[Near the lighthouse, June 2011.]
Sunday was this really gorgeous day of sort of meandering about and doing all the things I like to do. I woke up (very) early. I read the Sunday Times. I baked blueberry muffins. I went for an 8-mile run. The sun came out. I drank a rather large coffee. I went ‘cross the bridge over to the Marin Headlands and walked around in the strangely humid afternoon and then went to Sausalito to catch some sun and was treated to an ice cream (!). I watched the end of the Giants game and drank a Full Sail Pale Ale. I ate roasted cauliflower for dinner and went to bed on the early side. I don’t know — it was just a day. But it was magic.
Also magic is this sun — San Franciscans, have you been outside? I want to eat up this afternoon with a spoon, preferably after I douse it with chocolate sauce. I am going to run and run later down through the park and along the ocean and back up again before the fog comes in because California in June, when it behaves itself, is nothing short of amazing. Then I will make veggie burgers with lots of avocado and cheddar cheese and baked potato and sweet potato fries for dinner.
For my lunch today I ate leftovers — leftovers I am stretching out for as long as I possibly can because they’re the best kind of leftovers: crunchy red quinoa coated with sharp-sweet pesto and swirled with lots of vegetables, whatever you have that’s good and green and fresh. It’s my new favorite thing and it’s so easy; you can eat it warm, as we did last night, or cool, as I did earlier. You can add more or less pesto as you like, skip the green beans or stir in an extra handful. This protein-rich, incredibly addictive two-pot meal I surely will make again and again — probably next in two days, when my current store has run out. I can’t help it.
I came up with this hodge-podge as I so often do when I’m staring down the fridge, starving and bored with the usual and wanting to use up the miscellany. This time I had basil (pesto, of course), a bit of spinach, some green beans, half a red onion on hand. My immediate thought was to make a pesto-pasta sort of thing but honestly, I only eat pasta about once a week because while it’s easy it doesn’t always satisfy me. Or rather — I’m obsessed with quinoa, as we all know, so my next thought was to make a pot of quinoa, toss it with homemade pesto, slow-cook the vegetables with some chickpeas, and hope for the best. Would it be odd? Maybe. Yet I had a feeling …
Bless that feeling — my intuition turned out to be right on. This has fast become a new summer(ish)(and yes, I am calling ‘summer’ in San Francisco ‘summer(ish)’ for the duration, given the mercurial weather here) staple. I can’t wait for the tomatoes to come in, because I’ll use them here later in the season, and I might just go crazy and throw in some chard, too. Quinoa, often called a ‘super food’ because of its high protein count, to me is super because it’s so versatile as well as being healthfully delicious and simple to make. I cook it probably twice a week or more in various permutations, and never tire of it. But you can read more about that here — in the meantime, quinoa + pesto = summer(ish) love. Also, dinner.
Red Quinoa with Pesto, Chickpeas, and Vegetables
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into quarters
1/2 pound spinach
1/2 pound broccoli florets
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup pesto
Cook the quinoa in 2 and 1/2 cups water (bring to a boil then simmer), about 15 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, saute the onion over medium heat in two tablespoons of olive oil until softened. Add the green beans and cook for about five minutes. Add the spinach and broccoli and a splash of water and cook until the spinach is wilted and the broccoli is just tender, but not mushy. Add the chickpeas and cook a few minutes more until hot.
Stir the pesto into the quinoa, coating well. Stir in the vegetable and mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.
Vegans: try making with a vegan pesto; it’s just as good.