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Archive for April, 2011

Yoga and Quinoa

My sister, the graphic designer, the yoga-student, the vegetarian, the concert-obsessed, does not cook. She can heat leftovers or make herself a bagel or cheese sandwich or burrito, but if it requires more than five minutes of prep time, she gives up. So many sad little recipes wanting to share their nutritious, delicious flavor combinations with her, but they remain only pretty photos and lists of ingredients, never to experience the real world.

So, when her yoga instructor announced to the class that their final would include a potluck of vegetarian dishes, guess who little sister ran to? Great guess, her big sister, the chef and professional home kitchen-messer-upper. She asked me to make a quinoa salad I prepared for her friend’s wedding a year ago. She promised to in return do the dishes, and she did not go back on her word. She returned from the yoga class with a huge grin stretched across her face and demanded that I add that recipe to my blog, as several people had requested the recipe. So, finally, here is the much requested recipe for quinoa and black bean salad with jalapeño vinaigrette.

Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

1 cup quinoa (I used red, but regular quinoa works just as well)
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, cleaned and small diced
3/4 cup Jalapeno Vinaigrette
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp minced cilantro

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt to the water. Add the quinoa to the boiling water, reduce heat to medium high and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Stir occasionally. I under cook it slightly because it will soak up the dressing and soften more over time. Not a fan of mushy quinoa! The grains will puff up and be tender, but they should still have a bite to them if cooked properly. Drain the quinoa well, then return it to the pot it was cooked in and add the vinaigrette, black beans green onions and chopped bell pepper. Mix well and refrigerate, uncovered, until cooled. Add the tomatoes and cilantro, stir to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste. I like this salad a little saucy, so I sometimes stir in a little more vinaigrette before I serve it, but that is just a personal preference. My sister prefers it drier! I also like to add corn, but my sister doesn’t like it, so I left it out. Feel free to experiment and add other ingredients, that is the best part of cooking!

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Picture taken by Daniel Finucane of River Rock Photography. Use him! http://www.riverrockweddings.com/

I am a married woman! I also work at a new job (banquet chef at a Portland brewery) and live at a new address. The last few months involved insane amounts of planning, packing, lifting, running, stressing, worrying and just plain ol’ craziness. Very, very glad only memories remain from that period of my life. Still, I could have fit in time for blogging if I really tried, but the real reason I slacked so much on my online recipe sharing: I finally felt happy. Sounds strange, right? Honestly, I started blogging because I needed something to feel good about. The same routine every day, the same people driving me insane, the lack of creative control at my job, it all put so much pressure on me that I needed an escape, any escape, to feel in control again. I love my job so much now; I no longer get stress headaches or scream at my fiancé (now husband!) just to release the rage. I actually get to make food that I like, I write my own recipes and menus. Love, love, love it. I started focusing more on creating recipes for my new banquet menu at work, and still continue to work on that gigantic project. Never-ending, but in a really great way. Finally, my little sister/roommate started pestering me to jump back into blogging (I think mostly to test her title of official taste tester of all meat-free items) and here I am, back at the keyboard again. Now that I am here, I wonder why I ever stopped. Oh yes, that’s right. I need to measure stuff when I cook if I want to post the recipe. Not really my thing. I prefer to just throw things together and taste test as I go. That method doesn’t translate well for those who haven’t spent years in a professional kitchen, however. Oh well, I guess I will dust off the measuring cups and spoons shoved in the back of my kitchen drawers. Here is a recipe for a vinaigrette that my husband made for a salad we served to some friends, and it was such a hit, they all asked for the recipe. So, we made it again, and measured the ingredients this time. We then served it to my family, and even my spice-hating mom fell in love. She said she will never buy bottled dressing again!

Jalapeño Vinaigrette

So simple to make, and it lasts for a long time in the refrigerator if you want to make a large batch. You can also make this in a blender, just add all the ingredients except the oil, blend well, and then slowly drizzle in the oil with the motor running. I use vegetable oil, I find that olive oil can get bitter when blended too much, and just over powers all the other flavors. I skipped the detail cutting on this batch by using the blender, as you can tell if you look at the picture!
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
1 cup oil (vegetable works fine, or plain olive oil, not extra virgin though, too strong)

Combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl. Whisk the oil in slowly, until completely combined.

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