Tag Archives: kalamata olives

Greek Chickpea Salad

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Greek Chickpea Salad

Winter in Southern Oregon can be a great time of year for many people.  There are so many things to do and see.  There are myriad of fun activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.  But, by the time February rolls around, I’ve grown tired of winter… Those feelings only get further amplified by unexpected snow falls, a foggy day or rain.  I’ve grown bored of wearing tall boots, long coats and hats.  I want my sandals, bright warm sunshine and blue skies back.  I recognize that spring is “just around the corner” but, there are times I just need a little bit of proof…

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Finding proof that warm spring weather is on its way was much easier than I thought.  As I was clipping fresh sprigs of rosemary from my garden for my Greek Chickpea Salad, I noticed a single blue flower on the tip of one of the rosemary stems.  As, I walked through the yard, other small signs of spring started to appear.  My tarragon and chives were starting to poke through the soil.  There were tiny buds on the branches of the cherry and crab apple trees.  All simple reminders that spring is nearly here!

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Fresh rosemary.  Rosemary is a wonderfully fragrant herb used in many Mediterranean dishes. I use rosemary frequently because I love the flavor and because it is so readily available to me.  I use it in many savory dishes that contain lamb, chicken or pork.  I use fresh rosemary in salads and homemade baked bread as well.  It’s a versatile herb that has earned a permanent place in my kitchen.  If you have the opportunity to plant rosemary in your yard, by all means do so!

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My Greek Chickpea Salad is prepared with canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), crunchy green cucumber, bright red grape tomatoes, red onion, tangy kalamata olives, dressed with a lemon garlic rosemary dressing and topped with feta cheese.  My Greek Chickpea Salad makes a wonderful side salad or as a main course for an easy vegetarian lunch.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives (sliced)
  • 3 –  4 Tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4  – 1/2 tsp rosemary (finely minced and to taste)
  • feta cheese (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, toss together the chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, and kalamata olives,  In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic paste, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Taste the dressing and correct your seasonings.  Be aware that fresh rosemary can easily overpower a dish.  Add the dressing to the garbanzo mixture.  Mix lightly.  Top with optional feta cheese.  Makes 2 lunches or 6 smaller side dish servings.

Wheat Berry Salad and a walk along Bear Creek

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Wheat Berry Salad with Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  All my resolutions such as losing weight and exercising more, historically have been destined for defeat.  So, since I despise failure, I don’t do resolutions anymore.  Nope, none, nada…  I look at it this way.  I make New Year’s expectations. Expectations for me are doable and achievable.  This year I expect to take smaller steps to improving my life and health.  I’m certainly not a perfect person but when I expect something out of myself, I do it.

One of the first things that Bruce and I did for the New Year was to take a long walk along Bear Creek here in the Rogue Valley.  Bear Creek is home to many species of birds, aquatic mammals and fish.  During the spring and fall months you may see large salmon or steelhead swimming up the creek on their way to their spawning grounds.  In the winter, the water in the creek is too turbid from the rain and snow to see much at all.  However, it is a great time to go birding.  So, I grabbed my camera and out the door we went.

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A great egret hunting for fish in the marshy area near the creek.

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A pair of mallard ducks on a log.  This is my favorite picture of the day.  The brightly colored drake is on the left and the plain colored hen is on the right.  It won’t be long before they start nesting.

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A closeup of a drake Mallard duck.  Notice the beautiful blue wing bar and bright orange legs?

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When we got back home from our walk along the creek, I decided to make a bright and flavorful Wheat Berry Salad.  My Wheat Berry Salad is simple to make and tastes delicious! It’s made with tasty little wheat berries, red bell pepper, Kalamata olives, green onions, parsley, feta cheese and my favorite red wine vinaigrette.  In just a matter of hours, I’m already living up to my expectations.  A lovely walk and a healthful salad.  That was easy.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups cooked wheat berries (1 cup dried = 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup red bell (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (click on link for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  •  4-  6 cups lettuce, watercress or your favorite leafy greens

Mix all ingredients (except lettuce or watercress) in a medium sized bowl adding the feta cheese last…  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Chill and serve on a bed of lettuce, watercress or other leafy greens.  Garnish with additional feta crumbles and chopped parsley.  Makes 6 servings.

