Thursday, 14 May 2009

maybe it's obvious

I guess I should have realized that working six days a week till six or later at night would not leave me with excessive amounts of time for cooking. After whiling away the hours in Scotland, or being in the middle of nowhere with my parents, San Francisco is pretty frickin' different.

I know I've been complaining about this for a few weeks now. But I'm still getting accustomed to this whole meal-in-two-minutes thing. What I've gleaned so far: it's not always satisfying, mostly frustrating, but sometimes, kinda fun.

Like yesterday's five minute dinner: grilled cheese made with California whole grain bread and a good slab of Humboldt Fog goat cheese, sided by some flash-sautéed spinach. It was quick and to the point. It was warm and cheesy and had enough green in it to made the butter I fried the bread in okay.

And then there's the quinoa tabbouleh. Simple. Bright. Fast.

Quinoa is pretty sweet, as they say. That is, super healthy, super easy, semi-super cheap (especially if you get a huge bag from Cosco).

Tabbouleh is usually made with couscous, but quinoa goes just fine with the bright citrusy flavors of this easy Middle Eastern grain salad, and adds that extra boost of protein. The salad came together in less than twenty minutes, and required little skill beyond the fine chopping of a cucumber.

Made with summer vegetables, this salad will be fantastic when the tomatoes are falling out of market stands, but goes well now with hothouse cherry tomatoes. And don't be tempted to leave out the mint, it adds something perfectly summery and clean to the salad, and the whole dish would be bordering on dull without it.

Quinoa Tabbouleh
from Bon Appétit

2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
2 tbsps plus 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
lettuce leaves, if you want

1. Bring water to a boil, add quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 13 minutes till water is absorbed.

2. Meanwhile, whisk oil, lemon juice and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Chop the cucumber, tomato, mint, and parsley, adding to the dressing as you go.

3. When quinoa is finished cooking, let cool about five minutes. If you want a cold salad, chill it. (I liked the contrasting warm quinoa and cold vegetables). Add quinoa to vegetables, and toss to coat. If using lettuce leaves, pile tabbouleh over leaves.

Serves 2 for a main or 4 as a side dish.

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