Greek Salad with Sardines

Greek salad with sardines

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who abhor sardines, and those who adore them. I belong to the latter camp. To me, tinned sardines are delicious on crackers, in a sandwich, or straight out of the can.

So I was delighted when I found a recipe for sardine salad on http://www.eatingwell.com. It’s easy to assemble and requires no cooking. You might want to prepare it for the weekend, then bring leftovers to work. Great with sourdough bread spread with a little butter.

I should add that sardines offer several nutritional benefits. They are full of protein and healthy omega-3 oils. In addition, canned sardines that have not been deboned contain a lot of calcium. (Don’t worry about the bones. They are extremely soft and unnoticeable when consumed.)

GREEK SALAD WITH SARDINES (4 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large English cucumber, cut into large chunks
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
  • * 2 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil or water, drained

******

1.Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until well combined.

2.Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives; gently toss to combine.

3.Divide the salad among 4 plates and top with sardines.

*When I recommend fish dishes, I’m always mindful about whether a species has been overfished or contaminated. According to Monterey Bay Seafood Watch (seafoodwatch.org), sardine schools in the Mediterranean Sea have been severely depleted. Therefore, Seafood Watch does not recommend buying brands obtaining fish from that part of the world.

What I can recommend is looking at labels for sustainable sardine fisheries. Wild Planet is usually reliable in terms of sustainable produce.

References:

  • eatingwell.com
  • seafoodwatch.org

Lamb and Couscous Salad

Lamb and couscous salad

Those who have followed this blog know that my husband and I have been on vacation in the Pacific Northwest and the eastern Sierras. Well….we’re finally home. And what a shock! We went from 70 degrees in the mountains to just below 90 degrees upon arrival in Orange County.

Yup, it’s definitely summer here in Southern California. Much too warm for any hot entrees. So this weekend, I put together a cold main dish that’s filling and easy to make. Got it from the New York Times, a dependable source of tried and true recipes. Their lamb and couscous salad can be assembled on the weekend, and the leftovers are perfect for a portable brown bag meal.

If you don’t like lamb or cannot get it this time of year, pre-cooked roasted chicken works equally well.

LAMB AND COUSCOUS SALAD (6 servings)

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound cooked lamb or chicken, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped

1.Combine the couscous and raisins in a large bowl. Pour 1 1/4 cups boiling water over the mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

2.In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.

3.Add the meat, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, mint and green onions to the bowl of couscous. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss well. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if necessary.

Eat at room temperature or chill in the frig before consuming. The portion you see in the photograph is garnished with hard boiled egg and calamata olive slices.

Brown Bagging on the Road: High Sierras, California

Barney Lake, Eastern Sierras, California

Over the last several weeks, my husband and I have travelled all the way from Southern California to Canada, then back south to the Eastern Sierras. We are currently camping at Mono Village above the small town of Bridgeport, off Hwy. 395. Here’s a photo of some meadows below our camp. As you can see, the wild irises are in bloom.

Cow pastures below Mono Village camp site.

There are great opportunities for hiking, fishing, and just taking some nice walks at Mono Village, which is right next to Twin Lakes.

Upper Twin Lake

I make a point of walking the area every morning. To not do so would be forfeiting the wonderful gift of seeing things like this on a daily basis:

Creek near our campsite

Let me get to the food portion of this post. My husband, an experienced RV camp guy, is also a fine cook. Using both his crockpot and grill, Pete has produced many delicious meals at camp.

One day, we decided to have a cold dinner. We’d just gotten our provisions at Von’s supermarket in Bishop, which is about 2 hours south of the campsite, and Pete didn’t really want to cook. Here’s a photo of what we ate:

Roast beef and horseradish sandwich, cold baked beans, deli cucumber-tomato salad

That’s right, cold baked beans. And they were surprisingly good! This dish is easy to make and a convenient, transportable item for a brown bag lunch. Here’s the recipe:

PETE’S COLD BAKED BEANS (3-4 small servings)

  • One 16 oz. can Bush’s vegetarian baked beans
  • One tsp. prepared mustard

Mix beans and mustard together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for three minutes. Let beans cool and then chill in the frig for an hour or two.

The Bush’s Beans website shows the following nutritional data for 1/2 cup portion:

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 0
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 29 grams
  • Sodium: 550 mg.
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Iron: 10%

The website also indicates that this product is gluten-free.

Brown Bagging on the Road: Vancouver Island, Canada

Koi pond at Bear Mountain Golf Course and Resort near Victoria, B.C.

Pete and I had a nice time at the Bear Mountain Gold Course and Resort near Victoria. Here’s a photo showing some of the golf course:

Part of Bear Mountain golf course. So green!

