I have a new favorite quinoa recipe. This southwestern quinoa salad now stands right at the top of the list along with the spinach feta quinoa that I fell head over heals in love with earlier this year. This one’s got some of my favorite ingredients and flavors: black beans, fresh veggies, some southwestern chili spice, and (my favorite) delectable, creamy avocado. Oh, and of course the wonderful nutty and nutritious quinoa with its fun, slightly crunchy bite.
If the ingredients alone aren’t enough to have you running to get your keys to go to the store, consider how easy and healthy this dish is. In fact, we first made this the morning we were heading up to Vermont for the day. As much as Joseph and I love eating out, we’re pretty frugal and besides, we had to save our money to stock up on cheese, maple syrup, and our favorite Vermont pepperoni. We hadn’t thought ahead and planned on making anything, but when I woke up the morning of our day trip, I figured, hey, that recipe looked pretty simple, I bet we could make it quickly before heading out.
This dish is so many things, and yet it is so simple. It’s the perfect side dish for summer picnics and barbecues, but it also easily works as a light, refreshing dinner or lunch. You could just as easily make it a day or two ahead as you could make it on a weeknight just before digging in. And best of all, it all comes together in an explosion of color and great textures.
It’s such a complete meal that I didn’t even notice until Joseph pointed out that it’s vegan. But between the almonds and the edamame, there’s plenty of protein and the carrots and scallions make it even healthier (and more colorful!). Sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, and honey give it a delicious Asian flare and dried cranberries provide a sweet, tart contrast (and even more color!).
Where have I been, you ask? No, I haven’t fallen off a cliff and, no, I haven’t given up on blogging. The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of work, school, and play and I’m only just now catching my breath. I was hoping to make some lemon lime basil cookies to take on my trip to Philadelphia last weekend, but at 11:00 pm the night before we were leaving, I discovered that the huge tub of basil we had in the fridge had gone bad. Since it was so late and I was so tired, I just gave up and went to bed instead.
We made the trip down to Philly for my niece’s dedication, and it was a great excuse to get out of Boston and spend time with family. Sophie, my youngest niece, was adorable and her older sister, Amelia, was giddy with excitement with all the family there. Not only did we get to catch up with family and meet my sister-in-law’s newest nephew, but we got to do it over an amazing dinner at Yang Ming, considered by some to be the best Chinese restaurant in the country. The appetizers were outstanding and practically a meal unto themselves, and my jumbo shrimp with honey walnuts was even better than what I got in San Francisco. Who knew Bryn Mawr, PA had such good Chinese food?
Ok, with that streak of six straight cookie/bar recipes interrupted only by a cocktail recipe still weighing on my conscience, I figured maybe it was about time for something, I don’t know, with a little less butter and sugar. First up was the wild mushroom, zucchini and goat cheese frittata, and now, broccoli cheddar soup. Broccoli cheddar soup, you ask? How can that be healthy? Well, rest assured, it’s not by using 75% reduced fat cheese, because I would never allow such a thing in my kitchen. Nope, this recipe uses good ol’ fashioned delicious and very real cheese. It just uses a litte less than some recipes and uses low fat milk instead of heavy cream.
I adore broccoli cheddar soup, but I never make it or order it out because it just seems so decadent and I’d kind of rather save room for some chocolate cake. So I’m thrilled to have found a recipe that tastes good and doesn’t make me have to stay at the gym an extra hour to work off the calories. The recipe comes from Ellie Krieger, dietician and Food Network star, and creator of many other recipes that I love (such as mac ‘n squash, penne with roasted tomatoes, garlic, and white beans, and Chinese chicken salad). While her show isn’t my favorite (I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but she doesn’t have the best TV personality), I love her recipes. They’re healthy, tasty, and don’t rely on weird diet food products.