Tag Archives: vinaigrette

Quinoa Bowl

13 Oct

Quinoa bowl

During my recent birthday trip to visit my friend Karen, I was introduced to my new favorite dish, the Quinoa Bowl. Seriously, it’s so versatile and delicious and healthy and readily available. You can make it for lunch as a salad with what you have in your fridge. Or you can fancy it up and add some beautifully seasonal ingredients and make a completely different dish for a larger more satisfying meal.


My version is a late summer/early autumn quinoa bowl. Here in Minnesota, everyone has zucchini (also called courgette) to spare, either from their garden or from the farmers market or even the grocery store. I can usually score a few from coworkers who have so many that they’ve run out of things to do with them and are so very happy to hand them out. They were first on the list.


Butternut squash is a lovely ingredient that pairs with so many great fall flavors, which made it a slam dunk for this dish. Since it goes especially well with sage, I tossed the chopped up squash with sage, olive oil, salt and pepper and put it in the oven to roast.

butternut cubed

You have to be careful with cutting up the butternut squash, as you might risk life and limb. If you peel the skin first with a sturdy potato peeler, then the flesh is a whole lot more manageable.

peeling butternut

Because of my upbringing in Brazil, I have a hard time cooking meat without marinating it first. A simple marinade adds so much flavor to meat. For this chicken, I tossed the breast pieces with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped sage and chopped garlic. It’s super easy in a zip top plastic bag – you toss everything in there, zip the top, mix it up a bit, let it sit for 30 minutes or so, then remove the chicken to the grill and toss the bag. No muss, no fuss. (not pretty, but also not messy)

chicken in a bag

While the squash was roasting and the chicken marinating, I began the quinoa. Rinse it first, then add to a saucepan – 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water, a dash of salt and bring to a boil. (here are fool-proof cooking instructions from the folks at The Kitchn)


The chicken and zucchini went on to the grill.

grilled chicken 2

I had half an onion in my fridge, so I drizzled that with olive oil and tossed those slices on the grill too. Have you ever had grilled onion? Oh boy! It’s a happy day when you can grill onions. They are sweet, smoky and a bit crunchy still. Yum!

grilling 2

If you look closely, you can see one of the perils of grilling veggies – they slip right through the grates and out of reach…sadly.

This was also a great excuse to try my new balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a gift from my dear friend Eddie, they are from a local Minneapolis store called Vinaigrette. They were amazing! The balsamic is so sweet, think and mellow that you could drink it straight from the bottle. Thanks Eddie!!

oil & balsamic

I poured a glug of balsamic in a bowl, added olive oil, a blurb of Dijon mustard, fresh ground pepper and salt with a few drops of water and whisked it until well combined.


Now assemble. Quinoa on the bottom, then top with all the rest of the goodies – I used the roasted and grilled veggies, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, herbed goat cheese and grilled chicken, drizzled with the vinaigrette and garnished with fresh sage.

Quinoa bowl

Voila! My new favorite dish.

helping cats

Anddddddd proof that I’m a certified crazy cat lady! (Never fear, both Hattie and Mabel were swooped off the table 30 seconds after I took this photo)

Quinoa Bowl

Cooked quinoa (how to cook quinoa)
Grilled chicken
Roasted butternut squash
Grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, or any others)
Dried cranberries
Goat cheese

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon water

Whisk all the above ingredients together in a bowl until they are all well combined. Drizzle over the top of your bowl for a lively punch of flavor.

Bonus dish: A few days later, I cooked a whole new meal with the leftovers – I chopped up chicken, some of the veggies, some kale and the quinoa, sauteed them until crispy and topped with a boiled egg.

quinoa hash 1

Voila! Quinoa hash!

Quinoa hash

Vegetable Salad with Vinaigrette

18 Apr

Alice took me to the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne for cooking supplies for our day of cooking. Have I mentioned how much I love fresh markets like this? Have I mentioned how much I love farm fresh vegetables? Remember this picture?

It was fantastic! Just the place to pick up all the necessary vegetables to make my Dad’s cold steamed vegetable salad. He would make this salad for special dinners. It’s a bit different from most leafy green salads as you can use whatever is in season, including root vegetables, but everything is steamed then chilled before being dressed with a simple vinaigrette dressing. It makes for a very dramatic presentation as well, a beautiful addition to any nice dinner.

I picked up some beautiful vegetables from Keegan, the green grocer at Fresh Generation, just a bit of whatever looked nice. I tried to get some vegetables that would taste good steamed and whose colors looked nice together. We picked out some zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beets (beetroot) and potatoes. I peeled and trimmed them in preparation for the steamer.

Into the steam bath they went, a few at a time.

I finished slicing some of them, then mounded them on a large serving platter and put them in the refrigerator to chill.

Before serving, I whisked together some red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard,  some finely chopped red onion with salt and pepper then drizzled it over the mounded vegetables.

A few farm fresh hard boiled eggs sliced onto the top completed the platter.

It was a great hearty and healthy dish befitting a nice relaxed dinner with friends.

Steamed Vegetable Salad

Steam the vegetables of your choice – some of the best vegetables for this salad include carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beets (beetroot), potatoes, green beans, chayote squash or chuchu if you’re Brazilian. I believe that every time my Dad made this dish, he included different things, a bit of whatever happened to be in season at the time.

Steam vegetables just until barely softened, as you want a little bit of crunch to remain. Cut them into bite sized pieces and chill. Mound onto a serving platter, drizzle with dressing and serve.

Basic Vinaigrette
3/4 cup of nice extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together until combined. Pour over vegetables.

You can make an endless combination of flavors with this one general recipe. You need to start with base of a 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, for example, 3 tablespoons of olive oil to 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Then you can add fresh herbs such as tarragon, oregano or rosemary which all go very nicely with the vegetables, or you can chop up some onion or shallots very fine and whisk them in and you can add Dijon mustard with salt and pepper.  You can vary the vinegar, if for instance, you have a nice fruit infused vinegar or balsamic vinegar, use that. You can use regular salad oil or a little sesame oil for an Asian flair. The sky’s the limit! Have fun creating a flavor you will enjoy.

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