TURKEY TACO SALAD

When we go to Mexican restaurants, my default request is taco salad, in part because most other offerings are pretty heavy and the portions huge. At least when I have a salad the risk of getting into a food coma are a bit lower. The inspiration for this version came from many sources, and I must say I’m pretty happy with it. What made it special for me was the inclusion of red cabbage and jicama. Full disclosure: julienning the jicama was not particularly pleasant. A small price to pay.

TURKEY TACO SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the dressing:
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro (no need for precision here)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
juice from 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup grape seed oil

for the salad component:
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 large jicama, peeled and julienned

Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and puree until as smooth as possible.

Add the red cabbage to a large bowl and add half of the dressing to it. Leave it in the fridge for an hour or so.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the turkey and salt, and cook for a few minutes. Add the chili, cumin, mix, and drizzle about 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Cover, simmer gently for a few minutes, the remove the lid and allow most of the water to evaporate. Reserve.

Assemble the salad: Place the cabbage (already seasoned) on a serving platter, add the lettuce, jicama, toss gently. Add the cooked meat on top, and the additional reserved dressing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you want to turn this into a vegetarian meal, omit the turkey and add roasted garbanzo beans instead. Or maybe sweet potatoes. The red cabbage gives it a very nice texture, and the jicama also contributes a lot. I just wish there was an easy way to deal with jicama, I am always afraid I’ll lose one or two fingers whenever I prepare it. But it has such a nice, fresh flavor. Totally worth the trouble.

I love this dressing. Definitely not for the cilantro-haters out there. Finally, what makes this perfect for me is the contrast of hot and cold. I’ve been planning many meals now with this in mind. We had a very small amount leftover and as usual, I was the lucky one who enjoyed it the following day. My husband is a real gentleman.

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RED QUINOA “TABBOULEH”

Another great recipe that the editors of the New York Times raved about. I ate leftovers for two days, with a slightly bigger smile on the last time. It gets better and better. I adore colorful food. And clothes. And earrings.

RED QUINOA “TABBOULEH”
(slightly modified from The New York Times)

1 cup red quinoa (or a mixture of colors)
3 cups wate
Salt to taste
½ cup fresh lemon juice½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut in small dice

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly, and combine with the water and salt to taste in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the quinoa displays a little white spiral. Drain through a strainer, tap to remove excess water, then return the quinoa to the pot. Place a dish towel over the top of the pot, and return the lid. Let sit for 15 minutes. This gives the quinoa a perfect texture.

Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, salt to taste and cumin, and toss half of it with the quinoa. Allow the quinoa to cool. Combine the remaining lemon juice and olive oil, and toss with the cooled quinoa. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss together. Taste and adjust seasoning.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We enjoyed it with grilled chicken breasts, for a very simple but delicious dinner. It became my lunch for the following two days, on the second time I added a sunny-side egg on top. Heaven. I hope purists will forgive the tabbouleh label in the recipe, but I was not the one who started. The New York Times was the first sinner. I just went along with it, but added the quotation marks to protect my reputation as a food blogger. At any rate, tabbouleh or not, make this recipe. It is super refreshing and satisfying.

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ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD

Another recipe that was highly recommended by editors of the food section in The New York Times. We will be paying close attention to those reviews from now on, because so far everything we’ve tried has been a total winner. I made a few modifications to adapt to our taste, so I share my version with you. Barley is definitely under-appreciated.

ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD
(adapted from The New York Times)

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into long pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups arugula
A handful of cilantro
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

for the spiced tahini:
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Ras-el-hanout
water to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the lowest shelf. In a medium saucepan, combine barley with 4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain excess water if still some remains.

Meanwhile, place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat, spreading into an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom oven rack and roast until tender and starting to turn golden, about 25 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Ras-el-hanout, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and has a pourable consistency.

When the carrots are ready, remove them from the oven, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with a pinch of salt and toss to coat.

