Quinoa Salad Recipe Greek Style

My daughter will be going to collage in couple days, and I am going crazy.  I am extremely happy for her, but because she is going so far away, I feel as though I cannot help her. I’ll no longer be there to help her with here school, work, etc.. So, I find myself giving her tips about cooking and eating healthy.  To take my mind of her leaving home, I became obsessed of creating recipes that she can make in her dorm using using only the microwave and a good knife– I wonder if they allow chef knives in dorms?–.

I think my daughter is trying to act like she is interested just to ease my worries and pain. She caught me.

Well, this quinoa salad is recipe is one of the recipes I experimented with and she loved it.  It is easy to make in the dorm, and it can keep for a week, making it a good study snack. So, she’ll probably be eating this at 11PM every night. Well, let’s hope.

Greek Quinoa Salad

serves 4

1 1/2      cups quinoa

1             baby cucumber, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1             red bell pepper, seeded and diced

3             scallions, chopped

2             medium carrots, peeled and diced

1/4         cup diced sun-dried tomatoes, optional

1/2         cup coarsely diced pitted kalamata olives

1             cup chopped fresh oregano

1/2        cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4        cup olive oil

1             cup lemon juice

zest of one lemon

salt to taste

-Place the quinoa in deep microwave safe bowl add 3 cups water, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.  Take the quinoa out and allow it to rest for couple minutes.

-Place all the vegetables in large salad bowl and toss until well mixed.  Whisk the lemon juice with the lemon zest, olive and salt–take it easy with the salt because you have feta cheese in the salad–.  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well coated. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning.

-Add the hot cooked quinoa and mix well.

-Spoon the salad into serving bowl, sprinkle with the feta cheese and serve.

Easy, Guilt Free Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Let’s be serious, who doesn’t like fries? You say “Fries?! I wish, but I need to eat healthy!”

Well, believe it or not, these fries are actually healthy AND tasty!  Baked sweet potato fries are a good alternative to regular potato fries. While they are good on their own, adding garlic and spices takes them to another level.

Baked, Spicy-Sweet Potato Fries

serves 4

2        medium size sweet potatoes

3        tablespoons olive oil

1        clove garlic, mashed

1/2    teaspoon freshly ground coriander

1/8    teaspoon cayenne pepper

zest of one lemon

sea salt to taste

half of lemon, optional

-Peel and cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices

-In a bowl, mix the garlic with the olive oil, the coriander, cayenne pepper and the lemon zest.

-Add the sweet potatoes slices and toss until well coated.

-Place the potatoes on cookie sheet and bake in 400 F. degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

-Take out of the oven, sprinkle with the sea salt, squeeze little lemon juice on top and serve.

Vegetable Mosakaa is Tasty and Easy Dish to Prepare your Garden Vegetables

I love gardening, and I used to spend my Sundays weeding, watering and watching my plants grow. However, my favorite part was always picking my vegetables, thinking of new ways I could use them in the kitchen.

Last winter, I had herd of deer living in the yard. It was so cold and I felt so sorry for them that I started throwing  them all my old fruits and breads.  Well, they decided to set up camp in my backyard. Permanently.  Additionally, they now think that all of my planting is done for them.  After couple failed attempts to scaring them away and numerous failed fences, I gave up.

Now, I think every time I go into the garden they joke around saying things like “Here comes the crazy lady” or “What’s on the menu tonight?”

Since I gave up on growing my own vegetables, I bought a share in an organic farm.  Every Wednesday, they leave box full of an array of vegetables at my doorstep.  I use the vegetables and herbs to make pilafs, spreads, casseroles, stews, etc. Sometimes, I make two of each dish: one for dinner and one to freeze for the winter.

Vegetable Mosakaa is one of my favorite vegan dishes to freeze for a cold day.

As you know by now, I am almost anti-frying.  Frying not only uses an excess amount of fat, it makes your house and clothes smell. Also, I always feel awful after eating anything fried. Broiling achieves the same effect as frying without the mess. This technique makes this vegan recipe is easy to make and very heart healthy

Vegetable Mosakaa

serves 4

4         tablespoons olive oil

4         medium ripe tomatoes, cut into thin slices

2         medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

2         zucchini, cut into 1 inch thick slices

2         peppers, seeded and diced

2         medium onion, julienne

2         cloves garlic, sliced

1         cup crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

-Place the zucchinis and eggplants in a bowl, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, toss and then place on cookie sheet and broiled until golden.  Remove from the oven and place aside.

-Place the onions in a bowl, drizzle with the rest of the oil, toss, place on cookie sheet and broiled until golden.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

-Mix the crushed tomatoes with one cup of water, salt and pepper.

-To assembled: Spoon half of the crushed tomatoes in deep baking dish.  Arrange the broiled eggplant slices over the crushed tomatoes.  Place several tomato slices over the eggplants.  Spoon half of the onion over the eggplant and then arrange the broiled zucchinis over them.  Place the garlic slices over the zucchini, spoon the rest of the onion and then top with the rest of the tomato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour the rest of the crushed tomatoes.

-Cover the baking dish with foil.

-Bake in 395 F. degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.

-This dish is good eaten, hot, room temperature or cold.

