Simple Salads all Summer Long

I am the queen of salads. 

Well, that’s what Jonathan tells me anyway. I’m not sure if I’m that good at making them or if he’s just encouraging me so he has one less thing in the kitchen he has to be in charge of, but either way I’ll take it. 

So much about how we enjoy processes in life comes down to our confidence in them. When it comes to time spent in the kitchen, confidence in my ability has been a long time coming but I’m getting better and, in turn, enjoying it more and more. I used to hate making food and now one of the most relaxing times of my week is prepping food, whether it be chopping carrots or making rice. 

That’s not to say it’s always easy and always a joy but embracing it as a challenge and something that I can do to take a break from my day of writing, teaching or sending emails, has been life changing. 

Once I learned the basic elements of salad dressing and how to mix different veggies and flavors together, it became too easy. I never buy salad dressing anymore and revel in Jonathan’s compliments of my bowls full of brightness. 

This is actually one area where I don’t even have to measure or think too much about putting a dressing together. Basically, the formula is: oil, vinegar (or other acid like lemon) and other flavors (think honey, spices, mustard, garlic, etc…)- depending on what you’re aiming for. My favorite dressing is: olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I probably like more acid (slightly obsessed with lemons) than your average salad eater, but as you experiment you can adjust to your taste. 

Watch your fingers if I'm near this salad. 

Watch your fingers if I'm near this salad. 

One of my favorite salads is tabbouleh salad, a traditional Middle Eastern dish. It tends to disappear quickly in our house. Jonathan knows he has to get a bowl of this right away or it’s possible I will eat ALL THE SALAD …  immediately. This salad is traditionally made with Bulgar Wheat but I also like to use quinoa. This time I used quinoa, particularly because I was a little over zealous during my last trip to the grocery store bulk bin and now we have quinoa a plenty. 

These delicious (and adorably tiny) cucumbers came from our CSA box from Yacolt Mountain Farm. 

These delicious (and adorably tiny) cucumbers came from our CSA box from Yacolt Mountain Farm. 

Another of my favorites is a simple cucumber salad. Jonathan created this one after working as a bar manager at a sushi restaurant in North Carolina - and eating a lot of sushi. Both of these salads are very versatile and can be modified to taste and available ingredients. And this is my best guess on measurements so you may want to taste as you go and have fun experimenting!

Tabbouleh Salad
1/2 c. cooked quinoa (can add extra quinoa but you want to aim for more parsley than anything else)
1-2 bunches of parsley (stems removed)
juice of 1/2 lemon (or more)
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 TB olive oil
1-2 bunches scallions (chopped)
1/2 bunch mint (roughly chopped)
1 tomato (chopped) or sliced cherry tomatoes
Combine quinoa and vegetables and herbs in a large mixing bowl. Cover with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Serve cold and often.

Cucumber Salad
1-2 thinly sliced cucumbers
Sesame seeds
**Add in scallions, herbs and greens for a boost of nutrients

1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
2 TB sesame oil
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 tsp honey
2 TB Bragg Liquid Aminos (you can use soy sauce but the liquid aminos are good for you and taste just as good)
Slice the cucumbers thinly and at an angle. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Combine cucumbers with dressing and top with sesame seeds.