Warm weather is finally gracing us here in Denver. All the snow has now been replaced by thunder, lightning, gale force winds and pounding rain. We can’t seem to catch a break! Spring time in Colorado is something to behold; it’s an adventure in itself, it is Mother Nature wreaking havoc; it is The Rockies keeping us on our toes and it is the sun and the moon playing hide and seek.
Wonderful thing is that all this moisture is much needed and appreciated by our parched earth and everywhere you look now, the restless blossoms are eagerly bursting forth, the green grass is finally blanketing the naked gardens, the cottontail bunnies are basking in the sunshine and the robins are busy pecking for worms (now that they can see the ground)
My favourite season has always been fall because of the beautiful colours of the shrubs and the trees, and also because after a scorching summer, the temperate days of fall are a wonderful reprieve. However, lately I’ve been really enjoying spring time. There is something very soul lifting to see new life all around you. I am amazed that only a few weeks ago the fields and gardens were bare and gloomy; now, they are a lush and vibrant green.
One of the things I most look forward to, is the new life on the aspens. Aspens make the most soul soothing sound when the wind ripples through their leaves; they flutter and dance. To see an aspen shiver and to hear it flutter is something I look forward to the most in the spring and summer time.
What are your favourite seasons and what is it about them that you enjoy the most?
Of course, along with the warm weather comes the desire to eat light, not cook and just lounge around leisurely. Unfortunately, there is no escaping the no cooking part and in my case, lounging about leisurely is out too. Cooking light, I can attempt.
Warm weather also brings out the grill aficionados, also known as, husbands. I know that one phrase all too well come summer time: “Do we have meat? I can grill. Do you want me to grill?” Yep, now he wants to cook.
So, we grilled last week. I made tandoori chicken, grilled bok choy and this very refreshing and filling, quinoa salad with lots of fresh mint and cilantro. Don’t leave them out, that’s the best part of the salad!
My oldest daughter is a pseudo vegetarian…it’s a long story. So, to ensure she has something to eat, I have started making this quinoa salad to give her some protein and fresh vegetables. She eats it as a main dish and we have it as a side. Of course, you can add anything to it. You can make it into a Greek version with Feta cheese and olives, or a Panzanella with basil and chunks of bread; the variations are endless. Last week, I added Yukon potatoes to give some bulk to the salad mainly because I didn’t want to make another side dish for the chicken. It worked perfectly adding a nice potato salad feel to the quinoa.
If you have never worked with quinoa before, it is very important that you rinse the quinoa seeds quite a few times. They are covered with bitter compounds called saponins and they can make the cooked quinoa taste funky. I rub it in my fingers while rinsing and I also soak it for a few minutes before cooking. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain and is also a complete protein, therefore, great for vegetarians. It has a grassy taste, a bit like asparagus, I think, and the cooked seeds have a pleasant pop to them when you chew.
On to the recipe; all the ingredients can be varied and quantities changed, but don’t leave out the mint and cilantro. This is how I usually like my salad, it’s a cross between a Greek (without cheese and olives) and a Fattoush (minus the toasted pita chips)
Serves: 12 side salads
- 1 head Romain lettuce, washed and chopped roughly
- 1 English or Persian cucumber(s), medium diced
- 1 red bell pepper, medium diced
- 2 large tomatoes, medium diced
- 4 medium gold potatoes, boiled or roasted, medium cubes
- a large handful of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
- a large handful of mint, washed and roughly chopped.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly.
- 2 cups water or broth for quinoa
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- DIJON VINAIGRETTE
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons sugar, honey or Agave
- salt and pepper
- In a medium pot, on medium high heat toast the rinsed quinoa with the oil until the water is dry and quinoa is coated in oil.
- Pour the 2 cups of water and broth, add the salt and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn off heat, remove pot from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, remove cover and fluff the quinoa with a fork and spread out on a plate or tray to cool.
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl or a glass jar with a lid.
- Whisk or shake the jar to blend.
- Check to season for salt and pepper and add more sugar or honey if you want it sweeter.
- In a large salad bowl or platter, toss all the salad ingredients together.
- Add the cooled quinoa and potatoes.
- Add the dressing, pouring on as much as you want.
- Toss the salad gently and serve as a main dish or side.
So you might have noticed that I am watermarking my images slap in the middle. The last few days, I have been checking to see where my images have been ending up and my posts too. I discovered that one of my images was used on 4 different sites overseas with my watermark at the bottom cut off and no credit to me. Needless to say, I was a bit furious. One of them had the nerve to slap on her copyright over MY photo!
I contacted 3 of the 4. I actually got replies from two of them which I promptly used guilt tactics to get them to remove my photos. One of them got quite preachy telling me that in her country, they are happy to share without permission blah, blah, blah and that I could take anything from her website without her permission. Yeah right, because she was “sharing” when she CUT OFF MY WATERMARK and used my photo.
I don’t mind people using my photos and recipes, but just ask first and give me credit. We don’t get paid to do what we do and I sacrifice a lot time photographing and testing out recipes. I don’t ask for payment, just some courtesy and recognition through a link back.
If any one of you is interested, Laurie Alves from the blog Food is Love has a Facebook page where she researches ways to keep your blog content safe. Check it out, she has some useful info Protect Your Food Blog Content.
So, have a great weekend everyone!! I am going to get my nerd on tonight; off to see Star Trek. Can’t wait!