It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a vegetarian meal. I’ve been on a paleo inspired path for the last 9+ months and I’m pretty positive this is the first vegetarian meal I’ve cooked during this time frame. Wow! I started this blog as a vegetarian 6 years ago. All I can say is I’ve come along way with my food journey!
These days I’m not bound by eating one particular way. I enjoy trying different styles of eating, discovering what works for me and what doesn’t. While I like paleo I definitely discovered a few things. For one, I really do have to watch my carbohydrate intake. It’s easy for me to eat too little carbohydrates when following paleo guidelines. Yes you read that right too few carbs! They are good for you people. These days I workout regularly with weights and started to notice a decrease in my performance. So I started to make an effort to eat more carbs, the good ones of course, and things balanced out. I recently bought a book with an in-depth explanation of being a paleo athlete. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m curious to learn more about this approach, even though I’m not 100% sure it’s for me. Also when eating paleo it’s easy for me to start consuming too much protein. I am always really good about eating a large quantity of vegetables, I love my veggies! But since I like to cook large amounts of protein at once (to have for lunches and other meals) sometimes my consumption is too much. And as with anything if you eat too much your body stores it as fat. Always a lesson to be learned!
So I’m bouncing around eating foods I haven’t eaten for months, particularly grains, and decreasing my intake of animal protein. I’m liking how things are working out. I should point out I eat for my health. No matter what method I’m following if any this is my motivation. I want to feel good before, during, and after I eat. I want to be strong and energized to have fun with my family, exercise at high intensities, and of course to feel confident in who I am. This vegetarian meal met all my expectations, was definitely delicious, and also satiating. The greens were from our garden, yippee!!! But the what really made this salad was the fresh tarragon vinaigrette. I am a total sucker for tarragon anything and the dressing was awesome with the flavor of beets and quinoa.
Beet and Quinoa Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
A summer salad filled with crunch and color. Greens, beets, cucumber, snap peas, kalamata olives, quinoa, feta, and egg all tied together with a homemade tarragon vinaigrette.
For the Salad:
- crisp greens
- 3 beets
- 1/2 cup snap peas, sliced on the diagonal into 1/2" pieces
- 1 persian cucumber, chopped
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise into quarters
- 1/4 cup quinoa, cooked according to package
- 3-4 oz feta, crumbled
- 2 eggs
For the Dressing:
- small shallot
- 2 lemons, zest and juice
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4-5 tablespoons tarragon leaves
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Mince shallot to get about ~2 tablespoons worth. Place in a jar along with the lemon juice (~3 tablespoons) and lemon zest from both lemons. Let marinate at least 30 minutes.
- Mince garlic and rub the pieces with the side of the knife until a paste forms.
- Chop tarragon leaves.
- Add the garlic paste, mustard, and tarragon to the shallot and lemon juice. Mix well and season with s&p.
- While whisking drizzle in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Place in the fridge.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the beets and cook 20-30 minutes until tender. Rinse under cold water to cool. Peel off skin and slice into wedges. Place beets in a small bowl, season with s&p, and toss with a tablespoon or so of dressing. Set aside.
- Cook the quinoa according to the package. Once cooled add the prepared snap peas, cucumber, kalamata olives, and feta. Season with s&p and add a few tablespoons of dressing. Enough to coat. Set aside.
- Bring another pot of water to boil. Once boiling add the two eggs and continue to boil for exactly 7 minutes. Immediately run under cold water to stop the cooking. Peel carefully.
- Place greens in bowls and top with the quinoa salad and beets. Lastly slice the egg lengthwise and add to salads. Season eggs with a bit of s&p. Serve with the extra dressing.
Typically I’m a basil pesto kind of girl. I’ve been known to make an arugula pesto or swiss chard pesto on the occasion but I find it hard to beat a basil variety. But what’s a girl to do when she has more cilantro than she knows what do with growing in her garden? I have about 10 plants growing, each over 2 feet tall and about to bolt. I gave tons away but I still had plenty more than I could eat on tacos or in salads. So I stepped outside my usual and made a batch of pesto. I was weary going in to it. Extremely weary. I picked the cilantro and let it sit in my fridge for 3 days before I fully committed. Pecorino romano cheese and cilantro don’t sound like to flavors that should be mixed. But I went for it and was pleasantly surprised. Actually really really surprised at how good it tasted. Total win!
