The bit of crunch from the cucumbers and pine nuts combines with the flavorful fresh ingredients to make a wonderful salad or side dish. Definitely use fresh lemon juice and herbs — there is no substitute in this dish. The quinoa provides protein and a nice texture.
I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but it must have been while living in London because of the metric measurements. The equivalents are listed below.
Serves 4 as a main course salad; 6 as a side dish
250g (8 3/4 oz.) dried quinoa 3 red tomatoes, chopped 1 small cucumber, diced 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 Tbsp. olive oil 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice Handful of pine nuts or roughly chopped walnuts Bunch of mint, chopped Bunch of parsley, chopped Lots of salt and pepper Sprinkling of cinnamon
Put quinoa in a pot with 500 ml (2 cups) water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
Mix the quinoa with the rest of the ingredients, then place in the refrigerator. Serve cold.
This is one of my favorite salads of all time. It’s easy, loaded with protein, and the texture is wonderful. Note that the quinoa and broccoli need to be cooked beforehand and left to cool; I tend to cook them the day before I make the salad just to make things easier when I put the ingredients together.
I got the recipe from a colleague in London in the summer of 2009.
300g (10.5 oz.) quinoa
200g (7 oz.) tenderstem broccoli
200g (7 oz.) feta cheese
1 handful pumpkin seeds
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 large handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and leave to cool. Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces and lightly steam until tender.
Once the hot ingredients are cool, stir them together gently along with the feta, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, herbs, and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
The tahini makes this a nice change from a regular tomato salad. Consider making this easy salad alongside a Middle Eastern or Turkish meal (like the moussaka, above).
Serves 4 as a side salad
1/3 cup tahini paste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and white pepper to taste
4 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or slices, or chopped
Small handful of parsley, chopped
In a small bowl, stir tahini and cumin. Add lemon juice and stir; the mixture will become very thick. Thin with hot water, a little bit at a time, until the mixture is thin enough to be spooned. Lay the tomatoes on salad plates and drizzle the tahini mixture on top, then sprinkle with parsley.
This is another recipe dictated by my pregnancy appetite these days, but it’s a light and refreshing salad that could work well under normal circumstances, too! The combination of tart grapes with creamy avocado is divine. Try this for a light lunch with friends or as a simple first course at dinner.
16 green grapes, washed and halved lengthwise
1 ripe avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, and sliced
Drop about two handfuls of arugula on each plate. Top with an equal amount of grapes and avocado, breaking up the avocado slices just a little before you add them. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
This salad turned out so well and was so delicious that I could imagine it being served in a restaurant. It’s easy to make and full of healthy goodness.
3/4 cup uncooked white quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
Bag of fresh spinach leaves
2 plum tomatoes
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 ripe avocados
In a small saucepan, combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Place quinoa in a medium bowl and place in refrigerator to cool.
Take a handful or two of spinach and shred it until you have about 1/2 cup. Finely chop the tomatoes and place with the spinach in a small bowl. Add the feta and mix.
In another small bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and whisk with a fork. Peel, halve, and pit the avocados, then slice them and set aside.
Prepare the plates by laying down a bed of spinach, then arrange the avocado slices in a sunshine pattern. Take the quinoa out of the refrigerator and add the spinach-tomato-feta mixture. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil mixture once more and add to the quinoa, then divide quinoa mixture evenly among the plates.
Makes 4 servings. Keeps well for a next-day lunch.
I know — this is yet another salad recipe, but it’s the summer and I just want cool, simple dinners these days. I got this recipe from the back of an artsy greeting card with a huge peach on the front in Atlanta about 10 years ago. I put it in my recipe book and never got around to making it until last night. The result was so delicious that it was another case of, “Why on earth did I wait so long?”
Everything works together really well here — the peaches freshen up the lentils, the balsamic brings out the flavor of the fruit, the basil works well with the feta. This is a great salad to serve for lunch, maybe with crispy crackers. On its own, it makes a wonderful meal for vegetarians and those on low-GI and Weight Watchers plans — especially if you can find fat-free feta.
One more thing — this is a great way to use up leftover feta you may have in the fridge. Just adjust the proportions as needed.
1 cup green or Puy lentils*
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup crumbled feta (fat-free if possible)
2 peaches, cubed
2 basil sprigs, chopped
Dash of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Boil a pot of water and add the lentils. Cook about 10 minutes or until the lentils are al dente. Drain and set aside.
