Quinoa Cherry Almond Salad

It has been awhile…summer ended, but the craziness from work has not ended. I do hope I can make more entries now that the Holiday Season is officially here!! That means time to break out the recipe books (and sweat pants)!!

At work, we kickstarted Thanksgiving Week with a potluck along with our regular trainings. There was famous dry-fried chicken wings from San Tung, cinnamon-sugar spiral ham, roasted  root vegetables with bacon (recently described to me as “man candy”), fried rice, mini pumpkin cream cheese muffins and my quinoa cherry almond salad!

I used a recipe from Vegetarian Times, it’s a light, refreshing side dish to balance all the meats and heavy entrees. I love to share my love for this little super “grain” (actually a seed) that is quinoa!

My secret to fluffy quinoa and an unburnt pot is using rice cooker! Just cook it like you’d cook rice but remove the lid when the water is boiling so it does not bubble over.

All the ingredients are easy to get and cheap, except for the dried cherries. A $4 bag is a splurge to make a salad, I haven’t tried it but I wonder if dried cranberries would be a good sub?

Cool trick: stack spinach leaves (5-6) and roll length-wise and chop- you get instant spinach ribbons!

simple dressing of yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.Chop everything all up and mix. While I believe that red onions do provide a much needed flavor to any dish, I’m weary of raw onions. I make sure it’s chopped super thin and usually add a little less than the recipe calls for. I throw in the hot quinoa immediately so it “cooks” the red onions a little bit.

The quinoa salad is healthy, light and does not get soggy like most salads. Soooo fluffy!!

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Easy Cucumber Salad

I love this simple, refreshing side salad that my mom taught me. All you need is a medium sized cucumber. I got one from the Stonestown Farmer’s Market  this past weekend.

  1. Peel and slice up the cucumber.
  2. Mix it with salt (to soak out the water) for 1/2 hour in the fridge.
  3. Drain and rinse the salt off.
  4. Here’s the fun part: with your hands squeeze out all the extra water from the cucumbers by the handful. Squeeze until the seeds pop out.
  5. Transfer into a bowl, mix with 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar.
  6. add sugar and sesame oil to taste.
  7. Sprinkle in some sesame seeds for extra flavor.

The sesame oil give it a rich nutty taste while the sugar and red wine vinegar balance each other out. This crisp cucumber salad is healthy, delicious and great to snack on. I imagine it would go great with a beef entree (like Korean BBQ!).