Eating My Way Through

Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad January 30, 2011

Filed under: Lunch,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 4:28 pm

I cook a lot on Sundays to have ready meals for the week. I try to mix it up, and make things that are healthy, yummy, refrigerate well and that I  won’t get bored with.

So I decided to try something new recently, and cook with curry powder. I know that I am a little late to the party on this one, but it wasn’t something I had ever cooked with before! This recipe called specifically for madras curry powder (found in the Indian food section of my supermarket), which is a bit spicier than regular curry powder, so if you want less heat, feel free to use the regular kind!

To start, you saute some garlic with curry powder in a medium saucepan (make sure you grab one with a lid). Then you add in your quinoa and some water. Bring everything to a boil.


Quinoa Boiling

Quinoa Boiling


Put the cover on the saucepan, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 16 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and let it cool completely.





Once the quinoa is cooled, stir in the mango, green onions and cilantro.


Curried Quinoa Salad

Curried Quinoa Salad


To make the raita, simply combine cucumber, mint and yogurt in a small bowl. Serve with some spinach for some extra greens!


Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad

Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad

This recipe would be great for a light weeknight meal, but I used it for a week of lunches. To make sure it stayed fresh I kept the spinach, quinoa and raita all separate, not combining until lunchtime.


Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsps Madras curry powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

3 tbsp cilantro, fresh and chopped

1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and diced

2 tsp mint, fresh and chopped

1 (6oz) carton plain, non-fat greek yogurt

1 (5oz) package baby spinach


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add curry and garlic and cook for one minute

Add quinoa and two cups water and bring everything to a boil

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until tender and water absorbed

Remove from heat, stir in salt and cool quinoa completely

Add mango, green onions, cilantro to quinoa and toss gently

In a separate small bowl, combine cucumber, mint, yogurt and stir well

Yields 4-6 servings


Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad September 18, 2010

Filed under: Lunch,Salad,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 5:40 pm
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I actually brought this pasta salad to a barbecue over labor day…so yeah, been awhile since I posted/really cooked…but with work crazy right now, I am lucky if I make cereal for dinner! And instead of cooking today and building up a few reserve posts, I have spent it on the couch, watching  football and per usual yelling at the television . Maybe tomorrow…

Anyways, sometimes you just need something quick and easy to throw together for a party or get together. This pasta salad is super easy and requires minimal time and ingredients. So it’s perfect for a last minute dish to bring along to a friend’s house.

First things first, make the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, prep the dressing by combining vinegar, oil, garlic and oregano in a container.



Shake well!

Then combine with the tomatoes and a large bowl and let marinate while the pasta cooks.

Marinating Tomatoes

Marinating Tomatoes

Once the pasta has been drained and cooled, combine with the tomatoes. Add in the mozzarella as well and stir to make sure everything is nice and combined. Salt to taste.

Let the pasta salad chill until ready to serve. Before serving add in the basil.

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad

That’s it. Simple, easy and delicious!

If you are going to a large get together, simply double the recipe and you are good to go. The salad will also keep for a day or two in the fridge, but after that it will probably go bad due to the dressing.

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad (own recipe)

8 oz spiral pasta of some kind

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp oregano, dried

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup basil, chopped

2 oz mozzarella, fresh, cubed (1/2 cup)

Salt to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions

Drain pasta, set aside

In a container with a secure lid, combine vinegar, oil, salt, garlic and oregano; shake well to combine

Put tomatoes in a large bowl, dress with above mixture and toss to coat

Add in pasta and mozzarella, mix well

Salt to taste

Chill pasta salad

Add in basil right before serving

Yields 4, 1 cup servings


Minted Squash and Orzo Salad September 5, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 3:09 pm

Deciding what to bring along with you to a party or BBQ can sometimes a be a bit challenging. Do you just chop up some veggies and bring some dip? Do you go all out and bake a dessert?

This salad is a great in between dish. Something that is a break from the traditional, while still being easy and accessible. Now admittedly, I didn’t bring this to a BBQ, I just made it for dinner and then brought it for last week’s lunches, but c’est la vie. Next time I know what to make!

To start you cook the Orzo. Orzo was something new to me, so if you don’t know what it looks like, here ya go:



Once the orzo is cooked, drain the pasta and set aside. Make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water for later!

Chop up the squash.

Yellow Summer Squash

Yellow Summer Squash

In a large skillet, heat olive oil with garlic. Then you add the squash, sprinkle with salt, and cook until tender and browned, about 4 minutes.

Then add in the orzo and cooking water, letting simmer for about 2 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Squash and Orzo

Squash and Orzo

Once everything is cooked together, stir in 3/4 of the feta and the mint. Once the feta is melted, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with remaining feta and mint.

Minted Squash and Orzo Salad

Minted Squash and Orzo Salad

If you decide to serve the salad at a party or BBQ I would prepare the salad exactly like the directions say!

