The weekend is here!!
I’m particularly excited this Saturday eve because I’m heading out east for some spahhhing with my girls, Yam and Lettuce. It’s been a little over a year since we’ve all been together, though with our daily email chains, we get by without missing a beat about what’s going on in each other’s lives. We all met SO long ago in law school, were Katrina evacuees together and have subsequently traveled around the world together. And you know, if you can travel with someone, that friendship will weather anything.
It’s been a while since I’ve been anywhere. Home to Michigan doesn’t count and I haven’t been on a plane since my flight back from my not-so-relaxing trip to the Himalayas in May. MAY. That’s 4 months, which is like, 4 years in Buddha time. Restlessness has been setting in and I’m looking forward to a change of scenery, even if it is only for a few days. We actually wanted to do this earlier this summer, but Lettuce was in Paris with the BF all summer and had bridesmaid duties through September and Yam had a big trip to Africa in August amidst the Ebola outbreak. Busy summers for all meant pushing it back until now, and all three of us are ready for some R&R.
Plus, I’m still reeling this morning from some pretty shocking and devastating TV deaths last night. RIP Dr. Sweets and Harrison. Thursday nights are going to wreck me this season.
The next few recipes from the West jive with the laid back attitude of the area. They’re easy, take little time and are perfect when you need a “thoughtless” meal that is not PB&J, scrambled eggs, or chips and salsa. I’m as guilty as you are of the aforementioned indiscretions.
First, a salad. But not just any salad: Roasted Fig and Hazelnut Quinoa Salad. It is as perfect as it sounds and is also perfect for fall. Since now, it’s officially fall.
Let’s talk about some of the flavors of this thing.
Figs: Originating back in the Mediterranean a long time ago, they were planted early in Spanish Missions in California. Those “mission figs” were unique to the west coast and were that area’s only strain of fig until others migrated west from Europe and the East Coast. These sweet fruits are made sweeter by a quick jaunt in the oven for some roasting. Really quick, like 20 minutes. DON’T BURN THE FIGS. I may have done that with the first batch.
Blue Cheese: While not native to the West, Oregon does have its own claim to fame in the Rogue Creamery’s smooth, bold blue.
Hazelnuts: They’re more than just Nutella (I love Nutella! No hate here). If you’re eating an American grown hazelnut, chances are it came from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. These nuts are harvested once a year in the fall as the weather cools. Visit any farmer’s market this season and you’ll find them used in countless manners.
Combine all of the above with some quinoa, arugula and a light dressing and it’s a hearty salad that is a legit meal, not just a side dish. I served mine with some seared scallops simply seasoned with just salt and pepper.
- 1 cup arugula, washed
- ½ cup red quinoa, uncooked
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
- 12 Mission figs, stems removed, and quartered
- 1/3 cup (or more) of roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 TB balsamic vinegar
- 1 TB sherry vinegar
- ½ TB maple syrup
- 4 TB light olive oil, plus a bit more for the figs
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Line a baking sheet with the figs and coat them with about 1 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for no longer than 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, add the quinoa and water and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa has cooked. I personally use a rice cooker for this.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegars, syrup and olive oil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the arugula, cooked figs, cooked quinoa, blue cheese, hazelnuts, and parsley. Add the dressing, season with salt and pepper, and toss thoroughly to coat.
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