August 5, 2013

QUINOA WITH SWEET TOMATOES, GREEN BEANS + BASIL

Even though it has been feeling a bit like winter here in Berkeley - we're talking plenty of fog, wooly socks, gray skies, high temps in the 60s - I know it's summer out there somewhere.

Every time I step into Monterey Market I see edible proof of mid-summer heat. A few weeks back I bought the most tender yellow beans. Peaches are bursting with sweet juices. Melons abound. And a few days ago I saw the piles. The piles of dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes. I smiled, did a little jig, and snatched up pounds of the beauties. For decades, I was committed to heirloom tomatoes, then I discovered dry farmed Early Girls. They don't look too snazzy when you compare them to the heirloom lookers, but man oh man the Early Girl flavor is incredible. Sweet, like candy.

Good tomatoes make this simple dish sing. A quick stint on the stovetop only heightens the sweetness of the tomatoes, then their juices mix with the garlic-infused oil, there's a slight crunch to the parboiled green beans, and the fluffy quinoa soaks up all the juicy tomato goodness and becomes almost creamy like risotto.


This dish is light, relaxed, and summery - it's delicious served with the Slow Roasted Salmon and Meyer Lemon Relish from my last post, or can stand on its own as a nice one-bowl vegetarian option. (Leave out the feta, and we can feed our Vegan friends too!)

The recipe is quite flexible....  You can eat it warm or at room temp. Leftovers are delish, and you can bring this dish to a potluck, or even pack some up for a plane flight as I did a couple of weeks ago. I can't tell you how happy I was at 35,000 feet, passing up airplane food to nibble on this quinoa. Yes, I was strapped into my uncomfortable plane seat, passing the time watching bad TV, but I had freshness in hand and it tasted darned good.


INGREDIENTS
(printable recipe)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • sea salt
  • a couple of handfuls tender green or yellow beans ( about 6 ounces), rinsed
  • 1 pound dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes or firm sweet cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into thin slivers
  • chopped fresh basil leaves (or micro basil if you have access to it)
  • optional: Crumbled feta

First make your quinoa: Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa with cool tap water, then place quinoa in a medium saucepan. Cover with 2 cups water and add a pinch of salt. Place saucepan on the stove top and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn down flame to low, cover and simmer quinoa for 15-17 minutes until tender. Let cooked quinoa rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Let the quinoa sit in the saucepan while you prep the other ingredients.

The beans: Trim stem ends off beans and parboil them in salted water for 3-4 minutes until vibrant and tender. Immediately spread cooked beans onto a clean dishcloth and allow them to cool a bit before handling. Once the beans are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite-size pieces. Set beans aside while you prep the tomatoes.

The tomatoes: If you are using Early Girls, slice them into 6-8 wedges. If you are using cherry tomatoes, go ahead and cut the cuties in half. ( By the way... do you use a serrated knife to cut your tomatoes? I find that it's so much easier.) Heat olive oil in a medium cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add garlic slivers to the hot oil and let them sizzle for 20-30 seconds, then add tomatoes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the tomatoes cook for 2-3 minutes. Take pan from the heat and add the sliced beans to the tomatoes. Salt to taste.

Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl, stir in tomatoes, beans and all the juice and goodies from the pan. Salt to taste. Top with chopped basil and feta.  

If you are planning to take this salad on a picnic or for a work lunch, I suggest adding the feta and basil just before serving.


Serves 2-3 as a main; 4-6 as a side

Psst... Any of you with kids at home, you know that the start of school is fast approaching. If you're anything like me, you are desperate for school lunch inspiration. Katie Morford from Mom's Kitchen Handbook has come to our rescue - when Chronicle sent me a copy of Katie's new book, I was stoked.  Best Lunch Box Ever: ideas and recipes for school lunches kids will love is packed with tasty, healthful lunch ideas. Lilah is already scheming up what she wants from Katie's book. Phew!

47 comments:

  1. A beautiful summer salad! Your pictures are gorgeous - especially the first one.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rosa:) I just can't get enough tomatoes this time of year!
      xoxo
      E

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  2. This is definitely the kind of simple summery salad that I always want to eat when it's hot out. Bonus points for leftovers!

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    1. Eileen, any excuse to eat lots of ripe tomatoes makes me happy and I agree leftovers are always a good thing:)
      xoxo
      E

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  3. Absolutely perfect for summer! Lovely recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katrina, thanks! Happy summer to you.
      xoxo
      E

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  4. This looks like a wonderful summer dish! I have to make it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, I hope you enjoy:)
      xo
      E

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks Bev.... your comment made me freaking smile big time;)

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  6. The tomatoes are gorgeous and I'm a bit jealous! Hopefully tomatoes will appear soon in my local farmers market. I love the nutty flavor of quinoa and the salad looks so fresh and healthy!

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    1. Jess, tomatoes have got to be coming your way soon. You mentioned a July heat wave... and that always means sweet tomatoes, right?
      You are so right, the nutty quinoa is great with the tomatoes. The dish feels so light but hearty at the same time.
      xoxo
      E

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  7. Such a beautiful dish, I love everything about it. Keep enjoying your summer, hugs!

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    Replies
    1. Najwa, thank you! Hugs back at ya.
      xo
      E

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  8. I'm always amazed at how much cooler the East Bay gets than the rest of the Bay Area. I've learned my mistake when driving there with nary a cardigan nor jacket. Brrr! Now, if only I had a lovely salad like this then to take my mind off the chill. ;)

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    1. Carolyn after living in Berkeley for decades you'd think I know better, but I still am shocked every time we have a cold summer;) Duh.
      xoxo
      E

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  9. Having lived in the Bay Area my entire life, it still amazes me on how we have micro-climates. I am only about 30 minutes from you however, I am typically 20 degrees hotter than Berkeley on those summer days. Often I will head to 4th street and the weather is the polar opposite. This salad looks and sounds amazing! Love that you brought it on the plane - very smart! Have a super week! Lisa
    BTW - when is your book due to be released? Smile!

