Creamy Dreamy Quinoa Salad w/ Roasted Cauliflower & Lemon-Tahini Drizzle (Vegan, GF)

Happy Monday! It’s felt like a while since I’ve had a spare few minutes to put up a post on here… life has been crazy these days! But, I was finally able to steal a few hours in the kitchen today on my day off to whip up the salad of all salads.

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and that means party-season! Cheers to dining al fresco, cooking out, and spending times with friends. This year we’re hosting a few friends at our house potluck-style. As some of them follow vegan and/or gluten-free diets, I thought a big salad would be the perfect side to share. (There will also be “the meats”… but Ben is in charge of that area :P)

Creamy Dreamy Quinoa Salad w/ Roasted Cauliflower & Lemon-Tahini Drizzle

Vegan, gluten-free, and packed with protein for staying-power, I will definitely be tucking this one away in my recipe files! I used nutritional yeast (my first time using!) to give the roasted cauliflower and chickpeas a “cheesy” vibe, and of course a lemon-tahini dressing always takes the creamy factor up a notch.

Pair this with meat, tofu, or a poached egg to make it a meal. A few slices of avocado would be perfect here too. Oh my goodness. Get in my belly NOW.

Recipe below. Enjoy!

Creamy Dreamy Quinoa Salad w/ Roasted Cauliflower & Lemon-Tahini Drizzle (Vegan, GF)
Recipe Type: Vegan, Gluten-Free
Cuisine: Summer, Healthy
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
The perfect potluck dish for Memorial Day! Vegan, gluten-free, and deliciously satisfying. Drizzle with some of the lemon-tahini vinaigrette to take the creamy-dreamy factor to the next level!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp greek seasoning (or just use garlic powder)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 large tomato (or 1 cup cherry tomatoes), chopped roughly
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • handful baby carrots, chopped roughly
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • For drizzle:
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of other half of lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • hot water, to thin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, and seasoning. Spread in an even layer on a prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Cook for 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool.
  2. Meanwhile, mix quinoa and lentils in a saucepan and add 2 cups water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 18-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and lentils are al dente.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the tomato, parsley, carrots, lemon juice 3-4 times or until roughly chopped. Don’t overdo it here- you don’t want gazpacho!
  4. Add the chopped veggie mixture to a large bowl and toss with spinach and the cooked grains. Top with roasted cauliflower mixture and sprinkle on additional nutritional yeast if desired.
  5. To prepare the lemon tahini drizzle, whisk together all ingredients in a jar. Add enough hot water to thin out, then drizzle on top of salad.
Creamy Dreamy Quinoa Salad w/ Roasted Cauliflower & Lemon-Tahini Drizzle (Vegan, GF)

Pasta Salad w/ Hope Kale Pesto Hummus

Happy Monday! Anyone else confused by this weather? Seriously, is it only February? This past weekend we enjoyed sunny and temps in the mid-70s! Ben and I had a relaxing weekend. Friday night we went downtown to Gonza Tacos y Taquila– good salsa, fish tacos and a strawberry margarita hit the spot! On Saturday, I enjoyed a nice long run on the American Tobacco Trail with Samoa to tire her out… but I think I only managed to rile her up even more. This face– I can’t resist!

Saturday night Ben and I went to a work BBQ for his company. We had a blast chatting, eating, and sipping on some brews. I can’t believe I was able to wear shorts! We contributed some deviled eggs and chili-stuffed cornbread, adapted from RecipeRunner.

One of the vegetarian dishes someone brought to the party was a big, colorful bowtie salad. I had forgotten how good this tastes during picnic season! I decided that since it’s been so warm, I might as well whip up my own version to last through the week.

Let picnic season begin!

Pasta Salad w/ Hope Kale Pesto Hummus

For a creamy dressing to go on this salad, I decided to use this new-to-me hummus from Hope Foods. Hope Hummus has ten different hummus varieties including original, spicy avocado, thai coconut curry, and even dark chocolate! I love that Hope Foods values preservative-free and local ingredients, clean water, and agricultural job creation. None of which is at the expense of amazing flavor. I’ve tried the original, spicy avocado and kale pesto so far, and none of them have disappointed! Hope is based out of Colorado and can be found in all major grocery stores in the refrigerated section.

