We spent last weekend running around Seattle, and I am very much enjoying a quiet weekend at home. It has been painfully hot here and this morning it’s finally cool enough for me to sit outside with my second cup of coffee, and my laptop and write this recipe up while I listen to the buzz of AC units, and enjoy the breeze that carries with it the hope of a cooler afternoon.
The strangest thing has been happening lately, as I sit down to write, full of things to say, my thoughts get all muddled on the way to the page and I can’t seem to put into words what I’m trying to say. Come to think of it, it’s not just in writing. The other night Kyle and I went on a date to Essex, in Seattle, and as I was trying to explain an idea I had to him, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t get the concept across. The more questions he asked, the more frustrated I became; not with him, but with myself for not being able to articulate what had been so clear inside my head moments before.
Ideas, words, recipes, and general thoughts just don’t seem all that interested in landing how and where I intend them to lately. I can only suppose that this has to do with the work I’ve been doing lately on myself. I’m learning how to live wholeheartedly and how to let go of anxiety, and what this means in a sense is that I’m learning how to use my brain in a different way. In fact, it means I’m learning to quiet certain, loud, parts of my mind and open up others. It’s a fantastically interesting and confusing thing to encourage the part of your brain that’s been driving the ship for years and years to let go of the wheel; especially when the part that’s meant to take over doesn’t know quite what it’s doing. All that to say that I had an idea for this post, but I forgot it.
When I get overwhelmed or when the anxiety wins, which it very often does, I am learning to wake up all my senses by breathing deeply, or engaging in a tactile, creative activity. Lucky for me cooking provides a pretty sweet outlet from the mess of my mind. I’m taking more time mid-day to make and eat lunch which gives me a mid-day break from the above mentioned journey, and nourishes me with much-needed calories to get through the day until that sweet little window after the kids are tucked into bed.
This quick Quinoa Salad has been a staple around here all summer, it’s been on camping trips with us, on day hikes too, and it’s something I love to make for lunch while the kids nap. I often eat it for lunch on it’s own, and serve it with soft boiled eggs or chicken sausages for dinner the same evening. The quinoa doesn’t take long to cook, and it cools quickly once the springy spirals have been spread out on a baking sheet. The rest of the recipe is just about adding in texture and flavor; bright parsley, raw crunchy beet, salty feta, and sweet corn are just some of the things you could toss in. Toasted, chopped walnuts would add buttery richness; halved, tart cherry tomatoes would add acidity; goat cheese would add creaminess; dried cranberries would add a bit of sweetness; basil would add a peppery bite; diced shallots would add a little spice. You could go a dozen directions with this simple salad. Whatever you toss in will be complimented by my go-to vinaigrette. The champagne vinegar base can be pretty aggressive so feel free to add more olive oil than I do to mellow it a bit. This dressing comes together easily whisked up in a small bowl, but when a certain someone skips their nap, it can also be easily shaken up in a small jar by small hands.
QUINOA SALAD WITH CORN, FETA, BEETS AND PARSLEY
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 large red beet, trimmed, peeled and cut into matchsticks by hand or with a mandoline kernels cut from two corn cobs
1/2 cup flat leave Italian parsley, roughly chopped
6oz. crumbled feta
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
To cook the quinoa, I follow the recipe for Perfectly Cooked Quinoa from It’s All Good.
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place it in a pot on a high heat with the water and a big pinch of salt. Bring the quinoa to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa’s germs look like lots of tiny little spirals. This should be between 12 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, place a try paper towel between the pot and the lid and let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.
A quick personal note: when you “lower the heat” to cook the quinoa, keep it at a nice low simmer. For my stove that means keeping the burner at about medium-low.
Once the quinoa is finished, I pour it out onto a baking sheet and allow it to cool either on the kitchen counter, or in the fridge if I’m in a hurry.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dijon and vinegar, pour in the olive oil while whisking continuously. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
Place the cooked quinoa to a large bowl, add in the beets, corn, parsley, and feta. Toss gently together. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss together again. Top the salad with a bit of fresh pepper and flake salt.
If you want to serve the salad with soft boiled eggs, I prefer 6 minute eggs. To make them I cover eggs with cold water in a saucepan. Then bring the water to a quick simmer, turn the heat off, cover the pot and let the eggs cook for 6 minutes before transferring them to a bowl of ice water. Once cool, carefully peel, slice in half and set on top of the served salad.
This salad is great day of, as leftovers, and also travels well! It’s a great picnic food.
QUINOA SALAD WITH CORN, FETA, BEETS AND PARSLEY