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Monday, April 07, 2008

Darn weather.

I live in South Carolina, not Canada. I went to college in Canada and it was great, but I couldn't live with being cold in April. Apparently, moving back to South Carolina was not enough, because it is freezing*. In an attempt to count my blessings (gag), I'm making Extreme Grouper Chowder for dinner, which would be totally inappropriate if it were warmer. But my mind is on summer meals. In the spring and summer, my family lives on appetizers, because appetizers pave the way for drinks! Drinking at four thirty in the afternoon is trashy...unless there are appetizers. As soon as it gets warm, every day is a party and we eat accordingly: nori rolls, dips, boiled shrimp, crab salad, quinoa salad, artichokes with bagna cauda, Thai salad rolls, anything that we can eat with our hands. Classy, huh?

This weekend was warm and I made a new salad. The weather didn't last, but the salad was good.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Arugula and Dried Figs

First, make three cups of cooked quinoa (one cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water). I used to hate quinoa, but that was before I had it at Perry's Restaurant in Washington DC. Instead of tasting like a watery, health food-y mess, it tasted nutty, crispy and chewy, always an excellent combination. The secret: they take the cooked quinoa, drizzle it with olive oil and bake it in a 450° oven for 10-12 minutes, until it's nutty, crispy and chewy, all at once. So do that to your cooked quinoa. For this salad, I used a delicious lemon infused olive oil I bought at Perrone's the last time we were there. You should try to hook up with some of that. I haven't checked, but I'd be shocked if you couldn't find it at the Gourmet Shop, Cloud Nine or relative newcomer Simply Savory.

When you take the quinoa out of the oven, turn the temperature down to 350°. While the quinoa is cooling in a big bowl, spread about eight cups of fresh arugula on a baking pan, drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Put it in the 350° oven and cook for about five minutes. Keep an eye on it, because it cooks fast. Take it out when it's almost dry. While that cools, add the following to the bowl of quinoa:

1/2 cup chopped, dried figs. Get the good, unsulphured ones from the bulk section at your local health food store. Rosewood Market has them.

1/2 cup slivered almonds.

Now fold in the crispy arugula. Eat a few pieces before you stir it in, because it's really good.

Add a dash or three of balsamic vinegar.

Serve the salad with goat cheese sprinkled on top. I used a delicious one from Split Creek Farm, also found at Rosewood Market.

Eat it, and don't forget the cocktail! You can substitute a nice glass of white wine (or three) for the cocktail if you prefer. Maybe you could have a Stoli Oranj and soda while you're cooking and white wine with the meal. Just sayin'.

Namasté, y'all!

* I know, slight exaggeration. But still.

1 comment:

tracie said...

What a pleasure to hear your fun and humorous voice in your writing! And
I want to eat that chewy nutty crispy quinoa too--don't even think I'm lyin. I am also a lover of the Stoli Oranj! Next time I come home to Cola I'm bringing over some Absolut Ruby Red, Campari, and tonic (with an orange slice). Ridiculously good. xoxo!