Black Rice & Edamame Salad

Black Rice & Edamame Salad

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was trying to prep more food on the weekends to make for easier lunches and no brainer dinners.  With this in mind I have been trying to make a variety of salads – rice, lentil, steel cut oats, etc. My strategy has been to create salads with a good mix of vegetables, fiber, and protein to hopefully provide an interesting lunch while maintaining my energy through the day. The salad I want to share today is my Black Rice & Edamame Salad.

Black Rice & Edamame Salad


Black rice has higher protein, fiber, and iron content than most other rice varieties and is high in antioxidants.  It has a nutty flavor which makes it a delicious base to build from, and the unique color helps make the dish fun and fresh. To balance the dark color of the rice I added fresh cauliflower and edamame.  Not only is the color contrast visually appealing, but I enjoyed the different textures of the salad (chewy and crunchy at the same time) as well.  I dressed the salad with a light Asian inspired sauce. The soy sauce, ginger and garlic was just enough to compliment the salad without smothering the great flavors of the black rice, edamame, and cauliflower. I hope you enjoy my Black Rice & Edamame Salad as much as I did. Don’t be surprised if you see more salad recipes in the upcoming weeks!

Black Rice & Edamame Salad

Black Rice & Edamame Salad


Black Rice & Edamame Salad

1 cup black rice
3 cups water
12 ounces frozen, shelled edamame
2 cups chopped, fresh cauliflower (~ ½ pound)
2 green onions, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Rinse black rice until water comes out clear, than add to a large pot with the water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and chew, about 30 minutes. Remove from the pot and add to a large bowl.  Meanwhile, cook edamame according to package directions, drain if necessary, and add to the black rice along with the cauliflower and green onions.  In a small bowl mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, salt, ginger, and garlic and then pour over the black rice salad.


Purple Cauliflower Dip

Every now and then the wellness program at my office highlights a challenge. The one starting this next week is to eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit in the colors of the rainbow for a whole month.  Doing so (and logging my progress) earns me points towards a better health care plan rate, but I also see it as a great reminder to vary my fresh food.  We sometimes get in a rut, such as always grabbing an apple or carrot sticks for lunch.

When you stop and think about it though, how much blue or purple food do you eat? Probably not much, which I had demonstrated with my Does Color Effect Taste Experiment, but there are other options besides blueberries.

purple cauliflower

Take, for instance – purple cauliflower. Like many other blue/purple veggies and fruit it gets its color from anthocyanin which is thought to help reduce chances of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It is also the chemical behind the acid-base indicator made from cabbage. You may notice the cauliflower gets a pinkish hue when you add the lemon juice in this recipe as a result of the lower pH in that area.

purple cauliflower dip

Chemistry aside, I used the purple cauliflower to make a unique, light take on hummus. Mixing in the cauliflower not only gave the dip color, it also adds a sweetness to the snack. I enjoyed this with carrots and crackers, so be creative (or sneak in another color). I’m sure you will see some other challenge inspired dishes over the next month.

purple cauliflower dip

Purple Cauliflower Dip

1 lb purple cauliflower florets
One 15.5 can garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek


Add the cauliflower and garbanzo beans to a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the lemon juice and the olive oil and continue to process until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.  Once smooth, stir in the salt, garlic powder, basil, and fenugreek. Serve with crackers, chips, or carrot sticks.


Apricot Ginger Salmon

Apricot Ginger Salmon with Poblano Cauliflower Puree, and Wilted Watercress

I couldn’t wait for The Saucy Mama blogger challenge to open this year.  I absolutely fell in love with the Saucy Mama products when I entered my Baked Tarragon Lemon Sea Scallops in last year’s contest and I must admit I trolled their website the weeks leading up to this year’s contest to make sure I didn’t miss it.  The products I chose to experiment with in the kitchen were:

  • Saucy Mama Poblano Ranch Dressing
  • Saucy Mama White Balsamic & Honey Dressing
  • Saucy Mama Parmesan Marinade
  • Smoky Garlic Mustard
  • Champagne and Honey Mustard
  • Apricot Ginger Mustard

 Saucy Mama

Once I tasted the Apricot Ginger Mustard I just knew I had to build a recipe around it.  The sweetness of the apricot and zing of the ginger are perfectly balanced, which I thought would make an excellent topper for salmon. I complimented the Apricot Ginger Mustard with a bit of Saigon cinnamon and I divided the cooking time of the salmon between searing for a textured crust and baking for even tenderness.

