Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apples

Before I get into how I’m not torturing poverty-stricken Bolivian farmers by eating quinoa, let’s talk a little bit about why I’m eating it after more than 3 years of largely avoiding grains.

Aside from the fact that it’s freaking delicious, reasonably nutritious when properly prepared and not really a grain.

Grains are the seeds from grasses; quinoa is the seed from a broadleaf plant that is closely related to spinach and beets.  This makes it what is called a pseudograin – it looks like a grain and cooks like a grain but botanically isn’t a grain.  Which is all fine and dandy, but it still contains all those awful lectins and phytates plus an added bonus of saponins – a bitter-tasting coating on the outside of the seed that makes for one nasty meal if not completely rinsed away.

Most commercially available quinoas (which, like lentils, come in a variety of colors) are pre-rinsed, but you should always rinse them again before cooking just to make sure.  And, like most grains, you’ll get a lot more out of them if you soak or sprout it beforehand.  Quinoa sprouts pretty easily – unlike most grains and legumes, soaking it in warm, filtered water for as little as 12 hours will cause it to sprout, which also reduces the cooking time by as much as 1/3.

Unfortunately, quinoa has gotten a bad rap lately.  It’s traditionally grown in South America and has been a dietary staple there for thousands of years.  Its growing popularity worldwide in recent years has caused concerns about the sustainability of the crops there, as well as diminishing quinoa’s status as a staple – it’s far more profitable for farmers to sell than consume.  Now, having said that, some varieties are pretty hardy and can be grown in other climates – there is widespread farming of quinoa in Europe, the US and Canada.  The quinoa I purchase comes from the bulk bins at our local natural food store (making it cheaper than the packaged stuff) and is grown in Canada.

Beloved and I also love the stuff, which is the main reason we’re eating it.  But after 3 years of forcing foods that aren’t rice or pasta or wheat or whatever isn’t “allowed” in a paleo diet into behaving like foods that are rice or pasta or wheat or whatever, I started to wonder why I don’t just go ahead and eat them from time to time?  Muffins, cakes, breads, ice creams, cookies, candies and all those other delicious treats that people work so hard to recreate – yes, myself included – really shouldn’t be eaten every day no matter what they’re made from (the one exception being “noodles” made from vegetables.  But it still isn’t the same).  I still make all of these things from scratch from the best quality ingredients I can find, I still don’t eat industrial seed oils or prepackaged crap and we still don’t eat out nearly as often as the average American.  If I eat something and it makes me feel bad or sick, I don’t eat it again and so far, a slice of sourdough bread and a serving of quinoa, beans or soaked brown rice a couple of times a week, homemade pasta once or twice a month and a dessert once in a blue moon isn’t killing me.  In fact, I’m feeling pretty okay these days, and after the menopausal hell of the last 5 years or so, that’s not a bad thing.  Not bad at all.

Anyhoo – quinoa. My favorite way to prepare it is in homemade chicken broth with diced onion and garlic that’s been sauteed in ghee – it is just delicious.

This salad was made with leftover quinoa cooked in just that manner, as well as some leftover salmon that I’d attempted to prepare (at too high a temperature – oops) in the sous vide.  It may not have been the best entree I’ve ever cooked, but chilled and flaked into this salad the salmon was great.  Throw in a little diced apple, finely chopped herbs, a light vinaigrette and some salad greens, and this was a marvelous light lunch – just what my body has been craving after this absurdly long, harsh winter.

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apple - quick, simple and incredibly good for you.

Click the image to enlarge

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apples
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 ounces cooked salmon, flaked
  • 1 small apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 4 cups salad greens
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the vinegar, honey and olive oil in a small bowl until well-blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, salmon, apple, mint and parsley. Drizzle with the dressing and toss again until evenly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  3. Divide the greens between two plates and top with the quinoa salad.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 393 calories, 20.2g total fat, 40.3mg cholesterol, 51.4mg sodium, 791.2mg potassium, 34.2g carbohydrates, 5.3g fiber, 9.6g sugar, 20g protein

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Well, I’m in a good mood today, despite the fact I’m rather congested and have a bit of a sore throat this morning:  My Veal Stew is featured in the DailyBuzz Food (the fine folks who happen to be my sponsor over there on the left) Top 9 List today.  W00t!