When the lentils have cooled, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. And add the lentils and mix gently to combine.
*French Puy lentils and green lentils retain their shape when cooked, so they’re good to use in recipes like this one. Click here for a list of different kinds of lentils.
This is an absolutely delicious chicken salad that would also be perfect inside pita bread or on some crispy pita crackers. It’s not traditional souvlaki — more like a Greek salad — but who cares when it tastes this good. It’s also super easy.
I made this with chicken breasts I boiled the other day. That’s my new favorite way to cook chicken — it leaves it moist and there is no fat involved. If you don’t have any on hand, it’s easy enough to make: Just boil some water, add trimmed chicken pieces, take them out when cooked through, and let cool.
Makes 4 servings
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
3 cups cubed, peeled cucumbers (2-3 cucumbers)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated peeled cucumber
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
Salt and black pepper
Combine first seven ingredients (garlic through chicken breast) in a large bowl. Mix in cucumber, onion, feta, olives, and tomatoes.
In a separtate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then pour over chicken mixture and toss well.
I just came up with this recipe after testing two others that had been in my cookbook for years — and deciding I liked neither. What I wanted was a black bean salad that focused on the beans, with a little bit of of crunch and a lot of flavor, so I just mixed together the things I liked and wound up with a winner. I should have done it that way all along.
The flavor is a bit Tex-Mex (I seem to be on a southwestern kick lately). Adjust the chili powder to your liking — I accidentally made mine hotter than I intended, but I love it, and that’s the amount represented here. You can also add whatever other ingredients you like to make it your own — onion, chopped chicken, grated cheese, tortilla chips, or lettuce would all be very nice.
Serves 2 (easy to double)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tomato, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 red peppers, chopped
About 10 sprigs of cilantro (fresh coriander), finely chopped
1 tsp. grated lime zest
2/3 avocado, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder or cayenne pepper
This southwestern chicken salad won my cook-off at home last night. It looks and tastes like a main-dish salad at a restaurant — big, delicious, with bite-size pieces and plenty of crunch. The recipe calls for cooked chicken, which makes this a great way to use up leftovers. If you don’t have leftovers to use, I recommend placing some chicken pieces in boiling water until cooked through, then chopping or shredding it as desired.
Serves 4-5 as main dish
6 cups Romaine lettuce, torn in pieces
4 oz. corn tortilla chips, crushed by hand, with a few whole chips saved for garnish
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. chili sauce (use a thick opaque one — I like Nando’s Hot Peri-Peri Sauce)
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, like Tabasco
2 cups chopped or shredded chicken meat (from roughly 4 chicken breast halves)
5 green onions, chopped
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and rained
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and sliced into thin wedges, then halved
2 tomatoes, cut into think wedges, then halved
Line plates or pasta bowls with lettuce, then top with chips. In small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, chili sauce and hot pepper sauce. Pour into larger mixing bowl and combine with the rest of the ingredients, tossing to make sure everything is coated. Place the mixture on top of the chips and Romaine, then garnish with a few whole chips.
For best presentation, pull out some tomato or avocado pieces from the mixture and lay them on top.
The phrase “tuna salad” probably doesn’t conjure up images of luxury, but this recipe may change that. I happen to love tuna salad — not just for the taste, but also because it can be healthy and adapted in various subtle ways. This is a great example.
I made this recipe last night for the first time in a while and was reminded of how delicious it is. I ate it on top of toasted wholemeal bread, but it could also be good on crispy lettuce leaves or as part of a sandwich. If you use fat-free mayonnaise, it also fits perfectly with a low-GI or Weight Watchers diet.
It’s so easy to make that it’s also worth noting this makes a good appetizer, put in small spoonfuls on crackers or in the crevices of celery sticks.
Makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches, depending on how much you fill them with.
3 celery stalks
4 canned artichoke hearts, either in water or marinade, but well drained
1 can tuna, in water or brine, well drained
3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. mayonnaise
Mustard powder to taste
Dice the celery and put it into a bowl. Chop the artichoke hearts into eighths, then cut each slice in half and add it to the celery (you want slightly bigger chunks than the celery, but not too big). Add the tuna, mayonnaise, and mustard powder. You probably won’t need salt and pepper, but taste to be sure.