Archives for posts with tag: quinoa

The first beets are in! After lording it over my gardening sibs (who demanded time-stamped proof), what to do with the first beets of the season?

I love all-things-beets. But the first beets get the unadulterated treatment. I simmered them til almost tender, skinned them, and ate a bowlful for dinner. That’s all: Beets, a spritz of butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can almost feel the iron coursing through your veins. Move over Popeye! (and if you know who Popeye is, well, you’ve dated yourself)

One lone beet survived the initial beet-fest. I thought through my beet possibilities. Beet goat cheese dip, from our friends Ruth and Tim? Mandoline-thin slices of beet topped with salad and goat cheese? Or perhaps a knockoff of a quinoa salad I had at Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town Alexandria?

Done. I love quinoa and the Lone Beet provided the excuse to reinvent Cathal Armstrong’s recipe.

Beet Quinoa Salad

Cook one cup quinoa according to package instructions. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, dice one beet into small ruby-colored cubes and snip a handful of chives. The restaurant’s recipe calls for paper thin slices of radishes, but I substituted apple slices since my radish crop had ended. The former gives the salad a peppery bite; the apple instead added a little sweetness. Mix up a lemon vinaigrette. Gently mix the quinoa with the other ingredients, salt & pepper to taste. Then sprinkle with goat cheese. Enjoy. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Share your favorite beet recipes, because we are about to come into a beet bonanza!

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA. Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

In a pleasant coincidence, we’ll be in France the same time as our friends Neil and Mary. We decided to compare notes about our French itineraries over lunch. Neil grilled all-American burgers; I offered to bring a salad.

I pondered the options. I had a few tomatoes, a few peppers and plenty of herbs. Sounds like a quinoa salad. Quelle bonne idée!

Quinoa: Low-calorie, gluten-free, high-protein, tastes great. It’s my latest food fixation. Assume you know the story line by now. It’s an ancient grain harvested in the upper reaches of the Andes Mountains in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Latin Americans have been eating it for thousands of years. Vegetarians, of course, were hip to it before the rest of us. Quinoa has become such a raging success that there was even a shortage recently.320px-Red_quinoa

It’s also incredibly versatile. A couple weeks ago, I “borrowed” a quinoa salad recipe first tried at Virtue Feed & Grain, one of Cathal Armstrong’s many restaurants in Alexandria. In addition to the grain, it had diced red beets, paper-thin radish slices, flat-leaf parsley and feta cheese. It was beautiful, and pretty tasty too.

This time I subbed in what I had on hand from the garden. Send me your best ideas for quinoa – I’m in the mood!

Quinoa Salad

1 c. quinoa

2 c. water or veg broth

1 red bell pepper, small dice

1 heirloom tomato, seeded, small dice

Handful of minced chives, basil and mint

Vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, a splash of balsamic

Bring the liquid to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, return to a simmer, cover, then cook until the liquid is absorbed – about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and let cool. Meanwhile, dice the pepper, tomato and herbs. When the quinoa is cool, add the veg, the vinaigrette, salt/pepper to taste. Serves 4 as a side dish. Bon appetit!

P.S. My friend Kyle suggests toasting the quinoa for a few minutes before adding the liquid. She says it adds a nutty flavor to the grain.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.