Grilled Apricot and Cherry Grain Salad

If someone asked you to bring a drupe salad to a summer picnic, would you know what that is? How about if they asked for a stone fruit salad? Throughout the months of July and August, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, and apricots, otherwise known as drupes or stone fruits, burst onto the scene at farmers markets and beyond. These are hands-down my FAVORITE fruits, so when The Recipe Redux challenged us to make a healthy recipe celebrating stone fruits, I was feeling peachy keen.

New York City has over one hundred farmers markets to pick up in-season goodies, however at the time of the redux I found myself at my family’s house in Eastern Pennsylvania, where luckily local farm stands aren’t few or far between. I love shopping at and supporting local farms and businesses whenever possible. Another fun adventure would be go to pick your own stone fruits if you find a farm nearby!

Peaches would have to be my most favorite of these fruits- the fuzz, the flesh, the juice, I could go on- but I figured most of the recipes entered for this month’s challenge would use this ripe beauty. I wanted to showcase two stones that maybe don’t get as much love- apricots and cherries- and I challenged myself to come up with a savory salad, rather than a sweet breakfast or dessert. What resulted was oh so delicious and is a dish I know I’ll be making for summers to come.

Apricots are fairly straightforward to prepare- simply slice down the “seam” that runs around the circumference of the fruit in order to get two halves, then remove the pit. Cherries, on the other hand, are a bit more tedious and staining, but I find them to be well worth the effort. To remove cherry pits, you can buy yourself a fancy pitter tool, I’ve seen others use a chopstick to poke out the stone, or do as I do and slice them in half, then dig your fingers in and rip out the pit, resulting in very red fingers and nails. Both of these fruits pair well with herbs and spices, but I played up another member of the drupe family- pistachios.

Before I run away singing about the other ingredients, here is the full recipe for you to make yourself! I hope you enjoy!

Grilled Apricot and Cherry Grain Salad- serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooks quinoa
  • 2 ears of corn- shucked and raw kernels cut from the cob
  • 6 apricots, halved and pitted
  • 10 cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Lime
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Start by cooking 1 cup quinoa according to package instructions. This will make 2 cups cooked. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Cut the kernels from two corn cobs and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Prepare the fruit by first cutting both apricots and cherries in half and removing pits. Add cherries to bowl with corn. Drizzle apricot halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then take to the grill and set face down. Cook on the grill for about 3-4 minutes until inner flesh starts to caramelize and show grill marks. Remove apricot halves from the grill and let cool before slicing into quarter pieces. Then add to corn and cherries.
  4. To the corn and fruit, add the cooked quinoa, chopped pistachios, feta, and a squeeze of juice from half a lime. Serve as a side salad at your next gathering.

For more super stone fruit recipes, check out my fellow Recipe Reduxers below!


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Rotisserie Chicken 3 Ways

When the temperatures are running over 90 degrees, nobody should have to tun on their stove or oven to get a nutritious meal on the table. That’s where a store bought rotisserie chicken can come in to save the day! I’m sharing with you three different ways to use up a bird for two people and each of these “recipes’ are fast, simple, packed with nutrition and most importantly delicious!

Here’s your shopping list:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken- purchase one that is unseasoned or, at most, a lemon herb rub
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • spinach
  • pine nuts
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil

No Cook Summer Salad

Directions

  1. Wash butter lettuce and tear apart using hands or roughly chop with a knife. In a large bowl, place 4 cups of prepped greens.
  2. Shred 6-8 ounces of chicken, or about 2 palm-sized portions worth, and add to greens bowl.
  3. Cut root ends off radishes, then cut in half starting from the green stem. Slice each half into half-moon pieces- the thickness is up to you. Use about 5 radishes total. Add radishes to salad.
  4. Cut half an avocado into cubes and add. Sprinkle 1/4 cup pine nuts over greens. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the salad. Mix with hands or salad tongs and serve.

 

Rotisserie Wraps Two Ways

 

Directions

  1. Shred 6-8 ounces of chicken, or enough to make about 2-2.5 cups of shredded chicken, place in mixing bowl. To chicken, add half an avocado and mix two ingredients well. The avocado should be creamy enough to create a “sauce” a la mayonnaise used in a traditional chicken salad. Add a small squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt once mixed well. Set aside.
  2. Finely dice 1/4 cup red onion- use more or less in wrap depending on tastes and reseve any extra (great to add into a guacamole!).  With the other onion half, cut into thin slices and place in glass jar. To quick pickle, bring 1.5 cups of white vinegar and a pinch of sugar to boil on the stove, then pour liquid over onion slices (the onions should be fully covered). Let sit as onions will start to turn pink and pickle. This quick pickle can be stored in the fridge for about 1 week.
  3. From the above salad recipe, separate and clean 3 butter lettuce leaves, and be sure to pat them dry well. Slice 1-2 radishes into half moon shapes.
  4. To assemble wheat wrap: start with 1 whole wheat tortilla, create base layer of a handful of pre-washed spinach, spoon 1 1/4 cup of chicken salad mixture on top, add diced red onions, then wrap and serve.
  5. To assemble lettuce wraps: lay out 3 lettuce leaves, divide 1 1/4 cup chicken salad into each leaf, top with pickled onion and radishes, and serve.

A Summertime Menu

Living in New York City means that opportunities for grilling and dining al fresco in the comfort of your own home are rare if not non-existent. So, when traveling home to the Northern Kentucky area over a gloriously sunny weekend in June, I took full advantage and enjoyed a meal that included all of the above, local produce, and great company of family.

I can’t take credit for the recipes that constructed this meal, but the combination of entree, side dish, and salad were perfection and I felt it was a summertime menu worth sharing. Sometimes the hardest part is picking out two or three recipes that go together for a meal, so I hope I’ve helped do some of the meal planning for you, allowing you to enjoy a warm summer night.

A Summertime Menu

Entree: Spice Salmon Kebabs from Bon Appetit. While we didn’t find the double skewer trick very helpful, these kebabs were packed with bright, yet spicy flavors. A grill is a non-negotiable for nailing the smoky salmon notes. Plus, the nutrition can’t be beat- lean, filling protein, and healthy, skin-glowing fats, dressed up with natural seasonings.

Side: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen. My mother was blessed with a bounty of tomatoes from a friend’s garden, so these bright red beauties needed to be shown off! I had made these tomatoes once before for myself thinking Mr. CN would not be into them, but I was happy that this simplistic side was now enjoyed by my him and even my tomato-averse father. This makes for a grain-centric side dish that is also very veggie-forward.

Salad: Mama Nutritious’ Special Salad from her own genius brain. My mom is always asked to bring her salads to family get togethers. They must be elevated and complex, right? No! She simply grabs  various greens (arugula, mesclun, and pea shoots shown here) and a mixture of toppings (cranberries, feta, and maracona almonds in this one), tossing it all together in a bowl with a dressing of EVOO, lemon juice, usually dijon, garlic, and s&p that she shakes up in a mason jar. Voila! Getting in your veggies is all about preparing them in ways that please your own taste buds- if you don’t enjoy the selections or flavors you’ll be hard pressed to include them in your daily diet.

What are your favorite summer meals?

Hello, Spring, are you there?

What is UP with this cold weather? Just as I was shaking out my flats and dresses the temperature drops overnight! But I guess I’m not completely upset, as it gave me the chance to try out another warming soup recipe. Well, it is actually a salad disguised as a soup, or a soup disguised as a salad…I don’t quite know, but either way it’s packed with nutritious veggies and is silky smooth and comforting all at the same time. If these cold temperatures don’t let up soon I suggest you whip up this satisfying dish right away.

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