This salad is super easy to whip up, especially if you have some of these ingredients in cans in your pantry already. I semi-cheated and got a lot of them from the salad bar in Harris Teeter. That way I could get just what I needed in the right amounts.

Pasta Salad w/ Hope Kale Pesto Hummus
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Summer, Picnic
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Let picnic and BBQ season begin! Next time you make a salad like this, consider using a prepared hummus like this one from Hope Foods!
Ingredients
  • 1 package tri-color farfalle pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 cups chopped baby spinach
  • chopped peppers, artichoke hearts, black and/or green olives, shredded carrots (about 1 1/2 cups total)
  • 1 package Hope brand Kale Pesto hummus
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, minus 1 minute (to al dente). Add the broccoli in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving ~1/4 cup pasta water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine garlic through chopped vegetables. Add pasta and toss.
  3. In a mason jar, whisk together hummus, lemon juice, and reserved pasta water (add more or less depending on how thick you want your dressing- but it will thicken once cooled and added to the pasta!).
  4. Toss salad with dressing and feta. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.
Pasta Salad w/ Hope Kale Pesto Hummus

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite way to eat hummus?

Warm Butternut & Farro Spinach Salad

Butternut Squash & Farro Spinach Salad

Happy New Year! What are your resolutions, goals, or intentions for the year ahead?

I hate the idea of resolutions, but I love the idea of having intentions. This year, I am intent to:

  1. Be a better listener. Sometimes I find I ask someone a question and then get distracted even before they finish telling me the answer! Hope to work on that this year. I also want to be better at resting.
  2. Rest better. It’s ok if the dishwasher hasn’t been unloaded and the laundry is still in the dryer 10 minutes after it’s finished running. These things will eventually get done, and I don’t need to feel like I have to check all 36 things off of my to-do list before I can sit down and breathe.

 

Many of you will probably have health goals as well, which is why I wanted to bring this recipe to you today! The new year is a great opportunity to start fresh in your eating and exercise goals, but remember to give yourself some grace and set yourself up for success by NOT expecting to be perfect. “Perfect” eating, in my book, means indulging sometimes, overeating sometimes, and cutting back when your body is telling you it’s had a few too many buckeyes.

I made this salad this past weekend when my parents and sister/bro-in-law were visiting for the holiday. We served it with steaks from Ben’s dad’s company, and black-eyed peas from my sister (because apparently they symbolize good luck?). All were delicious, and the smoke eventually cleared out of our house after pan-searing the steaks because our grill was out of gas…

This salad has all the flavorful reminders of the holidays while also being packed with protein, vitamins, and ruffage to reset your system! I love how the farro sticks to the squash and cauliflower to bulk it up a little bit. And the sunflower seeds provide a little extra crunch! I used a simple vinaigrette of citrus and balsamic vinegar, but you could really play around with it to your liking.

Happy eating!

Butternut Squash & Farro Spinach Salad
Warm Butternut & Farro Spinach Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Starting a new year doesn’t need to be painful when it comes to eating better. Ring in your year of good intentions and health goals with this delicious, vegetarian and protein-packed salad!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 16 oz spring mix or spinach
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup feta
  • For dressing:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Prepare farro according to package directions, until al dente. Remove from pot and cool for at least 10 minutes. (I used my rice cooker for this- comes out perfect every time!)
  3. While farro is cooking, shake all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar.
  4. Combine 3 tbsp oil, squash, cauliflower, cranberries, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on prepared cookie sheet and roast 30 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  5. In a large bowl, drizzle about half of vinaigrette onto spring mix and toss.
  6. Add farro, roasted vegetables, feta, and remaining vinaigrette. Toss gently.
  7. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and additional feta or if desired.

 

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Happy October! Even though it’s hard every year to see summer come to a close, I can’t help but feel a little excited thinking about the hustle and bustle of fall- back to school, turning the heat on for the first time, bubble baths, crisp evenings, and all things apples. Next week Ben and I are taking our annual apple picking trip to Carter Mountain– my favorite day of the year! Bring on the winesap, stayman, and apple cider doughnuts! Crossing my fingers for good weather up there!

This week, right on cue, I started craving roasted vegetables. For some reason I’ve been super into eggplant recently. Maybe because of it’s slightly meaty texture and the fact that you can customize it with just about any spice.

