Beg, Borrow & Meal: Quinoa Southwestern Salad

Instant doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Every week I order healthy and/or organic pre-packaged meals and snacks from Safeway.com to smooth out the hungry edges of a busy workday or post-commute dinner. This week, I made lemonade out of lemons (salads that arrived on the same day they expired), by beefing them up for heartier dinner portions.

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Using Safeway O Organics Southwestern Chicken Salad as a base, I added diced Safeway Select roasted red peppers, leftover O Organics quinoa from the previous night, Safeway Select pre-cut broccoli florets, and substituted the ranch dressing with goat milk yogurt. (David got both of our packets of tortilla chips.) I definitely recommend seasoning generously with salt.

(And if you’re listening Safeway.com, know that I’m a beyond loyal customer but I’m so tired of getting things delivered that have already expired or are about to expire in a day or two. My delivery drivers are always gracious about passing along the message to the store manager and I’ve called customer service countless times. The ability to return something doesn’t help if no replacement is delivered in its place.)

Meal ‘n Steal: $5 Arugula, Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

A $5 salad might not seem like a steal, but unlike it’s wimpier counterparts, this bowl full of wild rocket arugula, Cypress Grove goat cheese, sliced almonds and fresh peaches will actually fill you up. (There’s nothing worse than saving a buck and being hungry afterwards.)

Wild Rocket Arugula, White Peach, Cypress Grove Goat Cheese, Toasted Almonds @ Bair Island Tap & Eatery

If you’re not able to make it to Bair Island Tap & Eatery in San Carlos, you could easily make your own hearty version at home. In general, I’ve discovered goat cheese really coats dishes (and your stomach) well. And you can’t go wrong with nuts, dark leafy greens and tree fruit in any combination.

Defying the Laws of Leftovers

Two-timers are welcome in my kitchen. (See “Beg, Borrow and Meal” exhibits A, B, C, D and E.) And since we have burritos nearly every week, I often have a surplus of leftover, seasoned ground turkey (herein referred to as night #1).

I’ve experimented with leftover turkey before (exhibit F), but this time the stakes were higher, since I used a more traditional taco seasoning on night #1. Due to the complex layers of flavors – I presume – this pasta dish received rave reviews on night #2.

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Here’s how it goes:

  • In a large pan, sauté half an onion (chopped) in olive oil until soft
  • Add minced garlic (1-2 cloves) and quickly follow with leftover ground turkey and 1/2 can white beans
  • Add 1/2 bag of clean, sliced mushrooms
  • When mushrooms are tender enough to your liking, add 1/2 stick butter and a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt
  • Simmer on low and boil pasta of choice (I used spaghetti)
  • Add al dente pasta to mixture, and serve

On night #3, the other half of the white beans and mushrooms inspired me to create an antipasto salad using chopped salami, tomatoes, spinach, and dried oregano. I paired it with my favorite store-bought, 100% natural (and low-lactose) Wild Mushroom Ravioli.

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Buon appetito!

Winter Produce Experiment

Salad: romaine lettuce, oranges and pecans in homemade dressing (orange juice, olive oil, semillon, salt and pepper)

Pasta: Turkey meatballs with pear; bok choy sautéed in pecans and pear, plus chicken stock added towards the end. Add cooked meatballs to bok choy mixture, then combine with cooked angel hair.

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Salads Inspired by Spring

Farm Fresh to You has delivered an abundance of sweet citrus, colorful fruits and veggies like mangoes and beets, and new challenges like fennel and endive. So I’ve had more than my share of adventurous ingredients to make salads much more interesting (and healthy).

Here are some of the combinations I’ve come up with, but you can use your imagination to create just about anything. Homemade dressing is a nice touch – so the fresh flavors aren’t overpowered. (I purchased a jug of Combs Ranch olive oil made in Orland and bottled in Healdsburg, and the flavor is nice and grassy on its own.)

Mango, endive, and spinach salad served with salt, pepper, olive oil and white wine

Blood orange, broccoli, tomato and spinach salad

Fennel and butter lettuce salad served with olive oil, fresh squeezed orange juice and white wine

Diced, fresh beets with ricotta and spinach salad, served with olive oil and fresh squeezed orange juice

Loading up on Veggies

Frozen or fresh, veggies rule the plate! In the last year, I’ve made a conscious effort to load our dinners with vegetables. It helps to have biweekly deliveries from Farm Fresh to You, and a stash of frozen options in the freezer. The challenge with fresh veggies is beating the clock. Baby spinach has a limited shelf life, but it’s a versatile veggie. Here are some of the ways I use spinach when the expiration clock’s ticking:

  • Spinach salad: Add chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, dried fruit or apple slices, tomatoes, mushrooms and a creamy dressing.
  • Sauteed spinach: A lot goes a little way, so this is a good way to use up a large batch. Season with olive oil or butter, plus salt and pepper.
  • Tossed with pasta: Add to strained pasta while its still warm; best with tomatoes, fresh parmesan, and any other veggies.

Plus, you enjoy all the Popeye-endorsed health benefits!

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