Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wine and food-with-cheese night

Hope you've been enjoying the crafting posts I've been writing these days! There's definitely a few more up my sleeve, so stay tuned.

BUT, I think it's about time I started getting back into the cooking, don't you? It's been a few weeks since I moved into my new place and I finally felt settled enough to have a bona fide, intense cooking extravaganza this weekend!

My cooking mojo is back baby!

So what did I spend all weekend preparing? Well, to celebrate my new apartment, I decided to throw a wine and cheese ladies night. But anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat. And after a long day at work I need something more substantial than just cheese. So I decided to turn the evening into a "wine and food-with-cheese night" since almost every single dish I served had some cheese in it. Yes, including dessert.

I made these goat-cheese truffles again, and they were a big hit.
They're like a tangy cheesecake filled chocolate truffle. SOOO good! 
(You can find the recipe at my original post)

I prepared a total of 4 savory foods and 2 desserts, and I have to admit, they all came out better than I expected. No duds this time baby! As such, I'll write up a short little blog post on each of the dishes, you know, to give them the respect that they're due.

And to kick things off I'm going to share with you guys what was (for me) the biggest surprise of the evening: a quinoa, watermelon, feta, and mint salad.

What was the surprise?? That it was good. Like really, really good.

Make this salad. Right now.

I recently saw a quinoa/feta salad on two different blogs (here and here), and it jumped out to me as a refreshing and light dish- perfect accompaniment to an evening filled with wine. But I'll be honest, I'm not a huge quinoa fan.

I found this tri-colored quinoa at Whole Foods. So purty.

Yes, yes. I KNOW it's this amazing super food. And I KNOW it's hip to like quinoa. But you know what? I find it kinda bland. And a bit on the soft side. Quinoa reminds me of couscous. And guess what? I don't like couscous either...

In the past, the only dish I've made with quinoa that I really loved was this hearty, Moroccan-inspired butternut squash dish with quinoa. But now I can add this salad to that list.

I can't really even explain why it was so good. The lemon dressing complements the lightness of the quinoa and gives it a punch of freshness and acidity it really needs. The watermelon adds more of that refreshing quality, with a hint of sweetness. The saltiness of the feta contrasts nicely with the fruit, and the extra layer of flavor from the mint and green onions adds to the savoriness of this salad.

It's a simple salad with simple flavors, but somehow the final product is much more than the sum of its parts.

So whether you love quinoa, you hate quinoa, or you've never had quinoa before in your life- I suggest you give this salad a try. I think it'll surprise you as much as it surprised me.

Yours in giving food a second chance,

Quinoa, feta, and watermelon salad, adapted from Tartlette

Note: this salad will last for at least a few days in your fridge, perhaps even longer. And I think it really does get better with time. So it's the perfect party food to make in advance!

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 - 3 cups watermelon, cut into small cubes
2 oz feta, crumbled
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped thin
1/3 cup loosely packed mint, chopped thin

juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, optional (I didn't use it because I didn't have it)
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Cook your quinoa: in a large saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa is translucent (about 20 minutes). If you like your quinoa cooked a little bit more, keep the lid on the quinoa (with the burner off) and let it steam a little longer. Cool completely.

2. While the quinoa is cooling, prepare your dressing. Mix the lemon juice and dijon mustard, if using. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk the liquid to turn your lemon juice into a lemon vinaigrette.

3. When the quinoa is cooled, add dressing and the remaining ingredients, and fold carefully. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.


Mara @ What's For Dinner? said...

I'm with you on quinoa... it's trendy right now, but my hippie mom tried to get us to eat it when we were younger and um, no. However, farro is quite the amazing grain :) And this salad looks phenomenal!

Renata said...

Sounds pretty good indeed! I've never had quinoa, maybe it's time to give it a shot :o) And those truffles, they look amazing! Must have been such a great time with your friends! Congrats on your new place!

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