Thursday, 23 May 2013

Go Green!

I need to justify the name of this blog - two recipes and both of them are indulgent desserts. So this one is going to be about green veggies, healthy grains... and eerrrmmm... just a little bit of cheese.

But before we move on to wholesome goodness of my salad, I have to share photos of a Chocolate Kahlua cake that a dear friend baked following the recipe I posted. Damn good job for a first time baker! The fact that my blog post sent her in to a cake-baking frenzy is extremely encouraging, and I was so happy to see the photos.
Yes, my friend is such a romantic.

Half eaten cake, loaded with chocolate-kahlua sauce.

We now shift focus to an equally tempting salad (who am I kidding?) that's chock-a-block with wholesome ingredients that are good for you. It made for a quick-fix, tasty and healthy dinner a week ago. We've already established that I'm not an accomplished recipe writer. Unless I'm baking, I prefer to do without measuring spoons and weighing scales. I just keep tasting as I go along. And with salads it's easy. You can adjust the quantities of the different ingredients, depending on what you like and don't like as much. It's easy to make substitutions or dump in additional yummy stuff. Getting down to business - this one's not a recipe really, I'll tell you about all the stuff I threw together and what else I could have used, and hopefully it's inspiration enough to get you to put together some creative salads.

A Very Green Salad

I started with -
A big bunch of lettuce leaves act as solid base for my salad. I've learnt the trick to keep the salad leaves fresh and crispy. Start by washing them under cool running water. Then soak them in a large bowl of ice-cold water for a  few minutes (there shouldn't be any solid ice in the bowl or your leaves could bruise). Take the leaves out of the cold water and give them a good shake so you get as much water out as you can. Dry them on clean kitchen towels, and then put them back in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them. (If you live in a country where you get bags of pre-washed salad leaves, them I'm as green as spinach with envy!).
Low calorie, heart healthy, high protein lettuce.

Some carbs to fill me up -
I'm very anti-carb, especially at dinner time. But I was particularly hungry and had an early start the next morning, so I thought I'd add a little quinoa to my salad. I cooked a little less that a quarter of cup of quinoa, with a pinch of salt. Once cooked, I fluffed it with a fork, very vigorously, otherwise I'd end up with little clumps of quinoa. For those of you who have not caught on to quiona-craze as yet, read this. It's a superfood! Don't have quinoa? You could always use brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or cous-cous instead. You could even go down the "beans" route and use chickpeas or kidney beans or any lentil that you have on hand.

Veges of course -
I went with some blanched broccoli. I chopped up a small head of broccoli, dunked it in some boiling water for a 3-4 mins and then quickly drained the hot water and ran some cold water over it. This cooks the broccoli just enough that it's not hard to bite, but allows it to retain its crunch. I was in a hurry, so I just stuck with broccoli. But there are so many other vegetables that would have tasted good - sauteed mushrooms, crisp capsicum/green peppers and grilled zucchini to name a few.

All the ingredients, except the almonds

Dress it up -
Keeping with the green-theme, I used some store-bought pesto. I'm crazy about pesto, and this freshly-made pesto was much better than the bottled kind. The bottled pesto has this strange chemical-like, artificial, metallic taste. Pesto is easily available these days. Otherwise it's easy to make at home too (I have a few home-made pesto experiments in the pipe line, using herbs and nuts other than the regular Italian basil and pine-nuts).
When it comes to salad dressings, less can be more. A simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette can be very satisfying. Or just a few drops of good quality balsamic vinegar.

So that they don't feel left out

Some crunch and cream -
Accessorize - while I don't necessarily believe you need a pair of statement earrings to make an outfit, I firmly believe that some accessories can make your salad go from wow to WOW! Toasted nuts and seeds make a lovely addition to any salad, breaking the monotony of the leaves and veggies. I toasted a handful of almonds in the oven for 7-8 mins until they were fragrant, and then allowed them to cool before chopping them up. And then of course, the highlight of the meal, some creamy goat's cheese. I found this locally produced goat's cheese (produced by Flander's dairy) and was very pleased with the taste. Feta cheese tastes great in salads too. As does some grated parmesan. But my refrigerator is not well-stocked, I can even make do with some grated processed cheese (you just have to love cheese as much as I do!).
I wish I had had some sundried tomatoes to throw in to the mix.

Hope you're itching to go stock up on some fresh veggies and fix yourself a salad for dinner! Would love to hear about your experiments in the kitchen.

1 comment:

  1. Haha! You'd just succeeded in convincing me instead of the leftover quiche I had, I'm gonna fix a salad (no goat's cheese, just sharp cheddar :( boo) But I do have pre washed salad greens to start on now! More updates to inspire healthy eating, please!!!!!