Raspberry Streusel Muffins

Raspberries always feel like an indulgence to me–no matter in what form they are served. Within muffins, they make a surprise appearance since blueberries dominate that breakfast pastry as the expected berry addition, yet a raspberry muffin is a perfect vehicle for this luscious berry to shine. Brilliant scarlet morsels of raspberries encased in buttery batter offer an irresistible tanginess to these muffins and balance the extra sweetness from the crunchy streusel topping. Truly, these muffins are exceptional.

One of my favorite features of raspberry muffins is that you do not need to use fresh raspberries to create perfect muffins; frozen raspberries work just fine. Keeping a bag of frozen raspberries in the freezer will also allow you to easily make this recipe on a moment’s notice. And regarding the streusel, it is an extra step in creating these muffins but will be worth every minute of your time. When I know in advance that I will be making raspberry muffins, I often assemble the streusel topping the night before, cover it, and keep it in the fridge until the morning. It will harden a bit as a result, so when I am ready to use it, I break it up with a spoon first, then use my fingers to crumble it over the muffins. This can be a welcome time saver on a busy morning. Whatever strategy you choose, get ready for luscious muffins.

makes 12 regular-size or 6 jumbo muffins

the streusel topping:

1/4 cup unbleached flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into bits

the muffins:

2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, large ones cut in half

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups milk

6 tablespoons melted butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the insides and top of a regular 12-portion or jumbo 6- portion muffin pan.
  2. For the topping, combine the flour, two sugars, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drop in the butter and using your fingers, rub it into the mixture to form tiny crumbs. Set aside.
  3. For the muffins, in a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix thoroughly. Place the raspberries in another bowl and sprinkle on a few tablespoons of the flour mixture to coat them. (This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins when they are baking.)
  4. In a medium-size bowl, beat the egg and stir in the vanilla, almond extract, and milk. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture along with the melted butter. Stir until mixed halfway, then gently stir in the raspberries until everything is evenly mixed.
  5. Spoon into the prepared muffin pan, then sprinkle the streusel topping on the top of each muffin.
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes for regular-size muffins and 27 minutes for jumbo muffins. To make sure they are cooked thoroughly, insert a small pointed knife in the center of a muffin; it should come out clean.
  7. Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve the muffins warm or room temperature–not piping–hot because the raspberries will be too soft.

Coconut Cream Scones

Cream scones are one of the marvels of baking since the results are memorable yet the effort is minimal. Scone making is customarily dependent on cutting butter into the flour mixture to get a crumb that will create the flakiness that is so desirable. But with cream scones, that step is unnecessary. Just pour in the heavy or whipping cream and the magic begins.

Scones most likely originated in Scotland and were initially packed with oats and cooked on a griddle. These oat cakes have since had many transformations, the more delicate flour-based version being the one that has endured and what we envision today when we think of a scone. Whoever first broke custom and used cream as the binder instead of butter is unknown, but that person should be crowned.

Makes I dozen scones

2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

1 1/3 cups heavy or whipping cream

2 teaspoons coconut extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

  1. Place the oven rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl thorough mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and coconut.
  3. Mix the cream, coconut extract, and almond extract together in a measuring cup and pour into the flour mixture. Stir with a spoon just until the dough is evenly moistened.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough onto it. Knead 2 or 3 times, sprinkling on a little flour if necessary to avoid it sticking. Pat the dough into a disk exactly 3/4 inch thick.
  5. Cut the disk into 12 triangles and place each on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on rack while making the glaze.
  7. In a small bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and coconut extract and beat with a fork until smooth. Dip a spoon into the glaze and drizzle some over each scone. Let the scones sit a few minutes for the glaze to harden before serving.

Swiss Chard Tart with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

For many cooks the idea of making a tart seems a daunting task – especially during the summer. Who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when a hot sunny day beckons you outside. But since I am so fond of vegetable tarts and want to take advantage of the abundance of vegetables this season – in this case Swiss chard – I have developed a quick way to construct fabulous tarts using store-bought puff pastry. If you have enough time to saute the chard, then you can handle this easy recipe.

