Sunday, April 7, 2013

Springtime Salads

It’s springtime and my waistline says I’ve been not too good all winter long.  It’s hard (such a cliché I know) I work in a Dining Hall kitchen from 6 am to around 2:30 pm, and it’s all around, plus I have to taste a lot of the food.

As a chef, I have the worst eating habits:  I stand up when I eat:  I eat while walking: I taste constantly: I never eat a balanced and slow meal at work.

Last year I did some healthy classes for Spartan Culinary Classroom and Spectrum Health, and I revisited two of the recipes – Quiona Tabbouleh and salad in a jar.

Quiona Tabbouleh

Quiona (keen-Wa) is one of the “new” ancient seeds that you see in the stores.  It is the seed of a South American plant and used like a grain.  Light in texture, cooks like rice, and the quinoa’s tiny pearls reveal the spiral germ.  Tabbouleh  is a Lebanese dish usually made with Bulghur, which is a wheat product, using the Quiona I make mine gluten free.


 8 servings

8 ounces Keen-wah (1 cup)

½ cup diced onions

2 – 3 green onions sliced on a bias

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

½ cup olive oil

½ cup lemon juice

½ pound tomato concassee*

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup pine nuts toasted**


Cook the Quinoa  according to package directions and set aside to cool slightly.


Mix the onions, green onions, parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Mix well with the Quinoa.  Add the tomato  concassee and mix to combine.  Season with salt and pepper. 


Garnish with the toasted pine nuts.



*Procedure for preparing tomato concassee: With a paring knife, mark an X on the bottom of the tomato jut deep enough to penetrate the skin.  Blanch the tomato in boiling water for about 20 seconds; refresh in ice water.  Using a paring knife, cut out the core and peel the tomato.  Cut the tomato in half horizontally and squeeze out the seeds and juice.  Chop or dice the tomato.


**to toast the pine nuts:  heat a sauté pan over medium heat, add pine nuts and swirl until toasted.  This will go fast, so be careful.


Get out your Mason Jars (or any jars that you have) and let your kids (and you) make Salad in a Jar!

It’s easy, and fun, and there really is no recipe, just some ideas to spruce up, lighten up and make creating a lunch time salad, a little more fun.  I’ve been told a couple of my “students” from the class have used this, and made several salads in advance, and pick one for the day.  Here’s a couple that you can try the Greek Pasta Salad and the Greek Chickpea Salad!  Try Caprese, or any other kind that you like!


Greek Pasta Salad

2 tbsp easy lemon vinaigrette (see below)

1 cup cherry tomatoes

¼ cup red onion, chopped

1 cup cucumber, chopped

½ cup feta, crumbled

2 oz rigatoni, cooked

½ cup mixed greens

½ cup fresh mint, chopped



Easy Lemon Vinaigrette

(will make enough for 3-4 mason jars)

Juice from one large lemon

½ cup olive oil

Good pinch of salt

Couple of grinds of black pepper

Shake all ingredients together in a small container.

Speaking of shaking, try to remember to leave room at the top of each jar. Don’t worry if you get a little over zealous (I usually am!) with your ingredients though—just shake the jar like crazy when you’re ready for lunch, eat a few bites, then shake some more once there’s a bit more room!


Greek Chickpea Salad


2 teaspoons olive oil

Squeeze of lemon juice (the juice of 1/4 of a small lemon)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

Small handful cherry tomatoes, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

8 Kalamata olives, chopped

2 tablespoons red onion, chopped

1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Crumbled feta (optional)

Fills one pint-sized mason jar.


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