Day 22 – Recipe: M Café’s Scarlet Quinoa Salad

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After I found M Café’s Kale Salad recipe, I wanted to see if I could find any of their other recipes online. To my surprise I found quite a few! Their Scarlet Quinoa Salad is another one of my favorites. I remember trying to copy it years ago and it didn’t turn out anything like the real thing. This time, it was perfect! And thankfully it didn’t take as long to make as the Kale Salad, it was pretty quick and easy.

The pink color comes from cooking the quinoa with diced beets. Above I served it with Umeboshi Radishes (I’ll have that recipe tomorrow), the flavor went perfectly with the Umeboshi-lemon dressing on the salad. I found the recipe on the LA Times website.

M Café’s Scarlet Quinoa Salad

Umeboshi-Lemon Dressing

  • 2 teaspoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar (I used Eden Foods brand)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
  • 1 Tablespoon best-quality olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes one-fourth cup dressing.

Scarlet Quinoa Salad and Assembly

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red beets
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup diced seedless or Persian cucumber
  • 2 teaspoons chopped scallions or chives
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • Umeboshi-lemon dressing
  • Sea Salt

1. Wash the quinoa under cold running water in a fine strainer. Drain well.

2. In a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the beets, vegetable broth, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Turn off burner and keep the pot on hot burner for 10 more minutes to finish cooking.

3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the grains, uncovered, until cool.

4. Fluff the cooled grains and place them in a large bowl. Gently stir in the cucumber, scallions, dill and lemon zest. Stir in half of the dressing, then taste the salad and add additional dressing or salt as desired.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

Fluffed Quinoa:

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Cooling Quinoa:

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Chopped cucumber, scallions, dill and lemon zest:

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Finished Salad:

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I ended using all of the finished dressing on the salad.

You don’t have to use a baking sheet to cool the quinoa, but I found that using one cooled it much faster than if I had just left it in the pot.

Eat cold or room temperature and enjoy!!

 

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Day 21 – Recipe: M Cafe’s Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

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I mentioned before that I used to work at M Cafe de Chaya in Los Angeles. M Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants ever, and their Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut dressing is the best kale salad I’ve ever had.

I found the recipe online pretty easily the other day, and I don’t know why I hadn’t tried to look for it before. I made it last night and even though it didn’t taste exactly like what I remembered (I think it was the peanut butter I used, I used roasted, they might use raw peanut butter), it was pretty damn close. It was worth the hour and a half it took me to make it. I was transported back to LA in a single bite.

I doubled the recipe cause I wanted to make sure I had enough salad for a few days… in hindsight I should’ve tripled the amount of kale cause it cooked down a lot. I still have about a cup of dressing left over but I plan to buy more kale tomorrow so I can make this again. I could eat this every day, it’s that good.

This is where I found the original recipe. I take no credit for this! I really didn’t change anything except doubling it and cutting down some of the onion.

M Cafe’s Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut dressing

Ingredients

  • 4 large bunches kale
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Spicy Peanut Dressing*

  • 1 cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 3 T raw honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium tamari
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1- 3 oz hot water (more or less for desired dressing thickness)


Directions

Wash kale. Use kitchen scissors to remove leaves from stems. Discard stems. 
Add a pinch of Salt to a pot of boiling water, then blanch the Kale for 2 min. 
Remove the Kale from the boiling water and shock it in a container of ice water. 
Finally, squeeze the excess water out of the cooled Kale.

To make Spicy Peanut Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients except hot water into a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture turns into a smooth consistency. Add hot water slowly and blend to desired thickness. Stir in 1/4 cup + 2 T of chopped peanuts, save remaining 2 T for garnish.

Drizzle the dressing on top of the kale and mix the kale and dressing together until kale is evenly coated. There will be dressing left over. Mix in sliced red onions. Serve with remaining chopped peanuts for garnish.


*Dressing stores well refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.

For me, the step that took the longest was cutting and blanching the kale. I had to do this in shifts cause I don’t own a big enough pot to blanch it all at the same time. If you have a big pot it shouldn’t take you an hour+ to make this.

I ended up using about 2 oz of hot water to thin my dressing.

If you’re not a big fan of spice, use half the amount of cayenne in the dressing.