Quinoa and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Ginger Vinegrette

By Corinne

I haven’t quite managed to jump on the quinoa bandwagon, but have discovered that I do prefer the red quinoa to the white variety. It seems to have a little more flavour than the white variety and it cooks up exactly the same. This is a healthy and filling supper salad. It’s even better if you make the quinoa and dressing the day before and it has a chance to really soak in, which means it makes for amazing lunch the next day

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water (I use a little less water because it’s going to absorb some of the dressing later)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 crispy apple (I used Red Prince variety)
  • 3/4 cup of pepitas
  • goat cheese- I’m not putting an amount because I like a lot. Full disclosure, I even added a few more chunks after I took the photo.
  • salad greens of your choice
  • Not pictured – but some slices of cucumber also work well with this dressing

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • zest of one orange
  • 4 tsp freshly grated ginger (taste, you may want to add more)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • Several grinds of fresh pepper and a generous pinch of salt

Before cooking quinoa, give it a good rinse in a fine colander under running water, scrubbing it a bit with your fingers. Cook quinoa in 1 3/4 cup of water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff and remove from heat- leave uncovered to cool.

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients.

In a dry pan, toast pepitas over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes. You will hear some of them start to ‘snap’ and get a bit brown. They don’t all need to brown, but when they start to smell toasty they are done.

When quinoa is finished cooking and has cooled a bit, add half of the dressing to the quinoa. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes, though this could be done earlier in the day and refrigerated. Let the quinoa cool to about room temperature. (Though if you’ve made it earlier in the day or the day before and it’s cooled completely, that’s great too!)

Slice apple just before serving so it doesn’t brown.

Place salad greens in bowl, add several spoonfuls of the dressed quinoa on top of the greens. Top with apple slices, goat cheese, toasted pepitas and additional dressing.

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Steak and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

By Corinne

I love goat cheese and there is a generous amount of it on this salad – do feel free to cut back to a more reasonable amount. There is a pub in town that serves a delicious goat cheese and steak salad that was definitely my inspiration for this. Making it at home means I can add more cheese and make the dressing exactly how I want it.

Serves: 4 

Time: about 25 minutes – but it depends on how long you let the steaks come to room temperature and how long you let them rest for at the end

You will need:

  • 3 strip loin steaks (you can do one per person if they are particularly small or if you are very hungry – you can also do 2 steaks if you are looking to cut back on the meat portion)
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Worcestershire sauce (gluten free if you use a gf worcestershire – alternatively use balsamic here)
  • 10 oz (284g) salad greens (I used “tender ruby reds”, but spring mix or romaine work as well)
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, VERY thinly sliced
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes if desired. Sometimes I feel them, sometimes I don’t.
  • 250g goat cheese (if you can find it, try ‘Celebrity’ brand – it’s one of the best ones I’ve found in a grocery store. If you live in Thunder Bay, you can find it at Maltese)

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar *
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

*as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I tend to prefer my dressings more on the vinegar side. The classic oil/vinegar ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil – feel free to adjust this to taste.

Sprinkle steaks liberally with Montreal steak spice and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to come to room temperature – at least 30 minutes, but 45 if you have time.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Slice peppers and onions and tomatoes if using. Divide salad greens among plates, distribute onions and peppers on top of greens and sprinkle with goat cheese. I find raw onion can be quite strong. Slice it very thin, as thin as you possibly can. Give it a taste, the amount  you use is going to depend very much on the strength of the particular onion.

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Grilling the steaks – preheat bbq for 5-10 minutes. Sear steaks- place on grill for 1 minute, close the lid. Flip and place on the other side for 1 minute. Flip again and cook for 10-15 minutes flipping half way through, depending on desired doneness. If you haven’t tried it,  you should start trying the touch test for doneness.  It’s a more reliable test than purely timing, and once you have it down you’re golden. If you have a meat thermometer, you can use that, but it requires you poking the steaks and losing potential juiciness. Allow steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Divide greens, vegetables and goat cheese between 4 plates. Thinly slice steak and place on salad. Divide dressing between 4 plates. If desired, add a few more chunks of goat cheese on top of the steaks.

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Lemon Pepper Chicken and Blackberry Salad for Two

By Corinne

I adore salads. I know that ‘adore’ seems like a word reserved for kittens and perhaps rich cheesy goodness but I really l do love salads.  I love them making them with fresh greens from my little garden all summer long, but even in the winter between bowls of soup, I still crave crunchy greens. In the summer, salad is our side for almost every meal, but in the winter I tend towards a supper salad, as greens for just a side are not only pricey, but can be hard to get in good condition

The only thing that makes me sad about a supper salad is I generally make them in whatever portion I need them for that supper, so I often don’t have leftover supper salad for lunches.

Time: about 20 minutes

Serves: 2- though easily doubled.

