Another busy weekend here by the beach, and once again the week has snuck up on us all-too-quickly! Here’s what the week has in store for us:
Monday: Spinach Salad with quinoa
Tuesday: grilled hoisin-lime tofu and zucchini with brown rice
Wednesday: Asian dumplings with pesto green beans
Thursday: FFY (fend for yourself– a night when our schedules don’t allow for dinner together)
Friday: dinner at our synagogue
What to do ahead (necessary): press and marinate tofu for Tuesday
What to do ahead (Optional–will save you time during the week): make quinoa and brown rice
Tonight was a perfect, quick dinner for a hot summer day! Ironically we used a lot of fall flavors, but you can alter to suit your tastes and the time of year–I definitely foresee us adding this as a go-to meal, because of its versatility. The contrasting textures are amazing, which I think is important if you eat salad frequently so that things don’t get too boring. I hadn’t thought to add quinoa or another protein like this to a green salad until I had it at a local restaurant, but the possibilities are endless! Spinach lends itself well since the flavor is mild and the texture of the leaves is simple. I try to eat a lot of spinach to keep my iron up, since the lack of red meat in my diet can impact my iron pretty drastically.
Spinach Salad with Quinoa
- Orange-Mint Vinaigrette
- juice of 1/2 an orange
- zest of 1/2 an orange
- 1 clove of roasted garlic (pop it in the oven or toaster oven on bake at 350 for a few minutes until soft and mushy)
- ~15-20 leaves of fresh mint
- dash of sherry vinegar
- drizzle of honey
- dijon mustard to taste–not too much, but will help the emulsification process of the vinaigrette
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves per person
- sprinkle of walnuts per person
- 1/2 pear per person– cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup cooked quinoa per person
- handful of dried cranberries
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients except olive oil/salt/pepper in a food processor or tall cup (if you have an immersion blender) and blend, then stream in olive oil until it has the texture of a salad dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set aside– you’ll only need about 1-2 tablespoons of it for the salad, and the rest can be used later as a dressing for lentils, green salads, or to dip veggies in 😉
In a large mixing bowl, combine your spinach, walnuts, cranberries, pear, and quinoa–trust your eyes for the ratios. Drizzle your dressing over the salad– go slowly because you don’t want the salad to get soggy– start with about a tablespoon of dressing and mix, then add in a teaspoon at a time.
You could shake this up with pecans and dried blueberries, pine nuts and strawberries, or any combination you like! Toasting the nuts briefly would really enhance their flavors and add another dimension too! I plan on using this year-round based on what’s in season– you can even prepare it in advance for hosting guests, just don’t dress it until you’re ready to serve.
D enjoys periodically surprising me with his abundance of spare time, and tonight’s surprise was a GREAT one. We had purchased mint for the orange-mint vinaigrette and had a ton leftover– I hate letting herbs go to waste and haven’t gotten mint started in our garden yet. He made up some mint simple syrup during the day and when combined with his mom’s amazing ginger vodka* it was a great way to finish a Monday!
Ginger vodka spritzer
- Mint simple syrup (just steps 1 and 2– skip the lemon juice step. Use as much mint as you have–1-2 bunches is fine)
- Ginger vodka*
- seltzer water
- fresh lime juice
Squeeze 1/2 lime’s worth of juice into a tall glass. Add a shot of ginger vodka and about a teaspoon of the mint simple syrup. Fill the cup with ice, then finish with seltzer water. Add a wedge of lime to make it pretty if desired—so fresh and refreshing and many elements of flavor. This may be my new favorite cocktail!!
*you’ll find a ton of ginger vodka recipes online, but basically use a ratio of 3 cups (unflavored) vodka to 1 large gingerroot (found in the produce section of your local store, in case you’re new to fresh ginger.) Wash the ginger well, dry, and cut into strips or a large dice. Add the ginger (should be close to a cup) to a large mason jar and top with vodka. Let it sit for 4 weeks then strain out the ginger and discard. MMM