I started this post off with a photo of the koi pond because today’s recipe will be a bit “fishy”: an aromatic, lemony shrimp salad. I obtained the recipe from our host, Gail Bishop, who in turn pulled it from her copy of “Contest Winning Annual Recipes 2005.” And I promise this truly is a winner; it’s delicious. I would suggest making a big batch on the weekend for appetizers or a light brunch entree. For a weekday brown bag lunch, pair some of the leftovers with vegetable sushi purchased at your local supermarket deli. Or perhaps some nice French sourdough bread spread with butter.

Gail cooked her own shrimp, but you can purchase pre-cooked shrimp at the meat counter, or use frozen thawed cooked shrimp.

MARINATED SHRIMP (14 small servings)

  • 2 pounds cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into rings
  • 2 medium lemons, cut into very thin slices
  • 1 cup pitted ripe olives
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespooons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.In a 3-quart glass serving bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, lemons and olives. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients; shake well. Pour over shrimp mixture and stir gently to coat.

2.Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Brown Bagging on the Road: Vancouver Island, Canada

Looking over Juan de Fuca Strait at Washington, U.S.A. Location: Steve and Gail’s home at Vancouver Island.

Those who have followed this blog over the past few weeks know that my husband Pete and I have been driving north through the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, we took the Port Angeles ferry to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Sailing into Victoria, British Columbia. Parliament building in background.

We proceeded to my husband’s uncle’s home, which is located in the verdant hills above Sookie. It’s a home-and-garden phenomenon, with lovely flowers everywhere and a koi pond.

Foxglove
Koi pond

Uncle Steve and Aunt Gail furnished us with wonderful breakfasts and dinners. Below is a simple recipe from Gail that would be great for a side dish in a brown bag meal. Yes, I know….dill and strawberries? A strange combo. But trust me. It tastes great. Delicious with a ham or turkey sandwich.

SPINACH-STRAWBERRY SALAD

  • Baby spinach (can be found bagged in the produce section of most mainstream supermarkets)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Four fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice*

Place first three ingredients in a plastic container. Place last two ingredients in a separate container. Pour onto salad at lunchtime.

*A bottled vinaigrette will work in place of the oil and lemon juice mixture.

Salad Days

I was in the mood for salad today, but too lazy to make it myself. So, off to Trader Joe’s.

When I worked full-time, I depended on TJ’s premade, single-serving salads to get me through the week. My favorite has always been the TJ Tomato and Mozzarella, made with fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, pine nuts, and a lovely spring mix consisting of spinach, chard, arugula, and various types of lettuce.

TJ’s salads come in containers that fit into most standard-size lunch bags. The dressing is packed separately in a plastic envelope.

I added an envelope of Starkist tuna for protein, and half an avocado for….well, substance. It was delicious!

If you’re into counting calories and nutrients, here’s the label for this item:

Nutrients for Trader Joe’s Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

As you can see, using the entire envelope of their balsamic dressing adds a lot of calories. I chose to use half and found that satisfactory. Another option is to use your favorite low-fat balsamic vinaigrette. There are several brands in most supermarkets.

Whole Wheat Chicken Enchiladas/Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

Whole wheat enchiladas with cilantro-lime brown rice



Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

This menu may look a little complex, but the two dishes can be quickly and easily assembled with pre-cooked, pre-packaged ingredients. The rice and enchiladas freeze and re-heat well in a microwave or Hot Logic thermal bag (see my “Gadgets” section for more on the Hot Logic). A great brown bag lunch!

Let’s begin with the enchiladas:

WHOLE WHEAT CHICKEN ENCHILADAS (6 enchiladas)

  • 2 cups pre-cooked shredded cooked chicken (use store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 8-oz. packages Frontera Enchilada Sauce (in Latino food section. You can substitute a 16 oz. can of enchilada sauce)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese (you can buy pre-grated Cheddar cheese in the deli section of your supermarket)
  • 6 “La Tortilla Factory” Low Carb whole wheat tortillas *

1.Pour one package of enchilada sauce into a saucepan. Add chicken. Heat on “Low” until simmering. Turn off the burner.

2.Place a tortilla in a 9”x9” casserole dish. Put 1/4 cup of the chicken-sauce mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Add 1/4 cup grated cheese and top with a couple of slices of onion. Roll up the tortilla around the mixture, leaving ends open. Repeat until you have six completed enchiladas.

3.Pour the second package of sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese and sliced onions on top. This dish can be microwaved on High for one to one and a half minutes, or until cheese is bubbling.

*Each La Tortilleria tortilla contains 50 calories, 8 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 11 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, each tortilla has only two grams of unsaturated fat and 200mg of sodium.

CILANTRO-LIME BROWN RICE (2 medium servings)

I first tried this dish at Cheesecake Factory and fell in love at first bite. Their version calls for white rice. In the recipe below, I use brown.

  • One plastic envelope Trader Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro stir-in paste (I found a tube in the produce department at my local Albertson’s)
  • Juice of one large lime

1.Heat up the rice according to instructions.

2.Stir in the cilantro paste and lime juice. Delicious with the enchiladas!