You will need:

  • 1 large head of romaine, washed and chopped
  • 2 mini cucumbers, or half of a regular English cucumber
  • 6 oz (180g) of fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup of finely shredded red cabbage
  • 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts or 3-4 boneless skinless thighs (what I used in the photo)
  • lemon pepper seasoning

For the dressing:

  • juice from one lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside. This probably makes a bit more dressing than you need for two salads, but better a bit extra than not enough!

Wash and chop lettuce, spin to dry and set aside. Finely chop red cabbage, and mini cucumbers and set aside.

Season both sides of chicken breasts or thighs with lemon pepper seasoning. I like Mom’s Pantry lemon pepper seasoning because it’s quite lemony and has no salt added, but whatever lemon pepper seasoning you like will do.

Heat about a tbsp of canola in a heavy bottomed pan (I used cast iron, but whatever pan you have will work) over medium heat and add chicken to pan. If your chicken is super thick on one end, you can give it a few pounds with a meat tenderizer to even it out a bit for easier cooking. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until cooked through.

Assemble salads. Divide romaine and place on plates, scatter red cabbage and cucumbers on top. Slice chicken and and top salad with sliced chicken and a generous handful of blackberries. Whisk dressing and drizzle over salad. Eat. Enjoy.

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Brie and Apple Salad with Cider Vinegrette

By Corinne

This is one of my favourite salads. It comes together quickly, and even though you bread and fry the cheese (just a little bit and it’s totally worth it) I still think it qualifies as a pretty good post-holiday-gluttony supper.

I absolutely adore pomegranate. It has a reputation of being difficult to peel and messy, but really it’s super simple. I was going to take pictures of how I peel it, but here’s a great video instead. You can even be less finicky with cutting off the top than this person is and it will still pull apart beautifully.

Time: 20 minutes or less – tonight I started this at 6 and we were finished eating at 6:30.

Serves: 4 as a light supper salad (I usually do half of this for just two of us)

You will need:

For the salad

  • 2 small heads of romaine, washed, chopped and dried
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 small crisp apples
  • 1 7oz (200g) wheel of double cream brie
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tbsp canola for frying

For the dressing

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or olive oil if that is your preference, though I find it is sometimes over powering, especially in a salad like this that has rather delicate flavours)
  • several grinds fresh pepper
  • pinch of salt to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Chop, rinse, and dry romaine. Open pomegranate and put all of the arils (that’s what you call the little bits you eat!) into a bowl.

Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan.

Cut brie wheel into eight equal pieces – two will go on each salad.

Whisk one egg in a small bowl and put 3/4 cup of panko crumbs into a pie plate.

Dip each piece of brie into the egg and then into the bread crumbs, pressing them in and coating each side.

When all brie pieces are ready to go, core apples, halve, and thinly slice. You want to wait until now to do this step so your apples don’t brown before you are ready to serve the salad.

Place 4 slices of brie into the pan, they will only take a few seconds on each side for the breading to brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining 4 slices.

Arrange salad on plates- romaine, apple slices, handful of pomegranate arils and then top with two pieces of fried brie. Give the dressing another whisk before drizzling on top.

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Lemony Oregano Chicken and ‘Zoodles’

By Corinne

We’ve had a pretty warm summer here and in a house with no AC, I try not to make it any hotter inside than necessary, which means we do a lot of cooking on the BBQ.  As much as I enjoy a burger or a smokey, it’s easy to let things get monotonous when defaulting to the BBQ due to heat!

While this serves 2, it is easy to scale up. While I usually want leftovers for lunches, we were going out of town and I wanted to clear out the fridge. To be honest, I usually don’t blog things that I don’t absolutely love, and this probably wasn’t my favourite.  I found the dressing a smidge sweet for my taste(felt like I should have used regular red wine vinegar), and I prefer my zoodles hot. But my husband absolutely loved it, and fellow foodie TL insisted I blog it after she tried the leftovers the next day. This would also work with a generous helping of romaine lettuce to make it more a salad rather than the zoodles if you prefer.

You will need:

For the marinade and chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dry oregano
  • 1 shallot minced- or about 1 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Dressing

  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp mint
  • few grinds of pepper
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar – I used lambrusco red wine vinegar, which is quite a bit sweeter than regular red wine vinegar

Salad and add ins

  • 1 roasted red pepper cut into strips
  • 6 pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup mini pearl bocconcini
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 smallish zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 tsp salt
  • other add ins that would have been welcome – feta instead of bocconcini, cucumber, red onion, olives.

Whisk together all ingredients for marinade. Add chicken breasts and allow to marinate in fridge for at least two hours, or up to over night.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside – avoid adding salt the the dressing as the zucchini will be a bit salty.

Spiralize zucchini. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with 1-2 tsp of salt. Give it a good stir around and allow to drain over colander. Allow zucchini to sit and drain for around 30 min. In this time it will release quite a bit of moisture, and end up with a still crisp but almost cooked texture.

