Week 4 – Quinoa (Abby)

Things have been crazy busy for me lately. Between various trips, shooting a wedding, and moving I haven’t had a chance to get this posted until now. My sister and I have fallen a bit behind in the recipe challenge, but I’m hoping in the next few weeks we can get back on track.

So, back to business. A few weeks ago we decided on quinoa for our ingredient of the week. If you haven’t tried quinoa before, it is considered a super food, and is absolutely packed with great things. It has a pretty unique texture, and a slightly nutty taste. While searching for recipes I knew I wanted something with some contrasting textures, and summer flavor. I found a recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod and decided to put my own spin on it.

I made this delicious salad for dinner with Scott (the boyfriend) one night, and it was a huge hit. He had never tried quinoa before, and was fairly timid when first dishing up. But, after having a few bites he piled it on his plate! It is full of incredible nutrients, and has lots of great summer flavors. One of the nice things about this salad is that you can switch it up based on what you have around the house, what is in season, or flavors you are craving at the moment. And, quinoa comes in different varieties, each with their own color and slightly different taste, that you could play around with as well. This time I decided to go with red quinoa since I had never tried it before.

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The dish is extremely simple to make. Basically you cook and cool the quinoa, and mix it all together. I mixed all the ingredients together while the quinoa was cooking, and then just stirred in the quinoa and the dressing when the quinoa was cool.

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked Quinoa (any variety works)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used a large handful or two)
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the packaging (some come pre-rinsed, some you will need to rinse prior to cooking), and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, combine the tomatoes, mango, onions, cilantro, and avocados, and black beans in a large bowl.
  3.  Once the quinoa is cooled, mix into the other ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and cumin. Pour over the quinoa dish, and gently mix together until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

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Week 1 – Rhubarb (Abby)

Abby here. For the first week of our recipe challenge Kari and I chose rhubarb. Rhubarb is such a quintessential spring item that it only made sense we used it as our first ingredient. I absolutely love the tartness of rhubarb, and when paired with the right things it is completely perfect for those warm spring evenings.

I had found a recipe for an Eton Mess with rhubarb quite a while ago (from the crumb.com) that I wanted to try, so when we decided to go with the stalky fruit I immediately knew what I wanted to make. I had never heard of the dessert before, but it sounded delicious. An Eton Mess, for those of you who like me, haven’t heard of the treat, is a traditional English dessert. It is a mixture of fruit (traditionally strawberries), cream, and meringues. The slightly crunchy meringues contrast the light whipped cream perfectly, and the rhubarb is such a nice compliment to the pair. The three components are combined right at the last minute and are barely mixed together, so it results in a swirly, beautifully colorful treat.

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I had never made meringues before so it was a fun challenge for me. Also, Isabelle Boucher (the author of the recipe) added Greek yogurt into the whipped cream to lighten it up some; it was something I had never tried, and to be honest was a bit nervous about (I really love whipped cream). I was pleasantly surprised, and the yogurt ended up being a perfect complement to the cream and to the flavors of the dessert in general. The recipe was deceptively simple and may be one of my new favorites. I have seen other variations of the Eton Mess as well, with various summer fruits, so I plan on trying those out at some point because my boyfriend and I loved this one so much.

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Rhubarb Eton Mess

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Meringues:

  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp corn starch
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Rhubarb Compote:

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Yogurt Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Make the Brown Sugar Meringues (up to 2 days ahead)

  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On medium speed with a mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add in both the white and brown sugars, one spoonful at a time. Continue whisking until the sugars have been completely incorporated and the whites have formed stiff peaks. Finally, gently fold in the vinegar, corn starch and vanilla.
  3. Spoon the meringue into twelve large dollops onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the surface of the meringues feels dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in with the door closed to cool for at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

Rhubarb Compote (can be made up to 1 week ahead)

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, orange juice, sugar and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and beginning to fall apart. Set aside to cool off to room temperature.

Make the Yogurt Cream (shortly before assembling)

  1. In a large bowl, whip together the heavy cream, yogurt, sugar and vanilla until it stiffens and soft peaks form.
Assemble the Eton Mess (at the last possible minute)
  1. Crumble the meringues into a large bowl. Spoon the cream and rhubarb compote on top, and fold until just barely combined (the mixture should still look streaky).
  2. Divide evenly between six dessert bowls or martini glasses, and serve immediately, and enjoy!

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