Mediterranean Chicken-Quinoa Salad

I subscribe to The Splendid Table’s Weeknight Kitchen emails which come out every Wednesday, featuring easy-to-prepare recipes. This recipe for Greek Chicken Salad with Lemon, Feta and Grains caught my eye – anything with lemon and feta gets a second look from me! I made it the next night, without the tzatziki, and thought it was a little bland, so made some adaptations for a lunch with friends. We liked it! We served it with a Greek white wine and that beautiful beet hummus brought by friend Ruth. I will get the recipe from her and share with you soon! (Note: I’ve made this salad a few times since my lunch with friends and found that it is great with a dry rose wine also!)

Ingredients – serves 6

1 1/2 cups quinoa (I like red for its looks)

2 1/2 cups water

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced OR  2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil

3/4 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 – 3/4 pound cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, torn or cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Juice of 1 lemon

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1 preserved lemon, peel only, diced OR zest of 1 lemon

Lemon dressing: 2 tablespoons EV olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more to taste

Spring greens salad mix

Instructions

Cook the quinoa: Rinse quinoa well and place in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Take off the heat, let sit for 10 minutes and then “fluff”. Set aside.

Cook the chicken mixture: In a large saute pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil till shimmering. Add the garlic, scallions and crushed red chili flakes and saute 3-4 minutes. (Alternatively, heat 2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil plus one tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red chili flakes and saute 3-4 minutes.) Add the oregano and the chicken and saute for about 5 more minutes. Add the quinoa and lemon juice and stir to combine thoroughly.  Turn into a large serving bowl and cool to room temperature. At this point, proceed with the following and serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. If refrigerating, let the mixture come to room temperature before finishing the salad.

Finishing the salad: Add the herbs, diced red bell pepper and preserved lemon or lemon zest, stirring to combine. Add the lemon dressing and stir to blend in thoroughly. Here you can add the feta cheese or you can pass a bowl of it after serving so each person can add what they want.

Serving the salad: Place a bed of salad mix on a platter and place the quinoa salad on top of it. Yum!!

 

 

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Lemony Summer Squash Risotto

Aunt Suzy says . . .

There has been an abundance of beautiful summer squash at our farmer’s markets and produce stands lately, so when this recipe from the NY Times “recipes for health” showed up in my Facebook feed recently, I knew I had to make it. I’ve made quite a few of  Martha Shulman’s recipes from that column over the years and they are always reliable and delicious. (You’ll also see I made a couple of adaptations to the recipe cuz that’s how we roll here!)

If you know us at S&SK, you know how much we love lemon. You can see all kinds of “lemony” recipes, both sweet and savory, on our blog.  I predict this one will be a favorite up here in the Minnesota branch of our cooking team.  If you love risotto and love summery, lemony dishes, this one is a winner!

Ingredients

7 to 8 cups chicken (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 pound summer squash, diced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

Zest of one small lemon

Juice of 1/2-1 lemon, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, preferably lemon thyme

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Heat the stock in a pan and keep just below a simmer for use in the risotto.

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil till it shimmers over medium heat and then add the onion and saute till translucent. Add the summer squash and a little salt. Turn up the heat and saute a further 5 min until the squash is just starting to get soft. Add in the rice and garlic and give a few stirs to coat with the olive oil and create the signature nuttiness of the rice in this dish. Add the wine and stir till absorbed.

Turn down the heat and add about 1/2 cup of the hot stock. Keep at a low simmer, and stir until the stock is absorbed by the rice. Repeat by adding 1/2 cup stock at a time, stirring till absorbed until the rice is just about cooked through, about 25 minutes total. Add some more stock, the lemon zest and juice, the thyme and the Parmesan. Stir to blend. The dish should be creamy, not too dry and not too wet and the rice should be al dente. Best served in bowls with a refreshing glass of lemony Pinot Grigio.

Notes on ingredients: Two medium squash added up to one pound for me with apologies for not measuring the amount of diced squash before adding it to the pan. I used one yellow squash and one striped zucchini. I used Pinot Grigio for the white wine, but a Sauvignon Blanc would work well too. Avoid anything with oak in it like a California Chardonnay. Use the best quality Parmesan that you can find for the flavor and creaminess that really makes this dish. We recommend grating it yourself vs. buying it already grated.

