Labor Day is a week away! How did that happen? And how did my ‘summer of plenty’ turn into cooking rushed dinners that didn’t take nearly enough advantage of the produce available. My mango soup even seemed to be autumn-happy since it suspiciously has the color of butternut squash soup . . .
Anyway, speaking of plenty, I picked up this cookbook the other day (Let’s be honest, I ordered it on Amazon.com where I ‘picked up’ two more thanks to their “Buy All-three-together-and-save!” campaign. And don’t even get me started on the ‘1-click-buy’ option. Amazon.com knows my weaknesses better than I do). The book is absolutely beautiful. As an omnivore, I was hesitant to buy a book featuring only vegetables (or buying three books featuring only vegetables – see previous parenthetical) but I had read a lot about Yotam Ottolenghi and was curious. He is based in London and, besides holding a billion degrees (comparative literature, philosophy, etc.), he is a trained chef as well.
Everything in this book makes my mouth water and gets me excited about the potential that veggies offer – more so than the frozen peas I usually have. So I thought I would share one of his recipes, adapted to the folks around my dinner table’s tastes. This salad is effortlessly sophisticated (quinoa automatically does that to a recipe) and the homemade croutons are a game changer. It is a chameleon of a salad in that it tastes slightly different a day after it is made as the flavors continue to meld. If it even lasts until the next day.
Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad
Adapted from Plenty
¼ cup quinoa
4 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra to brush the bread
a bit of minced garlic (I used the bottled variety)
4 ripe medium tomatoes
3 small cucumbers, unpeeled
4 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 ½ tablespoon chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (I used regular curly)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ tablespoon red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the quinoa by putting the quinoa in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 9 minutes or until tender. Drain in a fine sieve and rinse under cold water. Leave to dry. Go on and prepare yourself for the fact that sieve will take a while to clean thanks to the curlicues of the quinoa.
Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and smash some minced garlic onto the tops of the slices. Sprinkle with salt. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, turning them half way through. Make sure the bread is completely dry and crisp when done. Remove from oven and let them cool before breaking them into bite-sized pieces.
Dice the tomatoes and cucumbers. Place both in a mixing bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients plus the quinoa and cucumbers. Stir gently. Adjust seasoning as you see fit.