Orzo Asparagus Salad

Orzo Asparagus Salad

It’s not too often that when I walk through the produce section of my favorite food co-op and then all of a sudden stop dead in my tracks…  What caught my eye were these gorgeous stems of locally grown organic purple asparagus.  I’ve never seen or even heard of purple asparagus before.  I’ve prepared green and white asparagus dozens of times but never the purple variety.  What a treat!  I snagged a big huge handful and put them it in my basket.

I gotta tell you that purple asparagus is not completely purple…  When you slice it, it has a light greenish white center and the outside of the stems turn purple to greenish purple as you cook them.  Purple asparagus is as tender and tastes the same as green asparagus.  With my new found prize, I decided to make an Orzo Asparagus Salad as a side dish with our grilled salmon for dinner this evening.  If I happened to have any leftovers, I will pack it in my lunch tomorrow.

After preparing my Orzo Asparagus Salad and as I was waiting for Bruce to come home from work, I thought I’d head outdoors with my camera to capture a few shots of late spring flowers and plants…

A variety of “double” columbine.  Notice the two layers of petals?

A “single” petaled columbine.  It’s just simply beautiful!  It’s one of my favorite perennial flowers.

Now back to what’s going on in my kitchen… My Orzo Asparagus Salad is a brightly colored spring dish that is easy to make and tastes wonderful.  It’s made with orzo pasta, locally grown purple asparagus, chopped red onion, crisp red bell pepper, Roma tomato, hand picked herbs from my garden such as oregano, basil and parsley, kalamata olives, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and then topped with crumbled feta cheese.  Makes about 4 – 6 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup orzo pasta (cook to manufacturer’s direction)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped asparagus (I used purple but, you can use what you like)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped and seeded Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese

Begin by cooking the orzo pasta according to manufacturer’s direction (or 7 minutes in salted boiling water).  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside.  Meanwhile, bring another salted pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus and cook for about two to three minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In a medium sized mixing bowl add cooked orzo, cooked asparagus, bell pepper, tomato, kalamata olives, onion, basil, parsley and oregano.  Lightly toss.  In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add to salad and toss to coat.  Refrigerate until well chilled. Put in a serving dish and top with feta cheese.

Red Quinoa Salad

Red Quinoa Salad

I love it when I make a dish that my husband Bruce has never tasted or even seen before in his life.  My Red Quinoa Salad is one of those dishes… Last night when I put a bowl of my Red Quinoa Salad next to the grilled chicken that I made him for dinner, he stopped what he was doing, looked down, looked at me and said in a stern voice “Okay, what is this Tess? And, wait, are those zucchinis?  You know I hate zucchini!”.   I looked at him with a big smirk and said, “No, it’s not zucchini silly, it’s cucumber, and before you ask any more questions, the salad is red quinoa with kalamata olives and feta.  You’ve had quinoa before, it’s good for you and I think you will like the salad”.  He looked back at me in silence….  As my sister would say, all you could hear was “crickets”.  And I gotta tell you that I was right.  Bruce liked it!  He ate the whole bowl and then he wanted more…

For those who do not know, quinoa is a type of edible seed that originated in the Andes of South America.  Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah” and not “key-nowah” like I first thought…  It comes in a couple of varieties including red and black.  I enjoy making quinoa because it is so quick to prepare, easy and versatile.  You can serve it hot or cold and it can be ready in a matter of about 20 – 25 minutes.  Next time you see quinoa at the market, snag some.  I think you’ll like it.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa (rinsed well in cold water and drained)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cucumber (diced)
  • 1 cup red tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (make mine, you will love it!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup crumbed feta cheese for garnish (optional)
  • parsley sprig for garnish

Begin by cooking the quinoa in a covered saucepan on medium heat until it boils.  Turn on low and let cook another 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile chop all your vegetables and make the Red Wine Vinaigrette.  When quinoa is cool add all ingredients except feta cheese to a mixing bowl and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  When ready to serve, sprinkle top of salad with “optional” feta cheese and garnish with parsley.  Serves 4.