It's summer time and the living is easy. Someone said that once. It makes sense to me. It's time to bask in the kaleidoscope of colours at the produce stands. And then time to come home and put together something to eat that is fresh and fast. I did just that. The blueberries were plump and tempting, a perfect mango beckoned with its heady perfume, firm stalks of corn awaited discovery. Long, thin beans, bold peppers, slim green onions, I found them all today and made this bright delight to enjoy with some grilled wild salmon.
Let's start with the quinoa and what one does with it. There are different techniques for cooking quinoa and I am going with this one from trusty Saveur magazine.
How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly
adapted from www.saveur.com
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained; 1 tsp. salt
In a 4-litre pot, bring 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil. Add quinoa and simmer 12-15 minutes until tender and grains have bloomed. Remove from heat and drain quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Set sieve back over empty pot, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest 15 minutes. Serves 4 people.
Next, if you would like to construct a summer salad, you need some vegetables. I used about a cup and a half each of fresh green beans, cut into small pieces, cherry tomatoes, quartered and fresh corn kernals. I cooked the green beans and the corn until tender and drained them well. Tossed them into the bowl of quinoa I had waiting on the side along with the tomatoes, seeds pressed out lightly, by the way. I toasted a cup of sliced almonds and included them in my creation along with about 6 green onions, sliced into small rounds and two jalapenos, diced, for a hit of heat. Fruit and quinoa get along beautifully and I was after some big time colour, so in went a mango, diced and about 3/4 cup of fresh blueberries. I made a simple dressing with almond oil, fresh lemon juice and the zest of that same lemon, adding salt and pepper, a bit of cayenne and a pinch of raw sugar to taste. The only thing missing was a big handful of fresh herbs from my garden, mint, chives and oregano, adding lush freshness and speckles of green.
My quinoa creation was a perky foil for the rich, delicate meat of the wild salmon, cutting the density of the fish with bursts of fruit and a friendly jolt of peppery heat. It is a salad I will play with and adapt all summer long, as the fruit season delivers its wares. I am looking forward to tender, young zucchini, diced and gently cooked. Corn will continue to appear and will get better as the summer progresses, as will peppers and beans. Parsley and dill, cilantro and thyme, all will play roles.
Keep your summer meals easy and fresh: