New Potato Salad with Green Beans and Basil

New Potato and Green Bean Salad

New Potatoes are such a treat in the summertime.  They are small, freshly harvested potatoes, that have a natural sweetness, and hold their shape after cooking – making them a perfect potato to use in salads.  For this easy side dish, I’ve lightened up a summer favourite, -the classic potato salad.  A tangy lemon-dijon vinaigrette loaded with tons of fresh herbs make for a refreshing twist on the traditional mayo-based dressing. Plus, I’ve added some crunch with tons of green and yellow beans, fresh from my father-in-law’s garden!

Blanching the green beans is an essential step to help them keep their vibrant green hue. Simply boil water, add the green beans, boil for 2-4 minutes depending on their size, then submerge the green beans into an ice-bath (a large bowl filled with ice and some water).  This “shocks” the green beans and stops the cooking process, sealing in the bright green colour and crunch.  I also like to blanche broccoli whenever I make a broccoli salad or even when I assemble a veggie platter – everyone always asks how I got the broccoli to look so green, so now you know.

If you’ve been following my previous posts this tip will be a repeat. Whenever you make a grain, pasta, or potato salad, ALWAYS toss the starch with the dressing when the starch is still warm.  This way, as the starch cools down it will absorb all the flavours, rather than just coating the outside.

New Potato Salad with Green Bean and Basil

New Potato Salad with Green Beans and Basil

Serves 6-8, as a side

2 lbs new potatoes, washed
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, sliced into 1 inch pieces

Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 green onions, sliced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook the new potatoes whole, for 12-15 minutes, or until a fork pierced into the potato comes out easily. Remove the potatoes from the water with a slotted spoon, and set aside to cool slightly – reserve the water to blanche the green beans.

2. Bring the water back up to a boil, then add the sliced green beans and cook for 2-4 minutes.  Prepare the ice bath by combining ice and a bit of water in a large bowl.  Test one of the beans at 2 minutes to see if it’s cooked to your liking, if not, continue to cook in one minute intervals.  As soon as they are cooked, drain the beans in a colander, then quickly submerge into the ice bath.  Once the beans are cold, strain the beans and set aside to dry.

3.  While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar, dijon, garlic, and salt and pepper.

4.  When the potatoes are cooled enough to handle, slice into rounds and toss with the vinaigrette in a medium bowl.  Add the green beans and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes.

5.  Before serving, add the green onions, celery, basil, and parsley.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad


Breaking Bland Eats

Having just returned from our honeymoon I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the bright tropical flavours we enjoyed while we were away. Luckily, I found a sale on perfectly ripe mangos the other day, and I knew I wanted to use them in a veggie-packed quinoa salad.

This salad is like summer on a plate. Filled with vibrant colours, sweet mango, coconut scented quinoa, and a refreshing lime dressing. Feel free to sub in your favourite vegetables or whatever you have on hand. I love using edamame beans (soybeans) in salads, as they provide a complete source of protein, which is great if you don’t eat meat or are just trying to use more vegetable protein sources.

One tip to turn bland quinoa into something delicious is to cook it in something other than just water. I usually like to sauté some onions and garlic first, then cook the quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock. However, for this recipe, I decided to do a play on coconut rice and used coconut milk instead of stock.  The coconut milk provides just a hint of coconut flavour and helps to keep the quinoa from drying out. Fresh lime juice and cilantro make a simple dressing for this salad, and helps to balance the sweetness of the coconut milk.

This recipe does requires a little bit of planning ahead, since you want the quinoa to be cooled completely before you assemble the salad. A speedy way to do this is to spread the quinoa out on a plate or shallow dish when its hot. This increasing the surface area and allows the quinoa to cool much faster. At this point, you can place the quinoa in the fridge and start prepping the rest of the ingredients.  Speaking of prepping mangos, I recently saw this amazing life hack on how to peel a mango, you can see the video here.  Life changing isn’t it?

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad

Recipe by Kirsten.  Serves 4 (main dish) or 6-8 (side dish).

