Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pantry Dinner: two ways!

Happy Sunday!

Hope you are enjoying the last of your weekend! I had a great day which started out with some more stair climbing and then a trip to the gym. I was pretty lazy after that workout and so we hung around the house for a bit and then we rushed to Oso Negro for a cup of java as they were closing in an hour. The hubby and I like to sit and talk for at least that long so it was good we got there when we did. Not like its a far walk from our place...ten steps maybe? BONUS! I tried something kind of new this time. I stuck with the dandelion tea but I had steamed rice milk added. I really loved it and the flavors blended really well together. This is definitely a new favorite for me...yum!

I wanted to tell you about this amazing new salad I made. It was inspired by the lentil salad we picked up from the co-op on Friday night. I really wasn't in the mood to prepare anything so off to my favorite store it was! I usually just make your typical salad with greens, maybe some carrot, sprouts, and sometime avocado. Pretty much like this salad....

Yet, after eating the maple balsamic lentil from the coop I decided I needed to try a cooked bean/grain salad. So, as it was the end of the week my fridge and pantry were pretty bare but I gave it shot with what I had on hand. I used a half a cup of quinoa and some left over chickpeas. Then carrots, red cabbage, and broccoli were chopped in the food processor. I added about 2 cups worth of homemade sprouts, a half a cup of raisins, and a handful of nuts and seeds.

Now the dressing was the more experimental part. I went with some sesame oil, tahini, hoisen sauce, mustard, S&P. You are probably thinking that this combo would not go well at all.... I beg to differ:) I learned something from Russell James this week about how to combine flavors. You need sweet, acid, sour, and fat or F.A.S.S. So I went with this new knowledge and tried to make a dressing that would be close to the flavors we loved from the store-bought version. I came pretty close:)

Here it is all ready for the dressing! I used the red case you were wondering what those red, circle things were. I also added turmeric but it was a bit strong so I wouldn't recommend it as the flavors in my dressing were just right and so it threw it off just a touch.

All coated and ready to be devoured! Really loved crunch of all the veggies and how they blended with the soft, cooked grains.

I know this was supposed to be a Saturday pantry dinner but I cheated a little bit:) Because we loved this salad so much, we decided to pick up some maple syrup and balsamic vinegar during our shopping trip today to try the salad with the same ingredients they used in the store! Sunday afternoon I cooked up 1 cup of lentils I had on hand. For the veggies this time I added more greens and different types of veggies than Saturday's version. I added some of my favorite green of the week, swiss chard along with carrots, celery, beets, and green pepper.

Again I had to experiment with the dressing. I came up with something that was AWESOME! It was a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice, mustard, S&P, and Italian herbs. We made a huge bowl worth so that Ry could take it to school tomorrow:)

Here is everything ready for some dressing! Sorry the last pict isn't too scrumptious but take a look at the finish product...
This salad needs a close-up!

The hubby loved this salad so much he decided he would help me make it. Yep, I think all this foodie stuff is rubbing off...just a! It was really nice having an extra pair of hands in the kitchie:)

I hope you will give this salad a try. I'm sure you and your family will love it!

Chilled bean/grain salad

I Cup (or more) of your favorite beans or grains (lentils, chick peas, quinoa, or you could keep it raw and use the sprouted versions)
Chop up enough veggies and greens that will satisfy the amount you are serving. I used the food processor for the carrots and beets and I just roughly chopped the pepper and celery.
Add in 1/2 Cup raisins, cranberries, or currrents
Handful of pecans or seeds ( we used a handful of trail mix)
Add in your favorite sprouts, the more the better:)

Hoisin tahini dressing

Mix equal portions of the tahini and hoisin sauce. Add in a few tablespoons of oil ( I used sesame) then add some mustard to taste. This is one of those recipes that you will have to adjust the ingredients in order to satisfy your taste. You may like a more sweeter taste ( more hoisen sauce) or maybe a little more tang (more mustard). I found the tahini added some complexity as only tahini can:) Finish it off with some salt and pepper.

Maple balsamic dressing

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil along with the juice of half a lemon. Then add in equal parts balsamic and maple syrup. Taste the dressing and adjust to your taste. Again, depending on how you like your dressings, you will want to add more of the vinegar or the sweetener. Then add in the mustard slowly, tasting after each addition to get the right taste for you. Add in some italian seasonings and S&P to taste.

Have a great rest of your evening! I'm off to watch some True Blood..quite the crazy show I might add but I'm wondering where its all going??? I'm going to be doing some of this as well....

PS Averie is having a Tazo tea giveaway on her blog:) Go check it out, its an awesome prize:)


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

Thanks for the linkback and wow, you've made some great food and dressings!
I love reading blogs where someone actually MAKES something as you've done rather than opening a carton of yogurt and eating a muffin and calling it good. LOL

GREAT eats!!!!

HiHoRosie said...

Kitty!! Great pic!

Awesome stuff you got here! The hoisin dressing sounds great. I have some hoisin wondering what to do with it. Wonder if it's still good (been in my pantry unopened for at least a year). And that swiss chard looks poifict (perfect)!

shannonmarie said...

I want some of those salads. Delicious!

I didn't know True Blood was back on. I need to catch up.

Melissa said...

Hey Averie- Thanks for your lovely comment. Making my own food without a recipe is very new terrain for me but its fun and I'm learning a lot!

Hey Heidi- Nemo is quite comfortable in our house HAHA! I think the hoisin will be fine. I've only had problems once I've opened it and had it sitting for a month or two in the fridge. Check the expiry just to be sure:) The swiss chard was definitely!

Hey Shannonmarie - Glad you like my salads:) I am starting from season 1 for True Blood so I'm not sure if it is playing the new season yet. What a crazy show!

Kris | said...

Oooo This salad looks fab!! Grains in salads are amazing and the dressing....yummmm!!!

It is so great when you get help in the kitchen :)

Have a great day!

bitt of raw said...

look at all those sprouts! i knew there were other people out there who eat as much as me. :-)

adorable kitty pic!!

Melissa said...

Hey Kris - Thanks for the salad comments:) And yes, I'm hoping for more help in the future..hehe!
Nemo is quite the poser I must say! HAHA

Hey Bitt - I LOVE, LOVE sprouts! I really do think they are amazing and how cool that you can grow them in a jar in your own kitchen!