Fruity Quinoa Salad

Recently asked to bring a gluten-free dish to a party, I did some quick browsing and decided on this fruity quinoa salad from Oh She Glows. I haven’t done much gluten-free cooking, and was nervous that there would be eight thousand other quinoa salads at the party. Thankfully this was not the case, and I received many compliments on it. It’s a very moist salad, thanks to the sweet and peppy dressing, and (4th of July bonus!) the fruits are oh! so! patriotic!

Quinoa is a seed that can be cooked and used very much like rice. It is a complete source of protein, has a mildly nutty taste and a light but chewy texture. Quinoa is the hippy kid next door you secretly envy. Quinoa is so cool, it’s practically an astronaut.

Fruity Quinoa Salad

adapted from Angela Liddon, Oh She Glows

(I left out the original almonds in case of allergies, but I think adding a cup of toasted slivered almonds (or any other nut — chopped hazelnuts! pecans! yum!) would add delicious flavor and a delicate crunch.)

  • 1 cup dry quinoa (or 4 cups cooked quinoa)
  • 2 pints strawberries, rinsed, stemmed, and halved or quarted (depending on size)
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 1 pound cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted, and halved
  • generous 1/4 cup lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional (see note)

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, OR rinse well, bring to a boil in 4 cups water, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 more minutes.

Spread the cooked quinoa on a large platter or cookie sheet to cool. You can let it cool while you wash and prep the fruits.

Combine the lime juice, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl and whisk well to combine.

Put the cooked quinoa, fruits, and nuts if using in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and mix well to combine.

Makes a HUGE amount, more than 12 cups. This salad keeps well up to four days. Make some for your party tomorrow, and take some in your lunch all week!

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>Pumpkin Time!

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What I made yesterday: applesauce!
After I finish writing this, I’m going to pick up some glittery silver pipe cleaners for my costume. And I may make this candy corn fudge, if time allows. When the elementary school up the street let out today, all the kids went haphazardly parading by in their adorable costumes. Life is good today.
Here are two pumpkiny recipes I’ve made this week. Except for the honey, these are vegan. Either one would be good with the addition of pumpkin seeds as well.
Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Molasses Granola 
The key to good granola, in my opinion, requires two things: a long cooking time to make the oats nice and toasty, and big chunks. Even if you aren’t a “big chunks” person, please try the long cooking time. You just may find that anemic, undercooked granola is a thing of your past. Hooray!
1/3 c oil
1/6 c honey
1/6 c molasses
1/2 c pumpkin puree
4 c oats
1/2 c slivered almonds
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/2 c wheat germ
1/4 t each: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cardamom

Preheat the oven to 300˚. Grease a large jelly roll pan, or line it with parchment paper.
Measure oil into a medium bowl. In the same 1/3 c measuring cup, fill it halfway with the honey, then top it off with the molasses. (The oil left in the cup allows the viscous ingredients to slide right out.) Whisk in the pumpkin until smooth
In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Pour the oil mixture over and stir to combine well. (Clean hands are the perfect mixing tools for this.) Spread evenly on the prepared sheet, and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. If you like big chunks of granola, use a spatula to carefully turn it over. If you like “crumblier” granola, stir it up well with a spatula. Return it to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes. 
Let it cool completely. If desired, stir in the dried cranberries. Put in an airtight container. Makes about 6 cups. 

Pumpkin Pasta Salad
If Waldo had spatula, it would totally be this one.
1 lb penne or ziti pasta
salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c prepared salsa
2/3 c pumpkin puree
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 t cumin
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c halved and thinly sliced carrots
Bring a large pot of water, with the garlic and a generous portion of salt added, to a boil. (It should taste as salty as sea water.) 
While the water is heating, combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. 
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until cooked but still slightly firm. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and add more salt, pepper, vinegar, or whatever else, as needed. 
To make this a little more rich, you could let it cool slightly and then add some salty  crumbled cheese like Cotija, or some shaved Parmesan. You could also take this in a sweet-salty direction by added some raisins. 
Makes a big bowlful. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Keeps well in the fridge. Great for potlucks.

