Sunday, January 20, 2013

Red Rice and Quinoa with Orange and Pistachios: Wiped clean

The urge is almost overwhelming.

I stare down at the text message that has been idling on my phone for the past seven and a half minutes, my brain cycling over the words I want so badly to scream in all capital letters.

"A headache? A HEADACHE?!?! Where did you come up with that one? The book of Worst Excuses to Cancel a Date Ever?!?! Who are you... Patricia Heaton on 'Everybody Loves Raymond'?!?!?!"

Instead, I find myself going along with the proposed scenario, pretending that he really did wake up that morning with a headache, and that it really had been getting worse all day, and that he was currently holed up in his apartment with a cold cloth over his eyes, screaming, "Why, Lord, why!" because he couldn't meet me for a burger.

Momentarily stifling my irritation, I begin typing "Bummer!", then pause and delete the word.

I stare at his message again. His casual, "Hi Diana!" signed off with a friendly exclamation point that makes me want to tear his head off, then eat fava beans and sip a nice Chianti.

"You aren't allowed to use cheery exclamation points when you are being an asshole!" I want to say in size 48 font. With LOTS of exclamation points. Big red angry ones that take up an entire screen on an iPhone.

But I can't, of course. Calling him out, letting him know that *I know* he's a liar with elfin-shaped ears to boot, would only further justify his (obviously irrational) reasoning for canceling on me in the first place.

"Oh no!  Sorry to hear!" I punch out finally, deciding it sounds slightly less like I'm disappointed that I won't see him than a simple "Bummer!", and more like I'm just concerned for his well-being as he is clearly sprawled out on his bed in a dark room completely devoid of all noise and stimuli.

I hit the send button, loathing myself for feigning sympathy almost as much as I loathe him for not coming up with something more creative than "I have a headache." At least a well-crafted lie about his dog Gobbles eating his neighbor's poinsettia plant and requiring immediate veterinary assistance, or a family emergency in Canada, or even a friend going through a really bad breakup who has threatened to eat an entire box of Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes if he doesn't come over immediately to watch The Notebook with her.

"Yeah, I'm sorry! It would have been fun! :/" He responds a few moments later, completely eradicating the slim, minuscule possibility that he might *actually* have a headache.

There's no mention of rescheduling, no mention of being DEVASTATED he didn't get to see me, no groveling for my forgiveness for leaving me sans Saturday night plans a mere two hours before our date.

I want to punch his uneasy emoticon right in the forward-slash. He could at least throw me an unhappy face. Preferably an unhappy face with a well-placed comma to indicate that he is crying -- nay sobbing -- over his transgression and really is sorry and really did think it would have been fun.



"S'ok...I hope you feel better!" I type, hoping that by not bothering to write out the full "It's ok," I'll come across laid back and cool, man, because clearly I could care less if we go out tonight or ever. I am definitely not thinking about how I want to gouge his eyeballs out with my hot pink Tweezermans. Nor how I'm going to write about it on my blog.

I would never do that.

"Thanks!" He replies, equally, infuriatingly, nonchalant.

Glaring at his final, definitive nail-in-the-coffin of our nascent courtship, I delete the text conversation, then his number from my phone.

Wiped clean.

A fresh slate.

Ready to move on to the next one.

Red Rice & Quinoa Salad with Orange and Pistachios
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via Food & Wine
Serves 4

Notes: This is the type of cleansing salad that is appropriate after the holidays - a way to start the year off on the right, fresh note and undue some of the damage inflicted by excess consumption of cashew butterscotch bars. Think of it like wiping the slate clean... deleting the holiday carnage and moving forward into 2013 without being hindered by the past.

It's also just really good. The chew of the rice contrasted with the more delicate quinoa, the aggressive bite of the raw green onions, and sharp acidity from the orange  -- it's the type of thing that you eat and instantly feel better for doing so. A juice cleanse without having to actually drink the juice.

I made a few adaptations to the original -- using red onion instead of white, adding a touch of white balsamic vinegar, halving the amount of rice/quinoa while using the same amount of dressing (made with less olive oil, natch), and increasing the proportion of arugula. It works as a side, but for a more filling entree, I've taken to throwing in a can of chickpeas. I suspect that some cubes of leftover roast chicken would also do quite nicely.

1/2 cup red rice, rinsed well
1/2 cup quinoa*, rinsed well
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt, freshly ground pepper
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon white balsamic vineagar
12 dried apricots, diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted
2 cups arugula

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain and set aside.

While the rice is cooking, bring a little less than one cup of water to a boil in a separate saucepan. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, orange zest, grated garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, then whisk in the olive oil. Set aside to let the flavors blend.

Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onion, reduce the heat slightly, and saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so or until lightly caramelized. Stir in the vinegar and turn off the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice, quinoa, red onions, green onions, apricots, and arugula. Toss with the dressing then serve, sprinkled with pistachios.

[*Yes, I've read The Guardian article about quinoa.]


Banana Wonder said...

Oh my TALF, you should start writing a book with all these stories, you are such an amazing writer! Headache schmeadache... dude don't know what he's missin'.

The Duo Dishes said...

And this is why cooking/eating/food in general is better than dating!

SinoSoul said...

NYT says dating is dead. I've been preaching this for a decade, finally NYT catches on. Hope you read the memo:,d.cGE

yutjangsah said...

Gobbles is kind of the best name ever for a naughty dog. In fact, I may start referring to myself in the 3rd dog-person as Gobbles. Gobbles likes this post mucho gusto.

Ashley said...

You know what? I think you dodged a bullet on this one. Men who use emoticons are not to be trusted.

Diana said...

Anna - Hah, maybe it's time to really turn my life into a sitcom, eh?

Crystal - Agreed! I actually wrote something about that... dating food rather than men.

Tony - Yep, five different people have sent me that article. It's *very* encouraging. ;)

Sook - Hah, I really was only in it to meet the dog.

Ashley - Truth. Only *I'm* allowed to emoticon.