Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Paprika Vinaigrette

January 12, 2013 By: Megabeth Category: Salads, Side Dishes

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Paprika Vinaigrette

Looking for a potluck dish? You’ve got it right here!

However, let me be honest, I think I had some pot-luck bad luck when it came to taking pictures of the completed dish. So, I apologize for the lackluster photos. I couldn’t *not* share this recipe because it really was just that good.

We had to say goodbye to two of our original vegetarian potluck crew as they move on to Boston. Our theme for the night was an Italian feast. Charged with bringing a side-dish, I wanted something flavorful and interesting. This fit that bill.

You can serve this salad warm or cold. Perfect for a potluck so you don’t have to worry about heating anything up.

Smoky paprika is something you should keep in your spice rack at all times. It adds a unique flavor to any dish.

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Paprika Vinaigrette
Recipe from: Katherine Martinelli

  • 1½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • Salt
  • 6 small or 3 large portabello mushrooms (about 6 ounces), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (15- to 16-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 unpeeled cucumber, chopped
  • 6 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 1½ cups crumbled feta or Bulgarian cheese (about 7 ounces), divided
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Pepper
  1. Put the quinoa in a large saucepan and 1¾ cup water, or enough water to cover quinoa by about 1 inch. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and drain of any remaining liquid, if there is any. Allow to cool slightly. (Megabeth note: I just made my quinoa in the rice cooker. Used the same quinoa to water ratio, turned on the cooker and let it cook while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.)
  2. Heat a drop of olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) until very hot. Add the portabello mushrooms and cook until tender and cooked through. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until fully absorbed, another minute. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Put the chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, 1 cup of cheese, and half of the mushrooms in a large bowl.
  4. Add the cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.
  5. Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat.
  7. Sprinkle remaining feta and mushrooms over and serve immediately.

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Paprika Vinaigrette

Vegetarian Tour of California: Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup

May 14, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Snacks/Appetizers, Vegetarian Tour of California

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup (1) Just to add a little more excitement for cycling fans in the month of May, the Tour of California now rides into the scene. (Yes, that’s right, for those following along at home, it goes on at the same time as the Giro d’Italia.) This eight day race takes us through some of the most scenic areas of the state, goes over some rigorous climbs and attracts some top-notch teams and riders.

California is truly a melting pot and its cuisine is influenced by a broad palate of flavors and styles.  Food in California is influenced by not only the immigrants that have settled in the state (Asian, Latin American, Italian, etc.) but also from the abundance of local foods that are easily accessible. Honestly, I’m always amazed at the wide-variety of fruits and vegetables that are available on the side of the road any time of the year.

Chefs from around the world have been attracted to the state and have created many popular fusion restaurants that highlight the local and international flavors. (Some places have a reservation wait list so long, you have to predict sometimes months, or a year, in advance to figure out when you’ll be free. Yeah, I’m looking at you French Laundry)

And, finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the health food and the general acceptance of the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle. Huzzah!

For those ready for a glass of wine, immigrants not only brought food influences, but also the beginnings of wine production in the state. In the 18th century, the Spanish brought the first grape vines and, well, the rest is history. Fast forward to the 21st century, and now California boasts over 90% of all wine production in the United States. Shall I also cite the 1976 blind taste test that vaulted California into the spotlight for producing decent wines to the Bottle Shock of France?

So, let’s get this California party started with a recipe from one of my most favorite vegan restaurants – Millennium in San Francisco. This recipe features many of the local ingredients found in California but specifically highlights the avocado. Avocados were introduced in California in 1871 by Judge R.B. Ord. (Yeah, that’s right, California history is so young that we even know the name of the guy that trotted across from Mexico with avocado trees and plopped them into Santa Barbara soil.) By the time the 1950’s rolled around there were almost 25 varieties of avocado being grown in the state.

This soup was divine – fresh, healthy and unique with the saffron-lime ice as an extra adornment. It went down smoothly on a warm spring day. It does make a lot (since there are only two of us in the house we had an enormous amount leftover). Note, avocado, by its nature, is very sensitive once it’s cut open so I wouldn’t sit on this soup for more than a day…or two.

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup
Millenium Restaurant – FabulousFoods.com

Saffron-Lime Ice:

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 cup warm water for 20 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian or Spanish paprika, toasted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt


  • 1/2 yellow onion cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeño chile
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 8 tomatillos, peeled
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons light miso
  • 3 cups water
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and very coarsely chopped for garnish


To Make the Ice: Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a 2 inch deep pan. Freeze for 3-4 hours until solid.

