Tag Archives: salad

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

11 Feb

I’m always on the look out for great salads. When I find a salad that is delicious and can sit in the fridge ready for lunches… I’m sold. B’s wee adventure to Cuba had me looking for a salad with Cuban influence, they were few and far between. So I sashayed across to the Andes, still within Latino territory, where quinoa, the grain-like seed, originates. If you haven’t used quinoa, welcome. Welcome to a seed that is packed with protein and nutrients. It’s filling too.

This salad has so much flavour it knocks my socks off every time I make it. So I guess it is lucky I live in warm weather huh?

You’ll need…

Quinoa, spring onion (scallion), coriander (cilantro), limes for juicing, pickled jalapeño, sweet corn, black beans, celery, garlic, ground cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) comes in a range of colours. Feel free to use whatever colour you like for this recipe, or even a combination like I did here.

First I cooked the quinoa by boiling four cups of water on high heat and adding a tablespoon of salt. After turning the heat down to medium, I added the quinoa and let it simmer for about 12 minutes.

The quinoa is cooked through when the small white tail becomes visible. I then strained it well in a small holed strainer and set it aside to cool a little.

I prepared the rest of the salad ingredients and put them in a big bowl as I went. I chopped the spring onion (scallion), the coriander (cilantro),

the pickled jalapeños, and the celery. The celery is my addition, the original recipe called for red pepper, so by all means use it if you like it.

I drained and rinsed the canned black beans, tossed them in and the corn also. I added the quinoa and mixed well.

Then to make the dressing… I juiced the limes, and added the juice to the oil,

then threw in the salt, pepper, ground cumin and garlic and whisked with a fork. Here limes are bountiful, but back home in Australia I would be substituting the limes for lemons, for the sake of the mortgage.

I poured the dressing over the salad then tossed it all through.

The salad can sit in the fridge until you serve it. I find it also keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. It may last longer, but I haven’t ever managed to keep it that long.

It is a meal on its own, you can also pair it with a piece of roasted chicken, fish, whatever you fancy.

Latin America has me captivated.

Where will B go next? Tag!

adaption of recipe from tasty kitchen


1 1/2 cups quinoa, any combination of colours
1 tablespoon of salt for the quinoa cooking water
1/2 cup chopped spring onions (scallions)
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), for me it took a medium sized bunch
20 slices of pickled jalapeño, chopped
1 cup of chopped celery, or red pepper (capsicum)
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups of sweet corn

75ml (5tbsp) fresh lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
a good grind of black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic minced

Cook the quinoa in simmering salted water until you see the small white tail. That should take around 12 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool a little. Put all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork before pouring over and stirring through the salad.

The salad is delicious there and then, but you can make it in advance and refrigerate it. It keeps well in the fridge for at least a couple of days.


Olive and Eggplant Spread

15 Jan

B’s amazing looking dessert takes me back to Melbourne where the Greek food abounds, and ‘filo’ as we call it is part of our make up.

I was tempted to make Spanakopita, a spinach and cheese pie baked in filo pastry, but I am relishing making new dishes. What else would fit with this current crop of dishes we have been making… something with eggplant? A dip? Now, I love Baba Ganoush, but Jason, my husband has just never been a fan of eggplant, I think much of it is the texture. But how about a spread with eggplant and tasty tasty olives? Would that pass muster with him?

My supply list… one verrrrrry long eggplant, kalamata olives, parsley, garlic, limes for zesting, olive oil, chilli flakes and salt.

I sliced the eggplant in half lengthways (and in my case in half again) and placed in a baking tray. Then drizzled with olive oil and spread with a brush. I sliced a clove of garlic thinly.

After spreading the garlic over the eggplant and giving a sprinkle with salt I baked until golden brown.

While the eggplant was baking, I prepared the rest of the ingredients. After pitting the olives I gave them a whizz in a food processor, until they were roughly chopped, and then put them in a mixing bowl.

Chop chop chop the parsley, and then in to the bowl also.

I shook in some chilli flakes.

Grated some lime rind in.

When the eggplant was baked to golden brown, I set aside to cool a little.

And when cool enough, scooped the flesh from the skin and put in to the food processor.

Whizzed it to a purée, and then added it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

I mixed it all up.

And that’s it! Serve with toasted bread, or crudités.

Both Jason and I commented…. “it tastes just like tapenade”.  The eggplant adds a creamy texture to the olives, and smooths out the flavour, but it is still quite strong on olive flavour like a tapenade. Served like this it is nice for a pre-dinner snack with a drink.

This is a good recipe to use if you have eggplants and someone who would normally not eat them, because you can barely taste them.

If you are after a good strong smokey eggplant flavour, I would recommend charring the eggplant  instead of baking.

Today I plan to make a salad with chickpeas, chopped up leafy greens, thinly sliced red onion and some of this ‘spread’ tossed through it. I’ll let you know how it goes.


(This is an adaption of a recipe by Martha Stewart.)

2 medium sized eggplants (or one verrrrrrry long one like I find here), halved lengthwise

drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

good pinch of salt

1 cup Kalamata olives (or a mix of green and Kalamata)

1/4 cup of chopped parsley

Pinch of chilli pepper flakes

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon or lime zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice eggplants in half lengthways and place on a baking tray with the cut side up.  Drizzle and brush with olive oil, and scatter the garlic slices on top, and sprinkle with some salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool a little. (Or use this alternate eggplant cooking method for a smokier flavour.)

