So much for succeeding at National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo).
I had committed to writing a blog post every day for the month of November and I was kicking it!
Until I spilled the coffee on my laptop last week. I hope you never do this. It’s a terrible feeling as you watch, seemingly in slow motion, the coffee flooding the keyboard. Then, after you think you wiped it all up, you turn over the laptop and more coffee runs out of the ports. I wish I was kidding.
I have a very nice iPad but it’s not optimal for blogging. So I have taken the past several days off from NaBloMoPo to regroup, get my laptop to the iHospital (anxiously waiting for the prognosis), cook the Thanksgiving feast and entertain guests.
The Thanksgiving meal was a big success. The turkey cooked beautifully, using Ina Garten’s instructions for Accidental Turkey. As I’ve said before, you can never go wrong with a Barefoot Contessa recipe. Can someone please remind me next year that this is the turkey method I want to use again? Thanks.
There was lots of other good cooking too, including that pumpkin almond cake I mentioned previously (stay tuned for recipe). But one of my favorite things wasn’t even on the Thanksgiving buffet table. It was this harvest salad. I made it a couple of weeks ago, using quinoa, to take for lunch at the bookstore. Then I thought I’d try it with wheatberries because I love the chewiness. You could really use any grain you like here – barley, rice, farro. This photo shows wheat berries, and the one below it shows quinoa. They were both delicious, but I probably prefer the quinoa.
Harvest Quinoa Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary (I use Ancient Harvest brand – no rinsing required)
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
1/2 apple, preferably Honeycrisp, chopped into 1″ pieces
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
For the vinaigrette :
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsps. orange juice
1 tsp. maple mustard
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/3 cup good olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste (be generous)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine I cup quinoa with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a full boil for 5 minutes,then cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Turn cooked quinoa into a large bowl and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, spread squash on a baking sheet, coat lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven , without turning, for approximately 20 minutes, or until squash is easily pierced with a fork. The sides that were on the pan should be nicely browned and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Mix all ingredients, except almonds, with cooled quinoa.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl (or better yet, a small glass jar). Drizzle in oil, whisking continuously to blend. Add to quinoa salad and mix well. Top with almonds.
Keep in mind…you don’t have to be exact with the ingredients in this dish. If you don’t have an apple, use a pear. Try fresh cranberries. If you prefer a different kind of squash, go for it. And swapping out the goat cheese for cheddar would be an excellent thing.
SECRET INGREDIENT ALERT:
This cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar from LeRoux Kitchen in Portland (also Portsmouth NH) is unbelievably delicious in all kinds of things, but especially in this salad. I love their white balsamic vinegar too. This store has a fabulous selection of vinegars and oils (I’m partial to the blood orange evoo). See their website (www.lerouxkitchen.com) if you’re not a local.
Hopefully my laptop will be back and as good as new soon.
You don’t know what you’re got till it’s gone.