Easy-going Tomato Salad

Wow, it’s been awhile. We have completed our move from Guelph down to the Niagara region and are finally getting settled in. I have been spending a lot of my free time getting acquainted with some of the farmers markets and farms that are in the area. There is certainly no shortage of farm-fresh fruits and veggies down here this time of year; I’m loving it!

One of my favourite purchases has been fresh local tomatoes.   I try to get all my tomato cravings out at this time of year and then abstain when they are out of season and not-so-delicious. I’ve been trying different varieties this year to see what I may like to try and grow next year. As I was admiring all of the beautiful colours in my bowl, I decided I should share my favourite tomato salad recipe.

Unfortunately, I’m the only one in my household who likes tomatoes. Nicholas will eat them sometimes, so I always put a little on his plate just in case, but I make this salad in small portions, as I’m usually enjoying it on my own. That’s ok though, some things are too good to share anyway.

This salad is all about winging it with whatever you have on hand, which is part of the reason I like it so much. Since I never measure the ingredients, everything is approximate, and if you don’t have or don’t like one, two, or even three of the ingredients, you can easily leave it out and still come out with a great tasting salad.

 Tomato 1

Easy-Going Tomato Salad

Serves 1-2

(All ingredients except tomatoes are optional depending on what you have on hand and your preferences)

  • ½ cups roughly chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes of any variety
  • 2 big splashes of olive oil
  • 1 big splash of balsamic
  • 1 small clove of garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or parsley or other herb of choice
  • 1-2 tsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 slice hearty whole grain bread (fresh, stale, or lightly toasted)

Gently mix everything in a bowl until your tomatoes are coated in a nice creamy dressing (unless you leave out the cheese, then it won’t be creamy). You should have quite a bit of delicious liquid in the bottom of the bowl due to adding salt to the tomatoes. This is intentional, as you can either add some homemade croutons (hunks of stale or lightly toasted bread) to soak it up or leave it to the end to mop up with freshly baked bread. Yum!

tomato 2

 

Asian Cashew (or Peanut) Quinoa Salad

I have made this particular recipe about 6 or 7 times over the past month alone.  I’ve eaten it as a side dish and as a main course. I’ve taken it to BBQs and even used it as payment for babysitting (at the sitter’s request).  It’s a hit every time, and I usually get asked for the recipe.  So I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to share this incredible find on my blog.  Plus, what healthy eating blog would be complete without a quinoa salad recipe?  This is sure to be the most delicious cliché you have ever put in your mouth.

I found this little treasure while pursuing a remedy to a craving for an Asian inspired quinoa salad.  This is the way I find 80% of my recipes; I have something in my head that I want to make (or ingredients in my fridge that I want to use), and I look for a recipe that fits the description.  I found this one on vegangela.com and it definitely hit the spot.  I love the fresh taste of cilantro, and most recipes don’t have enough for me, but I, surprisingly, didn’t have to change the measurement this time.  In fact, I didn’t really change this recipe much at all.  It’s creamy, nutty, fresh, and crunchy all at the same time.  Perfect!

Nicholas doesn’t really like the chunks of cabbage but loves the flavour, so I always take out a scoop for him before I add it. While I have made both the cashew and peanut versions, I prefer the cashew version, as it’s a bit of a lighter flavour, but the peanut version is still divine.

From a nutritional perspective, this salad has it all; a rainbow of phytonutrients, healthy fats, and enough plant-based protein to make this a main course option.  For an even bigger protein punch, add some shelled edamame, tofu, or shredded chicken.

 Asian Quinoa Salad

Asian Cashew (or Peanut) Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups finely cut purple cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ cup crushed raw cashews (or peanuts)
  • Optional (for extra protein): ½ cup shelled and steamed edamame, shredded chicken, or tofu cubes quickly sautéed in olive oil and tamari

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup natural cashew butter (or peanut butter)
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 ½ tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 ½ tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
  • 2 ½ tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir, bring back to a boil, and then reduce to the lowest heat setting.  Simmer until the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy – about 20 mins. *Alternatively, you can cook your quinoa in your rice cooker as you would rice.  You need to keep an eye on it though, as it tends to cook a bit faster than rice.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.
  3. Add the quinoa to the dressing and mix well to combine.
  4. Add the veggies, onions, cilantro, nuts, and edamame/chicken/tofu if using.

 

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Here is a link to the recipe on vegangela.com:

http://vegangela.com/2013/09/27/asian-cashew-quinoa-salad/