Wednesday, August 24, 2011

red quinoa chickpea veggie salad

those that have been with me since the beginning are not surprised by my randomly throwing together meals based on what i have on hand. today was no different. as usual, i already had some cooked grain in my fridge. this week, it is red quinoa and i decided to make a salad with it. i also grabbed some leftover spicy curried chickpeas, an early girl tomato from dirty girl, some leftover cooked broccoli (which i don't recommend adding if you decide to make something like this for company....i just wanted to add it since it was in my fridge....but it doesn't add anything to it...and it didn't really "go" with it)

there really wasn't a lot of forethought to this dish....as it consisted of me looking around my kitchen and fridge thinking to myself "how about adding that too?". after i decided upon the quinoa, the spicy chickpeas, and the early girl tomato.....all i knew was that
i really wanted to there to be some additional texture.....some kind of crunch or spice that would hold it's own against the spicy soft chickpeas and add some contrast. that is when i wondered if the radishes from marin roots would work....and then the green onion....and then the shallots as well. all components that would add their own bite to the dish.


see how random it can be in my kitchen .....and head....sometimes?


so i prepped everything.





as the chickpeas had quite a bit of spice onto it and because i didn't want to the quinoa to be wet/soggy, i decided to forgo any sort of "dressing" for the salad. this tactic worked out pretty well. i also did quite a bit of tasting as i was adding things....




which confirmed this. while i was doing the tasting, i also realized that the broccoli didn't really do anything for it. i almost considered just eating all of the broccoli pieces right then....but that wouldn't have been exactly honest to the experience today. oh well. live and learn. but the green onion, shallots, and radishes definitely added a nice crunch and non-chile spice to it.




i didn't add a bit of chopped tomato until i plated it because i didn't want the quinoa to get soggy....so i scooped out a bit on the plate first....then added a bit of chopped tomato.....then another layer of the quinoa veggie mix and more tomatoes.....


i prefer my quinoa salads to be dry, light, and airy.


yet, what i think really "made" this dish was finishing it with the chiffonade of mint. i think i'm totally in love with adding a chiffonade of mint on top of spicy things at the moment. yet, i really do believe that the mint added another dimension to the dish that was quite lovely. in a random moment, as i was eating the dish....the mint with the grain salad reminded me of a basmati rice salad i had at ottolenghi in london. ahhh, food memory. so random as well.


after i made my way through the salad, i came to the conclusion that this is something i would be happy to make for company (sans the broccoli). i can also see how something like this may be modified depending on the season.....for example, i bet roasted root veggies or winter squash would go well.....and instead of doing mint...i could see doing some crumbled fried sage and doing the chickpeas with 3 types of chilies and lemon....but leave out the tumeric, coriander, and cumin. so many potential things to do. so many potential things to try.

this is one of the reasons why i love to cook. i never know where it will take me or what it will inspire next.....and this is never a bad thing.

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