Apple, Fennel + Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

Apple, Fennel + Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

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For my birthday in May 2006, my college roommate and good friend gave me a paper bag full of apples. To this day, I  consider it to be one of the simplest and most thoughtful of gifts.

Though I tend to avoid using them in recipes (because I eat them all fresh), apples are my all-time favorite food and I tend to be persnickety about what a good apple tastes like. I have a slight obsession with the kind of apples that can’t be found in most grocery stores and with unique names like Zabergau Reinette, Poundsweet, and Sheepnose. There used to be an old-timer named Joe at the Corvallis market this time of year who would talk my ear off about the 100+ heirloom apple varieties in his orchard while handing me slices to taste, each with a different complex flavor. Basically, I looked forward to market day just to hear his apple stories.

 

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When I was working in Ireland several summers back, I traipsed around counting, weighing, and mostly eating berries all day but one of my highlights was the day Andy asked if I’d like a tour of the orchard. I practically jumped in the jeep before the words were out of his mouth. Prior to that, I toured a couple orchards in northern Washington during my experience at the farm & cooking school, Quilasascut. I was the nerdy annoying girl asking too many complex questions the day we visited the apple trees. And before that in pomology, my favorite class at UCD, we visited farmers who, like Joe, had orchards filled with hundreds of varieties. On our farm tours, we walked and talked, eating apples all the while.

Basically, I love any chance to follow farmers around all day letting them share some of their wisdom about apples.

 

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If ever I come into possession of a few acres to plant a gazillion ancient apple varieties, I might be on to a new calling. In the meantime, I’m trying to convince William to tear out all the worthless pretty flowering cherry trees in our front yard and replace them with apples. He’s basically the yard maintenance guy in this household and after all the work he put into those cherries this summer with no payout, he’s mostly convinced.

 

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Apple, Fennel + Pomegranate Quinoa Salad, serves 4

For this month’s Recipe Redux, we were asked to show what’s in our Plant Protein Power Bowls, or what I refer to as grain salads. Packed with protein, fiber and color, plant power bowls are trendy and delicious. William and I happen to eat some variation of a one-dish grain salad for dinner at least a couple times each week and have been since way before eating plant-based or from a power/Buddha/yoga/nourish/etc.-bowl became a thing. This one, with it’s seemingly interesting ingredient combination, came together out of what was on hand one evening–and because from previous experience, I love the caramelizy-sweet fennel, fresh sage and apple combination. The kale, quinoa, and baby lima beans just happen to be good additions and the pomegranate seeds provide a little festive something extra. I made this twice in a row and much to my dismay and delight, William (who avoids leftovers) took most of what was left for lunch. This little well-rounded salad was so good, colorful, and as I said, festive, that I might just be making it again for some of our upcoming holidays. Enjoy!

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked baby lima beans (or other white bean)
2-3 cups finely chopped kale
1-2 Tbs. fresh sage leaves, minced
1 small apple, sliced thin
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup roasted/toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1-3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, use to taste
sea salt + pepper, to taste

  • Rinse and drain the quinoa and then place it, along with the 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a sauté pan over medium-high, heat 1/2 Tbs. olive oil and then sauté the onion and fennel, about 5-8 minutes, until both are soft and golden. Remove from the heat and slide into a big bowl, along with the cooled quinoa, and lima beans.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chopped kale and remaining tablespoon of oil with your hands, gently squeezing the kale to soften it up a bit. Then combine it, along with the sage, sliced apple, pomegranate and hazelnuts, to the quinoa mixture.
  • Add 1-3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, tasting as you go, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

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Pomegranate + Hazelnut Moroccan Grain Salad

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There was once a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went looking for figs on it but found none. So he said to his gardener, ‘Look for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil? But the gardener answered, ‘Leave it alone, sir, just one more year. I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down.’

    – Luke 13:6-9

 

I have a plain black journal which I cart around for all things spiritual. It is a book riddled with inspirational sayings from homilies, scripture, from the girls in my prayer group, and messages I hear from prayer. I doubt the journal could be useful to anyone aside from me as it’s got thought-segments scattered randomly and the same phrases scribbled repeatedly throughout. Months ago, Father Ignacio stated, God is not like Amazon Prime. We have to wait, in one of his homilies. It is a phrase which has taken up considerable real estate these past few weeks.

 

As is usual when I need to work on something, signs appear from all sorts of corners with the same message. For the last couple weeks, I have had several reminders on perspective, of thinking about whose lens I am looking through, of being able to see my life as Jesus sees it, through His vision, and of rewriting the story I tell myself. Consistently at church, I hear the message to ask God the way and He will use you. I have been increasingly frustrated as I’ve been asking for guidance for months and (telling myself) I hear nothing. I sat for an hour this week and had an internal fight with God. Why are you not speaking to me?, I silently yelled. What do you want me to do? And then the quietest, softest answer:  Have patience. Trust in me. My immediate reaction was to act as if I hadn’t heard anything. Instead, I responded, but WHAT do you want me to DO!? Trusting and being patient sounds a lot like sitting around doing nothing when all I want is for my fig tree to be bearing figs.

 

I then came home and complained to William about the experience, of asking for guidance daily and hearing nothing, of being frustrated because He refuses to speak to me. William’s response was, perhaps you’re not looking at the situation the right way. Perhaps when you think nothing is happening, it is because His answer is not what YOU THINK it should be.

 

I can be incredibly stubborn. I ask for guidance but I only want to hear an affirmation that what I want is what I should want–is what I should be working on and is going to happen according to my schedule. I want clear, easily discernable boxes to check in a linear pattern marking the way forward. I want to know the daily labor will produce the desired results. I find it extremely difficult to entertain the possibility that He is answering and doing something in my life when it doesn’t look exactly like what I expect it to.

 

I look to my journal. His message to trust and have patience is written clearly, week after week, right next to the reminders about Amazon Prime. When I turn the pages back and see the same words time and again, I realize He’s been there responding all along. It is time to stop being frustrated and trust. It is time to rewrite the story I tell myself. I need to stop looking at my life as an unbearing fig tree. I need to spend less mental energy tearing it down and more of it in adding fertilizer.

 

God is not like Amazon Prime. We have to wait.

 

 

Moroccan Grain Salad with Pomegranates + Hazelnuts, adapted from Green Kitchen Travels

I pulled the last two eggplants from their stems the other morning. It was a beautiful morning to be in the sunshine, to pull the last of the season’s purple jewels from their life cord, to traipse around in my mud boots after months of heat and dry ground. It poured rain the day before and since and the ground has been soft. Most of the summer vegetables are finally done. This salad is a snapshot of the present season, a mix of old and new. Combined with those last two eggplants, roasted sweet onions and handfuls of parsley and mint, there are this season’s hazelnuts and the seeds of a pomegranate tossed in. I made this salad for the first time over the Labor Day holiday for our family reunion. That first version was slightly different with a couple zucchini sliced into rounds and roasted. It was a big hit and I promised to share the recipe. Now that summer is well and truly over, I’ve thought about how to carry this salad’s flavors into the autumn and holiday season as it would do nicely as a side during a celebration meal. I’m picking up a load of winter squash this weekend and I imagine some roasted delicata or kabocha squash would make for an even tastier mixture paired with the cinnamon-infused grains, herbs, pomegranates and hazelnuts. 

1 large or 2 medium eggplants

1 medium onion

2 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt

1 cup equal parts quinoa and millet (or all of either one)

2 cups water

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

juice of 1/2 a lemon

a handful of mint leaves

a handful of parsley

1/4 cup raisins

1 pomegranate, deseeded

1/2 cup toasted and coursely chopped hazelnuts

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop the eggplants and onion into small pieces. Place them on a large baking pan and drizzle with a small dose of oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven until soft and slightly burned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and place in a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil and garlic and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cook the quinoa and millet. Place the grains in a small saucepan and add the measured water, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat immediately, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed.
  • To assemble the salad, place the cooked grains in the bowl with the roasted vegetables. Add the lemon juice, herbs, raisins, pomegranate seeds, and chopped hazelnuts. Give everything a good stir to evenly mix. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly.

 

Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad

Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad

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My mom and I sat at the farm table this morning planning this week’s holiday meals. There is ham, turkey, prime rib and likely a roast to be served up in the coming days. Last night we had steak for dinner, good steak of the homegrown variety. I failed to mention to the family that I haven’t had meat since Thanksgiving, and the steak was enough to last me for the next couple months. I don’t strictly avoid meat, but it’s never been my thing and I tend to partake in small amounts, infrequently. The stretches in between have grown wider in the last couple years and this being the case, I’m generally put on vegetable duty for family meals. I’m happy to have all the holiday sides for the planning, so there will be the full spectrum of winter roots and greens putting on their best show this week.

 

The Recipe Redux folks asked us to share a peak into the cookbooks we’re using, so this salad is from a current favorite that gets much use. Green Kitchen Stories(UK)/Vegetarian Everyday(USA) absolutely reflects my style of eating (and William’s too, as long as meat makes an appearance in his diet semi-regularly). It is written by the Swedish/Danish couple, David and Luise, of the lovely Green Kitchen Stories blog. Their recipes are the inspiration behind many a meal in our home, whether it be via their cookbook, blog, or instagram feed. They’ve also recently released a second cookbook, Green Kitchen Travels, and it’s super-duper on my Christmas wish list. This meat-free(!) Chorizo & Quinoa Salad is perhaps the most time-consuming of recipes I’ve made in their book, and its super-packed with feel-good-tasty-nutritiousness that we could all use this time of year.

 

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I made up a big batch of this salad before making the trek across the state to visit the family, and though I get a lot of flack for being oh-so-health-nutty ’round these parts, these people also like to eat my salads and approvingly devoured every bit of the simple Mushroom, Tomato, and White Bean Stew I made for this evening’s dinner. I do like Chorizo if it’s of the small-batch made, not wrapped in plastic sketchy supermarket sort, and this salad would definitely be excellent with the real deal instead. I’m not at all into fake meat so endorsing a homemade vegan chorizo means David and Luise are truly on to something. If you’ve extra time on your hands in the next few days or your holiday meals need a hefty dose of antioxidants, this is your dish. I changed up the original recipe quite a bit, adding in wintry broccoli, broccoli sprouts, turnips, pomegranate and garbanzo beans in lieu of the original fruit, vegetable, and bean mixture. The chorizo makes it super tasty and balances out the stronger brassicas and mustard dressing. Perhaps, if you’re anything like me, this will be a welcome reprieve from the many heftier meals that will be had in this season.

 

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Chorizo + Quinoa Salad, adapted from Vegetarian Everyday. Serves 4-6

VEGETABLE CHORIZOS

Scant ½ cup sundried tomatoes, rinsed

½ cup cashews, toasted

¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted

2 leeks, diced

2 green chili peppers, diced

6 unsulphured dried apricots, finely chopped

2 sprigs of oregano, leaves picked and chopped

1 cup brown rice flour

1 Tbs. xanthan gum

1 Tbs. ground flax seeds

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

4 ½ cups vegetable stock

2 tsp. olive oil, for frying

 

QUINOA SALAD

1 cup quinoa

3 medium turnips, chopped

Seeds from one pomegranate

One bunch broccoli florets

4 leeks, diced

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1 cup broccoli sprouts, more or less to taste

 

DRESSING

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of ½ a lemon

3 Tbs. hot English mustard

Sea salt

A few sprigs of oregano, to garnish

 

To prepare the chorizos, combine the sundried tomatoes, cashews, hazelnuts, leeks, chili, and apricots in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the oregano, rice flour, xanthan gum and flaxseed and pulse until everything is combined. Add the olive oil and ¼ cup water and pulse until a dough is formed. It should be easy to handle and form into a sausage shape.

Divide the dough into 5 equal parts. Roll each piece into a sausage, place on a piece of cheesecloth, roll up and tie both ends firmly with a piece of twine.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large, wide saucepan. Lay the chorizos in it and let them boil for about 45 minutes. Next, carefully remove the cheesecloth from the boiled chorizos. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the chorizos until they are nicely browned all over.

In the frying pan, next lightly sauté the leeks and turnips until just tender. Toss in the broccoli florets for a minute or so to soften. Transfer them to a large serving bowl.

Next, prepare the quinoa salad. Place 2 cups water, the quinoa, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Slice the fried chorizos.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add the quinoa, remaining vegetables, pomegranate seeds, beans and chorizo to the serving bowl. Pour about half the dressing over and toss until everything is well coated. Add more dressing, as necessary. Garnish with oregano and serve.