Okay, enough celebration.  Moving forward…

Last night, I posted this on the blog’s Facebook page:

I still have a TON of leftover turkey. Would anyone be interested in a turkey, sweet potato, kale and bacon hash recipe?

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and since someone asked me to “please hurry” and post it, well…here you go.

First thing, what I thought was a bag of kale in my refrigerator turned out to be a bag of mustard greens.  Oops.  Really, though, you can use any hearty, leafy green in this recipe so if you want to use kale, go for it.  The mustard greens did lend the hash a nice spiciness, which I enhanced with a pinch of red pepper flakes – this balanced the sweetness of the potatoes really well.  Of course, if you’re sensitive to nightshades, you can leave them out.

Also, if you still have leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, feel free to use them instead of the cubed and parboiled sweet potatoes called for in the recipe; this dish is all about convenience and utilizing leftovers.  It’s also pretty quick – if you’ve cooked the bacon ahead of time (I had some leftover in the fridge), this comes together in about half an hour, certainly no longer than 45 minutes.

Was this good?  Indeed, it was!  There’s really nothing better than a good, simple skillet supper, at least in my opinion.  And if you can use a bunch of holiday leftovers that are languishing in your fridge, well, then so much the better.  And it’s just so darn colorful and pretty – to say nothing of super nutritious.  A serving provides 28% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, 260% of vitamin A, 68% of vitamin C, 88% of niacin, 77% of vitamin B6, 32% of folate, 40% of vitamin B12, 356% of vitamin K, 57% of phosphorus, 22% of magnesium, 40% of zinc and 82% of selenium.

Wow.

One last thing:  you may notice that the photos included with this recipe are a little smaller than those previously posted.  There is a reason for that – I have a bit of a surprise for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, have a great Tuesday, y’all.  And make this hash.  It’s so good, and good for you.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash, detail
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash, detail
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound mustard or other hearty greens, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or other cooking fat)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 4 cups diced, cooked turkey
  • 4 ounces cooked bacon, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat and sauté the mustard greens until wilted. Season with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir in the chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  2. While the greens are cooking, Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and parboil the sweet potatoes for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink and rinse with very cold water. Set aside.
  3. Once the mustard greens are done, remove them to a bowl and set aside. Increase the heat to medium high and add the ghee or olive oil to the pan and heat for a moment or two. Add the sweet potatoes and onion to the skillet
  4. and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Stir in the turkey, reserved mustard greens and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally and then pressing down on the mixture with a large spatula, until the potatoes are tender and
  5. the hash is beginning to brown and become crispy.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 522 calories, 28.9g total fat, 172.2mg cholesterol, 877.4mg sodium, 995.9mg potassium, 14.5g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 3.4g sugar, 51.7g protein

 

Ham Salad

Things are beginning to calm down around here as I become comfortable in my new web hosting home.  I’m still putting things away and rearranging the furniture, but all is well at the Sushi Bar and I’m happy to be getting back down to business.

The business today includes ham.

When we began sourcing whole hogs, we went through 3 a year.  I know that sounds like a lot – it IS a lot, but we were so enamored with being able to pull bacon and sausage and ham steaks out of the freezer, we were eating it for breakfast nearly every damn day.  These days, not so much; breakfast is usually just eggs, and we save the breakfast meats mostly for weekends or when we have breakfast for dinner.  So our piggy consumption has dropped to two hogs a year…which equates to 8 hams.

(Note:  yes, I know there are really only two hams on a hog; one from each side.  Our butchers cut off the ends of each and slice the centers into ham steaks.  Hence, we get four “hams” from each pig.)