Pit olives and blend in a food processor until roughly chopped. Put the olives in a medium sized bowl and add chopped parsley, chilli flakes and citrus zest.

When eggplant is cool enough scoop the flesh and garlic from the skin of the eggplant and put in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the eggplant to the bowl and mix well. Add salt to taste.

Serve with toasted sourdough or crudités.


Here’s the salad. I mixed a rinsed can of chickpeas with half a cup of the ‘spread’, sprinkled in a little salt, added a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a grind of pepper and mixed well. I threw on top some ripped up lettuce, some pre-soaked red onion slices (see recipe for couscous salad if you want to see the method I use) and crumbled in about 50 grams (2 oz) feta. I then tossed the salad well.

It was nice. A good robust lunch. The kind of meal I like to take to work if I am heading to an office. If I was taking it as a packed lunch I would mix it all bar the lettuce and then add the lettuce at the last minute. Healthy, filling and tasty.

So B, you know what that means…. ‘tag’ you’re it!

Moroccan Beef Kebabs with Couscous Salad

4 Jan

Brenda’s hearty French beef stew was so fitting for a snowy day in Minneapolis. I wanted to cook beef, and given that I am in such a warm climate I thought about the way that hot French colonies use imported ingredients like beef and work them their own way. I have read romantic tales of the kebabs sold in markets in Marrakech. So a bit of investigation… and quite a bit of artistic license later… here are some spiced kebabs and a truly interesting salad.

Roll call… stewing steak, lime juice, ras el hanout*, and olive oil.

*Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice mix that is unique to each spice seller. It means ‘top of the shop’ and is regarded as the shop’s finest blend. It is available online in the States from places like Dean and Deluca. In Australia, I like the Simon Johnson tin.
There are a number of recipes for it online if you are feel like getting in the mix. Most versions include spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, clove, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, and turmeric.

I bought this meat already diced, but if you are doing the dicing, it is in pieces of roughly 1 inch (2 1/2cm) cubed. Ideally the meat should be marinated for around 10+ hours. I was organised enough to manage 24 hours. Because I used a ‘cheaper’ cut of meat, I wanted the citrus to have time to tenderise the meat well.

Rub the spice mix directly on to the meat.

Juice the limes and pour over the meat, along with the olive oil.

Mix thoroughly and refrigerate covered in plastic wrap. I tumbled the meat around again after 10 hours just to make sure it was evenly coated.

24 hours later….
When the barbecue (grill) is lit and ready to go

Soak the bamboo skewers in water for ten minutes to prevent them burning, and then thread the meat straight on.

Ready to barbecue.

I kept the barbecue on a low heat, so I could cook the skewers for an hour. I chose a stewing meat rather than a fine fillet to get more of a charcoal and rustic flavour. I cooked these with the lid down on the barbecue. While they were cooking I made the salad outlined below.

The cooked kebabs were that great mix of tender and rough meat, with a smokeyness from the coals.

Couscous Salad

Meet the crew: celery, couscous, chick peas (garbanzo beans), red onion, limes, sultanas (or raisins), garlic, mint leaves, Kalamata olives, salt and pepper.

Dice the half red onion. This is my tried and true method. Slice off the top of the onion. Keeping the base of the onion in tact, slice lengthways but not entirely to the end.

Then slice across the onion, and voila, you have diced onion. The unchopped base is then thrown away.

Put a teaspoon of salt and a cup of luke warm water in to a bowl, and allow the onions to soak for 20 minutes. This takes away some of the ‘bite’ out of the onion and is a great method whenever you are using raw onion in a salad as it is easier on the stomach. This onion is drained and rinsed before adding to the salad.

In another bowl add juiced lime, minced garlic, pitted and chopped olives, sultanas (or raisins).

Mix well and let sit while you prepare the couscous.

Follow the directions on your couscous packet, as they all vary. But this one was a matter of pouring an equal quantity by volume of couscous to water.

Mix and leave sit for five minutes.

Then fluff up with a fork.

Dice celery.

And roughly chop mint.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas well.

Then put all of the ingredients together and mix well. Taste for salt and pepper, and add more lime juice if needed.

Pile a serving of the salad on to a plate, I added some extra green by the way of coriander (cilantro) because I can’t resist having fresh greens. Place a couple of the cooked kebabs atop.

Serves 4

750g/26 oz Angus (or good quality) stewing steak cut in 1 inch cubes.
2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix
1/2 cup lime (or lemon) juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl that will fit easily in your fridge, rub the spice mix evenly over the cubed meat, then pour lime juice and olive oil over. Mix well. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 10 hours but ideally 24 hours.

On a low heat barbecue cook for an hour or until meat is tender. Turn after 30 minutes.

Serves 4

1/2 medium red onion diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup raisins
juice of three limes (or one largish lemon)
3/4 cup couscous
one can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
more lime or lemon if needed
fresh ground pepper

Dice onion and soak in a bowl with a teaspoon of salt and a cup of luke warm water for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl combine minced garlic, olives, raisins and lime juice, mix well and leave to sit while you prepare the other elements.
Cook the couscous according to the directions on the packet.
After fluffing couscous with a fork, add it, the celery and mint to the large bowl.
Drain and rinse salted onion, and also add to the salad.
Mix well.
Taste for salt and pepper, and additional citrus juice if needed.

Serve the salad at room temperature.

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