I used walnuts since they are my go to for pesto these days. I don’t always have pine nuts on hand and I like the texture and taste walnuts add. Otherwise I kept it pretty standard.. garlic, pecorino romano, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. My plan is to make cilantro pesto grilled chicken. Stay tuned as I will be sure to share!
- 3 cups cilantro leaves
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
- Place garlic clove in a food processor and pulse to mince.
- Add cilantro, walnuts, pecorino, and lemon juice. Season generously with s&p. While running the processor, slowly drizzle olive oil in until desired consistency is reached. If needed season with more s&p.
I’ve mentioned homemade mayo before. It’s ridiculously easy to make and contains only six ingredients. No preservatives or other crap that just about every jar you can buy at the store contains. To me their really are no downsides to making your own mayo. It takes all of five minutes and the taste is oh so much better. Storage life is only 2-3 weeks, which may be an issue for some, but for our household we use what we need and if it’s heading past its prime, to the compost it goes. This being said, I do try to minimize food waste. And I know I do a great job with this. But, I also try to keep processed and preservative foods in our household to a minimum. So if this means tossing a little bit of homemade food, well then so be it.
I consider myself passionate about eating clean. It’s a buzz word these days so I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again. I’m not one for trendiness but this one is worth looking in to. What I take to heart is creating a way of life that benefits me and my family. Eating clean is a pretty simple concept to follow. To simplify it – don’t eat fast food, don’t eat frozen meals, don’t eat most packaged snacks. Instead cook. Basic cooking is all it takes. It’s not ridiculously expensive or even complicated. It just takes a little effort. I think we all can prioritize what truly matters in life, and make the necessary changes to being a better person. For me this all starts with food!
- 1 egg, room temperature
- juice from 1 lemon, ~2 tablespoons, room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon German style mustard, or dijon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup walnut oil, or any other light oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
- Make sure the egg and lemon juice are room temperature!
- Place all ingredients in a jar or cup. I use the one that came with my immersion blender.
- Place the immersion blender to the bottom of the jar and turn on. Do NOT raise until the bottom has emulsified. Then lift the immersion blender up and down to blend in the rest of the oil.
- Store in the fridge in a closed container up to 3 weeks.
This is a simple dressing to add some zing to your salad routine. I made it to dress a shrimp salad, Asian inspired. I love the combination of lime, miso, and ginger. Not too overpowering but lots of bright flavors which go great with crunchy vegetables – snap peas, bean sprouts, daikon radish, carrot, ect.. I loved this dressing so much I’ve made it twice within a week!
A dressing to add some excitement to your salad, or a marinade for your grilled chicken.
- 2 tablespoons sweet white miso
- 4 tablespoons lime juice (3-4 limes)
- 1 1/2" knob of ginger
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- fresh pepper
- Combine all ingredients and blend. I used the individual serving container for my ninja blender, but a food processor would work great too.
- Refrigerate up to a week.
Sometimes I see an exciting ingredient in the store and buy it not knowing what creative something I will create. Insert kumquats. It’s been awhile since I’ve bought them and the second they caught my eye they were in my cart. Growing up I had a friend with a kumquat tree. We used to love peeling them and eating their sour flesh. These days I still love their tart yumminess, but I can only handle so many raw. I stared at them on the counter for a few days before I decided on making a chutney. I’ve never made chutney before but after doing a little research it seemed pretty easy.
I decided on the combination of kumquat, dates, and crystalized ginger. I simmered these with shallot, coconut vinegar, orange juice, and chinese 5 spice. Yum! Enjoy this chutney with a cheese plate, served on poultry, spread on toast, or even with some vanilla ice cream :0.
Kumquat, Date, & Ginger Chutney
- 8 oz kumquats
- 8 medjool dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup crystalized ginger, chopped into 1/4" pieces
- 2 shallots, chopped small
- 1 orange zest and juice (~3/4 cup juice)
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon chinese 5 spice
- pinch salt
- Prepare kumquats. Slice into thin rounds removing seeds. I'm not going to lie this is somewhat of a pain.
- Place all ingredients - prepared kumquats, dates, ginger, shallots, orange juice, and orange zest in a saucepan. Add in the sugar, coconut vinegar, 5 spice, and salt. Heat over low heat and bring to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often, until thick. Remove to a jar and let cool.