Week 35: Crunchy Quinoa Salad

Crunchy Quinoa Salad

One word- quinoa- my new favorite grain, side dish, main course, everything food.  It is beyond versatile and is filling even in the lightest salads.  The addition of the poached egg to this balsamic asparagus quinoa combo makes this perfect from brunch, lunch, dinner and every meal in between.  The acidity of the balsamic coupled with the warm yolk creates a deep flavor profile that keeps you wanting more.

Crunchy Quinoa Salad

ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large very fresh eggs
1 pounds asparagus
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Crunchy Quinoa Salad

directions:
Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange rack in the upper third. (If making the quinoa and eggs ahead, don’t warm the oven until you want to make the asparagus.)

For the quinoa:
Bring 2 cups of water and a few pinches of salt to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until you can see the curlicue in each grain and it is tender to the bite, about 15 minutes. If the water is not entirely absorbed, drain any excess. (Can be made through this step up to 4 days in advance. Store covered and refrigerated until ready to use.)

If you want some extra crunch (which I highly recommend), go ahead and toast the quinoa. To do so, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add half of the quinoa and stir occasionally until about half of the quinoa is toasted and golden brown. Repeat with remaining quinoa.

For the egg:
Fill a large frying pan with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. There should be a lot of small bubbles on the bottom of the pan and, if you want to be super precise, take the water temperature – it should be between 185 and 200°F. Break each egg into a separate small cup or ramkin. Fill a large bowl with warm water and set aside.

If using, add the vinegar to the water (it helps the egg set quickly). Working one at a time, gently slide three of the eggs into the simmering water. (If the top of the egg peeks out of the water, gently spoon some water over the top to help it cook evenly.) Cook until whites are just set, about 4 minutes. Lift eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of warm water to keep warm. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in cold water. To rewarm, dip in simmering water until warmed through, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.)

For the asparagus:
Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard them. On a large baking sheet, toss the asparagus with the remaining oil and some salt and pepper. Spread the asparagus out on the baking sheet and roast until just tender when pierced with a knife, anywhere from 5 minutes for thin asparagus to 10 minutes for thick.

If desired, cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Just before serving, melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat; cook , stirring frequently, to prevent burning until it smells toasty and nutty and is a deep golden brown (around the same color as peanut butter) about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vinegar until well incorporated. Taste and add more vinegar, if desired. Add half of the balsamic-brown butter sauce to the asparagus, tossing well to coat.

To serve:
Divide quinoa among 3 plates, scatter asparagus among dishes. Scatter the asparagus among the dishes then top each plate with one poached egg. Drizzle remaining balsamic brown butter over the top, top with some freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

Originally from Aida Mollenkamp.

Crunchy Quinoa Salad

Salmon Kebab

Salmon Kabob

Seafood and citrus- a match made in heaven- so why not combine the two on a stick and grill them up to deliciousness!  This is the perfect main dish for a summer BBQ or a great option for non-meat eaters.  It can be paired with almost anything under the sun- I opted for a protein rich Asparagus & Avocado Quinoa Salad.

Salmon Kabob

ingredients:
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 pounds skinless wild salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds
olive oil cooking spray
1 tsp kosher salt

Salmon Kabob

directions:
Heat the grill one medium heat and spray the grates with oil. Mix oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to combine; set spice mixture aside.

Beginning and ending with salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total. Spray the fish lightly with oil and season kosher salt and the reserved spice mixture.

Salmon Kabob

Week 34: Balsamic Peach Flatbread

Balsamic Peach Flatbread

For not being a huge pizza fan, pizza and flatbreads have been my go to meal for dinner this summer. From breakfast pizzas to sweet chili shrimp pizza, I’ve got them all covered! I’ve always enjoyed the Pear & Gorgonzola pizza from CPK, so the idea of fruit on pizza isn’t completely foreign to me. The balsamic glaze on this pizza brings out the sweet peaches in this recipe, while the salty and creamy cheese keeps the sweet from being too overwhelming.

