Cooking for other people can be nerve-racking. My kitchen skills are quite limited so I always worry that I’ll mess up whatever I am making or that people won’t like the dish that I’ve made.
I have pretty simple taste, the food I make for myself (as you may have seen) is very basic which is why it always makes me a bit nervous to cook or prepare food for others.
A few days ago I was attending a potluck and needed to figure out what to bring. A normal, well-prepared person might have planned, shopped and pulled things together somewhat in advance. This is clearly not the route I decided to go with (I’m totally type-A but when it comes to certain things I can never seem to get my act together). Regardless of my haphazard planning, I am happy to report that I was able to make a tasty dish, make it quickly and make it well.
I had a very limited amount of time to shop, cook, shower and get ready so this meant that I had to use ingredients I either already had in my kitchen or could pick up at the bodega. Great.
The obvious choice for me quickly became some sort of a cold quinoa salad. I ran to the bodega and picked up fresh corn, basil and a shallot* – all of this was a total improvisation but I figured it would go with the quinoa, cucumber, and sun-dried tomatoes I already had. I wasn’t totally sure how it would taste when it all came together but I felt pretty good about the flavor combinations (ha, as if I know anything about flavor combinations).
*On a personal note, I hate onions. Really hate garlic. If I ever cook for you and include onions or garlic it means I must really like you – first because I am cooking for you and second because I am using these ingredients that I hate but I know everyone else likes. I included a shallot in this recipe because I know in these types of salads it adds a certain flavor element (depth?) that most normal people prefer.
Here is the recipe for my creation:
Summer Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup dry quinoa + 2 cups of water
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- 2 ears of fresh corn (kernels cut off the cob)
- ¼ shallot diced
- 4-6 sundried tomatoes diced
- 1 large handful of fresh basil chopped
Directions are easy:
1) Cook quinoa, allow to cool
2) Chop vegetables
3) Toss together
I chopped and tossed this all together and then realized I didn’t have anything for a marinade or dressing. No olive oil in my apartment due to an unfortunate bottle shattering, oil-splattering, soul -crushing incident a few weeks ago.
I then got creative and decided to use some of the olive oil that the sundried tomatoes were packed in for my vinaigrette. I drizzled that over the top with a bit of balsamic vinegar and a few shakes of smoked sea salt.
I have no idea how many people this serves, I guess 6-10 depending on portion size.
Note: I put the quinoa on to simmer while I ran to the bodega and started chopping my veggies so it was cooked and cooling down by the time I was ready to put everything together. Just a little timesaving tip.
At the potluck people ate it (and some even had seconds). I did have a bit leftover, which I ate the next day for dinner and I thought it was tasty. Success!