We had an impromptu dinner at a friends house on Monday. There was a group text started in the late morning to have dinner that evening on a friends patio. They have a gorgeous view and the weather had warmed up a bit. Nothing fussy or elaborate, just grilling up a big piece of salmon, rice and I planned to bring a salad to share. There were chips and salsa. There are always chips and salsa at a backyard dinner now that I think of it. I crave this kind of thing - the patio dinners with friends. Going out to eat is pleasant, but it's meals with people I love that I soak right up - in a home, dirty dishes and all, mine or theirs, all of it. We drank wine, lingered around the table and laughed. I haven't practiced much of my mantra about the communal aspect of food, which is why I'm recently making more of an effort to have people over for dinner, or to gather some way, in any sense of the word. You see, when your identity is defined by cooking and blogging and writing books and recipes, people assume you make really good food all the time. But the thing is, a lot of the time I mess up, and it's not always good, and I've tried my hand at short ribs for Hugh or guests FOUR times and I can't get them right. So passively, I've let my errors every now and then back me into a corner of not having people over as often as I'd like. Some nights we have breakfast tacos for dinner, and you can't have people over for dinner and feed them breakfast tacos... except you CAN! I just learned that this week, inspired by a dinner with people whose company I truly enjoy. I am going to have people over and it doesn't have to be expensive or a grand effort, just an act of generousity with the intention of spending time together over a meal. It's an uncomplicated plan, really.
If you come to my house for dinner, there will be vegetables. I cook them much better than I do short ribs. I know I'm a little spotty when it comes to cooking meat, but I can make salad. I made a big batch of this dressing to have on hand, and then kept everything pretty and simple to go along with a protein of choice. Maybe some grilled shrimp or get a fresh fish filet at the market. The salad is just right - the easy, likeable sort. The perfect salad to share.
WINTER GREENS + CRISPY QUINOA SALAD // Serves 6
When cooking quinoa for this salad, especially to help it crisp up here, you want to use a 1/1.5 ratio of quinoa to liquid when cooking. For example, I cooked 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa in 3/4 cup vegetable broth. You want a drier, slightly undercooked quinoa before you fry it up so it gets crispy.
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 3/4 cup cooked and completely cooled quinoa
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 2 cups arugula
- 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- // meyer lemon yogurt dressing //
- 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. dried italian herbs (mine is a mix of oregano, parsley + basil)
- pinch of pepper
- 1/3 cup whole milk greek yogurt or sour cream
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Heat the coconut oil over high heat in a frying pan. Once it's hot, add the cooked quinoa and saute for about 2-3 minutes until dry and crisp. You want the steam to release and hear the crackling, add a bit more oil if needed. Set aside to cool completely.
Prepare the dressing. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, honey, salt, herbs, pepper and yogurt in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, taste for seasoning and alter as you wish. This can be made up to a week in advance.
Toss both greens in the dressing to coat, top with the crispy quinoa, hazelnuts and pom seeds and serve immediately.