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  10. Lisa,

    I know! I head over the hill and it's hot hot hot while here it's winter;) And to tell you the truth even 4th street is warmer than my little neighborhood.

    So sweet of you to ask about the book. It doesn't come out until next August. Such a long wait!

    xoxo
    E

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  11. This looks perfect. I've got all of the fixings on hand as we speak. Thank you! And I so hope you get warmer temps soon :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The weather report predicts a high of 61 here in my town... That's just wrong;)

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  12. Can you believe I have never tried quinoa? I know, shame on me! Your dish looks gorgeous, Erin. I'm having tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner these days, so I can totally relate!

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    1. Madga, quinoa is totally worth a try. The flavor and texture make a nice alternative to rice, and quinoa can be used in all the same recipes. Plus quinoa is packed with protein and so good for you. If you do give it a go, let me know what you think. I'm curious to hear:)
      xoxo
      E

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  13. Early-girl tomatoes! Gorgeous and delicious. I am blown away by your photos. The way you make those vibrant red tomatoes dance right on the screen. You just draw the life of the food right across to the viewer's eye. Wow!

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    Replies
    1. Atmoseats, you are too kind!
      xo
      E

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  14. This looks so good! Just so happens that I picked green beans and tomatoes today from my garden! Will be making hopefully tonight!

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    Replies
    1. Heather, lucky you. While I do love those dry-farmed Early Girls, there's nothing like your own homegrown veg, just picked from the garden!
      Enjoy!
      xo
      E

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  15. Simplicity, short list of ingredients, great flavors - I love everything about this recipe!

    and first photo is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. M, short and sweet - that's kind of recipe I like too;)
      xoxo to you,
      E

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  16. We made something so similar to this for supper last night! Such simple, gorgeous, summery flavours :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :)

      We can't go wrong enjoying all these great summer flavors, can we? I love summer fruits and veg!

      Delete
  17. Urgh, the weather has been depressing :( Thanks for bringing some sunshine and light in the form of this beautiful salad!

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    Replies
    1. Depressing is right. What is up with the freezing cold?
      I keep hearing about people fleeing the Bay just to get some sun and heat. I want to do that too.
      I hope you and your cute family are well Kasey.
      xoxo
      E

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  18. Being used to 100 degree summers down here in So Cal, I'm absolutely loving this cooler weather, but I'm bummed for you No Cal folks! I love a simple yet delicious quinoa salad like this. In fact, I took a visit to Montana last month and my brother made us a similar one to get us through a hiking and caverns adventure. It fueled us right up. :) Quinoa transports really well surprisingly.

    xox,
    Christina

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    1. Hey there Christina Marie! Nice to hear from you. Glad you are enjoying the cooler weather. 100 degrees is no fun either.
      The sun is out today and that's all I really need. The endless gray days are just no fun.

      I bet a quinoa salad would be great hiking food. You're so right that it transports really well.... I think it's my new travel staple.

      xoxo
      E

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  19. Perfect for summer, easy recipe - i love this recipe

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  20. That first picture totally takes my breath away - stunning work. And I really love the sound of this recipe - I often roast green beans and cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil so I know how well they work together. This salad just makes it even more perfect!

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! Green beans and tomatoes are so irresistible this time of year. I can't seem to get enough:)
      Hope you're well!
      xoxo
      E

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  21. It's been so cold and rainy here this summer that my basil didn't grow. And my tomatoes are sllowwwwwwwww, they are only now starting to ripen. But I have plenty of green beans! Sounds like the perfect dish, wish I had everything on hand right now. Darned chilly summer.

    I hope you were flying somewhere fun and special! And as I always say(?), there's no tv like bad tv;) xo

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    1. Oh no. I thought we West Coasters were the only ones with this cold summer weather. I figured you guys always got the heat out East.

      Maybe you'll get a bumper crop of tomatoes next month?

      Yes, bad TV is pretty darned good. I fully indulge every time I fly.

      Take care Emma!
      xoxo
      E

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  22. I planted what I now realize was too many cherry tomato plants, and so these days we're swimming in the sweet things. I'm promptly setting out to source some good green beans, and can't wait to make your gorgeous, fresh salad.

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    1. Lucky you with all of those tomatoes! We never seem to get enough heat in my backyard. Enjoy all that summer bounty Elizabeth!
      xo
      E

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  23. Those early girls are beauties! The flavor is amazing--I wish more local farms would grow them here. They sound fantastic with the quinoa and feta.

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    1. Lisa, I'm so obsessed with the early girls. And I've heard that you can dry farm any tomato - wow does that flavor deepen.
      Hope you're well.
      xoxo
      E

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  24. I am a quinoa devotee but this is now the only way I want to eat quinoa for the rest of the summer. I sometime swap the basil for mint and the feta for pecorino. Yum yum yum yum yum. I used the same preparation for millet the other day too. Thanks for shaking up my grain rut!

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    1. Buckwheattobutter, Thank you for this sweet note!

      I'm glad to be of help with your grain run;) Pecorino and mint sound so tasty here as well. And millet... Yum yum indeed!!

      xoxo
      E

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  25. I love quinoa!!! I make a dish like yours HOT. I will try it as a salad!!! Thanks!!

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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