Fresh Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil & Feta

Happy Friday everyone!! In honor of this upcoming beautiful weather, I decided to take it easy today (especially after posting yesterday’s advanced rabbit-stew recipe!) and post a simple, NO COOK, and in-season recipe!

When heirloom tomatoes come into season, I always rush to the local farmers markets to grab all different colors of them to make all sorts of different dishes (think: heirloom salad terrine, delicious tomato gazpachos, and baked shrimp in a fresh tomato sauce!). However today’s recipe is easy, quick, and so delicious. The tomatoes are so vibrant in color and just as luscious in flavor! The cubed feta and basil are beautiful and delicious additions that are sure to please your palette :).

I hope some of you get to enjoy this with your friends and families!


[Note: make sure to use high quality extra-virgin olive oil since it will be ‘raw’ in the salad, otherwise you can get an off-putting and bitter taste!]

Ingredients

4-6 heirloom tomatoes (they come in many different sizes) of varying colors, chopped in big chunks
2-3 tablespoons of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar (try strawberry or fig balsamic for a twist!)
1/4-1/2 cup of cubed feta (these are sold in blocks like tofu, although you can use crumbled feta too)
1/4 cup of basil, chiffonade
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately! πŸ™‚ [Doesn’t get much more simple than that].

πŸ™‚

Red Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Mango & Jicama

I love my grains, and quinoa would be at the top of that list. Not only is quinoa an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has an incredibly delicious, nutty, and slightly crunchy texture, but it is also available year round in local stores (Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joes, you name it!). And believe it or not, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard! It is a recently rediscovered ancient “grain” that was once considered “the gold of the Incas.” I don’t know about comparing it to gold, but after doing some research, I found out that quinoa is also a very good source of manganese (basically a great antioxidant).

If you aren’t sold on quinoa yet (and more specifically, the red variety), try out the below recipe and I promise you will be a quinoa-convert! πŸ™‚ The creaminess of the avocado, paired with the ripe sweetness of the mango and crunchy jicama makes for an unforgettable dish with so much to offer in every bite. And for those of you that aren’t familiar or comfortable with ‘jicama’ (a.k.a. Mexican Yam or Mexican Turnip), don’t worry! You can omit it and/or substitute pear or apple chunks. Although, I love the crunchiness that the jicama adds to this salad – any root vegetable that you enjoy eating raw can be used for a similar taste too.

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed – I buy mine from Trader Joe’s, it comes dry, in a box!
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 avocados, skin removed and cubed (or 1 cup of cubed avocado)
1 large mango, peeled and cubed (or 1 cup of cubed mango)
1 cup jicama, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional) – or you can use toasted pine nuts/pignolias
1/4 cup fresh parsley, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
fresh black pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook the red quinoa as directed on box with water or broth of your choice (for added flavor).

When the quinoa is cooked, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Let it cool (can refrigerate overnight, if desired).

When it is cool, add in the remaining ingredients. Remember to taste test and serve!

Variations: spread the quinoa on a plate and top with the ‘salsa’ part of this dish (remaining ingredients) for a different presentation. You can also add cooked crab meat or shredded rotisserie chicken (making it non-vegetarian, of course), roasted corn, black beans, chopped red onions, cilantro. Feel free to get creative with this dish! πŸ™‚

Quick-Chopped Turkey Salad

This dish is awesome to bring along to a picnic and eat with some baguette. Or, add this to a fresh green salad instead of grilled chicken! Most stores sell a ready-made chicken salad that has tons of mayo and is way too rich – this is a new, healthy spin on the ‘meat salad’ idea and you can even make sandwiches with this for your kids and family!

(Note: The complete salad pictured that I’ve topped with this delicious turkey salad has a base of iceberg lettus with: thinly sliced radishes, sliced almonds, sliced green bell pepper, chopped fresh asparagus, cherry tomatoes, chopped spring onion and white onion!) πŸ™‚ This is a great salad to have for lunch – you can even pack it and take it to your office! πŸ˜‰

Ingredients

4 cups of cubed, cooked turkey (can be leftovers from Thanksgiving, or from a turkey roast!)
4 tablespoons of Asparagus Pesto (or regular pesto)
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (optional – can omit if you want to keep this low-fat, or use low-fat mayo!)
2 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard (or dijon)
1/4 cup of chopped green onions (green part)
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Taste for seasonings and adjust as desired.

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Cous Cous Salad with Asparagus Pesto and Shrimp

I thought I’d show all of you a fun way to use my last two recipe postings as a healthy salad! I am always used to having left overs because I hate having guests over and not having enough food, so I always make a little extra πŸ˜‰ Here is a fun little recipe (and SO easy) that shows you one of many ways to use leftover Asparagus Pesto and Moroccan-Spiced Shrimp! My use of cous cous is a much healthier alternative to rice!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Ingredients

2 cups pearled (or Israeli) cous cous [the one shown below is the exact brand I used]

2.5 cups of hot water (or you can use a broth of your choice!)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1-1.5 cups of Asparagus Pesto
2 cups of Moroccan-spiced shrimp (or any cooked shrimp)

Optional garnish: sliced almonds or pine nuts, for added crunch! πŸ™‚

Yields 6-8 generous servings

Directions

Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Add in cous cous, turn down heat, cover the pot and simmer for 8-10 minutes until cous cous is cooked through.

Toss cous cous with asparagus pesto, spiced shrimp (you can also add regular boiled shrimp or store-bought cooked shrimp), and cherry tomatoes. Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or you can make this ahead and serve as a cold salad!

Sweet and Savory Watermelon & Strawberry Salad

This sweet and peppery fruit salad makes an amazingly refreshing and light side dish to an outdoor BBQ or picnic. Make it a one-pot meal by adding some shredded chicken breast or steak strips! The black pepper, salt, and red chili flakes balance out the sweetness of the fruit to create a wonderful, savory party in your mouth! In every bite you take, there is a different highlighted element, whether it is the freshness of the mint, the tanginess of the feta, or the sweetness of the fruit against the peppery dressing!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Yields: 6-8 Servings

Ingredients

‘Lettuce’ – you can use baby spinach, arugula (my favorite because of the ‘pepper’ inherent to arugula!), or any variety of lettuce as your base

1 medium white onion (or red), finely sliced
2 cups (1-inch cubes) seedless watermelon
2 cups strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup of fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
Optional garnish: for added crunch, add sliced almonds!

Dressing
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes (you can cut this down if you don’t want it too spicy!)
Kosher salt to taste
black pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, arrange the first 7 ingredients (feel free to make it pretty with all the great colors!). Food always tastes better when the presentation is beautiful!

Whisk together lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper. Taste the dressing to make sure seasoning is per your taste (if you cut down the red pepper flakes and feel like it can be hotter, add more at this point!). Drizzle over salad in bowl, toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.