I knew it would work it's way into my writing at some point, but I have yet to mention here that I spend some of my days working at Trader Joes. While the blog and cookbook are my love and dream, I really enjoy being around people, having that routine and the great healthcare benefits :) This is relevent because I spend a majority of those days at the demo station. If you shop at a Trader Joes market you know the sample booth in the back. Everyone loves a free snack, it's a popular corner. I waver between loving and hating it, for reasons that those who have worked in the service industry can likely relate to. As you may assume, I meet a lot of people in the work of giving away free food. I've explained food allergies and a number of diets, I've walked aisles helping an older fellow just learning to cook for himself, whose wife had passed days earlier and I've planned a romatic dinner menu for a man surprising his wife. But I also meet people who solely have mac n' cheese and frozen orange chicken in their carts, some who refuse to cook with anything but microwave, or those enraged that in mid-December, our strawberries are white (the NERVE!). I have seen and heard the gamut of relationships that people have with their food. I love ice cream and dark chocolate peanut butter cups as much as the next guy, but eating well is your responsibility. Sometimes I want to scream from behind that corner, it is not always easy or quick or cheap or tidy but you taking care of your insides is important. Period.
The more I hear, the more I am thankful for good food. I'm thankful that I have been inspired to learn to cook, that I enjoy the process, that we can afford good quality ingredients, and the knowledge to know the difference. I have a community, you people, who engage me in this passion and send me emails and leave comments that you care about good food too and that makes me want to share it. Thank you for nurturing this in me. Yes, we offer you recipes and photos, but you give me so much.
Wishing you a Christmas filled with wonderful food, even better company and time to soak it all in.
CHOPPED SALAD WITH QUINOA, SWEET POTATOES + APPLES // Serve 6
Barely adapted from Food + Wine November 2012
I am bringing this salad to two Christmas meals as I imagine it will hold well. Everything can be prepped in advance, kept in bags and then tossed all together when it's time for dinner. It's a simple salad, so take the liberty to add some toasted nuts, shaved asiago or chopped hard boiled eggs if you want to make it even more filling. As with most things around here, alter to your taste.
- 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 large), cut into 1/2'' cubes
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- salt + pepper
- 2 large apples, diced (granny smith, fuji, honeycrisp etc.)
- 8 cups packed baby greens (arugula, kale, red romaine...a mix looks pretty)
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
- // dressing //
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400'.
Put a drizzle of olive oil in a pot and add the quinoa to toast over moderate heat for two minutes. Add 1 1/3 cups water and bring it to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15-18 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa and set aside to cool.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and hearty pinches of salt and pepper. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes until golden. Let them cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, mustard, olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cooled quinoa, potatoes, apple, greens, parsley and onionand toss everything to coat. Serve immediately.