Greek-style Green Beans - Fassolakia Ladera

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I made this dish a year ago after seeing Romano green beans at the farmers market and fully intended to post this recipe then. But time got away from me it seems. Just last weekend, we were in Vermont to visit Randy’s brother and his professional gardener partner, Bill, for their wedding. It was non-stop eating and cooking out of the garden. Bill had an abundance of runner beans he wanted to find a use for and, shazam, it just so happens that I had a recipe.  Plus, he had almost all of the ingredients right outside.

Greek-Style Green Beans - Fasolakia Ladera

This is a delicious vegetarian “stew” that can be served as a side dish or as a main, as we did on the last night of our visit. It was a treat to have this lighter supper after feasting for three days although, speaking for myself, I sorta stuffed myself on this meal as well. 🙂 I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo of this year’s version.  In looking around at the various recipes, I learned that “ladera” means braised in olive oil, hence a larger quantity of oil than you might expect in a recipe like this. With all those recipes in mind and some advice from a Greek friend, I decided to make this dish as follows. It is HIGHLY adaptable, however, so have at it! Once finished, serve with slices of feta cheese and a nice crusty bread. A dry rose on the darker, richer side goes really well.

Margaux says . . . 

I’ve been wanting to make this since my friend Beth from Tasty Yummies told me about it a few years ago.  She even wrote a blog post about it after we talked about it, and I just completely forgot to make it!  I’m kicking myself now for forgetting, and I’m very happy that Aunt Suzy brought it up again, because I TOTALLY love it.  This is like comfort food, for summer.  I will be making this often, I think.  Beth’s recipe has beef or lamb in it, and I think that would be a nice way to try it when the weather gets cooler.  Speaking of the weather, it worked out perfectly that I planned to make this when I did, because it got unseasonably cool here in Chicago, perfect weather for eating stew.  I actually had to wear a lightweight sweater today!  In August!  So weird.

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 pounds runner beans (also called pole or Romano), ends snapped off and snapped in half if especially long

2-3 carrots, cut in half length-wise then sliced in 1/2-inch chunks

1/2 cup olive oil

1-2 onions, sliced then each slice cut in quarters

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups of chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano

3-4 large round ripe red tomatoes, cored and chopped (or 1 large can diced tomatoes)

4-5 whole allspice berries, optional

1 cup of water

3 large potatoes, cut in 2-inch chunks (if using russets, peel, if using white or gold, no need to peel)

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. When shimmering turn heat up to medium high and add the onions. Sauté for 5 or so minutes, till translucent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, stir and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add most of the parsley and mint and all of the oregano. Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beans, the carrots, the tomatoes and allspice berries, if using, and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the water and press all ingredients down into the juices so they are just covered. Cover the pot, bring to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add the potatoes and press all ingredients down into the juices again. Bring back to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. While the potatoes are cooking combine a few tablespoons of parsley, 2 tablespoons of mint and the minced garlic. When the dish is finished, stir this herb/garlic mixture into the pot. Turn into a serving bowl or just serve right out of the pot!

COOKS’ NOTES:

Aunt Suzy: The quantities of ingredients are what I would call guidelines. I’ve seen many recipes that use dill in addition to other herbs and many that use solely parsley. The oregano is my addition. I saw a couple of recipes that said “DO NOT forget to add 1 teaspoon cinnamon at the end”. I asked a Greek friend for advice, and he suggested the carrots and said he adds zucchini when he adds the potatoes (but had not heard of the cinnamon :-)).  If you cannot find the flat, longer type of beans called for here, you can use “regular” green beans. I see runner beans occasionally here in the farmers markets, but have not seen in supermarkets in Minnesota. There are versions of this dish that include meat – beef, veal or lamb – but I really like this as a vegetarian meal.

Margaux: I added about a teaspoon of salt when I added the potatoes, because I really don’t like potatoes cooked without salt.  Then I added pepper at the end with the herb/garlic mixture.  Also, I used regular beans and it turned out great!