Balsamic Peach Flatbread

ingredients:
artisan flatbread
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced or grated
1 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
balsamic vinegar glaze

Balsamic Peach Flatbread

directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. Place flatbread on baking sheet. Lightly brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Top with mozzarella, goat cheese, and peach slices. Drizzle the pizza with balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Peach Flatbread

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with basil and drizzle with more balsamic reduction, if desired. Cut into slices and serve.

Balsamic Peach Flatbread

Mozzarella, Basil and Nectarine Stack

Mozzarella, Basil, and Nectarine Stack

I am not a stranger to caprese or to stacks involving mozzarella, so when this recipe popped up on my Pinterest, I knew I had to make it ASAP. Whether it’s grilling peaches on the grill or adding a sweet fruit to a flatbread, summer is the perfect excuse to enjoy fresh fruit in new and exciting ways. This stack salad is the perfect light meal to enjoy on a hot summer day. Not only are the flavors refreshing, but the pan fried mozzarella will satisfy any deep fried cravings and leave you wanting more!

Mozzarella, Basil, and Nectarine Stack

ingredients:
1 nectarine, sliced into rounds
6 large basil leaves
4 thick round slices mozzarella
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/8 cup flour
1/6 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Trader Joe’s balsamic glaze

Mozzarella, Basil, and Nectarine Stack

directions:
In a large bowl, combine panko, flour, parmesan, salt, pepper and cayenne, mixing thoroughly to combine. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Take each slice of fresh mozzarella and coat it in the beaten egg, then dredge it through the bread crumb mix, pressing on both sides to adhere. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sear both sides of the nectarines for 1 to minutes until just warmed, but still somewhat firm. Set aside, but keep warm.

Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and when hot, fry coated mozzarella, turning carefully once or twice, until golden and cheese starts to melt but still retains its shape, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.

To assemble, place one nectarine to a plate, top with 1 slice of fried mozzarella and then a basil leaf. Repeat the layer one more time and finish with a nectarine. Garish with basil and freshly grated pepper. Drizzle on the balsamic glaze.

From Half Baked Harvest.

Mozzarella, Basil, and Nectarine Stack

Homemade It’s-It Ice Cream Sandwich

"It's It" Ice Cream Sandwich

If you’ve never tried an “It’s It” ice cream sandwich, prepare to be wowed.  This dessert is the perfect combination of ice cream, oatmeal cookies and chocolate.   I tried my first “It’s It” three weeks ago when Bill and I were camping in Sequoia National Forest and it was love at first taste!  It’s the perfect summer delight and  with this homemade recipe, they can be made on a smaller scale so they don’t break the calorie bank.

"It's It" Ice Cream Sandwich

ingredients:
oatmeal cookies:
1/2 cup room-temperature butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup regular sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups oats

store bought ice cream (I used peanut butter chunk and vanilla)
store bought hard shell chocolate sauce

"It's It" Ice Cream Sandwich

directions:
Combine the butter, regular sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream them together for 2 to 3 minutes until they are well combined.

Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon until they are well combined. Mix these dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.

Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated, mix in the oats. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease your cookie sheet. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll them into small 1-inch balls. Place the dough balls on the cookie sheets at least 2 inches apart. Using a fork or your fingers, gently press down on the dough balls to flatten them into a cookie shape.

Place the cookie sheet into your oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the baking sheet.

Make sure your cookies are completely cooled. Match up your cookies in advance for consistent size. Take 1 scoop of ice cream, sandwich between 2 cookies, repeat for all the sandwiches and freeze on parchment paper for about 30 minutes.

Pour the chocolate sauce in a deep bowl, not too shallow so that it’s easier to cover the sandwich with 1 dip. Have your frozen sandwiches, sauce and prepared parchment lined sheet all lined up in a row, in that order for quick assembly. Spear the frozen sandwich with a skewer, dip into chocolate sauce and use a spoon if you need to touch up any areas, then place on parchment paper. Work quickly and place the sandwiches in freezer as soon as possible. Freeze for 1 hour.

Adapted from Pixels & Crumbs.

"It's It" Ice Cream Sandwich