April was an unusually rough month for me. Some personal things came up that were pretty hard to deal with, followed closely by the bombings at the Boston marathon, and then a shootout and a manhunt for the bombing suspect in my normally very quiet neighborhood. It was all a lot to take in and I had been desperate to get out of town for a little bit and get some much needed R&R.
The opportunity finally came when my wonderful aunt and uncle offered up their beautiful house on the pond while they were visiting my cousin in Texas. Joseph and I spent the weekend taking it easy, sipping Champagne and eating cheese, reading, napping, and watching the birds on the pond.
A favorite part of the weekend was when the lighting hit the house just right and suddenly became an amateur photographer’s dream come true. I got so lost in the excitement of taking photos that nothing else mattered. All in all, it was a perfect weekend where the toughest decision faced was whether to sip on beer or wine while sitting on the porch with my feet up.
The other big highlight of the weekend was without a doubt this salad. Joseph and I both concluded that it was the most amazing salad that we had ever had. With the creamy avocado, luscious broiled pineapple, peppery watercress, and a hint of cumin in the tangy dressing, this salad has it all. While each component brings so much to the recipe, the sweet and tangy pineapple is particularly outstanding.
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.
Meet my new favorite salad: the Chinese chicken salad from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. It’s a stunning salad bursting with vibrant purple, green, and orange and it’s got all the right textures going on with juicy mandarin oranges, crispy napa and red cabbage, and crunchy water chestnuts. The tangy soy ginger Chinese/Pan-Asian inspired dressing has the perfect blend of spiciness and sweetness that ties the whole salad together perfectly.
This is the salad that we made over Memorial Day weekend to try to balance out all the ice cream, strawberry rhubarb crumble, garlic fries with garlic aioli, and dim sum we had over the weekend (because frankly, it is completely impossible not to overorder and overeat when you order dim sum). Salads are one of those things that often seem like they should be healthy, but then you find out how many calories are in the Cosi Signature Salad (627!!) which first horrifies you, then leads you to wonder if anything is actually healthy. Continue reading