The idea of a chopped cucumber salad with rosemary popped into my head the other day. I had some cucumber I bought for my daughter, but she hasn’t shown much interest in eating them lately, so I decided to go ahead and use them up. I cooked up some barley and red lentils to go with it and they took over and outnumbered the cucumbers, but all in all, I was very pleased with the results. Barley is something I usually think of putting in soups, but I thought it would be fun to try it in a salad. It’s a very healthy grain, full of fiber.
Dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and seasoned with a little Moroccan seasoning and some cumin, it turned out to be quite a nice salad. Great for lunch or as a nice side dish to serve with fish or meat.
Rosemary Cucumber Barley Lentil Salad
- 1/2 cup dry barley
- 1/2 cup dry lentils (you can use any color: I chose red ones)
- 1 1/2 cups sliced and chopped cucumber
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (like a Vidalia)
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Moroccan seasoning (I used some I purchased from Mystic Blue Spice Company, but if you are in a pinch, there is a recipe for making your own here)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- For garnish: About 2 Tablespoons toasted pinons (pine nuts), lemon slice(s) & fresh parsley leaves
- Cook the barley and lentils (in separate pots) according to package directions.
- While they are cooking, chop the cucumber and onion and gather the herbs.
- Zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl. Add the garlic, rosemary, cumin and Moroccan seasoning, then whisk in the olive oil.
- In a larger bowl, mix the cooked barley and lentils, the cucumber, onion, parsley and green onion, then drizzle on the dressing and stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh lemon slice(s), toasted pine nuts and some fresh parsley leaves. Serve hot or cold. It’s good both ways.
I made this as a low sodium entree for my daughter … before we found out she can and SHOULD have salt. Whew. That’s a relief.
But when I asked my foodie friends if they still wanted low-sodium recipes, the resounding answer was YES. This is a tasty dish that you can make entirely without salt and it still tastes delicious.
Just ask my 13-year-old girl. She loved it. And she doesn’t even like spicy foods. It’s not really spicy at all. The chili powder gives it flavor, but not enough to be spicy. If you want a good kick, I would recommend adding some cayenne.
Chile Brown Sugar Salmon on the Grill
Spicy Sweet Rub Recipe is from Aggie’s Kitchen
Spicy Sweet Salmon Rub
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (you can omit the salt to reduce the sodium … I actually made this without the salt and it was delicious!)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salmon fillets, skin removed
- Fresh lemons or limes, sliced
Mix the salmon rub ingredients together. Brush the fish lightly with olive oil, then rub each piece of salmon with the sweet/spicy rub.
Heat up the grill. I put some rosemary on the coals to give it a little extra flavor. Once the grill is hot, arrange the lemon slices to make a “bed” for the salmon to cook on. Set each fillet on a bed of lemon slices and allow it to cook for about five minutes on that side.
Flip the salmon over and cook for about 5 minutes on the other side or until it flakes easily with a fork.
Squeeze a little lemon juice over the lovely fish and serve immediately with your choice of sides. Some pasta with roasted vegetables would be nice … or rice or quinoa and a salad.
This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty Tuesdays.
I am on a quest for low sodium, but delicious food lately. Food that will appeal to a teenager. I never never never thought I would have to worry much about sodium … my blood pressure is low. My kids, well they’re kids! You don’t have to worry about salt too much with kids, right?
But you see, my daughter (who is ALMOST a teenager) has been having dizzy spells. It started last fall … she missed two weeks of school. I was terribly worried about her, took her to the doctor, had tons of tests done. At the end they couldn’t find anything wrong with her and this is what they said, “she needs to drink more water.”
So we had her drink more water. But the dizzy spells continued. They would come and go. Sometimes she would be fine, but they got to be so bad last month that she couldn’t dance and sometimes they would go on for a whole week. If you knew my girl, you would know she lives to dance. She has been dancing since she was able to stand on two feet, I believe. When she was 3 I enrolled her in dance classes and she has been dancing ever since. Since she’s gotten older, our lives have started revolving around her dance.
But dizzy spells in a dancer are a very very bad thing. And she was SO miserable! I did some research into the symptoms she is having and one of the things that may help is to lower her sodium intake to 1,000 mg/day. When you look at how much sodium is in salt and so many of the foods that we eat, 1,000 mg is REALLY HARD.
I have used a lot of Red Robin Seasoning in our food so she is used to that flavoring. I thought I would try to make something similar to that one, with a lot less salt. The real magic in it this is … I think I like it better than the original Red Robin Seasoning! Red Robin Seasoning is loaded with salt, while this one is loaded with flavor. My girl loves it. I can season salmon or chicken with this and she is happy! She will eat it! I’m even sprinkling it on some of my own food now …
Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning
I found the tomato powder at our local coop food store. It’s basically just dried tomato, ground into a powder. I was looking for low-sodium tomato soup mix, but all I found was tomato powder, which I think is so sooo much better. And if you can’t find it, I think all you’d have to do is put some sundried tomatoes through a spice grinder to make a fine powder.
