Meatless Monday: Summery Kale, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

I realllly wanted to call this salad The Best Summer Quinoa Salad Ever, but that was too ambiguous. Or even Quinoa, Kale, Black Bean, Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Hot Pepper, Corn Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette but that just seemed like too long of a name and you would probably would have stopped reading then. So just go with it.

Anyway, I love a good summery salad. Something with a good light vinaigrette, add in corn and avocado and I’m sold. So when I realized we had pretty much all of my favorite ingredients for a salad thanks to our Fresh Fork CSA and some farmer’s market finds, I knew I had to just put it all together and make the best summer salad ever. Add in some quinoa and a can of black beans and it was perfect for a vegetarian main meal. Oh yeah – even B ate it as a main dish without meat. That’s how I know it’s a success.

Don’t be fooled by the name, I may just be making this salad this fall and winter too. Because we all need some summer meals all year round, don’t we?

kale, quinoa, black bean and avocado salad

Kale, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/3 olive oil (divided)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 hungarian hot peppers or jalapenos, diced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 c. thinly chopped raw kale leaves
  • 1 c corn (approximately one giant cob)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado, chopped into cubes

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and hot pepper, and saute for about 3-4 minutes. I also added a few slices of kale, but feel free to use all the kale in step #4 and keep it raw.
  2. Add quinoa and two cups water.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the salad. First prepare the dressing. Mix 1/4 c lemon juice (about one whole lemon) with 1/3 cup olive oil and cumin.
  4. Finely chop the kale (remove the large thick middle stems from the leaves and then roll up kale into rods before finely chopping) and add to the salad dressing. Coat kale thoroughly in dressing. Add in corn and black beans.
  5. By now the quinoa should be nearly done cooking. After letting cool for a minute, add cooked quinoa, onion and pepper to kale, corn and tomato. Mix well.  Gently add in chopped tomato. Just before serving, add in avocado.
  6. Enjoy! Mine made 3-4 vegetarian main dishes.

kale, quinoa, black bean and avocado salad

Lemon Bars!

Once, in high school, I made lemon bars. And every year during the holidays since then, my Uncle Mike requests lemon bars as one of the many desserts we have. I haven’t taken him up on his request – mainly because I haven’t had time to find the recipe, search for a new recipe, and because I’m convinced nobody really likes lemon desserts.

Well, this year, I changed my mind. I mean, I LOVE lemon bars and lemon pound cake and many lemon desserts … so maybe other people do too? And while I was home for the holidays, I was browsing through a cookbook my mom had on hand, I happened to find an easy looking recipe my mom had marked – for lemon bars! I asked my mom what she thought and she encouraged me to try it. After all, Tate’s Bakeshop has some amazing chocolate chip cookies that my mom had replicated (we enjoy their cookies on Fire Island), and my uncle had been asking for lemon bars for quite a few years.

I’m glad I tried them out – they came out amazing! I’ll be definitely using this easy, and fast, recipe for years to come.

lemon bars
Luscious Lemon Bars
Here’s what you need:
For the crust/base:
  • 1 cup butter, softened (I used 1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the top/filling:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (According to the interwebs, you may need up to 4 lemons to make this … I luckily found a LARGE lemon and was able to obtain 1/2 c juice from just ONE!)
 Here’s what you do:
For the crust/base:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the butter, flour and sugar with your hands till the mixture is well blended. I actually used a hand mixer on low to get the butter and flower well mixed, then used my hands to evenly distribute all the ingredients.
  3. Place the mixture in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Pat the mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

For the top/filling:

  1.  While the base is baking, beat the eggs.
  2. Add the sugar and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the flour and mix until everything is incorporated.
  4. When the base is done, remove the pan from the oven. Add the lemon juice to the sugar/lemon zest/flour mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour it over the warm base and bake the entire thing for 20 minutes.
  6. When cool, cut into squares or triangles (makes more bars). Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of finished bars just before serving.
  7. Enjoy some of the best lemon bars you’ve ever tasted!

labeled crust

labeled filling

labeled lemon bars