Saturday, July 05, 2008

Notes for next year's potluck

So hey, everyone! I hope all of my fellow Americans had a good Fourth of July yesterday. We went to our neighborhood potluck, as usual. I've been told not to show up without my extremely fattening potato salad, so I made that, but I had cut down the recipe because fewer people than usual were expected and that tiny little bowl of potato salad looked ... lonely, somehow. Sooo, I also made some zucchini bread and quinoa salad!

I followed the zucchini bread recipe I found here, except that I left out the nuts (DH and the girl are allergic to tree nuts) and added just a bit of grated orange zest to the batter. Oh my GOD, y'all! This is some damn good zucchini bread! It's almost more of a spice cake than a bread because it has a really fine, cake-like texture. The boy child is flat-out addicted so it's a good thing this recipe made two loaves (we only took one to the potluck). I will have a freezer full of this stuff before zucchini season is over, mark my words!

I totally winged it with the quinoa salad and it turned out to be the sleeper hit of the potluck. Go figure! I was afraid nobody would want to touch it, but I haven't gotten that many raves over a dish since ... er, the first time I showed up with that fattening potato salad, probably. I wasn't measuring but here's approximately how I made it.

I had some plain, unseasoned, cooked quinoa leftover from dinner the night before -- I'd guess it was maybe a cup and a half, cooked. So I dumped that in a bowl. Then I took a large-ish cucumber, peeled it, cut it in half lengthwise and scraped out the seeds with a spoon before chopping it into a relatively small-ish dice (not a PERFECT dice -- you know me -- but I was going for more or less uniform pieces). I dumped that into the quinoa along with about 1/4 cup chopped (small, again) red onion and 2-3 sliced scallions, green tips included. I had some colorful bell peppers (yellow and orange) in the crisper so I diced up just a bit of those for color (like maybe 1/4 of each pepper -- not much) and tossed them in. Then I went out to the herb patch and snipped a handful of basil, flat-leaf parsley and mint, brought it inside, washed and chopped it and tossed it into the bowl with everything else. Finally I seasoned it with salt and pepper, then shook some fresh lemon juice (NOT bottled) and EVOO in a jar and poured it over, tossing the quinoa mixture to coat. There was only a small amount of dressing -- not enough for it to pool up in the bottom of the bowl or anything. I just wanted to moisten and loosen everything up a bit while giving it a hint of that bright lemon juice flavor.

This was SO GOOD! Seriously, everyone raved about it (and asked what the heck quinoa was, and where they could buy it, and how to cook it...). There were no leftovers so I am going to have to make another batch just for me. This would make a fantastic lunch -- quinoa is really high in protein, and when you add in all the veggies, that's a complete meal as far as I'm concerned!

Of course, now I'm stuck bringing both the potato salad AND the quinoa salad to every neighborhood potluck henceforth (and probably the zucchini bread, too) but I don't mind.


HEATHER said...

Wowser! The Quinoa Salad sounds really good.
I have never even had quinoa! I am going to have to look into this.

ssheers said...

I just made your quinoa salad, and dh and I love it! The kids are eyeing it with suspicion, but I think they'll come around. I made it just like you did, but without the onion (uncooked onions give me a headache), and with dried mint intead of fresh. The lemon is a great idea!