It's salad season. Who doesn't love that? The Northwest is the best place to be in the summer--not too hot, mostly sunny and loads of fruit with new varieties appearing every week at a farmers market near you. Thirsty for water? Take a ferry to the San Juan Islands, spend a day on Whidbey or Vashon, or take a trip to the rain forest on the Penninsula. It's silly for Seattlites to take a vacation now, when the Northwest has so much to offer in the summer.
Cheers to those who love salads! Virtually anything can be made into a main dish salad. The essential ingredient is an acidic ingredient--citrus juice or vinegar. I asked friends what appealed to them in main dish salads and I got a lot of interesting answers. Red quinoa was the most intriguing addition.
Vegan cheese and cashews were in so why not add red quinoa? (Scandalous confession: I found some for a great price at the Grocery Outlet. Check it out.) Feta cheese would be a good choice if you eat dairy. Salads can be anything you want!
I added red pepper for color. Market and organic peppers are always at a premium price, so I use less. Make them go farther--that's the tightwad in me. I've been keeping myself on a tighter leash around food this year. It feels good not waste a thing these days. I highly recommend budget plans, even if you don't need on, it's helpful to curb kitchen waste.
Lettuce is lower in price during the summer and it seems like everyone has some to spare. I remember one year signing up for a CSA where I got four bunches of lettuce one week. I felt like I was going to turn into a turtle with all those greens.
Whatever kind of lettuce you have, use it. Except maybe head lettuce--those cannon ball specimens that could hurt someone if tossed in the wrong direction.
We've got an overload of lettuce now.
It's not the first time. This is my Cooking Assistant when he was just a baby learning that good things come from the garden.
Rockridge Orchards has a corner on the market on berry infused apple cider vinegar and wine.
Easy Salads: Quinoa, Greens and Toasted Cashews
(Serves 4 to 6)
Get out of the kitchen with this cool salad--a meal in one bowl, and all it really needs is some crusty bread.
1 cup shiitaki mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, small dice
1/4 cup minced fresh red pepper
1 tablespoon Mama Lil's, chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1 cup minced celery
4 cups fresh lettuce, torn
1/4 cup diced vegan cheddar cheese
1/2 cup toasted cashews
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add shiitaki mushrooms, stir and cook until the mushroom sofen.
Pour in olive oil and shallot. Stir and cook until shallots begin to brown. Add Mama Lil's. Cook for a few minutes, then add quinoa and heat for a few minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and smoked sea salt.
Combine celery and lettuce and gently mix with mushrooms and quinoa. Top with cheese and cashews.