With the exception of today’s much needed torrential downpour, the past week and weekend were filled with hot and heavy summer days. Days that should always be spent at the beach or by the pool, with light lunches, cold drinks, and lots of sun screen.
Until recently, my choices for cold drinks were juice, cold water, or pop. Not very inspiring or sophisticated, I know. But when you don’t consume alcohol, there aren’t many choices – or so I thought. For the longest time I was stuck with drinks that were too sweet when I was out at restaurants or at friends’ parties (and even my own get-togethers). But not anymore! That is because last weekend, my buddy Amélie introduced me to the world of mojitos unmarred by alcohol.
In this awkward transition time of spring into summer, when the farmer’s markets haven’t quite opened up in full, and your taste buds can’t decide if you’re ready to switch to more raw and cold salads yet, it’s handy to have a recipe around that is straight forward and prepares you for the summer bounty to come.
Quinoa, the magic grain historically cultivated by the Incas, has risen to the top of staple grain lists held by nutritionists, health and sports enthusiasts, and eco-conscious families. Personally, I like quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) for its texture and versatility. When it’s cooked well, it’s slightly crunchy, just a tad moist, like eating a million tiny chewy balloons. It leaves you feeling great because it isn’t a true grain – it’s actually a seed! So you don’t get the same heavy bloated feeling as from white rice or pasta. Plus, it is also a complete protein and gluten free!! It can be used to replace rice or couscous, as a bed for tagines, stews, and chilies. It can also be made into salads which are great for a lunch picnic on a hot spring day or an entrée at a first-bbq potluck party.
The quinoa salad I had tonight takes on a Mediterranean taste, employing roasted vegetables, mint, feta, and a hint of citrus. With the nights cooling off, it’s easy to roast the vegetables in the oven. When it gets hotter, I’ll be thinking about firing up the barbeque, or just going raw!