Because I’m a big believer in making holidays last all week whenever possible. PS. Hot, steamy, summery wonderful July coming at us in T-1 day. How.
This morning I’m writing on-location in a little porch with arched doors and windows, sitting in a chair made of branches (no, like, branches from a tree, curled up into a kind of loopy circular chair formation) = basically I’m in the movie the Hobbit. The cabin that we’re staying at with Bjork’s family for our lil’ vacation this week is just incredibly charming. There’s a huge scenic patio (pictured on Insta yesterday!), not to mention arched everything, the biggest stone fireplace I’ve ever seen, twisty, knobby reclaimed wood for days, one of those zippy, sliding ladders that allows you to crawl up to a secret loft with two tiny beds, a hot tub, secret doors and passageways, and real life nooks and crannies of all sorts around every corner. HOBBIT HOUSE. I’m serious.
This cabin trippy is a little different than our usual one with my family because Bjork’s family is a whole five people smaller than our jumbo crew, and there are no youngins to keep the action going which means that ultimate relaxation and slow down time is the name of the game. So right now the agenda for the trip looks something like this:
Coffee and slow, yummy, at-home breakfast (I’m 900% hungry for these pancakes right now)
Patio convos and stories and star-gazing at night
Books and books and books, leading to naps and naps and naps
Drives, because the highway that leads up to this cabin is considered one of America’s most scenic byways –> THANK YOU
Small town exploring, like the town we at the base of this bluff that we’re on which has an adorable pie shop and a population of – wait for it – 66 people
Lunches and dinners like last night’s, where we overlooked the jaw-dropping view of Lake Pepin and wondered why everyone else in the world was not flocking to this destination immediately
Snacking like it’s my job, thanks to an excellent supply of fresh yummies packed my in-laws
I’m planning to share some pics here on the blog at the end of the week, but if you want to see what’s up before then you can find me sharing pics on Instagram. I’ll try not to get too over-sharey buuut no promises. When you’re staying in a Hobbit house, there is a lot to share.
Recipe today: quinoa salad.
Quinoa shminoa. Another one! and why are all the food bloggers always making quinoa salads? Are you annoyed? I’m annoyed, and mostly at myself. But annoyance quickly faded to insatiable desire for more quinoa when I took one taste of that quinoa soaked with the lemon herb vinaigrette. Holy summer freshness. That is something I need to be eating more of, all the time, every day.
The true reason for this garden veggie salad was that we had a get-together with friends on Saturday and I was in charge of bringing the salad. But when you have to bring a salad to an event where you’re not sure what’s being made as the main, sometimes it’s hard to find something “regular” enough to match with the potential meals. For example, I thought: Greek salad. I love Greek salad. But then what if the kalamata olives don’t jive with the ____ that my friend is making? So salad with fruit! But what if the meal already involves fruit and then everyone de-friends me for overloading them with sweetness?
Big decisions, here. Big time.
So if I’m being real and true, I’ll tell you that I almost wanted to just bring a salad in a bag with ranch dressing. I mean, colorful garden veggies and regular, simple herby dressing just kind of go with everything. But instead of being a salad in a bag person, I became a food blogger making yet another quinoa salad. And IT WAS YUMMY. When you let the quinoa soak up all that simple dressing, great things happen to your mouth.
The beauty about this salad is that you can toss up the quinoa and veggies with the dressing ahead of time, so it gets all extra flavorful and wonderful, but then just bring your greens and toss it all together to preserve the freshness once you get to your friends’ house. Or your potluck. Or wherever you’re going this Fourth of July week that requires you to bring salad.
This Herbed Quinoa Garden Veggie Salad is tossed with a lemon herb vinaigrette – so fresh and perfect for summer potlucks or patio dinners.
For the dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons warm water
1 or 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon agave nectar
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste (I started with 1/4 teaspoon salt)
a handful of parsley leaves
For the salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
8 leaves romaine lettuce
3 large carrots, peeled
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup chopped herbs of choice (see notes)
Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
Puree the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Store in fridge until ready to use.
Cook the quinoa according to package directions. When finished cooking, chill in the fridge or freezer. The texture of the salad is better when the quinoa is cool and crumbles a little more easily (instead of hot and sticky).
Shred the lettuce into long, thin pieces (or to whatever texture you like). Cut the carrots into a few big chunks and mince them in the food processor with 3-5 pulses. Toss the tomatoes, carrots, and chopped herbs together. Toss the cooled quinoa with the dressing; add the carrots, tomatoes, and herb mixture. When ready to serve, toss with the lettuce.
For my herbs, I did 1/4 cup each of basil, parsley, and green onions (plus a little lemon thyme! yum).