December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
The last thing I made was a dish to share at an informal dinner party on Saturday night.
I’m not a chef, but I’m a pretty good cook. My confidence has grown over the past five years because I live with someone who loves to eat what I cook! So it’s really fun for me to be at the point where I understand how ingredients go together, how to vary familiar recipes to create something new — and how to have things available in the pantry so that I can do it. This is a BIG DEAL, because I spent about 15 years avoiding the kitchen whenever I could, and had convinced myself that I really didn’t like to cook. Now, cooking is a great pleasure for me, when I have time to do it.
From time to time I have shared recipes on this blog, and so I’ll do it now, too.
This is “MaryBeth’s Impromptu No-Recipe Recipe for Quinoa and Garbanzo Salad.” You can tell I have read WAY too many cookbooks in my lifetime — and yes, cooking shows of all kinds are my guilty pleasure. So Julia, Giada, Rachel, Laura, Paula, Alton: thank you. And stand back!
shallot (or onion),
finely chopped Garlic, a few cloves, minced
1 Red pepper, finely chopped
Olive oil ( I use extra virgin)
quinoa (This would also be good with couscous, wheat berries, barley)
raisins (you could use any dried fruit – chop into small “raisin-sized” pieces) vegetable broth (could use chicken broth, or water
1 can of garbanzo beans
lemon juice and zest
seasoned rice vinegar
salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro, chopped (a good handful, about 1/4 cup)
Fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped (same amount as cilantro, more or less)
Those are the ingredients, and honestly I just looked at what I had in the pantry and picked up the fresh red pepper and herbs at the store.
In the pan in which you will cook the quinoa, put a couple of swirls of olive oil in the bottom of the pan to coat generously. Saute the shallot, garlic, red pepper until they begin to soften. Add the quinoa and stir gently to coat with oil and incorporate a bit with the vegetables. The quinoa may begin to toast a little bit, that’s fine. Then, add the broth (2:1, Liquid:Grain). Throw in a generous handful of raisins, and cook according to the package directions. Should take about 15 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, rinse the beans well in a large colander, then transfer to a bowl. Give a good drizzle of olive oil over them, zest of one lemon, juice of the lemon, and a splash or two of vinegar. (The olive oil, lemon, and vinegar are a simple vinegrette dressing, so if you are more comfortable making that on the side, to taste, and then adding it to the beans, that’s fine. You could even use a bottled vinegrette that you like — but fresh is better!) A good pinch of salt or two, and fresh ground black pepper. Some crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/4 tsp to start. Add the chopped cilantro and fresh parsley. Stir gently to incorporate the ingredients, then taste to adjust seasonings and texture.)
Back to the quinoa — when all the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes or so), take the pan completely off the heat and let it sit for about five minutes. Then, fluff the grain with a fork, and empty into a large serving bowl. Put the garbanzo mixture on top, and stir all ingredients together. I added a bit more lemon zest, cilantro, parsley, and a few more raisins as garnish, just before serving.
This is a great recipe, because it can be served at room temperature or cold. It is truly a no-recipe recipe. Made with quinoa, it is gluten-free. Made with vegetable broth or water, it is also vegan! I have no idea how many this serves. Probably 10-12 if served as a side dish. Maybe 6 if it’s the main course. People really snarfed it down — and it is a dish to savor, because it is complex, savory, sweet, with a little heat — delightful. I was most pleased!
What else do I want to make, if I could clear the time for it? I would like to cook more, and I need to create a bit more organization in my life as far as shopping and menu planning — like, in advance and not on the fly — for that to happen. I’ll be making more order in my environment soon, with my annual year-end weed-out and give-away, so I foresee more creativity in the kitchen on the near horizon!
I’m blogging daily at http://www.houstonfeldenkrais.com/somaquest-blog/ inspired by reverb10.