Quinoa Salad

A few weeks ago, I needed to prepare potluck dishes for two events, each of which involved a dizzying array of food allergies, sensitivities, and disgusts. I consulted the Facebook hive mind and was presented with a plethora of ideas, many of which I intend to experiment with later. What I settled on for that weekend, though, was an old standby that I hadn’t made in a long time: quinoa salad.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

It had been so long, in fact, that I had forgotten how to make it. And it was one of those things I never wrote down. So here I am, a few weeks later, trying to remember enough to preserve the recipe for posterity.

First I had Brian prepare a 12-ounce box of quinoa (more or less according to the package instructions). We used the kind that doesn’t require any rinsing before cooking. I loathe rinsing food.

While that was cooking, I chopped things. I chopped up a small red bell pepper, a medium tomato, and a seedless cucumber. I tend to chop pretty coarsely, as you can see in the photo. I normally chop up half of a sweet onion as well, but I discovered that I had none. What I did have was a tiny amount of freeze-dried red onion and some freeze-dried chives, so I added them to the dressing mixture, and it turned out surprisingly well.

Now, this is where things start to get fuzzy. One of the purposes of this dish is to use up pickle juice. I don’t remember exactly what kind of pickle juice I used this time, or how much, but I’m going to guess it was roughly a cup of bread & butter pickle juice. I added a few elbows of maple syrup (which I’ve discovered works much better than honey in salad dressings), the aforementioned freeze-dried bits, a bit of lemon juice, and a bunch of garlic salt, herbes de Provence, and ginger powder. There was probably something else I’m forgetting, but you probably have favorite things you like to include in salad dressings, so have fun experimenting!

Oh, yeah, I’m sure I used some kind of oil in the dressing. Not olive oil, because that is a huge no-no in our kitchen. So probably sesame or grapeseed. Maybe rice bran.

I shook up the dressing (with the jar lid firmly attached), let it sit for a bit, then shook it up a bunch more and poured it over the chopped veggies. I stirred that mixture really well, then let it sit for a while as the quinoa finished absorbing its water. Once the quinoa was ready, I dumped it in with the veggies and mixed it all together.

So, relatively quick and easy. And it’s good to make a big batch because the flavors keep blending in the fridge over the next few days and it just keeps getting better. Well, I presume there is a point at which it would start to spoil instead, but it’s never lasted that long in my house.

Advertisements

Fancy Chicken Salad Sandwiches

One of the book clubs I belong to occasionally meets for afternoon tea, and over the years, we’ve each developed a specialty of sorts. Mine is chicken salad croissants. (Though I don’t make the actual croissants myself.)

img_20161210_131651

I will not be finishing the book. I lasted all of seven paragraphs before giving up.

This time I somewhat unintentionally got a little fancy. Okay, okay, the croissants were from the grocery store (which I doubt I will be doing anymore, as their quality has really declined, and it’s not like this town doesn’t have any decent bakeries), and the chicken was from a can (which I will always do because I simply will not handle raw poultry). But I think nearly everything else I used was organic.

My recipe, if you want to call it that, is not difficult or even all that unusual, if you ask me, but I get a lot of compliments on it, so here it is.

 

I drain the canned chicken, plunk it into a bowl, and fluff it with a fork. For this, I used two of the largish (I think 12.5 ounces, but I wouldn’t swear to it) cans. Then I chop up an apple and put most of that in. (I usually end up eating a wedge or two of the apple in the process.) Then I add some chopped sweet onion, chopped nuts (in this case, pecans, but it’s often walnuts), and some sort of fruit. I prefer to use halved grapes, but this time all I had was dried cherries. I really should have chopped those cherries up, but I was in a bit of a rush. Ah, well, I’ll remember that next time.

I empty an entire 16-ounce container of sour cream (this time I used Wallaby Organic) into a separate bowl, then spoon in some mayonnaise. I never measure it. You’ll just have to engage in some trial and error to find what ratio you like best. (My advice is to start small; you can always add more.) I then season it to my liking, which is different every time I make it, but some of my favorites are garlic salt, ginger powder, herbes de Provence, and paprika. Then I do some taste testing and adjust the mayo content and the seasonings.

Then I spoon some of the goo into the chicken bowl and mix it up. Again, start small, then add more until you reach a consistency you like. Once you have it all mixed up to your liking, you can scoop some onto your croissants or rolls or whatever and enjoy!

 

Pickled Pinterest Fail

I had a potluck event this evening. So this morning I scrolled through Pinterest, looking for something quick and easy to make in the half-hour I had reserved for food prep in the afternoon. And I found a recipe for cowboy sushi. It seemed like a simple concept: Wrap a dill pickle in lunch meat and cream cheese and then chop it into maki maki. How hard could it be?

Well, I put the container on Gina’s counter and greeted everybody with, “This is a little something I call ‘Pinterest Fail.'” IMG_20160709_161907 In all fairness to the recipe’s creator, I did not follow it exactly. I used garden vegetable soft cream cheese spread, which might have had a different consistency from what was required, and I didn’t do the additional wrapping, because that just seemed to compound the problem I was having with getting it to all hold together. I also used pastrami instead of beef, and it was slick, which made the application of the cream cheese tricky. That may have been my primary problem right there.

But they disappeared in a hurry, so apparently they taste good.