Prepare add ins. I made my own roasted red pepper on the bbq because I didn’t happen to have any in the fridge – jarred ones will work just fine 🙂 To roast a pepper on the bbq, halve, remove seeds and brush with canola oil. BBQ over direct heat on high for a few minutes on each side until skin is bubbled and blackened. Remove from heat, and when cool, remove skin. Slice up pepperoncinis, cherry tomatoes and any other add ins you are using.

Remove chicken from marinade, and BBQ over medium direct heat for about 7 minutes on each side, keeping the lid closed as much as possible. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken breast.

When chicken is finished set aside to cool for a minute while you assemble plates. Put zoodles on the bottom, then arrange all other add ins on top. Slice chicken breasts and place on top. Give dressing a whisk and divide between plates. Yum! A healthy supper that didn’t require the oven 🙂

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Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and Mushrooms with Watermelon Salad

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By Corinne

This is a perfect summer supper. While we had this as dinner, the mushrooms and zucchini would also make a wonderful side or appetizer. I personally dislike mushrooms, but my husband loves them. Cremini are his favourite and what I used here, though I imagine this would work just fine with those white button mushrooms.

Serves: 3-4

Time: about 45 min

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and/or Mushrooms

You Will Need:

  • 4 italian sausage removed from casing-I used 2 hot, 2 mild because there were no medium about 1 1/4 pound or .665 kg (from Tim’s Meats)
  • 1 onion- chopped
  • 1 clove garlic- minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine, I used Grey Fox Chardonnay
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • some combination of zucchini and mushrooms – I used 2 zucchini and 5 large cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp canola for brushing vegetables

Watermelon Salad

You Will Need:

  • 3 1/2 cups cubed watermelon
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (I used 3 of those mini kirby cucumbers)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or small dice red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh mint if desired
  • freshly ground pepper

For the zucchini/mushrooms

Place sausages (casing removed) and chopped onion in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook on medium until sausage is well browed with lots of little crispy bits! If your sausage was particularly fatty, you should probably drain off some of the fat before deglazing. I use local sausage that tends to be quite lean and don’t need to drain anything.

Use the 3/4 cup of wine to deglaze the pan- add it a bit at the time scraping up all the browned bits of goodness. Add the minced garlic, lemon zest and juice and let reduce until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and mix in about half of the grated asiago- the rest will be used to top your zucchini/mushrooms.

White your filling is cooking, prep the zucchini and mushrooms.

Pull the stems out of mushrooms. Chop up stems and use it in omelettes for tomorrow morning, or for pasta sauce if you’re into that sort of thing, or compost them if you’re not:)

Trim zucchini ends, and slice in half length wise. Cut into approximately 2.5″ pieces, and using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out insides, being sure to leave a ‘cap’ on each end of your section so your filling will stay put! (I ended up with about 12 pieces from my two zucchini) With the leftover inside bits, you can save for another purpose, or compost. If I had just been making zucchini ones, I might have used less sausage and used the zucchini ‘insides’ as part of the filling as well. But I didn’t, and you don’t have to either 🙂

Brush tops and bottoms of zucchini and mushrooms with canola or olive oil. Place them on the grill on high/medium high top side down for only a minute or two until they have some nice grill marks. Remove from grill and fill with sausage, top with cheese.

Return to grill on low for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and zucchini and mushrooms are heated through. If you prefer your zucchini softer/more cooked leave them on a bit longer.

For the salad

Chop watermelon, cucumbers, onion add to bowl, mix gently. Crumble feta over top and juice of one lime and mint if using. Stir gently again to mix. Add fresh pepper to taste and serve.

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Chickpea Caprese Salad

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By Corinne

Little tastes more like summer to me than basil. I grow a large pot of it on my deck every year, and add it to everything.

This is a twist on the classic mozza, basil, and tomato salad. The addition of chickpeas makes it perfect for a light summer meal, or a lovely side at a BBQ potluck.

You will need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • about 20 bocconcini halved (about 7 oz)
  • 2 cups of delicious tomatoes – if you are using ‘juicy’ ones, seed them first. I halved mini san marzano tomatoes because I’m a bit obsessed with them
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of finely minced red onion- depending on the ‘power’ of your onion
  • generous handful of fresh chopped basil. If you don’t have fresh basil- make another recipe!
  • about 1/4 cup of a good balsamic or possibly a balsamic reduction
  • generous grind of black pepper
  • salt if desired, I tend not to use any when using the canned chickpeas

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Taste your red onion. Sometimes they are VERY strong, in which case, less is more so to speak. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix! Will need a quick stir up before serving.

If you are using a “regular” balsamic, you may want to add a tbsp or two of oil in order for the ‘dressing’ to be thick enough and not too vinegary. The one I used was a rather sweet and thick balsamic and I didn’t need that addition.

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