A Culinary Quest

Two posts in such a short time is really amazing.  This is what happens when you are on a Culinary Quest.  Somewhere around 2004 I began embarking on an amazing virtual journey.   Once a year I have traveled the world and sampled culinary delights from India, China, Greece, Spain and my neighbors to the north, Canada, and so many more.  Zaar World Tour, ZWT as it was called, was a great time to enjoy and experiment.  

This year we started a new journey, Culinary Quest.  So far we have visited Russia where I enjoyed borscht (Chicken and Vegetable Borscht) for the first time.  I hopped back and forth from Russia to the southern states of the U.S.  While in the south I sampled Country Fried Pork Chops with Cream Cream Gravy, Country Fried Meatloaf Sandwich and found an another amazing sandwich, Fried Green Tomatoes BLT.  All of these wonderful dishes I have been able to make and enjoy gluten free.  

The road on my virtual journey has now taken me and others to South America and Italy to enjoy, sample and create.  Each country, each cuisine offers it’s own challenges.  While in Italy I enjoyed Simple Puttanesca Sauce, one of the 9 nine amazing super sauces commonly used in Italian cooking.  In South America we were given the challenge of creating a dish using the Grain of the Gods, Quinoa.  

Quinoa has been dubbed a “Super Food”.  The crop is grown for the edible seeds which can be quite bitter if not washed thoroughly.  Fortunately, most producers wash the grain to remove the bitter coating.  The coating is natures way of protecting the crop.  

Combine the Grain of the Gods with black beans and you have an amazing and nutritious meal.  Black beans are common throughout Latin America, Cuba and even Creole Country in Southern Louisiana.  Black beans are low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein, fiber and potassium.  

My creation for this challenge combines quinoa with black beans and the abundance of the summer with fresh corn, peppers and tomatoes.  First, I assembled all the ingredients and went to work, chopping and dicing.

 Quinoa and Fresh Vegetable Salad

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 ear fresh corn, husked, silks removed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 vine ripened tomato, seeded, diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 small to medium jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely minced
1/3 cup black olives, sliced
 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
 1/2 cup Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa under running water.  Preheat a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add quinoa and lightly toast grains until dry and fragrant.  Add in the vegetable stock, bring to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Water should be absorbed and the grains will fluffy nicely with a fork.  Pour into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

While quinoa cools.  Wrap corn in parchment paper and microwave for 2 minutes.  When cool enough to handle cut the kernels as close to the cob as you can without scraping.  Do not scrape the cob.

To the cooled quinoa add in the fresh corn kernels,  black beans, tomatoes, diced bell pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, chopped basil and black olives.  Toss to combine.  With a citrus reamer, extract the juice and pulp from the lime and drizzle over the salad.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Add crumbled cheese, tossing to combine.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerator for several hours to allow the flavors to blend and serve chilled.

Serves 4 to 6

Hubby and I had a discussion on whether this should be served at room temperature or chilled.  I enjoyed it both ways but I think he may have been right with chilling first.  Please don’t tell him I said so.  We enjoyed this last night for a light supper served on baby mixed greens with Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Buns.


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