Savory Baked Beans on a Rainy Day

It was a dreary day in Seattle recently and I decided to make a batch of savory beans, slowly baked in the oven with herbs and garlic. And then I looked at my assembled-in-5-min-and-ready-to-go-into-the-oven beans and was inspired to write about it. Perhaps you are wondering where the heck I have been. That’s part of the inspiration too….to let the kind souls who have asked about me know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth or succumbed to some weird illness. I’ve been flying almost every other week for work.(Exciting you say? Not really. Though the flight into and subsequent drive from Missoula to Kalispell, Montana was quite beautiful. And wee Grangeville, ID is cuter than I expected it to be…). Plus getting myself slightly over committed with a few work and volunteer projects, and being a hockey mom and then there’s the fact that my year of food blogging put 10 lbs on me from all the thinking, tasting, re-envisioning and re-making (and re-tasting) of food! So I lost inspiration for a while. And seriously…of all the foods to lead to the first post in 4 months, it was the lowly bean? Not so glamorous. But VERY much in the comfort food camp. AND it’s healthy, low fat, high fiber, low glycemic and DELICIOUS! Ok, I’ll stop shouting now. Go make this.

Mixed beans with lots of herbs

Mixed beans with lots of herbs. Though next time I’d use about 1/2 the amount of rosemary pictured here.

Savoury Slow Baked Beans
From my mom, who might have read something somewhere about this method but then just made up her own recipe. She really should have her own blog.

Here’s the general method:
Combine dried beans in a large pot, fill with cold water and soak overnight. Then, drain and place in (several) baking dish(es), add a glug of olive oil and broth/stock of your choice to just cover the beans. Nestle in lots of halved garlic cloves and whichever fresh herbs you want, stems and all, celery stalks, chopped onion. NO SALT. Cover and bake at 350 – 375¬ļF for 2-3 hours. Check half way, you might need to add more liquid. Beans should be soft when finished. Take out the herb stems and celery stalks, smash in the garlic, onion and season to taste with salt. What you do next is up to you:
-eat in a bowl with a dash of hot sauce
-make some toast and scoop some beans on top
-serve a scoop over rice or quinoa
-puree to make a bean spread/dip
-puree along with cooked vegetables,additional stock or cream for a creamy soup
-use as a starter for a brothy vegetable bean soup

Tips:
Don’t include black beans with others unless you want it to look super dark.
Use rosemary sparingly. It will overpower the other flavors
Don’t salt until beans are soft

Quick Rustic Ratatouille

The veggies in the photo above look so fresh don’t they? It’s all the bright colours I think. I bet you have a ton of zucchini and tomatoes in your garden…maybe even peppers and eggplant. Me? None. Zero. Zilch. It was not my gardening year. It was not Eggton‘s gardening year either. Check out her video. Oh, and read her. She’s funny as hell and always includes pictures of her kids dogs and posts yummy recipes.

For me, there was too much work travel this summer and then lack of motivation to get out there and work in the yard. I can only speak for myself because Bob has a garden too (he takes care of the back yard, I deal with the front) but he grew different stuff. Garlic, onions, peas, beans and some weird looking heirloom tomatoes, oh and corn! A few cobs actually grew this year. That was cool. His stuff looks great. Mine sucks. But I’m not competing or anything. ūüôā

Ok so back to the photo of the ratatouille. The tomatoes and herbs are fresh but everything else has been quickly roasted until tender and the flavours are wonderful. You can make ratatouille any time of year, but there’s nothing better than when everything is in season. (And even better when they come from your own garden but I’ll leave that to you guys, ok?).

This is a quick, rustic rat that’s super simple to throw together. It really benefits from fresh herbs so if you don’t grow them yourself, splurge on them because it will be worth it.

Slice the zucchini in rounds, the eggplants in spears and roughly chop the peppers and onions into ~1″ pieces and toss everything into a mixing bowl as you go. Add salt and pepper. I didn’t measure the salt and pepper but you can see the amount I ground in. Add more if you like.

You dump it all onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast it quickly at high heat. While it’s in the oven you prep the tomatoes and herbs and toss it all together with the hot veggies.

We like ratatouille as a side dish or tossed in pasta, rice or quinoa as a main meal. It makes a great cold pita sandwich with a smear of hummus. I just had it again for lunch tossed with fusilli, some feta cheese and a drizzle of balsamic. Serious yum!

Quick Rustic Ratatouille
Thanks to my mom for this recipe…I’m not sure where she got it but she adapted it and then I did…..) Preheat the oven to 475¬ļ.

Cut and toss into a large bowl:
1 small eggplant, cut into thick spears
2 med zucchini, cut in rounds
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
3 bell peppers coarsely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped (I’m starting to sound like a broken record. Hmmmm…kids today probably don’t know what that means.)

Toss with: 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet (spray it or spread out a little olive oil on the sheet first)
Roast for 15 min or until the veg are tender.

While the veg are roasting: 
Chop: large handfuls of basil, flat-leaf parsley and cilantro (have about 1-1.5 cups of chopped herbs)
Halve: lots of cherry tomatoes

Take the vegetables out of the oven, stir in the tomatoes and herbs and transfer to a large platter. Enjoy!

Tomato and White Bean Salad

I’ve been waiting for months to make this salad again. Waiting for fresh tomatoes and sweet onions from the garden, basil from the pot on my front step…finally I couldn’t wait any longer. If I waited for my own tomatoes it would be late August before this came to be so we made do. Bob bought some unbelievable cherry tomatoes…so pretty!

These are not from my garden!

But this onion did come from our backyard. The first year growing them and we lucked out. They are very mild and perfect for eating in salad. (Try a slice of sharp cheddar cheese with a small slice of mild onion on top. It’s one of the best flavour combos).

I think this photo is really cool. Love Instagram! Doesn’t this kind of look like it belongs in a film noir or something?

This salad should work as a main source of protein for the vegan/vegetarians and as a really great side dish for the carnivores. On its own with some bread (or not), it makes a perfect lunch, outside, feet up, with a good book. It doesn’t really work for Evan, who hasn’t decided he’s going to try fresh tomato, nor beans, let alone all mixed up in the same bowl! Plus there are “bits of green” in it, which crosses it off his list immediately. So we ate this salad with some flank steak and quinoa. Bob The Veg ate the quinoa and salad, Selective Evan had quinoa and steak and I happily enjoyed all three. One meal, three ways.

Tomato and White Bean Salad
We were in a hurry when I made this salad and completely forgot to make a vinaigrette but it didn’t need it in the end. If you want one, drizzle some olive oil and vinegar. Use a mild vinegar like champagne vinegar or rice vinegar.

1 can small white beans
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered or larger tomato diced small
1/2 cup diced mild onion
1/2 cup basil, sliced in ribbons
coarse salt and pepper to taste

Boys, Bikes, and Bonfires…oh, and a quinoa salad.

I remember three things from a summer camping trip when I was little.

1) Arbitrarily deciding I no longer liked apple juice, to the frustration of my mother who had just handed me a plastic Tupperware cup full (with those impossibly tight fitting lids – remember them?).

2) Running up to three tall wooden ‘Huey, Dewey and Louie’ ducks , patting each on the head, and naming them Mac, Two, and Quack after the campground. Only last summer, while roadtripping from Boston to Moncton, NB did I realize that long-ago campground was in Mactaquac Provincial Park (don’t laugh too hard, my French-speaking friends!).

3) Sitting on a picnic blanket at dusk, excited to be outside in my PJ’s WAY past my bedtime, to watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks on a giant outdoor movie screen.

I don’t have any other specific memories of that trip, turns out I was only about 3 1/2, but I remember the magical feeling.

So this year we argued about packed up the car made the 3:05, 3:35, 4:20 5:00pm Fauntleroy to Southworth ferry, and went camping. With two other families, we had five boys made up of three school friends (7yo) plus an older (15) and a younger (5) sib. The 15 y.o was a doll and I hope we do as good a job with E as his parents have done with him!

Fishing with a reed grass pole

Boys are genetically programmed to poke sticks in fires

Blurry boys. Not my fault, they just move too damn fast!

My speedy kid

It was a busy campground, not super-private, with showers and flush toilets and paved paths and is probably a cop-out to backpacking-with-your-tiny-tent-and-purify-your-own-water types. It wasn’t quite the Walmart of campgrounds though, I’ll reserve that for the one we were at a couple of years ago where some woman in full make up and heels was patiently waiting in the bathroom for the deluxe coffeemaker she’d lugged in to finish brewing.

Early morning blueberry pancakes and coffee. Life couldn’t get better.

Now, I am an admitted coffee snob but this is camping people! No electrical appliances allowed! But our camping stovetop perc had seen better days and so we went with the next best thing: Starbucks VIA baby! Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking instant but we thought we’d try it and VIA totally raises the bar. Seriously, it rocked. The only thing better would have been some freshly ground Pike Place Roast or my fave: tall skinny vanilla latte.

This ain’t your mother’s instant.

The other smart thing we did was make Julie‘s Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango ahead of time. It travels well, is filling and fresh either on its own or keeping a hot dog company. My picky kid with the suspicious palate wouldn’t touch it, but other kids did! And the beans and quinoa give a ton of protein for the vegetarian who was not having hot dogs.

Yes, those white things are onion, but they’re super mild.

Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango
adapted from Dinner with Julie

1 cup (uncooked) quinoa
1-2 ripe mangoes, diced
1 cup diced cucumber
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced mild onion or 2-3 chopped green onions
1 cup chopped/torn spinach
1-2 cups chopped cilantro
1 19oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Cook quinoa according to package directions and put in a large but shallow bowl to cool. Chop the vegetables and toss with the cooled quinoa. Drizzle with the dressing below.

Dressing:
1/4 cup canola oil
2-4 tbsp vinegar (rice, champagne, wine)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
Whisk to combine and drizzle over the salad. Watch the amount, you might use more or less depending on how wet you like your salad.

French Onion Soup in Honour of Le Clown

I was worried that by the time I posted this recipe it would be summer weather and no one would want to hear about soup. But yes, its still dreary in Seattle. AND it’s not sweltering in Montreal yet. So I guess the timing is right afterall. Why Montreal, you say? Because this blog post is in honour of this Clown I ‘met’ recently, who lives and blogs there.

Blogging is a weird thing…and presents opportunities to virtually meet all kinds of people. And if you move from the foodie blogs to some of the humour/essayist types of blogs you come across some pretty interesting people, whose comments on other people’s blogs are just as entertaining as their posts. (Not that foodies aren’t an interesting lot of course, but the other bloggers I’m reading are much snarky-er (is that a word?) and thus highly amusing.

Definitely check out A Clown on Fire. This¬†hilarious post about his daughter is the post that got me hooked into the saga of his crazy life and very interesting, talented¬†wife and kids. You’ll find more here and here. You can also find some interesting and clever reads¬†at¬†Gemini Girl in a Random World¬†and¬†Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman, two funny women whose blogs I also follow.

Recently Le Clown took a blogging haitus while sorting out some family stuff and so when he returned I promised I’d blog in his honour and make/blog about his favourite food. Good thing he isn’t totally nuts or I’d have to be blogging about haggis or corn dogs and cotton candy…thankfully he was kidding about those. But “anything cheesy and salty” following a suggestion of French onion soup cemented it for me. A clown after my own heart! And soup it was.

Wonderful soup too. And because the onions steep and brown slowly for a long time in this recipe they, how shall I put this delicately, do not cause distress in those who do not digest onions well.

French Onion Soup
Adapted, but barely, from Smitten Kitchen’s version, which is a streamlined version of Julia Child’s. It’s really worth it to keep the heat on the low end and take the full amount of time suggested to brown the onions. The depth of flavour is lovely. This makes enough for about 6 bowls.¬†

Soup:
1 1/2 pounds yellow onions – thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef or other brown stock (mushroom works for a veggie version)
1/2 cup dry white wine
pepper to taste

Gratinée (cheesy bread topping)
1 baguette, sliced 1/2″ thick rounds and toasted until hard
1-2 cups grated cheese (Gruyere or Swiss and Parmesan/Romano)

In a large pot, melt the butter and oil over med-low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil. Cover and reduce the heat to low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.

Then, add the salt and sugar, raise the heat a bit, say med-low again, and let the onions slowly brown (30-40 min). ¬†Grab a book, your iPad, glass of wine, whatever, pull up a stool and sit there and enjoy, stirring every few minutes. If you have trouble with that, well….do the dishes, make your kid’s lunch, supervise homework, reorganize the spice rack, alphabetize or color coordinate your cookbooks, whatever floats your boat. Just don’t stray far from the kitchen for the next 30-40 min and stir frequently. They should caramelize to a deep, golden brown.

Once the onions are caramelized, sprinkle in the flour and combine. Cook for 3 minutes.

Add the wine (all at once), then add the stock, a little at a time, stirring after each addition. Season to taste with salt and pepper (keep in mind that the cheese will be salty as well so consider under-salting a little). Bring to a simmer and leave it for 30-40 min.

Finishing:
Pre-heat oven to 325¬į. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. (Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet incase there are spills). Layer/float the baguette toasts on top of the soup bowls and cover in the grated cheese. You can butter the toasts prior to putting them on the soup but I skipped that step and it was still amazing. Bake for ~20 min or until cheese is bubbly and browned. Finish under the broiler if needed.

What do Vampires Have to do With: A Variation on Macco di Fave (fava bean puree)?

We’ve had a reading breakthrough in our house! I guess all it takes is the right book. After baseball, Evan was tearing around the house and I wanted him to settle down a bit so I asked him to sit down and do some reading while I made dinner, and to pick something that was at his level so he could actually read it. (As opposed to, Avengers: The Ultimate Guide to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which, though I can see the appeal and the movie is on my list of mindless fun, that encyclopedia-type book is quite advanced).

Lovely lima beans…because I didn’t have fava beans

I came into the living room to tell him dinner was ready and found him reading to himself and not wanting to stop (who are you and what have you done with my child?) for dinner.

“Hey kiddo, since it’s just the two of us for dinner tonight, why don’t you bring your book to the table and I’ll bring mine and we can read and chat about our books?”

He was thrilled. Normally the dinner table is a no book/toy zone so it can be about Having a Conversation. Sometimes ya gotta break the rules.

So ace reporter/skeleton, Dirk Bones, joined us for dinner and solved the Mystery of the Haunted House, when he encountered a vampire using a typewriter: “Clickity-click, clickity-clack, ding!” Evan had trouble with the word ‘typewriter’. Understandable. “Mommy, what’s a typewriter? Why does it go ding? Have you ever used one?”

(Flashback to Grade 9 Typing with Mrs. Holroyde¬†k-i-k-space, k-i-k space, d-e-d space, d-e-d space, l-o-l…).

“Yes, honey I’ve used one…this is how it works…” My inept description was ultimately followed by a You Tube demo and then his “...cool, can we get one?!

So back to the story…the vampire was writing a cookbook! Ev¬†thought that was hilarious, especially when I asked him if he thought the vampire should start a food blog. He¬†couldn’t put it down and at the end exclaimed “What a great book!”¬†How¬†appropriate, a vampire foodie. With¬†a recipe for bat foot stew with crispy worm brains to boot. Not quite what I had in mind for dinner, but perfect for my budding reader.

This isn’t exactly bat foot stew, but is a lovely spring soup, picture it served warm but not piping hot, with good bread and a warm breeze on the deck….OR picture it as a warm, satisfying meal during these currently dreary Seattle days….whatever works where you are!¬†To bring this back to the ‘dinnerversions’ theme….no, this soup wasn’t kid-friendly in our house…but we also had¬†outrageously expensive¬†corn on the cob because it was warm and we could pretend it was summer. So the kid ate the corn and had the merest lick of soup…and lots of baguette. C’est l√† vie.

Macco di Fave (fava bean puree)
Inspired by and minimally adapted from La Tartine Gourmande. It’s a beautiful blog with gorgeous photography. Check it out!

This is a very simple and delicious recipe with only a few ingredients: beans, onion, sage, good pecorino romano cheese. Perfect. Beatrice from La Tartine Gourmande used fava beans, tarragon and parsley in her recipe.¬†I didn’t have fava beans on hand, so I used lima.¬†

1 red onion, finely chopped
1.6 pounds fresh or frozen lima beans
2 teaspoons finely chopped sage
4 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup grated Pecorino romano cheese, or more to taste
Sea salt and pepper

Sweat the onions in olive oil for a few minutes until soft but not brown, add the sage and beans and stir until fragrant. Turn down the heat to med-low and add the water. Simmer until the beans are very soft and start to fall apart (or puree with a hand blender when soft), then season with salt and pepper and stir in cheese until melted. (Note: adding salt to beans will prevent them from softening so don’t add it until the end).

Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and more romano and sage.

Penne Primavera

I’ve been having trouble with wine lately. Not the fun kind of trouble, like <insert posh accent> “Oh you simply MUST try this lovely red we picked up on our last visit to Sonoma/Provence/Piedmont…such a PITY it’s our last bottle”. Or, “...we have GOT to get our architect to design us a larger wine cellar…”¬† As if.

No, my wine troubles are more like this conversation between me and my body: “WTF body, you used to love red wine…remember the time we toured little wineries in Sonoma with Bob? Remember when we all learned what a real zinfandel was? What happened?”

My body answers, “What do you want? We’re 43 now. We can’t eat whatever we want and still feel 20-something! Especially since you can’t be bothered to exercise me very often. Geez. No respect”.¬† Gulp, ok, guilty on the last charge. My punishment? Reflux,¬† a rapid heartbeat and big time flushing.¬† Sigh. But a least I can still cook with wine!

And no self-respecting red sauce should be without a healthy dose of red vino to deglaze the pan and add flavour depth. Experts disagree on how long you need to keep your dish cooking to burn off the alcohol, some say 20-30 seconds and some say it must boil for several minutes or simmer for a few hours! So if alcohol is something you really need to stay away from, check out this handy table. It’s from Wikipedia so use it as you will…I tried to link to the US Dept of Agriculture Nutrient Laboratory who did the study but the link was corrupt. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to worry that much about it but I thought it was interesting.

So throw some veggies in a pan with some onion, garlic and olive oil, add some basil and oregano, deglaze with some wine and a can of diced tomatoes and go to town!! You can add a touch of cream near the end if you like….or not. It’s super yummy and perfect for spring.

Pasta Primavera

3-4 cups diced vegetables (eg peppers, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower etc)
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 19oz can diced tomatoes
1 19oz can tomato sauce (ie pureed tomatoes)
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 tbsp chopped fresh)
2 tsp dried oregano ( or 2 tbsp chopped fresh)
1/3 cup red wine
pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp heavy cream (optional)
Short pasta, like penne, farfalle, rigatoni.

Dice onion and vegetables roughly the same size. Toss in a deep skillet with some olive oil and a few grinds of pepper on med-high heat. Sauté for 4-5 minutes and add the minced garlic and the herbs. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add wine and let it bubble for about a minute and then add in the tomatoes and a pinch of sugar (and cream). Turn down the heat, add the cooked pasta, salt to taste, and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavour to permeate the pasta. Garnish with grated parmesan and serve.

In our family, we fish out the pasta for Evan so he gets all the flavour but none of the ‘lumps’ of vegetables. We give him a small dish of the vegetable sauce in a separate dish that he usually doesn’t touch but it’s served to him anyway. One day he’ll try it…

Butter Beans with Leeks and Thyme

Evan will not eat this. Not one bite. But I guess I don’t really blame him, being 7 and all….the texture of beans is something that doesn’t come easy to many kids. ¬†No matter, it was terrific for the adults and with the meal rounded out by a roast chicken (which he does eat), and some steamed broccoli (which he eats when he’s in a good mood, but only out of “just one bite” obligation), it all worked out in the end.

You can start with canned butter beans, but I much prefer starting with dried if the thought crosses my mind in enough time to make it happen. They hold their shape better and aren’t as mushy as canned beans can get. Soak them overnight in cold water or do a quick boil and then soak for 90 min or so. The bag of beans will have instructions. But seriously, you just throw the beans in a mixing bowl with cold water and leave it. The next morning just drain them and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to do more with them.

I sweated the leeks and a clove of garlic (kept whole) in a bit of butter and olive oil, until the leeks were soft, added the thyme, salt and pepper and a good glug of white wine. Then I tossed it all with the beans, some stock, a bit of heavy cream (just a bit) and popped it in the oven for about 40 min. Easy. All you need to do next is chill for a while until its time to cut up the already roasted chicken you got at the grocery store (brilliant invention). AND if you go with bag o’ broccoli, it only takes about 3 minutes to steam it.

I totally forgot to take photos of the butter beans as they came out of the oven. But they looked pretty similar, just deeper in colour and creamier.

Butter Beans with Leeks and Thyme

2 cups dried butter beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
2 leeks, white and a bit of green only
2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
~1/2 cup broth/stock (if you’re using canned beans you may only need a bit to keep them moist in the oven)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

Slice/dice the leeks and toss in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and a clove of garlic (whole). Stir fry about 3-5 min on med-high, then add thyme and stir around until fragrant. Add wine (pan should sizzle) and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, put the drained beans in a casserole dish, then pour the leeks over top. Combine well. Stir in stock and cream, cover and put in the oven at 375¬į for about 40 minutes.

Hot Salad

Hot salad. Doesn’t that sound sexy? All right, I’m a geek. I guess you could just called it saut√©ed vegetables but that sounds so boring…and it also sounds like a side dish. This is a one dish meal. And it made a perfect lunch the other day. My inspiration is a local restaurant called 50 North where they make this wonderful Grilled Steak Salad that I strove to recreate at home. Of course, by the time I got around to making it at home, I couldn’t recall exactly what went into it, except that it had small diced vegetables and potatoes, some¬†saut√©ed or braised greens, grilled steak on top and a cherry gastrique (a thick sauce made from a reduction of wine or vinegar, sugar, and fruit– I had to look that up…didn’t know what a gastrique was. Now that I know, I need to make it!)

