt or for several hours.
 

Southwestern Quinoa Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more to taste)
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 2 tbsp finely minced chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco or chipotle sauce (or to taste)
  • Avocado, diced (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve or strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold, running water.
     
  2. Bring water to boil in a small pot.
     
  3. Add the quinoa and salt and bring to boil again.
     
  4. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes.
     
  5. Turn of heat and keep the pot covered for an additional 5 minutes.
     
  6. Strain off any excess liquid and spread the quinoa out on a tray to cool while preparing the other ingredients (or make ahead of time and let cool).
     
  7. Steam or lightly sauté corn until just tender.  Cool to room temperature.
     
  8. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss.
     
  9. Season with additional salt, pepper or hot sauce to taste
     
  10. Serve with fresh lime wedges and top with diced avocado (optional).

Adapted from rebar: modern food cookbook.

Zucchini Salad with Mint & Red Chili

This super simple, striking salad from Jamie Oliver always gets rave reviews and is an easy way to enjoy an abundance of zucchini. I’ve modified the recipe slightly, mainly just replacing “courgettes” with “zucchini” for us North American folks.

A summer squash, zucchini is a good source of fiber, which lowers cholesterol, aids digestion, prevents constipation and maintains low blood sugar. It is also rich in Vitamins A and C, both disease-fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. High in potassium and magnesium, it can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and stroke.

When selecting, look for zucchini that is heavy for its size and has shiny, unblemished skin. Very hard squash indicates it’s over-mature and will have hard seeds and stringy flesh. Pick zucchini that is average size. Overly large ones may be fibrous, while those that are overly small may be inferior in flavor.

Handle this fragile veggie with care. Store unwashed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days (the sooner you eat, the better).
 

Zucchini Salad with Mint & Red Chili

This is quite an unusual salad and terribly simple to make. It's great because it's a nice little side dish that will go with things like mozzarella, goat's cheese, cured meats, grilled or barbecued white fish like cod or haddock, even things like chicken or pork. Use zucchini when at their best--nice and firm and not too big.

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Slice zucchini lengthways as thin as you can (use a mandolin if you have one).
     
  2. Grill on a red-hot griddle pan, or on the barbecue, until lightly charred on each side.
     
  3. Scatter the slices over a large plate, making sure you don't sit them on top of each other otherwise they'll steam and go a bit limp.
     
  4. While the zucchini is still warm, sprinkle with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
     
  5. Sprinkle the chili and garlic evenly from a height over the zucchini. (Add to your own taste, but just remember that when the chili and garlic mix with the olive oil and lemon juice the heat and flavors are lessened.)
     
  6. Sprinkle with fresh mint leaves and drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Dive in!

Source: Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef

Dandelion Greens: The Wonder "Weed"

If you're lucky to have a lawn, you may be lucky (yes, lucky!) to have a flourishing crop of dandelions. Considered an annoying weed by many lawn owners, the greens on those sweet yellow flowers are extremely nutrient-dense. 

An inexpensive and accessible super-food, dandelion greens are one of the most vitamin-packed foods on the planet. They contain four times the amount of beta-carotene found in broccoli, have 32 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, and more calcium than a cup of cottage cheese.

Bitter greens like dandelion greens are highly cleansing, helping to detoxify our liver and kidneys. Dandelion greens support digestion, reduce swelling and inflammation, and have been traditionally used to treat gout, eczema, jaundice, edema and acne. They have both mild laxative and gentle diuretic properties that purify the blood and cleanse the system, and are said to help dissolve kidney stones.

Buy a bunch at your local grocer or farmers’ market. Organic is best. You can also pick them right from your yard, but not from a pesticide-sprayed area!

Dandelion greens are best when young; more mature leaves are quite bitter. The mild-tasting young greens can be enjoyed raw, whereas mature leaves are best lightly cooked.

Consume within a day or two after purchasing. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, place the greens in a colander and wash them well with cold water. Pat the greens dry with paper towel.

Here's a yummy, simple recipe for enjoying these vitamin-loaded weeds.

Dandelion Salad with Warm Walnut Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch dandelion greens, tough stems discarded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat
     
  2. Add garlic and nuts and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden (be careful not to burn it)
     
  3. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper
     
  4. Add greens, tossing until coated with the dressing and slightly wilted

I like to add caramelized onions if time allows.

Enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook