Sunday dinner at our house is most often a noisy, busy, happy, crazy, cluttered kind of affair with kids and toys scattered over top of and around parents lounging in groups and talking - the kind of catching up that is super important for all of us to stay connected. It is a highlight of my week, even those times when things just aren't like in the movies. I love to have all (or as many as possible) of my chicks in one place and under my roof, and Sunday afternoon is when it most often happens. Usually the house is full but occasionally the family has other obligations. On those rare Sunday evenings David and I have a quiet few hours together to enjoy a meal that is tailored just to us. No food preferences to consider other than our own, no bedtimes to work around. Just what we like and when. A soft and gentle time for we two. This past Sunday was one of those Sundays so I made a red quinoa salad that took my fancy earlier in the day and paired it with an easy bacon-wrapped, mustard and brown sugar-smeared pork tenderloin. Simple, easy, healthy, good. Enjoyed at leisure and together. Yummy enough to want to share.
Quinoa salads are so popular that they are becoming a bit cliche - a shame because there is so much creative potential. On the other hand there is a large contingent that has decided (quite emphatically) that they dislike quinoa and won't have it however it may be prepared. This salad offers something for both camps, those who think another quinoa salad is same-old-same-old and those who think they don't like quinoa. Red quinoa is quite a different beast from regular run of the mill white quinoa. Firmer in texture, nuttier in taste, and altogether better - it may persuade the quinoa nay-sayers to rethink their stand. The lime vinaigrette is spicy and bright. We liked it all. I made three small changes to the recipe. The first was of necessity not choice - I had only one lime so my vinaigrette used the juice of one, not two limes. It tasted just about perfect to me but two may be better. The second was substituting grape seed oil for canola - I don't use canola anymore. (A reasoned choice.) And finally I increased the amount of cilantro because I love it :)
Our quiet Sunday was lovely for a change but I really hope we have a noisy, busy, happy, crazy, cluttered gathering next week. I miss it when we don't.
red quinoa salad with spicy lime vinaigrette
(from Food 52 with a few small changes)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
zest of 1/2 lime
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine all the ingredients except the oils in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oils until combined. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1" cubes
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Combine the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and paprika on a baking sheet and toast at 350 F for about 8 minutes, or until brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees F. Using the same baking sheet, combine the butternut squash and grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, tossing halfway through to evenly brown and caramelize. Set aside to cool.
In a medium saucepan bring the water, pinch of salt, and quinoa to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the cooked squash, beans, half the pumpkin seeds and half the cilantro. Drizzle with the lime dressing and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with the remaining pumpkin seeds and cilantro.