Continued Adventures with Quinoa: Lemon & Herb Quinoa

I’ve made the Black Bean & Quinoa salad a couple times now since we liked it so much. It packs well in lunches, tastes good cold or warm, and was pretty easy to make. When planning the menu for today’s lunch however, I wanted to try something new since we had a guinea pig, I mean guest, coming over so I decided to play around with a Giada de Laurentiis recipe for Herbed Quinoa. After reading the reviews, I made some alterations to the recipe and came up with something everyone at the table agreed was a perfect summer luncheon dish (and would be ideal for a picnic or packed lunch). By swapping the chicken stock for vegetable, it’s a vegan or vegetarian dish. Here’s my version:

Lemon & Herb Quinoa

Lemon & Herb Quinoa

Ingredients:

Quinoa:

  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¾ – 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼  cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • zest from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

For the quinoa: Put all quinoa ingredients in your rice cooker and cook as you would white rice. When the rice cooker switches off or to the warming function, dump the quinoa into a large bowl and fluff with a fork (as you would couscous).

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Note: I made this dish the night before and kept it covered in the refrigerator. I tasted it right after mixing everything together and it was good, but the garlic (I was a bit generous in the serving since we love garlic) overwhelmed the herbs and lemon. By lunchtime the next day though, the garlic had mellowed and the herbs and lemon played stronger roles. It was delicious! We served it with Zucchini and Tomatoes (recipe will be posted later this week), green salads, grilled rosemary chicken, and white sangria (recipe will be posted later this week). We ate so much, we didn’t leave any room for the planned dessert (angel food cake with homemade berry sauce). I’m definitely looking forward to our dinner tonight of leftovers and the dessert!

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New Kitchen Toy, New Hobby

Although I’m posting about both at the same time, my new kitchen toy has absolutely nothing to do with my new hobby (go figure).  First up, the new toy:

Berry Strainer from Sur La Table with one can of black beans.

While searching for a copper bowl to give as a present (who knew no one keeps them in stock in stores anymore?), we came across this awesome silicone collapsible berry strainer at Sur La Table for the splurge-worthy price of $4.00.  Considering I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket at that moment, it was fate.  It’s currently my new favorite kitchen toy.  I don’t just use it for washing berries, though I have used it for strawberries and blueberries; it’s real handy trick is helping rinse canned beans and veggies.  This berry strainer is perfectly sized to hold 1-2 cans of whatever you need drained or rinsed.  One of my least favorite parts of cooking with canned beans was always the rinsing; I know how to use the can’s lid to hold in the beans while I fill and dump it with water, but I’m not fond of it.  It’s not worth digging out the colander and using it, but somehow holding a can under the faucet and letting the water run over the not so clean lid and into my food didn’t seem like it was the best way to get the job done. Enter the berry strainer: I dump the contents of the can into the strainer over the sink, run it under water, give it a couple shakes and wait till the water runs clear. End result: perfectly rinsed and rained beans. When making the Black Bean and Quinoa salad, I used the strainer to rinse the black beans, and to help me drain the canned tomatoes so the dish didn’t end up too liquidy. It’s dishwasher safe and collapses thin enough to fit in my gadget drawer so it’s easy to access while cooking.

New Hobby:

Completely unrelated to cooking, I’ve been having some fun lately with my nails.  It’s a bit strange really, since I’ve never been one for long nails and I’m not really into make up.  However, my skin has been acting up lately which doesn’t allow me to wear any jewelry on my hands and I miss having something sparkly or colorful to look at/play with.  Enter nail polish.  I’ve always had fun with random colors of nail polish, usually getting them for a couple bucks at the drug store and dealing with the endless chipping or flaking that comes with these no-name brands. My dad gave me a bottle of OPI nail polish, and I noticed how much smoother it went on, the higher gloss in the color, and how much longer it lasted before chipping.  My husband started encouraging me to stop spending money on the cheapies which just have to be touched up all the time or redone, and start getting the good stuff so I’ve been editing my nail polish stash.  Luckily, I came across a website that was liquidating it’s OPI stock, so I managed to pick up a few bottles at a great discount, and decided to try my hand at some of the nail art I’ve seen displayed on other people’s blogs and websites for the Fourth of July.  Here’s the result:

Fourth of July Nails

Fourth of July Fireworks Nails

The colors in the picture are a bit off (the background was actually a light blue, to give you an idea), but the fireworks actually looked pretty cute in person.

Trying to do a design on both hands proved to be a bit too complicated for me, so my left hand ended up with some fireworks, and some modified french manicure designs. Instead of the white for a traditional french manicure, I used the blue glitter nail polish I had used in the center of the fireworks on the other nails.