Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar

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While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished. I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.

Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar
(from Popsugar Fitness)
Makes 1

1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.


Berry Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing

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The latest recipe swap theme was Summer Salads – I’m not sure there’s anything better than a great salad this time of year so I’m super excited to see what everyone made!

This simple salad came from Jaida at Sweet Beginnings.  It was delicious. I made it for my summer book club meeting and everyone raved about it! The dressing was almost dessert-like, but paired with the bitterness of the spring greens it worked really well. And I’m not sure who wouldn’t like a salad with all that gorgeous summer fruit!

 Berry Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing
(from Sweet Beginnings)
Serves 4-6 as a side

4 c. Spring salad mix
1 c. strawberries, hulled and halved
1 c. blackberries
2 kiwis, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

To make the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium for 6-8 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half. Slowly whisk in the cream. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes. Removed from the heat and cool. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the salad, toss the berries and kiwi with enough dressing to lightly coat. Top the spring mix with coated berries.

You can check out what the rest of the swap participants made below. And as always, thank you to Sarah for organizing!


Loaded Baked Potato Salad

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Have I mentioned it’s been a bad summer for grilling yet? Because it struck again yesterday. We had plans to have a BBQ on the deck – and then it drizzled all day! What a kill joy.

I had bookmarked this recipe at the beginning of the summer and thought I was finally getting my perfect opportunity to make it! This is a really fun side – a mash-up of potato salad and a loaded baked potato. It’s the perfect cookout dish. (Even if you’re eating inside!) I’m sure this will be making repeat appearances on our summer table.

 

Loaded Baked Potato Salad
(slightly adapted from Will Cook for Smiles)
Serves 8-10 as a side

2 1/2 lbs. potatoes
1 lb. bacon, cooked crispy
1/2 c. chopped Green Onion
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream
Salt/Pepper
1 T. minced fresh dill weed

Cut the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes. Add them to a pot and cover with cold water. Cook until just barely fork tender. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.

Combine the potatoes, bacon crumbles, green onions and cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add in the mayo, sour cream, salt, pepper, and dill and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with additional green onions or bacon crumbles if desired.


BLT Corn Salad Wrap

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Grilling is such a perfect theme for a summer recipe swap! I love using the grill during the summer – it just seems to make everything faster and easier.

I always think meat when I think grilling, but I was lucky enough to get a veggie-heavy recipe to shake things up. This easy salad is great warm or cold – which makes it the perfect dish for summer. Wrapped in lettuce leaves, it’s a great lunch or light dinner – but even on it’s own it’s a great side salad.

Thanks for submitting the recipe, Christine! We really enjoyed it.

BLT Corn Salad Wrap
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes about 5 cups of corn salad

3 ears of corn, shucked of their husks and silk
1 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 c. chopped green onions
4 slices cooked bacon, diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper,  to taste
A good sprinkling of chili powder and smoky paprika
Butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves

Grill the corn and when it has cooled enough to handle, cut off the cob.

Toss the corn in a bowl with the tomatoes, green onions, bacon, lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika.

Serve with lettuce leaves as wraps.

 

You can check out the rest of the Grilling Swap recipes below. Thanks, Sarah, for hosting!

 


Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

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I’ve made a few quinoa dishes before, and I’ve never loved them. They were ok, but nothing I’d make again. I started wondering if all the hype about quinoa was just that – hype – and it really wasn’t as good as everyone was making it out to be. And then I made this and took it all back.

This was delicious. I actually loved the veggies in the hot sauce dressing more than the chicken – I think next time I make it, it’ll be a vegetarian version to take for lunches. And even though this was buffalo, it didn’t seem that hot to me. Even if you’re not into very spicy, I think this is worth trying.

The recipe makes 2-3 large servings, but it reheats like a dream so doubling it is a fantastic idea.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
(slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
Serves 2-3

for the salad:
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 c. broccoli florets
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c. hot sauce
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish

for the dressing:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. hot sauce
1 t. seasoned salt
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
For the salad, rinse the quinoa well and add to a saucepan with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside. Add the chicken and 1/4 cup hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the hot sauce is absorbed.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, carrots and blue cheese.  Add as much dressing as desired (I used about half) and toss to coat. Top with additional blue cheese before serving.

Panera-Style Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

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I think it’s the summer heat, but I’m loving big dinner salads lately. This is one of my most recent favorites. It’s based on one of my favorite Panera salads and while I don’t think it’s dead-on, it’s a really great at-home option.

Warm, grilled chicken along with cold mandarin oranges and a great dressing – this salad is a winner.

Panera-Style Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
(from Iowa Girl Eats)
Serves 2

Romaine lettuce
2 medium chicken breasts
6 oz. can mandarin oranges, rinsed and drained
2 oz. slivered almonds
Wonton strips

For the chicken marinade:
3 T. soy sauce
2 t. brown sugar
1 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. garlic powder

For the dressing:
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. canola oil
1 1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. salt
Pepper, to taste
1/2 t. sesame seeds, toasted

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken marinade ingredients.  Add the chicken breasts and marinade for 15 minutes. Grill over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, until cooked through and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Cut into slices.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat, then add in the sugar and stir until dissolved. Once it’s cool, combine the vinegar and sugar mixture with the rest of the dressing ingredients in a jar, and shake to combine.