For this one, I went for an Indian curry profile, using garam masala (my favorite new spice blend- have you tried it in my Brown Butter Molasses Cookies yet?) and cumin to spice things up. I tossed on a can of chickpeas, as well as some red onion, tomato, sliced zucchini, and cauliflower.

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I could not stop eating this right off the sheet. #trueconfessions

You could do a lot with these roasted veggies alone, like put them in a stew, serve as a side dish for a beautiful autumnal salad, or do what I did and use them in a grain bowl! I had some cooked lentil and farro, so I tossed some of these on top of the grains with some spinach, then topped with a nice runny egg and some feta crumbles. I bet goat cheese would be excellent as well!

Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

(Side note: have you tried the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Hot Stuff Sauce at Whole Foods? I am obsessed. We are having a game night tonight and I may just have to make them.)

Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Recipe Type: Salad, Main Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Indian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Looking for a hearty but healthy salad to celebrate the beginning of autumn? Try this spicy and savory grain bowl with a nice big Indian kick!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into discs 1/4″ thick
  • 3-4 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 head cauliflower, brokein into florets
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • extra virgin olive oil (about 3-4 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala or other Indian spice blend
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional: cooked grain (I used lentils/farro), egg, feta or goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Line two large cookie sheets with silpat or cooking spray.
  3. Layer eggplant and zucchini on sheet so that they are slightly overlapping. Top with red onion and drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together all spices until combined. Sprinkle on about half of this mixture to the vegetables.
  5. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas, drizzle with remaining olive oil and spice blend.
  6. Bake at 400 deg for 50 minutes until chickpeas are crispy and cauliflower is golden-brown.
  7. Allow to cool, then remove from pan and use on top of your favorite grains for a satisfying and healthy side, or top with poached egg and crumbled feta to make it a meal!
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Happy Labor Day! I hope you enjoyed a day of parading, picnicking, and precious time with family, neighbors, and friends! I had the most incredible weekend visiting my friend Kate in NYC, followed by a brief trip to CT to see my parents. And after all the hype about Hermine, the weather could not have been more perfect!

Back in Durham now, and another gorgeous day. Ben and I went for a 5 mile walk with Samoa and it was one of those September afternoons that you wish you could just bottle up and take out in February just to remind yourself that IT WILL NOT BE WINTER FOREVER.

So I’m kind of at a cross-roads between summer and fall. Part of me wants to hang onto the summer with its breezy evenings, don’t-even-need-a-jacket type weather… but the other part of me is anticipating the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, and all things pumpkin spice. (Sidenote: Kate and I made pumpkin hummus this past weekend. It was epic on a piece of Ezekiel bread with half of a mashed banana and drizzle of maple syrup on top.) To marry the fresh flavors of summer produce with the warm fuzzy feeling of fall, I decided to create this salad.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

And here you have it- the marriage of summer and fall. Packed with zucchini, roasted corn, vine tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tied together with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is one to definitely keep making all season. I used lentils to bulk it up a little bit, since I usually eat salads like this as my entree, but you could easily leave it out if you wanted a looser salad.

Recipe below. Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Summer, Fall, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
The marriage of summer and fall! Packed with zucchini, roasted corn, vine tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tied together with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is one to definitely keep making all season.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 cobs corn, husked
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash of salt, to taste
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4 ripe on-the-vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • feta cheese, for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Roast corn on lower rack for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove and cool.
  2. Meanwhile, mix lentils and quinoa with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 minutes or until al dente, then drain.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes, red onion, 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, paprika, and salt. Toss to combine.
  4. Spread potato mixture on a silicone-lined baking sheet, then roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender. Remove and cool.
  5. Zest lemon into large bowl and squeeze in half of its juice. Add zucchini and tomatoes.
  6. In a food processor, combine parsley, remaining lemon juice, 1 tbsp remaining oil, red wine vinegar, and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until liquefied. Stir in chickpeas, then pulse for 3-4 pulses until chickpeas are just sliced a little (do NOT over-pulse here or you will end up with hummus!).
  7. Stir chickpea and parsley mixture into bowl with the zucchini and tomatoes. Stir in sweet potatoes, corn, and grains.
  8. Toss and serve with feta cheese. I also drizzled on a little balsamic vinegar!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Why hello! Did you have a good weekend?