I grew  Swiss chard this year, but rainbow or red chard will work as well. All these varieties share the same beet flavor and cook similarly. Since bunches of purchased chard differ in size, I thought it would be helpful to tell you about how many leaves you’ll need to fill this tart. However, this is not a recipe that demands precision. More or less is fine.

I always use the stems as well as the leaves and separate them when cooking. After you wash the chard well, shake it dry and pat the leaves with a towel to remove excess moisture. Cut off the stems close to the leaves and keep them separate, then dice them into small pieces. To shred the leaves, I pile them on top of each other, then roll them into one log. I then cut across the log in thin strips, creating shreds. Again, precision is not necessary here; you just want to end up with small pieces.

Pepperidge Farm makes very good puff pastry sheets that can be found in the frozen food section of most supermarkets. Just leave one on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes or until it is thawed but still cold. Unfold it, roll it to a size that is large enough to fill a 9 inch or 10-inch tart pan or pie plate, then chill it again. You will need to lightly dust the work area with flour and trim the excess pastry with scissors, but that’s about it. So easy.

I prefer to use a tart pan with a removable rim. Not only do they make the most attractive looking tarts, but the ability to take off the rim of the pan allows the crust to stay crisper because it is exposed to air. When you take the finished tart out of the oven, place it on a small inverted bowl, such as one you would use for cereal, then gently ease the rim down. Now you can move the tart onto a cooling rack or trivet until you are ready to serve it.

If you only have a glass pie plate, after you fill it with the rolled out crust,  just chill rather than freeze it. The point is to have a cold crust go into a hot oven; that will make the flakiest crust. A frozen glass pie plate could break in a hot oven.

I love to serve this tart with a side dish of orzo tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese, but really, almost any starch or salad would be compatible.

I’m quite certain that once you discover how easy it is to prepare a tart using puff pastry as a crust, you’ll find yourself creating all kinds of versions using your favorite vegetable combinations.

Serves 4 as main course

1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, such as  Pepperidge Farm, thawed but still cold
20 large leaves Swiss chard, washed and patted dry (10 cups shredded)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/4 cups milk
1/4 grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
6 orange or red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half vertically

  1.  Sprinkle a little flour on a work surface, unfold the puff pastry, and roll it into an 11-inch square. Place it in a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and trim off the excess with scissors or by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the pan.Cover and freeze for 30 minutes, or place in a plastic bag and freeze up to 24 hours.
  2. Gather the washed chard together in bunch and slice off the stems. Dice the stems into 1/2-inch pieces and keep in a pile. Place the leaves on top of each other in one packet, roll into a log, then slice the log into shreds. Keep separate from the stems.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the stems. Cover the pan and cook about 5 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Pile on the Swiss chard and toss as best as you can using tongs. Cover the pan and cook just until evenly wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Mix in the milk and Romano or Parmesan cheese. Stir in the Swiss chard mixture.

6.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the crust from the freezer. Pour in the chard mixture, then sprinkle the goat cheese evenly over the top.

7.Distribute the cherry tomato halves evenly over the tart, gently pushing each one down a little bit. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the tart.

8.Bake 25 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Remove the sides of the tart pan and cool the tart on a rack. Wait 10 minutes before cutting.

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread)

Throughout the holidays I  crafted new delicacies as well as prepared old tried and true favorites. This is my usual routine when it’s party time: be a little adventurous and also play it safe. The one recipe that stood out this year for its popularity and lingering appeal is this red pepper spread which is much like a red pepper and walnut pesto that is in one of my cookbooks, but is also a bit different. It is so hauntingly delicious that we inevitably found all different ways and excuses to keep eating the stuff – a kind of muhammara binge.

