Citrusy Asian Salad in Crispy Wonton Shells

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It’s been a very hectic week and I didn’t have the chance to go by the grocery store like I had hoped to. There was a potluck BBQ party on Saturday and I had to figure out a no-fuss, yet rather light summery appetizer to take along.  I know I had a tray of shaved beef in the freezer. Since one of my kids has more or less sworn off beef, I figured I could use the meat for an appetizer.

After a mental run down of what seemed like dozens of ideas, I decided on a summery, citrusy salad that could be eaten as a finger food. Ah, what better vehicle to hold the salad than crispy wonton shells! Have you tried those? I must say, this was my first time and I was quite impressed! The shells remained partially crisp the next day, even after a light drizzle of the delicious citrusy-Asian dressing.

It is super easy to make the shells. Just spray a muffin pan and gently mold a wonton wrapper into a general cup shape and bake at 350F for about 7 minutes or so. Similarly, shaved beef is super easy to cook. Fast too! Just season with whatever – in this case, an Asian-inspired marinade, and just saute for a few minutes.

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The salad dressing, which probably is the best part of this entire dish, is a simple combination of lemon juice, honey, teriyaki sauce, few drops of dark sesame oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

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Just layer on the salad ingredients and drizzle the dressing right before serving. These cups were a huge hit at the gathering and people raved about the dressing. Addition of lemon zest does take it a whole new level, so don’t hold back on it!

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So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to impress your friends and family at the next gathering with this super light, yet super delicious Citrusy Asian Salad in Crispy Wonton Shells!

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  • Servings: ”18″
  • Time: ”40
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Ingredients
18 wonton shells
cooking spray
2 cups of Spring green mix
1/4 cup thinly sliced salad radish
1/4 cup finely minced red peppers
1/2 lb shaved beef
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
dash of salt and pepper

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spary a muffin pan with cooking spray. Carefully place a wonton wrapper into each of the muffin cups and gently form into shells. Bake for 8 minutes till golden. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.
2. In a medium frying pan, spoon a tablespoon of oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the beef and quickly stir around till meat is browned. Add the teriyaki sauce and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let the meat cool to room temperature.
3. In the meantime, remove the wonton shells from the muffin pan and carefully arrange them on a large platter. Place a layer of salad greens into each shell. Place about a tablespoon of the sautéed beef and top with radish and peppers. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad cups right before serving.

Pan-Cooked Southwest Quinoa Patty

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Quinoa has come a long way from its humble beginnings! What used to be a trendy food item of the ultra-health conscious folks, has now become a near staple in many a household – thanks to its nutty texture, delectable taste and most importantly its high nutritional value!

I use quinoa in salads, as a replacement for rice for serving with curries, as breakfast cereal and now as quinoa “burger” or patty.

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You can season these patties with your favorite combination of spices, herbs and other add-ins. I prefer the spicy notes imparted by southwest flavors of peppers, cilantro, citrus etc. and so decided to make these patties with those flavors! I used minced red peppers and zucchini to the patty mix. Needless to say, these ingredients add specks of bright colors and also boost the nutritional value. Addition of cheese not only gives a nice taste, but also helps in the holding power of the patty. As you may already know, cooked quinoa is rather fluffy, individual grains. Even with mashed black beans, you will still need the cheese in there for the best texture. I did make a few without cheese. They came out great, but I had to be extra careful not to break them while flipping or removing from pan. Lastly, even with cheese, be careful handling the patties. They are a bit fragile but so worth it when it comes to taste.

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Lastly, you can use any type of quinoa for these patties (red, regular white, a combination etc). Also, you could substitute cannellini beans (or may be even navy beans) for the black beans in this recipe. Since I used regular canned black beans (not unsalted or reduced sodium), I could get away with just 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you are unsure of the spice amounts, taste the mixture BEFORE adding eggs so you could adjust the seasoning. I did and boy was the mix delicious even at that stage! Would make a yummy dip baked with some cheese on top. Next time!

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The formed patties can be frozen. Just pan “fry” them straight from the freeze under a low temp so the inside gets cooked through without burning the outside.