Although we love pork, until we began sourcing whole hogs we didn’t eat a lot of ham; it was usually a “special occasion” type of thing.  It wasn’t until we found ourselves with all of these hams in the freezer that we started eating more of it…and I discovered that a smoked ham from a pastured hog was a somewhat different proposition than a ham purchased at the grocery store.

Commercially available hams are injected with a combination of salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, water and flavorings. The ham is then cooked to a temperature of 150º F; the combination of the chemical cure and cooking make the hams you buy at the grocery store labeled “water added” and “fully cooked” – all you need to do is heat them up (or not, if you like cold ham; a lot of people do).

The hams from our hogs are processed very differently.  They are cured in a brine of salt and brown sugar (yeah, we’re not real crazy about that, but the sugar makes up a very small portion of the brine and it’s certainly better than all of the chemicals used to cure a commercial ham) and then smoked at a temperature considerably less than a commercial ham – this is known as “cold smoking.”  From what I’ve read, this process essentially cooks the ham, but personally I wouldn’t eat it cold until I’ve cooked it first – for one thing, a ham cured this way is a lot saltier than a commercial ham.  It is also drier than a commercial ham, since they are not injected, so a little more thought needs to go into the preparation.

When we first began cooking these lovely pieces of meat, I’d soak them in water to get rid of some of the salt, roast them slowly in the oven, then glaze them with a combination of the juices given off by the ham and maple syrup – incredibly delicious, but kind of labor intensive.  Recently, though, I’ve begun cooking them in the slow cooker – just place the ham in the crock with a bit of apple juice or cider, set the temperature to low and walk away for 8 or so hours.  The result is a meltingly tender, incredibly flavorful ham that just falls apart when you serve it.

You can’t really slice it, but who cares?  It is damn good.

Since the hams are usually pretty sizable – I often have to cut them into two or three pieces to get them to fit in the slow cooker – we usually have plenty of leftovers, even with the bottomless pit that is The Young One.  Sometimes we just heat it up, but because I am married to a ham salad junkie I’ve found myself making this more and more often.  Which is a good thing; until I met Beloved, I never ate ham salad.  Don’t ask me why, because that I can’t tell you – I guess I just never ate it growing up.  It must not be a “Southern thing.”  After we moved to Ohio, I’d buy it at the deli every so often, but rarely ate it myself because I simply didn’t care for it.

All I can say is I care for it now; when I make it for our lunch, Beloved and I often end up arguing over who gets the last bit – it’s that good.  It’s pretty versatile, too – this version has apples and raisins in it because that’s what I had on hand (it may still be really warm in some parts of the country, but here in Podunk autumn has arrived).  At any rate, I’ve made it before with things like pineapple and cilantro, so you can add just about anything you want to suit your tastes.  Made as written, though, it is just delicious.

Ham Salad
Ham Salad
Ham Salad

Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 cups finely chopped cooked ham
  • 1 cup [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/index.php/homemade-mayonnaise/” target=”_blank”]mayonnaise[/url]
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Stir together the ham, mayonnaise, celery, onion, apple and raisins in a large bowl until well combined. Taste; season as needed with salt and pepper.
  2. Serve as a salad, with lettuce and tomatoes, or wrapped in romaine leaves.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 406 calories, 31.6g total fat, 86.3mg cholesterol, 694.7mg sodium, 393.4mg potassium, 13.2g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 9.5g sugar, 19.4g protein

 

 

Quick and Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot PieYou know that feeling you get when you’re coming down with something really vile?  Yeah, I’ve got that feeling.  Swell.  Why can’t people just keep their germs to themselves???

Anyhoo…

Sometimes, when I post a recipe like this I think to myself, “This contains condensed soup! Refrigerated pie crusts! Frozen vegetables! I can’t admit I actually MAKE this!”

Then Beloved has four helpings

(Perversely, when I make something like handmade strudel I’m worried everyone is going to think I’m bragging if I post the recipe.  But, you know, Beloved certainly didn’t eat four helpings of the strudel; go figure).

