When my sister and brother-in-law first moved to Athens, OH a few years ago for my sister’s new job, they were less than thrilled about the dining options in town. But while the food options were somewhat limited and the number of non-chain restaurants were even more limited, they managed to find some really great gems in town ranging from an awesome hotdog dive to a great Middle Eastern restaurant. My favorite though, is Avalanche Pizza.
Avalanche sells bread at the farmer’s market on Saturdays in the summer that makes me want to cry it’s so good. As great as their bread is, it’s no surprise that their real focus, pizza, is no disappointment. The first time I visited, my brother-in-law pulled out their menu and we all gathered around to pick out a couple of pizzas. They were excited about the pesto chicken pizza, which they had had and really liked, but frankly it sounded a little weird to me because it had cashews. They really wanted to get it though, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of my hosts getting what they wanted, so we ordered the pesto chicken pizza and they let me pick another one. I have no memory of what the other one – the one I picked – was. My skepticism of the pesto chicken pizza vanished the second I took a bite. After that, all other pizzas paled in comparison.
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.
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!).
Where have I been, you ask? No, I haven’t fallen off a cliff and, no, I haven’t given up on blogging. The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of work, school, and play and I’m only just now catching my breath. I was hoping to make some lemon lime basil cookies to take on my trip to Philadelphia last weekend, but at 11:00 pm the night before we were leaving, I discovered that the huge tub of basil we had in the fridge had gone bad. Since it was so late and I was so tired, I just gave up and went to bed instead.
We made the trip down to Philly for my niece’s dedication, and it was a great excuse to get out of Boston and spend time with family. Sophie, my youngest niece, was adorable and her older sister, Amelia, was giddy with excitement with all the family there. Not only did we get to catch up with family and meet my sister-in-law’s newest nephew, but we got to do it over an amazing dinner at Yang Ming, considered by some to be the best Chinese restaurant in the country. The appetizers were outstanding and practically a meal unto themselves, and my jumbo shrimp with honey walnuts was even better than what I got in San Francisco. Who knew Bryn Mawr, PA had such good Chinese food?