In a serving bowl, combine the carrots with the barley, arugula and parsley. Drizzle with the spiced tahini and sprinkle with almonds. Try not to over-eat…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best side dishes of the year of 2021 that showed up at our table. I do have a very special place in my heart for tahini, so maybe that explains my love for this recipe. You can cook the barley and roast the carrots in advance. In that case, just warm the carrots briefly in the microwave – I mean for 20 seconds tops – because it’s nice to have the contrast of warm carrots with the cold salad. If you are not too fond of arugula, spinach will work too, but there’s something about the slightly bitter nature of arugula that works well here.

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BUFFALO CHICKPEAS

This could be served cold as a salad or right after mixing the cooked chickpeas with the other ingredients. It is delicius on its own for a light lunch. Chickpeas have that earthy flavor I find addictive, and when paired with the heat of Sriracha – another passion of mine – it gets even better… And let’s not even mention the tahini, so I don’t lose my composure.

BUFFALO CHICKPEAS
(adapted from Skinnytaste)

15- oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large carrots, shredded on a food processor
2 stalks celery, diced small
1 Tbsp Sriracha (or to taste)
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp tahini
mixed baby greens to serve alongside (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the carrots with the celery, squirt a little lemon juice, season lightly with salt and mix gently. Reserve.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chickpeas, spreading them in a single layer, and let cook undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they brown a bit. Stir, season with salt and cook for a minute more. Transfer the chickpeas to the bowl with the veggies.

Make the dressing by mixing the yogurt, lemon juice, Sriracha and tahini. Add to the bowl of chickpeas and veggies, and fold gently. Serve with baby spinach/lettuce right away, or refrigerate and enjoy later as a salad, but in that case do not add the greens.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you might have to add a little water to thin the dressing a bit. Mix it as described, then adjust if needed. As I mentioned, this dish could stand on its own for a vegetarian meal, but we enjoyed it with grilled pork tenderloin for a nice and easy weeknight dinner. Leftovers were my meat-free lunch two days later, barely passed by the microwave just to break the cold from the fridge. The carrots mellow quite a bit after a couple of days in the fridge, so if you like a bit more texture, grate additional raw carrots on top. Crumbled blue cheese would be quite appropriate also…

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ROASTED SWEET POTATO WITH CORN AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS

A few things make this recipe a bit unusual. First, the sweet potato is roasted at a low temperature, 300F. Second, it is served either barely warm or at room temperature over fridge-cold lemony yogurt. And finally, it gets crowned with a hot and spicy mixture of sauteed sunflower seeds and corn. I know it all sounds a bit crazy, but when the husband praised this side dish more than he did the bison chili that went with it, I knew I had hit gold.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO WITH CORN AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS
(adapted from Start Simple)

3 medium sweet potatoes
olive oil and salt to season potatoes
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp harissa paste
Urfa pepper (or another ground chile pepper you like)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
kernels of 1 ear of corn (raw or cooked)
1/4 cup sunflowers seeds, raw
drizzle of toasted sesame oil

Turn the oven to 300F. Rub the sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, season with salt. Roast for 60 to 75 minutes, until soft (it depends on the size of the potatoes). Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, the flesh will sink and the skin will peel off super easily.  Cube the flesh in the size you like. Reserve.

Mix the yogurt with lemon juice and harissa, season lightly with salt. Place in the dish you will use to serve the potatoes.  Add the cubed potatoes on top. Just before your meal, add grape seed oil to a non-stick skillet, when it gets nice and hot add the corn kernels, season with Urfa pepper and salt. Sautee until fragrant, add the sunflower seeds and cook until they start to get golden.  Immediately add the hot mixture over the sweet potatoes, and take to the table.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There are two ways to make sweet potatoes truly special, sous-vide and low-temperature roasting. The latter is the easiest, and if you’ve never tried them prepared this way, you are in for a treat. It is really a lot better than the more common method of blasting it at higher temperatures, either whole or cut in pieces. Roasted, they can sit in the fridge waiting for you, perfect texture, to be used in all sorts of preparations.

We enjoyed it over bison chili (made with this recipe, but using ground bison instead of ground turkey). The yogurt tames that heat from the chili, acts as a refreshing breeze on a warm summer night. A delicious dinner, that will be on our menu for sure in the near future.  The husband already requested it…

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