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Pan-Cooked Southwest Quinoa Patties

Ingredients
2 to 2 1/4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely minced red onions
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1 jalapeno pepper, minced finely (remove seeds if desired)
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed well
3 cloves of garlic, grated fine
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation
1. Mix quinoa and all other ingredients EXCEPT oil thoroughly.
2. Divide the mix into 10 equal portions and flatten on parchment lined baking sheet into patties about 4-5″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick.
3. Place the patties in single layer on a platter and chill for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can just chill the mix and form the patties immediately prior to cooking them. To do this, just take a ball of mix and flatten on palm of your hand and gently and carefully transfer it to the frying pan.
4. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Swirl to coat and place patties in the pan.
5. Cook for about 6-8 minutes. Carefully turn the patties on the other side and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes. Extended cooking results in a golden and crispy exterior while ensuring the inside is cooked thoroughly.
6. Hold in a warm oven or toaster oven till ready to serve.

TIPS:
1. If serving the patties assembled as burgers, proceeds as you would with any meat patty.
2. If serving at a later time, freeze uncooked patties after their initial “chilling” period in the refrigerator (for easier handling). Wrap individual patties in clear plastic wrap and store in a zip top bag or other airtight container. Pan “fry” frozen patties under low heat to help thaw the inside and increase heat to finish cooking and ensure proper internal temperature.

Hearty and Healthy Kale Salad

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Green may not be my favorite color, but I love greens – the eating type! Spinach, collar, mustard, kale, turnip…When it comes to spinach and kale, I enjoy them in every which way. So, when it was time for a light and quick lunch over the weekend, I was motivated by my sister to prepare a kale salad.

I had kale on hand along with bunch of salad-type veggies. So, a quick look through the refrigerator and pantry resulted in me laying out kale, radish, red onions, purple cabbage, fresh orange, fresh lemon, canned chickpeas, feta cheese, leftover turkey bacon and boiled eggs! It’s gonna be delish!

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I have heard people complain about kale being difficult to digest. Although I haven’t found this to be an issue, I figured I will look into it. After a brief cyber consulting, I decided to do a flash-blanch of the leaves prior to preparing the salad. Briefly sautéing or blanching kale not only helps with easier digestion, but also softens its earthy, slightly bitter taste. Additionally, it also makes it easier to make kids eat it too!

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Feel free to add in any salad vegetables of your choice. You can also add in cooked quinoa, barley or couscous in lieu of (or in addition to) the chickpeas. Similarly, replace boiled egg with grilled chicken breast or salmon. Let your creativity run wild – I guarantee you will enjoy the finished dish!

Lastly, I really think the quick salad dressing made using orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and dash of crushed cumin seeds is just perfect for this salad. Again, feel free to substitute another dressing of your choice. This salad is satisfying, delicious and packed with chock full of nutrients! Enjoy!

Hearty and Healthy Kale Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 30 min
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Ingredients
3 cups of kale leaves, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup sliced red cabbage
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radish
2 sweet oranges, segments removed and juices reserved for dressing
2 – 3 slices of cooked turkey bacon, chopped
2 boiled eggs, chopped
2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese, optional

Dressing
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice (from above)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed or ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
1. Blanch kale leaves very quickly by dropping them in boiling water and immediately removing them. You can transfer them to an ice-cold water bath, but I skipped this step. Transfer the drained leaves to a salad spinner and remove any remaining water.
2. Place the leaves in a large bowl. Add in remaining salad ingredients and toss to evenly distribute.
3. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients thoroughly.
4. Drizzle over salad and serve immediately.

Citrusy Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Spaghetti Squash Strands

Citrusy Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Spaghetti Squash Strands

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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citrusy quinoa salad with edamame and spaghetti squash

Ingredients
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cups cooked spaghetti squash, loosely packed
1/2 cup boiled, shelled edamame
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced green pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato (or 1/2 cup cherry tomato, halved)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced/grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbls of chopped cilantro leaves (or more if desired)
2 tbls of feta cheese, if desired
Preparation
1. Prepare quinoa according to cooking instructions (usually cooked in twice the amount of water on stovetop or in rice cooker)
2. Combine all vegetables in a medium sized bowl.
3. Combine lemon juice, zest, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk well to combine.
4. Add to vegetables and toss to coat.
5. Serve and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and feta chees, if desired.