I am using this New Year to put myself back together mentally and physically. 2010 was a year that really had some profound effects on me and now it's time to take what I've learned from those difficult times and move forward.
Physically, it's time to lighten up the fare I consume once again. I find the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is full with heavy indulgences, a welcome to winter and colder temperatures. Now that we've hit January 1st and we're looking ahead, it's time to lighten back up again. I'm taking part in a little work challenge where we're all competing for largest about of body weight percentage lost. I figure a little motivation among friends is always a way to get myself in gear.
My CSA share from Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton, NH this week is filled with various greens and items to move forward, healthy-style. I've got mesclun, lettuce, squash, turnips, kohlrabi and plenty of onion and shallot to combine it all with.
The following recipe is great because it can be adapted to whatever kind of greens you might have in the fridge (or hopefully in your farm share). It's all veggies, but the quinoa provides enough healthy protein that you can skip the meat here and still feel satisfied. The husband, who's an unabashed carnivore, even was thrilled by this one. Happy New Year and enjoy!
Winter Quinoa Salad
Serves: 2 (as a main dish, 4 as a side)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup quinoa or couscous
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (about 4 small sprigs)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
dash of cinnamon
2 cups chopped salad greens (I've used arugula and mesclun)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
1/2 a ripe, but firm pear
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
In a large saucepan (with a lid, you'll need it later), heat teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add your red onion and saute until tender about 3 minutes or so. Now, stir in quinoa, thyme, dash of cinnamon, salt and a bit of pepper. Add 1 cup water to the mix and stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil and then down to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 9-10 minutes until the quinoa is tender but not mushy.
Fluff up quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool a bit. In a nice pretty dish, layer the quinoa, then the greens, sprinkle with dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and Gorgonzola cheese. Slice up half a pear and scatter the slices across the top of the salad.
In a small food processor (or by hand with a whisk), combine the 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and pulse or whisk until emulsified (completely combined). Now you have your dressing, so pour a bit of that all over the top of the salad (do this to taste, you'll probably have some left over to use on other salads, it's a yummy dressing).