Happy Red Quinoa, Fennel, and Strawberry Salad

Early June is the apotheosis of the strawberry in this part of Europe – you can hardly turn around twice without spying them in the markets, peeking out behind garden fences, even growing wild in the forest. (Few things in this world taste better than wild strawberries plucked on a hike in the woods.) Inspired by this juicy bounty, (and feeling hungry for lunch,) I created this lovely lukewarm salad featuring the crunchiness of red quinoa, the crisp and soothing touch of fennel, and the aforementioned berry-infused glory. Besides providing a satisfying lunch before a long rehearsal in the opera pit  – next stop, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly – this would be a pretty addition to an early summer picnic spread.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup red quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped

7-10 ripe strawberries, tops removed, quartered

1 little pot goat’s or soy yogurt, unflavored 

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1/8 cup sunflower oil

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

 

Directions: Cook the quinoa in the rice cooker, then let cool. In the meantime, prepare strawberries and fennel. 

 

When the quinoa has reached room temperature, toss together remaining ingredients and season to taste. 

 

Use a few extra strawberries as garnish… 

 

This recipe, besides being delicious, is also gluten-free, appropriate for the later stages of the Candida diet, and vegan if you use soy yoghurt. 

In the meantime, my husband prepared his own lunch, his Käsespätzle 🙂 

 

Vegan Refried Black Beans in my Luxembourg Kitchen

image4Luxembourg, my adopted home, is a crossroads for many culinary traditions, but Mexican cuisine isn’t among them. My husband is a San Antonio native as well as a gifted Tex-Mex cook (you’ll also rarely find a better Käsespätzle or Züri geschnetzeltes than the ones he can put together.) So we often get a “hankering” for the bold, sensual tastes of the American Southwest. Without the proper ingredients, especially chiles, whipping up the perfect mole enchiladas can be a nightmarish task. For years, we’ve stuffed packages of dried ancho, guajillo, cascabel, morita, chipotle, adobo, and others into boots and rolled-up shirts in our luggage on the way back to Europe. Sometimes we forget until time to put that particular pair of shoes on again and feel the mysterious, disconcerting crunch of capsicums between our toes…

Nowadays, you can find tortillas in the shops, even a gluten-free version, as well as salsa (mediocre,) seasonings (worse than mediocre,) and even canned refried beans (ick.) A couple days ago, I tried my hand at creating a tasty, vegan incarnation of refried beans. I was very pleased with the results and am happy to share my recipe with you here. This should be especially helpful to my European readers, as I have kept the number of chiles involved to a minimum. As usual, I’ve done my best to find organic ingredients where possible. This recipe is lactose-, gluten-, sugar-, and yeast-free, and yes, it’s vegan unless you are dying for some butter to fry the beans.

You can also start out with a jar or can of black beans rather than dried, but where’s the fun in that?

Old World Refried Black Beans

Ingredients:

400 grams (14 oz) black beans, dried

Yeast-free vegetable stock, or make your own from scratch

2 cloves rose garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

a pinch of fresh or dried sage (I dehydrate our sage from the garden)

12-15 piquin chiles or equivalent, dried (don’t be afraid to use the seeds as well)

chili flakes, to taste

a few shakes of ground chipotle peppers

a pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp. coriander seeds

salt to taste

olive oil

zest and juice of 1 lime

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Pour boiling water over the dried black beans, enough to cover them plus a couple centimetres, and leave to soak overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the beans, pour new boiling water over them, and leave for at least an hour (all morning is ideal.) Drain and rinse again since they are stubborn, then cook for about an hour in the vegetable stock on medium-low heat, covered.

In the meantime, grind up the cumin seeds, dried sage, all chiles, cinnamon, and salt together with a mortar and pestle.

When the beans are finished cooking, remove most of the liquid, holding in reserve. Dump the beans in your food processor, add a bit of the broth and a few glugs of olive oil, and whir until you get that telltale refried bean consistency. Add more liquid and olive oil as necessary.image1

In a large saucepan or wok, heat up more olive oil on medium heat (or butter, if you prefer) then sauté the garlic for a minute, then add the ground spice mixture and sauté another couple of minutes. Add the bean purée and mix thoroughly. Cook about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently to keep your mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add lime zest and juice to the beans, then adjust seasonings to taste. You now have a delicious, basic refried bean paste for whatever dish you are preparing.image5 Kerry’s portion turned into chalupas compuestas (grilled tortillas, beans, gouda with cumin, cilantro, salsa;)image6mine sat atop a bed of whole-grain rice with lambs-ear lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cilantro,and salsa. image7

¡Buen provecho!