Do you ever have those days where you keep going and going and going and don't have a chance to relax until you throw yourself into bed? I feel like that's my life in a nutshell these days! Since summer is a limited-time offering here in the Pacific Northwest, I've been doing my best to take advantage of all summer days - rain or shine.
The news described it as "boomerang weather" - hot for a few days, then cold and rainy, then hot again. I call it "crap." Maybe I'm just spoiled from years of beautiful Seattle summers, but rain on the weekends is not something I enjoy.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature and I are not quite on the same page with what is acceptable August weather, so I will just have to deal... for now. One dish that I've discovered that perfectly matches the ever-changing weather is quinoa (properly pronounced "KEEN-wah" however I like to call it "Kin-O-wah"). It can be eaten warm or cold, in salads, as a side... it's easy to prepare and absolutely delicious and...wait for it... healthy! According to wikipedia "...quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods." What more could you ask for?
I made this dish on an lovely warm summer day, where I had a bunch of leftover veggies from the market and didn't feel like turning on my oven. You could really use any combination of veggies and I'm sure it would be just as tasty. The pancetta adds enough salty flavor and the goat cheese melts just enough that the dish feels indulgent without being overly so. Bon appetite!
The Recipe: Quinoa and Veggie Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 whole cherry tomatoes
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup pancetta
1. Throw the pancetta, paprika and garlic into a saute pan and saute until the pancetta begins to brown. Add the asparagus and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes before adding the zucchini and tomatoes. Continue to saute until vegetables are soft, approx 6 minutes.
2. Add jalapenos approx one minute before removing from heat
3. Meanwhile, in a separate medium-sized saucepan bring two cups of vegetable or chicken broth to a boil
4. Add rinsed quinoa. Return to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for fifteen to eighteen minutes.
5. Once the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pan from heat and let stand for 3 minutes.
6. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and add the vegetable mix and goat cheese. Serve warm or enjoy chilled.