Mexican-inspired Quinoa Salad

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A colorful Mexican style salad should stimulate your appetite in the hot season! This quinoa salad is also packed with other goodies: black beans, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes and avocado. I spiced it a little bit with pickled onions and chilies (or go for jalapeño to make it more Mexican spicy). I made a green dressing with half avocado, coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice, which turned out pretty freshly creamy. You can also use tomato salsa, or sour cream instead. Or, wanna make your salad more lighter yet still flavorful? Don’t waste the thick liquid from the pickled chilies!

Ingredients
( serves 2-3)
* 1 cup (120g) dry quinoa, rinsed
* 1 can (425g) black beans, rinsed
(or 150g dry beans, pre-soaked and cook in water until soft)
* 1 medium sized sweet potato, washed and cut in small dices
* 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
* 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
* 1 lemon
* a handful of coriander
* several slices of onion
* 2 small chilies, chopped into rings
* a garlic clove, peeled and chopped
* cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper
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Methods
1. The way to cook quinoa is basically the same as rice. The easiest method is to cook it in a rice-cooker. Bring two cups of water to the boil to one cup of quinoa.
2. Pickle the chilies and onions in lemon (half) juice with salt.
3. Place a pan on medium heat, give a nice splash of olive oil, put in all the cooked black beans, season with cumin, salt and pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stir several times in between in case the beans get burned. Set the beans aside.
4. Add some more oil in the pan, when heated, put in the sweet potatoes and let them fry on medium-low heat for 5 minutes or more, until the surface turns golden. Set aside.
5. Put half avocado flesh, a small handful of coriander, a big squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt in a blender, season to taste.
6. Time for assembly! Arrange the quinoa on the bottom of a plate, top with black beans, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, avocado and pickles. Garnish with coriander leaves. Dressing is on the side, what are we waiting for?

Summer Pasta Salad

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Good summer starts with a good salad. This vegetable pasta salad is loaded with a variety of veggies and seasoned with homemade pesto. It’s so easy to make, all you need to do is boil a large pot of pasta, chop up the veggies and toss it together with the dressing.Just take whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I boiled some asparagus, chopped a handful of cherry tomatoes, a few sun-dried tomatoes. You can use other veggies that you prefer such as zucchini, bell pepper, olives and so on. Then toss them with the pasta together with dressing. I made a quick batch of this yummy pesto (I wrote this pesto recipe in a previous issue: link). It’s so fresh, herbal, flavorful and rich. This classic pesto is made of basil, parsley, roasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt and olive oil. But again, my golden rule for making great pesto is: herbs/greens + nuts + cheese + olive oil = awesomeness. So, literally you can’t go wrong by following this. If you want it to be more simple, make your version of vinaigrette instead of pesto, by mixing an oil with something acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, balanced with salt, herbs or other spices. In the end, toss some roasted nuts, cheese and herbs to complete this wonderful salad. It can easily be served as a main dish instead of a side.
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INGREDIENTS
(serves 3)
300g dry pasta (I use fusilli)
A small bunch of asparagus, peeled and roughly chopped
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
A few sun dried tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
3 tbsp roasted peanuts
4 tbsp classic pesto (pesto recipe link) or other dressing
Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnishing

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METHODS
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. When the pasta is almost done, put the asparagus into the boiling water for 30 seconds too. Drain the pasta and asparagus, rinse under cold water until no longer hot. Set aside.
2. Add the pasta, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, together in a large container and mix with a generous amount of pesto. Toss until the pasta and veggies are evenly coated with the dressing.
3. Top with roasted peanuts, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and herbs. Feel free to add chopped avocado! This colorful and delicious pasta salad is ready to share, enjoy!

Gado Gado

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If you travel in Indonesia, “Gado Gado” might be the most common dish that you see on the menu. In Chinese language, this dish is simply translated as Indonesian salad. It can’t represent the whole Indonesian cuisine, but it definitely shows its popularity throughout the country.Gado Gado in Indonesian literally means “mix mix”, mixed with vegetables, fried tempeh or tofu, hard-boiled eggs, plenty of rich peanut sauce, toppings like ground peanuts, and prawn crackers. Probably you can see why it becomes so popular. All the nutrients are loaded in one bowl, the ingredients are easy to customize, and the sauce is just irresistible (if you are not allergic to peanut).

What’s in my Gado Gado bowl: thin-cut purple cabbage, sliced cucumber, carrot strips and sprouts for the freshness, vitamins and colors; fried tofu, boiled potato and egg for the protein and carbs; rice crackers for the crunchiness; sprouted beans and ground peanuts for toppings; and sauce as the soul ingredient.

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The common Gado-gado sauce uses ground peanuts, palm sugar, garlic, chilies, shrimp paste, tamarind, lime juice, and salt. To adjust it to a vegetarian version, as well as to make it more convenient to collect the ingredients, I’m using peanut butter, red curry paste, soy sauce, coconut milk, lemon juice, garlic, and a blender too. Be sure to taste and adjust the sauce to suit your preferences: sweeten it up with sugar, or make it zippier with an extra squeeze of lemon.

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This is a great build-your-own-bowl meal. The amount of each vegetable can be adjusted however you like. For an extra satisfying meal, add a scoop of rice. Plus, you can pack leftovers beautifully, make it ideal for lunches throughout the week.

INGREDIENTS

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Ingredients: (serves 2)
For Salad:
purple cabbage
cucumber
carrot
2 potatoes
2 eggs
200g cubed firm tofu
handful sprouts
rice crackers
sprouted beans and ground peanuts for toppings (optional)For sauce:
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp red curry paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
handful roasted peanut

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METHODS
1. Boil the potatoes and eggs, cut into quarters when cool down. Pan-fry the tofu cubes, set aside.
2. In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the sauce, blend well until smooth. Taste, adjust with more water if too thick, more peanut butter if too thin, more salt, sugar or lemon, to reach your satisfied flavor.
3. Assemble bowls: arrange the ingredients however you like, serve with the sauce and additional toppings such as roasted peanuts and sprouted beans.