Great carrots and fresh oregano Salad Recipe to Use Your Vegan Feta Cheese

I hope you enjoyed your vegan feta cheese recipe. As promised, I’ve concocted a few more recipes using it!  This salad, in particular, has unique flavors and texture that is delicious alone and even great in a sandwich! I guess your decision depends on how many good carbs you want to eat. :)

Carrots and Fresh Oregano Salad with Vegan Feta Cheese

serves 4

4         carrots, peeled and cut into this slices

4         small cucumbers, diced

1         sweet onion, julienne

2         cup chopped fresh oregano

1         cup crumbled vegan feta cheese

1/4     cup lemon juice

6         tablespoons olive oil

zest of one lemon

-Place the vegetables in a chilled bowl and toss well.  Whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil and the lemon zest.  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetable and toss well.

-Sprinkle with the vegan feta and serve.

How to Make Dairy Free Feta Cheese

The other day I received a phone call from a panicked customer. She told me that her sister’s family were going to visit and that her niece is vegan and gluten sensitive. She asked “Would you be able to prepare my niece a few meals?”

“Of course!” I replied. I do love a challenge.

I started by making her a vegan feta cheese. With it, I could easily make a nice spread that can be used for pizza or to spread on top of bagels (gluten-free, of course!). Another dish I made for her was a fulfilling spanakopita. I also made a few gluten free pita loaves and a gluten free pizza crust.  From my understanding, all of the food was consumed with great pleasure. What is better than a happy costumer? Well, I’ll tell you: many happy blog readers! So, I thought I would share my recipes with you all, beginning with the delicious vegan cheese.

Dairy Free Feta Cheese

makes 3 cups

1           12-ounces extra firm tofu

1/2      lemon

1          clove of garlic cut in half

1          twig fresh rosemary

1/2      Tablespoon sea salt

-Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place on kitchen towel.

-Dissolve the salt in 6 cups of water bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat, drop the lemon and the tofu.  Allow the tofu to sit in the brine and allow it to cool.  Keep the cubes refrigerated in the brine until you need to use them.

Delicious Zucchini and Eggplant Orzo Gratin

This pasta dish is a meal of its own.  It is good year-round, but it is truly the best in the summer when you go out to your garden and pick up couple zucchinis, few tomatoes and one eggplant. I always make two trays, one to eat now and one to eat on a cold day in winter when I long for my garden’s vegetables.  So, go on and give this dish a try! I’m sure it will become the new favorite healthy, vegetarian recipe in your home.

Zucchini and Eggplant Orzo Gratin

serves 4-6

1        pound orzo, or any small pasta

1/2   cup olive oil

3       medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1       medium eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

5      cloves garlic, mashed

5      medium ripe tomatoes, or 1 16-ounces can crushed tomatoes

1/2  pound small balls of fresh mozzarella or large piece of fresh mozzarella cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2  cup chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

-Heat the oven to 395 degree F.

-Heat half of olive oil in shallow frying pan.  Sauté the vegetables over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are cooked but not mushy.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

-To make the tomato sauce: Drop the tomatoes in boiling water, bring back to a boil and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat, cool and then remove the thin skin.  Place the tomato in food processor and puree.  Heat the rest of the olive oil in saucepan and sear the mashed garlic for few seconds.  Pour the crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Cove and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the basil, remove from heat and set aside.

-To prepare the orzo: Bring salted water to a boil, drop the orzo and cook until the orzo is cooked but not mushy about 6 minutes.  Remove from the heat and drain.

-To assemble:  Pour half of the tomato sauce on the bottom of 6 X 11 inch baking dish.  Spoon the orzo on the of the sauce.  Spoon the vegetables on top of the orzo.  Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce and then dot with the mini mozzarella balls.

-Bake in the oven for 10 minutes and then broil for couple minutes.  Remove and serve with hot garlic bread and you are set.

*If you assemble the dish the day before, bake for 25 minutes or the dish is hot through,.

Rice, Pistachio and Apricot Salad

By now, I am sure you know  I am fan of salads. Any salad.  Well, most salads.  Everyday, rain or shine, I sit down at 3:30 pm for a moment total pleasure and meditation that only broken by the sounds of fresh vegetables and nuts.  Which brings me back why I don’t like all salads.  I always feel like the salad police whenever I see a person eating a salad drenched with bottled salad dressing or mayonnaise.  Even though they have different names, some salads all look alike masked with mayo making them baby soft, as if we don’t have teeth.  I have teeth and I would like to use them and that is why all my salads include a plethora of fresh greens, grains and nuts.

I like nuts and seeds in salad not just for flavors or texture but also for nutrition value.  Nuts and seeds are especially good ingredients in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Rice, vegetable and nut salad

serves 4

1        cup brown rice

1        cup wild rice

1/2    cup  lemon juice

Zest of two lemons

1/2     cup  olive oil

4       scallions, chopped

1       red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1       cup chopped dried apricot

1/2  cup  roasted shelled pistachio

1/2  cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2   cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/8  teaspoon crushed pepper

salt and  to taste

-In a bowl, whisk the  olive with the lemon juice, and the lemon zest.

-Boil the wild rice and the brown rice separately until soft but not mushy.  Drain and mix together, and then toss in the lemon dressing.  Set aside.

-Add the vegetables, the pistachio, the walnut, the sunflower seeds, the apricot and the seasoning.  Toss well.

-Adjust the seasoning.  Serve cold or room temperature.