We did here! Friday night Ben and I headed downtown for happy hour to watch the live music at Brightleaf Square. It wasn’t as packed as it usually is, but that’s likely because we were there on the early side, PLUS it was about 398 degrees out so really, all the smart people were inside. We were exhausted, so it was nice to just chill out melt and put our feet up for a while as we sipped brews and munched on chips.

Saturday was a major errands/chores day. I made a big grocery run and did some cooking for the week (prepped crock pot chicken to use in enchiladas for Ben, plus the salad in this post), tried out my AMAZING new cordless vacuum (I think the neighbors are starting to get concerned that I have a cleaning problem… good thing it has a short battery life!), went for a run, and took Samoa for a long walk on the trail. Today it was a 20 mi. bike ride on the ATC (before the humidity set in!), church, a cat-nap, and the 2nd Rock Steady Boxing Class in Cary with a few of my PD patients. Then this afternoon we met up with a few small group folks (missed you, Tawny and Healys!) to play board games at Ponysaurus. Fun day!

Part of what I like to do on the weekends is prep one nice big salad and casserole to last us through the week. We still have leftovers from last week’s Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna, but it’s nice to have another option while this dwindles (or goes bad, whichever happens first). I usually eat the salad as my entree with some roasted veggies and some type of meatless protein (my go-to is tofu, but I’m also a big fan of the fried egg or some kind of fish), and Ben will have the casserole with the salad as a side. It’s been working great for us since both of us work full-time, and it avoids the whole staring-at-the-open-fridge and shouting “honey, what do we have to eat?” problem, OR the temptation to get take-out!

Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

This week an oldie but a goodie is on the salad menu. Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. I’ve definitely made this before, since it’s super easy and feeds a crowd, but I’m not sure I ever used this much lime juice. I’ve definitely never used fresh roasted corn on the cob, either. It made a HUGE difference! The roasted corn is much sweeter than frozen, and it absorbs much more of the vinaigrette.

This salad is salsa-like in texture, and I’ve also started adding a grain blend (lentils and farro are the best) to help absorb some of the extra liquid and bulk up the salad a bit. Bigger salad = fewer weeknights that I have to cook. I’m pretty OK with that. I would rather spend my time recipe-creating when I’m relaxed and have a whole afternoon to do it than when I get home at 7pm and have about 20 other things to do to get ready ready for the next day.

Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian, Mexican
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Love salsa as much as I do? I could eat it by the gallon! Instead of stocking your pantry with Tostitos, though, why not try out a fresh take on your own? Better for you AND cheaper! Perfect for dunking chips, stuffing tacos, or eating right out of the bowl 🙂
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils or farro (I used a mixture, so about 1/2 cup of each)
  • 5 medium ears of corn
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or less if you don’t like your salad as acidic as I do!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, for spice-lovers)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 onion)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • fresh chopped avocado, for serving
  • additional cilantro, for serving
  • greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Husk corn and bake at 350, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes until kernels are tender. When cool to touch, slice kernels lengthwise to remove from the cob. Set aside.
  2. Combine 1 cup lentils/farro with 2 1/2 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 13 minutes until al dente. Drain immediately.
  3. Meanwhile, make vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil through garlic powder in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, beans, and corn.
  5. Stir in lentils/farro (this is best when the grains are still warm, so they soak up the juice of the tomatoes and vinaigrette).
  6. Serve immediately or store for up to 6 days in the fridge. Just before serving, top with sliced avocado, additional cilantro, salt and pepper, and a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

This goes without saying, but you have complete freedom to experiment with different varieties of grains, beans, and veggies in this salad. Get creative! I forgot to do it this time, but a drizzle of honey would be amazing in the vinaigrette for a touch of sweetness. Although I do insist on using corn on the cob vs. canned or frozen. Makes a world of difference!

Like I said in the beginning of this post, this salad is totally versatile and can be enjoyed as a main dish, side, or garnish. I currently love dipping hearty crackers or crispbread and letting them get the slightest bit soggy before I top with a little dollop of Greek and stuff it in my mouth. Let me know how you like it. Happy week!