Secret Recipe Club – Summer Quinoa Salad

It’s time to reveal the recipe for my Secret Recipe Club May assignment.  I love being a part of this group of food bloggers.  Not only has it introduced me to some very interesting people but, it has definitely widened the aperture of my food lens.  This month I was assigned Sweetly Serendipity and immediately smiled when I read the blog tagline: for the love of sugar, happiness and serendipitous occasions!  I immediately started scouring the amazing variety of recipes

I knew I had something in common with Taryn, the woman behind Sweetly Serendipity.  As I read about her life, she explains how most of the items she cooks and bakes are inspired by a specific person or a certain circumstance in her life.  She truly enjoys showering those she loves with good eats.  That’s certainly why I starting writing my blog and I can now relate to the pure satisfaction involved in providing good, nourishing food.

Taryn tempts her readers making recipes that are enticing by name alone. Then she adds in gorgeous food shots that literally make your mouth water.  Who wouldn’t want to make her Raspberry Chocolate White Chocolate Whole Wheat Waffles (nope, there’s no typo there), Brown Sugar Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble or Meyer Lemon Bread w/Blood Orange Glaze? I leaf-eared at least 20 recipes to put on my summer “To Make” list.

I chose to make Taryn’s Summer Quinoa Salad because I knew my family would be outside by a BBQ all weekend celebrating summer’s official kick-off. And (gulp) even though I adore Quinoa salad of any kind, I’ve never actually made it myself.  Lucky for me, at the Techmunch conference last week I received a swag bag filled with Organic Quinoa. I had no idea Quinoa (keen-wa) was a staple of the ancient Incas and means, “the mother grain”.  It’s high in iron and phosphorous and also a good source of iron and riboflavin. Its cooked fluffy texture makes it a staple for many casseroles, pilafs, and many salads.  I was ready to finally cook some quinoa in my own kitchen.

Getting my Quinoa on

I love that Taryn highlights her recipe is open to interpretation.  I cooked the Quinoa and used many of the ingredients Taryn recommends but then, added some new ones in along the way.  Much like making a smoothie in the blender,  this recipe can be adapted to whatever you have available in your pantry or fridge. Feel free to alter the recipe as you’re cooking.  While the Quinoa does have a distinctive flavor, I’ve learned it pairs nicely with most dried fruits and sautéed veggies.  It’s like it best when served cold–it’s light and refreshing as a side dish to any grilled fish or meats.  We served it with grilled beef and turkey burgers and hot dogs.

While Taryn used corn and roasted red peppers in her recipe, I decided to hold off on the corn until August when I can get freshly picked, in season corn from the local farmer’s market.  I’m also not a huge fan of roasted red peppers so I substituted red onions which I sautéed with zucchini (Taryn grilled her zucchini).

Zucchini – ready to get sauteed

I also added in some diced dried apricots I had in the pantry.  They added an unexpected sweet  flavor to the grains and veggies but, any dried fruit would work (cranberries, raisins, apples).  Feta is the one ingredient that should not be removed from the recipe.  It brings a ton of creamy, soft flavor to the mildly bitter grain.  And, the combo of the cheese with the fruits and veggies is seamless.

This salad only took about 20 minutes to throw together and we been eating the leftovers for two days!

I now have an easy summer salad in my rotation and can’t wait to explore the sweeter side of Sweetly Serendipity.  If you haven’t visited Taryn’s blog yet, what are you waiting for?

 



Summer BBQ Recipes

It’s almost officially SUMMERTIME!

School is winding down and my kids are ready to take full advantage of their carefree days.  Not only are we breaking out the super high SPF sunscreen, we’re also tweaking our grocery list and stocking up on essentials so we’re prepared for any impromptu summer picnics and grill outs.  Because we live in the concrete jungle of NYC, where our “back yard” is shared with hundreds of strangers, we seek out every opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, to go east and hang out and grill out.  Plus, our annual garden planting takes place in two weeks!

But, I still have charcoal on the brain from my afternoon of taste testing steak samples at the Walmart Choice Steak Challenge.  I’m chomping at the bit to get outside and GRILL (oh, and don’t forget, today is the last day to enter to win a 19-piece BB! Tool Set and a copy of Bobby Flay’s book Grill It).

I’m happy to share with you the winning recipe from the Fox & Friends Walmart Choice Steak Contest as well as some other the amazing steak recipes and side dishes I tasted at the grill off (where Richard Chamberlain’s Grillet Filet Mignon w/ Smoky Spice Rub was declared the consumer-voted winner).  As I’m constantly learning, it’s important to stretch your imagination on the grill and break the meat barrier.  And, there are plenty of veggie and fruit side dishes I’ve leaf-eared for our summer repertoire which I hope make it on to your summer BBQ hit list too.  So, enjoy, there’s lots more to come.

Do you have any unusual summer recipes for your grill?  Share them with us!

In the meantime, try these recipes:

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