tabbouleh with watermelon

The first thing I usually do when we get to my mom’s for our summer vacation is gather all the Martha Stewart Living magazines I haven’t seen since our last visit.  I’ve never been a Martha Stewart fan.  She irks me in more ways than one.  But when my mom subscribed to her magazine, I figured I’d flip through an issue if, for no other reason, to confirm how much I’m irked by Martha Stewart.

And I still am.  But dang if that woman doesn’t conjure up with some incredible recipes!

This one came out of the July issue and is included in the “Fit to Eat” recipes; recipes geared toward healthy food choices and healthful living.  What tempted me most was the combination of watermelon and goat cheese.  The watermelon definitely provides a lovely sweetness to the palate, while the goat cheese adds a wonderful creaminess.  Bulgur is another one of those fabulous grains with lots of fiber, is more nutritious than rice, and is also a low glycemic index food (meaning it won’t play all sorts of nasty games with your blood sugar and insulin levels like rice and potatoes).  It sticks with you…in a good way.

Everyone really enjoyed this salad and it was even better the next day after the flavors had a chance to mingle…or, whatever it is flavors do together in the fridge when the light’s off.  I’ll definitely be making it again.  Enjoy!

Tabbouleh Salad with Watermelon

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 8 ounces watermelon (about 1/2 small), peeled and coarsely chopped (1 1/2  cups)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon  juice
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  • Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir  in bulgur, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with  a fork, and let stand, uncovered, until cooled, 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Transfer bulgur to a bowl, and toss with watermelon, parsley, scallions, oil, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently fold in goat  cheese.

sweet corn and black bean salad

This salad is super easy to prepare and makes a really bright, festive addition to summer meals.  It combines sweet corn, black beans, juicy tomatoes and zesty cilantro, blended with a simple rice vinegar and lime dressing.  You can serve it with tortilla chips for dipping, but it works beautifully as a side dish, too.  Somewhere in a couple of cross-country moves, I lost my original recipe.  This one is adapted from a very similar recipe from Whole Foods.  Their recipe called for red bell pepper instead of tomato.  But, since we have a garden full of ripe tomatoes, I substituted them in and, honestly, think it’s better with the tomatoes.  Personal preference, though.  Use what you like.  Enjoy!

Sweet Corn and Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 can sweet corn, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels

  •  1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

  •  2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

  •  1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  •  1 tablespoon lime juice

  •  1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  •  1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  •  1 can low sodium, organic black beans, rinsed and drained

  •  2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

  •  1/3 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Directions:

Combine corn, beans and diced tomato.  Rinse minced onions in cold water to remove some of their sharp, acidic flavor; pat dry and add to corn, bean and tomato mixture.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to make a dressing. Add beans, corn, onion and tomato and toss until just incorporated. Cover and chill for about 2 hours. Add cilantro and toss again before serving.

black bean and tomato quinoa

As much as I love to cook, cooking a hot meal every night for my family can be…mundane?  A pain in the rear?  Maddening?  Not that I would ever succumb to the Fast Food Voice in my head…”Just swing through Chik-fil-a,” but preparing and plating a healthy, well-balanced meal every night of the week sometimes leaves me longing for something easier.

Especially the side dishes.  That’s probably where I’m most likely go get bogged down.  I mean, really…how much rice and pasta can you consume before you long for a twice baked potato, heavy on the sour cream?  I love couscous because it’s really just a blank canvas waiting for a flavor infusion, but I vacuum dried couscous off the floor for two days after I’ve served it.  So, I continue my quest for interesting and healthy sides.

The other day I was scanning recipes and it dawned on my I  had a box of pre-washed quinoa in the pantry.  Talk about a blank canvas…and really healthy, too.  Although the following recipe presumes you’re working with raw quinoa, I subbed in the pre-washed and simply followed the cooking directions on the box.  If you want more depth of flavor in your cooked quinoa, sub in chicken or veggie stock for the water.  Also, while the recipe is basically cook and serve, I think this was even better the next day.  So make it ahead if you’re going to be tight for time at dinner.  The flavors will have a chance to blend and mingle and do whatever it is flavors do in the fridge while you’re busy doing other things.  Enjoy! Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
  • If you’re working withpre-washed quinoa, cook according to directions on box, otherwise wash the quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
  • Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.
  • Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.