Recipe: Roasted August Quinoa
Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.
I’m pretty sure we always say the same things around here every year, right about now: Gosh, what happened to summer? Can you believe it? I swear I saw that big tree on the way up to Stockbridge turning! Isn’t it early?
I think it’s always hard to let the summer go, to know that we’ve done all we can, and now it’s time for the mists of September to come. But although some summers are colder, some are warmer, some are wetter, and some are dryer, the last week of August is always filled with tiny pockets of cold air, almost like a lake with bits of warm and cold within it.
When the chill comes in, I turn the oven on. Because nearly everything growing right now gets even better with some time in the oven. And with temperatures dipping below 50 degrees at night, a good vegetable roasting session even helps to keep the house warm.
Tomatoes are my favorite August roasting vegetable. I like to roast them low and slow, even in large batches for freezing. But in the interest of a timely dinner, this dish happens in a hotter oven, and I roast every vegetable at the same time. This is great right away, and even better for leftovers. And although I use quinoa here, most grains will stand in well for the quinoa if you have a different preference.
(And speaking of tomato roasting, if you’d like to learn more about preserving and growing tomatoes — and garlic! — be sure to grab a spot in the tomato and garlic workshop I’m teaching with Margaret Roach on September 6. We’ll be spending the day canning, dehydrating, learning about growing and curing garlic, and lots more — all against the backdrop of Margaret’s gorgeous garden. This is the first in a series of Garden to Pantry workshops Margaret and I are working on together, and I can’t wait. There’s more info here.)
Roasted August Quinoa
Serves 4 to 6
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices
Kernels from 2 ears corn
1 cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 cup microgreens or other delicate green
Squeeze of lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange the tomatoes, flesh-side up, on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast until slightly collapsed, about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, lay the zucchini slices out on one side of the second tray. Lay the corn kernels on the other side of the tray, and drizzle both vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, and roast until the zucchini is slightly shriveled and the corn begins to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. While the vegetables roast, make the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve. Toast the quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the grains dry out and begin to smell nutty, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups boiling water to pan, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a glug of olive oil. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook undisturbed for 20 minutes, then remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and cover the pot again. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove the lid, and let the quinoa cool a bit. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
4. Add the roasted vegetables to the quinoa, along with the feta and mint. Gently fold the vegetables into the quinoa, taking care not to crush the tomatoes. Taste, add salt if necessary, and scatter the microgreens over the bowl. Top with one more drizzle of olive oil, squeeze a lemon over the whole mixture, and serve.