Tag Archives: grilling

Quinoa Greek Salad

Quinoa Greek Salad

Spring is finally arrived here on the prairies, and it arrived this past week with quite a bang! Warm winds blowing off the mountains have taken us from below-zero chills to sunny double-digit warmth, and you know what that means? It’s grilling season! My husband has been eager to dust off the barbecue and take his rightful place as the Head Meat Chef in the household, and in the past week we have enjoyed grilled pork chops, salmon burgers, and barbecued chicken. Delicious! With grilling in full swing here, salad season is here as well. I’ve been itching to experiment with some new salads this year, and first up is a delicious greek-inspired quinoa salad.

Quinoa Greek Salad

What’s simpler than a greek salad? Vegetables, cheese, and decadent salty olives in a simple olive oil vinaigrette is amazing on its own, butadding quinoa to this classic salad makes it a little extra hearty, the perfect starchy side to any grilled meat. It was kid-approved, too – my five year old daughter devoured her portion first and asked for more! We always have tomatoes and cucumbers in our fridge all summer, so this will surely be a barbecue staple in the months to come.

Quinoa Greek Salad

I was inspired to make a light salad with a simple vinaigrette after hearing about Flavour Your Life, a campaign by Unaprol, an Italian consortium of olive oil producers, to support Italian olive growers, and to share information about high-quality olive oil, including traceability. The website has loads of information on how olive oil is produced and processed, and a collection of mouth-watering recipes. I’d never really given much thought to where my beloved olive oil comes from or how it’s made, so I found it quite interesting to learn more.

Quinoa Greek Salad

Quinoa Greek Salad
(Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod)

1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup quinoa
1 package (10 oz) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 english cucumber, chopped
1 cup sun-dried olives
2/3 cup red onion, diced
6 oz feta cheese, cubed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon {~2 Tbsp}
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
pinch of salt

In a medium pot, bring chicken stock and water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until all liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the quinoa has cooled, add tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onion, and feta. Toss to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano and salt. Pour over quinoa salad and toss gently to combine.

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Cola BBQ Ribs

Cooking in the summer can often be a challenge for us. Our house is small, and anything that involves the oven (and to a lesser extent, the stovetop) can heat this place up in no time flat. This means a lot of cold sides, and when it comes to meat, a lot of cooking on the BBQ. My husband recently acquired a lovely new Napoleon grill, so he’s really gung-ho about firing it up at every available opportunity. And this week when I found pork side ribs on sale at the grocery store, the obvious solution was to buy a couple huge racks and get our BBQ on! And as you can see, this is a family event: our little dude just had to help his daddy!

Now, for the barbecue purists, this is a gas grill method. I know, I know – it’s not real barbecue. Well, a smoker isn’t in my budget this month, so please just bear with me. The rub and sauce would surely be even more amazing on a rack in the smoker, too. I have to work with what I’ve got, and these worked out pretty well for being cooked on a gas grill. Maybe some day I’ll have a smoker, too…

Anyway, the recipe. This is a finger-lickin’ good time, packed with flavour and coated in a sweet, sticky homemade sauce. The prep time is minimal, but it takes a while to cook – at least an hour and a half, but probably a good 2 hours. You can take this recipe and adapt it a million different ways, too, so put your creative hat on and do some ingredient subbing! The downside to using a gas grill, aside from the obvious lack of smoke flavour, is the difficulty in cooking “low and slow”. Unfortunately, these ribs were not quite at that fall-off-the-bone tender level, but I suspect much of that was in our impatience to get dinner on the table with two kids clamouring for food. These ribs should not be hurried! Next time I’ll work on cooking them even more slowly.

And now, the recipe!

BBQ Cola Ribs
(Rub & Sauce adapted from Cook, Shoot and Eat, method adapted from bbq.about.com)

The Rub:
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup paprika
– 1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
– 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
– 1/2 Tbsp celery salt
– 1/2 Tbsp seasoning salt
– 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
– 1/4 tsp cayenne
– 1 slice crystallized ginger, chopped finely

Combine all ingredients and give a whir through a spice blender to make sure everything’s nice and fine. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to grind the crystallized ginger and some of the sugar before combining with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

The Sauce:
– 8 oz cola
– 1 cup ketchup
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 2 tsp smoked paprika
– 1/2 tsp cayenne

Add cola to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until reduced to about 3-4 oz of liquid. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer for 30 minutes.

The Ribs:
– 2 racks pork side ribs
– ~ 1/3 c dijon mustard
– Rub (above)
– Cola BBQ sauce (above)
– 1/2-1 cup apple juice
– Wood chips for smoke bombs (optional) – about 2 cups. I used apple and hickory.

About an hour before cooking, remove ribs from the fridge. Trim excess fat from the ribs, as well as any meat flaps, and cut the racks into manageable sizes. Brush on all sides with mustard and sprinkle generously with rub, pressing the spices into the mustard and the meat. Set aside. If you want to add smoke to the initial cooking, soak about a third of your wood chips now.

Preheat your grill to about 300F and prepare for indirect cooking. Prepare smoke bombs if desired, by making a foil packet with the drained wood chips and the remaining dry wood chips. Poke some big holes in it and toss it over the heated burner of your grill. When your grill is ready and your smoke bombs are starting to smoke, place your ribs bone-side-down away from the heat. If you’re unfamiliar with indirect cooking on a gas grill, see the bbq.about.com method for more in-depth instructions. Close the lid and leave the ribs alone for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check the ribs, flip them over, and give them another 10-15 minutes.

Now, take some foil and the apple juice, and wrap your ribs up in packets, adding 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of apple juice per packet. Make sure these are sealed well – the juice will help to steam the ribs and make them nice and tender. Return the packets to the grill and increase the heat so it’s about 375F in there. Again, cook for another 30-45 minutes.

For the last cooking phase, it’s sauce time! Reduce the heat on your grill, it’s important to keep it nice and low to keep the sauce from burning – somewhere around 250F is nice. At this point I like to fire up the burners under the meat, too, to add a little charred goodness to the ribs. Baste the ribs with sauce, let cook for 5 minutes, then flip and baste the other side. Repeat for 30 minutes or so, until the ribs are looking nice and sticky and just perfect. You want at least two coats of sauce per side, but I like to do a little more.

Bring ’em in, let ’em rest a bit while you get the rest of your food ready, and enjoy!

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