Pesto & Garden Veggie Couscous Salad, with BBQ’d Tofu or Chicken

A slight bbq tang, plus the crisp crunch of fresh veggies means this summer salad is delish!

I was looking at Instagram the other day, and came across a mention of Pesto Couscous. My mind was instantly intrigued. Could a recipe be that simple? Take some couscous and add in some pesto? The answer, my friends, is yes! Heated, it makes a great side dish. Add in some protein and a colourful veggie, and you’ve got yourself dinner! Or…turn it into a salad! That’s this week’s recipe: Pesto & Garden Veggie Couscous Salad!

With the summer heat upon us, I’ve been feeling particularly like serving cold salads as a main course. Adding in garden fresh veggies and some chunks of BBQ’d protein, and you’ve got yourself a hearty main dish that won’t keep you in a hot kitchen, and can easily be packed up for picnics or lunches.

I used corn, tomato, and cucumber in this dish, but you can add in whatever veggies you have growing in your garden or can purchase fresh at a local store. For the protein, I added in chunks of tofu marinated in BBQ sauce and then baked and cooled. You could use chicken — in fact, I’m sure my darling meat-a-tarian husband would have preferred it, but hey, she who holds the ladle rules the world! Or menu, at least.

Want to make this easy dish yourself? Let’s get to it!

 

PESTO & GARDEN VEGGIE COUSCOUS SALAD

This easy yet hearty summer salad uses pearl couscous tossed with pesto and garden fresh veggies, topped with chunks of bbq'd protein, to make a refreshing but hearty summer dish. 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 c. pearl couscous (uncooked)
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • 2 heaping tbsp. pesto
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 pickling cucumber, chopped
  • 1 ear corn
  • 1/2 c. bbq'd protein (I used bbq'd tofu)

Instructions

  1. Boil pearl couscous in water for 10 minutes or until cooked to your taste (it's just like boiling pasta). Drain.

  2. Cook ear of corn (I cooked it for a few minutes in the microwave), and remove the niblets. 

  3. Add pesto to drained couscous and let cool. 

  4. When cool, add together pesto couscous, chopped tomato and cucumber, and corn niblets. 

  5. Stir, then top with chunks of bbq'd protein. 

  6. Chill to let flavours meld, and then serve. 

 

I strongly prefer to use pearl couscous in this salad, both for mouth feel and for presentation, but if regular couscous is all you have, you do you, boo. As with the veggies, it’s all about using what you’ve got! And what you’ve got with this dish, is a hands down hit for a potluck, work lunches, or dinner on a hot night. Even better is if you’re able to use pre-cooked protein, leftover from another meal, or even from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Less cooking means less time in a hot kitchen and more time eating and socializing! And I’m all about the eating!

Next Post: Any requests? I’d give you my own version of fried green tomatoes, but I know many people have strong feelings on the subject. Maybe something with seasonal fruit? Mmm…fruit! I’m pretty sure fruit is my spirit animal. 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, Happiness is Homemade, and Clever Chicks Bloghop! As well as Full Plate Thursday!

Shake n’ Bake Tofu (aka Tofu for Tofu-Haters)

Chunks of bbq’d and breaded goodness!

As a vegetarian, I’m always trying to make sure I eat enough protein, and as an expectant mum, I’m being doubly careful to feed my bebe-to-be all the nutrients she needs. So when I tried a tofu dish at a friend’s party…and LIKED it, I knew I had to develop my own variation. Basically, this is a tofu dish that will even convert the non-tofu-eaters in your life  to the realization that tofu isn’t all bad. I plan to eat all my tofu this way from now on!

This dish is pretty easy to make. All you do is chop up the tofu into cubes, marinate it in a BBQ sauce of your choice, toss the cubes in a homemade shake n’ bake mixture, and bake!

I’ve given you my homemade shake n’ bake recipe here, but as always, I encourage you to make it your own. Have some ground flax seed? Add it in! Have panko crumbs instead of breadcrumbs? Use those! Don’t have breadcrumbs but have some dried out bread husks? Toast and blend those up and use them instead! I’ve added in some psyllium husk to this mixture, but you could easily leave it out. Again, make it your own!

Let’s get to making, baking, and most importantly…eating!

5 from 1 vote
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SHAKE N' BAKE TOFU

These easy marinated, breaded, and baked tofu chunks will convert even the pickiest of eaters to the tofu side!

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pkg. firm tofu (must be firm. Silken or soft tofu won't work in this recipe)
  • 1/2 bottle BBQ sauce (or make your own!)
  • 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsps. psyllium husk
  • 2 tbsps. flour
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Chop tofu into cubes, and marinate in BBQ sauce overnight.

