Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Desert Quinoa

{Quinoa Salad with Mangoes and Curry Vinaigrette}

The movers have come and gone, the studio and house are empty, and tonight we're sleeping in the Scamp for the first time, just up the road in the bouldery majesty of Joshua Tree National Park. When we hit the open road at sunrise tomorrow we'll be leaving behind a beloved desert life. And, because that life quite often revolved around food, it seems only fair that I leave you with a beloved desert dish. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, for the uninitiated) isn't a true grain but actually a gluten-free seed. It's super high in protein, contains a perfect cocktail of essential amino acids and is closely related to *tumbleweed.* And it will blow your socks off tossed in this light yogurt-curry vinaigrette and accompanied by a cacophony of sweet chopped mangoes, scallions, lemon juice and a fistful of bright-eyed cilantro.  Since I can't actually make it for you (I wish I could) you'll have to make it yourself, and please do; it's so. damn. good.

Happy cooking, chickens. I already miss the desert. There will be tears tomorrow morning, I'm sure.

Quinoa Salad With Mangoes and Curry Vinaigrette
From "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison, with a few changes
Double the recipe. You'll thank yourself when you go back for thirds. Even better as leftovers the next day. Seriously, this recipe is a winner.
Makes 4 modest servings for 4 immodest eaters.

pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
2 large mangoes
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
3 scallions, including 1 inch of the greens, thinly sliced
curry vinaigrette (see below)
1/3 cup toasted almond slivers (if you fancy them)

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the quinoa to the boiling water. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Do not overcook.

Cut the mangoes by standing each 1 upright and slicing down either side of the seed, which you can't see, but which runs lengthwise through the center of the fruit. Score the 2 pieces, then bend the skin. Cut off the squares of mango where they attach to the skin.

Toss the quinoa with the mangoes, chile, scallions and vinaigrette (recipe below). Chop the almonds and add them last so they stay crisp.

Curry Vinaigrette
I recommend following the recipe at first, then adding more of this and that until you have your desired balance of flavors down. Make the vinaigrette while the quinoa cooks. 

1 garlic clove
salt to taste
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or sour cream
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons light olive or sunflower seed oil
1 teaspoon honey, if desired
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Throw everything but the cilantro in the food processor, adjusting flavors to your suiting (I add more lemon juice, curry, and yogurt than what the recipe calls for). Taste for tartness and salt and adjust if needed. Mix vinaigrette into cooked quinoa, add chopped cilantro. Great warm or cold; either way it's absolute summer heaven. Enjoy!


  1. Hope you have SUCH an amazing adventure, Lily! I can only imagine how sad it is to say goodbye to the desert, but what's ahead of you sounds pretty dang amazing as well. Good luuuuucckk!!!

    ps. when I first started dating my boyfriend, somehow no one had ever told me how to properly pronounce quinoa. So I totally pronounced it phonetically to him and embarrassment ensued.

  2. oh even *I* am going to be teary eyed!!!!!

  3. Good luck on your first night in the Scamp!! And also in the adventure that will follow that tearful good-bye you're going to have tomorrow. You're going to be posting from the road, right? Lily withdrawals would not be fun...not fun at all.

  4. Good luck for sure, what a wonderful time you are going to have. You are only young once, remember.

  5. Around here, it's pronounced keen-WAH!, such is the state of our affection. YOURS looks divine and makes me wish for two more ripe mangoes than can be scavenged at the moment.

    Scamp-er off! You can't shake us at this point, even on threat of new vistas and rationed out pictures of good long Biscuit. All the best wishes in immoderation, m'dear.

  6. Lily I am sending much love, best wishes and know that you will have some amazing adventures!!! I admire you mucho mucho!!! And enjoy every moment of life like you usually do!! XO

  7. I'm with Jamie, I feel the tears sprouting already.

    Best wishes, good luck, and safe travels! I'm looking forward to your updates from the road.

  8. oh what dreamy pictures! Lovely looking salad!! Funny, as I woke up thinking it was high time I made a quinoa salad (has not crossed my mind in over 9 years).. what a smile to see your salad when it popped up on my screen!! This recipe looks great! If only we could get mangos here!

  9. Oh hunny, hugs and kisses and only the best wishes, in immodest proportions.

    And that salad is precisely what my mangoes have been waiting for.

  10. Good luck as you embark on the great adventure - it's going to be *amazing*!!! I'm so excited for you!! XOXO

  11. We are sitting at the library teary and whimpering just a little at the sight of you ambling purposefully from one adventure to the next. We couldn't be any prouder of you if we tried.

    Well done, dear Lily, creating a beautiful desert life. Well done, dear Lily, moving gracefully from one clime to the next. Many thanks for the mangoes and all the brilliance of the desert, biscuit, you.

  12. looks delish...i make an indian styled one with yellow raisins...into the mouth of the wolf you go...im looking forward to all the indian food you may be posting in the future!!!!safe journey lady!

  13. i love you sweet girl and am so excited for your next year of adventure. having you in california has been the best gift in the world and we'll all miss you so much. bon voyage and happy travels, oh, and i'm calling you in 15 minutes. xo

  14. i'm pretty sad you're leaving the desert...but what fun you will be having!

  15. God speed dear girl.

  16. here's to new adventures, lily! i see great things ahead. and, i've been craving mangoes for a week now. not sure what that's about, but i obviously have to make this quinoa salad.

  17. this recipe is LA BOMBA!!!!!!!
    tnx for sharing.
    big hit on the homefront.

  18. ps. i made this last night and it ROCKED. i am so popular, and you are so fabulous. yay.

  19. can you figure out a way to blog from ze road please? i'm dying here. thanks!
    the management


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