Friday, August 1, 2008

Food Friday: An Introduction, Cool Summer Quinoa Salad.

A few months ago I alluded to the fact that I restructured my diet.
This restructuring has been a process of moving towards more organic, whole and hearty foods - usually with more nutritional bang for the buck. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, at least within the law firm, I am not/nor have I become or ever been a vegan or vegetarian.

Due to severe food allergies, nutritionally it would be highly difficult and involve waaaaay too many laboratory manufactured powders, pills and tonics. I looked into it. It's just not what's best for my body. So, I am labeling myself a Conscious Omnivore - like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade, it's important to choose, but choose wisely.

As any of the Cru will tell you, I love to cook and would almost always rather cook than go out for a meal. Some of my best times with Parson were pulling together meals for one another or for our friends who would descend upon Braveheart's manor on Fst. Fluellen solicited me for a couple recipes back in December of last year for our hometown magazine. When I'm in a funk or hitting the artist's block hard, the Mathematician and the Artist will goad me into trying to cook or bake something new - sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully - quite like my first attempt at cooking quinoa on Friday night last week (it was the "rinsing" that proved more of a difficulty than anything).

So, adding this feature only seemed natural.
Also, what better way to start the weekend?

So how do I cook?
Well, sure sometimes there's a recipe involved. Sometimes it's just what's on sale at WholeFoods or the results of scavenging in my kitchen. In my experience, the latter tends to produce more successful results - simplicity and austerity leading to creativity (not unlike the Niyama of Santosha, and this week's recipie).

Sometimes I'll take a couple of recipes and combine them together (sort of like either Jivamukti or Baptiste).
Sometimes I'll be ever faithful to a recipe that has stood the test of time (like Ashtanga or Iyengar).

For my first offering to the table and in honor of the heat of a late DC summer:

Cool Summer Quinoa Salad.
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches of green asparagus
  • corn kernels from 4 ears of corn (~ 4 cups)
  • 1 small diced red onion
  • 2 thinly sliced average scallions, both white & green parts
  • good quality olive oil
  • champagne vinegar
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh French sheep feta
  • 1 cup julienned basil leaves

Quinoa: Preheat oven to 400F. Bring three cups of water (I used water but low sodium chicken broth or veggie stock could be substituted) to boil with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a teaspoon of red pepper flake. Add quinoa. Cover put with lid and place in oven 400F oven for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, pull quinoa from oven, fluff with a fork and recover to steam for another 5 - 10 minutes. Refrigerate.

Corn: Remove corn from the cob. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add 3 tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add corn, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes (until no longer starchy, just at al dente). Move corn into a large bowl and stir in diced red onion, scallion, 2-3 tbsp champagne vinegar, and 2 more tbsp olive oil.

Reheat skillet with 2 tbsp of olive oil place washed and trimmed stalks of asparagus in skillet. Add hearty dash of salt and fresh ground pepper, searing the asparagus until all stalks are just al dente and bright green. Remove from heat and cut into 1" segments. Mix in with corn.

Refrigerate and allow to cool. Once cold, fold in cold quinoa.

Stir in fresh julienned basil and fresh sheep feta right before serving, adding salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature.
(Serves 6-8)


Notes: I cook the quinoa a day ahead, so I'm sure that it is cold when adding it to the corn and asparagus. For the feta, I use French b/c it tends to be a little creamier/less salty. Also, I'm sure it would be fantastic to use grilled asparagus and corn in this dish, however, my DC apartment doesn't afford that capability and the Egg is on the other side of town.


Leslie said...

Sounds delicious! Next time try red quinoa - it is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

annabella said...

That is a delicious looking salad, and I have to say, a wonderful blog title! I wish I'd thought of it myself!

from one shoe goddess to another,
; )

p.s., I had the fortune of practicing at your shala last Sunday, it's a great place.

Anonymous said...


Definitely will try that next time! I was originally intending to use red but the WholeFoods by me was out! Can you believe it?



PS,Yes, I remember briefly meeting you at WholeFoods after practice on Sunday and glad you enjoyed your visit. You're right is a great place. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree that this looks awesome. Mmmm. I will even say that my cooking skills are so-so, that I usually avoid cooking and that I still feel very tempted to try this, looks fresh and yummy.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Blue JadeYoga Mat?

alfia said...

Yummy! I will try it, too! Thank you for sharing it with us!