Tag Archives: salad

Orzo and Spinach Salad

Tonight we are going to celebrate the new year with our friends Peter and Susannah again. This means there will be tons of BBQ (if there’s no rain) and not a lot of vegetables that I will enjoy eating. Andrew asked me to make a side dish for the night and the only thing he specified was that it have vegetables in it. I decided that I wanted to make a spinach and orzo salad. I love spinach and I’ve just started liking orzo.

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Israeli Couscous “Risotto”

I was reading through cookbooks last weekend and came across something that I had never heard of before: cooking pasta like risotto. Now, reading this terrified and excited me. I could foresee pasta burning and sticking to the pan, coming up undercooked and gummy at the same time. I was also excited by the possibility of saving water and the time it takes to boil the water. This has been in the back of my mind the past couple days.

I was driving home from class today over hwy 17 and got really hungry. I’ve been getting very hungry all of a sudden lately. I was daydreaming of burritos, chinese food, and all sorts of take-out. Then I thought of my bank account, the feta cheese, roasted garlic, dried cranberries, salad greens, and array of carboyhydrate options I keep in my cupboard. I knew I could come up with something delicious, easy, satisfying, and quick.

I figured that Israeli couscous would be the perfect sized pasta to try out risotto style. I like making risotto and have never found it to be a challenge. I’ve always found cooking a pot of rice to be more of a challenge. I also like Israeli couscous. I like it much better than those tiny wimpy regular couscous.

Out came the Israeli Couscous “Risotto”. Creamy, tangy, savory, sweet. Nutty, hearty, and simple. A great lunch for when you have time to cook. Or it could be a great dinner. A wonderful way to use leftovers and experiment.

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” with Dried Cranberries, Feta, and Roasted Garlic

  • 1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup water (you could also use stock or a combination of stock and water)
  • salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes (my holy trinity of spices)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • a couple cloves of roasted garlic
  • a handful of herb and garlic feta
  • a handful of salad greens

1. To toast your couscous add the olive oil and couscous to the pan and heat to medium. I use a heavy bottomed aluminum pan because I have some sort of disease that prevents me from ever wanting to use non-stick. Add salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes.  Heat for about five minutes until they little balls turn a golden color and they smell nutty (or in my case almost burning).

2. Gradually add your water and stir. You want to add the water in small increments. The way I gauged it was add a little water, stir, stir, stir, and then when the little balls started to stick I added more water before they could adhere themselves permanently to the pan. This process took about fifteen minutes.

3. Add roasted garlic cloves and smash them up into the couscous. Let them heat through for about a minute or so. Then remove the pan from the heat. Add cranberries and feta.

4. In a bowl mix together couscous mixture and salad greens. Enjoy.

I burned something again…

As I walking through the aisles at New Leaf Market on the westside, I got what I thought was an amazing idea for a sandwich: a “chicken” cesar salad sandwich. I know this has probably been done before, but I had in my mind that this would be a delicious sandwich. I had lettuce at home to use and I bought red waxy potatoes at Safeway. I would slice the potatoes and use them as the chicken. Then I would use snap pea crisps to add the cesar flavor and toast bread with rice cheddar cheese. Maybe I would add avocado since avocados were one sale. I even got Kelly’s amazing sourdough loaf. I thought this would be a tasty sandwich.

What it turned into was this:

Now, what is that? That is a salad with green leaf lettuce, blackberries, skillet fried potato, and snap pea crisps with balsamic vinaigrette. That is definitely not what I originally envisioned but it was delicious nonetheless.

Blackberry Potato Salad

  • green leaf lettuce, chopped
  • blackberries
  • one red potato (you can use as many of the slices as you want)
  • snap pea crisps
  • Trader Joe’s balsamic vinaigrette

1. Slice potato into 1/4″ slices lengthwise, not width wise. Spice them however you like, I used salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. In a small cast iron skillet (or any skillet that isn’t non-stick), heat up sunflower oil (or any oil you have on hand).  Add however many potato slices you can without crowding. Cook until browned on one side and then flip over. Cook until browned on that side, then remove and place on a plate with paper towel.

A blurry photo of step 1.

2. Cut green leaf lettuce. Add to bowl with potatoes, blackberries, and snap pea crisps. Add however much salad dressing you want.

So why did I end up with a salad instead of that delicious sandwich creation? Because I didn’t watch my bread and cheese under the broiler and it burnt to a crisp.

Avocado and Bean Quesadilla

I bought a bunch of avocados this week. I also bought shredded cheese and 100 calorie tortillas. I used all these in a avocado, bean, and cheese quesadilla. I heated up a skillet with non-spray cooking oil. Then I added half a can of pinto beans, half of an avocado, and a handful of shredded cheese to one tortilla and folded it over. I put this into the skillet until the cheese melted and the tortilla crisped up. I served this with a strawberry and spinach salad.