Muhammara originated in Syria, though it is also found in cuisines throughout the Middle East under different names and with slight variations. That it is quick and easy to prepare adds to its charm, though I  would not hesitate to assemble this aromatic spread even if it were laborious – it is that good. The one traditional ingredient that I omitted was pomegranate molasses because it is so difficult to find; however, the combination of ingredients is still magical without it, so no worries here.

Surrounding muhammara with hot pita bread is customary, but I suggest you find a good sourdough or other chewy, crusty bread to toast or grill, and use it as a base for the muhammara and you will be paid off in dividends. I like to toast slices of ciabatta, rub them with a clove of garlic that has been sliced in half, and then brush them lightly with olive oil before I arrange them on a plate or in a basket. I know that the muhammara already is infused with garlic and olive oil, but the extra dose on the toasted or grilled bread is the embodiment of perfection.


makes 1 1/2 cups

7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, well drained and patted dry
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs (place white bread in a food processor or blender)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted (in a 350 degree oven)
2 cloves garlic, put through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil

In a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil. Process until finely chopped. Slowly pour in the olive oil until it is all absorbed but still retaining a granular texture to the spread.You don’t want it to be completely smooth.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl and serve at room temperature.


Asian Cole Slaw

P1010737What a treat to have an irresistible, healthful dish that is low in calories. I find this cilantro-infused cole slaw so delicious that I keep going into the fridge to steal spoonfuls of it. What brings it to life is the mayonnaise alternative: seasoned Chinese rice vinegar (rice vinegar with sugar and salt – available in most supermarkets) and just a touch of sesame oil. Although you can tinker with the ingredients with success, using that sweetened light vinegar is what lends a delicate acidity to the slaw. Another indispensable ingredient is Napa cabbage. The tenderness of that cruciferous vegetable is unequalled among cabbages, although Savoy cabbage is an acceptable second choice if Napa cabbage is unavailable.

Serve the slaw alongside a sandwich, veggie burger, or stir fry, or pack it for an easy lunch along with some crusty French bread and a hunk of cheese.

Incidentally, you will notice that some liquid will accumulate in the bottom of the bowl after the cole slaw sits a while. You can pour the excess off and the slaw will still be moist yet crisp. When salt is added to raw vegetables, it draws out the moisture – that’s the explanation for the moisture accumulation.

P1010731Serves 8 as a side dish

6 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups finely shredded purple cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
3/4 cup minced cilantro
3 tablespoons Chinese seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt


Combine the vegetables and cilantro in a large bowl. Sprinkle on the remaining ingredients and toss well.   Let sit at least 20 minutes before serving so the flavors can meld. Cover and chill any leftovers. Pour off any accumulated liquid before serving again.


Pesto and Goat Cheese Palmiers (elephant ears)

p1010674Here is an ideal holiday appetizer. Not only are these palmiers easy to prepare, but they are elegant and irresistible. Palmiers means palm tree in French, and they are also known as elephant ears. The connection? I have no idea (although there is a resemblance to the ears of an elephant). What I do know is that once you make these savory pastries, you’ll be hooked. Palmiers are also popular in a sweetened version laced with cinnamon and sugar – another guaranteed hit.

Because the pastry is so flaky and delicate, everyone assumes that they are labor intensive. With the availability of store-bought puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm sheets,your labor is reduced to the mere assembling of the “log” that you will slice. A breeze.

I have been experimenting with many “do-ahead” strategies – my favorite contribution to the busy cook who likes to plan ahead as I do. I have found that the log can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, and even more fantastic is that once you slice it, you can freeze the uncooked slices for a week, then bake them frozen. They don’t suffer a bit from these do-ahead tricks.

About 48 palmiers/elephant ears

1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets, defrosted
1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store bought
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
5 tablespoons finely diced roasted red peppers
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

  1. On a lightly floured surface unfold one sheet of the puff pastry.  With a rolling pin roll it into a 11 1/2 X 9 1/2 rectangle. Spread half of the pesto all over the sheet, then sprinkle on half of the goat cheese, half of the red peppers, and half of the pine nuts.