Saffron-Lime IceTo Make the Soup: Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over high heat. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeño. Dry toast, stirring frequently, for 7-10 minutes, until half the onions, garlic and jalapeño are charred. Remove from the pan and let cool to room temperature.

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup

Peel and seed the jalapeño. Place the avocado in a mixing bowl with the cooled onion, garlic and jalapeño. Add the tomatillos, cucumber, cilantro, oregano, nutmeg, black pepper, lime juice, miso and water.

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup

In a blender, or using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the ingredients in batches until smooth.

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup

Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until well chilled.

To Serve: Ladle the soup into 6 martini glasses. Sprinkle toasted almonds over the top of each. Scrape the saffron ice crystals off the pan with a fork, and place 2 teaspoons on each serving of soup. Serve immediately.

Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup (2)

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup

July 25, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other

Entertaining with Cranks. Yes, that’s the name of this cookbook that I almost overlooked at a library book sale. It’s not until I saw the teeny-tiny subtitle, “Creating Sensational Meals the Vegetarian Way” that I knew I found something good. My edition is from 1987.

The original Cranks was a London vegetarian restaurant that expanded into a chain. However, due to some financial difficulties and eventual buyout only one remains in Devon. The Crank brand also lives on with a line of sandwiches, prepared meals, sauces and breads.

This is a neat little cookbook. The recipes are geared towards feeding guests but are easy enough to make for yourself on a weeknight after work. It’s a small cookbook, but they pack a lot into it from finger foods and entrees to biscuits and drinks. If you are getting ready to have people over, they give you the preparation and cooking times separately in case you need to prep ahead of time.

There is a centerpiece of photos that, although now a bit dated looking, do show several recipes at once in a nice little spread.

This recipe came out really really good. I modified it slightly from the original below by using greek yogurt and left out the lemon juice (as the greek yogurt already has a slightly acidic taste.) I would also either peel the cucumbers or consider straining the soup after it’s had a chance to chill a bit. I had a lot of little pieces of cucumber skin, that my blender couldn’t quite catch, that took away from the smoothness of the soup. Otherwise, this is a phenomenally easy soup to make.

Chilled Cucumber & Yogurt Soup
Entertaining with Cranks

  • Large cucumber 1
  • Tomatoes 1 lb (450 g)
  • Natural yoghourt 1 pint (Note: I used 2 cups greek yogurt.)
  • Tomato juice 1/2 pint (1 cup)
  • Lemon rind, finely chopped 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon juice 1 teaspoon (Note: If using greek yogurt, consider leaving out.)
  • Salt and freshly group pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, pinch
  • Paprika 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garlic clove, crushed 1
  • Parsley, chopped 1 tablespoon
  • Chives, chopped 2 tablespoons

Preparation time 10 – 15 minutes
No cooking required

Cut some thin slices of cucumber, allowing 3 per portion, and reserve for garnishing. Chop the remainder.

Combine all the ingredients in a blender goblet or food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Chill thoroughly. Serve garnished with cucumber slices.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

July 25, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Culinary Tour de France, Main Dishes, Other

We’re coming to the last day of the Vegetarian Tour de France and it’s been a long month of cooking. That’s why I’m still looking for simple recipes. This is a unique soup and is a great use for the summer cucumber crop. The next time I make this, I may play around a little with the amount of butter, cream and egg yolk that is in the soup. I think it could be made much lighter…which means it can be eaten that much more often. (And, that also means no worries about having to schlep extra poundage around on your weekend bike ride!)

Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)
adapted from Celtnet.org.uk

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp long-grain rice
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

Do not peel the cucumber, as the skin is essential for this recipe. Chop both the cucumber and shallot then melt the butter in a pan. When hot add the cucumber and shallot and fry lightly until soft and slightly browned.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

Season well and add the rice to the pot.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

Fry for 1 minute before adding the stock.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

Take off the heat and allow to cool a little before liquidizing in a food processor.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

Return the liquid to the pan then add the cream and slowly whisk-in the egg yolk. Allow to warm through, but do not boil (otherwise the egg and cream will curdle).

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Cucumber Soup (Crèm Doria)

(Note: Even after processing in the blender, I still had bits of seeds and skin. If you don’t like that…then strain them out before serving.)


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