The hardest thing to do as a cook is to combine things that are healthy and local that also look and taste appealing. Sometimes it’s all in how you package the food. Rummaging in the pantry I saw cilantro, cherry tomatoes and half a green pepper that were just about done. I’d been wanting more protein and fiber, but my skills using quinoa and beans is sadly lacking. Recklessly I combined:
1 cup cooked* red quinoa [steamed using my rice cooker]
1 can of cooked black beans
fresh or frozen sweet corn
chopped green pepper quartered
I tossed the veggies with with a sweet plum vinegar, salt, cumin, chili flakes and olive oil.
I was crushed after my husband and step-son used their deer-caught-in-the-headlights blinking pose and my poor quinoa salad sat unloved in the fridge. After the third fridge day I was thinking I’d have to throw it out. What a waste.
Luckily quinoa is a forgiving ingredient. Like rice or cereal grains it stores dry for when you need it. It comes in many varieties and colours. When properly cooked*, it maintains it’s shape. In other words, it’s a perfect staple for kitchen sink cooking.
Our dad used to say you have to try everything once and if you don’t like it you never have to have it again, but the sneaky bastard would just wait a couple of months, prepare it a different way, and try us again. We were too young to remember.
Papa’s Rule regaled our childhood friends who still talk about our ability to sample or cook just about anything. It doesn’t mean we love everything, we just don’t get put off by one bad dish. Papa’s Rule has been a wonderful tool with my kids and granddaughter, accounting for things like a love of raw oysters.
So invoking Papa’s Rule, I grabbed a pretty organic squash and wondered if it would make for an interesting kitchen sink combination.
I cut the squash in half, removed the seeds and baked it at 375 Celsius till tender. I scooped the flesh and mashed it with a splash of fresh squeezed orange juice, butter and a bit of maple syrup. I layered the mash and the salad in the leftover skin and added a flourish of orange zest.
I haven’t served it yet, but I’m really happy with the result because it meets all my criteria. I like that the quinoa is Canadian and the squash too was from Boot’s Farms right around the corner in Scotland, Ontario. Besides if the boys get hungry, there are tinned kippers in the pantry too.
TIPS: *Rinse first. Toasting enhances the flavour of some types. Don’t boil, use the white rice setting on a rice cooker. Let it rest at bit before adding other ingredients.