  2. Mix up all remaining ingredients, including the oil, to make the shake n' bake mixture. 

  3. Individually roll the marinated tofu cubes in the shake n' bake mixture, and place on a foil-lined baked sheet. 

  4. Bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, turning once at the 10 minute mark. 

  5. Eat and enjoy!

I love this recipe because not only is the shake n’ bake mixture easily customizable, but you can use the final product in so many recipes! I plan to use the breaded cubes in any dish that normally would have called for chunks of chicken: to top a salad with, to use in a wrap, as chicken nuggets, and so on. It’s an easy way to get a vegetarian protein into a picky eater! Try shake n’ bake tofu out and you’ll love it too!

True conversation with the DH, the guy who grew up on a cattle ranch:

Me: So, do you like the tofu? 

DH: It’s ok. I prefer real meat. 

Me: Well, I love it. I’m only making tofu this way from now on! 

DH: *goes to kitchen to get another helping of tofu* WHAT!?!!! There’s no more?!!???? Whyyy????

The moral of the story is…even my darling meat-a-tarian husband ate it and liked it! You will too!

Next Post: Maybe Pesto Couscous. Or…something baked with fruit? Another yummy recipe, at any rate!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and Inspire Me Monday! As well as at The Clever Chicks and Happiness is Homemade! Plus, at Full Plate Thursday!

Syrian-Style Chopped Salad: An Easy Beat-the-Heat Dish!

 

Deliciously fresh and cool and perfect for a summer lunch or dinner!

Inspired by some Syrian-Canadian friends, I made a Syrian-Style Chopped Salad this weekend! This is the perfect dish to make with all the fresh produce available in summer. The primary ingredients are cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, and it’s so refreshing to eat chilled for dinner on a hot summer’s day!

There is one less common ingredient: zaatar. Zaatar is an Arabic spice, and used in Middle Eastern cooking. I’ve used it before, as I grew up with it, and while I didn’t have it in my pantry, I asked my dad to borrow (er, have) a few tablespoons worth. You can probably find it at a local bulk store in a large city, or at a speciality food store. I believe my father buys it from a Middle Eastern grocery store, but even the local discount grocery stores have ‘exotic’ spices in their aisles these days, so I’d suggest looking there first.

My backyard tomatoes aren’t red yet, so I did have to use store-bought, but as any good foodie knows, home-grown tomatoes are THE. BEST! I did pick the parsley, mint, and radishes from my garden, though! (Am very proud of my densely grown balcony garden. The DH calls it ‘Las Amazonas’, so you know it’s pretty intense!)

Have I made it sound appetizing enough yet? Then let’s get cooking!

SYRIAN-STYLE CHOPPED SALAD

This is an easy, beat-the-heat dish to make from fresh garden produce! Can be adapted to add grains or protein. 

Servings 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/3-1/2 c. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped (can use dried if that's what you have)
  • 1 tbsp. radish, sliced or diced
  • 2 tbsp. zaatar (Arabic spice)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and stir. 

  2. Chill for half an hour or until serving. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can add in couscous or bulgar to make this a heftier salad; just add in a bit more lemon juice and oil. Alternatively, you can add in feta cheese, cubed & fried tofu, or even cooked chicken for some protein. Make it your own! 

By the way, this salad is so delicious that even my meat-a-tarian DH, who usually gamely eats whatever vegetarian dish I gave him but doesn’t choose vegetarian food if he has a choice, ACTUALLY ATE SECONDS OF THIS SALAD! Of his own volition! So yes, I will be making this a lot!

Although I’ve classified this salad as a vegetarian side dish, you could easily make it a main dish by adding in couscous or bulgar (cracked wheat), and adding in some crumbled or cubed feta cheese. And as I (the Queen of Substitutions) always encourage, make it your own by using whatever fresh produce you have in your garden or available at the local stores!

Next Post: I’m thinking the Shake n’ Bake tofu that I mentioned in a previous post. So many ways to use this versatile (and UBER-delicious protein)! And I’m not generally a tofu fan, so you KNOW it must be good! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

Easiest Ever Orange Crush Slushy: A Summertime Treat!

So very refreshing! (And embarrassingly easy to make!)

I was on vacation last week, and tried an Apple Cider Slushy for the first time. It. Was. Delicious! And slightly more adult than the classic neon coloured slushies that one finds at the corner store. But there’s a time and a place for everything, including the classic Orange Crush Slushy, so that’s what I’m going to show you how to make this week!

Making a slushy is almost embarrassingly easy. You basically just need a very watery drink, and an ice-cream maker. I use my Kitchen-Aid Mixer with an Ice Cream attachment, and I love it as I can easily make delicious ice creams like Gluten-Free Chunks O’ Brownie Ice Cream, or even healthier desserts like my Strawberry Fro-Yo. But I think any electric ice cream maker would work, paired with a delicious watery drink.