What’s great about this salad is that it’s filling with the potatoes added (and steak if you added that too…I would have, but was working with what I had on hand at the time), but still light. I used onion, zucchini and asparagus, but many others would be great…rainbow carrots, beets, parsnip, snow peas…. The vegetables and potato are finely diced then¬†saut√©ed briefly.

The pan is deglazed with some wine (because cooking is always better with wine, right?), the greens added along with broth and cooked until they are wilted and everything is tender.

I threw in some dried cranberries for the sweetness the gastrique would have provided. Voilà . Super easy.

Hot Salad
inspired by Grilled Steak Salad at 50 North

3 cups finely diced vegetables (zucchini, carrot, asparagus, beet, snow peas…whatever)
3-4 cups fresh baby spinach (or swiss chard or kale*)
1 cup finely diced new potato
1/2 cup finely diced red onion or shallot
1/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste

*if using kale, chop roughly with a knife into small pieces and then scrunch it up in your hands to bruise it a bit before cooking.

Sauté the vegetables and potato in butter/oil/both for a few minutes on medium-high, until very bright in colour. If using asparagus, just do the stalks for now, save the tips to add later.

Deglaze with the wine and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes, toss in the cranberries and the asparagus tips if using, give a good grind pepper and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Then pile on the spinach or chard and pour the broth over the whole thing. Cover until greens start to wilt. Stir to combine and let bubble until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot on its own or with sliced grilled steak over top.

Quinoa Greek Salad

We’re being teased in Seattle now…..it happens every year in Feb and I always fall for it. We get a few days of sun and the thermometer creeps up toward 50 F (10 C) and the crocuses are poking up and you allow yourself to think “…mmmmm, feels like spring!” and everyone is a little perkier and smiling more… and then… WHAM, you’re right back in blustery, grey, chilly, rainy Seattle winter. PSYCH! I fell for it again. (I’m sure my snow-covered friends in Eastern Canada have absolutely no sympathy for me). So today, being one of those Winnie-the-Pooh days but with my brain pining for warm, sunny breezes, I couldn’t get into typical winter food so I made one of my all-time favourite summer salads.

This is a great use for leftover quinoa. I didn’t have any leftover, but I really wanted the salad so I made a fresh batch but let it cool in the fridge a bit while I chopped the rest of the salad.

And alright…I get that I should not be complaining about the weather here. I realize how blessed I am when I can take oregano out of my own garden right now…I had to search around for some tender new growth since the older stuff is looking pretty ratty, but it was there!

I didn’t measure the veggies for this salad and you really don’t need to either. If you like lots of cuke add lots…only like a bit of olive, only add a bit. You could make this heartier by adding a can of drained, rinsed chick peas or adzuki beans and it’s a dinner on its own. Or serve it as a side dish with grilled lamb chops (ooo, that really sounds like summer!). Had this been dinner for 3 in our house, Bob and I would eat the salad as-is of course, and serve Evan a small “just-take-one-bite” amount, plus the quinoa plain and warm, with sliced cuke and cubed feta on the side, along side some grilled meat (me and Ev) or fish (Bob and Ev).

But since it was just me, for lunch, I had it with some awesome olive bread from Essential Baking Company. I realize that’s kind of redundant, having bread with a grain, but whatever…it was soooooo good!!

Quinoa Greek Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa (about 3 cups cooked)
cucumber, seeded and diced
tomatoes, seeded and diced
kalmata olives, pitted and sliced in half
crumbled feta cheese
~1/2 cup mild sweet onion
~1-2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1-2 tsp dried
olive oil
red wine vinegar (you can make more or less dressing depending on how wet or dry you like your salad. I usually keep my oil:vinegar at 1:1)

Cook quinoa according to package directions, or use leftover quinoa.  If making fresh, put cooked quinoa in salad bowl, spread out a bit and pop in the fridge while you chop the rest of the salad. If using leftovers, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temp while prepping the rest. Combine cuke, tomato, olives, onion and feta with quinoa and toss.  In a small measuring cup whisk together about 1/8 cup olive oil and 1/8 cup vinegar along with chopped oregano and a good grind of pepper. Pour over quinoa salad and serve at room temp.