Saturday, July 7, 2012
Cumin-spiced Quinoa Salad: Recapturing spontaneity
"I'm in if you are," She said.
"I mean... I'm definitely down if you are..." I responded, hoping that my nonchalance would be interpreted as ecstatic enthusiasm - a logical conclusion.
"Let's do it!" Ashley typed back immediately.
One phone call to the Ace later, it was a done deal. We were going back to Palm Springs for the weekend -- leaving early the next morning to spend 28 hours sitting by the pool sipping our respective Hef's and IPA's and pretending the problems of our LA world didn't exist.
Because that's what one does in Palm Springs. Forget about that $300+ car payment that's due on the 27th, put the 30 flagged work emails that need addressing (now!) on hold, and dive face first into relaxation and 100 degree temperatures.
I struggled to contain my giddiness.
Not only because I'd been going through Palm Springs withdrawals since our trip in early May, not because it meant I could put off bleaching the shower that weekend, and not even because I had been dying for another excuse to wear my fedora.
I was giddy because I was finally doing something spontaneous.
The girl who spends her Sundays going to the farmers market and planning out every single meal and snack she's going to eat that week -- including the orange before Bar Method on Wednesday morning, the dark chocolate covered almonds for dessert after lunch on Thursday, and the bowl of quinoa with nectarines and walnuts for breakfast on Friday.
Plans are my personal security blankets. I love wrapping myself up in a good to-do list -- hand-written so I can cross off every item -- and scheduling workouts and brunches and movie dates far in advance so I can fully prepare myself for the experience like I'm going on an epic vacation rather than merely for ricotta blueberry pancakes at the restaurant down the street.
Naturally I couldn't wait to tell everyone how awesomely spontaneous and anti-control freak I was being.
"I'm going to Palm Springs tomorrow!" I squealed to my coworkers, shattering the beat of their rhythmic typing.
I flapped my arms up and down to further articulate my point.
(They seemed largely unimpressed.)
While the spontaneous nature of the trip was contingent upon several factors -- namely that I didn't have any other obligations tethering me to LA that weekend -- getting into Ashley's red Prius the next morning was one of the most freeing feelings I've had this year.
It made it all the harder to come back to responsibility, list-making and meal-planning the next afternoon. So, naturally, I immediately made plans to recapture a taste of the trip that following Saturday.
Using the quinoa salad I ate at the King's Highway Diner at the Ace as inspiration, I came up with this version of the cumin-spiced affair. Outfitted with sugar plum tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, and arugula, it's the perfect fit for a summer day -- whether it's eaten spontaneously by a pool in Palm Springs, or intentionally at a dining room table in West Hollywood.
Inspired by King's Highway Diner at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1- 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 heaping cup sugar plum or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
4 loosely packed cups of arugula
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Bring 1 3/4 cups water to boil in a medium pot. Add the quinoa, cumin and salt. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa kernels have separated from the shells. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Heat large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the teaspoon of olive oil, swirling to coat the base of the pan. Add the chickpeas and saute until lightly browned on all sides, approximately 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and paprika.
In a large bowl, toss quinoa with chickpeas, then add the dressing, gently stirring with a fork until evenly distributed. Add the tomatoes and parsley, gently tossing again until well-combined. Taste, and add additional salt as needed.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Just prior to serving, toss quinoa with arugula. Plate immediately.