- 6 Tablespoons tomato powder
- 1 Tablespoon Lite Salt (or 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt)
- 5 Tablespoons granulated garlic
- 3 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 Tablespoons onion powder
Mix all ingredients together into a bowl. Funnel into a spice jar. Use to flavor chicken, meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, popcorn … whatever you normally would use salt on.
with a ginger, cumin & cilantro scented yogurt sauce
One of the most romantic meals of my life was on a Friday night when my date and I cooked this together. We drank wine as we cooked, I chopped the apricots & garlic & ginger and mixed up the sauce, he made the quinoa and broiled the salmon. When the salmon was done, he plated the salmon and quinoa in front of me, drizzled that heavenly sauce over it, and sprinkled on the toasted cashews … then refilled my wine glass before he plated his own. Just the way he did that totally melted my heart. Later I asked him for the recipe … and he gladly gave me the printout. I loved this meal so much I just had to make this again, wanted to share it with all of you here on the blog, and so I decided I would try making it for my children for a special Valentine’s meal. They both love salmon (my daughter moreso than my son, but he will eat salmon). I wasn’t so sure about the quinoa or the yogurt ginger sauce, but I thought I would give it a shot.
It was as I thought … while I was photographing the meal, my kids got in a fight. My daughter ran into her room. Our cat persistently tried to eat the salmon I was “shooting” and I had to push her out of the picture several times …
We managed to coax my daughter out of her room to join the meal. They both tried the salmon. My son immediately asked for garlic toast, saying “don’t we have some bread?” So I ended up cooking up some quick garlic toast for both of them. My daughter gobbled her salmon up before I could even glance over at her. My son inhaled the garlic toast, ate a few bites of the salmon, and then declared that his sister could have the rest of his. She said, “I can’t eat all of this …”, but she did eat some of his. Neither of them touched the quinoa or would even taste the sauce.
But they were happy that I had Valentine’s chocolates for them. My son said he would have been happier with smaller pieces of chocolate since I got him the BIG Reese’s peanut butter hearts (honestly, I would too … I like my chocolates in little bites!) So he’s trading in his chocolate for some licorice. LOL. My daughter was totally entranced with her heart-shaped Dove truffles in the fancy swirly tin. At least I got one thing right!
All in all, I would say this meal is probably much better suited for a romantic dinner with your sweetheart or for a fancy dinner party than for a Valentine’s lunch with a couple picky eating teenagers. But hey, I have some delicious leftovers. And now I can share the recipe with you … frankly, I think my kids are crazy. The tastes in this meal are phenomenal.
Cashew Salmon with Apricot Cranberry Quinoa
Adapted from Eating Well
You could shortcut the prep time by making up the sauce ahead of time, toasting the cashews and pre-chopping the garlic and apricot and things. Salmon cooks in a matter of minutes, so in the time it takes you to cook the quinoa, you could have dinner on the table.
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 1 5-oz. container plain greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less … I don’t think it needs quite this much salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon of honey
- 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- Juice of 1/2 a lime (or lemon)
- 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or add an extra 1/4 cup of apricots … I only used cranberries because I ran out of apricots! But they did add a pretty splash of red color … and I liked the taste too)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup quinoa
- Salmon, cut into portions of 1/4 lb for each person. (You should have plenty of sauce and quinoa for up to 4 people. If you’re serving more, increase the recipe.)
- Old Bay seasoning (I used this seasoning only because I expected my kids would skip the sauce and thought the fish could use a little flavor on its own … you really don’t need it at all.)
- Salt & pepper
- Roasted, salted cashews, toasted and chopped
- Extra cilantro leaves
- First, make the sauce: Stir together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Don’t use your handi chopper to whir it all together–it destroys the thickness of the yogurt. You could use all plain yogurt instead of the greek yogurt if you actually STIR the sauce rather than whirring it like I did.
- Next, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the apricots, garlic, onion, ginger, and salt and sautee until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil, then stir in the quinoa. Cover, lower the heat to low, and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through.
- Meanwhile rub the salmon with salt and pepper, sprinkle with seasoning (if using) and broil or grill until the salmon is lightly brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side.
- Serve the salmon drizzled with sauce, topped with cashews and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves, with the quinoa on the side.
This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Love your Heart Month, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked Recipe Swap, Midweek Fiesta, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Thursday’s Treasures, Fit and Fabulous Fridays, Katherine Martinelli’s Nut Bloghop and Freaky Friday.
with cilantro, cucumber, and toasted pinons
I couldn’t stop eating this salad. It was one of those find-things-in-your-fridge-and-toss-them-together kind of meals … but once I got it all together, I could not believe how good it tasted.
