Several Sumptuous Summer Salads: Kale with Quinoa and Penne Pasta with Feta Cheese

Penne with Chickpeas, tomato, and feta

Penne with Chickpeas, tomato, and feta

If you are tired of BBQ cuisine at this point and want to swap your grilled burgers for some interesting summer salads, here are several I can personally recommend.  I have not personally made the kale salad, but have certainly enjoyed eating it!  My friend served this kale salad at a recent gathering, and I asked for the recipe because it was not only delicious, but also loaded with anti-oxidants.  This salad is a wonderfully tasty way to consume kale and well worth the 45 minutes of prep time. Serve the kale salad with a slice of whole grain bread and a beverage and call it dinner.

Kale Quinoa Salad- Adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena.  Recipe analysis is for 4 servings with 420 calories per serving.

Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.

1/2 cup quinoa
Salt
4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch
Champagne vinaigrette
3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
10 to 12 strips finely julienned preserved lemon

 

1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.
2. In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.
4. Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.

 

Penne With Chickpeas, feta, and tomatoes. This recipe is from Cooking Light and modified by the chefs in the Rose household!  Each 1.5 cup serving has 350 calories.

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (try the tri-color version)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup shallots
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 15 ounce can chickpeas
3 cups cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
pinch of freshly ground pepper

 

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain the liquid, reserving 1/4 cup for later.  Heat a large skillet, add oil and then shallots and garlic; saute for one minute or less and constantly stir to avoid burning. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas, saute 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute an additional 2 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and the 1/4 cup reserved liquid.  Cook for 1 minute until heated through.  Add the fat-free feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine and serve on your favorite serving platter.

Cheers to a Healthier BBQ Menu this July 4, 2013!

MP900384725It hasn’t seemed to be much of a summer yet in the Midwest.  We have had a lot of rain and not a lot of warm days, but the calendar says July 4th is around the corner.  For my family, it will mean back yard grilling and feeding a crowd.  Feeding a crowd on a holiday does not have to mean your health goals fall apart.  We are a pretty health conscious crowd, so here is what I am thinking as possible menu items for this week:

For an appetizer, try fat-free/low-fat easy bruschetta.  My husband just whipped this together last night as part of an easy Sunday night meal using some not too tasty dried out bakery bread.  He toasted thin slices of the dry bread, and then ladled his tomato mixture on top. He mixed diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, and balsamic vinegar  together (to taste, no oil included).  Topped with fresh basil and a pinch of fresh Parmesan cheese, it was wonderful and fat-free with no guilt issues returning for a third serving!

For the entrée, consider the following:

  • Jenni-O brand turkey brats-saves you at least 10 grams of fat and 100 calories over the standard counterpart. When we eat brats or serve brats to a crowd, we never eat the standard product and quite frankly, after soaking in beer and onions, one cannot tell the difference.
  • Fruit and/or vegetable and meat kebobs will save you calories by cutting down on the amount of meat consumed.  The quality of this meal will be improved by substituting the fruit and/or vegetables for the meat which adds healthy anti-oxidants from the fruits and vegetables while cutting down on saturated fat from meat.
  • Instead of standard burgers, consider grilling marinated boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  Pound the breasts to about a 1/4 inch thickness, marinade in your favorite mixtures, grill up and serve on whole wheat hamburger buns!

For side dishes, consider:

For dessert:

  • Strawberry shortcake served with angel food cake, fresh diced berries, and light cool whip or whipped cream
  • Or, just indulge in your favorite ice cream at this point since you ate so much healthy food the rest of the day.

For your beverages:

For the beverages, remember they can be loaded with calories from both sugar and alcohol.  Consider having your bar and cooler stocked with:

  • Diet tonic water and lemonade which will mix well with alcohol for a reduced calorie cocktail
  • Diet pop
  • Lower alcohol and calorie beer as well!

Happy 4th of July and enjoy the summer!