August 08, 2011

BSP2 Part Two: Who Made the Quinoa Salad?

For someone who travels as much as I do, you'd think I'd be a light packer.

I consider it a success if I can manage to pack for a week with just five pairs of shoes (I’m counting my running shoes as part of the five, mind). While I do plan ahead, and know exactly what I’ll be wearing when, I like to have options, shall we say. And then there’s the matter of the “shop opp”. Even with the smallest of suitcases, I always bring a fold up bag that expands to duffel size proportions. Because you just never know when a shop opp will present itself.

But when I went to Big Summer Potluck, I was determined to bring just a carry on. Criteria were simple: only three pairs of shoes – max. Room for an optional top (or two). And most importantly: space for my potluck salad ingredients, which included six cups each of cooked red rice and quinoa. I felt practically empty-handed as I wheeled my cute little pink Zuca through the airport.

I’ll spare you the details of the delayed flights, the six-lane freeway closure, the fact that I couldn’t find watercress for the salad. What matters is I finally arrived at the Anderson home –the setting for the first evening gathering and our kick-off potluck dinner – salad in hand.

The fabulous Anderson home

High stakes when you bring food to a food blogger event and it’s being hosted by Pam Anderson. Even higher when’s it’s a gluten-free affair. But people who are obsessed with food are generous souls, and seek nothing more than to gather round the feast. Because we all know that every dish is made with love, spiced with humour and served with pride.

And so my quinoa salad was eaten down to the last bite. And me, the very proud lighter packer, went home with the biggest (and heaviest) prize of all – a glorious candy apple red Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Betty, as she is proudly named (thanks Jenny), now sits on my kitchen counter. A constant reminder of the generosity of spirit that is BSP2. With thanks to Kitchen Aid and eight second hugs all around for the fabulous Andersons and Erika of The Ivory Hut.

Betty, comfortably at home at chez duckandcake

Red Rice and Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries, Walnuts and Capers
serves 4 as a side dish

I knew the salad was a hit when The Tough Cookie came downstairs during dinner and demanded to know "Who made the quinoa salad?"  This salad is dedicated to Gail, who will make it, and Jackie, who will eat it.

1 cup each cooked red rice and quinoa, rinsed and drained
⅓ c chopped walnuts
⅓ c dried cherries
1-2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Zest of one lemon
¼ chopped mint
½ c chopped watercress (or chopped spinach)
2 tbsp minced chives
Salt (optional)*

*Salting the rice and quinoa while cooking, and the addition of capers to the salad, should make the salad plenty salty.

Combine all of the ingredients together in an attractive bowl and serve. The salad is a great make-ahead dish; refrigerate several hours ahead and bring it to room temperature before serving.