Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Spring Quinoa Salad

People who love to eat are always the best kind of people – Julia Child 

It’s not like we can pretend to be otherwise. We are self-confessed foodies. A new restaurant, a new ingredient, new places rock our boat. Some of our best friends are foodies too which make it amazing to have dinner parties and travels.

But they (as in the rich food not friends) make for poor waistline.

As you know the other saying: Abs Are Made in Kitchen!

Asparagus

What we neglected in our 20’s, we are paying for in our 30’s.

In our quest to get back in shape this year and maintain it, we have indulged in salads. Sometimes simple with homemade dressing and other times festive and with flair to get us out of the rut and keep the enthusiasm going.

This quinoa salad is one in the middle – not everyday ho-hum but not too exotic. Something that can be conjured up on weeknight. Healthy, loaded with veggies, protein powerhouse. Here instead of cooking quinoa in plain water, cook it in water with spices and herbs. I used garlic, parsley and oregano but you could add whatever you have on-hand. Thyme, Cumin, Parsley – anything will work. It makes the quinoa savory. So you don’t really need separate dressing.

Coupled with chicken or salmon or tuna cakes make for a complete meal. Paired with wine can be dressed up for brunch. Versatile and seasonal. Weeknight meals don’t get much easier than this.

Spring Quinoa Salad

Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • 1 Cup Red Quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 – 10 cups water to blanch vegetables
  • 8 -10 asparagus stalks, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh peas, shelled
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2- 3 celery stalks diced
  • 2 radishes thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Boil water in a pot with clove, parsley, oregano and salt in it. When it boils, add quinoa. Stir and cook covered for 10 – 12 minutes till quinoa is cooked. Fluff with a fork and remove in a bowl.

  2. In the meantime, set water to boil in another pot. Add salt to this pot of water. Once boiling, add vegetables to blanch.

Add asparagus and let them blanch for 2- 3minutes till they turn bright green. Remove them with a pair of tongs.

Add carrots and peas and cook them for another 2- 3 minutes till they soften.

  1. Slice the asparagus into 1/4 inch segments on a diagonal.

  2. Add the blanched vegetables, celery and lemon juice to cooked quinoa. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with radish slices and serve warm.

Pinterest Told Me To Make: Rhubarb Strawberry Lemonade

Rhubarb Strawberry Lemonade

I have more than 100+ recipes pinned on my Pinterest Recipes Inspiration board.
They all sit there – as eye candy. The boards are usually full/ brimming with ideas but never are they implemented.I have really never attempted to make them.

I am sure that is the case of most of us who spend all our free time pinning. Doesn’t matter if its arts/crafts, style, home or food related.

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Cherry Blossom Festival @ Japantown

Northern California Cherry Blossom

Last weekend, while Vipul was in Japan, Varun, Dad and I visited Japantown in SF.

Handling an active 3 1/2-year-old and a new-born is a challenge. When the energy is not channeled, it leads to the said preschooler wanting to play with the baby, singing loudly near the baby waking the baby up from his nap (which he finally does after hours of nursing and fussing), which agitates the baby leading to loud crying, time outs and more crying.

The best way to prevent this cycle and drama that goes with it was to take him out for an hour or so.

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Sonoma Wine Tasting – The Local Way

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

Years ago, I should say a decade ago, we visited Napa Valley with a bunch of friends.

Some drove from Florida, others flew in from DC; one was in all the way from India.

We all were visiting San Francisco for the first time. And as with all SF itineraries, we all had Napa on our radar. An afternoon tasting wines, driving from one winery to another. Packing as many tasting rooms and flights in that short time as possible. Before we headed on to another SF vacation destination.

This was Dec 2004. We didn’t know our Chardonnay from our Syrah. We didn’t care what the area specialized in. It was drizzling and overcast. We just went with the flow.Napa was on the list. Napa was done.

Now, we are older, wiser and seem to know our wines and know which ones we like. So after a spell of rainy spring days, when the weather was warm and sunny last Saturday, we decided to head out to Sonoma Wine County.

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

With a baby and a toddler in tow, a family friendly winery was the name of the game.

Wine tasting was important but more important was a reasonable driving distance, picnic tables, food options and restrooms, bocce ball court, lawn to let Varun run about. We wanted to spend an afternoon at one winery where we could real, enjoy the sun, the views and the wine.

Larson Family Winery came highly recommended and it didn’t disappoint.

