It’s Fall Time: Quinoa, Pomegranate and Arugula Salad

With summer behind us and the rainy fall weather here, the days of enjoying strawberries from the basket are replaced with roasting squash and making soups. Salads no longer have peaches and nectarines but rather persimmons and pomegranates. After volunteering at the culinary demo with CUESA, I took home three large, ripe pomegranates that were asking to be eaten right away.

Deseeding pomegranates can be quite a process, but thanks to the market chef at CUESA, Carrie, I learned a new technique. Many of us are familiar with submerging the sliced pomegranate under water to remove the seeds. The new technique — which is also great for getting aggression out — is to whack the outside of the pomegranate with a meat tenderizer or a lemon squeezer, letting the seeds fall into a large bowl.

Once the seeds were ready for my use, I decided to make a salad full of roasted and savory fall flavors. The red quinoa, toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds are the essence of the season, while the refreshing arugula and light lemon dressing are reminders of summer left behind.

Arugula Salad


1 cup red quinoa, uncooked
> 1 cup slivered almonds, unsalted and toasted
> 1 cup pomegranate seeds from one large pomegranate
> 4 cups arugula
> juice from 1 lemon
> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> salt and pepper


Cook the quinoa according to the package. Combine quinoa, almonds, pomegranate seeds and arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil atop, and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from PopSugar.


Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of ____ [fill in the blank] soups are always buttery and high in fat because besides whatever vegetables is featured — asparagus, mushroom or broccoli — the other main ingredients are cream and butter. The richness of these soups is typically overpowering for me, which is why I rarely order a cream-based soup or make them at home.

Recently I had a cooking adventure with a dear friend of mine who is a health foodie and nutrition maven (check out her recipes at Naturally Wholesome Life). It was a chilly, raining night so we knew we wanted to make a soup, but beyond that, the world was our oyster. That’s how this broccoli soup came about. It’s a culmination of friendship, creativity and love, all packed in one.

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup


> 1 cup raw macadamia nuts
> 1 1/2 cups boiling water
> 4 teaspoons lemon juice
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 onion, chopped
> salt and pepper
> 3 cloves garlic, chopped
> 2 medium heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
> 4 cups vegetable broth
> 1 green chili, chopped
> 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley


Place macadamia nuts in a large bowl and submerge in boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook onions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable both and broccoli and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes, or until broccoli is al dente.

Place macadamia nuts, water and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Remove half of the macadamia nut cream from the blender and set aside in a small bowl. Add the saucepan mixture, parsley and 2 teaspoons lemon juice to the blender, and blend on high until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls with a few spoonfuls of macadamia nut cream on top. Garnish with a few parsley leaves and macadamia nuts.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from My New Roots.

Black Bean Mushroom Soup

One of the easiest and most satisfying recipes to whip together is soup. I’ve experimented with carrot soup, zucchini soup, green pea soup and many others, and while those are delicious, they often lack the proper nutrients including protein and calcium.

The simplest sources of protein for vegetarians are beans and nuts, along with dairy sources like yogurt and eggs. Anyone who knows me well can attest to my obsession with chickpeas. Earlier this year, I went through two cans of chickpeas a week, and yes, I was the only one consuming all of those chickpeas roasted, atop a salad or mixed into hummus.

Whenever I find a recipe that I love that doesn’t have chickpeas, I’m thrilled because it’s a new set of flavors to add to my culinary arsenal. This soup calls on another common bean, the black bean, as well as mushrooms for its flavor. Aside from being quick and easy, this recipe requires minimal ingredients and is great for beginning cooks and aficionados alike.

Black Bean Mushroom Soup


> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 garlic clove, chopped
> 1 yellow onion, chopped
> 12 ounces white cap mushrooms
> 1 1/2 cups hot water
> 1/2 cube vegetable stock
> 1 can black beans
> salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until they have become translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 7 more minutes. Add the hot water, stock cube and beans, and gently simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer the cooked mixture to a blender, and pulse until liquid with some texture.

Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from One Green Planet.

White Beans with Broccoli Rabe and Lemon

With the onset of fall and cooler weather, a warm yet refreshing dish is just the kind of dinner I need. Broccoli rabe is a vegetable typically seen on restaurant menus, but one that I rarely cook at home. That’s what first attracted my eye to this dish, plus the thinly sliced lemons which infuse flavor into the rest of the ingredients. This dish, both light and filling, works great as an entree for a one-person meal or as a side for a feast.

2014-10-12 20.41.20


> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
> 4 garlic cloves, chopped
> 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into bite-size pieces
> 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
> salt and pepper


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add lemon and garlic, and cook until lemon is softened and brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli rabe, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until bright green, about 5 minutes.

Add beans and 1/2 cup water to saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Makes 3 servings.

Adapted from Bon Appetit.


Roasted Broccoli and Grains

I couldn’t get enough of the nutty flavor of bulgur, so I whipped together this recipe which combines the perfect arrangement of flavors — the refreshing roasted broccoli, nutty bulgur, even nuttier roasted cashews and refreshing lemon. The well-rounded meal makes great leftovers to package for lunch at work the next day, or the following night’s dinner.

Roasted Broccoli with Grains


> 1 large head of broccoli, sliced into bite-size pieces
> 1/3 cup cashew pieces
> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> salt and pepper
> 1 cup bulgur wheat
> juice from 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 425°F. Place broccoli on baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to to coat. Roast about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Boil 2 cups of water in a medium-sized saucepan, and add bulgur wheat. Bring to a simmer and cover with lid. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

Place cashews on a baking sheet and roast for about 7 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, bulgur wheat and cashews. Mix in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Lentil-Walnut Green Tacos

I love taking vegetarian spins on classically meat-heavy Mexican meals. I’ve made two types of vegetarian tacos in the past — one filled with a carrot sofrito, and the other with a chickpea-bean mix. This time I decided to make one of the healthiest of tacos out there that is friendly to all kinds of diets. It’s gluten-free and vegan. Instead of using corn tortillas, these tacos use lettuce wraps as the taco shell.

Lentil-Walnut Taco


> 1 cup green lentils
> 1 cup walnut pieces
> 1 teaspoon ground cumin
> 1 teaspoon chili powder
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 2 tablespoons water
> 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
> 4 tomatoes, diced
> 12 leaves large romaine
> toppings: salsa, sliced avocado, sliced green onion, cilantro


To make the lentil-walnut meat, bring 2 cups water to a boil, and add lentils. Simmer for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain excess water. Combine walnuts, lentils, cumin, chili powder and a dash of salt in a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add oil and water, and process until well combined.

Grill bell peppers until soft, about 8 minutes.

Assemble tacos by topping lettuce lead with lentil-walnut meat, grilled peppers and other toppings.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Oh She Glows.

Toasted Quinoa and Cabbage Salad

Quinoa and chickpeas are two of my favorite, go-to sources of flavor and protein, but I have never thought to combine them with sautéed cabbage. In fact, cabbage is often a lettuce that I steer away from, merely because of its association with heavier foods such as ham, potatoes and cheese. I’m always excited about trying a vegetable that I typically wouldn’t cook since it opens my eyes to new flavors and ways of preparing dishes.

Toasted Quinoa and Cabbage Salad


> 1/2 cup red quinoa
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1/2 head cabbage, cut into 1″-thick slices
> 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
> juice and zest from 1 lemon
> salt and pepper


Cook quinoa by bringing 1 cup water to a boil. Stir in quinoa, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and a dash of salt, and cook about 8 minutes or until tender. Add quinoa to the skillet with the cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is toasted and crisp, about 8 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa-cabbage mixture with chickpeas, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: This dish tastes delicious when cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes are added.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from FitSugar.