I stare at the receipt in slight horror.
“$18.43.” I repeat in my head.
Even after I get the cashier at the market to credit me back for charging me the wrong price for persimmons, I can’t help but think it would be easier for Ashley and I to just go out to dinner.
“No wonder restaurants charge so much for a salad,” I scoff to myself as I load up my car with my loot for the fall fruit quinoa salad I’m planning to make.
By the time I reach Ashley’s apartment however, I’ve completely forgotten about the insult to my bank account (mostly because my irritation has been transferred over to the nightmarish traffic). It’s no matter though – not for our special holiday dinner to celebrate the season and our longstanding friendship. I won’t let a little thing like a slow-moving Prius, $4 shallots and a $3 pomegranate keep me from enjoying what I imagine will be a spirited evening with my dear college friend.
As I begin prepping the ingredients for my salad – supreming the cara cara oranges, peeling the persimmons, roasting the shallots, and deseeding the absurdly large pomegranate, Ashley stands at the other end of her shoebox kitchen preparing Mark Bittman’s fig tart with caramelized onions, rosemary and stilton. We work silently, but it’s a peaceful silence – the kind that exists between people who know each other so well that we can actually comfortably tell each other “I’m not getting you a gift this year.”
The gift this Christmas is spending time together – a luxury that we haven’t had in years past since, until this September, Ashley had been living in DC while I was soaking up equal amounts of smog and sunshine in LA. It’s nice that we can do this sort of thing on a random Wednesday night. Cook in silence, sip a bottle of wine I’ve been storing under my bed since the summer, and find the time to be thankful for something other than “our health” and bacon this holiday season.
As we settle down to our feast – the indulgent tart lacquered with buttery onions and pungent stilton cheese, and my more virtuous quinoa salad, there is no place I’d rather be. Bouchon, Providence, Pizzeria Mozza have nothing on a home-cooked meal prepared with my best friend. Especially since at Mozza, we couldn’t have Love Actually playing in the background.
Fall Fruit Quinoa Salad
1/2 cup quinoa
3 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
4 large shallots
2 cara cara oranges
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 persimmon, skinned and chopped
Two handfuls of arugula
3 tablespoons orange juice (from an orange not a carton or can of concentrate)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Salt, pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice shallots into thin rings and then roast (without oil) until crispy (approximately 30 minutes).
Prepare quinoa according to package instructions. When done, set aside until it cools to room temperature.
Supreme orange. Reserve juice from discarded bits and cutting board for dressing. Combine dressing ingredients with a whisk.
When shallots and quinoa are done, mix quinoa, persimmon, pomegranate seeds, orange segments and arugula with the dressing. Plate, then top with crispy shallots and goat cheese.