Apricot-Ginger Salmon

Even though the Apricot Ginger Salmon is the main attraction, I utilized two other Saucy Mama products in the equally as tasty accompaniments. A cauliflower puree with the consistency of mashed potatoes earns its flavor from the Poblano Ranch Dressing, and the watercress that has been wilted to tame its spiciness (and pack in more servings per plate) is tossed with a bit of White Balsamic & Honey Dressing.

Apricot-Ginger Salmon

The plated dish, which was garnished with a dusting of kumquats, blackberries, and pistachios, made my husband utter an audible “wow”, which is always a welcome compliment to any cooking contester.  Even better, he said he felt like he had dined in a fancy restaurant – I just hope the judges agree with his review!

Apricot-Ginger Salmon

Apricot Ginger Salmon with Poblano Cauliflower Puree, and Wilted Watercress

2 tablespoons crushed pistachio meat
4 blackberries, diced (~ 2 tablespoons)
2 kumquats, diced (~2 tablespoons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
2, 6-7 ounce boneless, skinless salmon filets
8 ounces frozen cauliflower
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama Poblano Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama Apricot Ginger Mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces fresh watercress leaves
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama White Balsamic & Honey dressing

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the pistachios, blackberries, and kumquats; set aside.

In a separate small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, and Saigon cinnamon; set aside.

Place the cauliflower and water in a microwave safe bowl with a lid and microwave for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked throughout.  Drain the cauliflower than add to a food processor. Process the cauliflower until rice sized chunks are formed, pour in the Poblano Ranch dressing and then process again until smooth; keep warm.

Place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon filets dry, then sprinkle the salt mixture evenly over the top side of both filets, spreading with your fingers to cover the entire top evenly. Once the cast iron skillet is hot, place the salmon filets in the pan, salted side down, and sear for 3 minutes. Turn off the stove, flip the filets over, top each filet with 1 tablespoon of the apricot-ginger mustard, spreading evenly over the entire surface, then transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 6 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, melt the butter in a large saute pan.  Add the watercress and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until watercress is just wilted.  Add the Saucy Mama white balsamic & honey dressing and stir to coat.

To plate, divide the watercress between two plates, top with even amounts of the pureed cauliflower, then place one salmon filet over each pile of pureed cauliflower.  Evenly sprinkle the kumquat relish over both filets and serve immediately.


Skinny Chicken Tetrazzini

One of the comfort food and potluck staples I’ve come to enjoy is chicken tetrazzini. The creamy sauce is hard to resist, yet it is not easy on the waistline. But what is the best way to make this dish in a healthier manner? My friend Kim Van Dunk of Life in the Van was the first to get my wheels spinning for this recipe. She has created an award winning pot pie which uses cauliflower as a main part of the sauce. What an inspiration! I had tried the popular cauliflower pizza crust (a pinterest favorite) last year and knew if was possible to make cauliflower taste like, well . . . not cauliflower.

This nugget of a recipe idea was in the back of my mind when I cleaned out my desk over the New Year’s holiday break. I found I had saved this recipe from Cooking Light which gave me the idea to use evaporated milk and cream cheese to round out the flavor of my sauce, without losing consistency.


The last inspiration was from a recent church potluck. Susan’s tetrazzini included pimentos, which gave it a beautiful pop of color and extra bit of flavor.


The end result was a delicious tetrazzini that wowed even my cauliflower-hating husband. If that doesn’t sell you on trying this skinny chicken tetrazzini, then hopefully the photos will!


Skinny Chicken Tetrazzini

2 lb cauliflower, leaves removed and cut into pieces (~ 5cups florets)
6 oz evaporated milk
4 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground thyme
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
12 oz fettuccini
3 cups precooked shredded chicken (~3/4 lb)
½ lb frozen peas
4 oz jarred pimentos, drained
½ cup shredded Parmesan
¼ cup Italian bread crumbs

Place the cauliflower in a large pot and cover with water. Boil over medium heat until florets are soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and add the cooked cauliflower to a food processor. Process until finely chopped, then add the evaporated milk and cream cheese and process until smooth. Stir in the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and ground thyme; set aside.
Heat the butter in a large sauté pan and add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown.
While the mushrooms are cooking, cook the fettuccini according to the package directions, drain and add to a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 375 °F and spray a 13-inch x 9-inch casserole pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Add the cooked mushrooms, chicken, peas, and pimentos to the fettuccini and stir to mix. Pour the cauliflower sauce over the pasta mixture, stir to coat and then pour into the casserole pan. Evenly sprinkle the top of the pasta with the Parmesan and bread crumbs, then place in the oven. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until heated throughout and the cheese begins to brown.
Remove from the oven and serve.

P.S.  I made this recipe with gluten free noodles and amazingly they didn’t get hard.  Don’t be afraid to try this gluten free!