Corn & Quinoa Salad with Lemon & Mint

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

I write to you from Tucson, Arizona, where it is now “only” 99 degrees Fahrenheit outside, cooling down from what was likely a balmy high of 104. I’m here visiting family and taking in the general gestalt of the desert, where I lived for 18 years as a kid, but somehow appreciate so much more now. You don’t get sunsets and golden light like here anywhere else. And after marathoning Breaking Bad for the last few weeks (I know I’m late to the party, but yeah, it’s good), the desert seems even more cinematic, driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour with nothing but mountains, dust, and cacti on either side.

In any case, summer is felt loud and clear around these parts, and in summer I love these kinds of salads that can be a light dinner, a whole dinner, a lunch, an appetizer… and be as delicious cold as it is warm. This particular quinoa salad has a fantastic flavor, probably owing a lot to the fresh flavors of the corn, lemon and mint that play perfectly off the deep background flavor of butter and a hint of honey. And the fresh mint leaves throughout make the whole thing come together and sing. I devoured this warm for dinner, then ate it the next two days for work lunches, just cold out of the fridge. I probably don’t have to tell you that it would be a great potluck meal or side dish to bring too, and very easy to make a day ahead.

I hope everyone out there (at least those of you in the Northern hemisphere) are having a lovely summer so far, full of fresh foods and longer relaxing days. Do you have an all-time favorite summer salad?

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

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Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

The first time I had caprese, it was in a salad. Not the traditional caprese salad you may be thinking of – which is just sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella laying together in harmony, perfect as they are – but instead a big pile of salad greens with fresh basil leaves throughout, topped with cut tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Needless to say, it was incredibly good, so good that I often ordered in lieu of pizza at that restaurant (gasp). It has since been my go-to whenever I’m asked to bring an appetizer to a potluck – it’s hard to mess up.

And in the warm months, it’s hard to imagine a better thing to eat. Basil and tomatoes are at their freshest and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you can just go grab handfuls of both right outside. It is a big, bold, underlined item on my Life Goals list to have a garden of my own, and when I do, it will be required to house many bunches of my beloved basil.

Here, we’ve got another slight variation on the tomato, mozz, basil holy trinity: toss ’em with pasta. This caprese pasta salad has a twist, too: the tomatoes are quickly roasted in olive oil and garlic until they blister and soften in the oven, taking away any bitterness and replacing it with earthy sweetness. I had a hard time not plucking them all off of the pan and eating them before assembling the pasta. The roasted tomatoes get tossed with whatever pasta you like, ribbons of basil, and mozzarella in a bright vinaigrette. It’s equally good cold, room temperature, or warm, which makes it a great take-along meal for potlucks, parties, or just your desk at work.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

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roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta

roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Well, we are definitely in the doldrums of January. While most of my family members are basking in the golden, dripping sunlight and 70 degrees that is Phoenix, AZ, I’m here trying to protect myself from 20 mile-an-hour winds and 11 degree temperatures even on the short walk from my office to my car. I also woke up this morning inexplicably thinking it was Sunday morning, and halfway through thinking about my plans to lounge around all day, I realized that it was indeed just 5:15 on a Tuesday. Oy.

But instead of complaining about the cold, which I’m sure all of you agree is your favorite thing to read about on a blog, let’s list some things I’m super happy about that have happened this week: we finally took the long-awaited Trip To Ikea and got not only the bookshelves we’ve been needing (why yes, we have just been living with about 15 plastic bins full of books in our living room for the last 3 months, isn’t that how you decorate?), but we also got a cool little desk, two lamps, and a few kitchen knickknacks that I will never have enough of. I also tried two new restaurants this week, both a Korean fried chicken place that was perfect on a cold day, and a Mexican chain restaurant that turned out to surpass my expectations wildly. And I have been cooking most nights (most… not all) and enjoying it. Huzzah for these things!

And I’m here today to share one of the recent major successful recipes: this simple, easy farro and roasted broccoli salad.

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chickpea, cucumber, tomato and avocado salad

chickpea, cucumber, tomato and avocado salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Summer is here – though I’m sure most of us feel like it’s been around since mid-May or June. Because I’m an Arizona native, summer has always seemed to fall between the months of, oh, April to October. Even though I’m now in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I don’t feel like the heat is any less brutal, now that it’s combined with 70% humidity. These are the reasons we need salads like the one I’m sharing today: a jumble of chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado that gives the perfect crunchy, tangy and refreshing antidote to a hot day.

chickpea, cucumber, tomato and avocado salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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spring asparagus, white bean, and wild rice salad

spring asparagus, white bean, and wild rice salad

Spring is here, grad school is almost over for me, and I can again go outside without feeling like the weather is working against me! I’m excited to be able to cook more and also to hopefully go on more long walks outside. Spring also means I’m ready to eat lighter, and I think this asparagus salad is the perfect way to do that. It’s got the nice crunch of fresh asparagus, a zesty and lemony parmesan bite, and white beans and rice to round it out and make it a little bit hearty. It’s also healthy without even trying. I really love it and think it would be great to bring to picnics or get-togethers.

spring asparagus, white bean, and wild rice salad

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quinoa & black bean salad with lime vinaigrette

quinoa black bean salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

I have been crazy busy with grad school the past few months, and currently am enjoying my last few days before the next (and final!) semester begins. I cannot wait to get back to regular cooking and posting – I think about it and miss it on a near daily basis. Recipes like today’s wonderful one from Gather and Dine are so simple and perfect for when you’re 1) really busy, as we all tend to be, and 2) in the dead of a cold, bitter winter and want something light and refreshing but still so flavorful and delicious. It’s a simple quinoa and black bean salad that even quinoa haters can enjoy. I’m certainly not a huge quinoa fan, but in salads like this with a great tangy vinegar-and-lime punch, I can really get into it. This salad is also vegetarian and vegan, so it’s a great dish to bring to a get-together and make everyone happy. Almost all of the ingredients can be used either fresh or frozen/canned, so the salad can be made in winter while you dream of summer.

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summer greek salad

summer greek salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

About a year ago, I somehow came across old episodes of the Naked Chef on YouTube, and I was hooked. Jamie Oliver’s energy was absolutely unparalleled and he was like a walking exclamation point. His recipes, also, are awesome. This greek salad, which he calls “gorgeous greek salad,” is the perfect refreshing and crunchy summer salad. It’s healthy, uses only the simplest ingredients, and when the herbs and feta crumble into the dressing, it’s perfect.

summer greek salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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kale salad with toasted walnuts and parmesan

kale walnut & parmesan salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

With this, I think I have finally decided I really really like kale salad. This is the second kale salad I have tried from Smitten Kitchen (the first was her kale and quinoa salad, which is still one of my favorite salads ever). I’m convinced Deb just knows what she’s doing when it comes to salads, because this one is also fantastic. It has delicious golden raisins gently simmered to plump them up, toasted walnuts, and freshly grated cheese (I used parmesan because I had it, she uses pecorino). And it all comes together with a lightly lemony dressing and amazing crunchy toasted panko breadcrumbs.

kale walnut & parmesan salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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