Orange you glad you saw this post? Your guests will be…

Sides / March 6, 2018

I have a few rules when creating a recipe. One of them is the food I make has to offer at least one surprise in the mouth. Familiar tastes, sure, but it needs a kind of U-turn if you will from what you expected. There is nothing more exciting to a chef, or a wanna be chef, than seeing the person eating your food raise their eyebrows in surprise and exclaim, “…now that is really good! What’s the other flavor I’m getting? ….(nom, nom…) yah..really good.”

Enter the sweet, easy to peel, pass-me-another-section-please mandarin orange.

Those cute little fruits are just my passion this season. Aside from their beautiful shape and color, I find myself thinking of ways I can use them in just about every kind of food there is. It’s not difficult, really something orange, or orange flavor fits every ethnic expression, from appetizers, to main course foods, to desserts. And in this case I love using citrus fruits to make vinaigrettes. Zingy yet sweet vinaigrettes. Like the one in this Quinoa salad that uses Olive Crate’s Honey Balsamic Vinegar, and Penzeys Singapore seasoning. Looking for a U-turn? This one is full of it. Click to read the ingredients of the Penzeys seasoning, and you’ll want some NOW. 

If you Google benefits of orange oil, you get all kinds of exciting results. It claims to be an anti-inflammatory, an antidepressant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, tonic, sedative, and a cholagogic substance. (Yeah, I didn’t get that last one either. No worries…pass me another mandarin section, please..)

The good news is, what I did create here met all my criteria. Yummy, blingy, (meaning danged gorgeous on your plate,) exciting flavors, and healthy as well. And since another benefit might be fighting Alzheimer’s, you’ll never forget to make this dish again and again and again… and again.

Singapore Quinoa Salad With Butternut Squash, Broccoli & Raisins

With a Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette

Serves 8


2 ½ C cooked tri-colored quinoa
3 C butternut squash, cubed
¼ C sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 ½ C cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
½ C golden raisins
1 ½ C riced broccoli (from package), or blanched broccoli cut into very small pieces
4 T grape seed oil or other light oil divided
3 t salt/1 t black pepper (to taste) Zest of one mandarin orange Juice of 2 mandarin oranges, appx 1/3 C divided
1 t Singapore seasoning (Penzeys)
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T honey balsamic vinegar, or other sweet vinegar


  • Heat a large sauté pan to medium high heat. Add 1 T oilandadd onion andbutternut squash. Cook about 20minutes, turning often and letting it brown and caramelize. Remove and set aside. Cook quinoa and set aside. In alarge bowl assemble quinoa, broccoli,onions, raisins, tomatoes,and cooked squash. In a small bowl, add 3 T oil,juice of and zest of mandarins, Singapore seasoning, both vinegars, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk vigorouslyto incorporate. Taste and season as needed. Should be sweet but balanced.
  • Note: Can add cooked chicken or shrimp to make a main course meal if desired.

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Let's think about food preparation as art, and flavors as adventurous stories. Say ‘goodbye’ to safe sequences, or copycat flavors, and use your senses to curate the perfect meal. My recipes help your kitchen come to life as I share anecdotes about food chemistry, and fun shortcuts that conquer menu-mediocrity. my cooking style is one that combines everyday ingredients into sensuous layers that wake up the bored palate as I reveal easy-to-understand tips, tricks, and hacks so everyone can prepare and serve Bling Cuisine with confidence and joy!


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