This recipe was inspired by one I saw last week near the cherries on display at my local Whole Foods. I read through the instructions briefly as I was shopping, and the salad sounded so good that I decided to spin my own version of it that night. I bought the cherries and the chicken while at the market, then married them up to some cukes, corn and basil from my weekly CSA haul, et voila!
One of the lessons I stress time and again when teaching Cooking Matters classes is the idea of planning for the creative use of left-overs. Let's face it, most folks don't have the time (or the desire) to cook from scratch every night, so it really pays to look out over the course of your week and plan on left-overs from one night to feed you again a few days down the road.
The inspiration for this dish came from Heidi Swanson, the author of Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen , and the great food blog 101 Cookbooks. Heidi has a dish on her site that is a wheat berry version of this to which she adds tofu or seitan. Due to my wife’s gluten intolerance, I decided to whip up a quinoa version of this salad, and because I generally loathe tofu and seitan, I left it out.
Having returned from Paris a few pounds heavier than when I left (imagine that), I thought it might be wise to pick up some fresh fruit to keep on-hand to satisfy my daily pangs for something sweet. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t eat any fruit while in France, because I did, its just that the fruit I ate there was almost always nestled in a big pillow of pastry cream, or resting comfortably in a butter-rich pâte sucré shell…..oh dear.
Thinking back to all the fabulous treats I ate while there, I can only think of one thing to say…..
VIVE LA FRANCE!
I can’t think of any other place on Earth where I’d rather pack on a few pounds than in France, can you? Without exception, the pastries we ate there were so dangerously good they should have come with warning labels. Though to be fair, the odds of our actually heeding their warnings would have been about NIL, but I’m just sayin’.
I must admit that I felt a little like Heidi Swanson the other day when working up this recipe. No, it wasn’t ’cause of how I looked in the stylish skirt I was wearing ;-), but rather this quinoa and veggie treat is exactly the kind of thing that Heidi presents so beautifully on her blog, 101 Cookbooks every week.
Growing up in Vermont, with an Italian mother manning the stove, I didn’t grow up eating anything quite so exotic as middle-eastern cooking. In fact, it wasn’t until I married my wife, who is of Lebanese descent, that I was finally exposed to more than just the very basics of middle-eastern cuisine. Since then, I have come to love not just the ubiquitous hommus, falafel, and baba ghannouj, but also dishes like fatayer, kibbe and tabbouleh.
I was alone this weekend.
No wife, no kids, no pets (except for Monty, Boris’ Ball Python).
So this post will be a little different from the rest. On Saturday I was not cooking to teach, or to satisfy a crowd, I was cooking for me. So….what was on the menu you ask? Let’s see….I had some fresh herbs and arugula from the garden, and some impossibly sweet corn, fresh garlic, and cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I had some wheat berries in the pantry that I was itchin’ to put to use, and a lovely, locally raised skirt steak for the grill. All the makings of my favorite kind of meal. Fresh, healthy and locally produced.
The steak got about 4 hours in a South American style marinade before it spent a scant 4 minutes ( 2 min. each side) on the searing hot grill. It was served with a chimichurri sauce made from my garden herbs and freshly chopped garlic. The corn stayed on the cob, simply steamed and served with plenty of butter, salt and pepper. The wheat berry salad I threw together turned out really well, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all.
Food memories can be very powerful. For instance, I can remember where I was the first time I ever ate spaghetti carbonara, I can recall the restaurant where I first ordered duck confit (now easily my “Last Supper” choice…more on this later), and I have a vivid memory of the care with which I chose, and prepared, the first meal I ever cooked for my wife.
So much of who we are, and recollections we have of times spent with family and friends, are intimately connected to our memories of the foods we shared with these people. As a parent, I’m enjoying watching my kids begin to build their own catalogue of food memories, and wonder where and when they will hit the rewind button, and replay them in later years. I observed first hand the power of one of my son Boris’ fledgling food memories just the other day. We were out of town, traveling on our annual “guys getaway” trip the week after school let out, when he started asking me about where we’d be eating on this junket. We were traveling to a destination that we had visited before, and he was VERY concerned that I had made the appropriate dinner reservations in advance (such his father’s son, in a scary sort of way, I must say).
He informed me that there was one restaurant in particular that we just HAD to dine at again. When I asked why, he responded (in fact, all three boys did) that the Cafe’ Martinique served the BEST Caesar Salad on the planet, and that in their minds, the success of the whole trip would be at risk if we couldn’t secure a table!
I’m not kidding, this was a big deal to them.