Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Perfect Summer Salad Take 2

Some people think that making a salad takes up a lot of prep time and so resort to making other quicker meals or worse, ordering in.

The key to making such prep-heavy meals is to prepare in bulk make in advance.  So for example, once a week I would cook enough brown rice and quinoa to last me throughout the week.  I also tend to buy washed and chopped greens (always local).  Cherry tomatoes for instance are so easy to prepare you just cut them in half and you're set!  Cucumbers can be prewashed and ready for chopping (I use a mandolin).  So you catch my drift - right?

Okay, so this is such a delicious salad and is refreshing  for a hot summer day.  Enjoy it as an appetizer or a meal on its own.

Here's what you need:
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup of cooked edamame beans
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
5 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large beetroot, cooked and cut into cubes
5 large leaves of kale

For the dressing:
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce (or any other soy sauce)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
pinch of chili flakes
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)

For the kale:
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons, depending on your taste

This is when I cook the quinoa in bulk, usually on weekends when I have time on my hands.  Cook, strain, wait till completely cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  It keeps well for an entire week - yay!

The benefits of quinoa are ridiculous. Quinoa is gluten-free and has a crazy amount of nutrients and minerals - namely, iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber. It is the only plant food that is considered a complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids.

It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein and contains all essential amino acids.

Edamame is also a delicious snack on its own and adds the perfect crunch to any meal.  I cook it in my metal steamer and it's done in minutes.  Like quinoa (I like to think it's the Asian equivalent to quinoa), it is gluten-free, contains no cholesterol, and is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and iron. Also like quinoa, it is a complete source of dietary protein.  Lastly, this green bean has high polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3.

Kale's rough and leafy texture can be a bit hard to chew for some.  I find massaging it with lemon juice slowly softens the leafs and makes it tangy and perfectly chewable.

So once all these steps are done, assemble the salad like so.

For the dressing, put all ingredients in a jar, shake it like a Polaroid picture, and drizzle.
I prefer tamari's flavor over normal soy sauce but also for its health benefits.  Its rich flavor comes from the abundance of amino acids derived from soy protein.  It has a lot less salt and is rich in minerals and protein.  Read more about it here.

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