Toss the lettuce with a few tablespoons of dressing and divide between two plates. Top with sliced chicken, mandarin oranges, almonds and wonton strips.

 


Mason Jar Salads

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Lunch has been a bit of a problem for me lately. Work’s been busy and by the time I get around to lunch break, I just want to grab something – which has been a lot of fast food or something from the cafeteria at work. Occasionally, I can get myself to pick up something healthy (aka, salad bar), but all of it’s been a little rough on the wallet.

I decided I was going to kick the habit this week and get lunch under control.

The idea of jarred salads have been all over Pinterest – and they seemed a really good option. Prep them at the beginning of the week -dressing goes on the bottom, lettuce on top – and you have fresh, prepared salad all week. I made a Greek-inspired version for lunches this week.

There’s not really a recipe here, just a layering method. You start out with your dressing at the bottom (I used a Greek vinaigrette with feta) followed by your proteins (red beans and grilled chicken, for me). After that comes the “sturdy” vegetables (cucumber and red onion), then the more “delicate” toppings (tomatoes, olives and feta). The rest of the jar is filled up with lettuce.

It cost me just about $15 to get everything to make five days worth of lunch (not including the jars – I already had those). At $3/day, this is much less than I would spend buying lunch. It’s also a pretty balanced, healthy lunch – better than I would pick during a normal lunch rush.

Just dump the contents of the jar into a bowl and you’re good to go.

I was really impressed by how well the salads held up packaged like this. Today’s lettuce is still crisp and nothing is soggy. I wish I had tried this sooner – it’s just what I needed for lunch.


Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Citrus-Curry Dressing

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Today is recipe swap day! For the latest blogger’s choice swap, I had Jaida’s blog, Sweet Beginnings. I knew I wanted to make a meatless meal since today’s another Lenten Friday and Jaida had lots of great options to pick from.

I settled on this salad because I knew it’d be perfect as a dinner and also as an easy-to-pack lunch for work. Gosh, was this good. I’ve never been so happy that my husband doesn’t really like sweet potatoes – more for me!

 Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Citrus-Curry Dressing
(as seen on Sweet Beginnings, originally from Pampered Chef – Spin on Salads)
Serves 4 as a main dish

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. mayo
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. curry powder
1 t. orange zest
1 medium Red Delicious apple, cored and diced
1/2 c. diced celery
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onions, with tops
1 package fresh baby greens

Preheat the oven to 450F degrees. Line a large backing sheet with foil.

Cut the sweet potatoes into large cubes and toss with olive oil to coat. Spread them in a single layer on the baking dish and roast for 22 minutes, turning halfway through. After roasting, set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, orange juice, mustard, curry powder and orange zest to make dressing. Set aside.

Combine cool sweet potatoes, apple, celery, green onions with 1/3 c. of the dressing and toss to coat.

Serve over baby greens.

You can check out what the other blogger chose to make below. Thanks to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!

 



Autumn Salad w/ Homemade Dressing

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A few weeks ago, I started taking a Monday evening yoga class.  It feels wrong to eat a heavy dinner before going, so I’ve been whipping up lighter fare. This salad has been my favorite of the lot so far.

Pears, pecans and cranberries make this perfect for the season. The homemade salad dressings, though, give it the extra special touch. I’ve been remaking this salad for lunch a few days a week because I enjoyed it so much. It would also be a perfect dish to make for Thanksgiving dinner! 

 

Autumn Salad
(from Espresso and Cream)
Serves 2

3 to 4 c. chopped romaine lettuce
1 medium pear, chopped
1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pecans
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 T. Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (recipe below)
2 t. Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Combine lettuce, pear, cranberries, pecans, bacon and feta in a large bowl. Toss with dressing.

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
(from All Recipes)
Makes about 1.5 cups

3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cider vinegar
4 1/2 t. grated onion
1 T. ground mustard
1 t. poppy seeds
1/2 t. salt
1 c. vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Slowly add oil, while whisking briskly. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
(from All Recipes)
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 t. ground mustard
1 pinch salt
Ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and mustard powder. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.


Watermelon Salad

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This is another recipe I made in an effort to use up our watermelon a little faster. I was sick of eating plain watermelon so I was hoping dressing it up a little would make it more appealing – and this totally did the trick.

The flavors here work really well together and make a great dish – it was something I was looking forward to eating again, despite being watermelon-ed out. The recipe below is sized to serve one because I felt this dish was best fresh. You can multiply it as needed.

Watermelon Salad
(adapted from Cooking Weekends)
Serves 1

2 c. watermelon, cubed
1/4 c. crumbled feta
1/4 c. kalamata olives, halved
2 T. chopped red onion

Toss together. Serve immediately.