Actually, I promised this after Thanksgiving when I posted a similar recipe (Enchilada Casserole) as a good use for leftover turkey, which it is.  But, naturally, it’s good with leftover chicken, and since I roasted a Sunday evening for dinner I had some and this is what I made Wednesday night.  It is quick, easy and apparently darn tasty – after having four helpings of it for dinner, Beloved polished it off for lunch yesterday.

Quick and Easy Chicken Pot Pie

serves 6

1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts; the kind that are folded or rolled), at room temperature

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

Milk

2 tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 425° F.

Place the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold water; bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 3 – 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, mixed vegetables, soup, onion flakes and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder (go easy on the salt; there’s a lot in the soup).  Stir to combine, adding the milk a little at a time – about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup – until the soup is a smooth consistency.   Stir in the cooled potatoes; set aside.

Unroll the crusts; dust one with flour and line a 9″ pie plate with it, flour side down to keep it from sticking to the pie plate.  Trim the crust about 1/2″ larger than the rim of the pie plate.  Pour the chicken/soup mixture into the crust, spreading it with a spoon so it fills the crust evenly.  Place the second crust over the top of the mixture; trim it evenly with the bottom crust.  Tuck the crust under around the edge of the pie plate and crimp with your fingers or the tines of a fork, and cut a slit in the top crust to vent the steam.

Bake the pie for 40 – 45 minutes; cover the edge of the crust with foil if it’s browning too quickly.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

And y’all have a lovely weekend.

Enchilada Casserole

Enchilada CasseroleMy two grown children are coming here for Thanksgiving, and I am THRILLED.  I’m proud to say that I’m close to all of my kids, and that holidays spent together are not an obligation but a celebration made even more special by the fact that we don’t actually see each other often, although we talk to each other on a very regular basis.

Like, damn near every day.

One of the things I do when I know the kids are going to be here is make a menu of their favorite dishes.  In fact, last evening I called Darling Daughter (who currently resides in every mother’s nightmare Las Vegas) and asked her what she’d like to eat while she’s here.  After acknowledging that yes, chicken and dumplings would be served at some point, we put together a tentative menu.  After settling the basics with my lovely daughter, I IM’d Oldest Son, outlining what we’d be eating over the course of the week.

Just to make sure all that home cooking would suit him, you know.  He responded in typical person with a penis Oldest Son fashion:

“Sounds good to me! All I see is, ‘This day, we’re having yummeh foodz, then this day we’re having more yummeh foodz, and then this day yummeh foodz again, etc.'”

It’s so nice to know I’m appreciated.  No, really.  It is.

At any rate, as Oldest Son pointed out, all teh yummeh foodz will culminate in The Epitome of All Yummeh Foodz:

Thanksgiving.

And with Thanksgiving comes leftover turkey.  Often, so much leftover turkey that you stand around saying, “There’s no way in HELL we can eat this many sandwiches.”  (Although Beloved will give it the good ol’ college try.)

Well, stock up on the canned soups, folks, because I’ll give you a couple of recipes that will make pretty good use of that leftover turkey.  Nothing fancy or gourmet (and certainly not diet-friendly) by any means, but good, solid, comfort fare that will warm not only your stomachs but hopefully your hearts as well.

This dish was originally passed on to me as a good use for leftover chicken.  Me?  I have a hard time telling leftover chicken from leftover turkey.  Turkey works well, trust me.  And whatever leftover poultry you use, this is pretty tasty.

Enchilada Casserole

serves 6 generously (and can be easily doubled)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

12 flour tortillas, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 – 3 cups leftover cooked chicken or turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies, drained

8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese

8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F; lightly butter a 2-quart glass baking dish.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat; stir in the onion and cook until tender and almost translucent.  Stir in the soup, sour cream, coriander and cumin.  Mix well and set aside.

Layer half of the tortillas, chicken or turkey, chilies, soup mixture, and cheeses in the baking  dish.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas, poultry, chilies and soup mixture, reserving the remaining cheeses.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until heated through.  Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return to oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until the cheese melts and begins to brown slightly.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Next week:  Quick and Easy Turkey Pot Pie.