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Archive for the ‘One-pot Meals’ Category

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Well, I waited and I waited until I could wait no more. The salmon (“THE salmon”) has finally made it to these pages. I don’t know what it is exactly about this dish, but it’s pretty much my favorite thing to cook and to eat. I guess it’s appealing because it’s light and rich at the same time making it appropriate for any season. It’s a serious crowd pleaser too: there are but two people I’ve encountered in a long line of salmon-loving folks who did not dig on this dish, and both of them are men with exceptionally bizarre food preferences (Hi Dad! Sorry, I’m calling you out but you know it’s true.).

I haven’t cooked this off of a recipe for years. If you have been enjoying this blog for the past several months then please thank this dish, because the demand for this recipe was certainly a motivating factor for committing my meals to an online and accessible format. I think the origin of this recipe was back in my early days of cooking adventures and was inspired by one I saw on allrecipes.com. A couple of modifications and you have my pièce de résistance. Heady talk, I know, but it’s just so delicious.

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For my final quinoa trick (at least for a while), I felt it was only appropriate to give a shout out to the ancestral origins of this seed/vegetable ingredient. That, and I think I’m truly obsessed with all things Peruvian these days – pisco, quinoa, Macchu Picchu, you name it. I first came across ‘quinotto’ (quinoa risotto…clever,  or annoying? I’m undecided) during one of the best dinners I’ve had in Boston at Taranta and have been enamored with the idea of this dish ever since. Peruvian restaurants seem to be the new sexy thing in innovative haute cuisine and I for one am firmly seated and belted in to the bandwagon. Last week was a true Peruvian dining-lover’s paradise at my house: one roommate and I went to a cultural benefit dinner at a local restaurant where we sampled authentic cuisine and were treated to a demonstration on how to make ceviche (coming soon to an Esculent blog near you!), and another roommate returned from her trip to visit Peru bearing a wealth of spices for us to experiment with. Oh happy day! With that, the quinotto was finally ready to make its appearance.

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So, the Irish aren’t known for their love of food and fine cuisine which has always left me slightly disappointed that I wasn’t born into a more food-loving culture like an Italian or Greek. Sure I’m also part French, but there’s only so much cream sauce one can handle. Needless to say, two of my favorite days of the month are when I get to join my friends Judith and Kosta for what is inevitably a delectable and indulgent feast that somehow always pays homage to Kosta’s Greek heritage and appreciation for all things gastronomically hedonistic. Sometimes I even get to request favorites, and at the top of the list is this unbelievably good and yet shockingly simple dish.

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Update: turns out we have finished product pictures! Now you see what I mean? Scrumptious.

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Okay, I tried my hardest and even allowed my bowl to become lukewarm trying to capture a good shot of the vegetables, but eventually my stomach started to grumble and I had to confront the fact that some meals do not photograph well. And although this meal is decidedly un-photogenic, don’t let the photography deter you…this is a wonderful way to enjoy some healthy and distinctive flavors. I have no idea what to call this dish since it is by no means authentic and I don’t know a lick of Arabic, but in any case this is another instance of fun with cleaning out the produce drawer in the fridge. I would recommend including chickpeas, leafy greens like kale or spinach or swiss chard, and tomatoes in a recipe like this one, but beyond that it’s chef’s choice as to what else gets thrown in the pot.

Most Middle Eastern dishes are served with pita or rice, I just happened to not have either of those available to me, although looking through some za’atar  recipes made me eager to try using it as a paste for a bready treat. Time for another trip to the grocery store, but not before I enjoy the rest of my spring vegetables. As a side note, I’m really digging on fennel these days. Like onions and carrots, it too can be made even more delicious via caramelizing. Sadly, caramelizing generates heat… I’m loathe to acknowledge that I”ll have to make some cooking adjustments soon, it’s almost getting too warm to have the stove on…almost. Must make pizza this week.

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Every now and then I get a little carried away in the produce aisle and end up in a frantic cooking spree necessitated by the many vegetables in the fridge teetering dangerously close to the edge of spoilt. This week I had all the makings of a Thai dish: snow peas, carrots, broccoli, ginger, basil and thai chilis. Of course in an effort to bring some color to these pages, I threw in red peppers for good measure.

Taste the rainbow:

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The great thing about a meal like this is that you really can throw in the kitchen sink. If you don’t have/don’t like the vegetables that I have chosen, you can use all sorts of alternatives. Mushrooms, cabbage, any number of meats, shrimp, or tofu, peanuts, squashes, even eggplant will all work. Traditionally, stir frys or vegetable blends might be served over rice but I chose to use quinoa here. Quinoa, as I’ll be sure to go into in more detail later, is a healthy whole grain prevalent in South America. It’s very light tasting when you’re looking for something carb-y but not heavy and can be used along with any number of flavors or ingredients. And it’s gluten free giving it wide appeal. The second greatest thing about this meal is that less than a half an hour separates you from sitting in front of a delicious bowl of this stuff.

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