I was telling my yoga friend about this salad and she asked how it is that I have all these strange things “on hand” in my kitchen … I think what I do is I just collect interesting ingredients and let them flow together. Oh, yes, there are times when I buy things specifically to make a particular dish, but it quite often doesn’t work out that way. Life gets in the way. My plans get thrown out the window. I have learned along the way that plans are only a point of departure, and you have to be ready at any point in life to make new ones. I find myself doing a lot of that.
In any case, this was a very happy accident.
Black Bean, Feta and Avocado Couscous Citrus Salad
with Cilantro, Cucumber, and Toasted Pine Nuts
If you haven’t got any kumquats, you could try substituting other citrus fruits.
- 2/3 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
- 1/2 of a large cucumber, sliced and cut into small chunks
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- Roughly 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 2 kumquats (about 2 inches in diameter, add more to taste depending on how large your kumquats are), sliced thin and chopped (reserving a few slices for garnish)
- About 2 cups of green leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped fine
- About 3/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
- About 1/3 cup of toasted pinon nuts
- 1/2 of an avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped
- Prepare the uncooked couscous according to the package directions and make the dressing.
- In a medium bowl, toss everything but the avocado until mixed.
- Toss the avocado in the dressing to coat (the kumquat juice in the dressing will help the avocado from turning brown), then toss the avocado and the dressing into the salad and stir gently to combine.
- Garnish the top of the salad with extra feta crumbles, slices of kumquat, cilantro leaves and a few pinons.
- 2 Tablespoons of kumquat juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
I love salsa. The heat of it. The variety. The fun ways you can use it. You can put so many things in a salsa. I had some tomatoes that were begging me to make them into salsa, but I wanted to do something a little different this time …
I’ve heard of mango salsa, but I’ve never seen or tried kiwi in a salsa. Or pomegranate seeds. I threw those in just for fun … I don’t know that the pomegranate seeds added a lot to the flavor or even the look because the background of the salsa is already red … but they are so pretty. Like little jewels. Why not have jewels in your salsa?
So I put the kiwis and the pomegranate in and still it needed something. There were three mangoes sitting there in my fruit bowl, so I decided to toss one of them in the salsa too. And then I thought: this needs something … so I added some of the flavors of a jerk seasoning. There! That is it. That is exactly what my funky fruity salsa needed. Honestly I think I might add some more jalapeno now because I am craving something so hot it almost hurts but really, this version is quite awesome just like it is. Add more jalapeno if you want it to hurt. Use less if you like a milder salsa.
Funky Bejeweled Kiwi, Mango, and Kumquat Salsa
- 1 medium sized onion
- 2 cups canned tomatoes (or 1 15-oz. can)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno (adjust this amount to more or less, depending on how hot you like your salsa)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- about 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 kumquats (my kumquats were about 2 inches long, but I have seen some that are MUCH smaller … if you have smaller kumquats, use more!) … one goes into the blender, chop the other one into little chunks.
- 2 kiwis, peeled & chopped into small pieces
- 1 mango, peeled & chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- In a blender or food processor, blend the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, 1 of the kumquats and the salt and other spices.
- You can pour the salsa into a bowl or just stir in the rest of the ingredients right in the blender. Don’t blend it up, though, because it will ruin those beautiful hunks of fruit!
I tried the salsa with baked vegie and corn tortilla chips, but it would also be lovely with nachos, burritos, or over fish or chicken or pork or … well, salsa is just such a fun thing to have around. Especially a funky salsa like this.
This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Talent Show Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesdays, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Tastetastic Thursday, Katherine Martinelli’s Mango Bloghop and Full Plate Thursday.
Felafel is a traditional middle eastern food: usually deep fried little balls of spiced chickpea batter. Crunchy, delicious, and actually healthy for you, even if you fry them.
These felafel are baked, though, so they are even better for you. Packed with protein and vegies and all kinds of good herbs and spices. Don’t even try to fry them. I had a few that didn’t fit on my little baking sheet, so I tried frying them in olive oil and just trust me on this one, the baked ones were SO much better.
I hear there is a lot of controversy over felafel. It seems many Palestinians believe that Israelis have stolen falafel, a traditional Arab food … personally I don’t understand why we need to fight over food.
I am more of a peaceful soul who likes to enjoy good food … I really don’t care who invented it … just as long as it’s good. And these little babies are definitely good.
Fabulous Baked Felafel
Adapted from Shutterbean
Makes 10 – 15 or so felafel
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans)
- 1 small onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (alas, I had no cilantro, so I substituted basil …)
- Juice of 1 kumquat (or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Put all the ingredients into a handy chopper or food processor and blend till everything is chopped fine and forms a paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Form into small balls, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches diameter and flatten into patties. Place your lovely little felafels onto a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).
Felafel are typically served in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and a tahini sauce. I had them for lunch today with a bit of onion, lettuce, tomato, Mia’s fantastic avocado hummus and some feta cheese. I really wanted some tzatziki to go alongside, but alas, I had no cucumber. They were still pretty dang fabulous.
They are quite nice just to munch on as a little appetizer too. Just be careful … they are slightly addictive.