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.

 

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl by Breaking Bland Eats

My aversion to meat as a young child forced my mom to come up with creative ways to transform vegetables, and occasionally chicken or fish, into delicious meals for the whole family. We often ate vegetarian meals and to this day, even though I’m not quite as picky with meat, I still like to make a lot of meatless meals.  I always keep dried legumes and canned beans in my pantry so I can whip together nutritious meals even when my fridge isn’t well stocked. Beans and lentils are inexpensive, a good source of protein, and packed full of fibre – which helps to keep you full and satisfied!

This recipe is my take on an Indian lentil stew called Dahl. I added sweet potato and coconut milk for a touch of sweetness and fresh spinach because the bunch in my refrigerator was starting to look questionable.   All you need to complete this meal is some cooked basmati rice or naan bread.

Trust me you won’t miss the meat in this dish!

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl

Serves 4-6, recipe by Kirsten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced or ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala*
3 medium carrots, diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 cups of water
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cups of packed spinach
1/4 cup cilantro (optional, but highly recommended!)

Cooked basmati rice or naan bread for serving

Directions:

1.  Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot, add onions and cook until soft – about 5 minutes.
2. Add ginger, garlic , jalapenos and spices and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until spices are fragrant.
3. Add lentils, carrots, sweet potato, and water. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
4. Add coconut milk and salt, cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook for 3 minutes until lentils are soft and spinach is wilted. Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in fresh cilantro if using.

*Note: Garam masala is a blend of ground spices which you can find it in the spice section of most grocery stores.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

Having many green thumbs in your family means occasionally having to come up with creative ways to use fresh produce.  This was the case this past summer with a seemingly endless supply of eggplants from my parent’s garden. I used this opportunity to make baba ghanoush, a roasted eggplant dip, which just so happens to be one of my favourite dips.  As I was browsing through recipes I realized how the ingredients in baba ghanoush were almost identical to those in hummus, so combining the two just made perfect sense!

The result is a deliciously creamy dip, with just a hint of smokiness from the roasted eggplant, and a nice kick from the garlic and fresh lemon.  The roasted eggplant serves two purposes: one to add extra vegetables into your diet (always a bonus!), and two it adds extra moisture so you don’t have to use a ton of excess oil.  You can find tahini, or sesame paste, in most super market alongside other nut and seed butters.

This dip is great served with whole-wheat pita, tortilla chips, cut up vegetables or as a substitute for mayo in sandwiches or wraps.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

Recipe by Kirsten, makes ~ 3 cups of hummus.  

2 globe eggplants, or 4 Japanese eggplants.
2 lemons, juiced
¼ cup tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 19oz (540ml) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed under water.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Smoked paprika (optional garnish)

 Directions:

  1. Roast the eggplants: using a fork pierce the eggplant a few times then place on a on tin-foil lined baking sheet.  Roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes, until insides are soft and the outer skin is slightly charred and wrinkled.
  2. One cooled, slice eggplants in half and scrap out inside, leaving the charred skins behind. Set aside
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, minus the eggplant, into your food processor and blend together.  Next add the roasted eggplant and pulse a few times to combine.  This will yield a slightly chunky dip so if you prefer a more creamy consistency continue to blend.  Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper to taste. If needed you can add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture seems dry.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with smoked paprika and a drizzle of good quality olive olive.