For the quinoa:

  • ½ cup dried quinoa
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk*

For the salad:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup shelled edamame beans, cooked and cooled
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium carrot, grated or julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of two large limes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mixed salad greens (to serve).
  1.  In a medium pot bring coconut milk to a boil, add the quinoa, cover with a lid, and reduce to low heat.
  2. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and let the quinoa to rest for 5 minutes. Allow the quinoa to cool completely– see tip above if you are pressed for time.
  3. To assemble the salad, in a large bowl mix the cooled quinoa with the rest of the ingredients except the salad greens.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and more lime juice if needed.
  5. Serve the salad over a bed of mixed salad greens either as a main course or as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken.

* You can freeze the leftover coconut milk and use it at a later time in your favourite curries, stir-fries, or blended into fruit smoothies.

 

Chickpea Salad with Fresh Mint and Greek Yogurt Dressing

 

Chickpea salad with fresh mint and greek yogurt - BBEIt’s reached that time of year again.  It’s officially too hot to use any appliance in our small, one-bedroom apartment.  Dinner-sized salads have edged out comforting soups and stews on my dinner rotation.  I came home from work needing something quick to eat.  Since I didn’t have any leftover protein in the fridge, I went to my trusty cupboard and grabbed a can of chickpeas. These little beans pack a punch of protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as heart healthy fibre. You’ve heard me talk about fibre before and for good reason.  Most of us simply don’t get enough! By adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and these versatile legumes into your diet, you can easily boost the amount of fibre you eat.

This salad has all the key ingredients of a delicious and satisfying meal-sized salad; crunchy vegetables, tangy dressing, protein-packed chickpeas and a burst of flavour from the lemon and fresh herbs.  I can already picture this salad going perfectly alongside grilled meat or fish, or even wrapped in a tortilla for a quick lunch.

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Barley “Risotto” with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

Beet Barley Risotto {Breaking Bland Eats}

To help kick off the holiday season I thought I’d share this festively coloured beet “risotto”. This isn’t a traditional risotto, since it’s made with barley instead of arborio rice, but the result is a deliciously creamy dish with roasted beets and tangy goat cheese. The barley adds a wonderful nuttiness and it’s almost impossible to overcook, so no need to worry about a mushy risotto!

When shopping for beets, I like to pick bunches with the green leaves still attached. It’s like getting two vegetables for the price of one, what a deal! Those leafy greens wilt down beautifully and can be added to anything from pasta dishes to soups or stews. I often prepare the greens as a side dish, sautéed in a little olive oil, garlic, and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good pinch of salt.

You can roast the beets in a 400F oven for 45-60 minutes, or if you are pressed for time you can achieve similar results in the microwave.  Simply place the beets in a microwave safe dish with a few tablespoons of water, ensuring you poke a few holes in the beets so they don’t explode, cover, and cook for 5-15 minutes depending on the number and size of your beets.

Now time to start my holiday baking, stay tuned for recipes!

Barley “Risotto” with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese     Serves 4-6, Recipe created by Kirsten

1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of pearl barley
6-7 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium beets, with greens attached
¼ cup of goat cheese
¼ cup of parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare beets:
– Remove the beetroot from the leaves. Wash the leaves and roughly chop, set aside.
– Scrub beetroots and roast in a 400F oven for 45-60 minutes or covered in the microwave (see directions above).
– Allow beets to cool slightly before peeling and dicing into 1/4 inch cubes, set aside. Tip: if you don’t want to stain your hands I recommend using disposable kitchen gloves for this job.

Make the risotto:
– Bring stock to a boil in a medium pot and keep warm over low heat on a back burner.
– Meanwhile in a large heavy bottomed pot sauté butter, oil, and onions over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.
– Add garlic and barley and stir for another 5 minutes or until barley become lightly toasted and brown.
– Slowly add hot stock, about ½-3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed.
– Repeat this step with remaining stock until barley has absorbed all the stock, about 30 minutes. If it seems too dry you can add more water or stock to get to your desired consistency.
– Add roasted beets, beet greens, and goat cheese. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until barley is cooked and beet greens are wilted.
– Season with salt and pepper, and before serving stir in parsley.

Note:  You can substitute kale or spinach for the beet greens.