2.  Starting at the shorter side, fold each end toward the center, leaving a strip of filling showing, that is, uncovered.

p10106423.  Now fold each side again until the folded edges touch.

p10106444. Lastly, fold in half so that one side overlaps the other.

p10106465. Place the log on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover tightly. Lift the log onto a baking sheet. Repeat the process with the other sheet of puff pastry, and chill both logs at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

6. When ready to cook the palmiers, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

7. Using a serrated knife slice the chilled logs into slices between 1/4 -1/2  inch thick ( I guess that would be 1/3 -inch thick.) Place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. You will get about 24 slices per log.p1010648

8. Bake 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Pesto and Edamame

P1010593Cilantro and quinoa were made for each other, and this salad is proof. The vibrant flavor of the pesto enlivens the mild nuttiness of the quinoa making it ideal as an entree or hearty side dish. Edamame (fresh soy beans) bolster the protein content without making the salad heavy, so I am delighted that shelled edamame are so easy to get. I buy them frozen in the supermarket or natural foods store and cook them just a few minutes- it couldn’t be easier.

Because this salad is just as delicious and fresh tasting when made 3 or 4 days in advance, it has become my go-to dish for a picnic or cook-out, allowing me to prep and cook in advance, as I love to do.

Serves 10-12 as a side dish

The quinoa:

2 cups quinoa
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt


Cilantro pesto:

1 large bunch cilantro (3 cups chopped and packed, with stems)
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous seasoning freshly ground black pepper

The fixings:

8 ounces frozen edamame (1 2/3 cups)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
a few dashes cayenne pepper














  1.  Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold running water.
  2. Drop the quinoa into the boiling water and cover the pan. Lower the heat to low-medium and simmer undisturbed until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Scrape the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and let it cool.
  3. To make the cilantro pesto, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until perfectly smooth. Set aside.
  4. Cook the edamame by dropping them into boiling water for3 minutes. Drain and cool under cold, running water.
  5. Mix the edamame, scallions, and cayenne pepper into the cooled quinoa. Pour on the cilantro pesto and toss well. Chill the salad. Serve cool, not cold for optimum flavor.




Best-Ever Apple Pie ( with freezing-ahead technique )

P1010387I am a  pie snob. If my husband brings a store-bought pie into the house, he knows I will snub my nose and walk silently away. His reply is,”no one makes pies like you, but you didn’t make one this week, so I bought one.” I take great pride in my pies, as do so many pie makers. Nothing compares to a homemade crust stacked with butter and boasting with flakiness.  And my apple pie is the center of my pride. Once when our son was little, I made my apple pie in the morning, then my husband, Ed, and I went for a long hike with him in the backpack. When we returned, Ed and I ate the entire pie accompanied by a pot of strong Irish tea. That was our lunch and dinner combined, and worth every calorie.


I have always created pies in stages. In fact, I approach almost all of my cooking with a do-ahead attitude. I don’t enjoy cooking for stretches and then sitting down to eat. I like a break in between, so I always prep in advance. With pies, I make the crust a few days, weeks, or months in advance, then wrap it up and chill or freeze it. Pie dough likes to hang around in the cold; that’s how flakes are created. When I am ready to assemble the pie, I let the dough become close to room temperature then roll out the bottom crust to line the pie plate. This gets covered and returns to the fridge until the pie filling is ready (which could be hours later). Once the filling is piled into the shell, the top crust is rolled and draped over the pie, and the pie gets baked. I have been creating pies in stages for years.

But now I have a trick that is pure genius (though it is not my invention):I freeze the entire pie uncooked and keep it that way until I want to bake it. If a holiday is approaching and making an apple pie seems like an insane undertaking because I’m too busy, I make a pie well in advance, freeze it, and cook it the holiday morning. This even works with a Pyrex glass pie plate – my preferred pie dish because it makes the crust golden brown.This strategy has transformed pie making for me.