Since it was our first trip with the baby, and we were not sure how he would fare, we set out during his longish nap for the day. Vihaan slept during the hour-long ride to the winery. He fussed a bit but was largely in deep slumber.

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

Once past Golden Gate Bridge and Marin county, we saw vineyards dotting alongside the road, rolling hills in the distance, cows grainy on pretty green meadows and low hanging clouds. It was a beautiful day for a picnic at a winery. We picked up sandwiches, cookies and chips at a deli en-route.

Sonoma Vineyard

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

We reached the dirt road that led us to the winery. A barn, tractor, petting animals gave way to tasting room and a patio with tables overlooking the vineyards. The place was very casual, and laid back. Not as crowded as Napa wineries are. And certainly not pretentious.

One thing we didn’t realize was that we could have booked a table earlier. Luckily, there were still a couple of tables available for us to grab in the shade and  staked our claim.

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

Wines Sonoma

There were many groups with kids, toddlers, babies and even pets in tow. Some were there to just enjoy a sunny California day, others to celebrate a birthday. Food and drinks were spread out on the table. People were chatting, laughing, playing bocce ball or simply lazing with their glass of vino.

We had lunch while Vihaan slept. Along with table side wine tasting. Even mom had fun tasting wine. I abstained.

Sonoma County Vineyards and Wine tasting

Varun promptly wandered off with his bat and ball and played on the lawn and then went to check out the vines. He was hoping to see grapes but since its early spring, was disappointed to see tiny buds.

Well, we need to simply plan another trip in Fall when the grapes are ready for harvest. Hopefully then, I can indulge in one glass of their famous 3 Lab Cab!

Vihaan woke up and nursed and was awake for almost an hour while we were there. It was pretty hot by then even in shade and we decided to leave before the baby got too cranky. We headed back, a bit tipsy. Vihaan fussed a bit on the way back but slept right away, alongside Varun and grandparents.

It was an uneventful first outing. That’s good in my books.

Sonoma had us hooked with its pastoral beauty. Even though we barely have seen it, we can’t wait to try other wineries in the region. Further north are more famous ones. One winery, one weekend at a time!

Spring in Seattle!

cherry Blossom

It was a typical Seattle Spring when we were there last week for couple of days. Sun peeking out between clouds teasing us to come out only to start drizzling moments later.It was cool and refreshing to go outside especially since we were visiting from a hot and dry Hyderabad.

Cherry blossom

We went to checkout the annual Cherry blossom festival in the University of Washington. The recent rains had faded the blooms and it was past its peak. But I managed to relive the past experience when we visited with Varun with a couple of close up photos of the lovely pink blooms. They are a reason to visit the Pacific North West (PNW)  in April first week.

If that’s not inspiring enough, then there are acres and acres of Tulips and Daffodils fields blooming in Skagit valley for the entire month of April -though mid April is better as it is at its peak. Why plan a trip to Holland when you can experience these beauties in PNW?

Tulips

Daffodils

And if the trip to even Skagit valley seems like a long drive from Seattle ( and it can be on a sunny weekend when it seems like everyone wants to visit the blooming tulip farms), then Pike Place Market vendors offer luscious bouquets in every hue possible that you can’t resist to take home. From soft pastels to deep purples, single or double petaled, the prices and the fragrance is heady.

Liriope

Magnolias

Buds

Azaleas

Even along the streets,pops of color brighten up the otherwise rainy day. Liriope, Magnolia, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Purple rain flower,Cherry blossoms and a lot more. The light green buds unfurling with their copper pink tips, the white flowers of Pieris Japonica set against the deep red new growth reminded me of our own garden and trips to garden centers with my friend Donna who introduced me to the world of gardening!

Lone Orange Tulip

And if you are in the Pike Place Market, don’t miss the fresh fruits – rhubarb and strawberries that are in season! We had lunch at Matt’s in the Market – an old favorite where we literally enjoyed Spring on our plate – Fresh Halibut with wilted pea-shoots and radishes on a pea puree.  Delish with some PNW inspired devilled eggs. Vipul had his standard sandwich on a brioche. Trust me, comfort gourmet doesn’t get better than this!

Spring on a plate - Halibut with radishes and pea shoots

Burger on a Brioche

Gourmet Devilled Eggs

We enjoyed our two day visit to Seattle. Friends, flowers, fun and also shopping. But we missed Varun and couldn’t wait to come back home. After all home is where the heart is and we missed our heart more than he missed us!