We’re feeling a little porky chez Superspark. Lest those who know me start to worry, I realize that by all objective standards, we don’t have to trim down at all. But you know when your clothes start to feel just the teensiest bit snugger than is optimal? And when your tiniest pants, the ones you use as a measuring stick for weight loss and gain, begin to look just a little too tight for public viewing? It’s just no good.
But on the plus side, I suppose, the slight discomfort of feeling plump makes me want to eat only the very healthiest of food. [Not that that’s what always happens in practice, mind you, when faced with temptations.] On top of that, we’re off to Boston and Maine in a mere 10 days or so to celebrate Zarin’s wedding and no one wants to feel tubby when seeing far-off friends.
Thank goodness for grain salads at moments like this. I’m all for leafy green salads, but they have their flaws. For one, to make green salads, you have to have fresh veggies in the house (duh). And second, they don’t make great leftovers. What was delightfully fresh and crunchy for dinner one night is a soggy limp mess by the time you pull out the leftovers for lunch the following day. So score one for grain-based salads, which are nutritious, long-lasting, and travel well. Expect to see a number of them in the days ahead as Dylan and I try to get back into fighting shape.
Originally found in the July 2007 issue of Gourmet (and here on Epicurious), this particular salad is another good way to use one of my favorite grains, quinoa. A pretty innocuous little salad, it won’t bombard you with overwhelming flavors, but with a very light dressing and some easy add-ins (tomatoes, scallions, and black beans), it’s the perfect antidote to feeling sluggish and unhealthy.
Black bean and tomato quinoa (serves 4)
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quinoa
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
2. Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
3. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.
4. Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.