Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shrimp-Quinoa Salad with Feta and Tomatoes

Hot nights:  if you skip the quinoa and buy cooked shrimp, this is a no-cook dinner.  Another option is microwave rice.
Coming back from Colorado (where we spent most of the summer with Dave working on our old house and me writing the soup book), we took mostly back roads. You can go all the way from Colorado Springs to St. Paul almost without super-highways.   Perhaps it's possible to go all of the way, but we opted for a bit of interstate here and there.  (Once you get near the Twin Cities, it's a bit tougher to accomplish since someone changed the routes from roads to vrrrooomms years ago now.) What we saw, almost all the way, was dead corn.  Miles and miles of it.  Dried out, brown, or with sprigs and shadows of green here and there.  In some cases the farmers were just cutting it down unharvested.  The photos and stories of the drought when seen on tv are one thing; feasting your eyes on hundreds of miles of it is another.  Sad.  I occasionally tried to get a photo, but nothing really came out from the car window.  My mind kept going to increased fuel prices, food prices, and hunger.

Back in St. Paul, we found our tomatoes (planted early in July from volunteers growing in the flower bed or driveway cracks) grown from 6" or so to four feet by three feet.  I've never seen anything like it.  Neighbors say No, it actually didn't rain much.  It was pretty spotty.  Since we were spending  six or eight weeks elsewhere, we had no plan for a garden this year.  The volunteer plants, however, just called to us.  What the heck:  just throw them in the ground and see what happens.  Ha.

How that happens:
 You could be getting some scattered seeds from little critters sharing your crop with you. I've got volunteers coming up all over the yard from the fruit snatched by the ground squirrels last year. If they were in a half-way decent spot, I left them (but provided no special care); of those, some did well some didn't. courtesy Dave's Garden
Hybrids eat pretty well after all.

While it's still hot in St. Paul, I'm opting out of any real cooking.  We're just about at the point where, if the creek don't rise, we can live without any air conditioning.  (Working in our upstairs office is another story.)  Yesterday I decided to make a salad version of an old pasta favorite (spaghetti topped with tons of chopped fresh tomatoes smothered in shrimp, feta, and oregano) and even turned the stove on to make a little quinoa for a rounder meal.  Since quinoa takes about the same amount of time as rice (though it has tons more protein), and functions similarly, you could substitute rice if you like.  I'm not a big fan  the microwave packets of rice personally (though others are), but they have the added advantage of keeping your kitchen cool and are perfect for small quantities. This recipe would keep you in dinners a couple of nights, but you might want to save a portion out to dress separately the second night.

Wine:  Crisp, cold Chablis.

shrimp-quinoa salad with 
feta and tomatoes
         2 generous servings

4 cups salad greens torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup cooked quinoa
kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
pinch crushed red pepper
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 # cooked shrimp
2 tablespoons each minced red and green bell peppers, opt.
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a tiny drizzle for the quinoa)
One lemon:  juice half and use rest for garnish on platter
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives, optional

To assemble salad:  

1.  Line edge of medium platter or bowl with salad greens and place quinoa at center.  Sprinkle quinoa with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and drizzle with just a tiny bit of olive oil.
2.  Top quinoa with chopped tomatoes and layer the feta and shrimp on top.
3.  Add minced bell peppers to shrimp for garnish.  Sprinkle all with oregano.
4.  Drizzle first olive oil and then lemon juice over entire salad.  Sprinkle all with salt and pepper and top with olives, if using.

COOK'S NOTE:  This recipe doubles easily.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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