It’s 7AM on Saturday and it’s the first time my head has been clear enough from other life clutter to think about cooking. Seriously - last night we had cereal, fruit, and milk for dinner.
So once again, I attempt my French Fridays with Dorie recipe on Saturday. This week’s recipe is Quinoa (pronounced KEENwah), fruit, and nut salad. It’s suggested to be served on greens with a dollop of yogurt on top.
Quinoa is all the rage these days. It is a highly nutritious grain that originates from South America - high in protein, fiber, antioxidants. As if that wasn't enough, it is also gluten-free and can be ground up and used as a flour.
The one time I made quinoa for dinner as a substitute for rice, the results were less than stellar and the family voted it off the table. Being the open-minded food lover that I am, I’m back for seconds. Perhaps I missed the mark when I cooked it the first time. For the record, I tasted it before I added any seasonings today and the taste wasn’t particularly appealing - a nutty, earthy flavor with an emphasis on earthy. But the mind is staying open....
Something about this recipe - maybe the yogurt? - made me think of breakfast. I also grew up in a family that ate a lot of hot cereal for breakfast - various grains from oatmeal to kashi. Then, yesterday at the store I spied an herb plant called orange mint. This recipe calls for a fresh herb, suggesting anything from cilantro to basil to mint. The orange mint sounded perfect and very breakfast-like to me. Surely if my family will eat linguine for breakfast, they’ll try this???
The dressing for the salad combines olive oil, lemon juice, and ginger. I used meyer lemons from my tree, Italian olive oil, and some McCormick’s roasted powdered ginger. I also added some lemon zest and orange zest. For the fruits and nuts, I used pine nuts, almonds, dried apricots, dried cherries, and golden raisins.
Did this make me say OMG! Yummy? Honestly, not quite but it tastes good enough to sell me on continuing to try quinoa. Dormant Chef had seconds and daughter tried it - not in love but at least in like.
Quinoa is a wonderful protein rich base that can marry to so many flavors. I think the salad will only improve as it sits on my counter and in the fridge. And it could benefit from stronger hits of the orange mint and lemon and orange zest. Also, pecans might have been a better choice than pine nuts for this breakfast version.
And what was Dormant Chef's first variation request? - bacon and shallots. Come to think of it, that could work really well too.
Have you tried quinoa? And if you have, what is your favorite preparation?
If you want to read about more experiences with this recipe, check out the French Fridays with Dorie web site and I encourage you to buy Dorie Greenspan’s award-winning cookbook Around My French Table. You will cherish the purchase and learn from each recipe and story that she shares.
Buy my cookbook now!