corn, edamame, peach, heirloom tomato, and pickled red onion salad

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This is a really simple salad to throw together and is great when fresh corn is in season. You could use canned or frozen corn but fresh corn off the cob is simply the best! The flavors and colors are bright, you get a mix of sweet and sour from the corn and peaches versus the lemon and pickled red onion.

corn, edamame, peach, heirloom tomato, and pickled red onion salad

ingredients

  • 2 ears of fresh corn (uncooked), removed from the cob (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 cup cooked shelled edamame
  • 1 peach, diced
  • 2 to 3 heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup pickled red onion (recipe below)
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

directions

  1. Add the corn through to the red onion to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the salad, and drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of red wine vinegar and toss again.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the basil and toss again lightly.

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pickled red onion

ingredients

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly in rings or half moons
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 5 black peppercorns

directions

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a tea kettle or small saucepan. Place the onions in a colander over the sink and pour the boiling water over them and let them drain.
  2. In a two-cup or other container, place the onions and all other ingredients. Stir to distribute the flavors evenly.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

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grown up bento, part 1

School started last week which means it’s back to either packing lunches or running across the street to Wendy’s or McDonald’s. I’m trying to stick with the former so I bought myself some cute bento boxes in the hopes that this will help me be creative and excited about packing a lunch, even when my schedule begins to get really crazy. Since I’m following the Vegan Before 6 plan, each lunch needs to be vegan also. So far, I’ve made it a whole week, so that’s progress!

Here is what I packed this week:

Day One 

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1 – Corn salad – fresh corn, cooked edamame (soybeans), cucumber, peach, and tomato. Chop everything up and dress with olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. (Could also add fresh cilantro or basil, fresh mozzarella or feta if non-vegan, experiment with the spices. Get creative!)

2 – Leftover fried tofu from Mad Mex (that’s a bit of vegan sour cream you see in the picture), and honey dew melon

Day Two

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1 – Maple Glazed Tofu with homemade guacamole and refrigerator pickles. There’s a multigrain tortilla hiding under the wax paper below the tofu. I put the guac, tofu and pickles in the tortilla at lunch time. (For guacamole – combine one avocado, juice of one lime, and 1-2 garlic cloves in a food processor or blender. Can also add red onion, cilantro, tomato, tomatillo, etc. For refrigerator pickles — recipe is here on my blog) 

2 – leftover corn and edamame salad from yesterday, and mango and cantaloupe chunks.

Day Three

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1 – leftover guacamole from day two. Under the guac is a multigrain tortilla. The greens are leftover from dinner at a Japanese restaurant the previous night. They’re dressed with sesame oil.

2 – leftover maple-glazed tofu from day two and chunks of cantaloupe. I made a wrap again with the tortilla, greens, guac, and tofu.

Day Four

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1 – cantaloupe chunks and cucumber sticks (I grow Japanese cucumbers in my garden — they’re long and slender, have no seeds, the skin is thin and tasty, and they are burpless. Much crisper and tastier than your average cucumber. Very similar to Persian cucumbers, only about twice as long.)

2 – leftovers from the Japanese restaurant two days earlier – fried rice and zucchini, and seaweed salad (I ordered the seaweed salad appetizer specifically so I could have leftovers for lunch. I knew that it would be too much food with my entrée but I was trying to be proactive).

My bento boxes are made by Bentgo. Each container has a lid and they stack on top of each other. There’s a plastic fork, knife, and spoon that fits in between the two containers and there’s an elastic strap to hold everything together. I got a great deal on Groupon for them, and I love the colors!

japanese potato salad

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I’ve been doing a lot of food blog surfing lately and stumbled upon a number of great Japanese home-cooking blogs. These are the foods that I miss the most — not sushi and the basic American-friendly foods you might find in the Japanese restaurants around here. The foods I miss are the ones that my friends’ mothers would serve us when they had us over for dinner. The mother in one household that my sisters and I visited often was a wonderful cook — I have great memories of the amazing dishes she would serve us. Before my parents moved away from Japan permanently, they had us all over for a farewell meal and she prepared all of my favorite dishes, included potato salad bread. I know, it’s starch on starch, but it was absolutely amazing.  Continue reading