Here’s how you do it:

  • completely assemble your pie (apple, blueberry, peach, etc.)
  • Do not cut slits into the top crust
  • Place the pie on a baking sheet and place in the freezer (unwrapped) to freeze completely, about 3 hours.
  • Now double wrap the pie using foil first, then a plastic bag. Return to the freezer until you are ready to bake it – up to one month.
  • When you are ready to bake it, discard the wrapping and gently cut some slits/vents in the top crust. I brush my crust with beaten egg at this point to make it glisten.
  • If you made the pie in a metal pan, then bake it on a baking sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven for 1 hour  and15 minutes, or until richly golden and bubbling.
  • Here is the magic – you can cook it in the Pyrex glass pie plate the same way as in a metal pie pan- just be sure that the oven is preheated to 375 degrees before you put it in. That seems counter-intuitive because you would expect the glass to break if put in a hot oven. However, research has shown that the glass pie plate will break if you put it in a cold oven and then turn it on!


Here is my recipe for apple pie. You can make it as directed or follow the above instructions for freezing the pie uncooked. Your choice. Either way, it will be a knock out.



double recipe of Flaky Pie Crust (below)
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced (7 cups) (I like to mix varieties of         apples, and always include McIntosh for their soft texture)
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make a double recipe of the pie crust and roll out ½ of it. Line the pie plate (pan) with it.

3. In a large bowl mix together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and cornstarch. Toss to coat well.

4. Pour the apple mixture into the pie shell. Cut up the 1 ½ tablespoons butter and sprinkle it on top of the apples.

5. Roll out the remaining crust and lay it on top of the apples. With a knife cut a few slits in
the top crust to let the steam escape. Brush the crust with a little beaten egg.

6. Place the pie on a baking sheet before you put it in the oven. Juices spill out of the pie
while it is cooking and you need to catch them.

7. Bake 65-70 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling out.

8. Let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting it.


Creating a flaky, tender pastry is not a matter of alchemy, but instead requires following a few essential rules: always use cold butter so it remains in bits when it is blended with the flour; don’t overwork the dough; and make sure the pastry is cold when it goes in the oven to help the formation of flakes.

Makes one 9-10-inch crust

3 tablespoons ice water (see step #1)
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick chilled, unsalted butter
1. Fill a glass halfway with some water and drop in an ice cube. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour and the salt. Cut the butter into bits and drop them in the flour. Toss them around to evenly coat them. With your fingertips, a pastry cutter, or 2 knives, rub the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are flattened and remain the size of dimes. You don’t want the pieces to be too small or they will melt too quickly in the crust and not create flakes.

3. In a small bowl or glass drop an ice cube into about ½ cup of water. With a measuring spoon remove 3 tablespoons ice water and drizzle it over the flour mixture. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it 3 or 4 times to make it pliable. Do not handle the dough much or it will get tough.(If your dough is very dry and crumbly, add a few more teaspoons of ice water.) Gather into a ball again, then flatten the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 20 minutes, or up to 48 hours.

4. To roll out the dough, let it come to a cool temperature rather than be ice cold because it will be too firm and crumbly if it is rolled when it is too cold. It must be cool; however, and not at room temperature because the butter bits must remain intact and not melt into the dough. Lightly flour your work surface, your rolling pin, and the surface of the dough. Roll the dough into a circle that is about 2 inches larger than your pie plate. Keep turning the dough as you roll it to keep it a perfect circle, and lightly flour underneath and on top if it at all sticks. Pinch together any areas that break.

5. Place the rolling pin in the center of the dough and fold one half of the pastry over it. Carry the pastry this way to your tart pan or pie plate and unfold it into the pan. Press it into the edges and trim away any excess. Place the pie plate in a plastic bag or cover with foil and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before baking. You can also freeze the crust if thoroughly wrapped.


