Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Salads: Hot Weather Cooking

Summer has finally hit NYC with temperatures in the mid-80s and high humidity. So it was rather serendipitous that this week's New York Times dining section had an article with 101 Salad suggestions. Based on my farmers market haul this week ($16.40 worth of produce -- pretty restrained for me!), I've already made riffs on three of the salads. Number 30 called for red skinned potatoes, but I used a small handful of Russian Banana fingerling potatoes, sliced into half moon shape and tossed with a Dijon-shallot-lemon-olive oil dressing, capers and chopped parsley. It turned out a little too acidic for my taste, so I added a tablespoon of Miracle Whip to tone it down a bit.
I "slaved" over the stove the longest for Number 27. Without a grill, I had to soften the eggplant in a small stir fry pan on the stove. Despite the size of the eggplant, it took 20 minutes over a medium low flame until it was ready.
But at least I had time to make a pesto sauce and use some of the basil growing rampant on my fire escape. I blitzed about four cups of basil leaves with the zest and juice of half a lemon, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of toasted pine nuts, one clove of garlic and lots of Romano cheese. It made a ton, so I reserved about 1/4 cup for later and tossed the rest with the chopped eggplant, grape tomatoes and half a can of cannellini beans. Stuffed INSIDE a small pita with some baby spinach, it was a light and refreshing lunch.
I love quinoa, and made note of Number 94, but was fresh out of mint (sacrificed earlier in the week for a pitcher of mojitos!). So instead, I decided to make a kitchen-sink style tabouli, combining quinoa and bulgar with a ton of chopped vegetables, parsley, crumbled feta and a Greek-style dressing.

Yes, it was a lot of chopping, and yes, I did a lot of dishes, but the end result was worth it. Now I have salads for a week's worth of lunches. Three salad recipes down and only 98 more to go...

Kitchen Sink Tabouli

Be sure to rinse your quinoa very well before cooking. The outer layer contains saponins, which tastes really bitter and is not always completely removed during commercial processing (as I discovered the hard way the first time I made quinoa!).


1/4 C. Quinoa, rinsed

1/4 C. Bulgar

1/2 Lemon, juiced

2 T. Red wine vinegar

2 T. Olive oil

1 Persian cucumber, diced

1/4 C. Grape tomatoes, quartered

1 Large radish, small dice

2 Scallions, chopped

1/4 C. Grated carrots

4 C. Flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

1/4 C. Feta cheese, crumbled


In a large bowl, combine bulgar with 3/4 C. of boiling water; cover and let sit for 30 minutes; drain any excess water.

In the meantime, cook quinoa in approximately 1 C. of water over low heat until the quinoa "unfurls"; drain, combine with bulgar.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and Greek seasoning (a combination of salt, oregano, garlic, lemon peel, black pepper and marjoram).

Add all vegetables, the parsley and dressing to the grain mixture and mix to combine; add feta and toss well before serving.

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