But, if you are going to make it for lunches, I wouldn’t mix in the feta and mint right away. I would toss in the feta right before reheating, and then sprinkle it with mint. This will make sure the mint is fresh and doesn’t get wilted as it sits in your fridge waiting to be eaten.

Minted Squash and Orzo Salad (adapted from Claire Robinson)

1 cup dried orzo pasta

2 tsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt, to taste

3.5 oz reduced-fat feta

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil

Stir in orzo and cook for 8 minutes, orzo will be undercooked

Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water

Drain orzo pasta in a colander, set aside

Heat olive oil in a large skillet with garlic

Add the squash, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally

Cook 4-6 minutes until brown and softened

Reduce heat to medium-low and add cooking water and orzo

Bring to a simmer and stir in 3 ounces of feta and season with salt

Cook until water is absorbed, about 2 minutes

Remove from heat stir in mint

Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with feta and mint

Yields 4 servings


Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad July 26, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 3:45 pm

I decided to give this Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad  a try after a lovely day of being on the water and cooking out at a friend’s house near Annapolis. Sometimes getting out of DC, even just for a day, and enjoying a quieter and relaxing setting is all you need to recharge!

The outing put me in the mood for something that was light, yet flavorful. Plus, I was sent home with a bag full of  corn on the cob that I needed to use up asap.

This recipe is a quick (10 minutes tops), easy (all you have to do is chop and measure) and healthy meal! It will definitely become a staple in my post-work dinner/lunch the next day routine as it  allows me to indulge in my love of Latin flavors and taco salads without lots of calories/a tummy ache a few hours later.

All you do for this one is drain and rinse some black beans, and then chop up some red onions, garlic, jicama, avocado,  and grape tomatoes. You combine all of this in a large bowl and add in some corn removed from the cob and canned green chiles.

Yummy Veggies

Yummy Veggies

Then you toss in some lime juice, lemon juice, cilantro, olive oil, cumin and salt and stir together to dress the veggies.

Dressed Veggies

Dressed Veggies

Then simply toast a corn tortilla in a toaster oven until crisped.

Serve the salad on top of the tortilla and with a little bit of sour cream.

Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad

Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad

That’s it. Simplest. Meal. Ever. And it is really delicious. The perfect no-cook meal for this oppressive DC heat wave we have been suffering through!

Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad (from Weight Watchers)

1 cup black beans, canned, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp red onions, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup jicama, diced

1/4 cup corn kernels, removed from cob or frozen

1/4 cup avocado, diced

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

4 tbsp green chilies, canned and diced

3 tbsp lime juice, fresh

2 tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin, ground

Salt, to taste

4 small corn tortillas


Combine all ingredients, minus the tortillas in a large bowl, mix to combine

Toast tortillas in a toaster oven or in a dry skillet

Top each tortilla with salad mixture

Yields 4 servings, 1 tortilla topped with 3/4 cup of salad


Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad July 1, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 1:49 pm
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I am a big fan of the magazine  Real Simple, and their extensive collection of easy, yet delicious recipes. Unfortunately they aren’t always the healthiest of concoctions, but I’ve found with a few fixes that I can usually tweak them into something that is not only good, but good for you!

Once such recipe was for Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad. The recipe originally called for ground beef and pan-cooking the burgers in olive oil, as well as using a bunch of olive oil for the dressing on the couscous salad. I changed it up by using ground turkey, grilling the burgers using olive oil cooking spray, and adding in some tahini to cut down the olive oil. The result was a something light and satisfying that also got me through my every other week craving for a juicy, probably bad for me burger!

To start, pre-heat your grill, and mix the ground turkey with spices in a bowl, and form into 12 mini patties.

Mini Turkey Burger Patties

Mini Turkey Burger Patties

Spray your grill with some olive oil cooking spray, then toss the burgers on the grill, cooking for about 8 minutes and flipping half-way through.

Turkey Burgers

Turkey Burgers

Because these are mini-burgers and they are a bit thinner, you don’t have to cook them extra long. Be careful not to over cook them, otherwise they can get pretty dry…and lose all their juice.

For the couscous salad boil 1 cup water with some salt, stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover. Let the grains sit for about 4-5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Place the couscous in a large bowl and add scallions, tomatoes and cucumbers. Add in the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste. Then just mix everything up.

Tahini Couscous Salad

Tahini Couscous Salad

Then all you have to do is divide the mini burgers and salad up amongst 4 plates and serve! This was a great complete meal, a little protein, some grains and lots of yummy veggies. It also kept well for left overs and I have been enjoying it for lunch all week!

Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad

Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad

As I cook more and read more recipes, I have come to realize that if a recipe looks delicious but seems too unhealthy or like too much of a hassle, don’t just cast it aside! Take a look and see if you can make substitutions, cut down on a few steps or take a few shortcuts with some of the ingredients. I would say 9 times out of 10 there is a way to make it work for you!

Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad (adapted from Real Simple)

1 cup couscous, dry

1 lb ground turkey

1 tsp garlic salt

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp oregano

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp tahini

6 scallions, diced

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced into half-moons

3 tbsps lemon juice, fresh


For the Burgers…

Pre-heat grill

In a bowl, combine turkey with garlic salt, cumin and oregano

Form into 12 mini burger patties

Spray grill with olive oil or regular cooking spray, and place burgers on the grill

Cook burgers about 8 minutes, flipping half-way through until cooked through

For the couscous…

In a small saucepan, boil 1 cup water with some salt

Once water is boiling stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat

Let stand for 4-5 minutes, then fluff with fork

Combine couscous in a large bowl with scallions, tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste

Plate mini burgers with couscous salad

Yields 4 servings (3 mini burgers and about 1 1/2  cups couscous salad)


Pesto Pasta Salad June 24, 2010

Filed under: Lunch,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 11:11 am
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For the past year I have been meaning to make pesto. I even bought a very expensive, huge bag of pine nuts from Whole Foods last summer. Yet, they have sat in my cupboard, waiting to be turned into something. My roommate makes pesto all the time and she inspired me to experiment with it. Combining a bunch of different recipes, I think I came up with a pretty healthy, very yummy pesto.

I decided to toss the pesto with some pasta and veggies to make a salad I could take throughout the week for lunch. This would be a great addition to any bbq, as it’s super light and has great flavor.

To start, make some whole-wheat pasta according to the package directions.

While it’s cooking, start the pesto by toasting some pine nuts and walnuts for about 5 minutes, watching them so they don’t burn!

Toasting Walnuts and Pine Nuts

Toasting Walnuts and Pine Nuts

As the nuts are toasting, put the basil, garlic cloves, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, chicken broth and salt in a food processor. Add the nuts when they are done toasting.

Pesto Ingredients

Pesto Ingredients

Now, start the chopper and process the ingredients until smooth.



That’s it! Now you have a great pesto you can not only use for this salad, but for tons of other recipes!

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and let cool a bit. Toss in a large bowl with the pesto, and veggies. I used  cherry tomatoes, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes, but feel free to substitute others. Kalamata olives would be great, or maybe spinach and some red onions.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

Top the pasta salad with a bit of cheese, I used goat cheese (Parmesan would also work) and serve. I have been eating this all week for lunch and it keeps really well and is super filling, helping me stave off the 4pm snack craving!

Pesto Pasta Salad (own recipe)

2 cups whole-wheat pasta

1 tbsp walnuts

1 tbsp pine nuts

1/2 cup fresh basil, packed

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup Parmesan, fresh and grated

1 tbsp olive oil

1-2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tbsp chicken broth, low-sodium

1 tsp salt

4 oz black olives, sliced

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled or 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated (to top off the salad)


Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and let cool

Toast walnuts and pine nuts over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes

Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, chicken broth, salt and toasted nuts in a food processor or chopper to make the pesto

Process until smooth

Transfer pesto to a large bowl, toss with pasta and mix until well-combined

Add in olives, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes and mix everything together

Divide into bowls and top with goat cheese

Yields 4 servings


Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad June 15, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 8:01 am
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In the summer I love recipes that don’t involve turning on the oven! This probably comes from growing up in a house without central air, where turning on the oven always raised the temp downstairs like 10° and you started sweating instantly.

Now, living in DC, living without air conditioning seems unfathomable. But old habits die hard, and this Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad is a great no-oven necessary summer meal!

To start, toast the quinoa for 4-6 minutes, until fragrant and it starts crackling. Then just remove from the heat and using a very thin strainer rinse the quinoa. Definitely use the thinnest strainer you can find, if you don’t you will have a mess on your hands and quinoa all over your sink!

Quinoa Toasting

Quinoa Toasting

Return the quinoa to the pot and add water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the black beans, chop the yellow pepper and Mango (I cheated this time and bought pre-cut, cause chopping mangos can get a bit sticky).

Black Beans, Mango and Yellow Pepper

Black Beans, Mango and Yellow Pepper

In a large bowl, combine some orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ginger, cayenne pepper and  salt for the dressing and whisk.



Add in the beans, yellow pepper and mango, tossing to coat.

Once the quinoa is fully cooked, toss in the black bean and mango mixture.

Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad

Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad

This is a great salad to make for lunches or a light dinner, plus it is ready in like 20 minutes, so you really can’t beat that!

Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad (adapted from Eating Well)

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp ginger root, minced

1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground

1 small mango, diced

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 scallions, chopped


Toast quinoa in a saucepan for 4-6 minutes, until fragrant and crackling

Using a very fine strainer, rinse quinoa and return to pan

Add water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover, and cook 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed

While quinoa is cooking, prep the black beans, yellow pepper and mango

In a large bowl, combine orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ginger root and cayenne pepper with a whisk

Add the beans, pepper and mango to the bowl and toss to coat

Once the quinoa is done, toss into the bean mixture and stir

Divide among bowls and top with scallions for serving

Yields 3 servings