Shredded Kale and Rice Salad

P1010322After harvesting a bushel of dinosaur (lacinato/Tuscan) kale, the last thing I wanted to do was cook it and take away its deep green splendor. One of the assets of this variety of kale is its tenderness, so why not shred it and serve it raw. Voila! The above marinated rice and kale salad is the result, and it has become this summer’s favorite dish in my household.

P1010371Dinosaur, lacinato, or Tuscan kale is a cultivar that derives its name from the puckered texture of its leaves. In addition to that quality, its leaves are thinner and, therefore, more tender. Just a dowsing of vinaigrette on the raw kale will tenderize it enough to make it supple yet still slightly crisp.

P1010378 I like to create shreds rather than tear the kale in to pieces. To do so, I rip the leaves away from the stems and discard the stems. I then pile about 4 or 5 leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly into a cigar shape. Using a large chef’s knife I thinly slice the “cigar.” When the whole cigar is sliced, I use my fingers to separate all the shreds or chiffonade.

P1010381My favorite rice for this salad is jasmine; however, brown rice works well also. I add chickpeas, green peas, and red onion slivers, but you can easily play around with the additions and  include red pepper slivers, corn, and sauteed mushrooms with success. The only essentials are the kale,cold cooked rice, and a garlicky vinaigrette.

This recipe makes a generous amount, but I guarantee that you’ll want to take leftovers to work or serve them for an easy lunch, so don’t shy away from making the full recipe.

Serves 4 as a main course

6 cups cold cooked rice, jasmine or brown rice preferred
6 cups thinly shredded kale, preferably dinosaur/Tuscan/lacinato kale
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or thinly sliced red bell pepper)
1/2 cup red onion slivers

The dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, put through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous seasoning freshly ground pepper Continue reading

Curried Quinoa Salad


Although I am forever a fan of marinated salads of all persuasions – bean, grain, pasta, vegetable, etc., the warm weather months heighten their appeal. Assembling a dinner or picnic around a wholesome concoction of vegetables and grains or beans and cloaking them in a robust vinaigrette is my favorite strategy for a quick, pleasurable meal that requires a minimal amount of time in front of the stove.

The rich curry flavor in this dressing transforms quinoa into a hauntingly good salad that has now become my favorite way to eat this nutritious food. Pecans, cranberries, carrots, and peas, add color and texture to the salad, and they are ingredients that I always have on hand. For me this adds to its charm because it doesn’t require special shopping.

Here are a few tips to make this recipe foolproof: always rinse quinoa before cooking it because it contains saponin, which can make it bitter. Choose a curry powder that is not hot; you can always add cayenne if you want it to be spicy.I slightly cook the carrots by adding them to the top of quinoa a few minutes before it’s done. You could skip this step and add them raw, but I think the texture is improved by the few minutes of cooking. And finally, toast the pecans for about 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven to heighten their rich flavor – just be certain to watch them to prevent burning.

Because this recipe makes a generous batch, I decided to freeze a portion to see if it’s flavor or texture would be diminished. I was pleased to discover that there was no noticeable change; it was just as good a few weeks later. To brighten its sheen I did drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on the salad once it thawed, but that’s a trick I learned to do to many foods when they are not served immediately after they are assembled.So don’t hesitate to make this in advance or even freeze it; you will be rewarded with a wonderful dish that has lost none of its charm.


Serves 4 as a main course

3 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly in a strainer
1 carrot, finely chopped or minced

the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


2/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the quinoa and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until most the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the carrots on top of the quinoa (do not stir), cover the pan, and finish cooking about 3 more minutes. This will soften the carrots slightly but still keep their texture. Scoop the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and let cool.

P10101542. Meanwhile combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously.

3. When the quinoa is barely warm mix in the pecans, cranberries, and peas. Pour on all the dressing and coat everything well. Cover and chill a few hours before serving.