I have a new favorite quinoa recipe. This southwestern quinoa salad now stands right at the top of the list along with the spinach feta quinoa that I fell head over heals in love with earlier this year. This one’s got some of my favorite ingredients and flavors: black beans, fresh veggies, some southwestern chili spice, and (my favorite) delectable, creamy avocado. Oh, and of course the wonderful nutty and nutritious quinoa with its fun, slightly crunchy bite.
If the ingredients alone aren’t enough to have you running to get your keys to go to the store, consider how easy and healthy this dish is. In fact, we first made this the morning we were heading up to Vermont for the day. As much as Joseph and I love eating out, we’re pretty frugal and besides, we had to save our money to stock up on cheese, maple syrup, and our favorite Vermont pepperoni. We hadn’t thought ahead and planned on making anything, but when I woke up the morning of our day trip, I figured, hey, that recipe looked pretty simple, I bet we could make it quickly before heading out.
I had never heard of pluots before, but when I saw the bright red color (not to mention their low price) I grabbed a few along with a pint of blueberries to make a galette for some Fourth of July festivities. Yes, I know, we’re halfway through July and the Fourth has long since come and gone. I’m embarrassing late telling you about this tasty tart. I’ll spare you the excuses and divert your attention back to the matter at hand: pluots.
Pluots are part apricot and part plum, but a little closer to the plum side. To be honest, I was a little nervous when I cut the first one open and ate a slice. It was incredibly juicy and a beautiful deep red color, but its pizzazz kind of ended there. It didn’t actually taste like a whole lot.
I’ve really come to love living in New England (despite the snowy winters, which I continue to despise), but I hate being farther away from my parents in DC. Particular days are harder than others, and lately it’s been harder than ever. I really, really enjoyed my brief trip over Memorial Day weekend and I’ve been feeling a little homesick ever since. As I’ve gotten over my awkward teenage years and independent 20s, I’m now realizing how cool my parents are. What can I say? I like hanging out with them.
And like I said, some days are harder than others. Today happens to be both Father’s Day and my sister’s birthday. My sister isn’t in DC anymore (and wasn’t even on the East coast this weekend) but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about family and wishing we were all in DC today. To make matters much, much worse, my grandmother had a bad fall last weekend and isn’t doing all that well. She’s ok, but she’s not great and that is more than enough to make me really, really wish I were in DC today.
This dish is so many things, and yet it is so simple. It’s the perfect side dish for summer picnics and barbecues, but it also easily works as a light, refreshing dinner or lunch. You could just as easily make it a day or two ahead as you could make it on a weeknight just before digging in. And best of all, it all comes together in an explosion of color and great textures.
It’s such a complete meal that I didn’t even notice until Joseph pointed out that it’s vegan. But between the almonds and the edamame, there’s plenty of protein and the carrots and scallions make it even healthier (and more colorful!). Sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, and honey give it a delicious Asian flare and dried cranberries provide a sweet, tart contrast (and even more color!).