>Curried Fall-dorf Salad

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Okay, maybe the name needs work. 
Waldorf Salad is apples, celery, onions, and walnuts with a mayo or yogurt dressing. It comes together quickly and can be adapted to your pleasure. (Say that last part in a sultry voice, will ya? Thanks.) 
 1 apple, diced (go for something tart, like Granny Smith)
1/2 plum, diced
1/8 red onion, minced (about 1/8 c)
3/4 c chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 c pecans, toasted and chopped
4 T mayo or plain yogurt
dash curry powder
Mix all together. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If you like a little extra acid, squeeze some lemon over. If you have time, let the salad sit for a while, if not to marry the flavors, at least to let them speed-date. 
When you’re making a nice little salad like this for yourself, the size that you cut the food into is up to you — just think about how you like things to feel in your mouth — really big chunks or smaller pieces that glom together and give you all the flavors in each bite? Then wield your knife accordingly.
Since this is an autumnal salad, here are some photos from my fall.
Painted pumpkin, from my work.
 Artificially-lit natural items are so cool.
I know it’s late, but Happy Fall! And (also late) Happy Thanksgiving to the Canadians!

>Friday lunchacha

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My birthday is normally on the first day of summer, so I always say that summer is my favorite season. My heart knows this is not true. Fall is my favorite, because of HARVEST! I don’t grow much produce myself (although I bought brocolli and beet seedlings today — fingers crossed they don’t die) but I love love love all the wonderful bounty at the markets. The flavors, the names, and and especially the colors. The deep purple of eggplant has been beckoning lately, and with all the eggplant dishes popping up in my favorite food blogs, I bit. I started with the Eggplant Salad Toasts recipe from Smitten Kitchen as inspiration, but changed it dramatically. Please change this recipe to suit your own palate. Add some chopped olives or mint at the end. I might take Deb’s advice and mix the leftovers with some sort of grain (quinoa, steel-cut oats) for a yummy salad. You could also bake this into a frittata. In short, this is a great salad to have on hand for eating all week long.

For my quiet at-home Friday lunch, I made this and ate it with some Green Curry Chicken from last night’s dinner. Photo and recipes follow.

Eggplant Salad, for eating on bread or from a bowl

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.

Dice into small pieces:
1 medium eggplant
1/4 medium onion (I used 1/2, but it was too much onion for me)
1 Roma tomato
and mince 
2 cloves garlic

Mix the above with a swirl of olive oil, a shake of salt, and lots of fresh-ground pepper. Spread on a baking sheet (maybe two if you have small sheets; you want there to be room between the pieces). Put in the oven for 10 minutes. Stir it around. After 10 more minutes, stir again, turning everything over and around with a spatula. Bake for 10 more minutes (so, 30 minutes total). 


While the veggies are roasting, put 

1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
a sprinkle of smoked paprika

in a bowl. 

Once the veggies are roasted to your liking (you could go longer than 30 minutes, but they’ll start to lose their shape) remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. 
 Then scrape the veggies into the bowl with the cheese, dribble
1-2 T of balsamic vinegar
over, and toss. 



Serve on toasts, or stuffed into a slice baguette, or on a bed of lettuce. Not super-sexy looking, sort of slumpy and brown, but delicious and nutritious!

Makes about 2 cups

If you want this on bread, put some baguette slices on the oven rack to toast in the residual heat. This was good warm, but I liked it even better the next day straight from the fridge with a little more vinegar to brighten the flavors.
I didn’t do a bigger picture because neither this or the chicken are really so yummy to photograph.

Yesterday afternoon I watched a live-stream video of Adam of The Amateur Gourmet cooking dinner. (Which is about as exciting as it sounds, but, well, interesting in an “I’m-older-than-the-internet-look-what-it-does-kids!” sort of way.) Anyways, he made a spice rub for chicken. The video ended right around 4 o’clock, and I sat there for a minute staring at a blank screen, wanting chicken. I always want chicken.

Adam had used fennel seed and peppercorns. We didn’t have fennel seed. We did have some other seeds, and some green curry mix from World Market. They have all kinds of spices in little packs for just 99 cents, so it’s a good way to try a spice you’re not sure about. If you can avoid buying your spices in jars, it’s almost always cheaper. I buy all my spices from bulk jars (where? Central Market, Whole Foods, even QFC and Top have a small selection) and keep them in clean baby food jars.
For this chicken I rinsed and patted dry 5 pounds of chicken legs. Keep this in mind when making your own chicken; adjust the amount of spices if you don’t have 12 people in your house. Lay the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a small skillet toast
1 T dill seeds
1 T caraway seeds
1 T yellow mustard seeds
for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the smells reach your nose. Let cool.

Put in a spice grinder with 1 T black peppercorns. Grind until fine. Mix in a small bowl with 3-4 T salt and 2 T green curry powder. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the chicken and spread to coat. Sprinkle the spice mix liberally all over the chicken pieces. Bake at 400˚ for 30-40 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and bake for 30-40 more minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180˚ or until the chicken is golden.

Pieces of chicken just aren’t that lovely to view, so no photos.