 

5 from 2 votes
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ORANGE CRUSH SLUSHY

This childhood-inspired summertime treat is just the thing on a hot and steamy day. And even better, it takes about two minutes to make! 

Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 can Orange Crush pop

Instructions

  1. Pour 1 can of pop into the ice cream maker, and run it for 2-5 minutes (depending on how frozen you like your slushy). 

  2. Pour into a chilled glass, and...enjoy!

Recipe Notes

I mention this in the post, but you can easily substitute the Orange Crush for another flavour of pop, or even another water-based drink. The possibilities are as wide as your imagination! 

The possibilities for different flavours of slushies are endless! Do you like the Grape or Watermelon-flavoured slushies from your childhood? Buy a package of Kool-Aid in the flavour you like, add in the appropriate amount of sugar and water as directed on the package, and toss it in the ice cream maker!

If you’re watching your weight, you could even try a strongly-flavoured version of Crystal Light. Yes, it’s not the healthiest of summertime treats, but…everything in moderation, right? Sometimes when it’s hot and humid outside, you just want a freezing cold slushy.

If you make this slushy, tell me what flavour you used! Cola? Orange Crush? Kool-Aid? Crystal Light? Share your version with us!

Next Post: Either Shake-and-Bake Tofu (seriously!) or Syrian Vegetable Salad. I’m craving both, and they’re both heathy, so why not? Any votes for which one I should post next? 

Linking Up at Happiness is Homemade! And at Meal Plan Monday! Plus at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

Super-Easy & Cheesy Pizza Scrolls: An Easy Snack, Appetizer, or Light Lunch!

Ooey gooey cheesiness, oh yeah!

I’ve been lurking on Instagram lately, trying to learn the ins and outs of successful IG accounts, before launching my own account shortly. I’ve learnt some interesting things, including different foods from around the world. Case in point, have you ever heard of scrolls? I’ve never heard of them before, but they’re sort of like if a mini cinnamon bun met a savoury pastry. Apparently very popular in Australia, where vegemite scrolls are a handy item to stash in a child’s lunchbox. Naturally, I decided to make my own version: Super-Easy & Cheesy Pizza Scrolls!

That’s right — think pizza rolls, but suuuuuper easy to make, and they make even an amateur baker look like a very experienced one. And who would complain about kudos for something that you just dashed together? I think they’d be great to bring to potlucks and get-togethers. Make them smaller for appetizers, or bigger for lunches.

Let’s get to making some!

CHEESY PIZZA SCROLLS

These pizza roll-ups are great to snack on or to throw in a lunch bag. They also freeze and reheat well!

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 batch pizza dough (http://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/)
  • 3/4 c. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 c. pizza sauce

Instructions

  1. Make pizza dough. For fluffier scrolls, let dough rise for 1 hour before punching down to get rid of excess air bubbles.

  2. Roll dough into rectangle.

  3. Spread sauce on top of rectangle, and sprinkle cheese on top.

  4. Roll up the pizza dough, long side to long side. If you roll up short side to short side, you'll have many fewer scrolls, and they'll be ginormous.

  5. Using a dough cutter (or just a sharp knife), slice the rolled up dough into slices, about 1 - 1 1/2 inch across.

  6. Place on non-stick baking tray, or on top of a silicone mat on a baking tray and bake for 1/2 hour at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, or until golden brown on top.

  7. Let cool and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can make your own basic pizza sauce by adding dried oregano to plain tomato sauce. Super-easy! 

To make mini scrolls, make the dough rectangle significantly wider than long. And to make fatter scrolls, make a dough square!

The trick to making really good scrolls is not to over-stuff them (I definitely overstuffed my first version!) so that you can roll them up verrrry tightly. And, if you like harder sides on your baked goods, set them by themselves on the baking tray. If you like soft-sided baked goods, make sure the sides are slightly touching. And, you’re good to go!

These scrolls are easy to customize with your favourite fillings. Why not some mini goat cheese and red pepper jelly scrolls for some fancy-pants appetizers? Or perhaps mini pesto scrolls for a switch-up? You could go authentic Australian with vegemite ones, or just toss in some grated cheese and whatever finely chopped veggies are in your fridge. If you make these, let me know what fillings you used!

Next Post: Something fruity, I think. I am eating fruit like it’s going out of fashion! Perhaps with a custardy sauce. Mmm…fruit and custard — so deliciously summery! Or maybe a vegetarian version of Chicken Tortilla Soup? Chickpea Tortilla Soup!

Linking Up at Happiness is Homemade! And at Meal Plan Monday!