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Picnic Fun at Blues on the Green: Quinoa, Vegetable & Black Bean Salad

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I am fortunate to be home all of this week and next, so I loaded up on produce at the farmers market on Saturday. Tonight, my friends and I went to an outdoor concert, Blues on the Green, to hear Asleep at the Wheel (awesome Western Swing band). Very fun and a beautiful Austin night.

Instead of buying food at the venue, we decided at 5:15 that we were going to picnic. I hit the pantry and the produce drawer and came up with a couple of things I could throw in the basket. I didn’t have any meat thawed, so for my protein I decided to make a quinoa salad with black beans. If you aren’t familiar with quinoa, it is a grain that is high in fiber, but also high in protein. That’s a powerful grain, and I’ve started using it instead of rice.

I literally threw this together with what was in the pantry, but have included some modifications that I would add if I’d had them available – namely the cilantro and lime for a little flavor. Also, we ate it cool because we were picnicking, but you could easily serve it warm as a side.

I also made a cucumber, tomato, artichoke salad, but it had some issues so I’ll spare you that recipe for now. I promise to refine it and post it later.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Quinoa with Black Beans, Zucchini and Mushrooms
1 cup quinoa
2 cups broth (you can substitute water, but I like the savory flavor from using chicken broth)
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
cilantro, chopped

Place the quinoa and broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and lower heat to simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until tender.

While the quinoa is cooking, warm olive oil in a skillet. Saute the mushrooms and zucchini until tender. Add cumin, salt and pepper and stir to season well.

Combine the quinoa and the vegetable mixture in a bowl. Add black beans and stir to combine well. Add cilantro and lime to taste. Re-season with salt and pepper if necessary.

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Austin Farm to Camper?

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I didn’t make it to the farmers market this week because the family went to New Braunfels for Memorial Day weekend. Luckily I had some leftover veggies in the fridge from last week and I got fresh eggs from my colleague at work. I had just enough supplies to make my famous Antipasto Pasta Salad (one of Ginger’s favorites) and some deviled eggs. Yum!

Some of you have seen my Antipasto Pasta salad recipe before. I decided to make it a little healthier by adding some veggies to the mix so I did a rough chop on some asparagus, peeled carrots, and squash and blanched them for the last two minutes of boiling the pasta so that they would still be crunchy but not too crunchy.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you enjoy the AntiPasto Pasta Salad.

Gourmet, June 2004
Makes 6 main-course servings.

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb rotini (corkscrew pasta), freshly cooked to tender, rinsed under cold water, and drained – I used whole wheat penne and it was great
1 (12-oz) jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
1 (12-oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1/2 lb mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 lb thinly sliced sweet soppressata or salami, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 lb Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
**I added the chopped blanched vegetables here. I used about 4 spears of asparagus, 1 small squash and 2 peeled carrots. Did a rough chop and then threw them in with the pasta for the last two minutes of cooking the pasta. This blanched the veggies but kept them crunchy.

Whisk together red-wine vinegar and olive oil in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and
toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Deviled Eggs
There isn’t anything special about this recipe other than using fresh farm eggs. Farm eggs taste so much better than grocery eggs; it’s completely worth the extra money.

10 hard boiled eggs
dry hot mustard

Boil, peel and cut the eggs in half. Scoop the yolks out into a bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Mix in mayonnaise, mustard, a little dry hot mustard, a little cayenne and salt to taste. I don’t measure – I just add a little and taste, add a little and taste until I feel like it’s right. Spoon the yolk filling into the egg whites. Sprinkle a little paprika over the top.

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