fun with beets

This is a two-part experiment with beets. After missing my local farmer’s market for the last month due to traveling, I was very happy to finally go yesterday. It was a little overwhelming to see so much produce there since there wasn’t as much in season yet when I last went. I loaded myself up with as much as I could carry home, and also stopped by the farm stand around the corner from my house to grab a few more things. Armed with my bounty, what to make? When I experiment with ingredients, usually my final result is not at all like what I initially intended, sometimes great, mostly just so-so. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

beet dinner #1

roasted golden beets, Lebanese squash, and salmon

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Continue reading

cyprus village salad, with a twist

My favorite salad used to be a Cyprus-style cabbage salad. I now tend to steer towards lettuce salads with lemon, balsamic, etc., but I still really enjoy this one. It’s very simple to make and there are endless variations. You need shredded cabbage and some other veggies of your choice–I usually use tomato, cucumber, and celery. Today I added green peppers, sweet peppers from my garden, shredded carrot, and parsley. The dressing is very basic, but bright and fresh: olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and salt. For a single serving salad, I’d use at least half a lemon. The more lemon, the better! Again, for variety today, I made it Ajmer-style by adding a dash of cumin. Ajmer was my favorite Indian restaurant in Japan and they’d always bring out a cabbage salad with some cumin as a starter.

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red quinoa with cucumbers and grapes

Tonight’s salad was made by my mother, although it’s very similar to salads I’ve made. Surprisingly, for being a full-blooded Cypriot, she didn’t put even close to the amount of lemon I would have used. In her defense, she did run out of lemons, which is a dire emergency in my book, and only put two in the salad. For the size of the salad, I probably would have used three or four lemons.

This is my first time trying red quinoa. Not only is it a beautiful color when cooked, it has a nutty flavor, and has a slightly harder texture than regular quinoa. It can be hard to find in the stores–I found it hiding on the back of a shelf in the pasta/grain aisle at Market District in Robinson. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. If you happen to find it, buy it up right away! And if you’re not so lucky, the salad will taste just fine with good old regular quinoa.

There are no measurements because my mother and I don’t measure when making salads like this. Basically, you want just enough oil to coat the salad, not so much that it’s swimming in oil–you can always add more, but it’s hard to take out if you add too much. The lemon, vinegar, and seasonings, add to your taste.

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ingredients

  • red quinoa, prepared according to package directions
  • seedless cucumber, diced
  • red grapes, halved
  • red onion, diced
  • scallions, thinly sliced
  • dried cranberries
  • grated lemon zest
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • red wine vinegar, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste

directions

Mix together the quinoa, cucumbers, red onion, grapes, scallions, cranberries, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Coat lightly with olive oil and toss. Add lemon juice and vinegar, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

peach, basil and red onion salad

One of my favorite finds of the summer: savory and sweet peach, basil and red onion salad! Very simple to make and sure to impress your guests.

directions

Toss 3 peaches, sliced 1/2 inch thick, with 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced, 1/3 cup fresh basil (leaves torn if large), the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.

Simple and tasty! Can be eaten on its own or as a side with grilled chicken, etc.

corn and zucchini quinoa salad

Tomorrow night is the first rehearsal of the season for the Pittsburgh Camerata. This is a professional choir I sing with in the city. We’re having a “rehearsal camp” this weekend, and one of the great things about this group is that besides being great singers, most everyone is a great cook as well. Anyway, we’re having a potluck before rehearsal tomorrow night and I of course have to bring something with lemons in it, so I’m planning to make a corn and zucchini quinoa salad.  The recipe comes from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food with some substitutions.  I’m using quinoa instead of orzo because I really enjoy the versatility of quinoa, not to mention it’s a very healthy grain and gluten-free for those who need to worry about such things.

ingredients

  • 6 medium zucchini, diced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound quinoa
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • juice of 3-4 fresh-squeezed lemons
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 cups crumbled feta

directions

  1. Place zucchini in a colander and toss with salt. Place colander in sink and let sit 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare quinoa according to package instructions (I like to throw it in my rice cooker). The general rule of thumb for cooking quinoa is one part quinoa to two parts water. Transfer to a large bowl after cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Add to quinoa along with zucchini, 3 tablespoons oil, onion, jalapeño (optional), and lemon zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. Stir in basil and feta. You may want to hold off on adding any salt until after you stir in the feta since it can be pretty salty.