Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A tale of 2 salads & Charleston outtakes

After all the overindulging Thanksgiving typically brings, it is nice to have a few healthy, but satisfying & delicious recipes in your repertoire.  Especially as we move into the busy holiday season, it is important to take care of ourselves!

In my last post I shared many photos of the Charleston Photo Workshops. But, I also wanted to share a few of my favorite non-workshop images (caution, there are a good number of images), along with two participant-requested salad recipes.  

Charleston Outtakes
I truly believe part of my heart will always live in Charleston.  I don't know if I really realized how much I have missed the area until I came back (this time as a visitor).    Charleston will always be a special place to me.   I appreciated being able to visit the familiar sites of my favorite city, as well as being able to reconnect with dear friends whom I greatly miss!

The Isle of Palms Beach in the morning(s), when I probably should have been sleeping....  But there is something almost therapeutic about the beach, especially in the morning....

The Isle of Palms Beach in the afternoon...

Lunch at 181 Palmer (the downtown CIC restaurant) with Helene & Clare (and then at Relish in North Charleston with Sandra & Ashley, though I only took cell phone pictures there).

Lunch with Liz at Butcher & Bee 
(I may forever dream of the chicken liver mousse with blackberry jam).

Visiting Kudu Coffee (yay for an actual coffee house!).

Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets & Apricots; Greek Quinoa Salad 
And now back to those salads, as previously mentioned.  When you're preparing food for an all-female group, there's bound to be a few salads.  But we didn't want any run-of-the-mill salads...  They needed to be different (not just lettuce based) & beautiful & above all, tasty. 

This Greek quinoa salad and lentil salad with roasted beets & apricots were two of my favorites.  I enjoyed them so much that I re-created them at home, both so that I would not forget the recipe, and also so that I could eat them again!  

Both salads are easy to make (and easy to modify to your taste preferences).  They last well in the refrigerator, if they aren't eaten immediately.  Each salad works as a side dish or as a main dish--since they're quinoa and lentil based, they have good levels of protein. They are both vegan, until you add the optional cheese, but that does not make them any less delicious!  

After all the Thanksgiving indulging, I believe salad lunches are quite perfect :)  Everything in moderation (including moderation).  And I promise, these salads won't feel like moderation.!  

Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets & Apricots
To roast the beets, I simply wash and peel the beets before cutting them into cubes, tossing them with olive oil & salt and pepper, and roasting them in a 375 F oven for approximately 30 minutes (or until they're caramelized & soft).  

1/2 c French lentils, rised & picked over
1 c water
1 c roasted beets (see note above) 
1 whole scallion, coarsely chopped
1/2 c dried apricots, chopped
1 Tbl chopped parsley
7 Tbl simple vinaigrette (recipe follows)
crumbled goat cheese (optional) 

1.  Combine the lentils and water in a sauce pan.  Bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat and let them simmer, uncovered, for approximately 18 minutes.  When they are done, they should still have a bit of "bite" & not be mushy at all.  Remove from the heat and cool completely.  

2.  Once the lentils have cooked and cooled, add the beets, scallion, & apricots.  Toss well.  Add vinaigrette & parsley.  Gently stir to combine.  

3.  Serve room temperature or chilled.  Crumbled goat cheese may be added on top, if you wish.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Additional vinaigrette may be necessary after the salad has sat in the refrigerator.  

Greek Quinoa Salad
When I created this salad for the photo workshop, it was for a picnic/lunch-themed photoshoot.  I had several goals: 1) to make a salad using things we already had, 2) to make a salad that would be tasty for participants to eat after they finished photographing, and 3) to make a salad that would be colorful and photogenic.  The result was this spin on a greek salad.  In the original salad, I included chopped olives, but to be completely honest, I HATE olives.... So I left them out of my re-creation :) If you like them, feel free to add olives yourself.

1 c Dry Quinoa, rinsed
2 c Water
1.5 c Cucumber wedges
1.5 c red & yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half if grape tomatoes or in quarters if cherry
1.5 whole scallions, chopped
2 Tbl chopped parsley
6 Tbl simple vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 c crumbled Feta Cheese (optional) 
Black olives, chopped (optional)
1.  Cook the quinoa and water according to the package directions.  Once cooked, remove from heat, fluff with a fork & allow to cool completely.  

2.  Once the quinoa is cooled, add the cucumber, tomatoes, scallion, parsley & vinaigrette. Gently stir to combine. 

3.  Serve room temperature or chilled.  Add the crumbled feta cheese & optional olives just before serving.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Add additional vinaigrette as needed.  

Simple Vinaigrette 
Once I learned how to make simple vinaigrette, I completely stopped buying store-bought salad dressing.  Instead, I keep small mason jars of variations on this vinaigrette in my refrigerator.  All I do is let it warm up a bit and shake it before serving.  This recipe makes enough for both the lentil and quinoa salads, with a little leftover as well.  

1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tbl Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt & Pepper 

1.  Combine all ingredients in a mason jar.  Tightly screw on the lid & shake to combine.  

2.  Pour over salad (less is more).  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.   

Note: most of the time, I just eyeball the measurements in the jar.  1/3 of the jar gets vinegar, 2/3 of the jar gets olive oil.  Add a squirt of dijon and a little salt & pepper.  Shake the jar well & it's ready to serve.  So simple.  Sometimes, I add a little grated garlic or shallot to give it some extra zip...  


  1. Your photos are so lovely! That was one of the best quinoa salads I have ever had! So glad to now have the recipe!

  2. Thank you for the good information that has been shared to everyone. Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful story. It's a very nice salad. I like your pictures.