Cooking, cooking…

The past couple of days, I’ve been working hard in my little sauna of a kitchen, cranking out goodies to no end. Sometimes you just feel like cooking.

This little salad single-handedly heated my kitchen up to almost unbearable. After roasting the vegetables in the oven, cooking the quinoa on the stovetop, and using the gas flames to char the peppers, it was HOT. It was worth it, though…the salad is delicious! I love the texture of quinoa, and the flavor of the roasted garlic really comes through in the dressing. I think next time I might cut the quinoa down to 1 cup raw…just to have more vegetables and dressing per bite. I changed a few things from the original recipe (of course), so what follows is my adaptation.

I also have to tell you that last night I walked my first 5K! I’ve walked 3 miles before, but never in an organized event. Last night was the “Bat Run,” benefitting Bat Conservation International, a great group dedicated to taking care of and increasing awareness of our bat community. If you’re not familiar with Austin, we have 1.5 million bats living under a downtown bridge…and in the evenings they swarm out in a beautiful stream. Anyway, the 5K was a lot of fun, starting and ending right under the bat-filled bridge just as the sun was setting and they were preparing to head out for the night. Lindsay and I walked together, and Chad and Justin ran ahead, each nabbing a medal for being one of the first 50 to finish. I think Lindsay and I were among the last 50. Or maybe the last 5. But it was fun.

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, top third cut off to expose tops of cloves
  • 3 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 poblano chile, charred, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, charred, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, one whole, one diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • Several fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 375ËšF.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray; spread zucchini, eggplant, and garlic bulb on the sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and mix with your hands until evenly coated. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender and garlic is soft (garlic may take 10 to 20 minutes longer). Let the vegetables cool slightly.

As the vegetables bake, cook the quinoa: Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly several times; drain well. Bring the water to to a boil in a saucepan and add the washed quinoa. Stir once and let the water return to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12 to 16 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the individual grains have turned translucent. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes; fluff with a fork.

Place the warm quinoa in a bowl, and add poblano, bell pepper, and diced tomato.

Add whole tomato to food processor with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Squeeze the cloves of cooked garlic out of the papery skin of the bulb and into the food processor, adding salt, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, and basil. Process until smooth; this is your dressing.

Add the zucchini, eggplant, and dressing to the quinoa mixture, and stir to combine. You may serve it warm or cold.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.

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