Friday, July 30, 2010

Sweet and Toasty Quinoa Salad

I arrived during a storm, just in time to see the ship come in from a day of sailing. She was crafted of wood, with a broad beam and a high bow, and she was to be my future home. Her sails hung loosely over the boom, having not yet been properly furled. A band of sailors were positioned all over the deck. They wore red, orange, or yellow foul weather gear, and they stuck out against the rain haze. The ship inched toward me, and I prepared to catch her lines. The smell of damp wood saturated my nostrils as the rain poured over the rotting docks. This was the smell I would come to love as home.

As soon as the lines were tied, and passengers were unloaded, I boarded the ship and was introduced to the crew. The current cook, whose position I would be taking over, was sitting on a cabin box pulling slowly on a cigarette and eyeing me with scrutiny. He had deep wrinkles on his face, and curly black hair that had not yet turned fully gray. He was the sort of man to sit with his legs crossed while he smoked, yet despite his loose wrists and his casual appearance, I soon learned that he had a temper which could chase a bear away from her cubs. We called him Crunch, though I never did learn why he was given that name.

Crunch wore dentures, which he often forgot to put in before he scurried up on deck to rage at the interns. This caused the crew to giggle, which only enriched his rage and lengthened the show. Crunch drank whiskey, and whined into the evening hours about why he couldn't stop his pursuit of oblivion. Crunch claimed to have spent 9 years in a Thai prison, though sailors are known to be storytellers.

The only one of Crunch's stories that I was relatively sure was true, was that he had a son who is a famous ballet dancer in New York. I could see the love he had for his son when he talked about him, which was rare but beautiful.

It's raining outside today, and the temperature and the humidity have reminded me of my first days on the ship, and of Crunch. I am wondering where he ended up. Rumor has it he signed on to another ship and eventually went AWOL somewhere in Canada, but then, sailors are known to be storytellers.

Crunch cooked everything in toasted sesame oil.

Sweet and Toasty Quinoa Salad
Heat 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil and add 1 1/2 cups quinoa. Toast the quinoa until it starts to brown a little. Add 3 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (covered) until all the water is absorbed.

In the meantime, cook the veggies:
1 medium green and white striped zucchini
2 small paddy squash
3 medium orange and purple carrots (or just plain orange)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Heat olive oil in a frying pan, so that it coats the bottom. Add a pinch of salt. Add 1/2 of your zucchini/squash/carrot mixture and 1/2 of the garlic. Lightly cook, so that the outside starts to get soft (al dente). Remove from the heat and place in a salad bowl. Put the bowl on ice. Repeat this until all your zucchini/squash/carrots are cooked (You really can't cook it all at once, because it will turn out mushy).

After the zucchini/squash/carrot mix has been removed, add
1/2 large, diced, sweet vidalia onion to the pan. Saute in olive oil and salt until the outside is a little brown.

Remove zucchini mix from the ice and drain the excess liquid that has sweated out. Mix the quinoa into the zucchini mix. Add a little
chopped basil. Toss in
1 Tbsp ume plum vinegar.
Serve warm or cold.

Christina's vote: "This salad made me want to dive in after my fishing pole"

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