Monday, March 26, 2012

The Red and the Black



No, it's not Stendhal's 19th century historical novel- Le Rouge et le NoirI'm talking  quinoa - red and black.
A few days ago, my friend, Betsy, took me on a guided tour of the famed Albany NY food co-op, Honest Weight.   I had received lots of good press (from those in the know) about this spot.  I was ready - but just slightly skeptical.  It wouldn't be the first time that I had heard good things about a place and then been disappointed.
Since Betsy lives on the west side of the river - the opposite side of where I live - and Albany is also on the "other side" - we agreed upon a meeting spot on route 9W.    I crossed the Rip Van Winkle bridge  turned right onto 9W and drove back in time.  I passed drive-in theatres, miniature golf courses, and roadside stands selling soft serve ice cream and hot dogs.  Geez - here were all the fixings for  an innocent, mid-summer's eve entertainment.  
I met my friend and we continued until we pulled into Honest Weight's parking lot.  While the store looked like many food co-ops that I've visited over the years, entering I felt like something was different.  I think the expression is  "there was a good vibe" in the place.   The store was populated with smiling and helpful employee/members and equally as pleasant shoppers - who were representative of the city's population. 






My eyes widened as Betsy led me from aisle to aisle each one filled with an enormous variety of choices in each category.  There were more grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, flours, and spices than I've ever seen gathered in one spot.  What to do?  Where would I begin?    The quinoa, red and black, spoke to me.   Can't say why.  Color, maybe.   So I bought a bit of each.  And things on my list.  And things not on my list.

The deeply colored quinoa comes from different cultivars of the same quinoa species.  You can also find yellow and orange quinoa.   While quinoa is grain-like, it's not a grain but the seeds of a plant similar to spinach.  In fact quinoa is closely related to spinach and beets.   The  red and black quinoa have real vegetable flavor - something like the sprouted flowers of broccoli.  Just a little crunchier.  Anyway you eat eat quinoa, it's loaded with protein and iron.  It's a wonder food.




RED QUINOA SALAD

serves 4 - 6

The ratio for cooking most quinoa is 1 cup to 2 cups water.  I needed to add just under a 1/4 cup more water to the darker quinoa.

2 1/4 cups water
1 cup red quinoa
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pint tiny cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped olives - any type, or a combo
2 heaping tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt - or to taste - the feta and the olives add saltiness

 1.   Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan.   Add the quinoa.  Bring back to a boil then immediately lower to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes or until the curlicue sprouts emerge from the seed and it's tender to your taste.  Remove from heat and let the quinoa continue to  steam in the covered pot.  
2.   Add the room temperature quinoa to a mixing bowl.    
3.   Add the the olive to a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the the tomatoes to the warm oil and cook, stirring occasionally until the skins are blistered.  Dump into the mixing bowl.
4.   Add the feta, olives, parsley, lemon juice, and pepper and toss to thoroughly combine.  Taste for salt and add as needed.

Quinoa salad is sturdy and will last a few days, stored in a tightly-lidded container, refrigerated.



BLACK QUINOA SALAD

serves 4 - 6

2 1/4 cups water
1 cup black quinoa
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 bunch scallions, white part and about 1-inch of the green, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground red pepper flakes, or a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.    Bring 2 cups water to boil in a medium sized saucepan.  Add the quinoa.  Bring back to a boil and then immediately lower to a simmer.  Cover the pot and cook until the curlicue sprouts emerge from the seed and it's tender to your taste.  Remove from the heat and let the quinoa continue to steam in the covered pot.
2.    Add the room temperature quinoa to a mixing bowl.
3.    Add the shredded carrots.
4.    Add the olive oil to a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the pine nuts to the warm oil and cook, watching carefully until the nuts are deep golden (they burn easily).  Turn off the heat and add the scallions.  Toss to combine with the nuts.  Dump them into the mixing bowl.
5.   Add the chives, red pepper and salt.  Toss to thoroughly combine.  Taste for salt and add as needed.

The quinoa salads can stand on their own as a very simple meal.   They can be served as an accompaniment  to grilled meat, fish, or vegetables too.

SUSANSIMONSAYS




  Because quinoa's crunchiness tends to scrape against your tongue as you eat it I like to have a  sweet, fruity and creamy dessert after it to counteract its texture.   I picked up a pineapple and a half  pint of heavy cream from Meadowbrook Farms while at Honest Weight.   I added some chunks of pineapple to large stemmed glass, a few rum raisins - kept on hand for an occasion like this one - poured over some the wonderfully thick and sweet cream and was happy.
RUM RAISINS
Soak 1 1/2 cups  golden raisins in a cup of light rum in a glass jar, covered, for at least 24 hours before using.  The raisins will last for months and months and can pulled out for use in a way like I just did or in rice pudding or in ice cream - or, or, or....
HONEST WEIGHT is worth the trip - even every 6 months.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment