Some decisions in life are just no-brainers. Did I wish to get a second dog after Elsie? Uh-huh. Should I move in with the HH? Duh. Do I present at Nourished when asked? Uh, yeah. Will I accept when Ellen finally invites me onto her show? OF COURSE I WILL!! And when Casey of KitchenPLAY emails to see if I’d like to be part of the “Build a Better Salad” event featuring olives and olive oil, do I agree to create a recipe and blog about it? Well–talk about a no-brainer!
I was asked to develop a salad using olives and olive oil (see full disclosure at end of post) and was given carte blanche to create a recipe of entirely of my own choosing.
And let me tell you, I had a load of fun concocting this salad!
If you browse around my blog, you’ll likely pick up on the fact that I adore olives. I add them to pilafs and tagines; I bake them into breads; I purée them in soups; I scatter them over pizza; I toss them in pasta; and I often eat them just on their own. Green, black, cured, in brine–it’s all good! And anyone who’s familiar with the “Mediterranean Diet” knows that olives, with their high monounsaturated fat content, are extremely good for us. Besides the commonly-known benefits of reducing coronary heart disease and their anti-inflammatory properties, olives and olive oil also can help prevent a host of cancers, including breast, colon and prostate cancer. But most importantly, they simply taste delicious.
Because the HH and I already eat olives on a regular basis (on lazy weeknights, we’ll sometimes have what we’ve dubbed the “appetizer plate,” with various little bites, raw veggies, crackers and two bowls of olives–one green, one black–and make an entire meal of snacky foods), well, I wanted something different for this event. Musing on what kinds of food make me happy, I thought, “colorful.” I thought, “springy.” I thought, “quinoa.” And (of course) I thought, “baked goods.” How to combine them all together in one fabulous salad?
This olive and quinoa salad just on its own is a like a sensory promise of springtime: light and fresh, with a clean, crisp dressing of fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, two long-time companions that complement each other perfectly. Matched with a hint of sweetness in the carrots, creaminess of avocado, crisp juiciness of cucumber and the subtle nuttiness of quinoa, the green olives in the salad contribute a piquant contrast to the background mosaic of grain and veggies. I loved how the tangy olives made their presence known in each bite.
As a foil to the light, mildly flavored salad, I envisioned some black olive shortbread with a pungent saltiness as the prominent taste. The tender, flaky wedges are slightly grainy and crisp on the edges, yet buttery from the natural oils of the olives and walnuts. I simply loved this shortbread, which would also work beautifully alongside a steaming bowl of tomato or mushroom soup.
As the weather warms and you begin to crave fresh, healthy foods, enjoy this salad at a springtime brunch, for a light luncheon or even as picnic fare.
Adding olives to your salad–well, it’s just a no-brainer.
Quinoa-Olive Salad with Black Olive Shortbread
(Suitable for anti-candida diet, Stage 3 and beyond)
This is a versatile salad that’s light and easy enough for a weekday meal, but impressive enough for guests on the weekend. If you eat the salad on its own and not as a first course, toss in some nuts or beans for a complete protein.
For the Salad:
1-1/4 cups quinoa, dry
2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) sliced green olives (such as Manzanilla), plain or stuffed with pimiento or garlic
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1/3 cup (80 ml) diced cucumber (peel if not organic)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) diced red onion
1/2 cup (120 ml) green onion, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/3 cup (80 ml) sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped Italian parsley
For the Dressing:
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup or 60 ml)
5-8 drops plain stevia liquid, to your taste
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Shortbreads:
1/2 cup (55 g) walnut halves, lightly toasted
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) brown rice flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) pitted black, oil-cured olives, such as lugano (the salty, wrinkled kind)
1 tsp (5 ml) Bragg’s aminos, wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water or vegetable broth
Cook the quinoa: In a large pot, bring the water and broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa, stir, then cover and lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, then check for doneness. If there is still liquid at the bottom of the pot, cover again and continue to cook until the liquid is just absorbed, 5 minutes at a time. Once ready, turn off heat and allow to cool.
Make the shortbreads: Preheat oven to 325F (170C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir together the walnuts, flax seeds and flour until crumbly. Add the olives, Bragg’s and broth and process until it comes together in a crumbly dough (it should stick together when pinched between your thumb and fingers, without being too moist).
Turn the dough out onto the parchment and shape it into a disk about 4-5 inches (10 cm) across and 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Score into 6 triangle-shaped wedges.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cut all the way through along the scored lines. Separate the pieces about an inch (2.5 cm) apart from each other and continue to bake until browned on the bottom and dry on top, another 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool while you complete the salad.
Complete the salad: in a salad bowl, toss the cooled quinoa, green olives, carrot, cucumber, red onion, green onion, red pepper and parsley.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, stevia, salt and pepper. Pour over the quinoa and toss to coat.
To serve, mound some of the salad on a plate and garnish with one wedge of olive shortbread. For a fancier presentation, pack about a cup of salad into well-greased individual molds (ramekins or muffin cups), then invert onto serving plates and garnish each with a shortbread wedge. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 4 days. The shortbreads may be wrapped in plastic and frozen.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free,yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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